by Doska Ross
Synod Executive and Stated Clerk
Report of the Synod Executive
April 6, 2013
How quickly time goes by! It is now just over two years since I started service here with you in the Synod of Southern California and Hawaii. In that time, many of you have asked how things are going, is this what I was expecting, what surprises have I found? Here are some thoughts and memories that come immediately to mind as I formulate my answers.
You have been a welcoming community! It has been my privilege to attend your presbytery meetings – I have been able to be with each presbytery at least three times since my arrival. I have also visited a number of your councils, and have been invited to attend other gatherings, such as town hall meetings, mission fairs, planning retreats and strategy sessions. I have oriented two stated clerk search committees and sat with a presbytery response team as they worked through the details of a gracious dismissal agreement. And best of all, I have worshipped with many of our congregations.
What a wealth of talent and potential there is in this synod! So much energy and enthusiasm! We’ve seen at least six applications for 1001 New Worshipping Communities grants that show wonderful creativity and excitement in reaching out to new communities of people. And I’m constantly impressed that so many people are willing, in fact eager, to serve at the synod or presbytery level in a variety of ways for the benefit of the wider church!
Given the atmosphere in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) over the last years, things here now seem to be going more positively. I hear hope as people talk about the future, and I see dedication and commitment as I visit the presbyteries. There are difficulties and challenges, of course, as a number of our congregations make decisions about whether to leave or to stay, and our presbyteries will be faced with hard choices as their finances are impacted by these decisions. But as we find answers to these concerns, we are reminded that our own future has never been known or even secure in its details – all we can count on is God’s presence with us as we move into the future to which we are called.
And what is that future for the Synod? We are in the midst of discerning what call God has next for us. As I contemplate the questions people ask me, I can say I have found some of what I expected and much which I did not. We are working our way out of some of the long-standing conflicts and focusing energy on learning, training, new ways of working together. Whatever lies ahead, I am confident that Christ’s Good News will continue to be shared in our bounds and that Mission, in a wide variety of guises, will continue to be done by Presbyterians here in Jesus’ name. Ours is a God of surprises and miracles; God expects each of us to play our part as we celebrate this time of Resurrection! May it be so!