Re-Cap of the July 14, 2018 Stated Meeting of the Presbytery

Letter from Our Moderator

“Make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love,
united in spirit, intent on one purpose.”
Philippians 2:2

Dear Friends in Christ,

Summer is typically a time when the intense heat slows us down, giving us a chance to reflect and re-boot. However, as I sit down at my computer to write a letter to you there is jarring news of yet another act of senseless violence. A gunman has murdered innocent people in the office of a news organization in Maryland. We remain stressed, concerned and on edge. Mass killings, high profile suicides, children taken from their mothers, immense social injustice and inequality … I lament how broken we are. I confess to being very bewildered wondering why so many people feel they must hurt others or hurt themselves in order to be seen and heard.

What can we do? To begin with, the faithful can and should come together with one unified voice. Many voices professing love have the ability to resonate high above the rumble of hate. We, the faithful, must bring the good news of the gospel and the love of Christ to the world! Not only must we continue to envision and dream of a world full of love, grace and peace, we must give this dream a deliberate strong voice and work toward making this dream a reality.

I cordially welcome you to join me as we come together, a united voice as a Presbytery, for our stated meeting on July 14, 2018 at Oxford Presbyterian Church. Two compelling Pre-Presbytery conversations will take place. One is an exercise in the design and development of creative “out of the box” ministry. The other concerns the gracious dismissal of Narberth Presbyterian Church.

During this meeting, we will hear from the commissioners to the 223rd General Assembly about their experience and our denomination’s renewed witness and call to Christian action. Our executive team will report on exciting new beginnings and chapters being written within our Presbytery. The proposed 2019 Presbytery budget will be presented. Additionally, the Reverend Jesse Gardner will give a report on behalf of the Administrative Commission for Gracious Dismissal of Narberth Presbyterian Church to the Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians.

This summertime meeting will be focused and meaningful. Pre-Presbytery Conversations begin at 9:30 a.m. I will call the Stated Meeting to order at 10:30 a.m. and we will adjourn at 1:15 p.m. Devotion will be woven throughout the meeting. Due to the short duration of our time together, no meal is being served.

I look forward to being with you, united as one body of faithful people called to serve and lead on God’s behalf.

Grace and Peace,

Linda Rutkosky
Moderator of the Presbytery of Philadelphia

Re-Cap of the May 15, 2018 Stated Meeting of the Presbytery

Re-Cap of the January 30, 2018 Stated Meeting of the Presbytery

Online Statistical Entry and Clerk’s Questionnaire for the 2017 Year

Dear Clerks of Session,

The 2017 Statistical Reporting season is open!

Church records and statistics are an important part of telling your church stories.  Through your minute taking, record keeping and statistics,  every person in the community of your congregation is lifted up.  The Church Records and Minutes reflect the mission and ministries of our congregations. The Statistics of the Church reflect the hopes and challenges of the people in our congregations. Praise be to the saints who worship and serve as part of the family of the Presbytery of Philadelphia!

Click here to go to the PC(USA) Statistical Reporting Page.

Please contact Betsi Moise at [email protected] if you need your user name or password.

Whether your statistical reporting is up-to-date, or you would like to get caught up, we encourage you to to contact Betsi Moise at 215.242.1400, ext. 329, with any questions or if you need help with the reporting process.

The workbooks are now available to help guide you through the reporting process:

Important Dates for Statistics:

  • Thursday, February 15, 2018 – Last day the SOC entry option will be available to churches.
  • Monday, March 5, 2018 – Last day the SOC entry option will be available for presbyteries.

 

 

The Clerks Annual Questionnaire is now open. Click here to access the questionnaire. The deadline for entering the questionnaire is January 12, 2018.   We are not sure if the survey site is actually closed. If you are interested in doing the CAQ, please try going online. Please note that the questionnaire must be done in one sitting – see guidelines below:

Guidelines for Entering the Questionnaire

Downloadable PDF of the Questionnaire (You can download and print this version to use as a working copy before entering online)

 

 

 

Resources on Vacation Bible School Safety Planning from Church Mutual

Greetings friends,

As we gear up for summer Vacation Bible School, here are some resources to help your congregation plan a safe environment from Church Mutual:

As schools close for summer, many churches run Vacation Bible School (VBS) programs to continue to engage youth in their ministry. What steps have you taken to make sure your VBS offers a safe experience for all? Here are some resources for your Church:

View our suggestions for Vacation Bible School Safety Planning:

  • Select and train staff to maintain adequate supervision.
  • Consider food and snack safety to prevent food poisoning and allergic reactions.
  • Plan for safe activities whether on-site or off-site.
  • Ensure transportation of youth is done safely.

