By Scott Lumsden, SeaPres Executive Presbyter
God’s peace be with you as we gather together for our first meeting of the program year. I pray you enjoyed a full summer and are engaged in meaningful ministry this fall. May Christ who fills us all with his Spirit, fill us even more in our gathering as a presbytery so that we may serve one another and this world with deep faith, renewed hope and the reconciling love of Christ.
Presbytery Meeting Schedule
First, thank you for giving this year’s presbytery meeting schedule a try -- 4 meetings, two on Tuesday evenings and two on Saturday mornings. Though there were some good reasons to try it, it didn’t work. The meeting schedule that Coordinating Council is proposing this year takes into account some lessons we’ve learned. The most important of those lessons is that we need meetings at predictable intervals to get our regular business done. The gap this summer was too long. The new schedule addresses the gaps by having a presbytery meeting on the third Tuesday once a quarter (January, April, July, October). And with the weather being perfect for a ferry ride, we’d like the July meeting to be somewhere on the Kitsap Peninsula.
PresbyFest & SeaPres Café
Another change in our meeting schedule is to go back to an annual PresbyFest event -- this time in the spring. These are very well attended events with good resources for church leaders and staff and having this event in the spring will avoid a presbytery schedule crunch in January (its former date). We’re pleased to continue to offer SeaPres Cafés for topical events as needed (usually on Saturday mornings).
Per Capita & Budgets
I’m pleased to report that for the seventh year in a row, we’ve kept per capita at $40. We continue to be frugal and smart with our resources so that you can be missional with yours. Our Mission Assets budget (property management, formerly called Church Extension) is projected to add significantly to our resources (for the first time in a long time). Upon the recommendation of the Property & Finance team and the Coordinating Council, these funds will be put to use through a grant fund established for our churches. I’m very excited that these funds will be used to support the needs of our churches both now and in the future.
Coordinating Council has made significant progress recently on the establishment of a separate Grant Fund (mentioned above)for the furtherance of our mission as a presbytery. It is anticipated that if the current level of giving continues from our churches to mission, an additional amount from the proceeds of our Mission Assets could create a Grant Fund in excess of $200,000 a year. These funds would provide support for new church development as well as ongoing congregational needs.
Two New Worshipping Communities
Through work of the committee on Catalyzing Missional Communities, we’re delighted to welcome two new worshiping communities into partnership with Seattle Presbytery. Feast Community, led by Mike Yonkers, meets in the Greenwood neighborhood. The International Disciples, led by Polly Yorioka, meet in the University of Washington campus. We’ll be hearing more about their ministries at our meeting and on our website in the days to come.
Blessings of Community
We continue to pray for our partners in other presbyteries as we thank God for the blessings of this presbytery. Sadly we continue to hear of presbyteries and church leaders embroiled in deep challenges regarding their future. That we continue to be named as one of the strong, healthy presbyteries at national gatherings speaks well of the commitment we have to one another in Christ despite the divisiveness of the culture around us. I pray God might use this strength and the ministry that we are doing in our communities to witness to Christ’s reconciling love.