Rivers of Life Presbytery sits in the wooded country side of Western Pennsylvani...
Finding ourselves in Scripture
I love the scriptures. The New Testament expounds on the life that is in our Jesus—a God-ordained, Holy Spirit, Resurrection empowered life, filled with possibilities. Despite the declarative glory of the New Testament, it’s in the Old Testament that I find myself.
Abraham responds to the call of God to go to a new land. Only there, he was met by a famine which resulted in his risking everything as he headed to Egypt and then passed off Sarah as his sister. The Israelites miraculously were lead out of slavery; fearing giants, choosing the desert rather than the Promised Land. Joshua eventually leads them in, but stops short of completely taking control of what God has promised to give. Then begins a cycle of Judges, Kings, and Prophets that tell the story of people crying out to God, and God answering, only to have the people again becoming complacent and relying on themselves.
I am a life-long Presbyterian. I attended Whitworth College and Fuller Seminary. Ordained in 1981, I have attended various gatherings, been a part of various renewal efforts, served my local presbytery, and at General Assembly.
I believe ECO preserves the best of what it means to be Presbyterian, while enabling a fresh wind to guide us into how we do church in this new day. I am especially intrigued by the covenant aspect of ECO (the MAG’s and accountability groups), the new ways of training and discovering pastoral leadership and the focus on church planting.
Looking forward to what’s ahead
The Presbytery of Southern California consists of 22 churches (with more on the way). We have so many resources at our disposal:
- ethnic groups that reach around the world,
- Fuller Seminary,
- large churches with resources and best practices,
- lay folks ignited by vision, and
- medium and small churches ready to partner together.
We presently come from five different previous presbyteries. One of our challenges is to become a new “one” rather “five”. Though large, we have agreed to stay together for the next two years in order to put flesh and bone on this new body God seems to be creating.
I agreed to be Moderator in hopes of helping to lay the foundation for something that is strong, supportive, and yet, highly flexible. I serve alongside awesome people.
Currently I see two challenges. First, finishing a task is a lot easier than starting one. There are two many “famines” and “giants” that seek to divert our attention. Our churches can take up all our time and it is easy to put presbytery, MAGs, and church planting on the back burner.
The second challenge is at the other extreme. God’s Kingdom is not about structures, denominations, or even local churches. God’s work is often found in the one-on-one encounters we have with others. God’s “Church” is “catholic” and is being built in ways we still do not fully grasp.
The Old Testament challenges me to keep the vision, and yet to be open to the real possibility that what God is doing is something vastly different than I can ever imagine.
The New Testament challenges me to live a Resurrection-empowered life with the assurance that out of death comes new life.
Betsy Straeter has been an Associate Pastor at Glenkirk Church of Glendora, CA for the last 30 years. Born in San Francisco, Betsy lived in Anaheim, San Diego, New Jersey, Alamo (Danville/Walnut Creek area), Spokane, Pasadena, and Bend Oregon (her first pastoral call), before settling down at Glenkirk. Betsy is a graduate of Whitworth College and Fuller Seminary where she received her M.Div and a Th.M in intercultural studies concentrating on the missional church. Betsy loves to travel, camp, hike, golf, ski, and is an avid UCLA fan.