‘This is a Very Exciting Time to be part of the Sydney Central Coast Presbytery.’
– Malcolm Turnbull, Prime Minister of Australia.
‘Are we there yet?’
– Graham Perry, Presbytery Minister of Sydney Central Coast Presbytery.
Well, friends, we are there. We have been One Great Big New Presbytery now for exactly one month and three days, and while we have not quite yet achieved World Peace and Reunification, we have begun moving from the planning and preparation phase into decisions that will allow us to do more effectively the work of ‘Uniting’ with each other, so that we can bring the unity and reconciliation we know in Christ to the wider world and community.
It’s easy to be impatient or frustrated with the preparatory work of administration, delegations, committee charters, lists of committee volunteers. Our meeting last Wednesday focussed on these things, as without such administrative decisions – ‘supply and confidence bills’, if you like – we would find ourselves without the trust and ownership of decision-making to do anything. Thanks to Jim, the Standing Committee, David and Suzanne, Ted Woodley and others who got us through that complex net of protocols.
Personally, though, I am now looking forward to Presbytery meetings that bring together our inspiring stories, our mission activities, our achievements and struggles, our new ministries and old faithfuls, in gatherings that inspire, equip, build relationships and engage common commitments. We need (IMHO) to be creative about how we meet, to add value to the things we do on our own or in our Zones.
Speaking of Zones, the feedback from the meetings we held a few months ago has been worked over and I am putting a set of Draft Proposals for Zones to Presbytery Standing Committee on Tuesday 26 July. If SC agrees, these will be sent out to the Zones for consultation, before coming back to the full Presbytery in October for decision. These will become our basic Policy for what is done regionally and how we do it.
Each Zone will need to hold a consultation with a broad number of leaders, lay and ordained, from across their region, to discuss these suggestions so we can start getting seriously active about our local regional ministries. I am keen to be there as a resource so please copy me in on your planning dates.
One other thing for this blog is the Presbytery Ministry Retreat from Monday to Wednesday next week. For as long as I can remember, ministers of Kuring-gai and Sydney North Presbyteries have met together annually for a time of ministry reflection and spiritual renewal. Forty-one of us (!!) will gather this year at St Joseph’s Retreat Centre, Kincumber, including a couple of colleagues from New England North West Presbytery as well, under the leadership of Rev. Michael Barnes – the first time one of our own ministers has led the spiritual input. Michael will help us reflect on some key texts from Genesis to locate our ministries and lives in the journey of faith from Eden to Isaac.
If you are a minister coming to Retreat, please take a little time beforehand to think about what you need to reflect on, what you will bring to the process. Michael’s input will be helpful, but retreating, being mindful of ministry in the presence of God, is your own spiritual work: no-one else can do it for you. Bring your journal, your Bible, and if you are creative, your crayons or clay (and some to share).
If your minister is going away for a few days, please encourage them to take this time away from the church and face to face with Christ. They will be back with a renewed sense of vocation and purpose.
‘Réculer pour mieux sauter’ – wasn’t that Napoleon? ‘We take a step back, the better to leap forward.’ Retreating is active, positive ministry practice. Enjoy.