South Church and Genesee Presbytery Work Together to Revitalize Congregation


I think the key was not to say no.
I think most committees are formed for the purpose of saying no, I thought
wouldn’t it be interesting to see what would happen if the answer was yes. I know this is probably gonna sound very
simplistic, but the prayer that is the motto of South Church “put us where you
want us show us what to do” is what I pray. the presbytery itself wasn’t
necessarily ready to say yes, but I was able to encourage them to say “there’s
world than one way of being Church in this presbytery and we can experiment,”
and gave South some space to be able to have their journey of discernment.– I
think though the underlying South’s ability to make this transition, there is
a peculiar marriage of people who are pragmatic progressive and prophetic. –Is
this what you believe God is calling you to, is managing and maintaining your
building a part of your calling? And for some churches the answer is a genuine
yes, and for some churches the answer is “no we’re just being depleted,” and there’s
not going to be one right answer because there is more one than one way to
do church, but to really work with that session, to say what is the answer for
you now. — The session is the ruling body, and I think that an awful lot of our
colleagues forget that and they take the responsibility on themselves, and they
take the blame on themselves, and they take the praise on themselves, and I will
tell you right now that we are where we are because of the session of South
Presbyterian Church. — We were so blessed with our session, those people, they had to pray, they
prayed about everything, — and Deb encouraged them — yes, they got some – there’s
there was some real wisdom there collectively that worked. — We were in deep trouble, I’ve seen the growth of a church
designed like a bell-shaped curve, and we were curving at the bottom which was
frightening. When I was on the very first committee that talked about that and
even people in the committee said “leaving the building is not an option.”
We finally acknowledge that we don’t – we are not donating our money making our
pledge to support a building and that’s where the majority of our money was
going. It’s a lovely building, holds memories for
so many of us, but it does not honor the people who built this congregation to
spend our money on the building and let the let the congregation die, and that
was the bottom line. –We could no longer pay the bills and had to find a way to
keep people together that wanted to be together. –So yes they lost a building with about 50 years of deferred maintenance,
and I know it was their sacred place and they have gained so much, they have
gained even more of the city of Rochester as their sacred place. — I think
that’s really what the church should be about is creating these environments
where people can grow. The presbytery approved the sale of the building, and
they’re investing the funds to fund this new ministry of Acts of Faith, it’s Shalot,
subsidized housing, it’s the psych center it’s St. John’s, it’s what happens at the
diner, it’s the Monroe Milers, its food on
Monroe Avenue, it’s all those things. South had had space to really discover
and incarnate the acts of faith model. There’s not one right answer, it’s really
that period of discernment of saying “God what are you calling us to do and to be
next?” and then who is our neighbor. I think the key is to not let fear stop
you, there will be churches that move directly into the future and new things,
and then there will be churches that have to make very careful decisions
about what they’re going to leave behind and what they’re gonna take with them,
and then there will be churches who really don’t have the capacity to do
that and God is blessing each and every one of those ministries, and is walking
each step of the way, with every congregation, and so you can do it,
knowing that God is with you and and blessing you.

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