Our First Coopertive Ministry

At our Presbytery meeting on March 10, 2015, history was made in the Presbytery of Grey Bruce Maitland. Motions were passed to create our first cooperative shared ministry between the following four churches:

Geneva Presbyterian Church, Chesley
Latona Presbyterian Church, Dornoch
St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church, Chatsworth
St. Andrew's Presbyterian Church, Southampton

This landmark event marks the beginning of a new way to "do church" in our Presbytery. Born out of a mixture of difficulty, necessity and an unprecedented willingness to do whatever it takes to maintain each of their individual churches as a vibrant and meaningful God-Centred presence in their communities, these 4 congregations have chosen step outside their comfort zones.

This new cooperative offers each of the 4 churches the ability to maintain the individuality and uniqueness that they have grown and nurtured for years, plus they will all benefit from the rewards that will grow from all 4 churches contributing their individual strengths toward shared programs and resources, to create forms of shared ministry that simply would not be possible for any of the churches on their own.

More details of this wonderful new ministry will be posted here on our website, once time permits. If you have any questions, plese feel free to contact our Presbytery Clerk, John Gilbert, and he will direct your inquiry to the appropriate people.

Our Committee History

The SPARK Team is a sub-committee of the Presbytery Administration Committee. Created by Presbytery after retirement of the Futuring Task Force in Octoberf 2011, to continue from and build on the work done by that former committee. The SPARK Team name was adopted by the Committee members and presented to Presbytery in March of 2012. As indicated in the logo above, the name stands for:

Spirit led, Presbytery wide, Acting together with Resources for renewal to Kindle the flames of faith.

Workshops & Congregational Meetings

In its' first year of operation, the SPARK Team sponsored and held two workshops, "Renewing the Rural Church" with Rev. Dr. Christine O' Reilly Sep. 29/12, and "Congregational Development and Revitalization" with Rev. Keith Boyer Nov. 17/12.

The Team also held and facilitated a number meetings between various congregations, to investigate and discuss various options for alternative forms of ministry, needed to meet the challenges facing these churches.

Redefined Mandate

Well into its' second year, nearing the end of the Presbytery year, with only limited progress having been acheived, and only a handful of member congregations actively seeking adaptive change, at the April 9th meeting of Presbytery the Team sought and was given a further and more defined mandate through the following motion:

Moved by Alan Barr and seconded by Mary Sylver:
1. To request that Presbytery clarify the mandate of the SPARK team, within the context of a Presbytery visioning process, to be completed by June 2014;
2. To continue to work with those congregations that identify a willingness to work on cooperative ministry.
3. To introduce a process whereby all congregations would engage in a study to discern their strengths and areas for development, in seeking to be a blessing to their community in the name of Jesus Christ; we anticipate this process will require 12 months to complete.

Resources required to implement recommendation 3 will include a tool such as the Natural Church Development Survey, an educational process for congregational leaders and facilitation support at the congregational level. Presbytery will cost share resources on a 50/50 basis with participating congregations.

Asset Inventory

At the May 14th Meeting of Presbytery at Camp Kintail, the SPARK Team introduced the first step in the process whereby all congregations will engage in a study to discern their strengths and areas for development.

This first step is a Presbytery wide asset inventory of our collective resources. In other words, first we need to determine exactly what it is we have to work with and have to work from.

Click on the following links to download additional copies of the cover letter, the asset inventory form and the sample inventory form.
Click on the following link to review the Power Point presentation.
Click on the following link to read Rev. Dr. John Peter-Smit's Best Practices article from the May issue of the Presbyterian Record.

The Path Ahead . . .

Asset Inventory, to be completed by June 2013.
June 2013, Planning Tables Confirmed.
Continue to work with interested congregations on cooperative ministry.
October 2013, Options, Natural Church Development (NCD) begins
Presbytery Wide Visioning Process completed by June 2014.

What's Next

Also at the May 14th Meeting of Presbytery, a Notice of Motion was given to Presbytery of the Nominations Committee's intention to put the following motiong before Presbytery at the Jun 18th meeting at Huron Feathers:

Notice of Motion Re Temporary Change to Committee Structure

Due to:
- the limited human resources within Presbytery;
- growing clergy fatigue;
- increasing reliance on retired clergy due to the number of vacancies, especially chronic vacancies; and
- the perceived need to focus energy on the renewal and reorganization of pastoral charges within Presbytery for the future;

the Nominations Committee will move or caused to be moved at the June meeting of the GBM Presbytery, that the following changes be implemented in the Presbytery regarding it's working committees for the two year period of Sept 2013 to Sept 2015:

1. Worship and Missions Alive Committees will take a two year sabbath (i.e. will not actively function);
2. SPARKS and Nominations sub-committees will act as Standing Committees for the two year period with representation on the Admin committee;
3. worship at each meeting of presbytery be led by the hosting congregation under the leadership of its' Minister, Interim Minister or Interim Moderator;
4. urgent Missions Alive matters will be dealt with directly by the Admin Committee or delegated as the Admin. sees fit; and

no one on the Roll or Appendix of Presbytery be asked to serve on more than one Standing Committee or Sub-committee of Presbytery for this two year period, except for short-term emergent and/or urgent matters.

Your Team Members

Your present Team members (in alphabetical order) are: Rev. Alan Barr, Rev. Dr. Randy Benson, John Gilbert, Carol Glenn, Rev. Bernie Skelding & Mary Sylver.

Team Co-Conveners are Alan Barr and Mary Sylver (Alan is staying on the Team, but stepping down as co-convener at the end of June 2013).

Facing the Future With "Joy, Confidence and Hope"

In referring to the "three practices" that he recommends as necessary for healthy and growing churches, Rev. Dr. John Peter-Smit concluded his article in the May 2013 Presbyterian Record as follows:

"Even with these three things-purpose, passion and good practices-there is no guarantee that our churches will grow. As we remember this, it is important to remember that all the churches the apostle Paul wrote to-Ephesus, Corinth, Philippi-all those churches are closed now. I have tried very hard to not say that any of these will make your church grow; maybe they will, maybe they won't. What they will do is help us be the church that Christ is calling us to be and that is attractive. And, more importantly, it will remind us that "whether we live or whether we die, we are the Lord's" (Romans 14:8)-knowledge which will allow us to face the future with joy and confidence and hope."
Rev. Dr. John Peter-Smit