The Presbytery of New Jersey of the Presbyterian
Church in America met for its 91st stated meeting on Saturday,
November 20, 1999 at Covenant Presbyterian Church in Cherry Hill,
New Jersey. Ruling Elder Bruce Gunther brought a sermon from Luke
23 entitled "What's going on here?" The Moderator,
John Mardirosian, presided over the meeting.
The Rev. Chris Elhers was examined and transferred from Southwest Florida Presbytery to become senior pastor of Covenant Presbyterian Church, Cherry Hill, New Jersey. The salary package totaled $80,000/year plus four weeks vacation. The Presbytery recognized the Honorable Retirement of Dr. George Fuller as Senior Pastor of Covenant Church of Cherry Hill.
Presbytery adopted the 2000 budget. This budget represents a 12.9% increase in Ministry Expense and an 8.6% increase in the total budget. The 1999 per member suggested giving was $12.88 and for 2000 will be $14.00. This is an increase of 8.6% and based on Presbytery membership of 900 communicants.
The Presbytery took up the matter of an appeal from
Beverly Chin from the decision of the Session of Mt. Carmel Church,
Somerset, New Jersey. Mr. Potoka reported for the committee established
at the September meeting to look into the matter, by reading its
report. The recommendation of this committee is: "We suggest
that Presbytery appoint a committee to determine what actions
the session intended to implement and further whether those actions
were accompanied by any appropriate opportunity for Mrs. Chin
to exercise any options available to her in the Book of Church
Order." As a substitute, the Executive Committee proposed
that a commission to handle the letter from Mrs. Chin and the
call to Keith Graham be appointed. It was moved and carried to
divide the substitute. The first substitute was to appoint a commission
to handle the letter from Mrs. Chin. A substitute was moved to
return the letter and tell the author that she has the right to
complain to the session and that if she is unsatisfied with the
response of the session she has the right to complain to the Presbytery.
This lost 7 to 12. The motion to appoint a
commission to handle the letter from Mrs. Chin was now on the floor. This motion carried. The Rev. Dr. Robert Cameron asked that his negative vote be recorded.
The next substitute now before the Presbytery was the matter of appointing a commission in the matter of a call to Keith Graham. The main motion was lost by a vote of 4 yeas, 9 nays with 8 abstentions.
Presbytery approved the dissolution of the pastoral relationship between Locktown Church and the Rev. Keith Graham as pastor. Per the church's request, Mr. Graham was appointed as Stated Supply and Moderator of the Locktown Session.
Mike Schuelke reported for the Mission to the World Committee. He presented Craig DiBenedictis who reported on his visit to the Terranovas in Colombia. He presented a need for $5,000 to help the local church develop pastors. George Smith led in prayer for the work in Colombia and for the Terranovas.
Mr. Schuelke presented a further report on MTW.
He asked that the churches provide a list of the missionaries
that each church is supporting. He will coordinate that information,
being compiled by Jack Dever, with MTW in
Atlanta. Presbytery approved giving $500 for Will Hallman to provide housing during his next tenure in Africa.
Presbytery also approved a total of $11,400 from the BRING account for the support of Shore Points Fellowship for 2000 in accordance with a schedule submitted to the Treasurer.
Gary Englestad reported that the prayer retreat was well attended and had cost Presbytery about $500. He proposed that another retreat be held May 19 & 20 at the same location (Marriott Residence Inn, Somers Point). The motion carried.
Various concerns about the ministry of Mount Carmel Church were expressed. Presbytery took time to pray that the love of Christ might be manifested in all parties through these difficult times. After various actions were proposed, Presbytery voted to continue the amount of the Associate Pastor's salary to Keith Graham, beginning on January first until the February Presbytery meeting (deducting the amount that Keith is making as Stated Supply at Locktown) if Mt. Carmel fails to pay him, subject to a letter from Presbytery stating that it appears to Presbytery that Mt. Carmel has an obligation to Keith for one year.
Presbytery approved the development of a provisional session for Village PCA, comprised of Ruling Elders from 10th Presbyterian Church (PCA), Philadelphia, PA., who live within the geographic boundaries of the New Jersey Presbytery, and that this action be re-evaluated at the February 2000 meeting of Presbytery. It is noted that Presbytery was of the opinion at the last meeting that this was not permitted by General Assembly. However, a call to the Office of the Stated Clerk indicated it was possible.