“In ECO polity, the role of the presbytery is to support, encourage, and be a resource for local congregations. ECO presbyteries are designed to be flexible and to cultivate connection and community among member churches.” -Intro to ECO Presbyteries
“Elders and deacons can be deployed for greater ministry.” –Intro to ECO Polity
When a number of us began the journey of joining ECO, there were a lot of hopes, aspirations, fears, etc…One of the big questions had to be, "Can we really create a polity that truly is flexible, supportive and life-giving?" I’m here to today to give you at least one example of how this came true in my own ministry in the newly formed Rivers of Life Presbytery.
In October of 2015, right before the presbytery meeting at our church and immediately before I met Dana Allin for the first time, my mother called to tell me that my father had had what seemed to be a stroke. This was shocking because my dad was only 59 at the time, and had been healthy and active in the months preceding this event.
By the time he was discharged, there was little clarity as to what my father was going through, but it seemed definitive that it was not a stroke.
In the following months, my father’s condition worsened, and towards the end of February, we were quite sure his life was coming to an end. When my dad began aspirating, we decided to get a flight the next day and make our way to their home in San Diego. The next week we had time to say prayers, say goodbye, and support each other as a family.
One of the most significant things I believe people can do to support one another in this kind of situation is to help unload responsibilities so you can be fully present with your family. The second Sunday I was gone, we had scheduled a new Covenant Partners class induction and a baptism. I felt increasingly torn about where to be, especially because the funeral would likely be the following Monday.
Without any impetus of my own, our session got to work and decided they would take up my responsibilities, They understood our polity and decided to call a local ECO pastor, Jason Schepp (who is now our Moderator in the Rivers of Life Presbytery), to train them in the sacrament of baptism. One of our elders then performed the baptism and the induction of Covenant Partners, and another preached the morning’s sermon. His title, appropriately, was “We’re in This Together.”
That we were in this together is precisely how I felt, as my elders pursued a greater deployment of ministry and our local pastors stood up to help make that possible. What an amazing experience of love to see the church rally in a difficult time. I will never forget this, and I want to thank ECO and all of the leaders who made it possible.