08 Feb A Balcony View
Greetings to my sisters and brothers in the Synod of the Southwest and beyond.
On Tuesday, January 26th, I had the opportunity to brings greetings, with my sister in Christ, Sallie Watson, Missional Presbyter of the Presbytery of Santa Fe, to the members of the General Assembly’s Committee on Representation. GACOR met in Albuquerque for three days and Sallie and I had the chance to share with them our respective councils’ mission and ministry and its relationship to the work of the GACOR.
Thus began a week of my being a witness to/observer of/participant in some of the diverse ministries that are happening within our Synod.
On Thursday, January 28th I flew to Phoenix to sit in on a meeting of the planning team for the Native American Ministries Theocademy Project (NAMTP), sponsored and underwritten by the Synod of the Southwest, but not directed by the Synod. Rather, it is being led by our sisters in Christ, Teaching Elders Norma McCabe, Martha Sadongei and Judy Wellington.
Judy led this meeting, which also included Teaching Elders Seth Finch, Ray Thomas, Linda Worsnop and Gale Watkins. These four will begin as observers alongside Norma, Martha and Judy and eventually jointly share in responsibility for the presentation of the course material. The meeting was animated, exciting and filled with hope. The learning for me was that as we embark on this project, the expectation is and must be that relationships are primary to the content, as opposed to the usual emphasis of content over relationships. There was much conversation regarding how trust would be established through relationship with one another and the sharing of stories and experiences.
For those of you unfamiliar with this project, it is intended to reach out to the Native American Community in their context and in their churches and chapels as a way to enhance the faith and understanding of what it means to be a Presbyterian and a leader within their congregation. The basic course material will be Theocademy (discipleship, ordered ministry and CRE modules) created in a joint effort of the Synods of Mid America, Lincoln Trails, Lakes and Prairies and the Southwest. The stated goal of this project is: to strengthen church leadership; establish a foundation for future Commissioned Ruling Elders being raised up from within these communities; and creating connections between Native American and non-Native American church leaders.
The energy and commitment of the participants in this effort and their presence at this meeting gives me pause for great hope in the future of the Synod and even the PCUSA in empowering our Native American sisters and brothers to lead within their congregations and beyond their congregations.
On Friday and Saturday, January 29th and 30th, I attended the joint meeting of the Presbyteries of de Cristo and Grand Canyon. During this meeting, beside welcoming the Moderator of the 221st General Assembly, Heath Rada, to the meeting, the Presbytery of Grand Canyon also welcomed Daniel Albertson, and Estawri Khjeek, into the fellowship of Grand Canyon by granting an exemption from the examinations required of candidates for ordination. Daniel will be engaged in ministry to the homeless and Estawri will be leading a Middle Eastern fellowship, both in the Presbytery of Grand Canyon. At evening worship we heard from our brother Heath Rada and rejoiced that he was present to commission the commissioners to the 222nd General Assembly from the Presbyteries of de Cristo and Grand Canyon, as well as to install both Presbyteries’ moderators and moderator’s elect. On Saturday I joined in the joyous celebration and adoration of our Lord, in song and movement, led by the Barundi Choir that calls Orangewood Presbyterian Church its home.
On Sunday, January 31st, I attended worship with the Middle Eastern Presbyterian Fellowship, which calls Northminster Presbyterian Church in Tucson its home. Though I had no ability to read the bulletin or follow the hymns projected on the screen, as it was all in Arabic, I did experience the love that our Middle Eastern sisters and brothers have for our Lord and to also personally experience their gracious hospitality. What a joy, indeed!
So, sisters and brothers, I can only tell you that there is extraordinary and diverse ministry happening within the bounds of the Synod of the Southwest. And it is ministry filled with life and excitement! Thanks be to God!
Justice & Peace,