GOD CALLS US TOGETHER The Presbytery of Sheppards and Lapsley of the Synod of Living Waters of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) met in the Stated Meeting on February 18, 2016 at the First Presbyterian Church Tuscaloosa, Alabama.
Throughout these minutes, Teaching Elders are indicated by an asterisk (*).
The meeting was called to order at 9:45 a.m. by Moderator Lou Ann Sellers who opened the meeting with prayer. Moderator Sellers read from the 100th Psalm.
The outgoing Moderator has the responsibility of recommending names to serve on the Committee of Nominations and Representation. The following individuals were recommended to serve on the Committee on Nominations and Representation, Class of 2018:
Ruling Elder Linda Harris, Westminster, Birmingham
Teaching Elder Cathy Hoop, University
Ruling Elder, Jack Riley, Shades Valley was recommended to serve as the 2016 Moderator of the Committee on Nominations and Representation.
These individuals were approved unanimously.
The installation of 2016 Moderator, James Toomey, and Vice Moderator, Rev. Shannon Webster proceeded. The Moderator’s cross was passed to Elder Toomey. The description of the cross appears following Appendix A.
Past Moderator Sellers was presented with a gift along with great thanks for her leadership over the past year.
Incoming Moderator Toomey gave the assembly a bit of his background and asked the members of his home church, First Presbyterian to rise.
On advice of the Stated Clerk, a quorum was declared by the Moderator. The docket was adopted by acclamation.
Adoption of the Docket
The docket was adopted by common consent.
Seating of Corresponding Members
Thomas Herwig, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Germany and First, Tuscaloosa
Recognition of First-time Elders and Visitors
The Moderator recognized all first-time elders who were introduced to the body.
Nomination to Bills and Overtures Committee
The Moderator placed into nomination the following: Rev. Joe Scrivner, Brown Memorial, Tuscaloosa, Rev. Shelaine Bird, Member at Large and Ruling Elder, Mark Aldridge, First, Birmingham. The nominations were approved.
Rev. James Goodlet welcomed the assembly to First Presbyterian, Tuscaloosa.
Number in parenthesis by church name indicates the number of commissioners authorized. “NR” indicates that the church did not have elder representation. There are seventy-nine churches in Presbytery of Sheppards and Lapsley. Thirty-seven Commissioners were present.
Tuskegee Institute Westminster (1) Donna Washington
Union Springs Union Springs (1) NR
Wetumpka First (1) Curt Johnson
The assembly was called to worship by Donna Winn and joined in reading responsively from verses adapted from Psalm 27, then joined in singing For Everyone Born. We were led in confessing our sin then assured of God’s pardon by Joe Scrivner*. Vicki Holt prayed the prayer for illumination then read Psalm 27
The Gospel reading, Mark 2:1-12, was read by Rev. Lou Ann Sellers, whose sermon was titled, “We have Never Seen Anything Like This!”
The Necrology report (see Appendix B) was read by Stated Clerk, Tom Winter, *who then invited those gathered to sing In the Bulb There Is a Flower.
The offering collected today will be divided equally between the discretionary fund of the Transitional Presbyter and the Commission on Preparation for Ministry.
Cathy Hoop* and James Goodlet* presided at the Lord’s Table. After all were served the final two verses of For Everyone Born were sung.
Jay Wilkins*, Transitional Presbyter, introduced today’s Open Space Conversation that involved the Identity Statement for the Presbytery.
The Presbytery of Sheppards and Lapsley
Partner with and equip present and emerging
PC(USA) faith communities in central Alabama
to serve Christ and our neighbors.
As way of background Jay reminded us that this discussion came from the open space conversations held at the November meeting of presbytery where folks gathered to give their input as to what the mission of this presbytery is or hopes to be. Jay reminded us that any organization should be able to articulate its mission or vision in eight words according to some. How would we describe this presbytery in no more than eight words? The statement should have a verb, identify the target audience and indicate the difference we want to make. The goal is to find a statement that we are able to say and to use and in the end focus our energy and resources to live out the statement. It will have implications about staffing, office space, funding of projects and what we do as this body of Presbyterians in central Alabama.
