Presbytery Assembly Struggles with Mission, Staffing, and Property

The Presbytery Assembly met on Saturday, September 12th via Zoom. It was our second time meeting in this format, and except for occasional bandwidth problems, the technology worked fine.

It spent considerable time on what staffing structure it wanted going forward, and what are the rights and prerogatives of a congregation concerning its property.

The Presbytery Commission had recommended dividing the Presbytery Leader for Mission and Vision and Stated Clerk position in two. That passed. It also moved the current Temporary persons, Lee and Tom, to Transitional and set aside the Bylaws to do so. The presbytery will go directly to a Permanent search. The consensus was that some work needed to be done on the mission of the presbytery before we elect search committees for the permanent positions. No timeline was set but perhaps the March Assembly will be when the presbytery elects search committees. One consideration was our “burn rate”, that is, at our current spending level how many years can we plan for. We were told 3-5 years, which has obvious implications for staffing and mission.

There was also considerable debate about whether it’s prudent to let a Session and Congregation sell their building and relocate to another part of town. The proceeds of the sale would, among other things, pay a pastor for a few years. The Assembly had previously put a requirement that the congregation does a Mission Assessment Plan and we were told that they have completed it. One committee of presbytery has seen it and approved it. It now goes to the Healthy Pastors and Congregations Commission. In the meanwhile, on a 40-16 vote, the Assembly approved the sale of the building with the Session and congregation keeping the proceeds with the stipulation that the sale price is at least 85% of the appraised value.

The Assembly went an hour and a half over planned time. We heard about Race and our Presbytery and about liminality with an application for these Covid-19 and changing times. We meet next on November 7th at 10 am, format to be determined.

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