Education Working Group
Ruling Elder Patty Williams introduced Ruling Elder Brett Butler, First Presbyterian Church Cranbury, who presented the report of the Education Working Group. Mr. Butler introduced Ruling Elder Sherri Adler of the Presbyterian Church of Shrewsbury, the new Director of the Genesis Center.
The Vice-Moderator presented the report of the Mission Council.
Upon recommendation of the Mission Council, it was moved and carried to extend permission for the celebration of the Lord’s Supper at meetings and events sponsored by the Presbytery in 2015.
Mr. Faust presented the proposed 2015 Budget that includes cuts in staffing that have been very reluctantly recommended by the Personnel Committee, in view of the Presbytery’s difficult financial circumstances. This includes a reduction in the General Presbyter’s work units from 6 to 5 and equal percentage-based across-the-board cuts in other staff hours and compensation. It also includes a recommendation that Educational Consultant Patty Williams consider retiring in September.
Mr. Wilton advised the Presbytery that, because G-3.0106 places responsibility on presbyteries for “timely transmission of per capita funds to their respective synods and the General Assembly,” the provision in the proposed budget to under-remit per capita payments due to the Synod and General Assembly is a failure to fulfill a constitutional obligation.
It was moved and carried to approve the 2015 budget
Upon motion, the Presbytery voted to affirm that its decision to reduce staff compensation was based entirely on financial exigency, and in no way reflects the high esteem in which Presbytery staff members are held.
The Mission Council is moving forward to create a Stewardship Working Group (Generosity Ministry Team) to help churches in their stewardship campaigns and to seek sources of funding for the presbytery’s work. All members of Mission Council will serve on this new working group. The Nominating Committee will propose the names of additional members. Members of the Stewardship Working Group will visit each session to talk about the services and benefits provided by Presbytery, Synod, and General Assembly. The Mission Council has noted that the Presbytery expects Sessions to remit per capita to the Presbytery based on their congregation’s total active membership, rather than simply passing along congregants’ individual per capita contributions.
Report of the General Presbyter
The Rev. Wendy Bailey encouraged the Presbytery to “keep it 100,” or keep it real in sharing viewpoints and feelings, with respect to relationships with the Presbytery and with other councils. This includes 100% of congregations giving at least something toward per capita, being 100% real about why congregations give (or don’t give) full per capita and – for those not giving 100% of per capita – to “step it up” in support of the presbytery. She outlined specific steps Sessions can take:
– Welcoming the Mission Council’s Stewardship Working Group to speak with the Session
– Put a line item in the church budget for support of the Presbytery and make monthly or quarterly payments
– Pay 100% of the $4.00 Synod portion of per capita
– Pay 100% of the $7.07 General Assembly portion of per capita
– Pay the Presbytery 3.5% of the congregational budget in lieu of per capita
– Keep membership statistics up to date
– Commit to stewardship education
– Participate in a leadership transformation program such as The Future Story Project, New Beginnings, and programs of the Center for Parish Development, Acts 16:5, etc.
– Suggest the names of ruling elders to the Presbytery Nominating Committee to serve on Presbytery committees and working groups
– Encourage their pastor to serve on Presbytery committees and working groups
– Pray for the Presbytery and sister congregations during Sunday worship at least monthly
Sandy Recovery Team
The Rev. Meredith Mueller presented the report of the Sandy Advocacy Team, encouraging churches to identify the social justice issues for which they are already advocating, and to seek new ways to do advocacy more effectively together. She is available to come to meetings of local-church mission committee meetings. She also encouraged churches with unused manses to consider making them available for temporary housing of storm survivors.
Bills and Overtures
The Rev. John Monroe presented the Bills and Overtures Committee’s recommendation, by a vote of 4 yes, 0 no, 1 abstaining, to recommend approval of proposed Book of Order Amendment 14-F, “Marriage.”
It was moved and carried to adopt a rule limiting debate to 2 minutes on this item and to undertake voting by written ballot.
By written ballot, it was moved and carried to approve the amendment. The count was 55 yes, 32 no, 1 abstaining.
Cuba Working Group
Ruling Elder Patricia Apy informed the Presbytery of recent discussions in the Mission Council concerning the possibility of reinvigorating the Presbytery’s partnership with the Central Presbytery of Cuba, particularly in light of the President’s December 17, 2014 relaxation of regulations limiting American visits to Cuba. She encouraged those who have a heart for mission in Cuba to contact her.