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The 308th Stated Meeting of the Albany Presbytery was held on June 3-4, 2016 at the Silver Bay YMCA Retreat Center on Lake George, NY.  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 April 6th meeting listed below include the following reports.  See below for more details.

  • Meeting Overview – Jerry McKinney, Moderator, Albany Presbytery
  • Transitional Presbyter’s Report – Shannan Vance-Ocampo
  • Visioning Time- Shannan Vance-Ocampo
  • Conversation on Presbytery Structure – Jerry McKinney, Moderator, Albany Presbytery
  • Trustees Financial Report – Bill Levering, President of Trustees
  • Movie Presented by the Peacemaking Committee: “This Changes Everything”
  • Council Report
  • Highlights from the COM Report – David Bennett & Laura Rogers
  • CPM, Approval for Exam readers
  • Report from the Associate of Congregations
  • Speak Out – General Announcements

Jerry McKinney, Moderator, Albany Presbytery
Meeting Overview
“I hope the following reports will help us to reflect on our Silver Bay Retreat.  Our time together was full—of conversations about our transition; of the business before us; of prayer and communion; of celebrations and farewells and commissionings.  

One of the highlights for me as Moderator was leading the Presbytery in commissioning three sets of servants.  We commissioned our General Assembly Commissioners, Ruling Elder Lynn Brown and Teaching Elder Glenn Leupold, and our Youth Advisory Delegate, Samantha Brewer.  We commissioned our leadership team for the Youth Triennium:  Christy D’Ambrosio, Rebecca Putnam, David Haase, and Jerry McKinney.  We commissioned Ruling Elder Lynn Brown for service at the RCA Church in Middleburgh.  When we commission people for service we extend the mission and ministry of our Presbytery.  I ask you to pray for these servants and for their work.

We also had the opportunity to celebrate and give thanks for the ministries of two Teaching Elders, Frances Roseneau and Drew Paton.  Frances and Drew will begin new calls soon, and we will miss them in our midst.  Please pray for them, their families, and their new ministries.

We were blessed to hear a report from Tony De La Rosa, the Interim Director of the Presbyterian Mission Agency.  Tony shared his excitement about the mission of our denomination, and he made us aware of some of the challenges we face now and in the future.  I invite you to pray for Tony and his work and for all of our national staff members and the work they do on our behalf and on behalf of the mission of God.

We were also blessed to hear the report of our Mission Co-Worker in Rwanda, the Rev. Mary Catherine Day.  The stories and pictures she shared were heart-rending.  The work of reconciliation that she and others are engaged in have made a significant difference in a nation torn apart by ethnic hatred and violence.  Please pray for Kay and for all of our mission co-workers.

I hope the following reports will give you a good sense of our Silver Bay Retreat.  If you have questions or comments, please send them to”

Shannan Vance-Ocampo, Transitional Presbyter
Transitional Presbyter’s Report
In my report I encouraged the Presbytery to consider models of abundance and not scarcity and went over where we had been in our transitional planning process and where we are headed in the next six months.  Please take a look at the transitional planning page of the Presbytery website and join us for our ongoing conversations throughout the summer and fall.  The materials from the June retreat will be posted by the end of next week onto the site and some YouTube videos.

Shannan Vance-Ocampo, Transitional Presbyter
Visioning Time
“During this time we journeyed to the future, to 2021 and imagined where we as individuals, where our communities, where the world and where the Presbytery will be five years from now.  We discussed this in large and small groups and had rich conversation with each other and to conclude for each area, imagined what in the future would be pleasing to God and how can join God’s preferred future for us.”

Conversation on Presbytery Structure
Jerry McKinney, Moderator, Albany Presbytery
“The Conversation on Presbytery Structure showed that we are fully engaged in our transition work.  We all recognize that a lot of work has been done and that there is more work to do.  During this Conversation we heard many good questions and much good discussion.  

One critical question raised was, “What is wrong with our current structure?”  My response to this question is two-fold:  we have one committee (COM) that is overworked, and, the Nominating Committee has trouble finding folks to fill our other committees.  A second major topic was Presbytery meetings.  How many times should we meet and what should those meetings be like?  One idea that surfaced was having three shorter meetings for business during the year and other gatherings for learning and fellowship.  Our budget discussion made it clear that we need a budget & finance committee (and we actually had some volunteers!).  Creating commissions to do our work was another important topic of discussion.  

The Conversation made clear that we will need to make some changes to our formal structure outlined in our Standing Rules.  It also made clear that we need to discuss ways to strengthen our informal structure, our life together.  The Book of Order reminds us that no structure will be successful unless it is built on a fellowship of trust and love.  During this meeting, we experienced strong love for one another and a good sense of fellowship.  Trust, however, has been identified as a challenge for our Presbytery.  There will be three regional meetings in September to help us address this challenge.  I hope we will have good attendance at these meetings.

