Sometimes I’m not sure why I’m the Stated Clerk of the Presbytery or what the position entails, because it’s one of those positions that every Presbytery must have, according to the Book of Order, but the office itself is sort of like a chameleon – it not only changes from day to day, but also probably from presbytery to presbytery. But I do know how I got in this position!
I grew up in Eastern Arkansas and call Graham Memorial in Forrest City, Park Hill in North Little Rock, First in Paragould, First in Jonesboro, First in Pine Bluff, First in Jacksonville, and First United in Fayetteville my home congregations. I was asked to serve on the Presbytery’s Committee on Ministry in 1988, prior to attending seminary, and following seminary soon returned to serving the Presbytery of Arkansas through the COM. I have been able to assist so many congregations through the call process and visit sessions through what used to be called “triennial visits,” that most congregations in our presbytery feel like home. I love developing and strengthening relationships across our denomination and have gathered enough polity knowledge in the process that when the Presbytery needed a temporary Stated Clerk, I was the easiest ask.
As your Stated Clerk one of my primary responsibilities is to support the Clerks of Sessions of our congregations in their work. I also aid the Office of the General Assembly in their communications with local congregations. I assist in planning our Presbytery Meetings and make sure that the Presbytery’s policies and manuals are up to date, available to committees as needed, and revised when appropriate. I staff the Permanent Judicial Commission, the Coordinating Team, the Committees on Ministry and Preparation for Ministry, and the Committees on Nominations and Representation. I also staff all Administrative Commissions in their work, and it is my responsibility to train them. I do my best to answer polity questions – such as what to do when a church can’t find its by-laws, or how to go about selling property – and my general attitude is that if the Book of Order doesn’t prohibit it, and the appropriate governing bodies believe that change is where the Holy Spirit is moving, then let’s figure out how to get it done within our polity.
My husband, Ted Belden, is probably as busy within the Presbytery as I am, serving on sessions, committees and boards, is a previous Moderator of the Presbytery of Arkansas, and both of us have served as commissioners to General Assembly – different years of course. Our equal commitment to the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) is part of the glue that has held us together. We do our best to support one another, at the same time that we are very distinct in our outlooks – and sometimes in the way we vote on the floor of Presbytery!
Please contact me if I may be of assistance to you. My cell phone is 479.466.1061 – text or call – and my best email addresses are firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
(Pictured above with her cat, Mia. Below is Izzy, her canine companion.)