This is a copy of my presentation and request to New Brunswick Presbytery tonight …

We are now at the end of my three year term as Regional Presbyter in Monmouth and New Brunswick presbyteries.  Both presbyteries and I agreed to a three year term so that we could give the regional model a reasonable trial.    From the beginning it has been clear to me that the differences between the two presbyteries are more pronounced than any of us had imagined.  The outward size, budgets, and programs are equivalent, but the personalities, histories, priorities and the complexities of the systems are distinct.  Working as a leader in both presbyteries has been exciting, challenging, intriguing, and overall a fulfilling experience for me.  In fact, I have such a deep desire and love of working in the two presbyteries that I have been reluctant to consider that the model itself may not be effective or sustainable in the longer term for New Brunswick, for Monmouth, or for me as your presbytery leader.  After a summer of prayerful reflection and discernment, I have come to the conclusion that the Regional Presbyter model is not working as we all had hoped or intended.
From our first presbytery gatherings in September 2011, I have been aware of a different “personality” in each place … the ability to laugh together and the things we laugh at, the nature of fellowship before and after meetings, the willingness to share the good and the bad together.  The council retreats at the beginning of 2012 were the same outline, the same process of appreciative inquiry, but the outcomes were very different.  Within the first six months it was clear to me that my style of leadership needed to be different in each presbytery.  The expectations were different.  Some in each presbytery had spoken about the possibility of exploring merging the presbyteries.  I held back saying that we needed to be on the same road, traveling in the same direction, at approximately the same speed … and we weren’t on the same road.
My call included the call to transformative work in the presbyteries … setting a vision.  Setting a vision means not only identifying our strengths, success stories and best practices, but also dealing with the difficult issues before us honestly and transparently.  The struggles facing each presbytery are very different in scope.  Monmouth’s issues have been ones I am familiar with … a congregation leaving the denomination for ECO, a hurricane hitting and damaging congregations and neighborhoods.  New Brunswick’s issues have been more subtle and complex and not as easily agreed upon.  Even in my 90 day evaluation we identified that the relationship I was building with the two presbyteries was not progressing at the same pace or at the same level.
By the spring of this year, Monmouth and I easily discerned our desire to extend my call as presbytery leader for another three years.  New Brunswick and I, however, felt the need to more intentionally examine our relationship and our long term goals and expectations for the future.  During the last few months, I listened to the conversation concerning the advantages and disadvantages of the regional presbyter model in New Brunswick; the listening groups, the private conversations by email and in person were consistent. While some of the expectations were even self-identified as unrealistic, others were reasonable consequences to this shared model.  Some of the suggestions for improvement were excellent, though not, I believe, compatible with my gifts, skills, and call.  Other suggestions really require the time and energy of a full-time leader.  After further reflection, I realized I was no longer thinking of the regional position as a “shared call,” but as two part-time positions.  I am now convinced that leading two complex and distinct systems well is an unrealistic expectation for one person.
With both disappointment and hope for the future, then, I am requesting my call as Regional Presbyter in the Presbytery of New Brunswick be dissolved on December 31, 2014.  I am not asking for a dissolution of my call to Monmouth Presbytery.  I have been assured by Sue Krummel of the General Assembly that the call extension approved by Monmouth in June remains in effect even when the call in New Brunswick is dissolved.
My prayer is one of gratitude for the relationships and the experiences we’ve shared in New Brunswick these past three years. I am convinced that the Holy Spirit is at work in the exceptional gifts each of you bring to the work of Christ in this place.  I pray that this transition in leadership will enable you to move forward in a clear understanding of who you are and what you are called to be.
I am, likewise, grateful for the relationship we’ve forged in Monmouth and I pray that God will continue to bless our time together with energy, intelligence, imagination and love.  I look forward to our next three years and the challenges that await us as we faithfully move forward in these exciting and adventurous times.
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