Nancy’s News: From the Desk of the Stated Clerk
It’s always amazing to me how much can be accomplished in 24 hours. The Synod Mission and Ministries Commission met on September 26-27 to consider overtures to General Assembly, new mission and higher education grants, a new network, and more that you will be hearing about in the time to come.
The team planning for Come to the Table is in the final stages of preparation.This first-time synod event will include fellowship, making connections, information sharing, Bible study, worship and good food. This is a time to kick back and be with each other in a different way.
We have heard from the Office of the General Assembly that the Synod of the Northeast is one of three synods that gives GAPJC most of its cases. There has been a strong litigious streak in the northeast for some time. While no one will be denied the right to file a complaint, we are working at changing the culture from one of judicial complaints as a default to a culture where people come together to examine issues and work out their differences.
There are several ways we expect to make this change. The Mediation Network has a goal to have at least two mediators in each presbytery, trained and available to come into situations early at a time when COM, a presbytery moderator, presbytery staff or others hear that a problem is brewing. Be on the look out for a Synod-sponsored mediation training with Lombard Mennonite Peace Center that will take place at Stony Point April 25-29, 2016.
Two other paths are Administrative Commissions and Special Administrative Review Committees (SARCs). This is another path to assessing situations and creating change. During the summer, Newark Presbytery requested that the Synod assume original jurisdiction providing time and space for the future leadership team to develop policies and plans required to set out with a new operating plan approved by the presbytery. During this bridge time an AC from around the synod is handling daily issues. The Synod has not taken over Newark Presbytery. Instead, true to its core values in the New Way Forward the Synod Administrative Committee has come alongside the presbytery to provide support and resources to achieve its goals of planning a brighter future.
There are currently two SARCs acting within presbyteries at the request of some of their members. The goal for both SARCs is to speak with presbytery members and staff, review documents, assess what is working and what needs strengthening and make recommendations.
In both instances the request for the synod to create a SARC has been for the purpose of assisting the presbytery in becoming healthier.
The Synod Commission plans to send at least one overture to General Assembly in response to the General Assembly Permanent Judicial Commission case which denied the Synod the opportunity to include Youth Advisory Delegates and some active church members at the commission and assembly tables with voice and vote. A task force will meet to bring final language to the next commission meeting and to develop strategies for reaching out to presbyteries to engage people in discussion concerning the overture and to garner support. Stay tuned!
The Synod Commission was also pleased to approve the following grants and is excited to hear how these funds are sparking innovative ministries:
- Misión Presbiteriana Nueva Vida of Palisades Presbytery approved for $4,000.00 in 2015 and $15,000.00 in 2016.
- Abundant Grace Dinner Church of Monmouth Presbytery approved for $5,000.00 in 2015 and $20,000.00 in 2016.
- Neighborhood Esperanza of New York City Presbytery for $6,000 in 2015 and $18,000 in 2016.
- Youth Triennium approved to set aside a block grant of $30,000 to support the 2016 Triennium and recommend that it becomes one of the Synod’s Missions.
Higher Education Grants funded for 2016:
- Hofstra Protestant Campus Ministry of Long Island Presbytery approved for $2,000 pending presbytery endorsement.
- University of New Hampshire aka The Waysmeet Center of Northern New England Presbytery approved for $1,700.
- Plymouth State University Campus Ministry of Northern New England Presbytery approved for $900.
- Bloomfield College approved for $10,000.
- Genesee Area Campus Ministry, Brockport and Nazareth College Campus Ministries of Genesee Valley Presbytery approved for an initial grant of $13,000.
- Rutgers Protestant Campus Ministry of New Brunswick Presbytery was approved for $7,000.00.
- Troy Area United Ministries, Union College and University of Albany of Albany Presbytery were approved for $5,000.00.