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The 321st Stated Meeting of the Albany Presbytery was held on January 26, 2019 at the First Presbyterian Church in Ballston Spa. 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 January 26th meeting listed below include the following reports. See below for more details.

  • Meeting Overview – Kate Kotfila
  • Open Space
    • Beth Illingworth
    • Michael Plank
    • Michael Burkley
  • Budget and Finance – Bill Hasselbarth
  • Church Mission – Ted Wright
    • Peacemaking Task Force – Paul Randall
  • COMAC – Becca Lawson-Putman
  • Coordination Committee – Michael Burkely
    • Website – Kim Deal
  • Personnel Committee – Scott DeBlock
  • Committee on Representation and Nominations – Jerry McKinney
  • Trustees – Bill Hasselbarth on behalf of Carl Hasselbarth
  • Speak Out/Open Microphone-
    • Tim Coombs – Camp Fowler
    • Terry Diggory – Immigration Network
    • Kathy Gorman-Coombs – Trip to Guatemala
    • Sam – Rise Against Hunger

Kate Kotfila, Moderator, Albany Presbytery
Meeting Overview
“When Presbytery gathers, so much more happens than the items on the printed agenda. As people were arriving, two elders from Charlton Freehold, who had never been to a meeting, were welcomed by Darren Gundrum who has a vacation home on the lake. As they talked, Pat and Jerri became visibly more comfortable and even attended an Open Space group. I loved seeing Larry Deyss and Holly Cameron catching up with each other. Decades ago, Larry was mentor to Holly in her first years of pastoral ministry. Holly is no longer a newbie, and Larry has retired, yet the mutual support of that friendship speaks volumes about what a Presbytery is.

The Rev. Jim Miller, a former Executive of Albany Presbytery, so eloquently reminded us that presbyters like Bob Lamar have bequeathed a culture of generous ecumenism and leadership to us. We are not the first ones dealing with the issues of our day – generations of faithful Presbyters precede us, their wisdom is part of our communal DNA. At lunch I met the Ruling Elder representative from Hebron United. He works in fundraising at Bennington College. Just a few questions into the conversation and Dan had the ear of several church leaders as he integrated his professional work with his perceptions of church and presbyter; elder teaching elders, a valued principle of Presbyterianism.

Perhaps the most visible evidence of the breadth of ministry, encouragement, networking and caring from Saturday is the fact that 30 people arrived early for Open Space. And though we ended early, people were still around talking with each other far past the allotted time for departure. Gavel to gavel, important work was done in the meeting; and during the in between time, the before and after time, in words and actions, connections and concerns we were Presbytery.”

Open Space

Mission-Minded People
The Rev. Michael Plank shared stories from Underwood CrossFit: our new worshipping community where exercise blends with group building and prayerful reflection. Insights gained may help you connect better with “spiritual-but-not-religious” neighbors.

Proposed Amendments to our PC(USA) Book of Order, led by Vice-Moderator, Rev. Michael Burkley
“This time the Open Space discussion we had on our proposed Constitutional Amendments was attended by fewer people than the previous time, but what that meant was that we had more of an opportunity to ask our questions and talk about our views than we would have had if there were more people there!  As it was, we had excellent time discussing the amendments that will be coming before the presbytery at our March meeting. Check them out (you’ll find the amendments on the website), and think about how you might vote next month.” Click here to read: Proposed Amendments to PC(USA) “Book of Order”

Guided Visualization with The Rev. Beth Illingworth
“Our guided visualization during the Open Space of the Presbytery meeting provided an opportunity to enter a deeper experience of peace and well being – before beginning the business of the day. We focused our attention on the breath, the simple, fundamental experience of breathing in oxygen and feeling the life in our bodies. We spent time in the awareness that we are connected to each other by the air that we breathe, maybe even more than we  know. 

As we paid attention to our breathing, we also rested in the awareness of God’s love filling and surrounding us. (This Love is less visible than oxygen, yet more powerful than we can comprehend.) We extended this experience of Love to all those who attended the Presbytery meeting. Perhaps some of you who were there felt the loving embrace we sent your way, even without being conscious of it!

