An Experiment!

Keith Tanis-webThe Strategic Board has approved an experiment to move from a Tillicum Center-based to a church-based Presbytery until the end of the year. What this means is that I will work from various churches throughout the Presbytery instead of a single office in the Tillicum Center. Our Stated Clerk/Presbytery Administrator, Kari McFarland, will work from an office at Bethany Presbyterian Church in Tacoma. Presbytery committees and commissions will also meet in various churches instead of the Tillicum Center.

Our mailing address and phone number remain the same for this six month experiment.

This experiment will be evaluated by a Transition Team of OlyPres leaders as it unfolds. We will not make any irrevocable changes during these six months so as not to preclude our returning to the Center in January.

We are in conversation with two groups who have expressed an interest in leasing the Tillicum Center. One group is a church that has been meeting in an area hotel banquet room for several years. The other is a group from the National Guard who are interested in leasing the Tillicum Center for use by their chaplains, counselors and family support groups. Both groups envision an expanding role in helping the immediate Tillicum community.

We believe that this experiment is in keeping with our Presbytery vision, the Mission is the Message, which included the following challenge:

It is the recommendation of the Futures Task Force that over the course of the next two to four years we move towards a minimalist approach and model of staffing with the Olympia Presbytery.

The recent retirement of our Executive Administrator, Susie Zych, brought another incentive to this experiment, since Susie was the primary force in making the Tillicum Center the beautiful, hospitable and functional office and meeting space it has been over the past several years.

We believe that this experiment will embody a reality we are seeking to live into, namely, that Presbytery is not a place but it is a network of relationships among the churches. We believe this experiment will help us nurture and resource these relationships for the good of our common mission!

Send any feedback to me by phone (562-682-1367), email (, or our regular 15508 Portland Ave SE mailing address.

Keith Tanis, Executive Presbyter


The Key!

On Saturday, June 1, several leaders from OlyPres attended a conference with Alan Roxburgh sponsored by the ELCA. I've heard Alan speak often and have worked with him for over two years in The Missional Network. But he said something that surprised me...pleasantly! He shared with over 15o pastors and lay leaders the result of a Lilly-funded study he had done to discover "the key to missional transformation of the church." He said the conclusion is that "the key to missional transformation is the mid-level judicatory." In plain English (for Presbyterian churches like ours) the key to missional transformation is THE PRESBYTERY! When I heard that, I looked across the aisle at Sue Watkins, the moderator of OlyPres, and we gave each other a big thumbs up! We're on the right track! We're even a few steps ahead of a lot of churches out there! Our OlyPres vision and trajectory solidly says that our presbytery is willing to do what it takes to "nurture missional congregations and missional leaders!"

We have much to learn and far to go. But we have started down the road. Led by the Spirit, we will discern together what God is up to in our communities. And we will join God in God's mission. That will change our communities, our churches, and us!

The Missional Church and nFOG

OlyPres Pastor Mark Dowdy passed me this link to what the PCUSA says about being "missional." I think the article affirms our presbytery's "mission is the message" vision. I know that some in OlyPres don't like some of nFog (people I've known in other denominations are usually annoyed by or cynical of their books of order). But I'd hope that most of OlyPres would resonate with the missional foundation of the BOO as summarized in this document. I actually found it pretty inspiring! Here's the link. See for yourself!

Missional Transformation

WHAT IS IT? Simply put, missional transformation is changing the primary focus of a church from inside the church to outside the church. It’s based on the assumption that God is already up to something in our neighborhoods and communities. We want to engage with what God is doing already. As we do that, God’s love and power will transform both us and our neighbors!



Gather a small group of churches and pastors into groups—“cohorts”—to learn together how to better engage our communities.


CHURCH COHORTS will include:

  • A “Guide Team” of 5-6 people to guide the process in each participating church
  • Spiritual discernment through “Dwelling in the Word”
  • A coach (TEP Keith Tanis) to keep the system from getting stuck
  • Reading & resources on missional transformation
  • “Listening Teams” trained in Appreciative Inquiry
  • An on-line Church 360 survey through The Missional Network
  • Identifying adaptive challenges



  • A 9-month process
  • Cohorts of 5-6 churches will meet quarterly for training beginning Saturday, March 9
  • Each “Guide Team” will meet monthly in their local church
  • Pastors of churches in a cohort will also be coached in missional leadership in a separate clergy cohort
  • At the end of 9 months cohort(s) will retreat with OlyPres Strategic Board to ask, What have we learned so far? What are our next steps?



For more information, please call or email Keith Tanis:   562-682-1367


Resources for Theological Education Sunday

Celebrate and feature Theological Education on September 16, 2012 The resources include responsive prayers and hymn suggestions and are based on the lectionary. You are encouraged to lead portions of the worship service from the baptismal font and table.

Find out more : lectionary based worship material.

New free resources can be ordered from Presbyterian Distribution Service (PDS) by calling (800) 524-2612 and asking for:

New Revised Booklet Our Presbyterian Seminaries with the most current overview of all the programs of our PC(USA) Seminaries: Order Number 21160-12-001. Or download here.

New Theological Education Bulletin Insert: Order Number 21160-12-002. Or download here.