Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Twin Cities Area Presbytery meeting March 2015

The Presbytery of the Twin Cities Area met for our regular meeting this past Saturday, March 14 at New Life Presbyterian Church in Roseville.  I was privileged to have Sally Narr and some of our Confirmation students from Chain of Lakes come for part of the meeting. 

The meeting began with a rousing worship service.  The Kenyan Fellowship led the music at worship.  Their growing congregation worships at New Life Presbyterian Church.  Their music brought a fresh spirit to our gathering.   

In his Treasurer’s Report Ed Martin shared that the year has started out well financially for the Presbytery.  He also shared in his written report that the bulk of the Hope Presbyterian settlement was invested with the Presbyterian Investment and Loan Program.

The Presbytery voted to go forward with a restructuring proposal shared by the Presbytery Leadership Team.  The proposals can be read in their entirety at: http://www.presbyterytwincities.org/PresbyteryMeetingInfo

As I understand the proposal the Presbytery committees that will be changed are the Committee on Ministry (COM), Church Development Team (CDT) and Mission and Witness Committee (MWC).  The proposal passed with no discussion from the floor.  In part of his report David Colby, chair of the Presbytery Leadership Team, encouraged people to share ideas for the use of settlement funds from departing churches. 

In the Self-Development of People report Karen Kennerly shared a moving report about how the Presbytery has helped an organization called Minnesotans Standing Together to End Poverty.  Representatives from the group whose picture is on the top of this blog came to share their appreciation for the Presbytery’s financial support.   

Right before lunch Dr. Sarah Henrich shared a terrific lecture on the last four chapters of Romans.  One part of her lecture that interested me was her understanding of how the Apostle Paul wrote about friendship.  Friendship is of particular interest to the people at Chain of Lakes as part of our Purpose Statement is helping strangers become friends.  Henrich shared that the Apostle Paul believed that people should be friends in Christ in order to help each other in helpful ways.  This was revolutionary in its time as Paul understood friendship to go beyond the rigid class structure that existed.  Some characteristics of ancient friendship are that it is self-chosen, exists among equals and for mutual upbuilding, requires truthfulness, and that people connect in one soul and one spirit. 

A significant part of the meeting came after lunch when the Presbytery received a report from the Administrative Commission (AC) who has worked with Christ Presbyterian Church in Edina.   The AC and the Session of Christ Presbyterian have come to an agreement on the general terms of a proposal for Christ to leave the PC(USA).

A person on the floor asked representatives from Christ why they want to leave.  John Mitchell, from Christ, shared that the church doesn’t seem to have deep congruence anymore with the Presbytery, and that it’s hard to be an evangelical congregation within the Presbytery.  He also shared that the church has not had success in having pastors within their congregation become ordained within the PC(USA). 

The general terms were approved by voice vote.  I would guess that at least 95 percent of the commissioners approved the vote.  The next steps are for the congregation from Christ to approve the negotiated final terms on May 3 and then the Presbytery vote on the final terms on May 12.

Like all the conversations that have taken place on the floor of Presbytery with congregations thinking about leaving, the discussion was civil and respectful.  Sadness hung in the air.  But the vote was handled decently and in order.  David Van Dyke, chair of the AC acknowledged that if Christ departs the Presbyterian Church (USA) our Presbytery will be diminished but not without hope.   

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