What does your presiding elder do?

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I often times find myself asking this question. The presiding elder in this area is seen when it is time to collect money. He does not worship at any churches in his conference or assist in the growth of the church. Yet he finds his way to church when it's time for him to get paid. Is this just a problem in this conference or is it a connectional problem?

-- Anonymous, September 24, 2003


Carolyn, I may be way off base on this but I feel that a Presiding Elder is the middle management role with our onnectional church. He should be there to relay information from the Bishop to the Ministers in his charge and to help oversea the running of his district. This means that he should also be accessible to his ministers and members as well. He should be a teacher and resource for the people of his district.

We had a Presiding Elder that we did not see at our church in four years. The Pastor sent him his check and told him there was no reason for him to come to the church. This was because of the problems that we had and are still having at our church.

-- Anonymous, September 24, 2003

When I joined the AMEC I didn't think the position of Presiding Elder offered much in the area of organizational efficiency. Many pastors appeared to function well without their oversight and as a result I was led to believe budgeted positions for these positions (PE), which some considered nothing more than religious "bill collectors", a waste of time, talent and treasure. However, once I got to really understand the functions of PEs I came to realize that many are dedicated hard working men and women who are more than just bill collectors. My Presiding Elder takes the time to visit all of the churches in his local district. He is a wealth of information and supportive of the Lay Organization and Church School. He is by far the best PE I have met (I like Gwen Ifill's PE brother also). QED

-- Anonymous, September 24, 2003

My presiding elder, Rev. Dr. Alonzo Middleton in the Super 7, is very vibrant, visible and accessible!!!!!!!!!!

-- Anonymous, September 25, 2003

Well Bill, you are once again blessed. Our PE stops in to collect funds like an insurance man, once a quarter. Maybe if there's a problem and more money is needed. Maybe they serve as middle management, some of them in the 11th are money hungry manager and if truth be told when you go to our conferences it looks like a nursing home, some are sick, half blind and to money hungry to give up the position. Most pastors seem to do just fine without them anyway. God help us. I am asking for your prayers I have been going through a Dry Season within the AME church and I have asked God if it's me to fix me. It's not, I am praying daily for strength to overlook these human vessels that are in charge of folks souls and are leading them away from the church and straight into the world. I am once again reading the book God Chasers to aid me in my dry season. Please pray for me to stay focus on the Lord and not what is going on in our places of worship.

-- Anonymous, September 25, 2003

I think the Presiding Elder's job is the most thankless job in African Methodism. It is part bill collector, he or she must encourage Pastors to make full reports. He or she must intercede with reluctant congregations and he or she must be on the look out for godly men and women to fill pulpits. In a larger charge the presiding elder is probably an after thought but for the 100 member and less congregations in our zion the presiding elder is pastoral mentor and supervisor and is a great sounding board for the pastor.

The presiding elders I have known are men of integrity and grace and I admire both of them tremendously.

-- Anonymous, September 25, 2003

I've been AME less than six years, but I've come to learn and appreciate the role of the Presiding Elder in a special way.

We know and love our PE because:

(1) He shows up -- with encouragement and support -- in worship services (e.g., Sunday morning, revival), programs, festivities, and various other local church events throughout the district;

(2) He hosts events (e.g., church school conventions) that pull together the various local church congregations in our district. These events provide spiritual and/or educational enrichment, and they provide opportunities to fellowship and strengthen our connections at the local church level;

(3) He holds quarterly conference meetings where he hears reports and appears geniunely interested in what and how we're doing, especially the YPD and the outreach ministries. In his wisdom, he gives us credit for our strengths and gives us guidance (not criticism) where we need to improve (grow);

(4) He's with us -- preaching at one of the churches in our district - - almost every Sunday.

In this district, our PE does a lot more than just collect money.

-- Anonymous, September 25, 2003

In a perfect AME world, the PE is, indeed, middle management. The Bishop cannot possibly be in touch with all the congregations in the District; neither can s/he maintain close contact with all the pastors of the district. The PE, with a smaller "span of control" can perform this function.

However, in most cases of which I am aware, it does not work that way. We see our PE only once or twice a year. For several years, it was stated that this was because he was overseeing two PE districts, but that has not been the case for two years and we still don't see him in our services. He did recently hold a quarterly conference on a Wednesday evening, but was not scheduled on a Sunday.

