A lighthearted and collegial atmosphere prevailed at the Synod of the Covenant luncheon Tuesday.
Margaret Haney, interim synod executive, welcomed some 40 commissioners, middle governing body staff and others with ties to the 11 presbyteries comprising the Synod of the Covenant.
“Synods are one of the best-kept secrets in the church,” Haney said as guests began to arrive. “Our call is to do the mission that the presbyteries can’t do by themselves, to coordinate the region and to serve in judicial matters. Most are not aware of the mission.”
The luncheon — which had no outside speaker or formal program — was intended as a time for people from the synod “to share the lives that we share in another place,” an eloquent invitation invoked by Haney in her opening prayer.
“It is a wonderful thing to be following this ‘out of the believer’s heart shall flow rivers of living water’ and a wonderful thing for us to see how that looks at an experience as large as the General Assembly,” she said.
Haney updated the synod’s constituents on the regional body’s mission and, among other matters, the search for a new transitional synod executive.
The Rev. John Best, general presbyter of the Presbytery of Lake Michigan and a member of the search committee, announced that the application deadline for the position — which is currently listed with the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s Church Leadership Connection — is July 16.
Haney, a former executive of Miami Valley Presbytery who has been Covenant’s interim synod executive for a year, said she looks forward to “retiring again,” once a new executive has been called. “This has been a wonderful job and a position that I can highly recommend,” she said.
Among those synod programs lifted up by Haney as examples of ministries that would be “hard for presbyteries to do on their own” was the synod’s Mobile Health Fair (MHF), a ministry for people who do not have access to — or resources for — medical care. Through the service of volunteer doctors, MHF provides health screenings, education and referrals in a variety of sites for those without health insurance.
Reflecting on the role of synods, Paula Lane — an elder commissioner from Muskingum Valley Presbytery — said that she hopes she will get a sense at General Assembly of what’s going on with the proposed middle governing body commission. “We seem to have an identity crisis as to how we organize ourselves beyond presbyteries in a meaningful way,” she said.