In the middle of Advent, we need to look forward the new year. While I prefer to remain focused on the Advent rhythms of preparation, I need to leap ahead to our combined presbyteries’ meeting on January 25-26 because we are going to try an experiment.

We will be having an hour on the Friday agenda that is reserved as “open space.” Open space scheduling is a time without anything on the agenda except what you bring to the table. Do you have a topic you would like to discuss with other pastors and elders? Tell us about it. Do you think we need to think theologically together? Suggest the conversation. Do you want to hear about best practices for ministry or mission? Put out a call for ideas.

Where do the ideas come from? How do I register? What if I change my mind?

If you would like to discuss a topic, please complete this Open Space application and return to Carolyn McBurney ( We will assign topics on a first-come, first-served basis. We will announce six, open space discussion topics in the call to the meeting and ask only that you indicate which of the topics you are most likely to attend. If you change your mind, that’s okay, as we only want to have a general idea about the size of the gathering so we can make appropriate room assignments. On the actual day of the meeting, open space will be guided by the “Two Feet” rule: if you are no longer learning or contributing from the group you are in, use your two feet to move to a different group. It’s okay to change groups. That’s the way open space works!

Why are we experimenting with open space scheduling?

There are certain things we must do and do best together: worship, ordination exams, moving an inquirer to candidacy. However, other topics are more relevant to some than to others. Open space allows for a person’s passion to guide the agenda. Rather than a top-down planning of the agenda, open space allows for grassroots’ passion. It is a way for organizations to allow grassroots creation of the meeting agenda.

The vision is for people to connect, to network, and to share. Anyone who believes they have something to learn about God’s Kingdom is encouraged to join in and participate. If you have a topic you would like to see the presbytery discuss, we will have six rooms designated as the open space rooms. On Friday before dinner, commissioners will be invited to choose a topic and go forth to discuss, debate, discern, and dialogue.

It’s time for you to start the conversation,

Brad Munroe

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