By Rev. Susan Finck Pastor, El Calvario Presbyterian Church: There are two words...
A few things have changed since we gathered 18 months ago
Wow! I am both excited and exhausted—what a great couple of days we had in Dallas at the 2014 National Gathering! It’s exciting to see how we’ve grown from 30 churches and 10,000 covenant partners at our first Synod gathering in 2013 to now having 149 churches and 60,000 covenant partners at this gathering. Plus, it’s extremely encouraging to see a dozen church plants in various stages of formation and organization! There is so much to be grateful for.
Our Synod meeting kicked off bright and early on Monday morning. We were delighted to have 270 commissioners and almost 500 observers in attendance.
How refreshing is it that I’m actually excited about attending a Presbyterian conference? @eco_pres
— Mark Tumney (@mtumney) August 17, 2014
John Ortberg gave a wonderful opening message complementing the initial vision he cast more than two years ago in Orlando. He issued two challenges to our ECO community as we seek to make this movement a reality.
- First, we must stay committed to growing personally as disciples of Jesus and as leaders. We need to allow the Lord and others to speak into our lives about how God desires to mold and shape us.
- Second, we need to let go of what people think about us. We will often be criticized from those on the inside and will seek to please them. Meanwhile those on the outside won’t criticize us; they will just leave our churches and not seek a relationship with Jesus. We must be willing to be bold and courageous in our leadership.
If I’m going to lead ppl, I can’t need their approval. If I’m going to love ppl, I can’t need their approval. -John Ortberg #2014NatlGath
— Jim Miller (@pastorjmiller) August 18, 2014
I made the comparison between ECO and a three-year-old child. The interesting thing about three-year-old children is their brains have more neurological connections during this time in their life than ever before or after. This allows a three year old to learn faster than at any other age, but it also allows for competing activity to occur in the brain. Overtime some neurological connections will become hardwired and others will fade away. If ECO is similar to a three-year-old child—we are in a great position! We can learn new things, while making sure we hardwire the right aspects into our brain and let go of the things distracting us from who we are meant to be.
I expanded upon the five important shifts we are seeking in ECO and shared more about the in-house resources we want to develop as well as the key partnerships we have, outside of our tribe, to help facilitate these shifts. Finally, I formally introduced Flourish—the sub-brand of ECO where these ministry aspects will be housed.
Flourish will primarily serve the needs of ECO, but by having ministries under a sub-brand, it allows churches outside of ECO to participate more easily. It also makes the facilitation of organizational partnerships outside ECO a little easier.
A few other highlights from the Synod meeting include:
- Hearing stories of transformation and multiplication from First Presbyterian Church of North Palm Beach, Florida as well as First Presbyterian Church of Jerome, Idaho.
- Hearing from Bill Young, who has agreed to serve as a volunteer in the position of Director of Global Engagement for ECO. He explained that while we want to develop a couple of focuses for ECO, our primary concern is to help congregations as they engage in missions around the world.
- We heard from the Theological Task Force who are now, based upon the actions of the Synod, going to hold a larger conversation in January regarding our heological convictions and confessions.
- We entered into an ecumenical relationship with the Christian Reformed Church, our first relationship of this kind. This allows us to continue to expand mutually beneficial partnerships we have through Faith Alive Publishing, World Renew Ministries, and Calvin College and Seminary.
- We heard reports regarding our financial status, benefits, and how overtures and amendments will be brought before the Synod in future assemblies.
- We elected members to our Permanent Judicial Commission, Nominating Committee, and Synod Executive Council.
- We adjourned at 11:45 (a few minutes early), but only after our moderator Rev. Dr. Eric Jacobsen prayed for all of our leaders on the national and local level.
— Corey Widmer (@coreywidmer) August 18, 2014
Day One in the books at #2014NatlGath. Highlights for me 1) Ortberg calling us to love the Church 2) laughing at Synod 3) Singing w/ organ
— Jerry Fourroux (@jerryfourroux) August 19, 2014
What will I bring back? ECO is intended to be a movement that changes the world, it’s not safe nor stale. #2014NatlGath
— mikeconan (@mikeconan) August 20, 2014
I am thankful to so many who helped make this 2014 National Gathering happen. I am grateful for the time and resources invested by individuals and churches to be a part of this event. I believe our three days together in Dallas will continued to strengthen our foundation as we look into the next phase of this movement.
If you were able to attend our Synod meeting in Dallas, we encourage you to take a moment to share your insights and take aways in the comments below. We’d love to hear your thoughts!