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!)

 

2016 Session Records Reading of the 2015 Records

17 MAY 2016 Minutes in Brief from the Stated Clerk

StatedClerk_IconMinutes in Brief, Presbytery of Philadelphia
Stated Meeting – May 17, 2016


The Presbytery of Philadelphia gave bold witness to the Holy Spirit’s presence among us at the May 17th stated meeting hosted by the Media Presbyterian Church. Even prior to the 3:00 pm call to order and opening prayer by Moderator Bill Teague (Teaching Elder, Langhorne), the two pre-Presbytery events focused on hope-filled possibilities for our congregations and the denomination as a whole.

In one gathering, the Presbytery Foundation, represented by Ellie Johns-Kelley (Teaching Elder, Lake Erie Presbytery) and Paul Grier (Ruling Elder, Foothills Presbytery), shared resources and strategies from their agency to strengthen small and/or struggling congregations. The other gathering provided an opportunity for presbyters and others to have discussion with prospective candidate for Co-Moderator of the 222nd General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA), Teaching Elder Adan Mairena.
When the stated meeting began, we were welcomed to Media by Interim Pastor William Hess and Associate Pastor Nikki Passante. Moderator Teague then extended welcome to our corresponding members, new teaching elders, and first-time ruling elder commissioners.

Next, with Vice-Moderator Janel Dixon (Teaching Elder, Cedar Park) at the gavel, Stated Clerk Kevin Porter (Teaching Elder, Germantown, First) and Journal Clerk Ken McKeown (Ruling Elder, Olney, First) presented modifications to the Presbytery bylaws recommended by the Leadership Collegium. The revised bylaws were approved by the required 2/3 majority.

On behalf of the Commission on Financial Management, Teaching Elder Randy Barge (Olney, First) led the Presbytery in celebrating those congregations that excelled in basic mission giving to the Presbytery in 2015. Rev. Barge ended his report by expressing the Commission’s gratitude to Amy Ayers for her longtime staff support of their work on the occasion of her departure from the Presbytery.

When Teaching Elder Wonjae Choi (Grace, Jenkintown) presented the report of the Committee on Personnel, she continued the theme of appreciation for Amy Ayers’ 14 ½ years of service to our Presbytery with the gift of an olive wood nativity set which Amy received (along with a standing ovation) with her husband Ken by her side. Rev. Choi also welcomed and introduced the Presbytery to Deb Koziol (Deacon, Ambler, First), the new Office Manager assuming most of Amy’s responsibilities.

After approving the slate of nominees presented by Committee on Nominations, Moderator Jesse Garner (Teaching Elder, Philadelphia, First), the Presbytery gave its attention to Moderator Teague as he reported on behalf of the Leadership Collegium. With kudos to Presbytery staff, Rev. Teague unveiled the new logo to be used for our 2017 celebration of 300 years in ministry as an organized presbytery, and the glossy magazine-format narrative interpreting our current ministry and mission as a Presbytery.

Noting the Presbytery was next to consider something never before done in the history of General Assembly, i.e. accepting nominations for Co-Moderators, Rev. Teague introduced the Leadership Collegium’s recommendation that the Presbytery endorse the candidacy of Rev. Adan Mairena to stand as Co-Moderator of the 222nd General Assembly. Rev. Mairena then shared with the body his journey as it pertains to his sense of calling to the office of Co-Moderator. After the discussion that followed, including statements of enthusiastic support from representatives of the Yeadon Church and West Kensington Ministry, the Presbytery unanimously gave its vote of endorsement, followed by prayer led by Moderator Teague.

Next, Executive Presbyter Rev. Ruth Faith Santana-Grace invoked images of Pentecost in her report as she described the state of the Church. Noting she believes this is a “windy season in the Church,” she encouraged the body saying, “I believe it is a Pentecost season; one that is disruptive, one that is calling us out, that is causing us to look at how we ‘do church’ today in a way that is relevant.”

In that spirit, Rev. Santana-Grace gave an overview of the many ways the Presbytery has engaged the call of the Spirit in new ways – including new partnerships with the Association of Black Seminarians at Princeton Seminary, and Princeton’s fledgling new church development and congregational revitalization initiative.

