John Heaton, Connections Commission, Communications Team
The recent Vision Discernment Process revealed a desire on the part of many people to know more about how Christ Presbyterian works. This is the first in a series of articles in Tidings about the internal workings of this congregation and this church.
One of the surest ways to get a laugh out of any long-time Presbyterian is to make a joke about committees. Back in November I posted this message as my Facebook status: Sign you've joined a Presbyterian church: 3 days after being introduced in worship as a new member, you're at a committee meeting. Among my friends who commented on it or "liked" it were two Presbyterian ministers, four elders, and several other Presbyterians from churches around the country. Plus one Roman Catholic who didn't get it.
What my Catholic friend didn't understand was that committees are the lifeblood of any Presbyterian congregation. The Session works hard to govern and guide the church, but they can't do it all themselves. That's where the committees come in. Christ Presbyterian is no exception; we call them "commissions," but the principle is the same: making the hard work of running the church a little easier by sharing the burden. Christ Presbyterian has six commissions, each one of them responsible for carrying out the tasks necessary to maintain the smooth operation of the church.
The Christian Formation Commission oversees the programs that provide opportunities for learning and spiritual growth. The Vision Discernment Process showed hunger on the part of our members to build a more personal relationship with the Lord and to incorporate our faith in Christ into our daily lives. Under the leadership of chair Guy Van Rennselaer, the commission will be working with Director of Christian Formation Jake Germann in the coming year to strengthen our existing Christian formation programs for youth and teens and expand educational opportunities for adults.
Christ Presbyterian is a mission-focused church, one that highly values individual and corporate service to God's kingdom outside the walls of the church, and the Christian Witness Commission plays a big part in helping us live out that mission, both locally and internationally. The chairs, David Strait and Colin Grove, and the other commission members work to maintain our existing mission projects, such as our work housing the homeless through The Road Home and our partnerships with ministries in the Middle East, Mexico, Africa. They are also working to identify new pathways for service, such as the Lights for Learning project to bring solar-powered lamps to the Nyamagabe region of Rwanda.
The Connections Commission is Christ Presbyterian's newest commission, created by the Session last October to be responsible for welcoming, hospitality, communications, and increasing participation in church activities. The commission's main goal for the coming year is to improve and expand communications within the church and to the world, using existing media such as Tidings and the church's website as well as new avenues such as Facebook and Twitter. The Connections Commission will also continue the work of the old Hospitality and Welcoming Committee, making sure Christ Presbyterian is a place where all are welcome and made to feel part of the church family. The chair is Ellen Murdoch.
The Personnel Commission, led by Chris Spencer, supports and oversees Christ Presbyterian's paid staff. They develop the policies and practices for the staff, including the ministers. They sit in on the annual staff progress reviews conducted by the Head of Staff, Pastor Dale Chapin, and conduct the annual progress review of the Head of Staff. They also play a part in hiring decisions when positions come open.
Christ Presbyterian is lucky to have many devoted members and a hard-working staff, but it takes more than just that to carry out our mission to the world and support our vision for the future, and that's where the Stewardship Commission comes in. Jerry DeKruif leads the commission in its mission to support the congregation by ensuring its financial security through sound budgeting practices and a healthy endowment fund, and maintaining the church building. It takes careful planning and careful attention to the kind of details most people would just as soon not think about, but their hard work is what makes it possible to Christ Presbyterian to function and enables its members to achieve so much.
Lastly, the Worship Commission facilitates the worship life of the church. Carol Quintana and the other members of the commission work closely with the pastors to guide and provide the resources necessary to provide worship experiences that are relevant and accessible to members of the congregation, whether they are long-time churchgoers or unchurched, enriching their lives and bringing them closer to God. The Worship Commission also oversees Christ Presbyterian's music ministry.
In the past, each commission has operated largely independent of the others. But that's about to change! Starting this month, all six commissions will meet on the same night. Each Commission Night will start with the commissions meeting together for devotions and announcements before breaking for individual meetings. The hope is that meeting together will help each commission understand more fully what the others are working on, facilitate cooperation between the commissions on issues of common concern, and allow the members of all the commissions to feel more connected with each other and the life of the church as whole.
The first Commission Night will be held in the Fellowship Hall on Monday, January 10, 2011, at 7:00 p.m. Everyone is welcome to attend, even if you're not currently serving on a commission. Especially if you're not on a commission! The greatest strength of any church is its membership, and the more members are involved in the life of the church, the stronger it grows. This is particularly true of Presbyterian churches, where leadership comes from the bottom up, and while Christ Presbyterian is already a strong church, we're not so strong that we wouldn't welcome additional help. So think about which of our six commissions best matches your interests and strengths, and we look forward to seeing you on January 10.