Churches, Going and Coming

by | Oct 14, 2014 | Reflections Blog | 0 comments

Last month in this space I mentioned that the Synod PJC was likely to approve a settlement concerning the departure of seven churches to the Evangelical Covenant Order of Presbyterians (ECO).[1] It did so on September 26.

In a separate article in this blog, you will hear those who filed the complaints explain their reasons for doing so. Here I describe the details of that settlement, and what it means for the Presbytery in the next few years.

Details of the Settlement: Direct Gift

In its broad strokes, the departing churches agreed to give an additional amount of money to the Presbytery in exchange for the complainants’ withdrawal of the cases. The money comes in two forms: a direct grant and a challenge grant.

Here are the amounts that the Presbytery will receive from the churches in direct monies (figures do not reflect the yet-to-be-determined benefit the Presbytery will receive from either sale or use of the Community Long Beach land and buildings): Click Chart to Enlarge

Chart 1

[1] St. Andrew’s, Westminster, Trinity, Christ (Huntington Beach), Good Shepherd, Christ (Lakewood), and Community (Long Beach).
[2] Financial terms as approved by Presbytery in the original dismissal agreement.
[3] Financial terms agreed upon by the departing churches and the complainants in the remedial case.
[4] Figures here do not reflect the yet-to-be-determined benefit the Presbytery will receive from either sale or use of the Community Long Beach land and buildings.

Details of the Settlement: Challenge Grant

In addition, the departing churches issued (and the complainants affirmed) a challenge grant in the amount of $292,700. For every dollar a “staying” church contributes for special projects in 2015, 2016 or 2017 in excess of funds contributed to the Presbytery in 2014, the challenge grant will contribute a dollar, up to the total amount of the challenge. “Special projects” are defined as “any expenditure, other than the normal operating budget of the Presbytery, that the Presbytery, that the Presbytery determines to be an appropriate use…” In other words, the contributions to be matched must be new ones, and they must be for something other than operations.

Council will still need to vote to receive the challenge grant on behalf of Presbytery. But if it does, the churches that remain within the Presbytery will have the opportunity to double the effectiveness of their new mission giving for the next three years.

As your Sessions prepare your 2015 budgets, then, I encourage you to look for creative ways to take advantage of the grant. Where can your mission dollars, in partnership with the mission strategy of Los Ranchos, promote the Gospel of Christ in new ways in the years ahead?

Entry of Churches Formerly of Hanmi Presbytery

Even as we say goodbye to some churches, we begin to welcome others. The dissolution of Hanmi Presbytery has left nearly thirty Korean-speaking congregations without an ecclesiastical home. Six of those churches, and one new church development, are within the geographic bounds of Los Ranchos.

Several of your fellow presbyters have been working for the past three months to facilitate the transfer of those churches into Los Ranchos. Two of the six are nearly ready; I expect that we will vote to receive them at the November meeting of Presbytery.

Watch for more news in the months ahead about the arrival of these new churches. In the meantime, please join me in praying for their future partnership with us and considering how we might extend hospitality to them.

A Reminder

Finally, a reminder: if you are a member of one of the churches that have left, you are now a member of the Presbytery of Southern California of ECO. If you want to be a member of Los Ranchos Presbytery and/or the PC(USA), you have two options: (1) transfer your membership to a church within the Presbytery, or (2) transfer your membership to the “roll of the Presbytery” for a short period. You can do the second by requesting your current Clerk of Session to make the transfer. Copy your request to Elvira Ortez at the Presbytery office. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us.

Whether you find yourself coming, staying or going, may all you do be in the name of our Lord Jesus and for the glory of God.

Forrest Claassen, Stated Clerk