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Highlights of the 104th Stated Meeting

The 104th Stated Meeting of Presbytery of the James (POJ) took place on February 15, 2020 at Westminster Presbyterian Church in Charlottesville.

The members and staff of Westminster extended warm and generous hospitality. We enjoyed a delicious lunch of Brunswick stew for which a free-will offering benefitting The Haven day shelter in Charlottesville was encouraged.

In Christ’s Service,
Fred A. Holbrook
Interim General Presbyter
and Stated Clerk

Rev. Diane Prevary, 2019 moderator, and Leigh Anne Ring, 2020 moderator
Rev. Diane Prevary, 2019 moderator, and Leigh Anne Ring, 2020 moderator

2019 Moderator Diane Prevary (Tuckahoe) called the meeting to order and welcomed first-time commissioners and visitors. Elizabeth Snader, campus minister at the University of Mary Washington, and Macy Justice, a member of the Board of Directors of Campus Christian Community, were welcomed. Upon request of Colleen Earp, POJ’s associate for youth ministry, two members of the Youth Council, Joey Williams (Southminster) and Paige Lake (Fairfield), were granted privilege of the floor so that they might freely speak to an overture coming before the presbytery.

Some of the highlights of the meeting included:

Rev. Ken Henry, pastor of Westminster, welcomed us.

Rev. Karen Witt (Providence Gum Spring), moderator of the Committee on Ministry’s (COM) examinations committee, welcomed new members to the presbytery:

  • Rev. Tom Launius, member-at-large, from Grace Presbytery
  • Rev. Richard Goodman, pastor, Blackstone, from Presbytery of New Hope

Rev. Gordon Lindsey and Ruling Elder Fran Hooper, of COM’s Administration and Pastoral Care Committee, recognized ministers celebrating quinquennial anniversaries of their ordination from the 25th to the 70th.

Revs. Ken Henry and Lynne Clements of Westminster Church led morning prayer. Rev. Sarah Dennis (Tuckahoe) led the presbytery in a study of “Faith Formation” utilizing the Enneagram.

Diane Prevary led the service of installation of presbytery’s moderator and vice moderator for 2020: Ruling Elder and Certified Christian Educator Leigh Anne Ring (Salisbury) and Rev. Patrick Dennis (Tuckahoe) respectively. The newly-installed moderator extended thanks to Past-Moderator Diane Prevary and presented her with a medallion recognizing her unselfish service to POJ.

A motion to consider concurring with an overture from National Capital Presbytery was added to the docket and the docket approved. Moderator Leigh Anne Ring appointed a bills and overtures committee to bring a recommendation to the floor regarding the overture. Members were Rev. Jeremy Cannada (Amelia), Rev. Patrick Dennis, Ruling Elder Lamar Lockhart (Chester), Ruling Elder Kenna Payne (Westminster Richmond), and Rev. Diane Prevary.

The business of the day included the following matters:

  • Heard a report from Rev. Fred Holbrook, stated clerk, that one investigating committee had completed its work without any charges being filed and a second investigating committee had been formed and is investigating a request for vindication for rumor and gossip spread within a church.
  • Lamar Lockhart, moderator of the Self-Development of People ministry, presented a grant in the amount of $7,000 to RVA League for Safer Streets. Representatives Paul Taylor, Weldon Bunn, and Robert Morris received the check and expressed thanks to the presbytery.
  • Kenna Payne, moderator of the Communication and Coordination Team, presented the 2020 budget which was approved.
  • Ruling Elder Jen Rowe (The Presbyterian Church Fredericksburg) reported as moderator of the Strategic Planning Team. Members of the team assembled a three-layer cake symbolizing the team’s three questions about the presbytery’s future: “Why?” (layer one), “How?” (layer two) and “What?” (layer three). During lunch, commissioners and guests were invited to enjoy a slice of the cake!
  • Approved supporting Voices of Jubilee New Worshiping Community at the Bon Air Juvenile Corrections Center with an annual commitment of $25,000 per year for five years (2020-2024). Lauren Cogswell Ramseur and Ashley Diaz Mejias will serve as co-pastors of the Voices of Jubilee, one of the 1001 New Worshiping Communities in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). The Dismissed Churches Fund will be the source of the $125,000 total commitment.
  • Heard a report from Camp Hanover’s Executive Director Doug Walters and Board President Jennifer Gwyn (River Road). Their hard hats and reflective vests were visible symbols of the facility improvements that the POJ’s financial support, through the Camp’s incorporation, has facilitated.
  • Granted honorably retired status to Rev. Mark Sprowl effective December 31, 2019; Rev. Janet Humphreys effective May 31, 2020; and Rev. Janet Winslow effective May 31, 2020.
  • Granted member-at-large status to Rev. John Grotz, and Rev. Michelle Freeman Owens.
  • Concurred with OVT-002 from Presbytery of Beaver-Butler including severance as one of the established minimum compensation standards in the Book of Order G-3.0303c.
  • Commissioned Patricia “Trish” Bracken Carter, a ruling elder at First Church Richmond, for particular pastoral service as chaplain at Cedarfield Senior Living Retirement Community in Richmond.
  • Pending congregational approval, granted to Rev. Tom Coye the status of pastor emeritus of St. Andrews Church, Kilmarnock.
  • Approved a number of nominees to POJ leadership from Rev. Denise Hall, moderator of the Committee on Nominations.
  • Approved the sermon and examination of Ashley Diaz Mejias to be ordained to serve as co-pastor of Voices of Jubilee.
  • Approved the sermon and examination of Matthew Messenger to be ordained and installed as pastor of Mechanicsville Church.
  • Approved concurring with OVT-031 which reads: The Presbytery of National Capital overtures the 224th General Assembly (2020) to approve the addition of inclusive gender options when gender information is collected by any entity in the PC(USA). This includes but is not limited to: session annual statistical reports, registration forms for any PC(USA) body or gathering, personal information forms (PIFs), ministry information forms (MIFs), and other statistical measures.