How do we serve Christ and our neighbors? Who are our neighbors? How are we called to serve Christ in that setting and with those people? Each congregation is called to identify who it is that their hearts break for.
Present and emerging – What emerging ministries are there from your church? Where is God working in your faith community and how do we support that? How does the presbytery come along side and support you? How may be we assist in equipping your congregation for ministry? Presbytery does not direct but rather supports and equips the saints for good work. This is about relationships, not a hierarchy. Disciples are called “partners” in ministry. “We” collectively seek to partner with each other to serve Christ.
Members of the Executive Council captured some of the input from various groups gathered and shared what they had heard.
Rick Frennea – Who DO we serve? Gardendale PC – everything’s good in Gardendale so we go into B’ham to serve. How do we find our neighbors who need help? In Mt. Brook you go from an affluent suburb of Bham and some of the problems in Mt. Brook are hidden below the surface. There may be issues of domestic violence and addiction yet we don’t talk about that so how do we serve those people and meet those needs. Covenant-Anniston is surrounded by many small communities. How do we make contact? How do we attract them to our community of faith?
Eva Carter – Neighbors? Who are they? Neighbors in Wetumpka are Wind Creek Casino because they are the largest employer in the area. There are court ordered programs: Anger management. Shelby County Safe House Ministry. At Brown Memorial – there is a Stillman College Sunday School class just for college students. Students are singing in choir. This group also talked about the Firehouse Shelter in B’ham. Neighbors do not have to be in our immediate vicinity.
Bobbie Epting – This group discussed residential un-churched people / social justice issues; equipping partners to advocate resources in what we share in ministry; OGHS; SDOP; programming for community resources of volunteers.
Cat Goodrich – child development centers; how do we gain support from the presbytery; UAB campus ministry; First Light; Presbyterian Home for Children; combined youth programs; churches can serve even more faithfully.
Lou Ann Sellers – Coming together of Covenant and FPC, Tuscaloosa to minister together; where are our hopeless neighbors? The shelter here is just now being rebuilt after the tornado. Sometimes people come by to get help from the food pantry but we don’t always know where they are to reach out to these neighbors on a deeper level.
Jay sharing resources; coming together; finding excitement when we come together should always be our goal. Full report of the Transitional Presbyter is attached to this document.
The Hunger Action Advocate, Linda Burrowes, reported that $7800 was collected in 2015 of which 50% stays here in this presbytery and 50% goes to GA. Only 11 churches participated last year. We are hoping that in 2016 you will join in this worthwhile ministry. The members of Southminster and Shades Valley collected the most money in 2015. They received a plaque to take back to their church. In addition, two churches that gave the most according to size of membership were First, Eufaula and Green Pond and they received awards as well. [see Appendix C]
Linda offered a prayer of thanksgiving and blessing over the food prepared for us.
The meeting was temporarily suspended for lunch.
The meeting was called back to order at 1:00pm.
At the beginning of the meeting the Stated Clerk asked if anyone who had news to share from their church would be invited to share a one-minute synopsis of their good news.
Patsy Chaney shared about a group of retired ministers going to Cuba.
Beverly Dodson shared that Green Pond would be celebrating180 years of ministry.
Brian Copeland, First Eufaula, shared about their Living Waters for the world trip.
Cat Goodrich, Caleb Carter and Joe Genau talked about the beginnings of campus ministry at UAB. Kathy from Memorial, Montgomery, spoke of sharing space with Westminster and how they are celebrating ministry together.
Joe Nicholson, Westminster, Montgomery, shared about the hospitality they have felt from the people of Memorial.
Kathy Brock, South Highland, spoke of the water and Power-aid station they provided for the Mercedes Marathon.
Rick Frennea spoke about the outreach work being done at Riverchase, where a logo was produced depicting the Vine and branches. Rick is an elder at Edgewood but does this type of design work as a gift to the church.
Cathy Hoop, University, Tuscaloosa, spoke of combining ministry opportunities with Covenant and discussing the potential of merging into one church.
Valley Creek will be celebrating 200 years of ministry in May of this year.
