Rev. James Gale joins the Synod staff

Friends of the SoMA, It is with great excitement that I write to tell you that, beginning February 6, 2013, Rev. James Gale will be joining the synod staff as Director of Operations and Program Assistant.

Rev. Gale has been a Teaching Elder in the PC(USA) since 2004, and has served in a variety of ways during his ministry. In addition to pastorates at Rivermont Presbyterian Church (Kinston, NC, New Hope Presbytery) and Shawnee Presbyterian Church (Shawnee, KS, Heartland Presbytery), he has served as a Young Adult Volunteer in Belfast, Northern Ireland, as a member of New Church Development, Evangelism, and Stewardship (as chair) committees in the New Hope and Heartland Presbyteries, and has been a faithful and instrumental member of our synod's Church Development Corporation's Board of Directors since 2010.

This is an exciting time in the SoMA's work. With the Commissioners' establishment of the Missional Priorities in October, Rev. Gale sees the great potential for mission and ministry in our region:

“In a time in which many see the future of Synods as uncertain and challenging, I am excited to join the staff of the SoMA. I believe this is a time of great opportunity and innovation, and I’m confident that we will be at the forefront of that work. Our synod has the opportunity to be a pioneer and principle innovator for the future of the PC(USA), and I am excited to join in that process.”

In his work, Rev. Gale will oversee many of the SoMA's day to day operations, filling the very big shoes of our former colleague, Kerry Lancaster, who retired last March after 35 years. However, due to his skills, passion, and creativity, the SoMA will also benefit from Rev. Gale's assistance in fulfilling our Missional Priorities through program support.

During the first part of the year, I will introduce you to Rev. Gale at the stated meetings of our presbyteries. I look forward to you getting to know him.

Grace and Peace,

Rev. Landon Whitsitt, Executive & Stated Clerk

And we begin...

The Apostle Paul began most of his letters with some version of "Grace to you and peace in the name of God our Father and of our Lord Jesus Christ." From the beginning, he wanted to make clear that his intentions were to cooperate with the good things God was doing in a particular community's life. To that end, he offered his readers "Grace and Peace." A few thoughts as we begin together...

"Grace and Peace..." To be sure, these are words loaded with meaning and goodness, but there is something deeper than all that. If I remember correctly what I learned from my friend, Rev. Dr. Margaret Aymer, the words Paul chose to use had their origin in two different language - Greek and Hebrew. Paul was not simply using nice words, he was honoring all involved in his greeting by beginning "Charis and Shalom..." As we begin here, all Jews and Greeks are welcome. This is a place for all.

"Grace..." This is one of my favorite words in the the Christian vocabulary. It is not a noun, but an adverb. One does not give Grace, but acts in Grace. To be sure, we speak of "God's Grace", but, if we are precise, we are speaking of the way in which God acts towards us: beneficial action without any expectation of return. A gift given for the good of the receiver.

Here, on this blog, we act with Grace. We do not respond quickly or with hot temper. We do not seek to hurt or cut down our sisters and brothers. Here, we act as Christ acted: we empty ourselves to the point of death.

"Peace..." All manner of goodness. All manner of wholeness. All manner of complexity. Peace is the opposite of fragmentation. Peace is the opposite of simplistic thinking. Peace honors even that which seems contradictory.

In this space, we take action which serves to build up the Body (SOMA) of Christ, not split it apart. We do not back one another into a corner, but walk side by side.