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From the Pastor
Finally, we’ve made it to summer. It’s been a long time coming and even though the weather was a bit cool last Friday, the Strawberry Social signaled its beginning, even followed by a few days of sunshine! As much as we all look forward to the warmer days of summer, as much as we tend to hold on to the paradigm of “Summer time and the living’s easy,” the reality is summer really doesn’t slow down the momentum for any of God’s children. While I mentioned, in last Sunday’s sermon, that there is no early retirement option in the church, there’s no summer vacation either.
Summer marks a busy time for the Nominating Committee as they start the process of matching gifts and talents with the offices of the church while trying to balance skill sets on each board, as well. In our form of government, the call procedure is a two-step process. The first step is the gentle push from God, much like God’s nudge to Abraham and Sarah that they might use their gifts towards a new end, leaving their good life in Ur of the Chaldeans to serve God in a new way. However, the second step comes through the nominating committee’s call that in this particular time, this particular church is asking/needing a particular gift and skill-set, a call that is confirmed by the congregation with its vote.
The two ordained offices of elder and deacons go back to the earliest times of Christian faith. The position of elder (in Greek, “presbyteros,” literally a wise person, a leader) was established as apostles appointed elders, in their absence, to govern the congregations of the planted churches. In the Presbyterian church, elders have been of two types, “teaching elders,” ministers of the Word and Sacrament, read: pastors, and “ruling elders,” elected laity who, with the exception of certain rights and privileges granted to congregations or pastors, are responsible for the oversight of all the spiritual, educational, and practical activities of the church. Such responsibility allows the Holy Spirit to work through the will of the people, represented by its elders, rather than in a top-down/hierarchal fashion. Together, the ruling elders and the teaching elder, through shared powers and responsibilities, govern the church. It is from the Acts of the Apostles that we understand the concept of service that describes the functions of the compassionate, caring arm of Christian mission that we call the deacons. Their work takes as its model, Jesus the Christ who is our prime example of humility and self-giving. Representing the heart of what it means to be Christian, the deacons minister to folks in need and distress.
Although the Board of Trustees isn’t an ordained board, their call unable to trace its roots back to the New Testament writings, they are equally important to the functioning of the church. Instead, their beginnings are found in the colonial times of our country when, because our churches weren’t maintained by British or Colonial governments, Presbyterians were obligated to appoint trustees as stewards. Private church members took on the legal responsibility of their churches so that churches could keep what they had. Later when the United States was formed and allowed churches to hold and manage property, trustees were charged with meeting incorporation requirements of the different states.1 The Board of Trustees, under the direction of the session, are responsible to maintain the church building and land, provide insurance coverage, and investing.
Clearly, all three elected boards must work as a team, where all work for the good of the whole. But that is true of everyone called to the church. While some of our gifts are used for the specific functions of elder, deacon, and trustee, all of us have gifts that are essential if the church is going to grow and meet the needs of God’s children both inside and outside of our walls. In unpredictable times, like the ones we are living in, God has called each of us to different tasks for the good of the whole—and it takes all of us sharing our gifts to make it work. How appropriate, that we can give our gifts even as we appreciate the gifts of the others around us, sharing responsibilities for the community while gathering to worship the Giver of our gifts…so I guess I’ll...
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