Hey all, sorry for missing the "Moderator Monday" posting this week. I know folks were on pins-and-needles just waiting, waiting, waiting* 😉 This week I am in Louisville meeting staff, getting oriented, moving into my office, not getting as much done as I had planned, yada yada yada.
On the way here I had one of those increasingly frequent horrific airline travel experiences. Delayed out of San Francisco, missed my connection in Chicago, put on stand by, dreaeded six-hour layover, tired, grumpy, etc. Fun fun fun. There are some other options for traveling to Louisville that I’ll have to try and I am thankful that I live near a major international airport so I can get to most places fairly easily. Okay done whining.
Last week, I received this Facebook Wall Post from Ed Breneger, who blogs at The Presbyterian Polis and Leading Questions. His has been a common question, so I thought I would try to answer it as best as I know at this particular time.
"Bruce, I’ve always wanted to ask this question of a moderator. What is the actual time commitment for being a moderator? Is it whatever you can handle? Or, is it a defined set of days away that is negotiated with your church and family? Being such a social person, I can imagine that you’ll get demands for appearances like no previous moderator. As one who travels a lot, I wonder what are fair and reasonable expectations for your time and presence. More than anything, it is the thing that most concerns me about the role you are now in. Thanks, Ed"
The short answer is that I will be a busy as I really want to be. There are basically three entities that a moderator should be in some kind of relationship. Keeping in mind that every moderator will interact differently depending on personality, history, interest, etc., these are the three main areas of my roles as moderator:
- General Assembly Mission Council: Where our mission work is lodged;
- Office the the General Assembly: Where our constitutional, logistical, General Assembly ministries are lodged:
- Church Ministries: Churches, seminaries, middle governing bodies, etc. both locally and internationally;
I will spend some time with each of those entities with most of my time, naturally, being out in "The Church" visiting congregations, presbyteries, seminaries and other ministries.
When it comes to the amount of time I will be away from home, I think the denomination still does not have a handle on what a two-year moderator term looks and feels like. I am only the third two-year person and Byron and I are the first folks to serve while serving local congregations. We both have young children, spouses who would like to see us on occasion AND a deep love for being with our local communities. In other words, there are some pressing forces that will not allow us to keep up the pace of some previous moderators, especially the intensity of the one-year term of ages past.
First, this is not a "Called" paid position so the expectations are much different than if we were full-time denomination staff. This gives us the freedom and responsibility to define our own boundaries of time, interaction and accessibility. In short, how much we are "out and about" is totally up to us. There will be guidance given from various entities, but ultimately it is our decision where we go and how much time is put into our travel.
Here are few commitments, hopes, expectations for our two years of service.
- Byron, the Vice Moderator, will travel quite a bit and be given a great deal of visibility as he and I share many common understandings of the church, love for the heritage of the church, and a yearning for us to discover what is next. Byron will also begin blogging soon, so watch out for that.
- I will try to travel approximately three out of every eight weeks allowing me to preach at my church about as often as I normally do . . . and be with my family 😉 Byron’s travel schedule is still up in the air, but may be about the same if possible.
- I will try to visit every seminary and many campus ministries over the two years in the hopes of interacting with students and other folks who are central to the future health of the church.
- When appropriate, I will take one of my kids and/or spouse on the trip to allow for them to be fully be a part of the experience and for the church to find ways to talk about and engage young families.
- We will try to instigate some creative ways of interaction that do not require travel and an increase of our carbon footprint: webcasts, blogging, social networking, etc.
- Byron and I will remain as accessible to as many possible individuals and communities who wish to engage in dialog in the many forms that may take place.
- As much as possible, we will visit places where collaborative ministries or events are taking place.
- We will try to visit a breadth of ministries, locations and events that represent the complexities of our denominational: theological, geographic, contextual, etc.
- We will find time for rest.
- We will pray for the church that we have been called to serve.
So . . . as I said before, this two-year term is still being worked out in terms of the moderator’s role and Byron and I will hopefully, be a part of this discernment about how best this office should and can serve the denomination.
Again if you are interested in requesting a visit from either Byron or myself, you can find information, forms and other thoughts RIGHT HERE.
* The next Moderator Monday post will be a call for names as I have to take part in the appointment of almost 100 people to various task forces that came out of General Assembly.