Board of Pensions – Clark Simmons
Clark brought greetings and good news from the Board and offered that the plan is now valued at 8.2 billion dollars. In 2016 the medical dues remain the same. There may be changes in the plan for 2017 in regard to lay employees. They are moving toward plans that more closely resemble what insurance companies in the secular market are doing. He encouraged everyone in the plan to participate in the Call to Health in order to reduce deductibles next year. Money going into the 403(b) is not federally tax nor is there social security tax. He invited folks to call him with any questions.
Executive Council Report – Lin Veasey [full report appears as Appendix D]
1. Second Vote on Standing Rules -- Amend SR-4.0101b by adding a new No. 5 to read:
At the first meeting of the year, the incoming moderator will nominate three persons for election to the Bills and Overtures Committee to serve for a period of one year. The nominations will consist of one male teaching elder, one female teaching elder, and one ruling elder. One of the three will be a racial/ethnic person. If by reason of absence or other circumstance, a member cannot serve at a given meeting, the moderator will nominate for election a replacement to serve at that meeting only.
2. Renumber current No. 5 to No. 6
The motion carried.
Lin introduced Ralls Coston who will serve as the new Volunteer Mission Coordinator.
Following the approval of the above reference change in the Standing Rules, Joe Scrivner* made the motion that the sentence that states “One of the three will be a racial/ethnic person” to “The three nominees shall not all be from the same race or ethnicity.” The motion received a second and was approved. This will be considered the first reading and this change in wording will be voted on in totality at the May meeting of presbytery.
Stillman College Initiative – Charles Durham*
Charlie shared the history of the beginnings of educating the African American people in the Tuscaloosa area that eventually evolved into Stillman College. Stillman is the only African American institute of higher learning that receives funds each year from the Joy Gift Offering. Three members of presbytery are currently teaching at Stilman. Only 10% of those in the student body are able to pay their tuition. The endowment is very small and there is great need for additional support. On May 19th a banquet will be held to celebrate the work being done at the college. Dr. Condoleeza Rice will be the keynote speaker and everyone is invited and encouraged to join the celebration.
Congo Report – Belinda Dickinson
Belinda offered thanks for the support the Congo mission has received in the past and encouraged everyone to contact the presbytery office to set up a time for them to come to your church to talk about the work being done. She offered thanks to Jay and Robert for the encouragement and the great ideas they’ve offered.
When William Sheppards and Samuel Lapsley arrived in the Congo they came to share the Good News of the Gospel with the people of the Congo. The largest Presbyterian congregation in the world at one time was in the Congo.
The Presbyterian Mission is calling people to follow Christ; translating spoken language into writing has been a priority; opening schools and providing medical care to the people there by opening clinics and hospitals is a priority.
Our presbytery took the name Sheppards & Lapsley in 1988 and reminds us of the work that began more than a century before that.
Slides were shown of the work being done there along with estimates of the financial backing necessary to build new schools there.
Youth Council – Neeley Rentz-Lane
Neeley is the director of youth ministry at FPC, Tuscaloosa. She spoke of the two retreats that she has attended since coming here. She stated that she was in awe of the work of the youth in this presbytery. She reminded the assembly of the upcoming opportunities for youth in the presbytery.
Small Church Ministry Task Team – Neil McCarter*
The definition of “small church” is one where attendance is 100 or less. Neil stated that in his opinion there’s nothing like a small church where relationships in the body of Christ are nurtured and encouraged. In January over 100 people came to Living River to participate in leadership training together. Learning in the context of joining together in ministry can be great fun! There are events being planned for small churches that will be facilitated by Robert Hay, Jr. with the Presbyterian Foundation.
Camp – Patti Winter and Pat Goodman
There is great excitement about the upcoming summer’s camping program. They spoke about concerns that parent’s might have that have been and will continue to be addressed by Living River. They talked about the volunteer co-directors and the amazing gifts they will bring. Among the directors there are decades of camping experience. There are opportunities for young adults to participate as summer staff. The costs of camps are competitive with other camping programs. They invited everyone to advertise the opportunities available to the children of this presbytery as well as others who might want to attend.