Begin planning for a safe VBS program now, well before children arrive for the first day of your program. For more information, visit Church Mutual’s Activity Safety resources or contact [email protected].

Kevin

May 16, 2017 Presbytery Meeting Resources

Minutes In Brief For January 31, 2017 Stated Meeting

MINUTES IN BRIEF
STATED MEETING OF THE PRESBYTERY OF PHILADELPHIA
HOSTED BY THE CEDAR PARK AND GRACE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCHES
AT GRACE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH IN JENKINTOWN
JANUARY 31, 2017
PRE-PRESBYTERY EVENTS – 11:00 AM
BUSINESS MEETING – 1:00 PM

With the call to order and opening prayer by Moderator Bill Teague (Teaching Elder, Langhorne), the Presbytery of Philadelphia officially launched the celebration of its 300th Anniversary year. The perspective such a milestone evokes could be seen throughout the day as things traditional and those novel found expression alongside each other, giving voice to who and whose we are in such a time and place as this.
The two pre-Presbytery offerings continued conversations surrounding the November meeting. Rev. Jesse Garner (Philadelphia, First) led an overview of the new Directory for Worship, in response to commissioners’ requests last meeting for interpretation of this revision to a section of our denomination’s constitution, the Book of Order. The other event was a panel discussion facilitated by Moderator Teague entitled, “A Conversation: Church, Culture, and our Counter-Cultural Call.” Panelists Rev. Ryan Balsan (Ambler, First), Candidate Christopher Holland II (New Spirit), Rev. Cynthia Jarvis (Chestnut Hill), and Rev. Ethelyn Taylor (Oxford) shared their perspectives on whether the shifting cultural context exemplified in the presidential election has impacted how they communicate the gospel.

After our hosts served us lunch, Moderator Teague invited us to come to the sanctuary a few minutes early for the premier screening of a video commissioned for the 300th Anniversary. Associate Presbyter Rev. Greg Klimovitz, who served as a producer for the video, introduced the piece which highlighted the ministries of the First Presbyterian Church of Philadelphia and the First African Presbyterian Church as examples of congregations embodying our theme, “Born in Faith, Rooted in Grace, Living into Hope.”

As the meeting got underway, Vice-Moderator Dr. Janel Dixon (Cedar Park) and Rev. Sandy Hull (Grace, Jenkintown) offered a joint welcome on behalf of the two host congregations, noting both congregations were “birthed from the same branch of the family tree,” as Grace begat the Calvary, Wyncote congregation, which later begat Cedar Park. In recent years, the two pastors have led their congregations into a rich urban-suburban relationship encompassing many aspects of their ministries including pulpit exchanges, mission initiatives, leadership training, and a planned joint excursion to the National Museum of African American History & Culture in Washington, D.C.

With the approval of the docket and consent agenda, commissioners approved the sale of the real estate which housed the former First Presbyterian Church in Willow Grove by the First Presbyterian Church of Warminster (i.e., the congregation formed as the merger of the Warminster Presbyterian Church and First Presbyterian of Willow Grove congregations). Next, Stated Clerk, Rev. Kevin Porter reported having received a letter from the Session of the Narberth Presbyterian Church asking to be graciously dismissed with their property to the Coalition of Evangelical Presbyterians (ECO).
On behalf of the Bills and Overtures Committee, Rev. Cindy Jarvis (Chestnut Hill) presented the Committee’s recommendations concerning the amendments to the Book of Order approved by the 222nd General Assembly (Portland, 2016), including a revised Directory for Worship. Commissioners concurred with the Committee’s recommendations, approving all the amendments.

