Reflections from the Feb 4th Presbytery Meeting at the New Covenant Presbyterian Church, Albany

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The 311th Stated Meeting of the Albany Presbytery was held on February 4, 2017 at the New Covenant Presbyterian Church, Albany.  Below are a few snippets/reflections offered from some of the shared business.  Official minutes will be offered at the next Presbytery meeting.

Major agenda items from the February 4th meeting listed below include the following reports.  See below for more details.

  • Meeting Overview – Cara Molyneaux, Moderator, Albany Presbytery
  • Guatemala Partnership –  Rev. Kathy Gorman-Coombs
  • Peacemaking Task Force: Resolution on a Way Forward in Angry and Anxious Times
  • Transitional Presbyter’s Report – Shannan Vance-Ocampo
  • Committee on Ministry (COM) – Sam Jackling & Holly Cameron
  • Speak Out – Announcements and Events (see details below)
  • Trustees Report – Carl Hasselbarth, President, Trustees
  • Committee on Leadership Development Report – Elizabeth Shen O’Connor
  • Council Report – Arthur Fullerton, Vice-Moderator, Albany Presbytery

Cara Molyneaux, Moderator, Albany Presbytery
Meeting Overview

“Albany Presbytery discussed and adopted several significant reports that will hopefully help us with the work we do in the next several years.  We have a been examining new ways to do the work of ministry here in Albany Presbytery and now we have a plan to aid Congregational Renewal and Pastoral Leadership.  We also adopted and new Structure Plan that will divide the work differently and hopefully more evenly among the many dedicated members who work so hard.  Reports about these new plans are available on the Presbytery website and I urge you to read them if you’re not familiar with them.  All in all it was a thoughtful and productive meeting.”

Rev. Kathy Gorman-Coombs
Guatemala Partnership

“I bring you greetings from our partnership in Guatemala, the Mam Presbytery and Presbyterial leadership, with whom I visited on Saturday, January 28, and from the IENPG (Guatemalan Presbyterian Church), whose leadership were present at the Guatemala Partnership Network conference which took place in Guatemala City from January 30 to February 2.  And from Mission Co-workers Sandi and Brian Thompson-Royer, Richard and Debbie Welch, Leslie Vogel, and Amanda Craft.  During the conference, which was a gathering of US Presbyteries and PCUSA groups that have partnerships with Guatemalan Presbyteries and groups, we shared ideas and activities that various partners have been or are doing together.  The sharing included not only the successes, but some failures and advice about pitfalls to avoid.  We worshipped together and engaged in Bible Study together, and heard about the goals the IENPG has recently set, which included the goal of increasing the number of women in leadership roles (including pastors).  We prayed together, including fervent prayers for each of our nations’ governments and people, and some confessional moments ways we may have failed each other in our endeavors to be mutual partners working together for God’s kingdom. It was an inspirational and holy time, and I am increasingly grateful to God for the privilege of engaging in this work.

P.S. I also brought home with me 30 napkins created by the sewing school we have helped to create and support in the Mam Presbytery; all of those napkins were sold by the end of the Presbytery meeting on Feb 4, most by the time I returned to my seat after Speak Out.  I hope to have more after a visit I’ll be making again in August.”

Peacemaking Task Force

“This resolution was brought to the Presbytery at its February 4, 2017 Stated Meeting by the Peacemaking Task Force.  It came out of a deep concern around increased racial and anti-immigrant violence in the Presbytery that has been occurring for the last few months.  It was unanimously approved and added to the minutes of that meeting.  Resolution on a Way Forward in Angry and Anxious Times

Shannan Vance-Ocampo, Transitional Presbyter
Transitional Presbyter’s Report

You can watch Shannan’s Presentation here: https://youtu.be/0wDL8d9pT9c

Holly Cameron & Sam Jackling, Co-Chairs, Committee on Ministry
COM Report

  1. “TEs Ted Wright and Donna Frischknecht Jackson were examined and welcomed to Albany Presbytery. We also examined TE Henry Kim and welcome him as the new installed pastor at the Brunswick Church.
  2. Presbytery approved changing the status of TE Annie Reilly from Temporary Supply Pastor at State Street Presbyterian Church to Associate Pastor at the Presbyterian – New England Congregational Church in Saratoga.
  3. COM presented for a first reading a Resolution Agreement to dismiss the United Church of Cohoes to the Presbyterian Evangelical Covenant Order (ECO).
  4. The COM Policies and Procedures Manual was adopted
  5. The 2017 Terms of Call (TOC) forms are due. They are available on the Presbytery Website: https://albanypresbytery.org/terms-of-call/

While not part of the office Committee of Ministry report, we also want to acknowledge and give praise or the life and witness of the Rev. Pat Davies (HR) and Helen Dickens (former moderator of the Presbytery).

