Energy and creativity were flowing as representatives from congregations across Lehigh Presbytery met on Saturday, September 21, 2019 to talk about change and transition in our churches.
The September Stated Assembly was held at First Presbyterian Church of Stroudsburg, and focused on the current climate of change in the PC(USA). Rev. Rhonda Kruse, the new Transitional Presbytery Leader, shared a message of hope and transformation during the worship service portion of the assembly.
Kruse emphasized that one of her primary roles as the transitional leader will be helping members of the presbytery “to open their minds and hearts to discern God’s call upon the Body of Christ.”
“If Lehigh Presbytery and its congregations are going to successfully transition into God’s new vision for the church, we have to work as one, as members of one body,” she said. “We must all be willing to take a chance on change or we will remain stuck in the status quo. Breaking old patterns of behavior will mean engaging in more collaboration and cooperation and breaking down historic silos, on both the church and presbytery level. We can no longer be lone rangers; we have to partner with one another and share resources.”
Kruse went on to quote the denomination’s Stated Clerk, the Rev. Dr. J. Herbert Nelson who, whenever he’s asked about the future of the PC(USA), responds with “We’re not dying; we’re reforming.”
“He’ right,” she said. “We’re not dying. We’re transitioning from the way we’ve always done it to a new way of being the church. Do not fear. God is in this.”
The theme of change and cooperation carried through the assembly as Rev. Ed Freeborn, chair of the Committee on Ministry reported that the Faith United Presbyterian Church of Pen Argyl and the Presbyterian Parish of Bangor-Roseto have requested to merge their congregations, a move that Kruse lauded as a model for change.
After the business meeting and worship service, the attendees watched a video recapping this summer’s Youth Triennium, in which four youth (Evan Gill, Lucas Swanson, Ella Wiese, and Callie Falzone) and one adult leader (Rev. Nicole Vogel) discussed the great experience they had representing Lehigh Presbytery at the Triennium.
Attendees then worked in small groups to discuss ways their churches can grow their outreach ministries by focusing on what their passions are, what they are presently doing, and if those two areas are the same.
Written by: Rev. Christine Kass
Pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Hokendauqua