Sneak Peak at January Meeting

The Transition Task force met last week to discuss our meetings going forward. One of the things we realized is that as we adapt the Milwaukee model, we want to reflect on the issues in our world and resource our congregations and ministries to respond accordingly.

In light of the election, the anxiety that so many are feeling about our future, and moving forward in an unknown world, We’ve secured a one hour conversation with Rick Ufford-Chase.


Rick Ufford-Chase was the Moderator of the 216th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA), from 2004 to 2006. He is a lifelong activist and advocate for social justice. He served in various capacities in mission on the U.S./Mexico border for nearly twenty years, where he was a co-founder of BorderLinks, Samaritans and No More Deaths. In 2008, Rick and his wife Kitty became the Co-Directors of Stony Point Center, where they helped to found the Community of Living Traditions, a multifatih, residential community of Muslims, Christians and Jews who dedicate themselves to the practice of hospitality, nonviolence, peace and justice. He currently also serves part-time as the Associate Director for Interfaith Formation for the Presbyterian Mission Agency. Rick is the Co-Moderator of the Activist Council for the Presbyterian Peace Fellowship. Rick is the father of three, Leana (17), Troy (18) and Teo (21). He is an avid outdoorsman whose first loves are rafting, kayaking, and sailing.


Rick has a new book out – Faithful Resistance: Gospel Visions for the Church in the Time of Empire  –

“Is it possible for a church that has been at the heart of Empire for as long as we have to make a course correction and move intentionally from the center of Empire to the margins?” Rick Ufford-Chase has touched the deep longing that exists in so many of us who are Christian in the United States, and responded with ideas that offer a future we know God has in store for us but can’t seem to imagine is really possible.

This is a book we should read and discuss with friends who share our longing and are ready to take a risk. If this book stays in our heads, it fails and we fail. If we use it as a springboard for daring, it is quite likely to change everything about being church in the heart of Empire.

Fourteen contributing authors offer their own ideas for ways to move the Christian church to a place of faithfulness in the midst of the empire, and Rick adds his own observations about the compromised condition of our church institutions with concrete suggestions for bringing us home to the heart of the gospel. Contributors: Annanda Barclay, Michael Benefiel, Aric Clark, Linda Eastwood, Alison Harrington, Rabia Terri Harris, Jin S. Kim, Alex Patchin McNeill, Brian Merritt, Ched Myers, J. Herbert Nelson, II, John Nelson, Laura Newby, Germán Zárate. Foreword by Carol Howard Merritt.

Rick will have books to purchase at the meeting. We also encourage you to get a copy and begin reading as a way of preparing for this first meeting of 2017.

Blessings to you as you welcome the Christ child. May God come anew to us, to our congregations and ministries and to our world!




5 Comments Add yours

  1. peter gregory says:

    “The anxiety that so many feel about their future”.

    Anxiety is a most interesting term. Taken in a medical or therapeutic context It is a DSM-V dx, in the general mood disorders family of conditions which can cover a host of external or internal symptoms ranging from a general feeling of dislocation, excessive worry, phobias, all the way to PTSD type of responses, panic attacks and physiological responses. The term is usually associated with another commonly used term, ‘fear’. Applying a simple word algorithm to the primary web/blog sites of the Left, Huffington, KOS, Move-on, the terms fear and anxiety are the words most used in their media responses to the events of 8 Nov. The coverage and response of that end of the ideological spectrum parallels in many ways the common response experienced right after 9-11.

    From a theological or Biblical perspective fear and/or anxiety as a human condition is usually associated with states which are either mitigated or transformed with an encounter with the Divine or Holy. “fear not for I bring tidings of great joy” is a commonly used narrative at Christmas which speaks to the intent of God when dealing with the human condition. As Christians approach the world and current events 6 or 10 Nov or 20 Jan there are many states and emotions they are to take to the world, fear and or anxiety is not one of them.

    I have always wondered that if about 85,000 in Pa, Michigan or Ohio voted another way or came out to the polls, and the election went in another path, would the progressive-liberal establishment, its religious entities included, would have been dancing and singing, praising God for his providence and grace? Would presbytery seek to calm the fears and anxieties of its clergy or members? Most interesting, for if one’s faith, one’s external mood or internal sense of trust and hope in the world is dependent on a secular political process, or the variables of polls and elections, how shallow and how fragile such faith and folks are. Sort of like folks needing a big hug. Its going to be OK.


