by Rev. Dennis Burnett

Posted February 15, 2022

Serving as Assistant Clerk of Beaver-Butler Presbytery since 1991, Rev. David Byers was elected as Stated Clerk when Rev. Bob Matthias stepped down in 2005. I suspect he had no idea at that time that he would serve in the Office of the Stated Clerk for almost 30 years until his retirement effective January 22, 2022. However, Dave earned the respect and appreciation of the presbyters, and clearly deserved repeated re-election.

In addition to the basic “Job Description” duties of the Stated Clerk, during Dave’s tenure he also capably helped Beaver-Butler Presbytery adapt to deeper understandings of its positive functions. He advised on repeated reorganizations and down-sizing’s. He served as a peacemaker when possible, and equipped investigative committees and PJC’s when disagreements entered formal constitutional processes. He also provided annual training for new Clerks of Session. In doing all this, Dave adjusted to new working patterns with each of the different executive presbyters during his years of service.

Since as Assistant Clerk I worked with Dave for nearly all of his service as Stated Clerk, I had the privilege of observing and experiencing some of his heart and character. Dave was a great “boss”—never bossy but always keeping me in the loop unless confidentiality applied, and helping to equip me by giving me opportunities to attend some Synod minute reviews and GA conferences in his stead. He has a great sense of humor. He was a humble Clerk: It was not “I” or “Me.” We both served in “the Office of the Stated Clerk.” I appreciated how Dave always asked about my family and my church. And most striking of all was how Dave approached the Book of Order, Rules of Discipline, etc. with a pastor’s heart. It was never about the rules themselves; it was always about how they help us work together, move forward, and give glory to God. It was never about power. It was always about service to God’s people.

I just have one complaint: For a long time I thought I might outlast Dave and become the next Stated Clerk. It didn’t happen. But in hindsight, maybe Dave did me a favor, because he left HUGE shoes to fill. Randall, I wish you all the best with that, and I’m glad you have such an experienced resource on hand in David Byers.

Well done, Dave, and thank you!