When I was accepted into Grace Presbytery, I had no idea that I would spend the next 42 years serving within its bounds.

I served First Presbyterian Church in Marlin for 8 years, United Presbyterian Church in Cleburne for 25 years, Woodhaven Presbyterian Church in Irving in an interim capacity for 14 months, and I was a member of the Grace Presbytery staff for 8 years.

Throughout this time, I have served in almost every area in the life of our presbytery, including the highlight of serving as moderator of the presbytery in 1999 when Fort Worth and Grace hosted the PC(USA) General Assembly.

Serving in the presbytery was the best continuing education a pastor could hope to experience. The relationships with ministers and laity were, and continue to be, deeply meaningful and long-lasting. Working within our presbytery structure gave me an opportunity to develop leadership skills, capture knowledge from a variety of sources, and learn from the best of the best.

I was honored and challenged when asked to return and serve as your interim general presbyter. We agreed to a one-year contract from October 1, 2019 to October 1, 2020, believing this would be sufficient time for the General Presbyter Search Committee to secure a new general presbyter. What we didn’t know was we were about to be “on pandemic time.”

What we now know is that the discernment work of the search committee will take them well into 2021 in order to secure the person whom God is leading them to call.

Like Moses, I would love to continue this journey, to see where God is leading you. However, I’m feeling a strong need to spend more time with family, and frankly my stamina has reached a point beyond which I am unable to continue.

Therefore, I will end my service as your interim general presbyter on December 31, 2020, or very closely thereafter. The Personnel Committee has accepted the request by Presbytery Council to serve as a search committee to find another interim presbyter. Rest assured, they are working with diligence and commitment to fulfill this responsibility. 

I am deeply appreciative and grateful for the tireless and effective ministry of the staff, moderators, committees, and members of Grace Presbytery. Together we have made significant positive changes in the way our presbytery performs its work and ministry. 

A few highlights include:

  • empowering our staff to express initiative and exercise their gifts for ministry
  • intentionally turning important decision-making duties back to structure and elected representatives of the presbytery
  • establishing two New Worshipping Communities 
  • Committee on Ministry (COM) is operating from a position of more permission-giving, flexibility, and pastoral support for pastors and churches
  • COM currently has 35 liaisons working directly with our congregations
  • Council established a Social Justice Task Force (SJTF) that, with the support of staff, contracted Rev. Michael Waters to provide social justice education for children and their families, pastors, and presbytery leaders
  • nearly 100 people registered for Rev. Waters’ pastoral leadership event in 2020
  • SJTF events scheduled for February 2021 will be open to anyone who wishes to participate

Despite the pandemic, our standing committees continue to function at a high level of commitment and energy. Major issues remain before us, of course, but this is always true in the life of the Church.

While you may not yet have personally experienced these positive changes, I pray you will soon, and I pray you will feel supported and encouraged as Grace moves into the future.

God’s richest blessings upon you,

Mike

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