January 4,  2018
What is a Presbytery?
(part 4 of 4)
by: Anne Meredith Wilson
Witherspoon Press PC(USA)

Can we tell our commissioners how to vote?

Presbyterians believe in freedom of conscience, in our right to read the bible, to study the issues, and to form our own opinions. We understand that God's truth is revealed to us in God's time, not ours, and that in this lifetime we will never know the whole truth. When we send our ministers and elders to higher levels of church government, we send them as commissioners, not representatives. We commission them to be faithful to their beliefs, sending them with confidence in their ability to listen and to be open to the voices and ideas of others, and with the authority to make their own decisions. Commissioners--both ministers and elders--are charged with working together to find the will of Christ, not the will of certain people or special interest groups.

"Decently and in order" is a phrase we often use to describe ourselves, sometimes in jest, but always with respect for the system that makes us uniquely Presbyterian. We value our interdependent method of governing ourselves and relating to other churches and levels of governance.
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"Wait... We're talking about what? I'm not so sure I want to do that." When it comes to discussing racism, many white people are overwhelmed with anxiety, leading to a fight-or-flight response. In 
Anxious to Talk About It,
 pastor and professor Carolyn B. Helsel draws on her successful experiences with white congregations to offer us tools to embrace and explore these anxious feelings. Through the sharing of our stories, new insights on racial identity, and spiritual practices to help you engage racial justice concerns prayerfully, you'll begin to overcome your anxiety and learn to join conversations with less fear, more compassion, and more knowledge of self, others, and the important issues at stake.

In This Corner
by Marj Carpenter
The Presbyterian Outlook

A little girl in a Presbyterian Sunday school in Texas asked, "Can I go outside and play ball with the angels?" The teacher asked, "How do you do that?" "Oh, I throw it as high as I can and they always throw it back to me."
Why Your Pastor is Actually Not Your Friend
by: Timothy Brown
Good Shepherd Lutheran Church-Raleigh, NC


Your Pastor is not your friend.

It's hard, because they feel like they are. Some pastors do make a friend in the congregation, someone they can absolutely be themselves with. But that needs to be rare. It may not always be rare...and then things get fuzzy...but I believe it *needs* to be rare, for you and for them. 

Because here's the truth: you're one day going to have to tell them something that you can't tell a friend. Something about yourself, a deep truth, that maybe only your best friend might know, but they're not going to give you what you need about the topic because they're too enmeshed in your friendship. In that case you need a pastor. You need someone close enough to you to care, someone with some sort of authority. 

Pastors are trained in the art of not hearing what we hear.People sometimes worry that a pastor's view of them will be tainted by something they learn or know, but I assure you, we learn and know so much about everyone that we've come to the conclusion that everyone is just as messed up as everyone else, ourselves included, so no one is any different. 

By and large you need your pastor to be a pastor, not a friend, and your pastor is not your friend if they're doing it well.

Plus, your pastor can never confide in you the way one confides in a friend.

They can't.

Plus, if you and your pastor are friends, then your pastor can never leave. As if leaving a parish isn't hard enough, the idea of leaving not only parishioners but also friends makes it impossible. Co-dependent. Bad for vocation and bad for any avocations you now share.

This doesn't mean you don't kid around with your pastor. It doesn't mean you don't drop by to say hi, that you don't do things for one another that friends do. It doesn't mean that you don't even sometimes take trips together, play sports, attend birthday parties, and have a beer or two...many of these things that friends do with one another. 

And it certainly doesn't mean that you don't share many of the same qualities that you would with friends. Pastors can open up, to a point. Pastors can kid around, to a point. But everything is "to a point" and that point is exactly where the collar hits what you need from them...

In every situation, they are "pastor" ...which is just a very different way of being that just a "friend." 

And finally, one thing we have to be really clear-eyed about: friendships end. They do. Friends fight and squabble, hurt each other's feelings, get jealous, and get enmeshed. Pastors who become friends run the risk of ruining the pastoral relationship when the friendship dissolves.

This is just plain bad for the office. It's a bad risk to take. It's a risk, I think, not worth taking.

It's hard to explain I guess, and hard to accept in some instance, but I really haven't found any other way to put it:

Your Pastor is your pastor, not your friend.
Keep Thinking...
"You can't go back and change the beginning, but you can start where you are and change the ending."
- C.S. Lewis
Blessing Opportunity
~ Acts 20:35 ~ 2 Corinthians 9:7- 8 ~
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Homestead Presbytery would like to encourage everyone to send photos from your church's events to hpoffice@homesteadpres.org We would LOVE to feature all the awesome things you are all doing!