At the November 29th Gathering of Presbytery, the Strategic Coordinating Team (SCT) of Council presented guidelines and expectations for a presbytery-wide season of discernment on missional vision, theological clarity, and denominational alignment. The first informational event, held January 17, was intended to begin equipping church leaders to engage their sessions and congregations in this historic season of discernment.  At this event, leaders from congregations were asked to consider these questions in small groups of 8:  What do you value most about being in a connectional church? What activities or ways of life are most important to you about this? What are the best features of this presbytery and/or our denomination?  Do you or your church have any concerns about our denomination or presbytery that you would like to share? What resources or processes have you used to address these concerns? What additional resources would you like to have?  What questions would you like to ask the SCT about our presbytery’s season of discernment?

Many resources were presented for congregations to use in this season of discernment. Below is the first list of resources:

Prayer, Silence, Listening, Fasting, Reflection
Scriptures:  Ps 127:1-3, 1 John 1:5-7, Phil 2:1-5, 14-16, Ps 126, 1 John 4:18,
Discerning God’s Will Together (Morris and Olsen, 1997), Excerpt here
Pursuing God’s Will Together: A Discernment Practice for Leadership Groups (Ruth Haley Barton, 2012)
“13 Principles of Discernment” from Why and How the Church Makes a Social Policy Witness (Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), 1993, updated 2000), Discernment excerpt here
Understanding and Use of Scriptures
Presbyterian Understanding and Use of Holy Scripture (PC(USA) 1983)
Invite pastors and scholars to teach on this topic. A Course Outline on this is attached.
Healthy Communications and Conflict Resolution
Healthy Conversations: The Art of Listening, Sharing, and Understanding—responding in a Christ-like Way to a Quickly-Changing Environment, an SCT handout
Seeking to be Faithful: Guidelines for Presbyterians in Times of Disagreement,
Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most (Stone, Patton, Heen, 1999)
The Five Dysfunctions of a Team (Lencioni, 2002)
Leadership and Self Deception: Getting out of the Box (The Arbinger Institute, 2002)
A Door Set Open: Grounding Change in Mission and Hope (P. Steinke, 2010)
Congregational Leadership in Anxious Times: Being Calm and Courageous No Matter What (P. Steinke, 2006)
Defining and Actively Pursuing Your Congregation’s Missional Purpose
Defining and Actively Pursuing Your Congregation’s Missional Purpose, an SCT handout, includes deep reflection on the PC(USA)’s historic missional principles from the Book of Order F-1.01
New Beginnings: The Missional Church, SCT handout
Memories, Hopes, and Conversations: Appreciative Inquiry and Congregational Change (Mark Lau Branson, 2004)
Presbyterians Do Mission in Partnership (Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), 2003)


  • The SCT’s second discernment event will be offered at the February 28th gathering of Presbytery.  We will offer 2 or 3 Open Space sessions based on topics from our Discernment Event on January 17.
  • Our third discernment meeting will be offered post-Easter on Saturday morning, April 27th, at Trinity.
  • The fourth discernment event will be offered at the May 23rd gathering of Presbytery.

The Strategic Coordinating Team of Council: Tom Cramer, [email protected], Bruce Boyer, Mike Conan, Colette Cozean, Chineta Goodjoin, Frank Harmon, Jason Ko, John McKeague, Bill McReynolds, Nancy Pearson, Lydia Sarandan, Jon Saur, Beryl Smith, Lissa Smith, Steve Wright