One overarching question raised in this Conversation was the relationship between our mission and our structure.  The question of mission and structure has two parts.  First, our mission as a Presbytery includes the responsibilities we have for orderly government and support of congregations.  These responsibilities are clearly outlined in the Book of Order, and our structure needs to insure that we effectively meet these responsibilities.

Second, our mission as a Presbytery includes the ways we feel called to work in this time and place to further the mission of God.  The mission of God is expressed concisely in our statement of the Great Ends of the Church.  These six Great Ends are always part of our mission, both for congregations and for the Presbytery.  At particular times and in particular places, however, the church may be called to give more sustained effort to one or more of these Great Ends.  In our discussions of mission, the promotion of social righteousness, as evidenced by the engagement of so many congregations in feeding ministries, has been raised up as a possible calling for us.  

At our October 1st meeting, we will be discussing reports from the Council on the various aspects of our transition work.  These reports will also include proposed actions for us to consider.  I invite you to keep engaged with our process by sending your questions and comments to the Council ( ) and by praying for the Holy Spirit to lead us in the way God is calling us to go.”

Bill Levering, President of Trustees
Trustees Financial Report
The Trustees Financial Report was given by Bill Levering.  You can see his complete report online.  If you have any questions, please contact Bill at:

“This Changes Everything”
Movie Presented by the Peacemaking Committee
The Peacemaking Task Force organized the showing of “This Changes Everything.” “Filmed over 211 shoot days in nine countries and five continents over four years, This Changes Everything is an epic attempt to re-imagine the vast challenge of climate change.”  Learn more or watch the trailer here.

Cara Molyneaux, Vice-Moderator
Reflections on June 3-4 Presbytery Meeting from the Council Report
A lot of discussion was generated by the proposed revised budget which was amended to restore the proposed cuts to the Presbytery Mission Partners and the Mission Pledges to both GA and Synod. I believe this is a healthy discussion and will need to be continued.

Laura Rogers & David Bennett – Co-Chairs, Committee on Ministry
COM Reflections
The COM report filled with joy and sadness as the presbytery said goodbye to Drew Paton and Frances Roseneau, sending them to new ministry contexts on the East and West Coasts.  We send them with our love and prayers for their new journeys!  The COM was delighted to recommend the commissioning of Lynn Brown to serve the Middleburgh RCA church as she fills in for their pastor on sabbatical.  We pray this opportunity to serve will be a gift to both the congregation and to Lynn!  We highlighted changes coming to the Board of Pensions and some of the proactive work of the Trustees and COM together to help congregations discern options for the future and to help churches who have decided to close.  Though difficult to present a “checklist” it is one way we are trying to be proactive in our work with congregations facing this reality.

Stewart Pattison
Co-chair of the Committee on Preparation for Ministry (w/ Brandan Eddy)
“It is our ministry task to help those of are exploring calls to pastoral ministry to be assist these individuals to discern their calls and to support them as they go through the process of candidacy. One of the things we do is recruit Teaching and Ruling Elders to serve as readers for the ordination exams administered by the General Assembly which all candidates must take and pass to be considered for ordination. At the meeting the Presbytery elected Teaching Elder Karen Pollan and Ruling Elder Jack Gajewski to be exam readers. We also elected Teaching Elder Mary Jo Pattison as an alternate reader.”

Tim Coombs
Report from the Associate of Congregations
Tim shared some resources about Congregational Coaching and will be seeking out churches who wish to engage the Pneumatrix process and coaches who will be trained to work with and guide the congregations for a year. Please consider whether your church is being called into this process and/or whether you may be called to become a coach to one of our presbytery’s churches.  You can read Tim’s full report here.

Speak Out

Sal Scecchitano – Faith-Based Breakfast
What can you be doing in your community to be prepared for an emergency?  Sal reminded everyone of the upcoming Faith-Based Breakfast held at the Rensselaer County Dept of Health on June 21st @ 9am.  You can read more about this Event and why it is important in Sal’s blog post: Prepare!

MJ and Stewart Pattison – Sharing about their mission trip to Tucson
A team of people when to Tucson, AZ to learn more about the area’s immigration problems.  They have held 2 presentations sharing details about their trip and would welcome the opportunity to share with anyone/groups who are interested.   You can learn more about their trip here: Serving in Tucson: Borderlines by M.J. Pattison

Albany Presbytery – Internal Directory
Kim Deal, Communications Manager, worked to capture as many Teaching Elders and Commissioners as possible in order to create an internal picture directory.  This pictures will be uploaded into our ACS system and can be used as a reference for those in our Presbytery.  Please feel free to send a picture if we did not capture you.  Send it to

Ordination Anniversaries
We took a moment to recognize the ordination anniversaries that have occurred this year in Albany Presbytery.  Click here to see the complete list.

Tim Coombs – Upcoming Men’s Trip to Guatemala
Upcoming Men’s Guatemala Trip would like to lead a group of Men to engage in a joint study.  More details coming soon.

Thank you all for your service.  Official minutes will be offered at the next Presbytery meeting.  See you at Amsterdam Presbyterian Church, Saturday, October 1, 2016 from 9am – 4pm.


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