Among the unique things about us as Presbyterians is that our life together is marked by shared power and responsibility. The Book of Order, our constitution as a Presbyterian church, says that the church shall be governed by “ruling elders and teaching elders. Ruling elders are so named not because they “lord it over” the congregation, but because they are chosen by the congregation to discern and measure its fidelity to the Word of God, and to strengthen and nurture its faith and life. Teaching elders [also known as pastors] shall be committed in all their work to equipping the people of God for their ministry and witness” (F.3-0202). Together, the elders and pastors seek to grow the church in its faithfulness to all God wants to do through us. No one person makes decisions for all of us. Together, we make decisions for the faithful ministry of the church. Together, we lead. Together, we serve. Together, we call the church to ever new ways of following Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.
It is not just the elders and pastors that lead the church. Leadership is shared throughout the church. The deacons lead us in ministries of care and compassion. Our commissions lead us through a partnership of elders and congregation members to organize our ministry to serve one another, our community, the larger church and the world in various ways. Church school, Adult Ed, the music program, our preschool, all of these and more are areas where we share in ministry together to make God’s vision real and alive here at FPCY.
In the coming weeks, we celebrate our shared ministry. On January 19, we ordain and install our new ruling elders and deacons. On January 24-25, the Session will be gathering at Holmes Presbyterian Camp and Conference center for our annual retreat. The retreat allows the church’s leadership to step away from the details and administration of the church to look at the bigger picture of where we’ve been and where we believe God is calling us to go next. Then, on February 28, our Deacons will gather for their retreat to reflect on their work and discern some next steps in their ministry with the church. Please pray for our elders, deacons and pastoral leadership as we discern the future together, and pray for our commissions as they work on various parts of our shared ministry and guide the church into the vision that our leadership has heard from God.
On Sunday, January 26, the Rev. Susan DeGeorge will be preaching and sharing with us her role as Stated Clerk of the Presbytery. Presbyterians are connectional Christians, which means that we believe that we can accomplish more when we work together with other Presbyterian congregations and bodies than by ourselves. At every level of church governance (congregation, presbytery, synod, and General Assembly), we continue to see this shared ministry and shared power and responsibility, as elders and pastors work together to strengthen partnerships aimed at working with churches throughout our area, fighting hunger, working with prisoners, developing outreach to people of many cultures, and starting new worshipping communities. On a related note, Tami is joining in the shared ministry of our presbytery. She was installed Tuesday, January 14 as Moderator-elect for a year and then will become Moderator the following year. Please pray for her and offer her congratulations on this honor.
On Sunday, February 2, we gather together at our Annual Meeting to celebrate our shared ministry over the past year. It is an opportunity to listen for God speaking to us and pointing us in the direction of faithfulness in 2014. I hope you will join us for the potluck lunch and time of fellowship and celebration. God has abundantly blessed us. Thank you for living your faith in abundant ways in 2013 and in the year to come as we share in ministry together.