The November 18, 2014 Stated Meeting of Lehigh Presbytery was graciously hosted by the First Presbyterian Church of Easton, where Temporary Supply Pastor Cindy Simmons warmly welcomed those gathered. Among those introduced were Teaching Elder Stuart Wilson, the new interim pastor at the First Presbyterian Church of Stroudsburg, and Marianne Kitzmiller, who would later be elected as the new Treasurer of Lehigh Presbytery.
Of the five proposed amendments to the Constitution presented at this meeting, the Presbytery voted in favor of actions to adopt a child/youth protection policy, changes in the processes and examinations of the Committee on Preparation for Ministry, and a new statement on a denominational stance on interreligious relations. The Presbytery voted against changes surrounding renunciation of jurisdiction.
Along with the slate of persons elected to a variety of presbytery and synod committees and teams, and the aforementioned election of a new treasurer, Teaching Elders David Duquette and Susan Bennetch were elected to moderator and vice-moderator of the Presbytery respectively. Outstanding vacancies remain on the Presbytery Lead Team, Committee on Ministry, and Committee on Preparation for Ministry. Also a new stated clerk is to be elected at the February meeting, if the way be clear. Concluding this report was recognition of, and gratitude for, Dave Boltz’ eight years of service as presbytery treasurer.
Two additional, and significant, moments of recognition took place later in the meeting. First, a memorial tribute to the Rev. Al Stone was offered on behalf of the Presbytery by the Rev. Dianne Kareha. Rev. Carol Brown subsequently led a celebration of the ministry of the Rev. George Taylor, who retired earlier this year as the pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Stroudsburg. George offered some words of his own, and was lifted up during the worship service.
The Presbytery was given an update on the transition in camping ministry of “Kirkwood-Brainerd” (featuring the Brainerd logo), including an open house scheduled for January 24th at the camp. Prayer and thanksgiving was shared regarding former Camp Director Jen Henshue’s service to Brainerd.
In preparation for the presentation of the 2015 budget, the Presbytery Lead Team presented a document entitled “Areas of Focus for the Teaching Presbyter,” identifying teaching and congregational transformation as the primary duties. A consequence of this is eliminating stated clerk responsibilities from the Teaching Presbyter’s portfolio; the clerk position will be funded from reserves in 2015. Ultimately the budget was approved with only a 20¢ increase in per capita, to $27.33 per member in 2015.
Among the several important matters brought to the Presbytery by the Committee on Ministry, Ruling Elder Joan Spangler was examined and approved to serve as a Commissioned Ruling Elder (formerly known as “Commissioned Lay Pastor”) at the First United Methodist-Presbyterian Church of Ashland. Additionally, it was announced that the Synod of the Trinity has made $10,000 available (for one-year) to each of its presbyteries within its bounds in response to the increased Board of Pensions family health coverage costs for teaching elders.
The meeting concluded with a lovely service designed around the Great Prayer of Thanksgiving and music provided by the Chancel Choir of the First Presbyterian Church of Easton, Director Elizabeth Campbell, Organist Gloria Snyder, and Flutist Elaine Martin. In addition to the Sacrament of the Lord’s Supper, presided by Teaching Elder P. Douglas Cronce of Catasauqua, the annual reading of the Necrology took place, remembering all the saints who went before us in 2014.
The next stated meeting of Lehigh Presbytery is scheduled for February 24th, 2015 from 1-5 p.m., at the Presbyterian Parish of Bangor-Roseto.