Rev. Kevin L. Porter was elected Stated Clerk of the Presbytery of Philadelphia at the July 2012 Presbytery Meeting. He begins his work on December 1, 2012.
I am a native Philadelphian, introduced to Christ and nurtured in the faith through the Sunday School of the Mt. Airy Presbyterian Church, where I was confirmed and encouraged to pursue higher education. Upon receiving my bachelor’s degree from Harvard University with a concentration in Psychology and Social Relations, I returned to the Mt. Airy congregation and was ordained a ruling elder in young adulthood.
Even as I pursued a career in management at the Eastern Home Office of the Prudential Insurance Company, Mt. Airy was identifying and affirming gifts for the ministry of word and sacrament within me. When they afforded me the opportunity to be an elder-commissioner to the General Assembly held in Philadelphia in 1989, I began to understand more fully what it means to be Presbyterian. That General Assembly was life-changing for me. I gained a greater vision of the ministry and mission of the Church. I met individuals serving in the national church who remain friends to this day. Moreover, as a commissioner I learned the value of our denomination’s polity and decision-making processes as tools enabling us to incarnate our belief that the Holy Spirit speaks through the community’s discernment. All of this was instrumental in my decision to enter Princeton Theological Seminary and come under care of this presbytery as an inquirer shortly thereafter.
I share this history with you to provide a context for understanding how my sense of ministry has been shaped. I share the following statements with you to provide insight into my commitments:
- My commitment to building community in the midst of diversity: Having been brought up in an integrated congregation, I’ve always experienced the church of Jesus Christ as an inclusive community of diverse individuals who recognize that, despite any and all differences they may have, they are bound together as sinners saved by the grace of God in Christ. After seminary, I was intentional in seeking to serve an integrated congregation and was blessed to be called to The First Presbyterian Church in Germantown (FPCG) where I’ve been able to live out this value in all its joys and challenges for the lion’s share of my ordained ministry. With this foundation, I’ve been able to build relationships with a great number of congregations and individuals who span the spectrum of race, class, theology, and urban/suburban identity within our presbytery’s bounds.
- The love and commitment I have for Philadelphia: Except for the times I was away to work on my two degrees, Philadelphia has always been my home. I’m proud of its history, familiar with its challenges, and believe the Presbytery of Philadelphia is poised to be an instrument in empowering the Philadelphia metropolitan area to embrace its potential as a testimony of God’s resurrection power working in our midst. Throughout my ministry I’ve been involved in initiatives that equip churches to engage members in ministry with the community outside their walls. My certification in pastoral counseling and consulting through the Samaritan Counseling Center’s Pastoral Training Institute, my consulting experience with the Dialogue Center, and many of my continuing education experiences have strengthened my ability to assist churches seeking to grow in this aspect.
- My knowledge of, and appreciation for the Presbyterian Church (USA): What I’ve expressed regarding my love for Philadelphia is also true with respect to the PC(USA) as my church home. I believe there are many disaffected Christians from other traditions as well as many who have never affiliated with a church who would find our polity and structures to be life-giving if they knew how and why we govern ourselves as we do. Thankfully, my service at the presbytery and General Assembly level has deepened both my knowledge of, and appreciation for the Presbyterian way. Because of this, I bring a passion to share this knowledge and appreciation to others in our presbytery through the stated clerk role. Particularly as we move into this time in our church’s life when our new form of government is being implemented, I believe it will be important that the stated clerk has these attributes in order to help the Presbytery and its congregations develop, implement, and interpret life-giving structures and policies.
Yours in Christ,
The Reverend Kevin Porter