Our newly called Executive Presbyter, Rev. Ruth Santana-Grace, is quickly shedding the “new” label as she immerses herself in the life and ministry of the Presbytery of Philadelphia. Her first six months among us have taken her to a Black History Month Celebration at Cedar Park, a retreat center on the Main Line, the new President’s inauguration at Eastern University, General Assembly in Detroit, Regional and Presbytery meetings. She has been preaching in our worship services, attending our installations, and gathering us as colleagues in ministry. Perhaps equal in importance is her journeying with us into our story, hearing about the joys and pains of our past, and the hopes and dreams for our future.
“I therefore…beg you to lead a life worthy of your calling…”
Our Presbytery is blessed with a rich diversity of gifts, talents, dreams, and ideas. Ruth experienced a new model for doing ministry at Beacon, the hopes of urban pastors at a fellowship gathering, the passion for youth and camping during a visit to Kirkwood Camp and Conference Center, and the imaginations of younger pastors during a 40’s and under pastor’s gathering.
“The Presbytery of Philadelphia has been blessed! Our first six months have been filled with energy, love and hope, and we look forward with anticipation and excitement as we experience ‘new things’ within our congregations and leadership”. Wonjae Choi, Moderator
Ruth faithfully supported our Commissioners to the 221st General Assembly and gathered us together after important, impactful decisions were made in Detroit. Two roundtable meetings were held for pastors to support their work of conveying GA decisions to their congregations and caring for those who felt deeply the impact of such decisions.
One Wednesday in July Ruth was found gathering the Presbytery’s leadership at a retreat center, who spent the day dwelling with one another as Regional leaders. Providing the space to reflect, pray, and use their creativity, our Presbytery leadership imagined how the Holy Spirit may be using our regional structure to build up the body of Christ through connectional ministry.
The Presbytery is blessed to have Ruth lead us in this new day, as we discover with the Holy Spirit where we as the Presbytery of Philadelphia will join Christ out in the world as congregations united together in ministry. God’s timing is encouraging us to let go of our old self, our old identity as who we used to be as a Presbytery, and embrace this new day with renewed wisdom and hope.
Gathering together colleagues in ministry, Ruth continues to host forum after forum to encourage dialogue and collegiality in an often times lonely profession. Interim Pastors, Pastors Under 40, Self-identifying Evangelical Pastors, African-American Pastors, Pastors in Validated Ministries, and Multicultural Pastors each had their own gatherings with Ruth at the Presbytery office to share their stories, engage with one another, and unite in hope for the future. Add Ruth’s gathering of small, medium, and large church pastors, and we must proclaim that we, as the Presbytery of Philadelphia have been gathered together, our stories have been heard, the seeds of our dreams have been planted!
“I don’t want this to sound too ‘over-the-top’, but I began my year as vice-moderator when Ruth came to our Presbytery. So, we were both new – me to my role and Ruth to our Presbytery. From day one, Ruth has shown energy and honesty. She has supported Wonjae and me and expressed her gratitude for all that we’ve done. Ruth also likes to have fun! Above all, however, I think it is Ruth’s spirit that has infused our Presbytery and leads us to a new place” Mike Henry, Vice-Moderator
“Let no evil talk come out of your mouths, but only what is useful for building up…be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ has forgiven you…live in love, as Christ loved us…” Paul’s words to the church in Ephesus mirror those of our Executive Presbyter, as she, too, employs us to use our gifts and talents for the building up of Christ’s church, to speak the truth in love as we work together, and to dream big dreams for how the Holy Spirit will unite us in ministry.
Her gifts of wisdom, energy, enthusiasm, and love for the church will continue to lead her to the edges of the Presbytery and everywhere in between.
Let us rejoice and give thanks for these first six months of Ruth’s ministry with us!