Beloved Community Within The Bounds

by Lisa Allgood, Executive Presbyter

Isn’t “Presby-speak” fun?  “Within the bounds” means something that happens inside the boundaries of the Presbytery of Cincinnati (or any other Presbytery individually). So “outside the bounds” means something that is allowed or happens outside the boundaries of the Presbytery.  For example, when the Presbytery Commission on Ministry permits a pastor to serve a church in another Presbytery, they are giving permission to “labor outside the bounds” – even though the pastor remains a member of our Presbytery.

Last week I wrote about a fun meeting with the Presbyteries of Kentucky in southern Kentucky, so a meeting of Beloved Community “beyond or outside the bounds”.  Partnerships across Presbyteries and Synods create great networks and friendships, spur new ideas, and live out the connectionalism that we Presbyterians thrive on. 

Those same things – expanded networks, new friendships, fruitful connectionalism, novel ideas, mission support and amplification – happen when churches come together within the bounds.  Last week on Ash Wednesday I was privileged to be a part of a joint Ash Wednesday service among several of the churches of the Eastern Area. 

Cherry Fork Presbyterian Church

Cherry Fork Presbyterian hosted Winchester, Seaman, Red Oak, Mowrystown, Hillsboro and Georgetown Presbyterian Church pastors and congregants in a single beautiful connected Ash Wednesday service.  It was so much fun to see people greet one another from the other churches, make connections with pastors they hadn’t seen in a while, and fill a sanctuary with faithful witness to the beginning of Lent and celebrate our Christian heritage together.

There are other examples within the bounds as well, connections that build Beloved Community outside the walls of our churches but within the bounds and across our region.  Knox and Third Presbyterian Churches.  Heritage and Carmel Presbyterian Churches.  Covenant-First and West Cincinnati Presbyterian Churches.  Crestview and Pleasant Run are exploring a partnership.  The Eastern Area Council.  The Kentucky Youth Program.  Partnerships can be connectional even if not all Presbyterian Churches – we have a terrific partner in the local UCC churches and pastors, as well as ecumenically with other churches and faith leaders.  And our UKirk and New Worshipping Community (to be announced very soon!!!) have formed terrific partnerships with missions in Northside, as well as with Immanuel Presbyterian Church.

How might partnerships and work “outside the walls but inside the bounds” build the Kingdom in meaningful ways for you?  How might we best live out the commandments and co-mission of our Lord if we did it – together?