Between a rousing opening sermon by the Reverend Dr. J. Herbert Nelson II, Stated Clerk of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), and a reflective closing worship led by the Reverend Frank Clark Spencer, President of the Board of Pensions, more than 300 elected and volunteer leaders of mid councils from throughout the country attended workshops and plenary sessions at the Mid Council Leaders Gathering, October 15-17.
The goal of the gathering: Deliver updates on the state of the PC(USA) and the Board's drive to serve more, serve better, and serve the Church — and inspire leadership in a rapidly changing environment.
The Board and the Office of the General Assembly (OGA) believed that it was important to share the messages of the Mid Council Leaders Gathering throughout the Church, so they videotaped much of what took place. The videos are available on the Videos page of pensions.org.
Instead of holding Regional Benefits Consultations, as in years past, the Board joined with OGA to co-host the event, previously known as the Fall Polity Conference, in St. Louis. Gathering together, at one time and in one place, for integrated purposes conserved the time and resources of both agencies as well as of the mid councils.
"The Mid Council Leaders Gathering was about conserving resources, yes, but it also provided an opportunity for the Board of Pensions to engage more deeply with those from other corners of the Church," said the Reverend Dr. John G. McFayden, Executive Vice President and Chief of Church Engagement at the Board. "It provided a forum in which we could consider benefits in the critical context of the ministry and mission of the Presbyterian Church. Where better to do that than in collaboration with the Office of the General Assembly and mid council leaders!"
Messages of joy, hope, resilience, and action permeated the gathering.
"I do not understand how we can preach the transforming love of Jesus Christ and then throw up our hands and proclaim our church's demise," Rev. Spencer said as he and Rev. Nelson sat for a lively question-and-answer session. The Stated Clerk said he was "trying to preach up a revival."
"The Church is still reforming," Rev. Spencer said. "God is leading us to somewhere new. We need to keep reaching out to each other and listening to each other as we follow God's lead."