Six people joined me for the visualization. Three were attending Presbytery for the very first time. I hope it was a meaningful way for them to be introduced into the life of our larger church community. “

Biil Hasselbarth
Member, Budget and Finance Committee

Bill Hasselbarth reviewed the Presbytery Financial Report for the year to date November 30, 2018. The Presbytery has a loss of ($101,966). The loss was primarily driven by unfavorable investment returns and a loss on the disposition of Church property. In addition revenue from Basic and Shared Witness Support was less than budget, but was offset by expenses being under budget. It was noted that due to continued under performance of the investment market in December, an additional loss is expected. December year end results should be available prior to the January 26 Presbytery meeting. Bill discussed the Presbytery Balance Sheet particularly noting Church Property, Accounts and Notes Receivable.

He briefly reviewed the 2019 approved Presbytery Budget, focusing especially on Basic and Shared Witness Support, and Staffing. A request has gone out to all Committee chairs for their Committee’s goals and spending plan for 2019. This information is required by Presbytery policy and is due prior to the March Presbytery meeting.

The Accounting Services Contract was renewed for 2019.

Ted Wright
Church Mission Committee
“The Peacemaking Task Force proposed – and Presbytery adopted – a resolution requesting the use of tap water (as opposed to commercial bottled water) at presbytery-level meetings and functions, so long as local water poses no health concerns. In small groups, commissioners discussed how they might interpret this policy and/or build upon it.   

The Church Mission Committee announced campership grants to be available starting Feb. 1.  Information regarding this year’s program, and online application forms, may be found at: Application for Campership

The Mission Committee is now engaged in a review of rationales and practices surrounding grants to Mission Partners. Ted Wright outlined some of the questions and points of view currently being considered.  He affirmed his committee’s willingness to listen to stakeholders — be they presbyters, Sessions, Mission Partners, or prospective Partners. Click here for more information

Becca Lawson Putman
“COMAC had a brief report. We recommended to presbytery that we accept Warrenburg’s request for a waiver of their 2018 Basic Witness Support. The committee had recommended certain actions to them, including meeting with the trustees and discussing future options for their congregation. Presbytery unanimously accepted COMAC’s recommendation. I also had the privilege of introducing the Rev. Janice West, who is serving as the interim minister of Hamilton Union. She shared with us a little bit about her ministry, and we were able to welcome her as one of our colleagues in ministry.” Learn more about her in this blog: Introducing Rev. Janice West – Interim Pastor, Hamilton Union Presbyterian Church

Michael Burkley
Coordination Committee
“The Coordination Committee is active, usually behind the scenes, for every presbytery meeting. This meeting was no different.

The Koinonia Team (our Common-Life-Together Team) has begun working towards helping us all recognize and rejoice in our connections to each other as presbytery.  You might have noticed someone welcoming you as you arrived. That was one of our goals (one we can’t accomplish all on our own – we need others to take up that cause <hint!>).  

If you attended our last meeting you received a loaf of homemade bread as our reminder that Jesus is the Bread of Life and the one who nourishes our common life together. For our next Presbytery meeting we hope that other members of Presbytery will make bread for us to share with someone from our home churches, so that they might have a reminder that Presbytery can make a useful (and delicious) difference to their church, too. We have some volunteer bread makers, but we still need more <hint>!

Do you have any unused greeting cards you could bring to the next presbytery meeting? The Koinonia Team will have a table with cards and suggested recipients. All we need to do is you to sign them to remind those who are hurting or rejoicing in our presbytery that we remember them and are keeping them in our prayers. Look for them at our next meeting!

This meeting the Koinonia Team also brought a suggestion box, and we received twenty-five suggestions. Awesome! There was one suggestion that touched my heart and challenged me.  It was such an encouragement because it showed an openness and offered a way forward that made me very glad. Here’s what the person wrote (I am the leader they mention):  

‘In worship I appreciated the inclusive language in the printed material then was a little thrown by the leader’s use of “Father” … then thought “Well, if that’s what’s meaningful to him, it should be OK.” Then I thought what if when someone leads and uses a term for God that might be jarring for others, that they say something that acknowledges – “This is what feels comfortable for me, while recognizing that we all image God differently.” My response would have been very different if diversity of imagery had been acknowledged.’

I’ll leave it up to you to think about why I find that suggestion so encouraging. May that tribe of suggestion-givers increase!

The Koinonia Team has been given  a very broad agenda—we get to help the presbytery in just about any way we see good. So let us know of some more things to do. With your help our common life together will be extraordinary!

The Staffing Model Task Force has a number of members—all clergy. It’s not very balanced in that way. We need more members, specifically more Ruling Elder and/or lay members for this Task Force. Do you know of anyone how might be interested in serving on this short-term but very important task force, particularly people with personnel experience, but even more particularly young people, and most importantly of all, with a confident vision that God works for the good of God’s People? Let us know!

