Transitional Presbytery Leader

Rev. Rhonda Kruse


Rev. Rhonda Kruse  Transitional Presbytery Leader

It was good to see so many smiling faces (80-85!) in person at the Shared Presbytery Gathering on Saturday, May 6. For those of you who couldn’t make it, following is the text of my report, assuring both presbyteries that the Spirit of God continues to move among us, guiding us in our developing partnership and helping us move forward together in this holy experiment. It has become clear recently that we need to shift how we do the work of visioning and strategic planning. Since 2020, Lehigh has had two active leadership bodies: the Vision Board, tasked with driving the direction of the Presbytery; and the Administrative Board, tasked with the operations and trustee responsibilities. In Lackawanna, one body, the Leadership and Vision Team (LVT), has been responsible for all those tasks.

In the spirit of experimentation, the visioning and strategic planning piece for both presbyteries have been combined into one visioning team that will work together. This won’t change either presbytery’s approved structure. The task of visioning and planning will still be accomplished, but it allows Lehigh and Lackawanna, as partners, to share in this important work. This combined vision team recently discussed the need to encourage both presbyteries to be more imaginative as we look to the future.

Both presbyteries have abundant resources for new mission and ministries, funding that is not being utilized because we aren’t thinking creatively enough. How can we tap into the energy of congregations who DO have imaginations and are open to try something new? How do we assist the churches that want to practice their resurrection faith and seek new life through Jesus Christ? How might we encourage, empower, and resource those congregations who want to live? And to serve? NOT to simply survive? One part of the combined vision team is looking into these very questions. Another part of the team is continuing to look for new ways to manifest our partnership. In addition to presbytery meetings, periodic gatherings of clergy and commissioned ruling elders, and some shared church resourcing, what can we do to encourage networking and sharing of ministry ideas? Understanding everyone’s limited bandwidth for meetings, how can we inspire and support the development of new relationships to help move us forward as partners? The third focus of the vision team is more difficult to articulate, but it’s related to the fact that your shared Transitional Presbytery Leader will be retiring at the end of her contract in 16 months.

This fact provides a sense of urgency to answer several key questions: How do we evaluate the commitment to move forward together beyond 2024? Where might there be anxiety around that? How is the shared staffing model working; does it need to be tweaked? What are the qualities we need to look for in a new presbytery leader? What will be that person’s primary tasks? Are there additional staff positions to be considered? The last presbytery meeting in 2023 is scheduled for November 18. Can we develop job descriptions for approval by both presbyteries in six months? So, you see, there is a lot of work to be done, and I’m grateful for the transition team, vision team, and committee members who have stepped forward to do it.

I continue to feel privileged to serve both Lehigh and Lackawanna and would love to hear from you with any questions or if I can support your ministry in any way. P.S. Your shared presbytery staff sometimes feels like we’re in Abbott & Costello’s great baseball comedy routine, “Who’s on First?” because it’s hard to keep track of all the churches, meetings, newsletters, and documents for two presbyteries. It’s not that you’re not important; it’s just a lot to take in all at once. We do our best, but it’s a learning process, and we appreciate your patience and your grace.

Thank you.