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Beyond the Pulpit

December 2019

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ, greetings to you all in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

So as of October 31, and for the next year, I can officially greet you as the Moderator of the Synod of the Sun.  It is an honor to have been elected to this office and I feel fortunate to have been in a position to be elected.  Perhaps it was providence.  But it has come to my attention that there are a number of folks here at Santa Fe and beyond that may not know what it means for me to be Moderator of the Synod of the Sun.

Lets start with defining the Synod.  In PCUSA the Synod of the Sun is a mid-council governing body within the church.  Specifically, “The synod is the governing body that has oversight of the life and mission of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) within a specific geographic region…”(G-12.0101)  The Synod of the Sun comprises the 11 presbyteries in Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, and Louisiana.   A fuller description of a synod and its responsibilities can be found in the Book of Order (G-12.0101- 12.0102) I am happy to provide you a copy.  However, in short, the synod is “to provide services and programs for presbyteries, sessions, congregations, and members within its area that can be performed more effectively from a broad regional base.” Synods are also charged to “develop and provide resources as needed to facilitate the mission of its presbyteries.” The synod also has “limited responsibilities with regard to the General Assembly,… bearing some responsibility [which] enables the synod to be a communication link between the presbyteries and the General Assembly. (G-12.0102)

The Synod of the Sun defines its own over-all mission this way,

The Synod of the Sun of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) serves Christ by connecting, equipping, and empowering Presbyterians for Christ’s mission within  and beyond the Synod’s bounds.”  BECAUSE  “We believe when we work together across boundaries, we make visible the Good  News and find wholeness as the Body of Christ. In our common calling, we impact lives together.”

As the moderator, I am responsible for moderating the two annual synod assembly meetings, serve on the Coordinating Team, work with the Stated Clerk to plan the synod assembly docket, lead the Synod annual budgeting and oversight,  leads Synod annual budgeting & oversight; appoints, and at times serves on any task forces, teams, or committees that are deemed necessary by the coordinating team or assembly to carry out the work of the synod beyond those outlined in its structure.  And among other duties, I may be called upon to represent the Synod at events beyond our assembly meetings, and above all, to pray for the Synod.  This last duty is one I hope and trust you will join with me in fulfilling.

What does all that mean?  In addition to my duties here at Santa Fe and within Indian Nations Presbytery, for the next year I will fulfill my ordination vow of serving in the governance of the Church with a few extra meetings and trips and work in helping to fulfill the mission of our synod, much as I have as a commissioner to the Synod from Indian Nations Presbytery… with a little more responsibility and effort (but the pay is the same).  As for the time commitment, the only significant change this coming year are a few more mid-week on-line meetings and phone calls, a few preaching engagements, and I will have to attend the 2020 meeting of the Generally Assembly of the PCUSA in June.  Which, to be honest, would be more exciting to me if it were not being held in Baltimore, MD.  Don’t get me wrong, I will enjoy the crabs, the chance to see some old friends, the deliberations of the Assembly, hopefully sneak in an Orioles game, and probably visit with family.  But, I’ve been to Baltimore, I used to live there, I was hoping we might meet in Honolulu, that would have been interesting.

Again, I feel honored that this opportunity has been offered to me and thankful for your gracious support of my calling to this position of leadership.  Should you have any questions, I am happy to answer them.  I ask for your prayers for me and for the Synod of the Sun.  And I look forward to praising Santa Fe Church at every opportunity this coming year, because I truly believe this were not possible without the support of what I am happy to say is an exceptional congregation.

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all,

Mitch.