The Coordination Committee recommended to Presbytery (and Presbytery approved) an increase in the cost of the presbytery meeting meals from $8 to $12. A number of churches have indicated that they have spent $100’s of dollars more than they received from the ticket sales. That money also covers the cost of all the pre-meeting snacks provided. Thanks for caring for our churches that serve us by providing our meals!

Finally, Kim Deal told us about (and showed us) our presbytery’s new website! It’s up and running with only an occasional stumble (let her know if you have any troubles). Thanks Kim for all the work you do in keeping us informed and rejoicing in what God is doing among us!”

Click here to watch a video of Albany Presbytery Website Updates

Scott DeBlock
Chair, Personnel Committee
The Personnel Committee has completed the hiring process for the new Temporary Chaplain and is in the final stages of the hiring process. They plan to make an announcement the week of February 11, 2019 with a special email to presbytery and a blog that will be shared in the Albany Presbytery communications channels.

Biil Hasselbarth
on behalf of Carl Hasselbarth
Bill reviewed with the Presbytery the interim December, 2018 financial report reporting a combined Presbytery/Trustee deficit for the year of ($166,573). The deficit was due primarily to a loss on the sale of Church property and a reduction in the value of our investments managed by Fenimore Asset Management. The final December financial report will be presented at the next Presbytery meeting.

Speak Out

Tim Coombs – Camp Fowler weeks are filling up fast and that families need to register to get their primary week. Also, remember the ‘campership’ application process on the website.”

Terry Diggory (Elder, Saratoga Springs), on behalf of the Albany Presbytery Immigration Network, announced an event co-sponsored by the Network:

“WELCOMING THE STRANGER.” Sunday, February 10, 2:00 PM

United Presbyterian Church, Railroad Avenue, Shushan, NY.

Maxine Stein, President and CEO of Jewish Family Service of Western Massachusetts, a HIAS refugee resettlement affiliate, will give an overview of the current refugee situation and will share the history of HIAS and its role in refugee resettlement in this country and around the world. Click here for more information.

Also, Terry reported that he and Joan Rogers (Elder, Troy First United) attended the Member Congress (January 22-23) of the New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC), of which Albany Presbytery is a member.  NYIC budget priorities for the New York State Legislature in 2019 fall into 6 categories: 1) Census 2020 and Civic Engagement; 2) Driver’s Licenses; 3) Health Care and Coverage; 4) Legal Services; 5) Multi-Generational Education; 6) Protect and Defend. Click here to see a lit of the priorities.

Kathy Gorman-Coombs – there is a team of people traveling to Guatemala as part of the Guatemala Partnership Task Force: February 13 – 21, 2019 and asked for you to be praying for their trip.

Sam Jackling – Rise Against Hunger: Sunday February 10, 2019 at 1:30 pm Co-hosting this event with the Broadalbin Perth School District (at the Broadalbin site) Click here for more information

Kim Deal – NWC TrailPraisers inclusive worship invites all levels, faiths, and abilities to experience worship together February 16th at 3:00 pm led by the Rev. Ted Wright, HR. For more information email or click here

Kim Deal on behalf of Christy D’Ambrosio, Albany Presbytery Triennium Registrar
THE TIME IS NOW – we are working on trip logistics

THE PRESBYTERIAN YOUTH TRIENNIUM is next summer (July 16-20, 2019) at Purdue University.

Calling all Youth (rising high school freshmen through graduating college seniors):  It’s time to think about Triennium, Summer 2019. Please feel free to contact Christy D’Ambrosio, Albany Presbytery Registrar, 518-423-4763 or with questions. Click here for more information.

Meeting Announcements

Thank you all for your service.  Official minutes will be offered at the next Presbytery meeting. See you at Delmar Presbyterian Church beginning at 9:00 am with Open Space.


About Albany Presbytery Communications

Albany Presbytery strives to provide relevant information using a variety of communication channels including our website, email, paper mailings, social media, and in-person meetings. Please let us know of any erroneous information you may find. If you have information to share, we would be happy to connect with you. You can contact us via email here.

The purpose of the Albany Presbytery Blog is to share information, tell stories, and promote the mission and ministry of the presbytery, synod and beyond. While the breadth of this medium is intentionally broad, it is not a platform for opinion pieces related to business coming before the presbytery unless designed as part of an initiative to provide a diversity of viewpoints at the direction of the presbytery. Exceptions to this policy may be brought to the presbytery officers who will determine appropriateness of submissions.