Before Great Lakes became a presbytery, we were part of the Presbytery of the Northeast. At our gathering in 2013, I had the opportunity to preach.
It’s always difficult to preach to the preachers. I wondered what I could say that they hadn’t already heard or preached themselves. As I thought about the newness of ECO, and how we can all work together to build this new movement, I shared a story that I still think of often.
I have a neighbor at the church whose name is Joanie. She also happens to be the daughter of our custodian. Joanie is mentally handicapped and she’s both deaf and mute. Joanie loves jigsaw puzzles, so every time I go on vacation I bring her back a puzzle. I remember the first time I bought her one: I took it down to the house and she grabbed it out of my hands, ripped the box open, tore the box up, and threw it in the garbage can, then dumped the puzzle onto the table and proceeded to put it together. She didn’t even look at the box before she tore it up, so she didn’t know what all the colors were or the characters. Yet she put that puzzle together faster than I could have with the box to look at.
Most of us could never do that with a puzzle. We need to look at the box to match up the colors and to have an idea where the trees go or which corner is the sunrise. We like to see the big picture before we begin. Not only do we like to do puzzles that way, but we like to do life that way, too. We like to know how many pieces we’re dealing with and what it’s going to look like in the end. We’re excited about the journey, but we need to know where we’ll end up.
That's still where we find ourselves in ECO. We’re excited about this new journey and we know that we are exactly where God has called us to be, but we still have a lot of questions about what it’s going to look like in the end and how we’re going to get there. We want to see the box, right?
The Great Lakes Presbytery is made up of churches and pastors in Western Pennsylvania, Western New York, Ohio, Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, and Wisconsin. At the moment, we have a total of 23 churches and 22 pastors, and we have 10 pastors and three churches pending release, with more in the application process. Our greatest challenge has been keeping up with the inquiries and application...a great problem to have!
As Moderator of the Great Lakes Presbytery, I find it very exciting to be putting this puzzle together…together. We have all the pieces laid out on the table, face up, ready to be assembled but we have no idea what it’s going to look like in the end. In other words, in our Presbytery, God has given us people with all the gifts necessary to put this beautiful picture together, we just have to work at putting all the pieces in all the right places. I am looking forward to getting to know people so we can use everyone’s gifts effectively to make this movement all that God intends it to be.
Christina (Tina) Hosler is a second career pastor, having worked previously as an Insurance and Annuity Specialist and a Risk Management Specialist. Tina received her B.S. in Human Resource Management from Geneva College, her M.Div. and D.Min. from Pittsburgh Theological Seminary (PTS) and is currently completing a certificate in Spiritual Direction and Spiritual Leadership from PTS. Tina has been serving as Pastor/Head of Staff at the Paris Presbyterian Church since January 2004 and enjoys leading retreats and being a spiritual director. In her spare time, she plays the flute in the West Hills Symphony in Pittsburgh.