Elder Doska Ross is Synod Executive and Stated Clerk
Report of Synod Executive to Commission of Assembly
Do not remember the former things, or consider the things of old. I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert… to give drink to my chosen people, the people whom I formed for myself so that they might declare my praise.
Some of us are just presbytery junkies, and I own up to this addiction! During September I had the opportunity to be present at six presbytery meetings within 15 days’ time. I had to miss San Gabriel’s meeting because it occurred at the same time Santa Barbara was saying goodbye to its Executive, Jan Armstrong, and I really wanted to be there to honor and thank him for his service.
t was fascinating to observe the similarities and differences from meeting to meeting; each presbytery definitely has its own character and culture. Even more interesting is how the “feel” of those meetings has changed over the last few years. We have turned a corner. Most have moved from anger, sorrow and grief to being able once again to rejoice in our shared ministries, to laugh at corny jokes, and to focus on what appears to be a much more positive future, one that holds out promise and hope. What joy it is to see that most of us are now refocused and eager to move into the many ways God is calling us forward! This includes over 25 new worshipping communities, some of whom we’ll learn about at the Synod Assembly in November.
Another of these new prospects was evident in a gathering last week of what used to be the Southern California Ecumenical Council. This 100-year old group which has long been supported by Presbyterians is becoming a new thing – instead of a board, they will be meeting in a forum configuration, open to anyone who is interested in the topic of the day. I’ll be letting you know about these opportunities as they arise in the months to come. What joy to work together across ecumenical lines on ministries God is placing in front of us!
Many of you have asked about the conversations occurring among the synods about our future. I’ve told you in previous reports about the consultations we’ve had with the Synods of the Southwest and Pacific. At the end of November Maurice Caskey and Bill Hughes will accompany me to Dallas where folks from all 16 synods will gather to decide how to answer the GA mandate to create a new configuration of ten to twelve synods. At this point it seems doubtful that any synods are willing to merge with each other; most, like us, have found that there are plenty of ways to do ministry together, but that merging is not necessary or desirable for that to happen. There are overtures going to GA asking that the mandate be rescinded and presbyteries across the country are considering whether to concur in that request. Right now, I’m guessing that we will continue to exist as the Synod of Southern California and Hawaii, at least into the near future. So we are called up to find new ways to focus our time and attention on supporting the presbyteries in this region as they support the congregations and ministries. Thank you for the part you play in this endeavor! What joy it is to sing God’s praise in the midst of everything in which we are and will be involved. I can’t wait to see what lies ahead for us. Praise be to God!