Monday, November 12, 2018

Moderator of the Synod of British Columbia

Our own Roy Napier was ordained as Moderator of  Synod at its October meeting.  I asked him about his new job. This is his reply.

About eight years ago, I was asked to become an elder and join the session of Saanich Peninsula PC. 
At that time, Phyllis Lindsay, a long serving elder of SPPC, was the representative elder on presbytery, and likely had served in that capacity for several years.
Phyllis saying good-bye to SPPC

When Phyllis moved to Northern BC, the session had to appoint a representative elder.
At presbytery, each congregation has a rep elder and a teaching elder (the minister). 
I was asked to  be the“rep elder” for SPPC. Initially, the meetings of presbytery were found to be extremely formal, with a great deal of due process, all governed by Book of Forms.
After serving a couple of years on presbytery, I was asked to sit on a synod commission which had to deal with a dispute within another presbytery. 
On such a commission, one quickly becomes more familiar with the processes in the Book of Forms, (B of F), the ultimate rule book of the Presbyterian Church in Canada! 
Fortunately, that commission was able to find a reasonable solution to a difficult situation.

In June 2016, the Presbytery of Vancouver Island nominated me to be the Moderator of Presbytery, and there was a service of installation at the September meeting. 
It was expected to be a one year position, but this was extended for an extra year, until September 2018. 
Generally, the role of moderator is “to be the judge only of order, and it is his/her part to “announce matters”, gather votes and cause good order to be kept.” (B of F). 
That is the relatively easy part. 

When difficulties arise in congregations, as they sometimes do, the moderator, working closely with the clerk of presbytery, is expected to follow the established processes to resolve the issues, and find the best way forward. During these past two years, some very difficult situations did arise. Working with several members of presbytery, it was possible to find a positive way forward.
Other parts of the moderator’s task are: 

  • to chair meetings,
  •  arrange worship services, 
  • serve on the administration committee,
  •  sign minutes, 
  • and appoint any commissions to deal with issues or disputes which might arise. 
  • Also, an important part of the moderator’s task is to conduct services of induction for new ministers and their congregations; there were three such services in this two year period. 
As the representative elder of SPPC, it has been an honour to serve as Moderator of Presbytery for this past two years.

In June 2018, the Presbytery of Vancouver Island nominated me to be the moderator of the 127th Synod of British Columbia, to be held at Central Presbyterian Church, in Vancouver, October 11th-13th.
Central Presbyterian's new building
On the Friday evening, as part of the regular business meeting, there was a formal service of installation. 
In the rest of the business sessions, I served as  moderator and assisted in the Sunday communion service.

When asked what is the task of moderator of synod, I expect that it will be somewhat similar to the role of moderator in presbytery. 
The term of office is for one year, and the next meeting of synod will take place in Kelowna, in October 2019. 
In the meantime, there will be administrative meetings and planning meetings for the activities of the annual meeting of synod. 
Then, there is always that great unknown of dealing appropriately with unexpected issues which may arise within the synod of BC.

It is an honour to represent SPPC on the Synod of British Columbia, and be installed as the Moderator of Synod. 

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