By Rev. Scott Lumsden, Executive Presbyter
As we settle into the fall, I have some exciting staff updates to share. Many in our presbytery already know Tali Hairston, but it may be news that Tali is now our Director of Community Engagement and Reconciliation. Tali is a nationally recognized leader in racial reconciliation work from his 17 years as Seattle Pacific University's former Director of the John M. Perkins Center for Reconciliation, Leadership Training, and Community Development. In addition, Tali brings a deep commitment to the civic and faith communities in this city, region, and state. We are very excited to have Tali lend his leadership to our congregations as we all seek to engage the communities we serve in more just and faithful ways.
Helen Hall, who has been working on a contract basis for many months, is now employed full time as our Business and Finance Manager. Helen oversees the day to day management of all our presbytery properties and financial operations. Helen also gives support to finance, HR, and property related issues of our churches.
Both of these changes are very important as they are part of our goal of better supporting the mission and ministry of our churches.
These changes didn't just happen however, they were planned. Ten years worth of work to change the financial picture in Seattle Presbytery was not done just for the benefit of the balance sheet -- it was done to put us in a position to grow.
Many years of hard work to keep our staffing structure flexible, nimble, and efficient was not done just to keep costs low, but to build the core functions upon which we would expand our service to congregations.
Tali's position is partly funded out of Grant funds, and Helen's position is mostly funded out of a portion of the income from property management. Of course, neither of these additions will affect the level of Grant funding available to our churches. And as usual, none of the cost of these additional investments in our ministry will be borne by our congregations.
It feels very good be able to see these plans come to fruition.
To this end, I am also very excited that conversations have begun around the larger vision and mission of Seattle Presbytery. The listening sessions that grew out of the Seattle First decision in July have been helpful to the leadership of the presbytery. In particular, the Property & Finance committee has heard the concerns expressed about affordable housing, new ministry development, and property partnerships that better align with our collective mission, are already being explored relating to future use of property. The Vacant Property policy that is referenced in the motion to amend is thus not needed as this work is already underway, and the development of such a guiding policy will be brought by the Executive Board in January for the presbytery's approval.
Last, I want to remember Esther Laing, Eliana's sister, who passed away recently. Esther was a dear friend to the entire staff and was known to commissioners for her loving, friendly, and gracious support during our presbytery dinners -- something she did with her wonderful husband Bobby. We miss her terribly and ask that you continue to pray for the Laing/Maxim family.
Please review the reports as you prepare for the meeting on Tuesday. And have a blessed weekend.
Rev. Scott Lumsden