Thursday, May 12, 2016

Presbytery meeting

The Presbytery of the Twin Cities Area had their Annual Meeting this past Tuesday, May 10 at First Presbyterian Church in Stillwater.  I hadn’t been able to attend a Presbytery meeting since last November, so it was very good to be back with friends and colleagues. 

I was blessed to be joined by ten other folks from Chain of Lakes who attended the meeting.  For some of them this was the first time attending a Presbytery meeting. 

After a few opening details, Transitional Executive Presbyter Jeff Japinga shared a report called, “Next Steps: Priorities for the PTCA”  It can be found at:
At the start of the report he wrote, “The report which follows is my attent to provide you with my best insights and recommendations, as developed in close consultation with the Presbytery Leadership Team.”  At the meeting we were asked to share some words from the report which were meaningful.  Many people did.  The report is worth the time to read and to share reflections & thoughts.

A report from the Committee on Congregational Vitality (CCV) was then shared.  This report shared an update on Chain of Lakes and two recommendations.  The report can be read at the above link.

The Chain of Lakes Steering Committee was able to contribute to the first draft of the report and voted to accept the recommendations.  Paul Edgett—a Steering Committee member of Chain of Lakes—and I both spoke about the report.  We talked about how we anticipated a cut in funding in 2017 from the Presbytery.  We believe that the people from Chain of Lakes can make up some of this cut, but we will most likely approach some other churches to help fill in the gap.  We also talked about how the Presbytery’s property intended for use of Chain of Lakes is an important part of the vision of our new faith community.  Any change in the status of the property will have a significant effect on the Presbytery’s new church. 

The recommendations of the report were unanimously approved in a voice vote.

During the report on Self Development of People a woman from CTUL—Center for Workers United in Struggle—gave an inspiring report on their work.

David Lidle, the chair of the legal team for the Presbytery with Eden Prairie Presbyterian Church or Prairie View, shared that the judge in the case ruled against the Presbytery regarding who owns the church’s property and regarding some other issues.  He shared that the team will be making a decision soon about whether the suit will be appealed.  He shared some principles upon which will guide the team as they make the decision.  During a question and answer session, he said that the Presbytery gave the legal team the authority to make the decision about whether to appeal the suit.

After a delicious dinner provided by the terrific folks from First Presbyterian Church of Stillwater, the Presbytery debated a recommendation for the use of funds on the Presbytery’s property intended for use by Chain of Lakes Church.  This item had been pulled from the Consent Agenda.  Anoka County is expanding the road on the north side of the property.  They are putting a pond of a little less than an acre on the property.  A financial settlement of $139,000 was negotiated and paid to the Presbytery. 

The Board of Trustees recommended that $100,000 be spent from that settlement to pay down the $269,000 loan on the property with the rest being used to pay for the costs of a new Conditional Use Permit.

I made a motion to postpone a vote on this for two months.  The Steering Committee of Chain of Lakes had very little input on the use of these funds.  We believe that the Sessions of existing churches would have significant say and would want to have significant say in how eminent domain settlement proceeds on their property would be used.  The Steering Committee of Chain of Lakes developed a reasonable proposal for the use of these funds.  With a desire to share our proposal with the Presbytery and its committees, I asked for a two month postponement of the vote.

After much discussion the Presbytery voted 45-37 not to postpone a vote.  I then asked that the proposal from the Board of Trustees be defeated.  The Presbytery voted to approve the proposal.

It is worth noting that the first principal payment for the loan on the Presbytery’s property intended for use by Chain of Lakes will not take place until September 2017.  Applying the $100,000 to the loan means the Presbytery will only owe $169,000 on the property.

Other important business of the Presbytery took place.  The Presbytery honored four officers who left their positions and welcomed new offices.  We also voted to accept a slate of candidates for committees as proposed by the Nominating Committee.  The next regular meeting of the Presbytery is scheduled for Tuesday, July 12 at Oak Grove Presbyterian Church.