Ruling Elder Wanda McNeill (Oxford), moderator of the Committee on Representation (CoR) interpreted CoR’s mission and the Presbytery’s accomplishments and ongoing challenges in maximizing the opportunities for our commissions and committees to reflect the diversity of our membership. Elder McNeill noted the increased participation of racial ethnic and young adults within our structures as both a reason to celebrate and encouragement to redouble our efforts to be intentional in inviting other under-represented constituencies to take their place at the table.

Moderator Teague took the occasion of his final report on behalf of the Leadership Collegium to direct commissioners’ attention to a handout chronicling the events marking the Presbytery’s year engaging the Conversation on Race, Bias, and Privilege. Noting how those discussions provided opportunities for relational ties to be strengthened across demographic differences, Moderator Teague introduced this year as one of Courageous Conversations, both deepening the themes from last year and widening them to include issues of immigration and cultural identity.

Although Executive Presbyter Rev. Ruth Santana-Grace would build on Moderator Teague’s comments in her report, she first called on Business Administrator Larry Davis (Ruling Elder, Ambler) to join her in leading us in celebration of Accounting Manager’s Andrea Cameron’s 20 years of service with the Presbytery of Philadelphia. As Ms. Cameron exited the sanctuary with a humble “thank you” to a standing ovation, Rev. Santana-Grace pivoted to her report.

Beginning with the acknowledgement of our 300th anniversary as a reference-point for understanding our corporate identity, Rev. Santana-Grace gave voice both to the complexity our members face in proclaiming the gospel in these times, as well as the faithfulness with which we stand as an incarnation of a diverse body of Christ. As a demonstration of gratitude, and to help us see each other as she sees us, Rev. Santana-Grace invited us to stand – those serving congregations, those in chaplaincies, counselors, non-profit administrators, validated ministers – all who have answered the call to serve in Christ’s name. We were then encouraged to look around at our colleagues in ministry as Ruth gave thanks for the honor of serving alongside us.

The Presbytery then transitioned into a worship service highlighted by:
Seven reflections on “Seven Words of Light,” a “reverse-Tenebrae” service in which teaching elders Bill Teague, Joyce Shin (Swarthmore), Randy Barge (Olney, First), Leah Miller (Anchor), Adan Mairena (West Kensington Ministry and Yeadon), John Willingham (Doylestown), and Aisha Brooks-Lytle (Wayne) expounded on passages from the Old and New Testament calling us to be people of the Light;

  • The installation of Rev. Dr. Janel Dixon and Ruling Elder Linda Rutkosky (Doylestown) as Moderator and Vice-Moderator respectively of the Presbytery of Philadelphia;
  • A time of thanksgiving and presentation of a wooden Presbyterian cross to outgoing Moderator Bill Teague.
  • The remembrance of the ruling and teaching elders of the Presbytery who joined the Church Triumphant in 2016
  • The celebration of the Lord’s Supper;
  • Special music featuring a joint choir of the Grace and Cedar Park congregations led by Ruling Elder Warren Cooper (Cedar Park).

Undergirded with a renewed sense of the Spirt among us, Moderator Dixon offered the charge to the Presbytery at worship and called us to order for the last report of our business meeting from the Commission on Preparation for Ministry and Membership, presented by its moderator, Rev. Ken Ross (East Falls). Rev. Ross introduced Candidate Christopher Holland (Cedar Park) to share his statement of faith and be examined for ordination. A child of the Presbytery of Philadelphia whose journey has brought him in relationship with congregations across the geographic, theological, and demographic range of the Presbytery, Chris has found a call with the New Spirit congregation (in partnership with the Wayne Presbyterian Church and the Common Place ministry), exemplary of the blending of tradition and innovation celebrated throughout the meeting.

After his examination for ordination was sustained, Candidate Holland’s plans for ordination were resoundingly approved. As representatives from Chris’s life came forward to bless his ministry, the commissioners voted to adjourn the meeting with the conclusion of Moderator Dixon’s prayer of thanksgiving and benediction.

