Yesterday I had the opportunity to attend a Presbytery meeting and present my heart and vision for the work in Australia. Presbytery, for those of you unfamiliar with the Presbyterian church structure, is the governing body of the Presbyterian church made up of pastors and elders. This was my second time attending and presenting in front of a Presbytery. It is a privilege to be given time during this meeting so I try to keep it interesting and do my best to be a good representative. In situations like this I feel like I am not only representing MTW (Mission to the World) and other missionaries but women as well. Yesterday seems to have gone well because, even though I immediately left after my presentation, I received some great feedback later on. Hopefully this presentation will translate into more conversations about Australia with churches and individuals.
Despite the seemingly cumbersome nature of some of the Presbyterian structures, I appreciate the value of having agreed upon guidelines for the church to follow. It is both uniting and binding. The Book of Church Order, used yesterday during the meeting, is the PCA’s (Presbyterian Church in America) record of these structures. I don’t normally talk a lot about church order, denominations or church politics. There are lots of reasons for this but a few of them have to do with tending to generalize and stereotype when engaging with these topics, my incomplete understanding of the underlying structures in general and they aren’t always the most exciting topics in the first place.
But you might have caught the little reference to representing women that I somewhat glossed over in the first paragraph. So I figured I might as well briefly address this now. The pastors and elders in the Presbyterian Church in American are all men. Therefore, these meetings are attended by mostly men. They do allow women to attend and I think that in general the men would encourage their wives, daughters and sisters in Christ to know about and understand what happens in the church outside of Sunday mornings. Presbytery is just one of those working parts that helps to complete the whole. But, let’s be honest, these meetings aren’t super exciting and so they don’t tend to draw large crowds of people who are there just for fun. So yesterday I was one of two women actually attending the Presbytery meeting. But I am glad to have had the opportunity to speak. And it is a privilege to be that subtle reminder that we are all a part of the body of Christ and we can celebrate the gifts and talents we have been given and how they are at work building the church.