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Joint Letter from Presbytery Resolution Team and Denominational Relations Team to Dunellen Church members | Denominational Updates from First Presbyterian Church of Dunellen

Joint Letter from Presbytery Resolution Team and Denominational Relations Team to Dunellen Church members

May 6, 2012


A Joint Letter from the Denomination Relations Team

of First Presbyterian Church of Dunellen (on behalf of the Session) and

the Presbytery Resolution Team of the Elizabeth Presbytery


Dear Sisters and Brothers in Jesus Christ of the First Presbyterian Church, Dunellen,

We met twice in the past two months. On March 26, 2012, we reviewed the presbytery’s dismissal policy and process; committed to one another to proceed in Christian love marked by honesty, pastoral graciousness, transparency, respect and accountability; and gave Session members an extended opportunity to express their individual and collective concerns about denominational policies and practices.  The Session provided to the Presbytery Resolution Team written and DVD materials from Dunellen’s congregational forums that describe the areas that the First Presbyterian Church of Dunellen disagrees with actions within the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).

The Presbytery Resolution Team took the Session’s concerns seriously and on April 30, 2012, the Presbytery Resolution Team provided a detailed response to the materials and testimonies that the Session provided on Dunellen’s objection to practices within the PC(U.S.A.).  The Team specifically addressed the areas of biblical authority and inspiration, the doctrine of the Trinity, human sexuality, abortion, polity, and the doctrine of salvation.

Through the prayerful and detailed discussion on April 30, we mutually recognized that the doctrine of the PC(U.S.A.) remains within the orthodox, apostolic Christian faith as expressed by the Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed.  The PC(U.S.A.) officially and constitutionally affirms a traditional, ecumenical understanding of the Scripture’s authority and inspiration, the Trinity and salvation.  We recognize that even as the PC(U.S.A.) is rooted and grounded in the historic, apostolic faith, there exists a wide spectrum of understanding and application of Christian doctrine, as has always been the case in the universal Christian Church for centuries. In fact, we recognize that the Christian faith in the West, East, and global South has been expressed with diversity of theology and practice. The grouping of local churches into denominations is one result of this diversity.

We mutually understand that the Session’s action of February 20, 2012 to recommend to the congregation for First Presbyterian Church of Dunellen to be dismissed to another Reformed body stems, in large part, not because Dunellen believes that the PC(U.S.A.) has left the historic Christian faith; rather, the flexibility and broadness of theological belief and practice in the PC(U.S.A.) have reached a point where Dunellen believes it cannot serve Jesus Christ faithfully and with integrity.

What became apparent to us is that as followers of Jesus Christ we forever will remain sisters and brothers loved by our heavenly Father, through Jesus Christ, in the Holy Spirit.  At the same time, we recognize that there comes a time that because of our common commitment and faith in the triune God who continually calls the one holy catholic apostolic Church to serve in diverse ways in multiple contexts, the triune God may be calling this congregation to another part of the body of Christ.

To that end, we will seek a gracious and graceful dismissal process in the coming weeks so that our separating from each other is understood  not as a division because of our common faith, but a separation prompted by a desire of Dunellen to serve God in a different ecclesial context that is more suitable to Dunellen’s sense of Christ’s call for His mission in and through Dunellen.

In closing, we affirm that our hope is ultimately found in Jesus, who is the author and perfecter of our faith (Hebrews 12:2).


The Presbytery Resolution Team                                            Denominational Relations Team

      (on behalf of the Session)

Elder Ruth Arriaza                                                                  Elder, Laurie Fitchett

Elder Claudia Heffner                                                             Elder Stephen Geiger, Co-Chair

Elder Helen Moseley                                                              Elder Suzanne Geiger, Clerk

Elder Karen Castro Plaza                                                        Elder Diana Linares

Rev. Dr. Neal D. Presa, Convener                                           Elder Harry Schoepp, Co-Chair

Rev. Paul Rack, Clerk                                                              Rev. Silvio Del Campo

Rev. James Thomas                                                                Rev. Jeffrey Hayes Wildrick

Co-opted (ex-officio, non-voting):

Rev. Greg Albert, Interim Executive Presbyter

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