Trinity Presbyterian Church is governed by Session, a body of nine elders and our two pastors. Each year, three new session elders are elected, and three complete their term. This year, we say a fond farewell to Erika Mariani, Nalani Linder, and Tom Llewellyn. We are so grateful for the time, wisdom, and leadership they have shared. Read on to learn a little about the experience, and what kinds of things a Trinity session elder does.
It is amazing to think that my 3 years as an Elder on Session is coming to a close soon. When I said “yes” to this commitment it was because I had no solid reason to say “no”. I felt God calling me to serve in this way during this specific season of my life and this period of our church life. The many months of meetings, emails and ongoing discussions we have had as a governing board all blend together now, but I am left with a strong impression of the tremendous teamwork and collaboration I felt in working with these amazing people that make up our Session and our church. I value each and every one of the members of Session and felt honored to serve alongside them as we discerned over and prayed about all of the decisions made in the past 3 years. Thank you all for this opportunity to serve the Trinity community.
I’m grateful for having been part of the Presbyterian process and structure of Session these past three years. Like most acts of faith and service, I got a lot more from it than the I put into it. I sincerely appreciated being in closer community with the other Session members through the monthly meetings, and grappling together with a variety of issues facing Trinity. It was great to work more with Matt and Rod, who are both highly competent leaders administratively as well as in church on Sundays. A ‘bonus’ for me was getting to do tasks assigned to Elders and Deacons that were surprisingly touching and meaningful for me: serving communion, talking about faith with new members, and other activities that called me into deeper reflection and relationship with God and with others at Trinity.
Importantly, I also got an insider look at the extraordinary work that happens every day (and night) at Trinity House. It’s a very special place, doing important and sometimes difficult work. The stories of the many people who use Trinity House grounds as a place to sleep, stay and linger—often bringing drugs and/or weapons with them—breaks my heart, has me worried about the safety of staff, and invited us as session members into ongoing discernment about what the Christ-like response is in such complex circumstances. These will continue to be questions for Session and staff, and all of us who care for Trinity and the Bryant Neighborhood.
As the 3 of us cycle off, I offer blessings to the ongoing and new members of Session as we move forward with the campaign, temporary relocation, and renovation. Such exciting times and an important time for leadership. Thank you for your service!
The top five things about serving on session:
Number five: Serving as an elder is indeed a time commitment, but it’s a small one. One elder meeting a month and then, typically, involvement in one other team, such as children and youth, budgets, personnel, nominating—that sort of thing. But beyond that, serving is an honor—a sacred duty. So, if someone on that nominating team calls you in the future, say yes. You can fit it in.
Number four: Serving on session is indeed sacred—more than I imagined it would be. I sit in meetings all day at work, and originally kind of dreaded another meeting, but these gatherings are different. Matt works to create sacred space when we get together—with time for prayer and reflection.
Number three: Session is a remarkable reminder that we really are in this weird thing called the body of Christ. It’s a reminder that, at Trinity, it’s easier to get through life when we do it together, with each other’s diverse talents, skillsets, and personalities. Session works the way our larger church does, on a smaller scale, and it’s kind of awesome to watch the wisdom, hard work, and generosity move into action. We’ve got some gifted folks. It’s been inspiring to hang out with them one Tuesday a month.
Number four: You get to know all the secrets of being a Seventh-Level Trinitarian: sacred handshakes, hidden passages under the pulpit, vegetable sacrifices. OK, none of that actually happens. In fact, what you learn is that our leadership is incredibly transparent and incredibly human. No secrets. No mysteries. Just people praying, asking God for help, and doing their best to make decisions in an orderly fashion.
Number five: Snacks. You get snacks.