Thursday, July 17, 2014

Connectional Church

To be honest, I've had numerous reasons to be frustrated with my presbytery in the past year or so. While I won't get into all of that in this post, I will say that I've struggled to embody/live into any excitement about participating in a "connectional church."  And then, yesterday, I was given the gift of sharing a cup of coffee with my friend Lee Cannon.  Lee is an elder at Downtown Presbyterian Church here in Nashville and was recently featured in The Tennessean for picking up food at a local Publix to be delivered to a local food bank.  After reading the article, I decided to reach out and schedule a time to catch up with Lee.  You see, Lee was on the Installation Commission for my service as Associate Pastor at Harpeth Presbyterian Church almost nine years ago, and he has made an effort to keep up with me ever since.  He is a faithful attender of Presbytery meetings, and pops up at just about any presbytery-wide service event.  He will also attend church at various churches around Nashville, just to check in with friends he has made throughout the presbytery.  Simply put, Lee is is the ideal Presbyter.

During our conversation yesterday, we lifted up various congregations in our presbytery who are going through transitions, commented on ministers who are coming and going, and shared our common vision for a church that is more concerned with the discipleship walk of those who attend our communities of faith than how with how many are on the rolls.  We shared personal struggles and joys and agreed to hold one another in prayer.  And then, as the time came to leave the trendy local coffee shop, full of hipsters typing away on their MacBooks or reading on their iPads, Lee reached out for my hand and offered to pray over our time together.  What a blessing.

I walked away from that hour and a half or so feeling re-invigorated for the church-at-large, and particularly for our connectional form of being church as Presbyterians.  Our entire conversation had revolved around people, God's work in the world, and how we might participate in God's kingdom building.  So, for all my recent frustrations, today I remain thankful for the ways that God works generally through the connectional church that is The Presbyterian Church USA, and specifically through the loving, nurturing, God-centered, fellowship of a Presbyterian Ruling Elder named Lee Cannon.