The 110th stated meeting of the Presbytery of the James was held virtually on February 19. Some of the leaders were graciously hosted at Westminster Church in Richmond. Moderator Dan Jordanger, a ruling elder from Providence Church in Gum Spring, called the meeting to order at 9:30 a.m.
Jordanger welcomed first-time ruling elder commissioners and guests. Interim General Presbyter and Stated Clerk Fred Holbrook introduced corresponding member Rev. Warren Lesane, Jr., Synod of the Mid-Atlantic, and Dr. Dorothee Tripodi, Union Presbyterian Seminary. Both were granted voice but not vote at this meeting. Kathy Harris from First Church Richmond and Keenan Rodgers of the Board of Pensions were both granted permission to speak to specific items coming before the presbytery.
Ruling Elder Melissa Phillips, moderator of the Examinations Committee, welcomed four new ministers to the presbytery:
- Alex Creager (Presbytery of Eastern Virginia), pastor of Bon Air Church
- Dr. Safwat Marzouk (Wabash Valley Presbytery), associate professor of Old Testament at UPSem
- Kelly-Ann Rayle (Shenandoah Presbytery), interim associate pastor at River Road Church
- Susan Steinberg (New Hope Presbytery), member-at-large
Ruling Elder Glenna Finnicum, moderator of the Commission on Ministry, recognized ministers serving in temporary pastoral positions (covenant pastors, interim associate pastors, and parish associates) and offered prayer for them.
Rev. Keli Shipley Cooper, member-at-large serving with St. Paul’s Episcopal Church, Richmond, and Rev. Gary Charles, pastor of Cove Church, led the presbytery in worship. Rev. Charles read scripture from Luke 2:22-35 and preached a message entitled “Showmer.”
Ruling Elder Kenna Payne, moderator of the Mission Council, presented the agenda which was approved.
The business of the day included the following:
- Concurred with Overture #047 being brought to the General Assembly by the Presbytery of Utah. Rev. Connie Weaver, pastor of Hebron Church, along with the session, as well as Kathy Harris of First Church Richmond, endorsed the “Overture for Engagement and Education with Eastern Europe,” particularly focusing prayer and presence with mission partners in Belarus, Ukraine, and Russia.
- Approved the consent agenda.
- Prayed for Deborah Rexrode, former associate for Stewardship, who was to be recognized at this meeting. Her mother died on February 18. A proclamation of thanksgiving for Deborah’s ministry will occur at the June stated meeting.
- Adopted the 2022 POJ budget.
- Heard a presentation from Keenan Rodgers, consultant for our presbytery from the Board of Pensions of the P.C.(U.S.A.).
- Received as information the Trustees’ report of the POJ Net Assets with and without Restrictions through December 31, 2021.
- Approved a recommendation presented by Ruling Elder Steve Hicks, president of the Trustees of POJ, Inc. and clerk of session at Mitchells Church, that presbytery place all undesignated proceeds from the sale of real estate in the Church Ministries and Development Fund.
- Received a report from the Presbyters Search Committee moderators, Rev. Jess Cook, member at large and pastor of Every Table, a New Worshiping Community, and Ruling Elder Barbara Flynt, certified Christian educator at the Brandermill Church. Thirty-seven applications from 18 states have been received for the lead presbyter for vision and collaboration position. The committee is starting to interview candidates.
- Received the report from the Committee on Nominations, Rev. Walter Canter, moderator and pastor of Blue Ridge Church. Rev. Nicole Ball, member-at-large, was elected to serve as alternate commissioner to the 225th General Assembly. Rev. Patrick Lane (Mitchells Church) was elected to serve on the Leadership Connections Team.
- Received a report from the Committee on Representation.
- Heard a sermon by Candidate Mary Bielen based on the Book of Jonah. Mary is under the care of Maumee Valley Presbytery where she will be ordained in order to serve as covenant pastor at Southminster Church.
- Amended and approve a coaching policy for ministers, certified Christian educators, and commissioned pastors who are in their initial call or covenant in the presbytery. This provides eight sessions of coaching during their first six months of service.
- Heard from Inquirer Leigh Anne Ring, ruling elder, certified Christian educator, and past moderator of the presbytery, as she shared her personal faith and experience of God’s grace. She shared about her call to ministry and motives of seeking this ministry as well as the ways in which her call has been affirmed as she has served the church. Afterwards, the presbytery declared itself satisfied as to Leigh Anne’s “purpose and promise for service in the ministry of the Word and Sacrament” and joyfully proceeded to receive her as a candidate for that ministry. It was a beautiful moment for the presbytery and for Leigh Anne (a little editorial comment from the stated clerk). Rev. Lynne Clements, associate pastor of Westminster Church Charlottesville, charged Leigh Anne, and Rev. Jim King, pastor of Salisbury Church, offered a prayer.
- Received the report from Rev. George Whipple, honorably retired and moderator of the Leadership Connections Team. Rev. Kerra English, pastor of Ashland Church and moderator of the Small Church Ministry, invited the presbytery to participate in a special event with Rev. Steve Martin of the Lakelands Institute entitled “Hybrid Worship that Won’t Break You or the Bank.” She also encouraged churches to consider an intern from UPSem, a program continuing in the fall.
- Received the report from Rev. Mary Jane Winter, moderator of the Mission and Service Team.
- Enjoyed the “Did You Know?” game hosted by Doug Walters, executive director of Camp Hanover. His report jumped off the page with his presentation (again, an editorial comment)!
Moderator Jordanger announced that the 111th stated meeting of the presbytery will be held one week earlier than usual, on Tuesday, June 14. This is due to the 225th General Assembly of PC(USA) starting June 18. The Mission Council anticipates that meeting being hybrid, both in person and virtual. The moderator declared the 110th stated meeting adjourned at 12:55 p.m. and led the presbytery in prayer.
In Christ’s Service,
Rev. Fred A. Holbrook
Interim General Presbyter and Stated Clerk