Rev. Santana-Grace then introduced a fishbowl discussion in which she, along with Kevin Porter, Jesse Garner, Wonjae Choi, and former moderator Rev. Ethelyn Taylor (Oxford) shared personal experiences and reflections as they relate to the topic of Race, Bias, and Privilege – the theme which has been an over-arching conversation to which the Presbytery has been committed this year. After the fishbowl discussion, all in attendance were encouraged to share in small groups their responses to what they heard.

Teaching Elder Ken Ross’s report (East Falls) on behalf of the newly named Commission on Preparation for Ministry and Membership (formerly Commission on Preparation and Credentials) bore witness that the Pentecost spirit is evident beyond changing the names of our committees and commissions. Rev. Ross introduced Ruling Elder Rob Eyre (Grace, Jenkintown), a long-time candidate under care of the Presbytery, to present his statement of faith in order that he might be examined for ordination to the call of Evangelist in the Upper Darby community through the Calvary Riverview congregation.

Mr. Eyre’s statement elicited applause from the body, and after the Presbytery voted to sustain his examination, the Presbytery’s prayers of thanksgiving transitioned us into fellowship around dinner tables as we were treated to the delicious home-cooking and hospitality of the Media congregation. The meeting concluded with worship after dinner, with the Reverend Dr. Thomas F. Taylor, President and Chief Executive Officer of the Presbyterian Foundation, preaching on the topic “Why Unity Works” based on Acts 2.
Once again, the Presbytery’s response to the Pentecost message of a diverse people being sent out to proclaim the gospel in unity was incarnational as we commissioned our General Assembly commissioners and Young Adult Advisory Delegate, our Youth Triennium participants and leaders, and the Princeton seminarians and congregations beginning their journey together in this year’s Incubator.

With the pronouncement of the benediction, the meeting was adjourned and the 221 registered attendees (103 teaching elders, 88 ruling elders, and 30 visitors) became the Church dispersed once again. The offering will be designated for the care of the inquirers and candidates under care of the Presbytery. The next stated meeting of the Presbytery of Philadelphia is scheduled for July 30 (time and location TBD).

Blessings,

Rev. Kevin Porter, Stated Clerk, Presbytery of Philadelphia

Stated Clerk Minutes in Brief, January 19, 2016

STATED MEETING OF THE PRESBYTERY OF PHILADELPHIA, MINUTES IN BRIEF

JANUARY 19, 2016 – 1:00 PM

The saints of Langhorne Presbyterian Church welcomed the Presbytery to their home for the meeting in which their pastor, Rev. Bill Teague, passed the stole of Presbytery Vice-Moderator to Rev. Dr. T. Janel Dixon (Cedar Park) and received the Moderator’s stole and cross from outgoing Moderator Ruling Elder Mike Henry (Valley Forge).

Prior to the 1:00 p.m. call to order, more than 80 attendees participated in the second pre-Presbytery conversation on Race, Bias, and Privilege. During the lunch that followed, commissioners had the opportunity to greet Tommy Campbell, the new Kirkwood Camp Director.

In addition to approving the nominees for Presbytery commissions and committees brought forth by the Committee on Nominations, commissioners received (as part of their meeting materials) a full listing of each committee/commission’s membership and their terms of office. This was followed by the report of the Leadership Collegium.

Next, Executive Presbyter Rev. Ruth F. Santana-Grace’s presented her first report of 2016 to the Presbytery. She framed the work before us through the lens of the intentionality with which we act in our unique and diverse context: intentionality in creating the forum for members to engage in the challenging year-long Race, Bias, and Privilege conversation; intentionality in leadership conversations with sessions and pastors; intentionality in engaging congregations in partnership with Princeton Seminary and other resources to expand our leadership incubator; and intentionality in balancing the generative energy in our midst with the challenges before us. She evoked the Northern lights as a more appropriate image of how we experience God’s light as opposed to the traditional star of Bethlehem—light that dances and sings, and can easily be missed if we fail to look up. Nonetheless, it bears witness to God’s continual spirit in our midst, breaking through in what would seem to be darkness.

