Fostering Pastoral Relationships: The Presbyter’s Pen

By Rev. Bob Reynolds, Executive Presbyter
Bob reynolds rcr robert headshot

I clap my hands with gratitude for leadership relationships across Chicago Presbytery including dialogues with pastors in small group gatherings. For example, at a variety of regional church locations, we prayed, broke bread together, and discussed congregational, presbytery, and church-wide topics. See photo below.

In these settings, although I always suggest discussion topics, the immediate interests and concerns of pastors are of highest priority. What follows are topical highlights of six regional pastoral leadership meetings held thus far this year, two of which consisted primarily of LatinoAmerican and African-American teaching elders. In overview, these dialogue topics have fallen into three distinct groupings:

Recent Gathering with Latino Pastors

Recent Gathering with Latino Pastors

Affirmations for Chicago Presbytery:

  • Creativity in presbytery assembly meetings
  • Experimenting with a “worshipful work” format/ agenda
  • Educational presentations (e.g. the same-sex marriage presentation and panel responses at the April 2014 meeting)
  • Omnibus motion, a procedure reducing time required for routine business
  • Commission on Ministry services to congregations
  • Presbytery Connect electronic newsletter (especially like it being sent directly to inbox)
  • New map showing locations of presbytery congregations
  • Advice and counsel on financial matters
  • Regional gatherings of pastors with presbytery staff

Hopes expressing future aspirations for congregations and pastors:

  • Opportunities for local church members to speak to the larger church on controversial issues and to feel heard
  • Consistent support for new and younger pastors
  • Proactive presbytery strategy for churches with diminishing resources
  • Community-building within an emerging ethos across the presbytery
  • Stronger connections between churches and between sessions and the presbytery
  • Expanded regional gatherings of pastors with presbytery executive staff (3-4 per year)
  • City/suburb consultations with pastors and other leaders for mission strategizing
  • Presbytery staff attendance in Sunday morning services and informal dialogue with members

Questions and My responses:

Q: What leadership suggestions are there for responding to the recent General Assembly decision to divest from American corporations regarding the Middle East conflict?

Response: Encourage relationships with local Jewish and/or Palestinian communities.

Q: What changes are forthcoming from the Connectional Mission Design Task Force?

Response: Recommendations for action are going to the November 16, Presbytery Assembly.

Q: Same sex marriage: How can pastors and others lead, given opportunities and risks, in a ministry of reconciliation within local churches?

Response: Local church education and dialogue can bring appreciation for unity amidst diversity.

Q: What preparations are being made for the 2015 church-wide youth event at Montreat, NC?

Response: Contact Presbytery’s Youth Mission Team consultant at youthministry@chicagopresbytery.org.

Q: What response has been made to human/civil rights issues in St. Louis region?

Response: Presbytery Coordinating Commission moderator sent a message of solidarity to the Presbytery of Giddings-Lovejoy (St. Louis). Also, several Chicago Presbytery teaching elders traveled to St. Louis as a personal witness to these essential rights.

Echoing the Psalmist with loud sounds of joy, I shout thanksgiving to God for wise and compassionate pastoral leadership relationships within the Chicago Presbytery. They reveal deep faith and tireless ministries on behalf of the Body of Christ that are a great blessing for our life together!

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