Craig in AlaskaBlog Post by
Rev. Dr. Craig M. Howard
Presbytery Leader

Each week several of you join me and the staff at noon for a Zoom lunch meeting. We meet with different groups of people in our presbytery: rural pastors, new pastors, youth and Christian educators, transitional pastors, and clerks of session. Sometimes, we have lunch with all pastors! These pastors and leaders are located throughout the presbytery. From Cuba to Steelville, from Brighton to Ballwin. In our meeting, we take the time to share how we’re feeling, what types of things pastors and leaders are doing, and policies and recommendations from the presbytery. We laugh with each other, tell stories and even jokes! We pray for each other. Most of all, we enjoy the fellowship and support from one another.
When I arrived three years ago, the presbytery was marked by fragmentation and division. We struggled to feel a sense of unity and cohesiveness. The events of Big Tent and GA went a long way to helping us work together and become one presbytery. But this pandemic has been the heavy wind that has loosened long-held and deep-seated resistance. Our waters of stagnation are now a flowing stream. We have found commonality, creativity, and realized we are stronger, smarter, and more tech savvy than we were aware of!
Many books have been written about change theory. My presbytery executive colleagues across the country are in shock and awe at the speed of change in our churches, ministries, and denomination. The change has been more dramatic than what we’ve found in our readings. The reason for this change is because we, as Presbyterians, had to change. We didn’t have the option of remaining in our buildings and doing business as usual. The pandemic has caused us to draw upon resources we have known and studied but never applied. It has caused members to open up to new ideas like online worship–ideas that have been presented and rejected before but are now welcome.
I see God moving in this moment. My God is not the God of plagues, disease, illness, and death. But even through these horrible things, we find ways to bring God glory and worship. In this pandemic, we have found faith over fear, and we have found each other. We can agree with the psalmist who writes,

How beautiful upon the mountains
are the feet of the messenger who announces peace,
who brings good news,
who announces salvation,
who says to Zion, “Your God reigns.” Psalm 52:7 NRSV

Thank you for being God’s beautiful people and for bringing the message each week of peace, good news, and salvation. We are all in this together. Amen.
Rev. Craig M. Howard

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