Rev. Larissa Kwong-Abazia, the Vice-Moderator of the 221st General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA) addressed the body with stories exemplifying why she has hope for our denomination in such a time as this. Her inspirational remarks, entitled Abundance and Hope, shared with energy, humor, poignancy, wove together her personal story with the journey of congregations she has visited in her role. She promised to add our witness of engaging the Race, Bias, and Privilege conversation to the list of hopeful stories within the PC(USA) as her journey continues.

The Presbytery shifted to worship with Rev. Kwong-Abazia preaching on the theme Plain Sight, based on John 9:1-34, the story of Jesus’ restoring sight to the man born blind. The dynamic service included the reading of ruling and teaching elders of the Presbytery who joined the Church Triumphant in 2015, the installation of our new Moderator and Vice-Moderator, and the burning of slips of flash paper listing those things worshipers identified as barriers to seeing God’s blessings in their midst. Each person offered their slip to God in her or his procession to receive the bread and cup in communion.  Just prior to the benediction, V.Moderator Larissa Kwong-Abazia offered a prayer for newly-installed moderator Bill Teague and his family. Rev. Teague would be leaving for California the next morning to join his family as they celebrated the life of his mother, who joined the church triumphant a few days before we gathered.

Following worship, the business meeting continued with candidates Eric Dorville (Presbytery of the Inland Northwest) and Kevin Ireland (New Brunswick) presenting their statements of faith. After examining the candidates, the Presbytery voted to approve their plans for ordination serving the Ambler and Springfield, First (Flourtown) congregations respectively, if the way be clear.

Executive Presbyter Santana-Grace received the recognition of Moderator Teague to lead the Presbytery in expressions of gratitude to Mike Henry for his service to the Presbytery. With the same grace with which he led, Moderator Henry thanked the Presbytery for the opportunity to serve, the privilege of walking alongside so many congregations at key moments in their journeys, and the personal growth in his own faith. As the body rose to give Moderator Henry a standing ovation, and there being no other business, the meeting was adjourned.

Elder Officers, Former Moderators, Commission/Committee Moderators: 2 Certified Lay Pastors: 1, Certified Christian Educators: 0, 2014 General Assembly Commissioners: 0, Elders Representing Churches: 69; TOTAL ELDERS 72; Ministers of this Presbytery: 99, Ministers Laboring within our Bounds: 0, Corresponding Members: 6; TOTAL MINISTERS 105; VISITORS: 39 for a TOTAL: 216.  $1,343 was received in the offering that will be split equally among the Care of Ministers Fund and Candidates Under Care Fund.

The next stated meeting of the Presbytery of Philadelphia will be Tuesday, May 17, 2016 at a place and time to be determined.

Please click here to view a video recap of the meeting and listen to audio files of our Executive Presbyter and Keynote speaker.

STATISTICS 2015

It is time for our annual statistical reporting!  The online statistical reporting is now available for churches to use.

In order to enter your Church statistics, a user name and password are required.  If you do not remember your user name and/or password, please contact Betsi Moise.  She will be happy to help you with that information.

Here are dates to remember and resources to help you:

  • Start Date: The Annual Statistics online entry reporting system IS OPEN.
  • Deadline to enter: The last day a church will be able to enter statistics is Tuesday, February 16, 2016.

You can enter portions of your report at different times up until the deadline, or until you hit the “submit” button. Once you hit the submit button, you will no longer be able to access the statistical form. If you hit the submit button and subsequently need to add or change something, contact Betsi Moise and she will be able to make corrections for you up through Wednesday, March 2, 2016.

Here is a Blank Statistical form you can use as a worksheet if needed: Blank Stat Report

After March 2, 2016, nothing will be able to be entered, changed or added.

If you encounter any difficulties or have any questions, please contact Betsi Moise.

We have included the Instruction Manual for you – just click on the links for a manual in English, Spanish or Korean.

