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Welcome to Mid Council Ministry site, new onboarding process, and more …


June 24, 2019

From Tricia Dykers Koenig, Associate Stated Clerk
Associate Director for Mid Council Relations, Office of the General Assembly

Tricia.Dykers-Koenig@pcusa.org, 502-322-0903, 502-569-8360

Jihyun Oh
Jihyun Oh

Director of Mid Council Ministries

Congratulations to Jihyun Oh, who has been named director of Mid Council Ministries by Stated Clerk J. Herbert Nelson, II! Jihyun has been manager of call process support in the OGA for the last year and a half, so you already know her good work. She will officially begin in her new position on July 1.

“Welcome to Mid Council Ministry”—A Work in Progress

It’s live! The Moodle platform site I’ve been constructing for mid council leaders is open for business, under the OGA’s new name for our Moodle courses, “Equip.” The purpose of the site is to gather information you can use to get and stay connected—to each other, national agencies, and resources—in one place. I am counting on you to contact me with resources to add, ways to make it better, corrections—whatever we need to do in order to serve your needs most effectively.

If you are

  • a stated clerk
  • a general/executive/other-title-for-that-basic-role presbyter
  • or an associate presbyter,
you should already have been given permission to access the course, which is for mid council leaders and not open to the general public. Stated clerks have access through their portal; other mid council leaders will soon receive an email with instructions about setting up an account, or how to enroll if you already have one. Please let me know if we’ve inadvertently omitted you from the access list and I’ll get you hooked up; and if you believe another member of your presbytery staff should be enrolled, you can let us know that as well.

Once you have an account, from the Equip home page, find the “Welcome to Mid Council Ministry” tile, marked by a map of the presbyteries and synods. When you find the course, it will appear in topics—blue headings that you click to open (currently there are nine). There is also a navigation pane at the left and you can click topics to jump to them from that list as well.

When you have a little extra time, play around with it and let me know what you think: what’s missing, what’s confusing, etc.

Synod leaders and others with awareness of new leaders coming on board: the sooner you give me that information—with contact information, if possible—the sooner we can get new folks signed up.

Onboarding New Leaders of Presbyteries

At a consultation the OGA organized last fall to discuss how we can be more supportive of mid council leaders in all the various roles and contexts that are emerging today, one of the ideas was to revamp the ways we conduct initial in-person onboarding for new presbytery leaders that take place at the Presbyterian Center in Louisville.

We recently held another consultation to test that idea and begin thinking through what a new orientation process might look like.

Up to this point, training for new stated clerks has been conducted by the OGA once in the spring and once in the fall. The OGA covers travel (except mileage to and parking at the airport), meals in Louisville, and lodging for every newly elected stated clerk. (The next new clerk training, scheduled for September 9–11, will not be affected by the emerging plan.)

Orientation for new persons in the “executive” role (by whatever title) has been handled by the Presbytery Leader Formation program (PLF), a ministry of the Association of Mid Council Leaders; this orientation has taken place once a year, in late winter, and has been open only to those participating in the more extensive three-year PLF experience, funded jointly by the participant’s presbytery and synod.

The new practice, beginning in 2020, will be for all new presbytery leaders—stated clerks, general/executive presbyters, and associate presbyters—to share one combined orientation, offered twice a year. Stay tuned for more information as the new design is developed.

Report to Mid Councils: Response to 223rd General Assembly (2018) Action

Item 05-09 Commissioners’ Resolution: On the Challenge of Being Black in the PC(USA), which expressed concern for pastoral leadership in black congregations, directed the OGA “to report within one year to presbyteries and synods concerning the progress of this resolution and a full report to the 224th General Assembly (2020).”

One year after the 223rd General Assembly (2018), we can report that the Office of the General Assembly, the Board of Pensions, and the National Black Presbyterian Caucus are meeting to respond to the recommendations in the action. New methods of collecting data are being explored, and the caucus is identifying the presbyteries for follow-up.

Moderators’ Conference

Moderators’ Conference—November 21–23, 2019, Louisville

While the dates for the Moderators’ Conference, our annual training event for presbytery and synod moderators and moderators-elect, were announced months ago, we are pleased that the event webpage is now available. Please share this further information with your moderators[-elect] and let them know how you will fund their participation. Registration will open in September.

ASC/AMCL Conference: A message from the planning team

Save the Date! The annual ASC/AMCL conference will be October 20–21 in Baltimore, following the Mid Council Leader Gathering. (For those coming to both, travel is covered by funding for the MCLG!). This is our annual opportunity for those in the Association of Mid Council Leaders and/or the Association for Stated Clerks to gather for training and fellowship. (And, if you are not yet part of these groups, it is your opportunity to join!) Mark October 20–21 on your calendars and join us! More details to follow!

Translation Services

A few weeks ago, there was some conversation on the AMCLmatters google group about options for translation and interpretation for mid councils. I talked with Julie Cox from the Presbytery of New Harmony, who is moderating the A Corporation Translation Task Force that is looking at global language issues for the national church, to inquire how their work might dovetail with the needs of mid councils.

Julie was pleased to hear of the interest among mid council leaders for this important ministry, and is willing to put it on the agenda of the task force—but she did caution that the agenda is long, so this might not be at the top of the list. In the meantime, if some presbytery and/or synod leaders would like to collaborate on inquiring about prices and possible group discounts with vendors that offer translation and/or interpretation services, you might report back what you discover to everyone.

