If there was one word to sum up this meeting, it would be transition. There was plenty of transition discussed at this meeting, and there will be more in the next year or so.
Our meeting began with a brief discussion of our plan for multiplication, which is currently in a holding pattern. Growth needs to take place for both new Presbyteries to be healthy. The Missions Committee needs to come up with a church planting plan, particularly for New Mexico and Texas. The Presbytery would need to invest in this plan.
We then quickly addressed that exciting business of the budget. It was disappointing to see that only about half of our churches contribute to Presbytery. Thankfully our congregation is one what will be added to that number.
We then moved to the BCO Amendments. We actually had some discussion of the first, regarding the recording of exceptions to the Standards for those seeking licensure. But the first 4 passed handily. The BCO Amendment to prohibit intinction did not receive as much discussion that I thought it would . Perhaps because the matter was essentially decided by the Presbyteries that had already voted. There was a question about the theological argument for intinction. We had to admit that not much has been provided aside from the focus on the unity of the body revealed in the one cup and loaf. The question was called quickly after only a few comments. The recommendation was soundly defeated.
We heard from Reformed University Ministries, which in our case is only New Mexico State University at this time. That work has been doing quite well. The campus pastor, Sid Bream, however will be leaving to plant an RUF chapter at his alma mater, Davidson College. They already have a few solid candidates to replace Sid.
We took one of the Cru leaders from New Mexico State University under care. Vince Hoppe is a member at University Presbyterian Church in Los Cruces. He and his wife plan on attending Covenant Theological Seminary in the Fall.
We remove, upon request, another man from under our care. He has been struggling with doubts and sin. While the letter was quite dismal, the pastor of the church reports that there have been good steps made recently.
We heard reports from our church plants. Holy Cross in Marana, AZ is doing well in their new facility. Pete Rehrmann feels like he’s he keeps planting the church, often initiating people into their ethos. He and his wife are expecting their 2nd child. The report from Roswell, NM was not as encouraging. The building is far too large for the congregation. They hope to make a trade with a Christian school that needs more space. This would alleviate the financial pressures they feel and enable them to concentrate on ministry.
We received a report from the Southwest Church Planting Network.A new church plant in Tulsa, Ethos Presbyterian Church, began in January. Later this year a new plant in NE San Antonio should begin. Luke Evans, from Rincon Mountain Presbyterian Church in Tucson, will be leaving to plant that church.
We received the resignation letter for John Pickett as Senior Pastor of University Presbyterian Church effective April 30th. The Associate Pastor, Patrick Tebbano was offered the call to be the Senior Pastor. Since this was an exception to the regular order of things, super-majorities were required by both the congregation and the Presbytery. He received both.
We also receive the resignation of Matt Uldrich from Catalina Foothills. They have been undergoing quite a bit of change in the last year as a number of staff left to plant UCity church in downtown Tucson.
One of our congregations, Covenant Community in Scotsdale, is also looking to find a new location. They want a more visible facility. They have a buyer for their current property. But we all know that Presbyterians do few things quickly.
So, you can see why transition came to mind. It is hard to predict what such change will do to a Presbytery, strengthen it or weaken it. But the churches of Presbytery of the Southwest should be praying that it will strengthen the congregations and the Presbytery.