In two weeks, on January 29 immediately following a combined worship service at 10 a.m., we will be having our Annual Meeting of the Congregation and Corporation of First Presbyterian Church of Bethlehem.

It is going to be a very special and very important meeting, as we reflect on the previous year and look forward to the future to which God is calling us in 2023 and beyond. Perhaps the most important action we will take, however, is to act on the recommendations of the Congregational Nominating Committee for people to serve as Elders, Deacons, and Trustees.

Presbyterians hold the right of the people to discern and elect their own leaders to be sacrosanct. Neither I as the Pastor nor the Session as the governing council of the congregation get to vote on who is nominated for office.

You, as the congregation, elect the Nominating Committee directly in the annual meeting each year, and then it is the Nominating Committee’s job to go out and look for those within the congregation who have the gifts, skills, vision, and passion to fulfill the office(s) in question, and at this particular time in the life of our congregation.

Typically, they begin their work in the early fall, which includes both their own internal conversation about potential candidates and your suggestions that come in through the written nomination process that we do every fall. After a number of conversations, they begin establishing a list of those whom they think are best to ask, and then go out and ask them if they would consider serving.

Not everyone agrees with the Nominating Committee’s assessment that they are called to serve in one of these capacities! But that is both fine and to be expected. In the Presbyterian Church, we understand a calling to have three elements: 1) the providential call: the gifts and skills to do the work involved; 2) the personal call: the individual having a sense that they are to use those providential gifts in a particular ministry; and 3) the congregational call: the church itself recognizing those gifts and issuing the call to the individual. If any one of those three elements is missing, for any office, then it is not a true call, at least for that moment.

You will be receiving more information before the meeting about whom the Nominating Committee is bringing forward for your consideration. Please make sure you pay careful attention to that information when it comes, and make sure you are in attendance at the meeting as we make these very important decisions about our leaders together as a congregation!

Grace and Peace,