A MESSAGE FROM THE REV. J.C. AUSTIN: ANSWERING THE CALL
There has been a significant transition recently in the life of our church to which I want to call your attention. Elder Sue Farber has officially stepped down as the Clerk of Session after years of extraordinary and faithful service, and Elder Jennifer Cole has been elected by the Session as the new Clerk of Session. Sue would probably tell me not to make a big deal about this, which is why I didn’t ask her about it (!), but I think it’s important to talk about on several levels.
First, I want to publicly thank Sue for her service as Clerk of Session. She took up the role during the period in which the church was in schism, which meant that there were all kinds of unusual and challenging aspects to the job, which is a challenging one even under normal circumstances. She persevered through the transition back into the building, from Bill Hess as Interim Pastor and Moderator of Session to myself as Senior Pastor and Moderator, and through the “rebuilding phase” of the congregation in 2018-19.
When the pandemic hit in early 2020, the Session went to meeting twice a month, which required considerably more work from her, and she did it with excellence and perseverance. When she finally decided it was time to step down this year, it was all I could do not to be selfish and try and talk her out of it, but that would not have been very faithful on my part! So I will simply say, thank you, Sue; it was a joy and privilege for me to work with you for these past 5+ years.
Second, I want to take this opportunity to explain something of what a Clerk of Session does! The Session, as you know, is the governing council of the congregation, and makes almost all the decisions in the life of the church, aside from who serves in leadership and certain decisions related to property, which the congregation as a whole decides.
The Session has two officers: the Moderator, who chairs the meetings of the Session and may exercise other duties as assigned or approved by the Session; and the Clerk. The Clerk is essentially the administrative officer of the Session; the Clerk takes the minutes of Session meetings and is responsible for maintaining them for future reference. They are responsible for overseeing the maintenance of the church rolls, including: members joining or moving away; baptisms; births; and deaths.
The Clerk also manages correspondence to and from the Session with members, community leaders, denominational entities, and so on. For Presbyterians, who stress both the primacy of Elder leadership and doing things “decently and in order,” it’s hard to overstate the importance of having a strong Clerk to manage these duties well.
Thankfully, we have a new Clerk who meets that criteria! Elder Jennifer Cole has stepped up into the role as Clerk of Session. Jennifer joined the church several years ago and has been deeply involved in a range of ministries and activities in the life of the church, distinguishing herself by her commitment, wisdom, and faithfulness. Since being elected Clerk, she has taken up her new duties with energy and excellence, and we can all be grateful for her leadership moving forward. (read more about Jennifer on the next page)
This congregation is certainly blessed in terms of the talent and commitment of the leaders whom God has called forth, and I am looking forward to what lies ahead for the Session and congregation as we move forward!
Grace and Peace,