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The 322nd Stated Meeting of the Albany Presbytery was held on March 26, 2019 at the Delmar Presbyterian Church. 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 March 26th meeting listed below include the following reports. See below for more details.

  • Meeting Overview – Kate Kotfila
  • Open Space
    • Missions & Albany Presbytery – Ted Wright
    • Staffing Task Force – Michael Burkley
  • Communications Report – Kim Deal & Jennifer Schoenfisch
  • Coordination Report – Michael Burkley
    • Staffing Model Task Force
    • Presbytery Bread Initiative
    • Koinonia Team Report – Spring Retreat on May 31/June 1
    • Amendments to the Constitution
  • Committee on Representation and Nominations – Terry Diggory
  • Budget and Finance – Bill Hasselbarth
  • Committee on Leadership Development – Stewart Pattison
  • Personnel – Reilly
  • COMAC – Ken Applegate
  • Speak Out/Open Microphone
    • Cara Molyneaux – Union Opening 
    • Kathy Gorman-Coombs – Praying the 2nd Sunday of the month for our Mam partners
    • Michael Burkley – Breadmaking
    • Sue Laz – Update on Freda Gardner
    • Terry Diggory – Immigration Coalition Events and Activities
    • Christy D’Ambrosio – Triennium: Deadline is quickly approaching
    • Katy Stenta – TrailPraisers – Article in Outlook
    • Alexandra Lusak – What worshipping community is not present and we should bring bread?

March 26, 2019 Presbytery Meeting

Kate Kotfila, Moderator, Albany Presbytery
Meeting Overview
“The meeting began with reading the various “one another” passages in the New Testament by the koininia (Greek for one another) team. If you would like a copy of the document, click here.

In an effort to engage the presbytery, when it gathers, in less reporting and more round table discussion/ discernment, we used a model called World Cafe to discuss mission partnering. As we transition to this kind of meeting, it will be important for presbyters to read the reports of committees ahead of time then make known any concerns. That way time can be allotted for those concerns to come to the gathered meeting. Contact the moderator (me) at or Stated Clerk Dan Rogers at

As always our hosts, the Delmar Presbyterian Church, went out of their way to provide welcome and open space for us to gather. Thank you.”

Open Space

Mission-Minded People – Ted Wright
The Mission Committee hosted a pre-meeting Open Space for questions and conversation about funding our Mission Partners. Some 30 folks attended, including representatives from all 6 currently-funded Partners.

People agreed that the topic is both timely and important in this era of declining revenue.  Generally, there were feelings that Presbytery should be honest, should improve interpretation of mission, and should continue sharing its resources with organizations committed to God’s work beyond our own direct reach.

People also appreciated that each Mission Partner had time to share brief joys and concerns.   

On the floor of the main meeting, Moderator Kate Kotfila led commissioners through a small-groups forum on mission funding. Afterward, people took time to reflect and to submit written notes for later review by the Mission Committee.  

The gist of people’s thoughts proved similar to those coming forth from the Open Space. Several excellent suggestions were noted.

Mission Committee will come back to Presbytery on June 1 with recommendations for how to move forward.

Staffing Task Force Open Space, led by Vice-Moderator, Rev. Michael Burkley
“The Staffing Task Force hosted an Open Space meeting at our recent Presbytery meeting.  With about ten attending, we were able to share some of what we have been exploring in our meetings.  While the Presbytery at our November, 2018 meeting charged the newly formed task force to bring a completed staffing plan back to Presbytery at our March meeting, we didn’t fulfill that charge.  We still have a lot of work to do, and it’s better to do that work well than poorly.

So what have we talked about in our meetings and in our Open Space?  

  • There is a gap between what Albany wants and/or is used to, versus our projected ability to sustain future costs.  We have discussed if we should plan on looking like we’ve looked since the early 50’s or should we look for new models of ministry.
  • We are gravitating toward three groups of functions for the staff, though this does not translate directly into positions: Administrative support. Pastoral care for clergy and leaders.  Coaching (resources, support and networking) for clergy and leaders. These staff would be expected to labor towards enabling the presbytery to do its mission, not to do for us what we can and/or should do for ourselves.
  • We have tried to think creatively about roles and functions; about possible combinations of functions within positions; and about sharing positions (and therefore costs) with other presbyteries.
  • It may be that Albany will have to build its preferred staffing model incrementally.  In a rapidly-changing context, flexibility may prove advantageous than presenting a complete and fixed model.

Kim Deal & Jennifer Schoenfisch
Making Sense of Albany Presbytery Passwords

Click here to see a recording of this presentation

Michael Burkley
Coordination Committee
A Koinonia Retreat:  May 31st – June 1st
“We’re planning a retreat (or, more intentionally, an Advance).  At 10 am Friday, May 31st you are invited to gather at Christ the King Spiritual Life Center for a time to build up and celebrate the community and mission we are as the Body of Christ in Albany Presbytery. Mysteries abound about what we’re going to do (in other words, we haven’t completely nailed down the agenda), but we’re making sure that everyone will find something that nourishes and comforts their souls, and likely something that challenges them, too (that’s what living in community always does, so why should a retreat be any different?).  But it will all be designed to help us to be built up together in Christ, to equip us for service in the world, and bring glory to God. Plan on coming, and help make our Koinonia (our Common Life Together) uncommonly good!

