This past Saturday, November 10th was the last presbytery meeting of the 2018 year. We were welcomed into the Sanctuary of First Thai Presbyterian Church, Covina, to the sight of a beautifully fall decorated sanctuary that was a delight to the eyes. There were fall wreaths spaced intermittently along the side and back walls and a massive expression of fall foliage in the front of the sanctuary. I was suddenly drawn into a place of Thanksgiving in my heart and mind, and I am quite sure that was intended by the environment. Many of the members of First Thai were present to welcome us as the two portions of the worship service included the participation of the Praise Dancers of the church – a group of young people who led us joyfully in the second portion of the worship service. And, thank you to Rev. Jennifer Ackerman for planning another inspiring worship service. Pastor Peter Tan-Gatue led us in the Lord’s Supper this day. We received an offering for Inland Valley Hope Partners during the worship service, as well. If anyone would like to participate in this offering and was not present, you are welcome to send your check in to the presbytery office. And there was a feast of Thai food for lunch after the meeting. What a blessing was our day in Covina. Thank you to Pastor Tan-Gatue and his volunteers that took care of the meeting and meal so beautifully.
The business of the day was fairly limited:
- We received an update from Administration and Finance on the sale and rentals of some of the presbytery’s property. Things seem to moving right along now.
- A highlight of the meeting was a presentation by Sara Armstrong and Rusty Edmondson on their ministry for the last many years in Peru and how Living Waters for the World created a wonderful bridge for their ministry there. Thirty two systems have been installed while they have worked with them. Our team to Peru has worked hand in hand with them all these years and could not have made the installations the presbytery has been involved in without Sara and Rusty. They are retiring back to the United States and have been replaced by a young couple ready to step into their shoes. We can only benefit from having them present in our area. What a blessing they will be to us.
- Carl von Bibra of the Personnel Committee informed the body of the partial retirement of Twila French, the presbytery’s Administrator/ Associate Stated Clerk/Bookkeeper. A deep sigh was heard throughout the gathering as Twila is such an important part of the efficiency of the presbytery. This partial retirement will take place in the middle of 2019 as she will continue to work part-time as the presbytery’s bookkeeper. Now, it will actually take one and a half people to do the work that Twila has been doing as the presbytery will be hiring a full-time person to take over the other responsibilities she has cared for over the years. One can tell she has definitely been over-working.
- The Presbytery Executive Commission’s report included the presentation of the 2019 Budget highlights. The budget was approved, as well as the per-member apportionment of $69 for the 2019 year. An Administrative Commission, requested by the congregation of Grace Presbyterian Church, was formalized at this meeting, as well.
- We received a very interesting presentation by Navy Chaplain Lt. Daniel Menza. He has left information with us to distribute if anyone is interested in considering a call to Navy Chaplaincy. Please contact the presbytery office if this interests you.
- We approved the new slate of Committee/Commission members for the 2019 year. I cannot call them universally the Class of 2021 as there were additional classes included. And we elected our new Vice Moderator, Rev. Karen Sapio, pastor of Claremont Presbyterian Church. She will be installed at the January presbytery meeting. This will mean that Fried Wilson will have completed his three year commitment. Rev. Becca Bateman will become the Moderator of the PEC and Rev. Roberto Ramirez will become the Moderator of the Presbytery. We all look forward to the New Year’s leadership. And we thank all those that have completed their terms of service. We have appreciated the sharing of their gifts with the presbytery.
- We received into membership, TE Eun-hyey Lok, transferring from the Presbytery of the Twin Cities. She is the Director of Outreach and a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist at the Asian American Christian Counseling Service in Alhambra. She led the body in a meaningful Lectio-Divina during part of the worship service. I can tell we are blessed to have her become a member of this presbytery.
- We also approved the temporary half-time pastoral leader for Emmanuel Presbyterian Church in Claremont. He will be going through a plan of preparation for authorized ministry in the PC(USA) as he comes to us from the Church of the Nazarene.
- The presbytery concurred with two congregations in the dismissal of their pastors:
- Pasadena Presbyterian Church – Rev. Walter Contreras
- Arcadia Presbyterian Church – Rev. James Connor
- In addition, the Minimum Salary and benefits package for 2019 was approved:
- Salary and Housing $55,840
- Professional Expenses $ 2,645
- Study Leave $ 985
This does represent a 3.9% increase in the CPI-U in our geographic area.
I am sure that I have not remembered everything that occurred Saturday. As those that were present read this, I hope that they will forgive me if I have not focused on something they felt was important on the day.
As we enter the Holiday Season, may I wish you all a Happy Thanksgiving and a Blessed Advent and Christmas Season!
Diane M. Frasher