There was great attendance with 6 Elder Officers, 1 General Assembly Commissioner, 80 Ruling Elder Commissioners, 103 Minister Members, 5 Corresponding Members and 83 Visitors present. The offering received to support the Great Ends Grants for Peacemaking ministries was $1,335. Please mark your calendars for the next Stated Meeting of the Presbytery which will be on Tuesday, May 16, 2017 (time and location to be determined).

Respectfully submitted,

Kevin L. Porter, Stated Clerk

Clerks Corner: Categories of Membership, Defined by the Book of Order G-1.04

Greetings Clerks of Session!

The Stated Clerk’s office has received quite a few questions regarding “membership” as our Clerks work through this season of statistical reporting. I have put together an extended definition of our categories of membership for you to use, and I hope it will prove helpful.

Book of Order G-1.04 (Categories of Membership):

  • Affiliate” members (defined in G-1.0403) are members in good standing of other congregations who are physically away from their congregation for a period of time (g. a young adult who is a member of a church in North Carolina, but participates in the life of your church while in the Philadelphia area for college).  As you’ll notice in G-1.0403, the designation of “affiliate member” is an act of session after it has documentation of good standing from the affiliate member’s “home” congregation.
  • The other categories of congregational membership are “baptized” (defined in G-1.0401) and “active” (defined in G-1.0402):
    • A “baptized member” has been baptized but has not yet made a profession of faith of Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior.
    • An “active member”  is “a person who has made a profession of faith in Christ, has been baptized, has been received into membership of the church, has voluntarily submitted to the government of this church, and participates in the church’s work and worship.” (G-1.0401)
  • When the Presbyterian Church (USA) adopted its “new form of government” several years ago, we eliminated the “inactive member” category from the Book of Order.  (Some congregations still choose to make use of the term for their own reasons, but there is no expectation in our Presbytery or General Assembly that congregations keep or report statistics related to an “inactive roll” as had been the practice.)
    • At the same time the denomination did away with the inactive member roll, it added another designation to try to capture the experience of many of our congregations:  “Other participants” (as described in G-1.0404) represent all those who in some way could be considered “connected” to the congregation, but would not in the ways defined in the other three categories.  This would include those who would have previously been considered “inactive members” in the old form of government, as well as those of other or no professed faith who nonetheless “participate in the life and worship” of the congregation.

Now, the “spirit of the law” stuff: When I heard the former Stated Clerk of the PC(USA), Rev. Gradye Parsons speak about the change in the membership categories, I was struck by power of the “story behind the statistics” he was hoping to capture.  The “active membership” number is the committed core, the number by which the per capita is assessed, etc., but it doesn’t necessarily reflect the vitality, welcome, or impact of the congregation in its community apart from the “other participants” number.  We are trying to count all the individuals in the communities where God has placed our congregations who would feel a personal sense of loss if our church were to disappear; or, to state it positively, those who have come to know more of the abundant life God intends for them (even if they might not describe it in those terms) because of our congregational ministry and witness.

Thank you for all that you do!

Kevin L. Porter, Stated Clerk

 

 

From the Stated Clerks Office: STATISTICS 2016!

Dear Clerks of Session,

The 2016 Statistical Reporting season is open!

Church records and statistics are an important part of telling your church stories.  Through your minute taking, record keeping and statistics,  every person in the community of your congregation is lifted up.  The Church Records and Minutes reflect the mission and ministries of our congregations. The Statistics of the Church reflect the hopes and challenges of the people in our congregations. Praise be to the saints who worship and serve as part of the family of the Presbytery of Philadelphia!

Click here to go to the PC(USA) Statistical Reporting Page.

Please contact Betsi Moise if you need your user name or password.

Whether your statistical reporting is up-to-date, or you would like to get caught up, we encourage you to to contact Betsi Moise with any questions or if you need help with the reporting process.

The workbooks are now available to help guide you through the reporting process:

Important Dates for Statistics:

  • Thursday, February 16, 2017 – Last day the SOC entry option will be available to churches.
  • Friday, March 3, 2017 – Last day the SOC entry option will be available for presbyteries.  (This also happens to be World Day of Prayer – no coincidence!)