Tuesday, July 15, 2014

July Twin Cities Area Presbytery meeting

The Presbytery of the Twin Cities Area had their regular meeting last Tuesday, July 8 at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Austin, Minnesota.  It is good for those of us in the Twin Cities to travel at least once a year to a church outside of the metro area.  The drive—for me it was two hours and fifteen minutes one way—is a reminder of what our friends in non-metro churches have to do to attend most  Presbytery meetings.

I set up a table before the meeting to share what is happening at Chain of Lakes Church.  As a  new church development we are a ministry of the Presbytery and are very willing to share our excitement of what God is doing through our community in the north Metro.

A significant event at the meeting was the Presbytery Leadership Team's (PLT) announcement of Chaz Ruark’s resignation.  Chaz has served as the Executive Presbyter since the fall of 2008.  The PLT had sent out an E-mail previously about Chaz’s resignation.  He will conclude his work for the Presbytery at the end of July and will be paid through the end of November.   A reception thanking Chaz for his work will be held on Wednesday, July 30 from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. 

The PLT also announced that Jim Brasel will serve as an Acting Executive Presbyter starting September 1.  He will be working half-time.  In their written report regarding Chaz’ resignation the PLT shared that they intend to have this position so that future staffing needs of the Presbytery can be determined before an interim executive presbyter is hired.

In his report Moderator Thomas Ruter shared the results of a survey that was conducted of teaching and ruling elders to determine priorities of the Presbytery.  Three hundred nineteen people responded to the survey.  The results can be viewed on pages nine through eleven at: http://www.presbyterytwincities.org/files/501_07_08_14_presbytery_packet.pdf

Bill Davnie, the Stated Clerk, shared what is happening regarding the Presbyterian Church in Eden Prairie.  The Presbytery office was notified in early June that the church was terminating what it saw as its “voluntary affiliation” with the PC(USA).  Its pastor, John Ward, also informed the office that he was renouncing the jurisdiction of the PC(USA).  The church had entered the Gracious Separation process and an Administrative Commission (A.C.) from the Presbytery had been working hard.  In his written report Bill wrote that “…our constitutional position [is] that the claimed disaffiliation cannot be done under the Book of Order. … [The A.C.] remains ready to resume negotiations, within the framework of our Constitution, and hopes to do so in the near future.  The Presbytery remains prepared to assert its ecclesiastical authority, including through civil litigation if necessary, but seeks a negotiated settlement.”  The full Stated Clerk’s report can be viewed on pages 14-15 at: http://www.presbyterytwincities.org/files/501_07_08_14_presbytery_packet.pdf

Shortly after I attended a focus group on Presbytery Priorities and Plans.  Those of us present were asked what our hopes and goals are for the Presbytery.  The theme of communication was shared over and over again during the breakout session.  Those of us who were present were pleading that the leaders of the Presbytery go out of their way to communicate what is happening with the Presbytery. 

Those events were significant enough for one meeting.  People had plenty to talk about at the dinner provided by the leaders of the Austin church.  I left the meeting after worship with hopes that I could get home before 10:00.  I didn’t quite make it, and felt compassion for the even later night that many others experienced.

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