9 AM, Saturday, January 26th, 2013
Trinity United Presbyterian Church

Here is the text of the three motions that will be discussed and voted. They were presented for first reading at our last Presbytery Gathering on Thursday, November 28th, 2012.

MOTION(as revised by SCT on 1/13/13):The Strategic Coordinating Team recommends that the Presbytery elect a task force to develop new policies and procedures for congregations and Presbytery to use when considering a request for dismissal.
a.  The Strategic Coordinating Team encourages the Council to join with them in recommending the formation of a Task Force composed of the following seven individuals:
Two from SCT: John McKeague (Moderator), Lissa Smith
One from Trustees: Marilyn Moore
Four at Large:  Sharon Wakamoto, Neal Wells, Tim McCalmont, Steve Wirth.
Ex Officio advisors from Presbytery Staff (without vote): Keith Geckeler and Steve Yamaguchi
b.   Because the Task Force cannot begin work until after January 26, 2013, it is recommended that the Task Force:

  1. Bring a first draft to an Open Space meeting of presbytery no later than April 30th.
  2. That it bring a first reading of a policy by the May meeting of Presbytery.  [This will allow congregations considering dismissal to know the likely process to be used in considering dismissal.]
  3. That there be a final reading and vote on the policy no later than June 30th so that any congregation voting to seek dismissal can engage in this newly adopted process. 

Since our presbytery’s adoption of the “Procedural Guidelines: Property Issues,” the denomination has adopted Amendment 10-A, approved a new Form of Government, initiated a major revision of the Heidelberg Catechism, and the GAPJC has issued the Tom v San Francisco decision redefining how presbyteries work with congregations seeking dismissal to other denominations.  We believe it would be helpful to reopen the conversation as to what constitutes a fair, gracious, constitutional, and equitable process for negotiating dismissal. 
Because the Tom v San Francisco decision called into question some of the key elements of all “gracious separation” policies, it is recommended that the Task Force determine

  1. What is the hoped-for outcome in developing a dismissal policy?
  2. What process will best insure that neither the congregation nor the presbytery incurs crippling long term consequences on the basis of any settlement?
  3. What process will be able to successfully withstand a remedial challenge?

It is clear from Tom v San Francisco that key issues to be resolved include “fiduciary responsibility,”  “due diligence,” “multiple factors in determining value,”  “congregational history,” “understanding of church.”  All parties need to be aware that a final process will most likely not please everyone—but will hopefully provide a process everyone is willing to support.

MOTION: The Strategic Coordinating Team recommends that we suspend the current “Procedural Guidelines: Property Issues.” a. RATIONALE: (see above). The Book of Order has clear statements that are always in place to address any circumstance that would arise. But the SCT would request and expect that all congregations and Presbytery representatives would engage fully and in good faith in this season of discernment. The SCT would also request and expect that congregations would not approach the Presbytery with requests for dismissal until we have all engaged in this season of discernment.

MOTION: The Strategic Coordinating Team recommends that, with the counsel of the SCT and COM, the Presbytery Council develop and equip a team of people to serve as a commission to work with congregations who may request dismissal or assistance in the discernment process. a. RATIONALE: The Presbytery will need a group of caring people who are equipped to engage with congregations in very thoughtful ways to the interests both of the congregations and the presbytery.