Thank you Clerks, for all you do!

Kevin

 

Minutes in Brief, November 17, 2015

MINUTES IN BRIEF
STATED MEETING OF THE PRESBYTERY OF PHILADELPHIA, NOVEMBER 17, 2015 – 3:00 PM

Gratitude was the over-arching theme of the November 17th stated meeting of the Presbytery of Philadelphia. As commissioners and visitors gathered at Wayne Presbyterian Church, there definitely was much for which to be thankful.

A pre-presbytery discussion on Race, Bias, and Privilege made use of the gift of our diversity as the Presbytery launched an exploration of these issues that will continue through 2016.

As Moderator Mike Henry (Ruling Elder, Valley Forge) called the meeting to order at 3:00 pm, he framed the business of the day in terms of the good news it represented in the life of the Presbytery. We were welcomed to Wayne by their pastor, Casey Thompson (Teaching Elder). This was followed by the approval of the docket and consent agenda that included the Presbytery’s 2014 statistical report, 2015 Committee on Representation Report, and 2016 Redress of Imbalance Report (listing the number of ruling elder commissioners each congregation may send to meetings).

The report of the Committee on Nominations (CON) was given by its moderator, Jesse Garner (Teaching Elder; Philadelphia, First). In addition to the slate of Presbytery commission and committee members, CON brought forth Teaching Elders Bill Teague (Langhorne) and T. Janel Dixon (Cedar Park) to serve in 2016 as Moderator and Vice-Moderator respectively, and the nominees for our General Assembly commissioners and young adult advisory delegate. All nominees were elected.

The Commission on Financial Management’s moderator, George Rendell (Ruling Elder, Concord Liberty), and budget committee chair Elaine McCray (Ruling Elder, Holy Trinity-Bethlehem) interpreted and presented the Presbytery’s 2016 budget. Commissioners responded by approving the budget (including 2016 per capita).

Candidate Taylor Telford’s examination for ordination was the centerpiece of the Commission on Preparation and Credentials (CPC) report (presented by Teaching Elder Ken Ross, Member at Large, CPC moderator). The vigorous examination soon transitioned into a time of celebration as the Presbytery sustained her examination (i.e, approved for ordination), clearing the way for Ms. Telford to be ordained to the validated ministry (through the 1001 Worshipping Communities Residency program) at the Beacon New Church Development.

The celebration continued as the Presbytery approved Beacon as the Presbytery of Philadelphia’s first newly-chartered congregation in seventeen years! Co-pastors Rebecca Blake and Karen Rohrer shared the story of Beacon’s birth, ministries, and vision as part of the Leadership Collegium’s report, with the Commission on Congregation and Leadership’s moderator Bill Young (Ruling Elder; Germantown, First) and Beacon’s Administrative Commission chair Sandy Hull (Teaching Elder; Grace, Jenkintown) representing the entities responsible for walking alongside Beacon on behalf of the Presbytery.

Teaching Elder Carter Lester (Pottstown, First) next took to the microphone to present the good news of Kirkwood Camping Ministry’s completion of its first season as a joint ministry of Philadelphia and Lehigh Presbyteries. This was followed by the report of the Administrative Commission (AC) formed in response to the request of the Warminster and Willow Grove, First congregations to pursue a merger of their congregations.
Teaching Elder Jack Norrie (Honorably Retired), chair of the AC, reviewed the process the AC undertook, leading to the presentation of the motion that the two congregations be merged, creating the First Presbyterian Church of Warminster. After approving the merger, the pastors, AC members, and the congregants of the churches involved came to the front of the sanctuary as the Presbytery surrounded them in prayer, using a litany celebrating their faithfulness in responding to God’s calling them into this new thing.
Executive Presbyter Ruth Faith Santana-Grace and Associate Presbyter Greg Klimovitz (both Teaching Elders) expanded on the “new thing” theme in their report as they highlighted “What’s Trending” in the Presbytery of Philadelphia. The final presentation of the business portion of the meeting was given by keynoter and President of Princeton Theological Seminary, Dr. Craig Barnes (Teaching Elder, Pittsburgh Presbytery). His reflections on both the toxic and healthy attributes of church leaders and the ways in which they affect the greater church were at once thought-provoking, humorous, challenging, and engaging.

