Continuously Communicating and Connecting: Presbyter’s Pen June 2014

By Rev. Bob Reynolds, Executive Presbyter

Bob reynolds rcr robert headshotIn varying degrees, Presbyterians participate in the electronic information world. Whereas long ago people thought it miraculous to connect personally by telephone at great distances, today we speak with multiple parties and see them simultaneously on Google Chat. Social media frees people to communicate instantaneously on a broader scale than ever before imagined.

At Heritage Carol Stream, Dan Wennerholm, Ruling Elder Commissioner and Clerk of Session, has begun writing a column in the church’s newsletter, entitled Presbytery Report. Through it he informs readers about Presbyterian polity and the larger Presbyterian Church (USA). It is posted on their church website. Here are excerpts from Dan’s May-June report.

pcusa structure transparentHeritage is a member of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and is covered by its Constitution. Included in that is the form of government, or polity. Collectively, all of the congregations in the PCUSA make up “the Church.” This Church is governed by Presbyters, who are Teaching Elders and Ruling Elders, who serve and govern on various levels, through Councils. At Heritage, our Council is the Session, made up of the nine Ruling Elders elected by the congregation, a Teaching Elder (the Pastor), and the Clerk of Session.

The next level up in the PCUSA structure is the Presbytery. These vary in size, but in our case, we are in the Presbytery of Chicago, which includes around 100 churches and worshipping fellowships in Cook, Du Page, and Lake Counties in Illinois. Then we have Synods, which are groups of at least three Presbyteries. HPC is in the Synod of Lincoln Trails [eight Presbyteries], and then the top level is the General Assembly. “Each church elects representatives (Ruling Elder Commissioners) who, along with Teaching Elders, carry out the mission and business of the Presbytery…The most recent Presbytery meeting was on Saturday, April 12…The focus was on listening and dialog, with topics ranging from embracing our neighbors (geographical, undocumented, and those of other faiths), and the theology of marriage and same-sex relationships. Business items included the approval of two candidates for ordination, and the approval of three overtures to the [biennial] General Assembly [this June]:

  • To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide
  • To take certain actions to help remedy the continuing tragic conditions in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and
  • To affirm the importance of adequate nutrition for mothers and young children.

It has been said that a message needs to be sent seven times to effectively reach its receivers and connect with them. Presbyterians in the 21st Century have an abundance of technology tools with which to inform one another about our faith and our church. I hope teaching and ruling elder commissioners will follow Dan’s model by communicating and connecting continuously about and throughout the Presbytery of Chicago.

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