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While in-person preachers have a big toolbox from which to draw, online preachers have just two main tools — their face and their voice.
Much has been learned from the Minister Survey. Researchers and leaders will continue to explore the data over the next year and look to how the information can be shared with leadership, seminaries and ministers so that they can begin the work of encouraging what is helpful and addressing concerns. So, what are the key takeaways from this work? What is promising? What needs addressing?
In the Minister Survey conducted by the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) Research Services, Ministers of the Word and Sacrament were asked about their experiences with discrimination, opportunities and leadership struggles. Their answers form the basis for the Discrimination, Opportunity, and Struggles of Leadership Report, available in English, Spanish, and Korean.
On the surface, things seemed calm. Professors came and left every two weeks, teaching courses to adult South Sudanese students on various aspects of peacebuilding. The students sang together during morning devotions, laughed while acting out dramas in class, and played boisterous volleyball matches before dinner. The staff enjoyed the liveliness of a campus brimming with activity. Yet underneath, we were all aware of the country’s instability. At any time, a spark might fly, igniting a rapidly spreading flame of violence.
“The dishwashing detergent is lost.” In Cuba, one would say, “El detergente de lavar platos está perdido.” That means that you will not find dishwashing detergent in the store these days. As we enter our fourth year as mission co-workers in Cuba, we realize how easy it is sometimes to forget that we are strangers living in a foreign land. We still remember many embarrassing instances when we called household items a different name from what residents called them. Yes, we have spoken Spanish since childhood, and day-to-day conversations are easy. But regional nuances in the way people in Cuba talk to each other provide learning experiences for people like us.
Changes in organization and mission present challenges and opportunities
The Synod of Alaska-Northwest continues to live into a new and creative way of being a synod. After decades of being a large program body, it has recently moved to a reduced function as provided for by the Book of Order. Although mission in the form of programs no longer occurs, the ties between the member presbyteries are perhaps stronger than in the past. The synod does mission only in terms of how it supports its member presbyteries, taking seriously the mandate of the 211th General Assembly (1999): to “develop, encourage, equip, and resource congregations and their leaders, . . . enhance the effectiveness of congregations, and find simplified, flexible and more responsive ways to . . . work in a rapidly changing environment.”