May 20, 2011
The following article by the Executive Presbyter was published in the “The Presbyterian” (the newsletter of the Presbytery of Elizabeth). It contains a response to First Presbyterian Church of Dunellen’s letter to the PC(USA) regarding per capita.
God of All Comfort
This week many of you received a letter from the Session of our Dunellen church expressing their pain and disagreement with the approval by a majority of presbyteries (including ours) of Amendment 10A. In it they gave their reasoning and added that they would be withholding Per Capita support from all three governing bodies, as a matter of conscience. The purpose of this message twofold. First, I want to assure you that the Presbytery Council will be meeting in the next few days to discuss how to respond to this situation and, second, to ask for your prayers both for the Dunellen congregation and the Presbytery.
The reason I ask for your prayers is because a lot of people are in pain. Whether or not you agree with the Dunellen leaders, we must recognize that this church has been faithful in its support of the Presbytery for nearly 200 years. It has paid Per Capita, participated in meetings of Presbytery, and provided able leaders for our committees. Indeed, the church’s pastor, the Rev. Jeff Wildrick, is currently chair of our Council. All of this is to say that the Dunellen church has been deeply involved in the life of Elizabeth Presbytery and must be in great distress over what has happened and their withdrawal of financial support.
The pain goes beyond the Dunellen church, however. There are those who have been on the other side of this ordination issue who feel that the Dunellen leaders are not showing the same forbearance that they showed for the past decade while they were in the minority. There are those who feel that no issue should be more important than maintaining the ties that bind. Some of these even agree with Dunellen’s core values. In short, the Presbytery is reeling with shock and pain.
At a time like this, we all need the comfort that only God can give. This is described by the apostle Paul in his second letter to the Corinthians: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God.” (1:3-4) May all of us, especially the Dunellen Session, feel God’s comfort as we deal with this troubling event.
Greg Albert, Interim Executive Presbyter