Getting to know…. Blake Wood
Blake Wood has been the Stated Clerk for the Synod of Lincoln Trails since 2015.
Tell us about your role at the Synod of Lincoln Trails.
I’m the stated clerk, which is an interesting role within the denomination. In this position, I compile various reports and records, take minutes of synod meetings, function as a parliamentarian, hep facilitate the work of committees, and assist congregations and presbyteries in interpreting Presbyterian polity — in particular our Book of Order.
I started the job in 2015, after serving as a stated clerk for a presbytery in Iowa and being on a session at a church in Illinois. I’ve been a Presbyterian since the late 1990s, but I was raised as a Southern Baptist. I came to the Presbyterian Church thanks to my wife Shelly, who was born and raised as a Presbyterian, and is a minister of the Word and Sacrament. Before she went to seminary, I attended worship with her, and embraced the denomination’s form of government, order or worship, interpretation of Scripture, and Christian fellowship.
For several years, I worked in Illinois state government, analyzing policies and legislation, interacting with legislators, and administering grants. This provided excellent background for my work as a stated clerk — first in Iowa, and now here. With it also came insight into how governing bodies function well. That insight, along with a lot of prayers for guidance, has been of tremendous help to me.
I enjoy working with congregations and presbyteries. The experience and wisdom of ruling elders and ministers has always been a blessing, whether in resolving a thorny situation or their steadfast devotion to carrying out the work of ministry. I am also thankful for having such wonderful colleagues on the Synod staff, who demonstrate cheerfulness and professionalism.
What do you wish pastors and churches knew about the role of a synod stated clerk?
In general, pastors and members of congregations are very knowledgeable about the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)’s Form of Government. I would just want them to know that a synod stated clerk’s role is to help them and to be both a listener and a guide when they have questions.
You’ve had some interesting jobs — including working for state government! What has your work outside of church been like?
In addition to working in state government, I’ve worked for a regional chamber of commerce in Iowa and for a large corporation in Indiana. Since 2018, I’ve been the director of public policy and grants administration for a project management firm based in Indianapolis. Each job has been fascinating, lending its own perspective on working with people, solving problems, and forging partnerships. This has also presented unexpected opportunities to work with some faith-based organizations, helping them to apply for federal and state grant funding. Because of my work with the synod, our firm often asks me to help build a positive, robust partnership with those groups.
What do you like to do outside of work and church?
Outside of work, you’ll often find me reading. I like fantasy, science fiction, history, and biographies. I’m currently reading And There Was Light: Abraham Lincoln and the American Struggle by Jon Meacham, and I highly recommend it. I’m also a lifelong fan of Star Wars and Star Trek, so I tend to quote frequently from those franchises at home.
My wife Shelly and I have three children. We enjoy playing games like Uno and Ping-Pong, hanging out with our cat and dog, as well as watching movies together — our favorites are The Lord of the Rings trilogy and the Marvel series. Each of our kids has their own special talents: one is a swimmer, one is a harpist, and one is an athlete. Over the years, we’ve all been together at church, as well as many times at a pool, a performance venue, and a gym or field!
What are your hopes for 2023?
C.S. Lewis said, “If you read history, you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next.” This refers to our faith in eternal life and urges us to live in the present with renewed vigor and hope.
We’ve certainly seen challenges in recent years: a pandemic, a rise in violence, natural disasters, erosion of civility in public discourse, skyrocketing inflation, just to name a few. But, there have also been great acts of compassion, individual kindness, heroism, displays of personal integrity, and human decency. My hope is that 2023 will see more of the latter, which will build on a foundation that will endure in the coming years.