Our Mission Statement
The Mission of Presbytery of Central Nebraska
By the grace of God, the Presbytery of Central Nebraska, a governing body of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), is a community of faith called to nuture, serve and support our congregations in the proclamation of the salvation through faith in Jesus Christ, and is committed to ministry and mission within and beyond our geographic and denominational bounds. Empowered by the Holy Spirit, the Presbytery seeks to lead congregations with energy, intelligence, imagination and love.
The History of how Presbytery of Central Nebraska came to be and our evolution throughout the years
The Presbytery of Central Nebraska, originally called presbytery #3, began its life at a meeting January 18, 1977 at First Presbyterian Church of Lexington, Nebraska. It was created by adding a portion of Niobrara Presbytery to Platte Presbytery. The first moderator was Vi Sweet and the first Stated Clerk was Jack Dixon. Robert Mays served as the chairperson of the Realignment Commission that brought the presbytery into existence. The forming of the presbytery was directed and approved by the Synod of Lakes and Prairies and the General Assembly of the United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A.
The presbytery encompasses forty six counties in the State of Nebraska with churches in twenty one of those counties. There are presently thirty nine churches in the presbytery although the presbytery was created with 43 churches in 1977. The cumulative membership of the forty three churches in 1978 was reported as 11,742 while the reported membership of the forty churches in 2012 was listed as 4,969. In 1988 the presbytery reported fifty minister members of presbytery. In 2012 35 ministers are recorded as members of the presbytery
Between 1977 and 2012 there have been thirty five different moderators of presbytery. Sixteen of those moderators have been Ministers of Word and Sacrament and seventeen have been elders. Thirteen of the moderators have been women and twenty have been Ministers of Word and Sacrament. There have been five different installed Stated Clerks with three being ministers and men while the other two have been women elders. The presbytery has been served by an executive since 1978. Jud Van Gorder served as the first executive. Bill and Roxie Davis served as co-executives from 1989 to 1999 and Robert Houser is presently the General Presbyter.
Camping has always been a significant part of the presbytery’s mission. Westminster Wood Camp and Conference Center served The Presbytery of Central Nebraska and predecessor presbyteries for over eighty years. In 2004 the camp celebrated eighty years of uninterrupted camping program and ministry. The camp was officially closed in 2007 and the property was sold in 2008-9. The proceeds from the property sale now funds children and youth ministry that includes camps, retreats and scholarships.
The presbytery has attempted to create new churches or ministries two different times in its history. The first was a summer recreational ministry at Lake McConaughy. The task force leading that effort was dissolved in 1988. An attempt to start a Presbyterian Church in McCook began in 1993. That commission was dissolved in 1999.
Commissioned Lay Pastors became part of the ministry model for the presbytery in the early 1990’s. Bill Davis is credited with creating the first lay pastor training program. Several changes to the program have been made over the years and there are presently fifteen trained lay pastors. Ten of those are commissioned to serve thirteen of the churches in The Presbytery of Central Nebraska.
Presently the presbytery has an Administrative Commission in place to work with a group of Sudanese immigrants as they seek to become a Presbyterian Church. As the writer of Ecclesiastes points out, the presbytery has learned there is a season for all things. Some seasons have come and gone, others are in their prime, and still others are being born. As with God’s people throughout the ages we seek to be faithful in the mission God gives us.