I worshipped with Campbell Memorial Church the day after the presbytery met. Jim Moseley was preaching on one of my favorite texts from Hebrews. Listen for God’s word: “Let us think about each other and help each other to show love and do good deeds. You should not stay away from the church meetings, as some are doing. But you should meet together and encourage each other” (Hebrews 10:24-25a, International Children’s Bible).
Covid-19 has challenged us to find creative ways to “meet together.” The 107th stated meeting of the Presbytery of the James was to have been at Second Church Richmond where they are celebrating their 175th anniversary. Some of the leaders were warmly welcomed to Second and Lakeside Church was a second site where leaders hosted portions of the meeting.
Ruling Elder Leigh Anne Ring (Salisbury), moderator, called the meeting to order at 9:30 a.m. and led the presbytery in prayer.
The moderator welcomed first-time ruling elder commissioners and guests.
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. Mark Ramsey, transferring from the Presbytery of Greater Atlanta, executive director of the Ministry Collaborative; and
- Rev. Todd Davidson, transferring from the Presbytery of Coastal Carolina, pastor of Sandston Church.
Morning worship was led by Rev. Alex Evans and Rev. Kate Fiedler from Second Church Richmond. The sermon was delivered by Rev. Aram Bae, associate pastor of First Church Charlottesville.
Moderator Leigh Anne Ring led in a service of installation of Rev. Patrick Dennis (pastor of Tuckahoe Church) as moderator of presbytery and of Ruling Elder Dan Jordanger (Providence Gum Spring) as vice moderator.
A celebration of the life and ministry of the Lakeside Church was led by Ruling Elders Teddy Martin, Shelly White, and Carol Cummens. A celebration of the life and ministry of New Covenant Church was led by Ruling Elder Susan Edwards.
Moderator Patrick Dennis thanked immediate past moderator Leigh Anne Ring for her service during 2020, a year of significant challenge for the POJ and the world.
Ruling Elder Kenna Payne, moderator of the C&C Team, presented the agenda which was approved.
The business of the day included:
- Approved the consent agenda.
- Approved the resolution of the Administrative Commission for the Lakeside Church (Rev. Jim King, moderator) including dissolving the congregation and dismissing the Commission with thanks. The property will be leased to the Lakeside Presbyterian Preschool and Childcare which will continue as a legacy of the Oasis Church, a Hispanic Christian church, is leasing parts of the building.
- Approved the resolution of the Administrative Commission for the New Covenant Church (Rev. Kerra English, moderator) including dissolving the congregation and dismissing the Commission with thanks. When the property is sold, a distribution plan developed by the Commission and the New Covenant session was approved.
- Suspended the Manual of Administrative Operations and Standing Rules to allow for amendments proposed by C&C Team and the Committee on Nominations to go into effect immediately. The proposed amendments were approved.
- Following discussion of the direct connection between use of existing funds and specific programs, the 2021 proposed budget was approved.
- Approved the Administrative Commission requested by the Gordonsville Church. Members include Rev. Aram Bae (associate pastor, Charlottesville First Church); Rev. Walter Canter (pastor, Blue Ridge Church); Rev. Dorothy Piatt (associate pastor, Westminster Church Charlottesville); Ruling Elder Elizabeth Killian (Meadows Church); Ruling Elder Barry Parks (Westminster Church, Charlottesville); and Ruling Elder Ned Roache (Gordonsville Church). The permissive powers granted to the commission are found in G-3.0109b, 3-0303f, and G-4.0205.
- Received Joslyn Shipman as a candidate for the office of minister of the Word and Sacrament. She is a member of Bon Air Church. Rev. Janet Winslow (Honorably Retired) gave the charge to Joslyn and Ruling Elder Alisha Gallini (Bon Air Church) led the presbytery in prayer.
- Rev. Gordon Lindsey presented the report of the Committee on Ministry. Presbytery approved granting honorable retirement status to Rev. Ronald Bullis, Rev. Denise Hall, Rev. Louie Andrews, and Rev. Terry Diebold.
- Presbytery approved receiving Rev. Renita Page, transferring from the United Church of Christ, into the P.C.(U.S.A.) as a minister of the Word and Sacrament. She is the covenant pastor 1 of Oak Grove Church, Amelia. Renita spoke to the presbytery following her welcome.
- The presbytery was divided to hear the sermons of candidates Erin Burt and Keli Shipley Cooper. Upon return, the sermons of both candidates were sustained as satisfactory.
- Candidate Keli Shipley Cooper was examined and her examination was sustained. She is serving in a validated ministry as director of adult faith formation at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Richmond.
- Candidate Erin Burt was examined and her examination was sustained. She is serving in a validated ministry as director of admissions at Union Presbyterian Seminary.
- George Whipple, moderator of the Leadership Connections Team, called on Ruling Elder Deborah Rexrode, associate for Stewardship and Rev. Denise Janssen, director of the Resource Center, who presented reports.
- Lindsey Williams, moderator of the Mission and Service Team, presented highlights of her team’s work.
- Doug Walters, executive director of Camp Hanover, presented a video including the announcement that overnight summer camps will be allowed in Virginia this year. Registration opens March 1.
- Moderator Patrick Dennis handed the gavel to Vice Moderator Dan Jordanger so that Patrick, who was a member of the Strategic Planning Team could participate freely in the SPT report.
- Ruling Elder Jen Rowe (The Presbyterian Church, Fredericksburg), moderator of the Strategic Planning Team, recommended that the Strategic Plan Report and the projected budget be approved. Following extensive discussion, the report was approved with 90% of those present and voting casting an affirmative vote.
- A motion was placed on the floor that the Committee on Nominations form one search committee for the three presbyters. Following discussion, this was approved.
- A motion was placed on the floor that the Communications & Coordination Team form a task force to research, promote, and evaluate applications for POJ workplace/hosting sites. The motion was approved.
- A motion was placed on the floor that the Strategic Planning Team be dismissed with deepest of gratitude for their service. Following several statements of thanks, the motion was approved and Vice Moderator Dan Jordanger led the presbytery in prayer.
The gavel was returned to Moderator Dennis who declared the 107th stated meeting adjourned at 3:49 p.m. and led the presbytery in prayer.
In Christ’s Service,
Fred A. Holbrook
Interim General Presbyter and Stated Clerk