“Awakening… Enlivening… Enhancing congregations to bear new fruit in Jesus Christ….”
That’s the abbreviated version of our presbytery’s mission statement. When we gather as the portion of Christ’s body called the Presbytery Assembly of Wabash Valley, we are called together and we’re sent out to serve. As a mid-council striving to live into the future God intends, we are discerning God’s call to us to be Reformed and always reforming. What signs do we see of this? Use of technology to connect us across many miles, a growing openness to plan new uses for the time we are called together for worshipping, learning, discerning and deciding, and continuing evaluation and assessment of the stewardship of our time all coalesce to make assembly gathering a taste of something good.
Functionally, the Presbytery Assembly of Wabash Valley is the mid-level council that connects our 78 PC(USA) congregations in northern Indiana with one another. The session of every congregation, large or small, elects a commissioner to participate in this governing body, along with the minister members and ruling elders either elected to leadership in the Presbytery or commissioned to pastoral service. There is an annual balancing between ruling elders and teaching elders; sometimes that means some larger congregations are allocated two commissioners.
Our time together as Presbytery Assembly is shaped by preferences that emerged from the Joshua Journey process for rethinking how best to fulfill our vision to “serve Christ, enhance congregations, and connect communities.” The typical four-hour docket has four interwoven themes: worship, Bible study and sacrament (usually The Lord’s Supper, but recently we renewed baptismal vows), a learning component and updates from presbytery, synod and/or General Assembly, the business of collective decisions as presbytery, and time for a meal and fellowship.
Much of the preparation and detail work has been delegated to working groups that meet between Assembly meetings. Presbytery Council, Commission on Ministry, Commission on Preparation for Ministry and other commissions authorized by the Assembly make decisions which the Assembly receives in reports, reviews and approves through its Consent Agenda, or may revise on occasion. Committees and task forces make recommendations for action after their research and deliberation not possible in the limited time for Assemblies. Specific decisions reserved to the Presbytery Assembly include electing its officers and other leadership as well as commissioners to Synod and General Assembly, approving or disapproving actions presented by the biennial General Assembly, examine and approve candidates for ordination as a teaching elder, and actions concerning congregations, whether to establish new ones, or divide, dismiss or dissolve existing ones in keeping with its “strategy for mission” within its bounds.
Presbytery Assembly is hosted by the congregations and communities of Wabash Valley such as Peabody and Geneva Center, Inc. with four “stated” meetings a year scheduled a year in advance, and additional meetings called as necessary when immediate consideration of particular actions will benefit the congregations. Typically, between 75 and 120 people attend each Assembly, and register in advance to allow hosts to prepare space and meals for attendees. If your congregation would like to volunteer to host the Presbytery Assembly, please call the office with your session’s request.