A MESSAGE FROM REV. J.C. AUSTIN: Leadership in Action

This Sunday, there are two special elements happening in worship of which I want to make you aware.

The first is that it is Scout Sunday. First Presbyterian has chartered Troop 302 for over 100 continuous years, beginning just six years after Scouting began as a movement in the United States! That is an extraordinary commitment to leadership and character formation in generations of Scouts. As an Eagle Scout myself, I have often said that I learned many of my most important leadership lessons in the Scouts, and I simply don’t know who I would be as a leader without that experience.

So I am personally grateful that First Presbyterian has made such a strong commitment to Scouting and for us to be celebrating that on Sunday. Scouts will be serving as ushers at the 10:30 a.m. service, so please take a moment to give them an encouraging word when you see them. And if you enjoyed the meal they provided us after the Annual Meeting two weeks ago, give them a word of thanks for that as well!

Second, the new Executive Presbyter of Lehigh Presbytery, Rhonda Kruse, will be with us in both services to bring greetings on behalf of the Presbytery and to talk briefly about what it means to be part of a connectional church. The Presbyterian Church (USA) is not simply a loose confederation of congregations, of course, but a deeply interconnected national movement in which higher governing councils of the church are charged with supporting and supervising local congregations as they carry out their local mission, and with conducting ministry themselves that is beyond the scope of a local congregation.

The Lehigh Presbytery is the council to which we at First Presbyterian are most closely linked; it works with 30 or so congregations in the Lehigh Valley, the Slate Belt, and other surrounding areas. Rhonda, as Executive Presbyter, is the senior staff person for the Presbytery and works with its various committees, commissions, and boards to carry out the mission of the Presbytery.

And First Presbyterian is deeply involved in that work, as well. In addition to the commissioners we send to each meeting of the Presbytery, I am the co-chair of the Presbytery’s Vision Board, charged with discerning and articulating the mission of the presbytery. Elder Joanne Kelhart serves on the Administrative Board of the Presbytery, which oversees the various operations of the presbytery.
Elder Gail Watts serves on the Committee on Ministry, which supervises the pastors in the presbytery and works with churches in leadership transitions. And Elder Phyllis Walker will be one of Lehigh Presbytery’s commissioners to the 224th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) in Baltimore, MD this summer, which is the bi-annual national gathering of our highest council in the church!

So, please give Rhonda a warm welcome as she joins us this Sunday, and I look forward to seeing you in worship!

Grace and Peace,