There’s going to be a chance at Big Tent to talk with some of the A Corporation Board who are working on the larger language needs in all six agencies. On Thursday, August 1, from 2:00–3:00 p.m., join them for light refreshments and a chance to learn about their plans to date—and to convey your thoughts about what language services would enhance hospitality, evangelism, and justice in mid councils as well as other areas of church life.

Trauma and Health

“How hurting people harm themselves and others if they don’t take seriously their own healing work”–read Molly Casteel’s brief introductions to several books that give insight into paths to reconciliation and healing.

The Crisis Continues: A message from the Office of Immigration Issues

With both Father’s Day and World Refugee Day falling in the same week, the Reverend Dr. J. Herbert Nelson, II, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), took the opportunity to draw attention to the plight of migrant families coming to the U.S. In two letters to members of Congress, the Stated Clerk called for stronger measures to protect and represent families seeking to start a new life.
  1. Referring to the recent deaths of migrant children who died in U.S. custody, Nelson said, “we place lives at risk. I write to you today to request that you defend immigration laws that protect life and improve them to protect more lives.”
  2. Nelson reaffirmed the PC(USA)’s commitment to resettling refugees saying, “refugees breathe new life and energy into our communities. They bring inspiration and motivation. They may live a precious life of vulnerability, but they are not vulnerable. Refugees embody the awesome strength of the human spirit.”
Read the news article with links to both letters and how you can respond to the crises.

Presbytery Disaster Assistance Commission

Is your presbytery prepared for a potential disaster? How do you make decisions when communications and travel to meetings may be difficult? The Presbytery of New Harmony consulted with Jim Kirk from PDA and several colleagues in working out the details of a commission “to direct and oversee the preparation for and response to a disaster on behalf of the New Harmony Presbytery (NHP) in order to focus, align, and coordinate resources toward areas of need.” Thanks to Gavin Meek for sharing their PDAC policy.

Focus on Foundations

In 2019–2020, the Presbytery of Miami Valley is inviting its congregations, and the presbytery as a whole, to reflect on portions of the first section of our Book of Order, The Foundations of Presbytery Polity. For each month they have provided an excerpt along with discussion questions and a prayer.
This Month in Per Capita

This Month in Per Capita …

Just a few of the ministries enabled by your per capita giving that are taking place this month:
  • Jarvie Commonweal Endowment Reconciliation Committee
  • Tracking ordination exam registrations and ensuring readers are identified and in the system
  • Monthly COGA zoom call

Pastoral Study Project Grants

The Louisville Institute is offering grants of up to $15,000 “to investigate issues related to the Christian life of faith, North American religious practices and institutions, and/or major challenges facing contemporary society.” Read the criteria and processes for applying. September 1 is the deadline.

Faith and Sexuality Series for Middle School Youth

The Presbytery of New Hope is supporting a team of pastors and church educators in providing a three-part Faith and Sexuality series, aimed at facilitating healthy, safe, open, and honest conversations for 5th–8th grade youth and the adults who care for them.

Church Furnishings Available

Do you have a congregation with storm or fire damage? A new church development or new worshipping community?

An Illinois congregation that’s closing would like its church furnishings to continue to be used for ministry. Take a look at what’s available and be in touch if anyone in your presbytery can use any of these items.

Email Scams

Thanks to Presbytery of Newark for passing along this Consumer Affairs article about protecting church folks from phishing schemes targeting congregation members.

Where Are the Co-Moderators?

Vilmarie Cintrón-Olivieri
  • July 15–20, Purdue, Presbyterian Youth Triennium
Cindy Kohlmann
  • July 1–2, New York, Jarvie Commonweal Endowment Reconciliation Committee
  • July 14–17, Purdue, Presbyterian Youth Triennium

224th General Assembly (2020) Deadlines

The 224th General Assembly (2020) will be in Baltimore, Maryland, from June 20–27, 2020. Deadlines for the assembly are:

  • 180-day:  December 23, 2019 (report Commissioners and YAADs to OGA)
  • 120-day:  February 21, 2020 (amendment to/interpretation of Book of Order; reports to the assembly)
  • 60-day:  April 21, 2020 (overtures with financial implications)
  • 45-day:  May 6, 2020 (all other overtures, comments)
  • 30-day:  May 21, 2020 (consultation with affected entities)

Conference Dates

  • Big Tent. August 1–3, 2019, Baltimore, Lord Baltimore and Radisson Hotels. Register here.
  • New Stated Clerk Training. September 9–11, 2019, Louisville.
  • Mid Council Leaders Gathering. October 17–20, 2019, Baltimore, Renaissance Baltimore Harborplace Hotel.
  • Association of Stated Clerks and Association of Mid Council Leaders. October 20–21, 2019. Baltimore, Renaissance Baltimore Harborplace Hotel.
  • Mid Council Financial Network Conference. November 20–22, 2019. Virginia Beach, Wyndham Virginia Beach Oceanfront.
  • Moderators’ Conference. November 21–23, 2019. Louisville, Brown Hotel.
Are you doing something in your presbytery or synod from which others might learn? You have a standing invitation to send me articles to share.
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