Dr. Barnes was also the preacher of the evening as the Presbytery worshipped together. His message, “Is Anything Too Wonderful for the Lord?,” based on the preposterous promise of parenthood God gave to the geriatric Abraham and Sarah as related in Genesis 17:1-5, 15-18, was echoed in Taylor Telford’s poignant musical offerings of solo voice and guitar. The Presbytery responded in several affirmations, including the ordination of the first ruling elders of the newly-charted Beacon Church, the singing of hymns of thanksgiving, and the collection of $1,155.12 to go to scholarships for inquirers and candidates under care of our Presbytery attending seminary.

The 258 commissioners and visitors in attendance, adjourned after receiving the charge from outgoing Commission on Congregations and Leadership moderator Bill Young, the blessing from Dr. Barnes, and a final word of gratitude for the covenant community we share as the Presbytery of Philadelphia. Following worship, all were invited to a dinner prepared and hosted by our gracious hosts, Wayne Presbyterian Church.

The next stated meeting of the Presbytery will be Tuesday, January 19, 2016 from  11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.  Our gathering will include a pre-presbytery conversation, lunch and worship with installation of new officers, the celebration of the saints and other aspects of our connectional life as a presbytery.

 

Additional Boundary Awareness Events Available

ADDITIONAL BOUNDARY AWARENESS EVENTS AVAILABLE

October 14, 2015

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

If you are unable to attend the Presbytery of Philadelphia’s final Boundary Awareness Training event for 2015, there are other opportunities to attend a training through some of our neighboring Presbyteries.

The two following events for Boundary Awareness can be attended by our Presbyters.

If you attend either one of these events, please get a copy of your Certificate of Completion; or request a letter be sent to me (Kevin Porter) from their Stated Clerk verifying that you have completed the training.

Gratefully yours in Christ,

Kevin

Session Record Reading Update

As of October 9, 2015

Greetings Clerks of Session!

We are so grateful for all of your hard work in getting to reading sites, meeting up with one another or coming to the Presbytery Office!  We just have a couple more dates to get your records read:

  • Monday, 10/12/2015, 2:00 pm-5:00 pm – Rhawnhurst
  • Tuesday, 10/13/2015, 10:00 am – Noon – Rydal Park

We have received many of your green and yellow sheets here at the Presbytery – Thank You! If you haven’t done so yet, don’t forget to send the copies to the Presbytery, attention Betsi Moise.  Later next week we will be mailing out the stickers to all of our churches who have emailed, fax or mailed copies of the read records. 

Please contact Betsi Moise with any questions or if you need more information: 215.242.1400, ext. 329 or [email protected]

Thank you for all you do!

Kevin

 

Boundary Training Reminder!

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

Greetings. I am writing to you to remind you to register for the one remaining boundary training event on Friday October 23.  As friends in Christ, we want to foster healthy vocational and personal boundaries. It is for that reason that the Presbytery of Philadelphia is requiring all clergy, commission and committee members to attend one of these remaining workshops.

The nearly 130 teaching and ruling elders that attended the first two training events were practically unanimous in their appreciation of the workshop facilitator, Dr. David Olsen. He was interesting, informative, and practical. Additionally, he addressed the complexity of boundaries and ministry, provided clear advice with regards to social media and email, and offered good resources for all of us to create space for smart practices and healthy boundaries.

This last seminar on October 23 will be held at The Church on The Mall. Beginning at 9 a.m. and ending approximately at 3 p.m. the cost to each participant is $20 and lunch will be provided. Child care will be provided if needed and should be requested upon registration. Please register by October 1st for this event.

The Presbytery recognizes the many commitments and sacrifices ministry requires of you. It is our hope that you will find this seminar to be not just another requirement, but also a blessing.  Please feel free to contact me if you have any questions or concerns.

Gratefully yours in Christ,

Kevin Porter, Stated Clerk

green bar