The cost of the retreat (helped by scholarships, if you wish) will be:

Retreat Registration is due by May 15, 2019:

Save money and pay online at the time of registration:
Double Occupancy Room: $118.50 per person
Private/Single Room: $165.00 per person

Paying by check – prior to May 15, 2019:
Double Occupancy Room: $125.00 per person
Private/Single Room: $170.00 per person

** Please note that the cost of the retreat will be more after May 15th.

Click here to register for the retreat

Your registration includes that day’s lunch and supper with breakfast the next morning before we leave for the June 1st Presbytery meeting (only a 10 minute drive from the center!).

Sharing with others in the presbytery:
“At our recent Presbytery meeting the Koinonia Team passed out homemade bread to everyone at worship.  This is the second meeting we did this, and time instead of keeping it for ourselves to eat we were encouraged to take the loaves back to our congregations and either use them in a Communion service or give them to someone in our church as a reminder that our presbytery is here to be a blessing to them.  At this meeting there were six different kinds of bread because six different people were excited enough about this ministry to share in it themselves. Wonderful! Thank you to those who took loaves of bread to churches that weren’t represented at the meeting. Thanks be to God!

At our next presbytery meeting we hope to again share homemade bread with you, but this time the bread won’t be for you or for your church, but for a neighbor to remind them that some followers of Christ (you included) care for them.  We see this work is one part in helping to meet our Presbytery’s goals of fostering Congregational Vitality, Healthy Relationships, and Missional Living. Think of your own ways that you can help!

Would you like to help making some bread for this mission?  Each meeting (and we hope to make this a tradition in our Presbytery) we will need 80-90 loaves of bread (this will allow us to leave some bread for our host congregation, too).  Just think about how many lives those loaves touch with the message that Jesus, the Bread of Life, cares for them! Many hands make light work! Here’s a link to a short video telling you how to make your own homemade bread to share:”

Amendments to the Constitution
“There were a number of amendments to our Constitution before our Presbytery at our last meeting.  All of them were concerning the Book of Order(part 2 of our Constitution) rather than The Book of Confessions(part 1 of our Constitution). We think of “amendments” as changes, but they are more than that. When you “make amends” you make things right, you don’t just make changes.  Our amendments are our attempts to make our Constitution right, to fix mistakes, to make it better than it was. Constitutional amendments are an outgrowth of our conviction that “God isn’t finished with us yet.” Our church’s unofficial motto is, “Reformed, and always being reformed according the God’s word and Spirit.”  At our last Presbytery meeting we put a small part of that into practice though our votes on amending our Constitution. Thank you for being a part of that!

All of the proposed amendments were approved except for one amendment that spoke to the church’s responsibilities in regard to elections and support of candidates.  Our presbytery’s votes concurred with the majority votes of all the PC)USA) presbyteries. If you’d like to learn more about what these amendments were here’s a link to a blog posting that Kim has put together from some notes by Michael Burkley (thanks Kim!):

Charlotte Hasselbarth & Kathi Jones
Presbyterian Women of Albany Presbytery
“At each Presbytery meeting I am aware of the support and respect Presbyterian Women receives. The Presbyterian Women  representative doesn’t have voice and vote in all Presbyteries. I appreciate our being able to promote and report on our events. Our having a page on the presbytery web site is not that common. The Presbytery of Albany has given us great visibility. Thank you. ~Charlotte Hasselbarth. Acting Moderator of Presbyterian Women in the Presbytery of Albany.”

Ted Wright
Church Mission Committee
See Open Space Report for Mission Discussion.

Second-Chance Camperships: Mission Committee announced that the offering during worship would go toward a new round of campership grants.  For background and more detail, see Learn more in this blog: Second-Chance Campership Grants 2019

Larry Deyss
Member, Peacemaking Task Force
“”A Way Forward for Creation Care’ document was presented at the March 26, 2019 meeting of Presbytery by Peacemaking Task Force. The document will help congregations seeking to understand the Biblical-Theological basis for creation care work, as well as providing a focus on the four  areas of our faith: worship, education, stewardship and witness. We are pleased that this resolution was passed unanimously. Click here to read the resolution: “A Way Forward for Creation Care” ~Larry Deyss, member of the Peacemaking Task Force”

Terry Diggory
Chair, Committee on Representation and Nominations (CRN)
The committee brought the following nominations, which were approved by Presbytery:

  • Rev. Kathy Gorman-Coombs for a 1-year term on the Board of Trustees.
  • David Haase for a 2-year term on the Committee on Church Mission.
  • Rev. Barbara Floryshak for a 2-year term on the Committee on Ministers and Congregations.

CRN remains eager to hear from anyone interested in serving or in recommending others to serve on a Presbytery committee.

Bill Hasselbarth
Member, Budget and Finance Committee
Bill Hasselbarth reported on behalf of the Budget and Finance Committee. He reported on the January Financials which were posted on the Presbytery website. There was a surplus in January of $89,187, however that was exclusively due to the investment market recovery in January which provided a gain of $100,801.

