The Presbytery of Twin Cities Area met for our regular meeting this past Tuesday at Dayton Avenue Presbyterian Church. This was the first time I can remember the Presbytery meeting at Dayton Avenue, whose sanctuary was designed by Cass Gilbert. I’m almost embarrassed to say that this was the first time I’ve ever been to this church building.
I came early to attend a pastor’s group. Our group meets once a month for mutual support and help. When our gathering was over I walked into the sanctuary and could immediately feel a buzz. The two Administrative Commissions regarding the departure of Stadium Village and Faith Presbyterian were sharing their reports before the meeting.
I set up a table and talked to people about the new coffee house ministry at Chain of Lakes which is starting in January. We are looking for a Booking Agent. This is a person who would bring in arts and bands to the coffee house. We believe that our space can be a venue for music groups in the north Metro. If you know of someone who would like to create this, let me know at firstname.lastname@example.org.
During worship Josh Heikkila shared some funny stories about his mission work in Ghana. The Presbytery voted to move Philip Romine to candidate status.
The leaders of the Stadium Village Church Administrative Commission then shared general terms for the departure from the church to ECO. The general terms can be found on page 31-33 of the November 2015 Presbytery minutes at: http://www.presbyterytwincities.org/PresbyteryMeetingInfo
The Presbytery has already voted to release Hope Church and Christ Church. This was the first time I can remember during an Administrative Commission report that people questioned the release of property to a church. A concern was shared about giving up a strategic presence on the University of Minnesota campus. Other questions were asked about the gift of money from the closing of Warrendale Presbyterian Church. The Presbytery eventually approved the general terms on a voice vote.
The Presbytery then thanked Gwin Pratt and Kathy Michael for their long service as Teaching Elders. The recognitions that were shared were very moving.
After dinner the Administrative Commission (AC) for Faith Presbyterian presented general terms for the departure of the church to ECO. The report has been moved up so that more people would attend. After reports from members of the AC and from the congregation’s negotiating committee, a passionate debate broke out. Concerns for the original members of the congregation who helped build the church were raised. A written amendment was passed out that changed the general terms of the agreement. The amendment can be found on page 35 of the minutes.
As the votes on this amendment were being counted Jeff Japinga, the Transitional Executive Presbyter shared a report. He shared that in his listening to people in the Presbytery a large gap exists between insiders and outsiders in the Presbytery. He said that it is important for the Presbytery to come to terms with what it means to be “we.”
The Amendment was passed 78-49. More debate and amendments were shared. Members of the negotiating team shared their frustration about the process. General terms were eventually passed. The church will have to decide if they can approve the changes.
The budget was then presented. Part of the budget report was a motion to stop paying Chain of Lakes from a designated fund called Fund 3. This is a fund designated for church development. Some of it is designated for urban ministry and some for new church development. An amendment was shared to delete this motion. It was eventually tabled until January.
During the conversation factually incorrect information was shared about the finances of Chain of Lakes. In 2015 Chain of Lakes is supporting approximately 60 percent of our budget. Our goal for 2016 is to support 70 percent of our budget. Pittsburgh Presbytery will charter a new church development when that congregation can support 75 percent of the budget. I spoke out and challenged the incorrect information that was shared.
The budget was passed, it was 9:30, and I decided to go home. Significant issues were still on the docket.
This was the most intense meeting of the Presbytery I can remember for a while. The meeting was led in a proper way—it’s just the issues of departing churches and the use and spending of money are garnering significant attention right now.