On Tuesday I drove over to the Korean Church of Minnesota to participate in the November Presbytery meeting. I went to the meeting early so that I could participate in a training that Newell Krogmann shared on MissionInsite. MissionInsite is an outstanding demographic program that the Presbytery has purchased—every church in our Presbytery can use it for FREE. At Chain of Lakes we are training ourselves to understand even more clearly the person who lives in our target area. MissionInsite is an invaluable help.
After the training I shared information about Chain of Lakes at a table that I always staff. I particularly enjoyed talking to Ray Larson who is the Interim Head of Staff at Presbyterian Clearwater Forest. He shared that they have a plan in place to hire a new Executive Director and are making plans for summer camp.
The Disability Task Force led worship. I enjoyed hearing Lisa Larges talk about how Jesus was an expert participant (I don’t have the words exact) at awkward dinner parties. I particularly enjoyed hearing Alek Smith read Scripture. He is the son of Cathy Smith, who is an Intern at Chain of Lakes.
During dinner we were treated by an exquisite Korean meal that was shared by our hosts. Wow! I’d like to have Presbytery at that church every time! During the dinner conversation I discovered that Walter Chuquimia will soon be leaving for a new call in Florida. I knew that Walter was moving, but didn’t realize that this was the final meeting he would attend at Presbytery. During the speak-out period I encouraged everyone to bless him on his departure. Walter has been a good friend of mine ever since he came to the Presbytery. Blessings to you, Walter!
After dinner reports were shared about the financial situation of the Presbytery and the proposal to change the Communications position in the office of the Presbytery. The people involved in these reports had obviously done a lot of work in preparing these reports.
Before a conversation about changes in the Presbytery staff were made, Presbytery staff left the sanctuary. I am technically a staff person for the Presbytery; however I don’t really think of myself as a staff person for the Presbytery. I don’t attend staff meetings in the Presbytery office, my name is not on the staff web page of the Presbytery, my own business cards make no mention of being a staff person for the Presbytery. I identify myself as the Organizing Pastor of Chain of Lakes.
Leaving the meeting didn’t sit well with me. I had received a phone call the night before sharing that the Presbytery staff had volunteered to leave the meeting at that point. I shared on the phone call that I was uncomfortable with this proposal and thought it was unhealthy. I said I wasn’t sure if I would say anything at this point of the meeting, but I reserved that possibility.
I did get up to speak. What prompted me to speak at the meeting was the statement that the staff had voluntarily agreed to leave. This was not true for me. I rose and made a motion that the Presbytery vote on whether the staff leave the meeting. I know I surprised Moderator David Colby with the motion. In retrospect I wish I had consulted with him earlier in the day, but in all honestly I decided at that moment to make this motion. David consulted with Jay Wilkenson, the acting Stated Clerk, who ruled that my motion was out of order.
I then left the meeting. I was upset. As I was walking out of the sanctuary I decided to leave the building. At that moment watching my daughter, Hannah, practice basketball was more appealing than waiting to come back to a meeting in which I was asked to leave.
Before I left the parking lot I made a comment on Facebook about what happened. The comment came from frustration.
The next day David Colby and I talked. He had reached out to me via a Facebook message the night before. I’ve known him ever since he came to the Presbytery and have great respect for the work he has done at Central Presbyterian in St. Paul. He and Bill Davnie, Stated Clerk of the Presbytery, did extensive research about how to handle the process of that part of the meeting. In their research they were told that a governing body or council cannot vote to exclude members from a meeting. That is why the motion I made was ruled out of order.
This issue about the Presbytery staff voluntarily leaving the meeting is still perplexing to me, but in all honesty I am letting it go. Many people asked me about my Facebook post, so I decided to write this blog to try to explain what happened. The Presbytery has many more important issues than the Presbytery staff voluntarily leaving a meeting or a motion I made at a meeting being ruled out of order.
The Presbytery made very difficult decisions this past Tuesday night. Dennis Sanders will no longer be working for the Presbytery staff. This will be a loss. The Presbytery had to tighten its budget in a dramatic way. These are the important issues to focus on as we move ahead.