Living River – John Erdman
John shared that as of 8am this morning the online registration for camp was up and ready to go. Most of the logistics of opening Living River have been worked out and there are activities going on almost everyday. While they are thrilled that things are up and running they are also looking to make sure that they are a ministry that clearly defines it’s mission, it’s values and addresses how the resources of LR can be used to honor God. The question of why we exist, who are we, and what are all about are constantly in the forefront. How do we answer the call of Jesus and the great commission is a topic that is discussed daily. The discernment process continues and the LR staff and board of directors thanks the people of this presbytery for the faithful support of this ministry.
Commission on Ministry Report – Ben Arellano
1. Approve Rev. Becky Davis for retirement effective October 1, 2015. Approved.
Leeann Scarbrough shared with the assembly about the life and work that Becky has lived and done. [see Appendix E]
2. Memorial for Rev. Sam Nettles [Memorial appears as Appendix F
3. Memorial for Rev. Dr. Sam Andreasen [Memorial appears as Appendix G]
1. Sustained examination of Lindsey Becker, Chaplain at Children’s Hospital, for her to transfer to Sheppards and Lapsley pending her ordination by her home presbytery in Louisiana.
2. Approved Terry Tingle’s contract with First, Anniston.
3. Approved renewal of Oakmont’s relationship with Charles Sims, Transitional Pastor,
for six months – January 1 – June 30, 2016.
4. COM approved the following Churches to continue supply relationships for 2016.
a. Bethel requests permission to continue their relationship with Rev. Dr. Mark McCormick.
b. Bold Springs requests permission to continue their relationship with CRE Ernie Haynes.
c. Calvary Presbyterian requests permission to continue their relationship with Rev. Lisa Winston – no action until she meets with COM.
d. Church of the Good Shepherd requests permission to continue their relationship with
Rev. William Nelson for the first quarter of 2016.
e. First Carbon Hill requests permission to continue their relationship with Dr. Ken Bentley.
f. First Dadeville requests permission to continue their relationship with CRE Ben Arellano.
g. First Phenix City requests permission to continue their relationship with Rev. G. Taylor Brown.
h. First Piedmont requests permission to continue their relationship with Rev. Gary Black.
i. First United Anniston requests permission to continue their relationship with Rev. Hugh Morris.
j. Gardendale requests permission to continue their relationship with CRE Jeff Bonner.
k. Goodwater requests permission to continue their relationship with Rev. Pete McElrath.
l. Green Pond requests permission to continue their relationship with CRE Bev Dodson.
m. Leeds requests permission to continue their relationship with Jason Odom.
n. Marion Junction requests permission to continue their relationship with George Wood.
o. Northern Heights requests permission to continue their relationship with Angela Brown Walker.
p. Odenville requests permission to continue their relationship with Rev. James Elrod.
q. Pisgah requests permission to continue their relationship with Rev. Ira Blanchard.
r. Rockspring requests permission to their relationship with Rev. V. L. Hackworth, Jr.
s. Five Mile requests permission to continue their relationship with CRE Sharon Eich.
t. Springville requests permission to continue their relationship with Rev. Tom Winter and Rev. Debbie Feagin.
u. Valley Creek requests permission to continue their relationship with Rev. Cecil
v. Westminster Tuskegee requests permission to continue their relationship with Rev. Dr.
w. First-Sylacauga requests permission to continue their relationship with Rev. Jeff Coker.
x. Ramsay Memorial requests permission to continue their relationship with Rev. Elizabeth
y. Covenant-Tuscaloosa requests permission to continue their relationship with Rev. Dr. Neil McCarter.
z. Good Hope requests permission to continue their relationship with Rev. Robert Jones.
aa. Mount Pleasant requests permission to continue their relationship with Rev. Ira Blanchard.
bb. First-Reform requests permission to continue their relationship with Rev. Dr. Sam
Andreasen and Rev. Jerry Douglas.
cc. Fairfield Highlands requests permission to continue their relationship with CRE
dd. Woods requests permission to continue their relationship with CRE Ben Arellano.
5. Received and approved CRE report from Dean of Training, Bev Dodson.