April 19, 2012
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ of the First Presbyterian Church of Dunellen,
Grace and peace to you from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ! On February 20, 2012, the Session of First Presbyterian Church of Dunellen voted to recommend to your congregation and to the presbytery to be dismissed to another Reformed church body. As a result of that decision, the Presbytery of Elizabeth, in accordance with its recently approved Disaffiliation/Dismissal Policy, formed a Presbytery Resolution Team. As you may know, in the Presbyterian/Reformed tradition, we believe that we can best discern the will and mind of Christ in community, as we engage in prayer, study of Scripture and our confessions, and mutual discussion and debate. Thus, any final action for your congregation to be dismissed will require an affirmative action by your congregation and the presbytery.
The task of the Team is to engage in prayer and discussion with both the Session and Congregation of First Presbyterian Church of Dunellen to discern the will and mind of Christ together as to whether dismissal to another Reformed body is what God is calling you to do in this time in the life of this congregation and its relationship to the 48 other congregations of this presbytery, and, indeed, the whole Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).
Our Team is also charged to provide pastoral care and support for the congregation as we together undertake a prayerful, careful process of discussion, deliberation, and discernment over the coming months. Providing pastoral care and support becomes all the more critical particularly for those of you who sense your call is to remain as a communicant member of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).
As we proceed, if we together sense that God is calling you to be dismissed to another Reformed church body, we will work with your Session to negotiate the terms of your congregation’s dismissal, bring periodic and a final report to the presbytery’s Committee on Ministry, and, then, ultimately, to the Presbytery.
Your Session and our Team met jointly in a first of several meetings on March 26 and will do so again on April 30. We had a good productive meeting where our Team spent considerable time listening to Session members on their thoughts and concerns over denominational decisions and positions. All of us committed to proceeding in a spirit of openness, transparency, pastoral responsibility, grace, and accountability.
Out of a deep desire to hear from any and every member of the congregation who wishes to share their thoughts, concerns, and questions, our Team invites and encourages you to communicate with us in several ways:
- Electronically: by sending a message to our Team at: PRTD@googlegroups.com
- Setting up an appointment to meet with us by contacting our Team Convener,
Rev. Dr. Neal D. Presa at (908) 433-4527
- Face-to-Face Hearings: we will be arranging pre-scheduled times throughout the coming weeks for at least two of our Team members to be present for us to listen to you and to hear your questions
At our March 26 meeting with the Session, our Team received the written materials and DVD that you all were furnished as part of a series of congregational forums on denominational decisions and policies. Our Team will be responding to both those materials as well as to what Session members have shared at our next joint meeting with the Session on April 30. We wish to share our response with you as well.
We proposed to the Session, through your Denominational Relations Team, and they have agreed, for us to convene a congregation-wide town hall gathering. Therefore, we wish to invite you to join us for such a gathering on Sunday, May 6 at 11:40 a.m. for the English-speaking congregation, and 3:30 p.m. for the Spanish-speaking congregation. Both town-hall gatherings will be held in the Fellowship Hall of your church building. These town-hall gatherings will enable all of us to share our thoughts, to respond to some of the concerns that were raised by Session and by the written materials distributed to us and to you by Session in an informal setting conducive to conversations and questions-and-answers.
We look forward to meeting you and hearing from you in the weeks ahead, and in our journey together in the one faith, one hope, and one calling we have been given in Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior through the Holy Spirit.
Partnerly yours in Christ’s service, we remain,
The Presbytery of Elizabeth Resolution Team
Rev. Dr. Neal D. Presa, Convener Rev. Paul Rack, Clerk
Presbytery Moderator Presbytery Stated Clerk
Elder Ruth Arriaza Elder Claudia Heffner
Iglesia Presbiteriana Nuevas Fronteras Westfield Presbyterian Church
Rev. James Thomas Elder Karen Castro-Plaza
Chair, Presbytery Committee on Ministry Iglesia Presbiteriana Nuevas Fronteras
Elder Helen Moseley
Siloam-Hope Presbyterian Church, Elizabeth
Co-opted (ex-officio, non-voting):
Rev. Greg Albert, Presbytery Interim Executive Presbyter