How very good and pleasant it is
when kindred live together in unity!
Last Tuesday was our most recent Presbytery meeting. It was a joy to experience the hospitality of Knox Presbyterian Church. I loved watching the four leaders for communion, the two pastors of Knox and the moderator and vice moderator of the Presbytery. I believe one of these leaders just turned 50, and the others are a bit younger than that. While we talk about diversity which is a strength, others have also noted the presence of several young, committed, and gifted leaders n our Presbytery, and that was quite evident in Tuesday’s meeting.
Now this was the first meeting in a while on a weeknight, as we were hoping for more people who are committed on Saturday mornings to attend. Even though it was a very rainy night, we didn’t have a drop in attendance, though we had more teaching elders than on Saturdays, and fewer ruling elders. That is what we expected, and frankly the reason we moved Presbytery meetings to Saturdays, so we could be more available to ruling elders who work outside the church. We have one more Tuesday evening meeting in 2019, on November 19th at Trinity in Pasadena, and we’ll discuss what we’ll do in 2020. Let us know if you have ideas about the meetings and the schedule.
Part of the catalyst for this scheduling experiment was to give WinterFest the entire Saturday, so please be sure to register for WinterFest, to be held Saturday, February 2, at Northminster in Diamond Bar. You can click here to see the schedule and workshop listing, and to register. As you know, there is a discount and free resources for churches who bring 5 or more people (they don’t all have to register together; just make sure everyone types in the name of the church on the registration form).
Even though there were a couple of small glitches due to unexpected distractions (I blame the rain), I appreciated hearing the observations of Bob McKennon, who came with his wife Donna to represent East San Gabriel Valley Coalition for the Homeless. By the way, the offering for ESGVCH was a little over $600; I fear that we had quite a few people who had to leave before we received the offering. So thank you to those who gave, and I urge everyone to go to their website, learn about their services and donate. Their website is https://esgvch.org/ and you can donate on-line.
While we are talking about homelessness, please pray for all of us who will be counting homeless people in our communities this Tuesday night and early Wednesday morning. The Homeless Count not only gathers important data which are used to plan resources, but it lets the people experiencing homelessness know that we care enough to speak with them, as at least in Pasadena there is a rather extensive survey that each person responds to with the counting team.
Anyway, at the end of Tuesday’s Presbytery meeting, Mr. McKennon told me repeatedly how impressed he was with our Presbytery. He said that compared to other denominations where he’s visited, he felt so much love during our meeting. What do you think of that—Presbyterians being a witness to love! I think he was struck by the care expressed when we honored the ground-breaking ministry of First Presbyterian Church of Baldwin Park, as the spirit of this church goes on to bless others. We know that Baldwin Park members have connected with Community Presbyterian Fellowship in West Covina and also Praise Community Church, aka First Thai Presbyterian Church. I pray that it is a blessing for them to join with other sisters and brothers in Christ, as their participation is a blessing for the receiving church.
Over the last few years, I have noticed that there has been some intentional movement within the Presbytery. Members of churches now dismissed from the PC(USA) have become leaders at churches such as La Verne Heights and Village in Arcadia. Other members who have become weary from helping to shoulder a fragile or struggling church have found needed respite and nurture from churches where they can “just worship,” rather than worry if the guest preacher will show up or whether the plumbing is working correctly. I have heard of churches such as San Marino, Knox and La Verne Heights becoming a place of healing for faithful but tired church leaders. In one recent example, a couple moved to a church before the wife’s health started to fail, and their new church was able to provide extraordinary welcome and care as the wife went on to the Lord, and the husband faced the holidays alone. Their old church was so thankful that the couple was able to receive this care.
As I have mentioned, the several administrative commissions have also proved to be an opportunity for the Presbytery to be present with a church, through their time, wisdom, and service. Our little experiment at West Covina is flowering into something kind of spectacular, and soon we can celebrate new pastoral leadership coming to walk with this group as we see what new thing God will be doing in West Covina! I always remember the first comment made from the West Covina session to the Presbytery: “We want to become a fellowship of the Presbytery, and the only request we have is that you not sell the property to developers.” Not only did we not sell the property, but it looks like there will be all kinds of exciting new ministry happening there!
It was at the West Covina AC meeting last week (they have met almost every week for months now) when we noticed how local church members and pastors are visiting with each other, welcoming each other, reaching out to help one another, and how God is offering mutual blessings through these movements. This is how we are a connectional church, not just in our group decision-making and accountability processes, but in our relationships that extend beyond the confines of our individual churches.
During the month of January, I have had the great privilege and joy of preaching at Northminster in Diamond Bar as they have said farewell to Jake Kim as temporary pastor. Last week I talked about how in Christ we become family, and because Jesus called God Abba Father, we too are heirs of this wondrous and mighty God. I have seen the love and giftedness of the Northminster family as they go through this time of transition, but I also reminded them that they have extended family, in the Presbytery, and I believe that.
I do love to see how we can be family together, in our local churches, in our Presbytery, and with our community. May we continue to be filled with the love of Christ, so much so that our love and our joy cannot help but overflow to all the world.
Thanks be to God!