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.