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Presbytery and synod news

December 18, 2009

GOLETA, Calif. — The Rev. Darrell Guder, dean of Princeton Theological Seminary and author of Missional Church is the keynote speaker for the eighth annual mission conference of the Presbytery of Santa Barbara on Jan. 16, 2010.

The conference, under the theme “Missional Church,” will take place at First Presbyterian Church of Santa Barbara.

Other featured speakers at the conference are professors Miriam Adeney of Seattle Pacific University and Ryan Bolger of Fuller Theological Seminary. Adeney’s new book is entitled Kingdom Without Borders: The Untold Story Of Global Christianity. As associate professor of church in contemporary culture, Bolger’s scholarly interests at Fuller include the emerging church and missional church movements.

Participants will also have a choice of 11 workshops on all aspects of how to be missional in congregations, communities and the world. They will be offered by local and national PC(USA) leaders, including the Rev. Rob Weingartner, executive director of The Outreach Foundation, an organization that raises funds for PC(USA)-related evangelistic mission around the world.

HOUSTON — The General Council of New Covenant Presbytery has set Aug. 7 as the date for its “2010 Day of Service.”

The concept: a day is set aside when all the congregations in the presbytery purposefully reach out in service to their communities.  First Presbyterian Church of Pasadena, Texas calls it “a day when our churches leave their buildings.”

A celebration of the day of service will be held the following week on Aug. 15.

CHICAGO — Representatives of 12 congregations in Chicago Presbytery and six Masjids/Islamic Centers in the Chicago area recently kicked off a yearlong cooperative program of “interaction and introspection.”

Chicago Presbyery’s executive, the Rev. Robert Reynolds spoke of the continual need for Christians and Muslims to partner in addressing the many pressing social issues found in Chicago and the world.

Zaher Sahloul, chair of the Council of Islamic Organizations of Greater Chicago, commented on the Islamic communities’ gratitude for the PC(USA)’s advocacy of peace and stability in the Middle East.

Both Muslim and Presbyterian leaders made presentations on their histories, traditions and experiences, including the Rev. Mary Mikhael, president of the Near East School of Theology in Beirut, who emphasized that personal relationships between Muslims and Christians rather than books are the most effective resource for interfaith understanding.

At the conclusion of the event, both groups signed an agreement declaring “2009/2010 a time of Muslim/Presbyterian dialogue for the expansion of understanding and relationship, of friendship and discovery between our two religious communities.”

FRANKLIN, Tenn. — The executive committee of the Synod of Living Waters is considering making the synod office “virtual” in 2010 — eliminating the synod’s office space here with each synod staff member working from home. The synod staff would meet weekly to stay connected, plan and execute projects, foster communication and continue to build staff relationships.

Emily Dunbar, the synod’s office manager is  looking into archiving records, phone systems and an internet server that would facilitate the “virtual” office.

Synod Executive Terry Newland calls the plan good stewardship. “It will free up resources which we can apply to ministry in the synod instead of spending it on a building and utilities.

The synod assembly will consider the plan at it’s Jan. 25, 2010 meeting in Nashville.

ANCHORAGE, Alaska — Eleven people gathered in Barrow recently for Yukon Presbytery’s Commissioned Lay Pastor classes on preaching and worship and sacraments.

Participants included Eunice Ahsuak, Paul Bodfish, Charles Brower, Bob Graham, Virgie Kasak, Ida Olemaun, Mollie Pederson, Miranda Riley, Rodney Ungwiluk, Lily Fawn White and Reggie Wongittilin. Classes were taught by Yukon executive Curt Karns and the Rev. Dick Oman, a retired member of the presbytery from Anchorage.

RICHMOND, Va. — The Presbytery of the James is set to launch its new structure, designed to support its new vision to be “missional, connectional and in communication.” The new design has been worked on for two years. 2010 is billed as “year of implementation.”

The old structure — which consisted of five boards and about 10 committees — will be replaced by three teams — mission and service, leadership connections, and communication and coordination — and five “constitutional committees”: Committee on Ministry, Committee on Preparation for Ministry, Permanent Judicial Commission, Committee on Nominations and Committee on Representation.

Leaders say “the new structure presupposes a new of doing ministry as a presbytery — this strategy emphasizes encouraging local initiatives, congregations partnering with one another, and persons and congregations discerning calls to a various mission and ministry ventures.”

IRVING, Texas — The Synod of the Sun has just published the last issue of its long-running newspaper, The Presbyterian Sun.

According to editor and synod communications director Shane Whisler, the synod’s limited resources will be devoted to electronic dissemination of news designed for worship bulletins and the multi-synod electronic news site, Presbyterian Neighbor News.

At its height in the 1970s, a large staff published The Presbyterian Sun monthly with a circulation of nearly 200,000. Shrinking budgets have reduced the paper to bi-monthly with a staff of less than two and circulation of 77,000. The synod’s communication budget is being reduced by 75 percent in 2010.

“We’ve seen this scenario writ small and large across communities of our denomination,” Whisler noted. “This reflects massive change, not a death. The opportunity to change is far better than that alternative for our PC(USA) family.”

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