Tuesday, November 15, 2011

A conversation with deacons

Several members of the GPS met with the Board of Deacons on Monday, Nov. 13, to hear members' thoughts about the future of Second. It turned out to be a wide-ranging discussion that revealed both their deep commitment to the church and some of their frustrations about being congregational leaders.

We first asked them to describe what gives them the most satisfaction in their role as deacons and what they find frustrating.

Clearly they enjoy being able to connect with Second's mission partners and to alert the congregation to the needs of the agencies Second supports financially. In some ways, however, that also is a frustration in that Second supports so many agencies it's been difficult to focus our resources and in that despite the many efforts of deacons it sometimes seems that the congregation doesn't connect enough as volunteers with our mission partners.

But several deacons expressed their gratitude for being able to learn in more depth about the work of our mission partners.

We talked some about whether Second's financial support to various local mission partners should be more limited to those agencies at which members of our congregation are active volunteers. Although there was some sympathy for considering this, a couple of deacons suggested that some agencies might need our money more than they need our volunteers.

It was also mentioned that many members of the congregation are connected with non-profit agencies that the church does nothing to support financially.

There seemed to be general agreement that internal and external communications about our mission efforts need to be better than they are now.

Our final conversation was about whether it's time to rethink the reality that Second's deacons are charged with oversight of much of our mission outreach. Since New Testament times, deacons traditionally have had oversight of caring ministries focused on the needs of the church family. But when Ron Roberts was an associate pastor some years ago, he suggested that because Second then had an active caring ministries program operating outside the purview of the deacons and because the deacons seemed then to be under-used, perhaps the deacons should be given oversight of our mission outreach. So that change was made.

Several deacons acknowledged the need for more coordinated internal care but wanted to make sure that if a committee headed by a member of Session eventually was given oversight of mission outreach that the detailed work the deacons do to evaluate and connect with mission partners not be lost. Bill Tammeus, GPS moderator, assured the deacons that if GPS recommends such a move, their concerns would be reflected in the recommendation and that there would necessarily be a time of transition so make sure that both the caring ministries of the church and the mission outreach will be handled well.

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