Speak Out: Announcement & Events

  • Ruth Everhart coming to Westminster on May 20th – Jim Reisner
  • This Changes Everything – Elizabeth Meehan, Peacemaking Task Force
  • EVENT: Uniting Communities Against the Politics of Hate: A Public Forum – Terry Diggory
  • Should we as a Presbytery be doing more to stand up for those in our Presbytery? – Kathi Jones
  • Send VBS Info to Kim Deal for the Youth Page on the website.
  • New Albany Presbytery Online Communications Resource Available – Kim Deal
  • Irish Voices Benefit Concert – Donna Elia
    Irish Voices Benefit Concert at St. Michael’s RC Church, Troy on March 10 at 6:30 p.m. $15 (includes refreshments)- a great concert for some wonderful organizations, including Troy Area United Ministries’ Troy Damien Center, Joseph’s House Homeless Shelter and others serving those living in poverty, women and children fleeing domestic violence and persons living with HIV/AIDS  and other serious illness. To obtain tickets call Donna Elia at 274-5920 x202
  • Farmers Market Needs: Gluten-Free vendor needed & New this year: Food Truck Fridays – Katy Stenta
    Anyone know a Gluten-Free Vendor?  Contact Katy Stenta for the Farmers Market or call 518-482-8063.
  • Update on Men’s Guatemala Trip – Tim Coombs
    Tim reported during the speak out time that the Men’s Trip to Guatemala had to be “postponed,” because there were not enough participants at this time. According to CEDEPCA, our host organization, it is not economically feasible for them to work with a group that is less than seven members.  Tim will work to schedule another trip in the future. Please, share with your the men of your church about this opportunity so that he may know who is interested in a future trip.
  • Annual HS Youth Forum to the UN in NYS Leaving for NYS
    Learn more about this great youth event on the Albany Presbytery Youth Landing Page.

Carl Hasselbarth, President, Trustees
Trustees Report

We endeavor to make accountability a theme of my time as President of your Board of Trustees.  I understand the ambition in even a connectional denomination to want to run your church the way you see fit.  My challenge to our churches is to earn that independence.  One of the largest crises in our Presbytery is the management of rapidly deteriorating old church buildings.  It is no secret that a congregation cannot worship indefinitely in the same structure.  The decision of when to continue maintaining a beloved, but failing building and when to develop and execute an exit strategy is a difficult one.  The Presbytery wants to help with that.  That’s why we rolled out a building assessment program last year.  We want to know how your building is doing.  This is not so we can find cause to separate our congregations from their buildings before they are ready, but so we can partner with you in the stewardship of your resources.  Contemplating the end of a relationship with a storied and sacred building is painful.  However, we believe God has a plan for our congregations that extends beyond the useful life of our church buildings.  We want to discern that plan with you.

I want to make it clear that we strive for patience with the congregations that alert us early to any problems they have, be it with their buildings, their ministries or something else.  We all know it is infinitely easier to address problems identified early than those identified late.  To that end, I’d like to remind the Teaching Elders that they are the last line of defense in identifying problems within their congregation.  I own and operate my own law practice and, therefore, believe I can say the Teaching Elders ought to consider their churches to be their own businesses.  The buck stops with you and you’re well advised to act as though your job depends on the proper management of property, staffing and ministry issues among other things, because it does depend on that.  We know when we’re being subverted though and that’s when our patience fades.  If your history of resource stewardship is questionable, we may reject your grant or loan application and suggest you merge with another church instead.  We ask that you consider the larger community beyond your individual church.  Be invested in the health and welfare of your Presbytery and all the congregations within it.  Realize that God’s plan for you will continue even if his plan for your church building or even your congregation ends.  Be open to new experiences on your faith journey and see the Presbytery as a partner in that discernment rather than an adversary intent on having its own way.”

Elizabeth Shen O’Connor, Committee on Leadership Development (previously CPM) Report

At it’s February 4, 2017 meeting, Albany Presbytery received the Manual of Operations from the Committee on Preparation for Ministry (now Committee on Leadership Development) for a second reading and vote. Between the November meeting in 2016 and this meeting, the Committee had the manual reviewed by Tim Cargal, Assistant Stated Clerk on Preparation at the Office of General Assembly. Overall, the review was positive and there were no significant changes recommended. OGA did suggest a few clarifications on process concerning the psychological assessment and negotiation for service. These points of clarification were highlighted in the version included in the pre-meeting packet. We feel confident that this manual will be a “live” document and an aid in our work with those engaging the preparation for ministry process. The manual was approved by the presbytery. The final version is posted on the presbytery website for reference.

Arthur Fullerton, Vice-Moderator, Albany Presbytery
Council Report

“After spirited debate the Presbytery approved the new structure and ministry plan which go into effect immediately. These changes are not viewed as the final word in our evolving relationship together, but as a first step to try new things, see what works and what doesn’t, and to continue to reform our structures through time — ecclesia semper reformanda est — you might say.”

Thank you all for your service.  Official minutes will be offered at the next Presbytery meeting.  See you at First Presbyterian Church, Glens Falls, Wednesday, March 29, 2017 from 4:30pm – 9:00pm.


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