For Our Times

Adaptive Leadership is the way that living human systems learn and adapt to a changing environment so that they can fulfill their purpose for being.” – Tod Bolsinger, Canoeing the Mountains.

Greetings to you in the joy of the Risen Christ!

“The days and the weeks have begun to resemble each other,” is what I hear as I talk to folks around the presbytery. Yes, perhaps that is true. But we are in a time of change. Frankly, we’ve been in a time of change for a very long while, but this crisis has moved the necessity to change from somewhere in the back of our minds to the forefront of how we must move forward.

We often speak of “returning to normal”. We won’t. We will be “returning to the future”. “Normal” will not look like it did before. Of course, we’ll go back into our buildings – sometime, slowly, with different ways of touching and being together. That is an important part of who we are as congregations. And we will have conversations about those technical changes that we need to begin to make as detailed in the “24 Questions a Church Should Ask Before Reopening” that I shared with you last week.

On Monday May 4 at 10, our learning opportunity ZOOM will center around these technical questions. While we have no details on the who, what, where or when of reopening our sanctuaries, there are certainly things we can do in anticipation of that happening. Come together with your colleagues and other leaders in the presbytery to ponder these questions and share ideas.

Friends, these will be “technical” changes.  Relatively easy and non-disruptive. It is the “adaptive” changes that will challenge us more. How can the Church (big C) adapt to the changing environment outside of its walls? The world is different than when many of our pews were filled, and it will continue to change very quickly. How can we become that adaptive group of followers of Christ who will continue to speak to so many “nones” or “dones” some of whom may even have dropped into one of our livestreams or YouTubes?

Big calling? Maybe. But not bigger than the calling to lead God’s people with imagination, intelligence and love. Now that is a big calling.


·        On April 20 th Ellie Johns Kelly led us in a good discussion around stewardship and online giving. A main takeaway: your ability to maintain, and even increase, your congregational giving during this time is directly tied to the story that you tell about how you are demonstrating the love of Jesus during this time.  Her contact information and a link to a webinar will be available on the HRP website.

·        A reminder that Carrie Mitchell of the Board of Pensions will be with us on Monday April 27 th to detail changes, offerings and relief from the board. Bring your questions! You should have received a ZOOM invite.

·        Clergy Connection for clergy presently serving in pulpits continues on Wednesday at 10. Come to listen, share and relax with your colleagues.

·        Spiritual Practices for clergy continues on Fridays at 10 with Leslie Mott. Take time out of your week to check in and breathe!

·        We were excited by the participation of so many in the Introduction to Clergy Coaching by Chip Lowe. If you missed the ZOOM, a recording is available on the HRP website, as is the application for six sessions with an IFC Certified Coach. Top executives and clergy around the country utilize a coach in their professional life. You should too. This is the perfect opportunity to give it a try!

·        Twenty congregations have accessed the Congregational Connection grant. There is no deadline, but don’t forget that this is here for you!

·        Several HRP congregations operate foodbanks that have seen a significant increase in need. You have seen it on the news, and we are seeing it play out in our foodbanks. Patterson, Dobbs Ferry South, Union Newburgh, and Jeffersonville have all received emergency grants through Presbyterian Disaster Assistance. Only a few days remain to access these funds; the deadline is April 28 th. We are planning a ZOOM gathering of food pantries soon, so stay tuned. In the meanwhile, contact your HRP colleagues to see how you can help address this critical emergency!

·        The Woman 2 Woman program has been collecting soap for use by the women of Taconic and Bedford Hills Correctional Facilities. Contact Dorothy Muller to see how your congregation can help. Be sure to congratulate her on her new grandson, born on April 24!

·        Mark Salmon shares news of the Sanctuary Series of South Salem Church, which will be livestreamed at

·        The 224 th General Assembly has been changed to a remote on-line event that will consider critical business only. More information is coming soon, however this means the overtures that we were to forward to GA are no longer under consideration and will be referred to the 225 th General Assembly. More information is available here:

·        You are keeping Casey Carbone, our technology consultant, very busy and that is wonderful! Casey has produced a document on the analytics of your on-line worship service. I’ve attached it here and it is available on the HRP website.

·        Finally, I want to emphasize that this is a challenging time for everyone. As seen on Facebook recently, “We are all navigating the same storm, but our boats are very different.” You are not alone, and you have options. The Board of Pensions has just increased your Employee Assistance Plan (EAP) benefits to include 10 sessions. In addition, a colleague of yours, Rev. Dr. Tim Ives, has offered his services to HRP clergy. Tim is a licensed psychoanalyst with a small practice. Read about Tim here and reach out to him in confidence if you feel a need.   Healthy congregations will not exist without healthy leaders, so please take good care of you. 

Did you notice the title change of this weekly letter? It is no longer For These Times. We are moving past These Times to OUR TIMES. This is the time to which we have been called, each and every one of us. What a gift! What a challenge! We will journey together, the Hands and Feet of Christ, the people of God, into the world that awaits us!

God's Peace and continued blessings-

Deb Milcarek