Note: I wrote this for churches in the Presbytery of South Louisiana but if you are a Presbyterian elsewhere, it will be easy to extrapolate. TP
What Does the Presbytery Do for Us?
Our presbytery is our next higher level of governing body. If you have been in a Presbyterian Church any length of time, you likely have heard someone voice this question. It is a logical question to ask. Every Presbyterian Church has to send funds in every year to the presbytery. Where do they go? What are they used for? How does it benefit our particular congregation?
Presbytery funds are used for a wide variety of missional, organizational, and educational activities. Mission is a great place to start. Our presbytery has banner programs, which include outreach to homeless people, wetlands advocacy, and disaster recovery work. It also directly supports the Feliciana Retreat Center (which particularly benefits children and youth in our presbytery through camp), the Louisiana Presbyterian Pilgrimage (formerly known as Cursillo), which is a purposely-designed program to renew the faith of individuals, and is funding new ministries, such as our new West Bank Evangelism program, and revitalizing new ministries in old locations.
We have a new presbytery youth ministry, which has already conducted retreats to Montreat, Mo Ranch, Blue Bayou, held lock ins, and organized mission trips. Many area churches without a youth group sent their youth on memorable journeys together.
Our presbytery also supports campus ministry at a number of institutions of higher learning. That benefits college students. We have churches in our region that feel called to support this type of ministry, and the presbytery helps it happen.
The presbytery transformation committee is working with twenty-one congregations currently seeking a new beginning and has brought in experts from around the nation to advise them.
The presbytery organizes all regional meetings of the church and picks up two-thirds of all the printing costs. Through the presbytery’s Committee on Ministry, the presbytery helps churches seeking new pastors and provides moderators for those without a pastor. They also maintain a pulpit supply list, so churches can find preachers when they need one for a Sunday.
Our presbytery maintains an active relationship with the Presbyterian Church of Cuba. We assist our sister churches in Cuba by sending them volunteers and helping them develop fresh drinking water for their communities. They teach us to be Christians in a different context.
We also fund the salary of a superb executive presbyter, who serves as a pastor to pastors and advises churches and presbytery committees all around South Louisiana on a wide variety of activities.
What is planned for the future? On top of the above, we are partnering with presbyteries around Houston and San Antonio to provide church officer spiritual enrichment, training for clerks of Session, and training for treasurers. We also have had, and will continue to have, Young Adult Volunteers coming in from all over the country to provide energy and new perspectives to a wide variety of ministries and charities in our local area. Our program is one of the most popular nation-wide.
Most years, Committee on Ministry liaisons, drop by local church session meetings to offer support, advice, and counsel to each congregation. They are the local congregation’s direct connection to the larger body, which is in turn part of all the presbyteries throughout the country. Our presbytery staff and members actively participate at both the synod (regional) and General Assembly (national) levels.
And they do even more than is listed here!
So, to answer the question, “What does the Presbytery do for us?” They allow us to be the Body of Christ far beyond our campus. By being a key part of the Presbytery, we are participating in all of this. And we live out one of our basic beliefs, that we are a connectional church. Being Presbyterian means being a part of more than just a congregation. We are a part of Christ’s larger Church.