Our congregation hosted the Eastern Oregon Presbytery this weekend. It was a great experience! Since we are so far-flung, we have two two-day meetings and one single-day meeting per year, and everyone drives over hills and valleys to make it there. The host church gets to provide hospitality, and in return everyone donates generously to whatever the host church is interested in (for us, our local mission efforts).
So all the hospitality-providers of our church rallied up and cooked, cleaned, decorated, and opened their homes to the elders and pastors and staff that came. We had sign-up sheets for weeks in advance, collecting signatures for everything from meat and potatoes to cinnamon rolls and quiches.
I turned our kids into hospitality-providers by firing up the cider press. The kids got to work and provided more than five gallons of cider for the Presbytery. The next day I reached the "offering" section of my worship curriculum for children's Sunday School, and it was concrete and made sense: this work is an Offering. It was also joyful work of course, and I apparently came away "glowing" from that joy.
Here's a picture of the process: when you squeeze cider you are left with pulp. The pulp of one pressing formed pretty solidly into an "apple cake" which the kids mimed at eating:
The business of Presbytery... was also joyous! I do believe every vote was unanimous, with several resounding YESes and AMENs. We did have a few moments of utter presbythink, such as "well the committee came to agreement so quickly that we thought, something must be wrong, so we're asking for another hour of discussion in the whole council," ... and ... "we have redevelopment funds available as soon as we define the word redevelopment." (hit palm to forehead. do it. what else can you do???)
But OTHER than those moments, we had some great and momentous pieces of business. The Administrative Commission that formed to revive a dying Tutuilla Presbyterian Church a few years back was disbanded with thanks for their effort. The church is now quite alive, with 19 in attendance at the "new members" class, chiefs of rival tribes sitting next to one another in worship, a youth group, a Sunday School, a thriving new CLP (commissioned lay pastor). The congregation does not need any more of the helpful Administration from on high -- they are ready to stand on their own feet.
Grateful thanks were given to a retired pastor who consented to serve as interim in the LaGrande church. He should only have a few weeks left in that position because.... drumroll...
PRESBYTERY APPROVED a clergy couple to fill the LaGrande vacancy. They are to share a single full time job, and have time left over for their 2 year old son. They are fresh out of Austin seminary, this will be their first call AND their final qualification for ordination. The way we do this is to read their statements of faith, bring them up to the floor mic, and interrogate them on their "Christian faith and views in theology, the Bible, the Sacraments, and the government of the church." (Can you lose your salvation? Why does salvation matter anyway? What is your theology of baptism?). Having satisfied ourselves with examination of the candidates they were sent out while the presbytery debated their suitability for the call and for ordination. We brought them in, all stood and all applauded as they grinned and laughed.
(Talitha, did you take notes? This is what you face in a few years.)
The soon to be REVERENDS Keith and Laura Hudson. Welcome to Eastern Oregon Presbytery!!!!