The 105th stated meeting of the Presbytery of the James was hosted by Salisbury Presbyterian Church and conducted via Zoom Webinar on Tuesday, June 16, 2020. Ruling Elder Leigh Anne Ring (Salisbury), moderator, called the meeting to order at 10:00 a.m. and led the presbytery in prayer.
The moderator welcomed first-time ruling elder commissioners and guests, noting in particular colleagues from the Presbytery of Eastern Virginia who were observers, gathering ideas for how to carry out their next presbytery meeting. Moderator Ring enrolled as a corresponding member Rev. Warren Lesane, a minister member of Charlotte Presbytery and executive of the Synod of the Mid-Atlantic.
Some of the highlights of the meeting included:
Rev. Karen Witt (Providence Gum Spring), moderator of the Committee on Ministry’s subcommittee on Examinations, welcomed new ministers to the presbytery: Rev. Hyung Joo (Howard) Kim, pastor of Lord Jesus Korean Church (effective August 1), from Whitewater Valley Presbytery; Rev. Derek Starr Redwine, interim pastor of Grace Covenant Church, from the Presbytery of the Western Reserve; and Rev. Bill Nickels, interim pastor of Bon Air Church, from the Presbytery of Eastern Virginia.
Morning worship was led by Rev. Jim King, pastor of Salisbury Church, and the sermon was delivered by Rev. Amy Starr Redwine, pastor of First Church, Richmond. During worship, Ruling Elder Sue Bell (Laurel) was commissioned for particular pastoral service as chaplain for the Henrico County Police Division (Book of Order W-4.0404).
Ruling Elder Deborah Rexrode and Moderator Ring led a service of commissioning of commissioners, alternates, and Young Adult Advisory Delegate (YAAD) and alternate YAAD to the 224th General Assembly. Commissioners included Rev. Hyun Chan Bae (Lord Jesus Korean), Ruling Elder Marilyn Johns (The Gayton Kirk), Rev. Brint Pratt Keyes (Lakeside, New Covenant), Ruling Elder Kenna Payne (Westminster Richmond), Ruling Elder Andrew Sanders (River Road), and Rev. Judith Thomson (member at large, Living Water Lutheran, Kilmarnock). Young Adult Advisory Delegate Noah Morgan (Westminster Richmond) was commissioned. Commissioning of the following alternate commissioners took place: Rev. Beverly Bullock (member at large), Rev Ann Cherry (Laurel), Rev. Patrick Dennis (Tuckahoe), Ruling Elder Lamar Lockhart (Chester), Ruling Elder Cherry Peters (Richmond Second). Bethany Reitsma (South Plains) was commissioned as alternate Young Adult Advisory Delegate.
The agenda was approved. A point of personal privilege was requested by Rev. Rosalind Banbury (member at large) to make a statement against racism. The privilege was granted by Moderator Ring and, following the statement, the moderator referred the matter to the Communications and Coordination (C&C) Team and the Dismantling Racism Ministry for their review and response.
The business of the day included:
- Rev. Fred Holbrook, interim general presbyter and stated clerk, shared that 2019 session minutes have been reviewed. He reported that the deadline (July 1) for ministers and certified Christian educators to complete the “Maintaining Boundaries in a Digital Age” training is rapidly approaching. Of about 250 ministers, 128 have completed the training.
- The consent agenda included reports from LCT, MAST, and the Strategic Planning Team.
- The presbytery granted honorably retired status to Rev. Nancy Clark effective February 20, 2020 and Rev. Janet Winslow effective June 30, 2020.
- Approved a number of nominees to POJ leadership from Ruling Elder Pat Valentine (South Plains), moderator of the Committee on Nominations.
- Approved the motion from the Committee on Preparation for Ministry that, “given the unprecedented logistics of this meeting, presbytery receive Inquirer Jonathan Moelker as a candidate, accepting CPM’s interview with him on May 26, 2020 as his examination by presbytery.” Moderator Ring led the presbytery in the ceremony of reception of the candidate. Rev. Robert Johnson (New Hanover) charged Candidate Moelker, and Rev. Alexander Evans (Richmond Second) led in the closing prayer.
- Approved the election of an administrative commission requested by New Covenant Church to walk with them through closure and dissolution of the congregation. Current members are Rev. Sarah Nave (Covenant), Ruling Elder Tim Beane (Tuckahoe), and Ruling Elder Susan Edwards (New Covenant). Presbytery authorized the C&C Team to fill remaining vacancies.
- Approved authorizing the C&C Team to appoint an administrative commission for Lakeside Church as they ask presbytery to walk with them through closure and dissolution of the congregation.
- Approved new sabbatical leave guidelines as presented by the Committee on Ministry.
- Approved a recommendation from the COM that the 2021 Minimum Compensation Guidelines remain at the levels approved for 2020.
- Received a report from Camp Hanover’s Executive Director Doug Walters including the Board’s suspension of summer camp for 2020. He introduced the Isaiah 40 Project, the formation of an intentional community of 8 people who will live and work at Camp this summer for 10 weeks.
With the business of the meeting completed, Moderator Ring exclaimed, “We did it!” She expressed thanks to the planning team for the virtual meeting: Teaching Elder Jess Cook (member at large, More Light Presbyterians); Teaching Elder Patrick Dennis (Tuckahoe); Teaching Elder Brint Pratt Keyes (Lakeside, New Covenant) Ruling Elder Kenna Payne (Westminster, Richmond and moderator of C&C Team); and presbytery staff Barbara Espigh, Fred Holbrook, and Franklin Reding. Moderator Ring thanked Teaching Elder Sarah Dennis (Tuckahoe) for designing the Zoom meeting and helping to produce the worship service. She also expressed thanks to others behind the scenes from churches, teams, and staff that made the meeting possible. Special thanks was extended to Rev. Jim King and the Salisbury Church “who hosted a few of us physically and the rest of us virtually for this meeting today.”
The Moderator announced: “Depending on the conditions of the Commonwealth of Virginia, our October 17 meeting is to be hosted by Orange Presbyterian Church. The leadership will alert you well in advance of that meeting about whether we will meet in person or virtually.”
The 105th stated meeting was declared adjourned and Moderator Ring closed in prayer.
In Christ’s Service,
Fred A. Holbrook
Interim General Presbyter and Stated Clerk