It was noted that a number of Churches have still not paid their total obligation for 2018 Basic Witness (Per Capita) Support. A report of outstanding amounts for 2018  totaling $20,000 will be posted on the Presbytery website and Dan Rogers Stated Clerk will be in touch with Churches.

Presbyters were reminded that 2019 Basic Witness Support is based on membership as of 12/31/2017. This was also the basis for the 2019 Budget. Any amounts unpaid will create an unfounded deficit and will be pursued.

Presbytery leaders and Committee Chairs were reminded to submit their 2019 Budget Plan, including goals and spending plans for 2019.  It was noted that Committees not submitting plans could see future budgets impacted.

Committee representatives have met with the Presbytery accounting firm, Bonadio, who will complete the year end Compilation by April 30. The Budget and Finance Committee will provide final numbers to the Presbytery once that report is received.

Respectfully submitted
Bill Hasselbarth,
Budget & Finance Committee

Stewart Pattison
Chair, Committee on Leadership Development
“Stewart Pattison reported for the Committee on Leadership Development that Kukjin An has completed all requirements for ordination and is certified to receive a call.”

Chair, Personnel Committee
The Personnel Committee continues to meet in this interim time. We are focusing on helping our staff and local churches set in place policies that will bring us into compliance with New York State- namely Family Leave and Sexual Harassment Prevention. We are also working to revamp the staff review process and are listening closely to the needs of our Presbytery staff so that we can support them.

Ken Applegate
Ch-Chair, COMAC
It is always bittersweet to send someone to another presbytery. We have come to know Leonard, to appreciate his gifts and abilities, but now we send him off to another “home.” We wish him well even as we are saddened to lose a colleague. The connectional system will keep us in touch, of sorts, but it is up to us to keep the connection strong.

Speak Out/Open Microphone

Christy D’Ambrosio, Albany Presbytery Triennium Registrar
THE TIME IS NOW – Registration Deadline is Approaching
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.

Cara Molyneaux – The Union Campus Ministry is seeking a new Chaplain, starting August 1st.   Please see the attached job description. Learn more on the Employment Opportunities page of the Albany Presbytery website.

Sue Laz – Freda Gardner is doing well. Due to the advancing dementia it was necessary to move Freda into a memory care facility. She is at Hawthorne Ridge in East Greenbush. She is still cheerful and happy and likes to hear about what is going on in the church. Freda celebrated her 90th birthday on April 7th. If people would like to send cards or notes, Freda’s address is 32 Community Way, C-16, East Greenbush, NY 12061

Freda Garder

The Rev. Dr. Glenn Leupold & RE Freda Gardner

Freda Gardner’s 90th Birthday Celebration

Terry Diggory (Elder, Saratoga Springs), on behalf of the Albany Presbytery Immigration Network, announced an event co-sponsored by the Network: a panel on “Migrant Children In Government Custody,” co-sponsored by the Albany Presbytery Immigration Network, taking place at Skidmore College on April 8 (7:00 PM). If you want to learn more about the Immigration Network, you can learn more at: PC(USA) Immigration and Sanctuary Resources

Kathy Gorman-Coombs Praying for our Mam Partners the Second Sunday of each month: In February, 6 of us (Donna Eliz, Bonnie Orth, Tim Coombs, Darren Gundrum, Alex Scaptura, and myself) visited for a few days with our Mam partners in Guatemala.  We spent one day hiking into the lagoon that fills a volcano (Chicobal) outside of Xela, and simply enjoying a beautiful day of recreation with our friends. On our last day there, we were honored to be present for a ceremony dedicating the sewing room addition that we had assisted with some of the funding for. In between, we had conversations about our partnership and ways to maintain connection in between visits. A very simple idea that arose was that on the second Sunday of each month, we would pray for each other. We are asking churches in Albany Presbytery to simply include each second Sunday, a prayer for our Mam partners, and their leaders are asking that the Mam folks do the same for us. If we know of specific needs, we will share them using Facebook or perhaps E-News, but if not, then we will simply trust that God will know the needs.  In April, this second Sunday will be April 14, Palm Sunday; in May it will be May 12, Mother’s Day. If you have questions about this, feel free to contact me at Learn more about on our Guatemala Partnership Task Force page.

Alexandra Lusak encouraged members of the presbytery who might know someone in a church in their area that was not represented at the meeting and/or has not been represented at presbytery recently to deliver to one of the Koinonia team’s loaves of homemade bread to that church. In that spirit,  she picked up a loaf at the end of the meeting, put it in her freezer, and sent an e-mail to the First United Church of Waterford. I received a grateful reply and, per their guidance, will deliver the loaf next week for their communion service on April 14. Who else could we share a loaf of bread with as a tangible reminder that we are thinking of them?

Katy Stenta – NWC TrailPraisers is being featured in the “Welcome” edition of Presbyterian Outlook April 2019 edition. Also let Katy Stenta know at if you want to be added to our newsletter list!

Thank you all for your service. Official minutes will be offered at the next Presbytery meeting. See you at Hebron United 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.