New Presbytery Community Organizer Approved

Barbara Wilson addressing the April 2015 Presbytery Assembly. Photo by Jan Edmiston.

Barbara Wilson addressing the April 2015 Presbytery Assembly. Photo by Jan Edmiston.

On April 14, the Presbytery Coordinating Commission (PCC) unanimously approved the recommendation of the Presbytery Community Organizer Search Committee that the Rev. Dr. Barbara A. Wilson be elected to serve as the POC’s first Presbytery Community Organizer. Dr. Wilson holds Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry degrees from McCormick Theological Seminary and is an ordained pastor in the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AMEC). After meeting and interviewing Rev. Wilson and voting on the committee’s recommendation, the PCC joined with her in singing the Doxology. The search committee submitted the following report together with its recommendation.

The committee was impressed by the breadth and variety of organizing experience that Dr. Wilson brings to the job. She has received formal community organizing training from the Community Renewal Society and has additional experience with asset based community development, which is an approach to organizing that builds on the assets and strengths of a community. In her work with AME congregations and mid-councils she has a proven record of building collaborative partnerships within congregations, communities, and regional church bodies. She is well-acquainted with institutional resources in the Chicagoland area.

Dr. Wilson approaches organizing through the perspective of her faith. She writes:

My philosophy of community organizing is personal faith becoming communal and/or connecting being with doing. That is, creating an environment for persons and congregations to find our identity as Christians in our relationship with Christ, such that our understanding of our roles in building and sustaining community is born out of that relationship. My approach is to create space to build the internal capacity of persons and congregations in a way that connects at deeper levels, who we are with what we do. . . . Building internal capacity facilitates the Church becoming a more engaged participant in Building Beloved Community. . . .

Two scriptural passages inform and are the motivation for this approach. The ministry of reconciliation passage in 2 Corinthians 4 establishes for us a level playing field and lifts up our common faith as the catalyst for justice work/ community organizing. The valley of dry bones passage in Ezekiel 37 allows us to become objective spectators to view the dry places of our faith and service, to become participant observers to find our role and place of engagement, and to understand the power of the Spirit in our restoration and continued engagement.

As her CV (curriculum vitae, or resume) indicates, Dr. Wilson began her career in law enforcement and entered professional ministry over a decade ago. She has served as a solo pastor in two small congregations on Chicago’s south side, and has also served as a mid-council staff for the AME Church.

In her interview Dr. Wilson connected quickly with the committee. As we talked she demonstrated good humor, deep faith, graciousness, commitment to respectful and civil interaction that honors other people’s dignity, understanding of theological and social diversity, honest realism about how challenging ministry can be in some situations, and high standards of professionalism. She also demonstrated focus and good time management as she answered the questions, qualities that the committee appreciated! The committee recommended her highly.

Update from Barbara, June 16, 2015: Hope is the Anchor of Our Souls:
The unity we have In Christ allows us, through the lens of our faith, to face our challenges with HOPE! I’ve begun connecting and listening and will provide an update at our June assembly meeting. Diversity and Difference are our realities in which to embrace intentionality and openness as we serve our God together. I look forward to us building stronger relationships through collaboration, as we partner with one another, our congregations and our communities. You can reach me via email at: Thank You!

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