  2. peter gregory says:

    In terms of the new Presbytery policy on Terms of Call/Minimum compensation, call neutrality, the steps taken are ones in the right direction. In that the new guidelines provide a sense of transparency and ease it terms of how a church seeks to structure its clergy support packages. And it tends to simplify the math of how to structure various situations and placements. But to be honest, central NJ tends to have a very high relative cost of living and tax structure compared to other regions of the country, especially in terms of housing. So does 74-75K reflect a minimum level of compensation to maintain a viable living situation in this area? Likely not, and still requires some assumptions about spousal employment, other income streams, and housing matters, especially where a Manse is not in the equation. So likely while 75K total package may fit into the medium household income, expenses, cost of living in most areas, the reality is that in this region something approaching 6 figures as a minimum level of compensation is what really would be defined a a minimum household wage to maintain oneself or a family. Now how that is interpreted or implemented in what is rapidly becoming a small church presbytery. Where 30-50% of current churches are either on their last pastor, called their last pastor ,at least full time, or are currently staffed by something other than “full time” called/installed is anybody’s guess going forward.

    But by far the greatest need of the smaller churches remains engaging a current call and placement process where it can take 2-3 years, sometimes longer between pastoral calls, and how COM tends to manage the stress and anxiety of these smaller churches in times of pastoral transitions. The entire structure of missions self studies-interims-CIFs seems to be an ossified and antiquated structure designed for a type of church and denomination that is passing out of existence with each passing year. And will be biggest challenge for COM going forward vice fixing the edges of the methods of pastoral compensation.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. peter gregory says:

    Just reviewed the amendments to be voted upon at next meeting. I find 16-G “Access to the Lord’s Table most interesting”. I over 37 years of ministry in a variety of placements and setting I do not recall one instance of making a personal inquiry as to either some one’s baptismal background or church, denominational affiliation prior to any Communion sacrament. In the military context you provide and facilitate all, apart from any theological or liturgical qualifications of the Sailors or Marines in one’s charge or placement. In the church we do not hire bouncers or ID card check people at the front door to screen out the unwashed. In Lambertville any given Sunday, 5 to 10 tourist, travels, visitors will show up any given Sunday we have the doors open for church. By the time we get to the Sacrament, we have already had the prayers of confessions, pardons and petitions, I think those who darken our door figure out in the 20 seconds where they are and what worship is all about. As to the exact denominational, membership, baptismal status that a them and God thing, not mine to either adjudicate or process prior to the Meal. If the Lord lays it upon their hearts to have further conversations of faith, so much the better.


  4. peter gregory says:

    Continuing through the proposed amendments: 16-D renouncing jurisdiction. After reading and rereading a number of times, I still do not understand what is being, or attempting to be accomplished by the amendment, that is not already in the Book Of Discipline, which now comprises over half of the Book of Order in volume and pages. How many have ever read the Book Of Discipline to start with? Any organization, the Church, Chamber of Commerce, the Tuesday book club has the duty, rights, obligations, and freedoms to set standards for membership or affinity to said organization, and the same freedom to set policy and guidelines for suspension or removal for said organization of club. Again such policies are clearly enumerated already in Book of Discipline. A TE convicted of a crime of sexual abuse, trafficking in child porn and alike, or pleads guilty of such, is already on State and Federal registers, FBI, Social Security data basis, State DOTs. In essence their lives are over. They never come off. And even if said former TE comes back decades later and says “I am cured” or I have been healed and seek reconciliation. I doubt that any church, religious organization, charity, group, that carries a liability policy or indemnity for volunteers or employees would ever take such a risk in hiring them. If the Catholic sex abuse scandals has taught religious organizations anything, it it that and the dangers of sweeping stuff under the rug.

    And what of TE renouncing due to other issues, alcoholism. substance abuse, financial irregularities in the church, or in matters of schisms or church property disputes. Which account for the vast majority of such actions. I do not see this amendment dealing with those matters. Nor does the amendment speak to Board of Pension matters with those who renounce for whatever reason. As benefit vesting is governed by Federal code and laws, it falls outside denominational polity matters regardless.


  5. peter gregory says:

    Working through the Proposed amendments. 16-H new directory of worship.

    I think a goodly number of Presbyterians treat the Book of Order as they would a owners manual with a car ,or a self help book for home emergencies. If the car does not turn over, go to page XX or if the faucet leaks, go to chapter X. And I am sure that’s an application, but at the end of the day it’s a Constitution in the polity sense. not so much a policy or liturgical manual. That stated, the case has yet to be made that the “old” directory of worship was all that deficient or in need of overhaul. Much like a church that may continue to use a hymnal published in 1947, rather than upgrade every 3 or so years. Presbytery or the powers that be may not like it, but have little recourse to intervene otherwise. I suspect the new directory will be adopted, or not. I further doubt it will change anything though in terms of individual or corporate modalities of worship and practice.


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