It may not be all his fault. At the PE's planning meeting last year, he scheduled our church for the 5th Sunday's. On at least one of those Sundays, other activities were also scheduled. Yet, he receives his quarterly check.

He does host the Church School Institute (Sunday School Convention) and while the assessments for it represent 1/6 of his income, he's not overly concerned about the money. He tries to ensure other fees (registration, meals, etc.) are kept low so more can participate. Only three full time registrations are expected from each church (pastor, Church School Supt., and a delegate), any others come pretty much at cost of meals only.

The concept is a good one; but it could use some tweaking, in reality.

-- Anonymous, September 26, 2003

Linda, I'm sure you know my PE in Tallahassee :-) Why, why does Harold always (rightly I might add) insist we get our heads out of the sand when looking at the inner working of our Zion??? I never considered the task of the PE to be "the most thankless job in African Methodism" until reading that post. It's encouraging to read about the great work that PEs who serve Eva and Larry's districts. Let's pray this type of devoted work spreads across the Connection. QED

-- Anonymous, September 26, 2003

I have to sing the praises of my P.E. Rev. Donna Roberson. She is my lifeline. Doing rural ministry can be lonely and isolating because usually there are not many other churches in the area. I am the only ordained black clergywoman in the state of Montana. My P.E. stays in contact with my daughter and I on a weekly basis. She understands the necessity to do things differently in a rural setting. i.e not scheduling all the meetings that most churches have. Particularly in the winter. Many of my members come across mountain passes and or are farmers. Our district meetings are held in Washington State. Two states away. It is very expensive to fly to these meetings all the time. She provides other avenues for us to participate. I think the most wonderful thing that my P.E. did was to introduce to another clergywoman Rev. Eraina Aseme, who is now my biological sister. Rev. Aseme is also doing rural ministry and she has/is a wonderful colleague for me. I shared with my P.E. I was feeling lonely because most of the churches in my conference are urban and I did not have a colleague who was doing a similar type of ministry. My Elder connected me with my sister who is in another conference. This has helped tremendously. It was difficult for Danielle and I to make it to the Board of Examiner meetings due to the distance and cost. They are held in Seattle. My P.E. developed an internet curriculum for us and our ame church im fairbanks, alaska. She is an encourager and she thinks outside the box. She inspires creative ministry in her clergy. We have instituted outreach ministries to the disabled. Started a DMC program in a group home. Visit Indian Reservations etc. All with the blessing and encouragement of our P.E. Our conference is small only 16 churches. Yet my P.E. treats all of her churches as if each one is a favored child. She travels great distances Alaska, Washington and Montana and above all she is a pastor to the clergy. She is my first Presiding Elder and I thank God every day for her wisdom, dedication and enthusiasm for the Lord.

-- Anonymous, September 27, 2003

Oh my God! I thought this problem was only prominent in africa, Zambia in particular but alas it seems this is a trend in a number of places. I totally agree with Carolyn. You will find that problems raised by the members are not taken too seriously but when they fail to pay what is due then it is a serious issue. Presiding Elders, please change and make our church better.

-- Anonymous, November 24, 2003

I would like to commend several presiding elders within our connectional church who have outstanding programs within their presiding elder's district. They are; Presiding Elser George W. Tyler of the 8th Episcopal District, Presiding Elder, Herbert Eddy and Elder Robert Wade of the 1st Episcopal District, Elders John Bodison, John Mainer, William Heastie, O.C. williams of the 11th District. These elders have implemented training programs for preachers and pastors. New means of conducting church school conventions and district conferences in making these events, real alive, informative and knowledgeable. I was impressed with last year , when Elder Eddy sponsored a trip to basketball tournament for all of the youth at tending church school. A method for social interacting and exposing our youth to positive means for recreation. The elders of the 11th district assisting and training new pastors hands on experience for church leadership. However, it would be helpful for more on going workshops and seminars to be developed during the year in ministry for pastors and ministers in networking together in being more supportive of eachother in building a better church.

Rev, E. H. Brown

-- Anonymous, January 26, 2005

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