The Stated Meeting of the Lehigh Presbytery was called to order by Moderator, Rev. Dave Duquette, on September 22, 2015 at First Presbyterian Church of Bethlehem. The meeting was opened with prayer by the Rev. Kari Olson from the Hope of Christ Church in Summit Hill. Jackie Etter, head of staff of First Presbyterian Church of Bethlehem, delivered greetings from their congregation and shared some of the church’s history, involvement with the New Bethany Ministries and details to help navigate the church building.
Rev. Ruth Ann Christopher reported on Camp Kirkwood’s success this summer with 302 Regular Campers, 107 of those from Lehigh Presbytery. An additional 48 Special campers attended made a total of 350 Overnight campers plus 110 Day Campers. A wonderful video of the campers and activities from the summer program was shown. There were many smiling faces both on the screen and in the audience. The campers thoroughly enjoyed their fun in the sun and are looking forward to returning next year.
Unfortunately, the camp did experience a deficit and Rev. Christopher made an appeal to the churches for donations. The Lehigh Presbytery has approved $5,000 be sent in order to help defray the deficit. A new Camp Board is being elected and will be made up of both Lehigh and Philadelphia Presbytery members. They will be seeking outside grants to help with the costs of sustaining the camp facilities in order to provide a fun and safe camping experience for our youth for years to come.
Rev. Christopher also invited everyone to attend the Open House and camp dedication that will take place on Sunday, October 18th, 2015 at 3:00 p.m. Come check out this new ministry of Lehigh & Philadelphia presbytery and enjoy a day of fun and fellowship as you become familiar with the camp. The name Camp Kirkwood is now the official name, meaning Church in the Woods.
Teaching Elder Sue Bennetch presented the proposal from the Apostolic Refuge Temple to purchase the Olivet United Presbyterian Church of Easton’s building. This church is currently meeting in a store front in Easton. Lehigh Presbytery approved this proposal and is excited about this new ministry in a building that has meant so much, to so many.
Marianne Kitzmiller presented a balanced Administrative Budget for 2016. She explained the 2016 Per Capita breakdown as: General Assembly $7.12 ($7.07 in 2015) Synod $2.30 ($2.20 in 2015) Lehigh Presbytery $17.96 ($18.06 in 2015) Total $27.38. The Lehigh Presbytery decreased its per capita by 10 cents per person and encouraged all churches to contribute the extra funds to their Mission budget. The 2016 Administrative Budget was approved as presented.
A special recognition of the Helping Hands care team members and volunteers was made. This group is a telling presence in time of crisis and made a difference in so many Americans’ lives. A group of people headed by Dawn Noga came to the Presbytery 10 years ago in response to their desire to do something to help the people in the Gulf Coast after Hurricane Katrina. Out of that desire, the Helping Hands Care Team was formed. They asked for startup money from the Presbytery who reached out to the 35 congregations and a grant was given. They have never asked for a penny more and have been self-sufficient ever since due to the generosity of the volunteers, individuals and churches.
They have averaged two major trips every year to offer support where needed. This October will be their 29th trip including two at Camp Brainerd. This group is truly a blessing and a Certificate of Recognition from U.S. House of Representative Charles Dent was presented to them by Marsha Heimann. A gift card to Lowes for tools was given by the Lehigh Presbytery. Dawn Noga spoke about their first meeting to organize this group and their trip to the Gulf Cost to help re-build. The Helping Hands team then led the Presbytery in Worship while showing slides from their 10 years of service and emphasizing the Presbyterian Disaster Assistance motto, “Out of Chaos, Hope”.
A delicious dinner, cooked by Larry Rood, was provided to 120 commissioners and guests by the members of First Presbyterian Church of Bethlehem. Thank you to the servers, kitchen staff and Larry for such a wonderful meal.
A Service of Honorable Retirement was performed by Moderator David Duquette for the Rev. Jenny Schram. A letter written by her husband, the Rev. William Schram was read by Teaching Elder Carol Brown.
Ruling Elder Sally Heimbach, Chair of Committee on Shared Gifts, presented the list of nominees for the Board of Trustees for Camp Kirkwood. The Presbytery elected Rev. Ruth Ann Christopher, Rev. Joan Spangler, Bill Bryson, Diane Millick, Paul Lucia, Wendy Dietrich, Scott Dietrich, and Ben Hooper to this Board.
Rev. Tim Dooner, chair of the Committee on Preparation for Ministry, presented Noha Khoury as a Candidate under care. Noha shared her Faith Statement. After questions from the floor, Noha Khoury was unanimously moved to candidacy.
Rev. Tillie Chase, chair of the Committee on Ministry, presented Rev. John Lee who has received a call to serve as lead minister at the Korean Church of the Lehigh Valley (KCLV). Rev. Lee shared his Statement of Faith and answered questions from the commissioners. Lehigh Presbytery approved Rev. John Lee as Pastor of the Korean Church of the Lehigh Valley.
Members of the Korean congregation came forward for prayer led by Moderator Duquette. Come celebrate with the congregation at the Installation of Rev. John Lee on Sunday, November 15, 2015 at the Korean Church of the Lehigh Valley.
Rev. Chase presented the 2016 Minimum Terms of Call approved by the Committee on Ministry. The Presbytery approved these new minimum which included a 2% salary increase.
Rev. Tillie Chase and Rev. Tim Dooner spoke about New Beginnings: Opportunities and Possibilities with regard to the Mission Budget and re-envisioning our structure with reference being made to the Book of Order G-3.0303.
The meeting was closed with prayer by Rev. John Lee and Moderator Duquette adjourned the meeting. The Presbytery is grateful to the staff and members of the First Presbyterian Church of Bethlehem for being such gracious hosts. We all enjoyed the food, fellowship and facilities. Thank you!