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Session Meeting Summary 2-22-22

Session meetings over Zoom – like most Zoom meetings – are different from solely in-person meetings. There isn’t the same level of subliminal communication through body language or exchanges of looks when everyone’s presence is limited to their own tiny square in the array of windows, and it’s harder for a wave of laughter to cross the room when most people have their microphones muted. But Session, while it does attend to the business of dealing with church decisions, is more than just a group that has work meetings; it is also a fellowship of believers, united in our belief that the Spirit works through our church and through us. And to be effective together, to understand each other’s viewpoints and concerns, we need to connect on more than a superficial, audio, visual level. Zoom is merely the portal through which we reach each other right now. Soon we will be able to meet in person once again, but we will always likely have a hybrid in-person / Zoom format that allows us to all fellowship and do the work of the church as the Spirit empowers us. And we see that it is the Spirit that connects us much more firmly than technology or proximity.

The February 22 session meeting was the first with the current slate of elders, so starting with a devotion on Philippians 4 that reminded us of our connection to God through prayers and asking us to consider whatever circumstances are weighing on each of us brought us into that mindset of being a fellowship of believers. We were able to approach the upcoming work prayerfully, secure in the knowledge that God hears our prayers, always.

There was a spate of housekeeping-type activities, including dealing with the minutes of prior meetings and looking at the membership changes over the past month. We approved transferring Lorene Judge to Mill City Presbyterian Church and the permanent transfer of membership to heaven of Louis & Joyce Larson: Louis in October 2018 & Joyce in February 2022.

An exciting agenda item was considering the recommendation of the Covid Response Team to move toward reopening the building. As we follow the state’s guidelines, we take a step toward returning to ‘normal’ operations, including in-person worship! The first in-person worship service will be Ash Wednesday (March 2) at 6 pm, and the first Sunday morning worship service will be on the first Sunday of Lent (March 6). The passing of the peace will still be subdued, limited to waving, but it will be so good to be together again!

We heard from the Pastoral Nominating Committee (PNC) about where they are in the process of our search for a new pastor: Our church’s Ministry Information Form (MIF) is making its way through the approval process at the Presbytery level, and in a few weeks they can start looking at applications. Please continue to pray for the PNC members: their work is ramping up as they consider the qualities of the applicants and who is the best person for leading us through the work God has for us to do.

Administrative updates included noting lease negotiations for the Somerville building with the State of Oregon, the upcoming coordination and consolidation of expense handling guidelines into a defined procedural manual, similar assembly of a policy manual, and continuing progress on the nearby construction and workers’ use of the church parking lot.

From there, we moved into dealing with the roles of individual elders. Most urgent were the church Treasurer and the President of the Corporation: both sitting members agreed to continue in their roles, Larry Wood as Treasurer and Michael Talbert as President. Mary Johnson and Guin Parker have now taken over for Diane Bolen as our new Clerk of Session team. Rebekah Borah is currently the Communications Elder, serving as a liaison between Session, Staff, and the Congregation in church communications. Next month, we will decide which elders will serve on the various committees: Administrative, Human Resources, Stewardship, and Nominating. The Worship Committee is still being set up under the leadership of Diane Bolen. Michael Talbert and Michael Lamb will continue as our Presbytery representatives through the end of June.

The next Session meeting was rescheduled for March 29 to avoid a conflict for Brian, and it will be the first hybrid meeting, using the church’s new “meeting owl”: a video conferencing cylinder holding microphones, cameras, and the coordinating pieces, placed in the center of whatever group is meeting. This allows real-time interaction between any Zoom participants and those physically present in the room. I have watched this in use, and it’s pretty cool!

We ended as we began: with prayer. We shared our various concerns and requests and put them into God’s hands!

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