A New Job, and Renewed Vision

December 19, 2011

As you may have heard by now, the Presbyterian Coalition has appointed me its new “Renewal Director” effective January 1, 2012. You can read more about the Coalition and its purpose on its website.  I am delighted with this appointment on many levels and feel that God orchestrated the various factors to bring about this result. I have previously served on the Board, and one year as a Co-Moderator, so the Coalition family is familiar and dear to me. It will be a privilege to serve with this organization, for Kingdom purposes in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

My vision for ministry—bringing the Word to life—will find specialized application in my work with the Coalition. Building on the hundreds of relationships that have developed over the last twenty-five years, I hope to give leadership to an effort that goes way beyond “renewal” to “reconstruction.” This part is nothing new: I feel the urgent need to facilitate the equipping of every single Presbyterian for the work of service, witness, and faithfulness that will be required in the years ahead. Through the networks already in existence, I hope to strengthen ties and encourage the Coalition (and really, the entire Renewal Network) to offer presbyters opportunities to flourish in their faith, find their niche in Presbyterian decision-making, and feel ready and equipped for effective service in the church.

So now, a word about this blog, which I plan on continuing even as I adapt to my new role: I want to say clearly that what I post here will be my own thoughts on matters before us, and they are not to be construed as coming from or representing the Coalition. The Coalition is governed by a Board of Directors, which has authorized me and the Moderator Steve Marsh to represent the organization when required. That work, those statements, and the official viewpoints of the Board will be shared on the Coalition website. But here on Bringing the Word to Life, I am a “private citizen,” so to speak.

As a further “point of personal privilege,” I list the projects I will be working on in 2012:

1. My book, coming out of my doctoral dissertation “Reclaiming the Ministry of Teaching in the Missional Setting.” Clearly, this thing needs a new title for popular consumption! But because I feel its themes are so vital and necessary for the rebuilding of the church, I place high priority on getting it done and published as soon as possible.

2. The remedial case, Parnell et al v. San Francisco Presbytery, which has one more hearing before the General Assembly Permanent Judicial Commission in April.

3. The San Francisco Presbytery Evangelical Caucus, of which I am moderator, coordinating processes for achieving differentiation in a theologically divided presbytery.

3. Preparation for General Assembly, of course (I’ll learn on January 31 whether I will be going as a commissioner or as an observer).

4. Ongoing parish-associate ministry at Saint Matthew Lutheran Church, which became my worshipping community when I changed lanes into academia five years ago. Praise God for these people and a delightful staff who keep me from going off the Geek-Deep-End.

My postings are going to be somewhat erratic from now until January 2. I’m finding that the PCUSA news feed is slowing down quite a bit, so there is not as much to respond to at the moment. But as thoughts strike me, I’ll write and share. The best way to keep track when I do post is to subscribe to the blog, which is easy to do and can be cancelled at any time.

And now, a few days of full-time Christmas preparation!

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7 Responses to “A New Job, and Renewed Vision”

  1. Gerry Nelson, Basking Ridge, NJ Says:

    I’ve been receiving your email blog entries for a couple of months now; I find them insightful and challenging. Wholeheartedly agree with you on the need to reclaim the ministry of teaching. Glad to hear that you will be continuing this teaching ministry.

    • revmary Says:

      Hey thanks for the compliment, Gerry! Teaching is definitely something to be reclaimed; I’m glad you share the priority. So let’s get to it, shall we?! Thanks for writing.


  2. Congratulations – and thank you for accepting this call. After reading your blog regularly for the past couple of months, I am certain that you will bring godly wisdom and a Christ-like heart to your ministry in leading the Coalition. And, I look forward to many more articles that I can link to through our congregation’s “Updates” website.

  3. revmary Says:

    Equipping is what I’m about, so I was thrilled to see you linking a couple of my blogs to your people. If you become aware of a topic or skill or theological point that your folks would need/appreciate, let me know and I’ll get to work on it. Sometimes I am flush with ideas; other days it’s a desert, so it’s always nice to hear from my readers. Thanks, Jeff!

  4. Jim Berkley Says:

    I am so pleased that you will lead the Coalition. I can’t think of a better candidate to do so.

    However, good luck trying to be a “private citizen” speaking in your blog. The public simply cannot so differentiate between Mary-the-individual and Mary-the-Coalition-leader.

    What you write in your blog WILL be attributed to the Coalition. It simply will happen, no matter your disclaimers to the contrary. Simply expect it. I know from experience.

    Providentially, what you write is so clear, right, and true that it will be a feather in the Coalition’s cap. It will help the cause. But it will be seen as official, whether you want it to or not.

    Jim Berkley
    Roslyn, WA

    • revmary Says:

      Jim, thank you for sharing your experience on this topic. I suppose it is naive to think that people can separate the two venues, and perhaps as you note it is unnecessary. It has been important to me over the years to be an integrated person, rather than compartmentalized into roles. I think my best approach is to do what I have been doing, and talk to the Board members (who obviously had access to my blog all along and during the interview process). I don’t plan on “going rogue” anytime soon 🙂

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