Thursday, May 14, 2015

Fearlessly following--May Presbytery meeting

The Presbytery of the Twin Cities Area met for their May meeting—the Annual Meeting—this past Tuesday, May 12 at Peace Presbyterian Church in St. Louis Park. 

Important action started early in the meeting as the Presbytery voted on the terms of dismissal for Christ Presbyterian Church in Edina.  This final vote was the culmination of a long story.  Many people have many different opinions on how this departure came to take place.  It is obvious that both sides are ready for it.  David Van Dyke, Teacher Elder at House of Hope Presbyterian and chair of the Administration Commission, shared that 94 percent of the congregation of Christ Church voted to support the terms of the departure.  The Presbytery voted to support the terms of departure in an unanimous vote with no comments from the floor and few comments at the March Presbytery meeting.

Terms of the agreement can be found at in the archived Presbytery packet found at the bottom of the page at this link:  

David Van Dyke shared that Christ will be making one payment later this month of 2.13 million to the Presbytery.

After that vote of departure the Presbytery voted unanimously to approve Rev. Dr. Jeffrey Japinga as our new Transitional Executive Presbyter.  This is a three year position with an opportunity for renewal at the end of three years.

The Search Committee was very excited about calling Dr. Japinga to the position.  Their report and many details about Dr. Japinga can be found at the link I shared above.           

In his presentation it became obvious that Dr. Japinga is going to spend a lot of time listening and building relationships in the Presbytery.  His empathy and compassion stood out.  He shared his passion for the position, but it wasn’t a passion of a person who is going to come into the Presbytery and share the “one new thing.”  As he departs his current position at Mc Cormick seminary he’ll be working part-time for the Presbytery and will be here full-time in a few months.  I am praying for the success of his ministry.

The Presbytery voted to approve grants of $200,000 to Presbyterian Clearwater Forest and up to $300,000 for roof and related structural repairs on the Kwanzaa church.  These grants will be taken from recent funds given by departing churches.  A concern was raised that these requests happened very quickly and a wider and intentional strategy is needed for the funds the Presbytery has received. 

After a terrific salad dinner shared by the folks from Peace Presbyterian Church the Presbytery recognized Newell Krogmann, who is leaving his position with the Presbytery as contract staff for church development.  Newell has poured his heart, blood, sweat and tears into new church development and redevelopment.  The church I serve, Chain of Lakes Church, is the beneficiary of his work.

David Liddle, the chair of the Administrative Commission that is overseeing the court case with Eden Prairie Presbyterian Church, shared a report.  No new developments in the court case are expected until the fall.  He shared that the Presbytery has been billed approximately $100,000 in legal fees for the case. 

The Presbytery had a squabble about expanding the number of people serving on the Presbytery Leadership Team (PLT).  The PLT was expanded by one temporarily, but a motion directing a specific expansion of the team and a review of the composition of the PLT was defeated.   

I then left to go home to go see my family.

It’s exciting to see the new possibilities that exist in the Presbytery.  I’m very glad that we are moving closer to the day when no congregations in the Presbytery will be leaving.  I’m very hopeful that Dr. Japinga and others will help discern a new day for the Presbytery’s ministry.  At different points in the meeting people highlighted the phrase, “we fearlessly follow the Holy Spirit into a changing world.”  The Presbytery certainly did this at this meeting.

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