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  • Writer's pictureValerie Young

Tri-Presbytery Hope

I was heartened by the Tri-Presbytery Meeting last weekend. The gathering of the three Oklahoma Presbyteries and Presbyterians from across the state is always a joyous occasion. This year’s gathering was special because of the focus on small church ministry and the conversation around the possibility of the creation of a single Oklahoma Presbytery. While we face a number of challenges in ministry, joining together to worship, eat, and grow is an uplifting blessing. 


Small Churches: Even though small churches are by far the majority of churches in the PC(U.S.A.) and the larger Christian church, we tend to not think of them that way. We still see the big steeple, downtown churches as the normative expression of “church” in our denomination. They are not and have not been for a while. I do not want to minimize that ministry, but I do want to suggest we expand our vision. This Tri-Presbytery Meeting focused our attention on the work that is being done in rural, small town, and frontier areas of our state. It lifted up the stories of Commissioned Pastors, elders, and other church leaders who sustain the ministry of those churches. They are the lifeblood of the reformed and Presbyterian witness in those communities. We saw examples of churches collaborating to build one another up. One commissioner remarked, “We have never had this much attention on small church ministry before at a presbytery meeting.”


Oklahoma Presbytery Task Force: The twelve members of the Oklahoma Presbytery Task Force led table conversations over dinner on Friday night of the Tri-Presbytery Meeting. After hearing a report from the task force earlier in the afternoon, the table conversations allowed commissioners to express their hopes, dreams, anxiety, and fears about the possibility of creating a single Oklahoma Presbytery. As the task force relayed on Saturday morning, the conversations around the tables were incredibly uniform. There was some fear of the unknown and anxiety over the enormous task, but many people wanted to see the connections among pastors and churches grow, more training and resourcing, and specialized staffing to support small/rural churches or pastoral care of pastors. 


These kinds of gatherings, conversations, and learning opportunities are not going to solve the challenges the church is facing today. They will give the church more tools to tackle the problems, friends to face the fears, and affirmation that we are not alone. 


What are you taking back to your church from the Tri-Presbytery Meeting?


Blessings,

Rev. Tim Blodgett

General Presbyter

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