I mentioned not too long ago that my church recently called a new pastor. Before coming to us, he was the pastor of a church in Dayton, Ohio, and as such he was a member of the Miami Presbytery. (Presbyteries are regional governing bodies made up of all the Presbyterian churches in a given area.) While he started serving our congregation earlier this month, he couldn't be officially installed as our pastor until being received as a member of the National Capital Presbytery. Receiving a minister who is a member in good standing of another Presbytery is a routine matter, but the transfer of membership has to be formally approved by the Presbytery.
Our new pastor was scheduled to appear before the Presbytery at its January stated meeting, which was scheduled to be held this past Tuesday. The Presbytery has six stated meetings each year. Three of the stated meetings are held during the day, and last five hours or so. The other three are evening meetings, which last three to three-and-one-half hours. Typically, I don't go to the day meetings, because, well, they're held during the day. On the other hand, I wanted to see the new pastor received, so I made plans to take a long lunch. I would run up to National Presbyterian Church, where the meeting was being held, arriving just in time to see him received, then go back to work. Couldn't be simpler.
On Monday, the Presbytery announced that due to the inclement weather, they were postponing the meeting until Friday. No problem from my perspective: I could take a long lunch on Friday as well as I could on Tuesday. And so that's what I did, arriving just in time to see an executive from the Synod of the Mid-Atlantic (a synod is to a presbytery what a presbytery is to a Presbyterian church) presenting an award to NCP for, essentially, contributing a lot of money to the synod. While that was going on, I scanned the crowd for the new pastor and the Elder Commissioners representing my church. I finally spotted the pastor and his wife, so I made my way over to his table. When I reached him, I realized that there were no other people from my church there with him. "Is there anyone else from the church here?" I asked. He said that to his knowledge, there was not. One of the Elders who had been planning to attend the meeting on Tuesday couldn't come to the rescheduled meeting, and the other had fallen and torn her hamstring on Wednesday. Our church was therefore unrepresented among the voting Presbyters. (Our pastor was of course not eligible to vote on anything, because he was still hadn't been received into the Presbytery.)
So I went out to the lobby and registered myself as an Elder Commissioner representing my church. And instead of going back to work after the new pastor was received into the Presbytery, I stayed for the rest of the meeting. The meeting was not entirely uninteresting; I got to vote on the approval of several constitutional amendments (or more precisely, on whether NCP would vote to approve those amendments at the next meeting of the PC(USA) General Assembly), and I actually got to vote to receive the new pastor. My vote made no difference, of course -- he was received unanimously -- but symbolically it was nice that a member of his new congregation was part of the process.
The meeting let out around 3:30, at which point I just decided to take the rest of the day off. I could have returned to my office, but it would have taken at least 30 minutes to get there, and then I would have only had an hour before having to leave to catch my bus home. So I took an early bus home.
Kind of an anti-climatic ending. Sorry.