Featured Circuit January 2012

District:

Michigan

Circuit:

Ohio Southern Circuit

Circuit Pastor:

Kevin Westra (kwestra@usa.net)

FC.2012.1Ohio Southern Circuit

The Ohio Southern Circuit has five formal meetings during the school year with no meetings during December or during months in which the Ohio Pastoral Conference meets (October and April). As in many areas of our synod, one challenge for the Ohio Southern Circuit is the distance covered by the circuit. The circuit covers the southern half of the state of Ohio, including one congregation in Kentucky and one bordering West Virginia.

Here are their agendas from their last two meetings in August and November 2011.

Sample Agenda #1

August 25th, 2011 – 9:30 AM – 12:00 noon
Peace of Our Savior – New Carlisle, OH

1) Opening Devotion
2) Discussion of 1 Corinthians 14:26-36
3) Synod Convention update
4) Reports on congregations
5) Steering Committee items
6) Questions of Casuistry
7) Future Study Topics
8) Other business:

  • Synod/District news
  • next meeting: November 17th
  • next assignments:Heirs Together (Part One): First, discussion leader Kevin Westra. Second, exegesis of a sermon text – Joel Voss

9) Close with prayer and dismiss to lunch
________________________________________

Sample Agenda #2

November 17th, 2011 – 9:30 AM – 12:00 noon
Peace of Our Savior – New Carlisle, OH

1) Opening Devotion
2) Sermon Text Study: Joel Voss
3) “Heirs Together” Part One: Kevin Westra
4) Reports on congregations
5) Questions of Casuistry
6) Future Study Topics
7) Other business:

  • Synod/District news
  • next meeting: ___________
  • next assignments:Heirs Together (Part Two): First, discussion leader Tom Westra. Second, exegesis of a sermon text – Joel Vogel

8) Close with prayer and dismiss to lunch

There are several items worth nothing about the Ohio Southern Circuit:

Two key strengths do not appear in any listing of agenda items. Here are those strengths as they are described by Circuit Pastor Kevin Westra:

  • “There are several things I really appreciate about our circuit. One would be the bond of Christian love we share with each other. Perhaps it is because we are a little more spread out that we really enjoy getting together. For example, when we install a new pastor in our circuit, it is common for almost every pastor to be there for the laying on of hands.”
  • “Another thing I have been impressed with is the commitment in our circuit to attend meetings. I have been here for eight years, and I think I can count on one hand the number of times someone has missed a circuit meeting. I think a mindset was set years ago by members of this circuit that circuit meetings are important and something we commit to, and that mindset has continued even as pastors come and go.”

Their two study topics for each meeting (a sermon text study, and a doctrinal/confessional study: previously the Formula of Concord, now a study of the doctrine of man and woman using the Commission on Adult Discipleship’s Bible study Heirs Together) gives the circuit two solid growth opportunities each time they get together.

Here are some suggestions for circuits that would consider adopting/adapting larger or smaller portions of the plans of the Ohio Southern Circuit:

  • While exegetical theology and systematic/historical theology have been represented in the circuit’s previous and current study plans, the various areas of practical theology might benefit from having their own “agenda slot” added to the typical circuit meeting. Since circuit members have already traveled quite some time to get together, perhaps assigning a circuit member to lead a review of a current or classic book in an area of practical theology might enable the brothers to gain even more from a day already devoted to the circuit meeting. Adding a third agenda “study” item would have the additional benefit of allowing one more member of the circuit to be involved in leading a portion of the agenda. We always learn most when we are responsible for presenting or facilitating a discussion. With eleven active pastors in the circuit (and one retired pastor), even increasing to three presentations during five meetings would have each circuit member responsible for leading no more than one or two studies/discussions each year.
  • While adding a third study topic to the agenda might lengthen the agenda into the early afternoon, it might also be possible to shift the more “informational” parts of the agenda (items 4 & 7) to a “lunch-time” discussion without extending the length of the meeting much if any.
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