of the General Presbyter of the Presbytery of Sheppards and Lapsley and an introduction to our new columnist!

April 8, 2024

 Greetings of joy in this Eastertide! I am pleased to let you know that starting today, our stated clerk, Jay Wilkins, and I will be sharing the weekly communications from our office. Tammy Strickland, our extraordinary Administrator, will continue to offer a newsletter every other week to keep us all informed of news and opportunities. On the off-weeks, instead of a steady diet of my Ponderings, Jay Wilkins will be joining me in the rotation. As stated clerk, Jay has a unique set of concerns and expertise. It will be informative and enriching for us to hear from him on a regular basis beginning today. So, without further ado, I bring you…… 


Jay’s Jottings . . .April 2024

 I am honored to serve as the Stated Clerk for this Presbytery. So, what is a stated clerk? The Book of Order, one part of our Constitution, puts it this way: “Each council shall elect a clerk who shall record the transactions of the council, keep its rolls of membership and attendance, maintain any required registers, preserve its records, and furnish extracts from them when required by another council of the church.”  I give thanks to God for Tammy Strickland and Linda Burrowes for their experience in keeping our records and minutes.

 What makes clerks stated? I have discovered that there is a long, and not always faithful, story. Going back to the Dutch and Scottish who came to this land, Presbyterians brought their order and ardor to church life. Presbyterians quickly established two leadership roles – moderator and stated clerk. Stated meant that the person was elected for a set term, rather than electing a clerk for each meeting, and so providing stability between meetings by keeping clear and accurate records of what happened and decisions made in meetings.

 The role of the stated clerk has changed over the years. This is evident in our Presbytery’s Standing Rules: The Stated Clerk will: “1. Serve as parliamentarian. 2. Assist individuals and groups with advice regarding presentation of matters to the governing body.” First, the stated clerk is responsible for nurturing and supporting the process of the Presbytery following our call to Christ’s mission. Second, the stated clerk is to keep the minutes and records so that an accurate history is a trustworthy resource for the future.

 I enjoy being called to be, what a colleague names, “the designated process person”. Unlike Roman Catholics and Episcopalians, we do not have “a designated decision maker.”  We have a community gathered around the Word as the Moderator, the Executive Council, and I plan the meetings of Presbytery. The Moderator’s key role of shaping the meeting to the Word of God is seen in the requirement that the opening and closing of the meetings is done in prayer.

 Thanks be to God,


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