Last night, June 26, 2012, at about 9:10 pm, the Presbytery of Elizabeth dismissed First Presbyterian Church of Dunellen to the Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians (ECO). Without debate, the presbytery approved the Covenant of Gracious Dismissal that had been negotiated between our session and the Presbytery Resolution Team. (Covenant of Gracious Separation June 26 2012 )
At the same time, the presbytery dismissed Pastor Silvio DelCampo and myself to ECO.
This momentous decision was the product of months of hard work and prayer by the session, our Denominational Relations Team, and the Presbytery Resolution Team. We are grateful to God for such a gracious and Christ-honoring process.
The prevailing feelings at last night’s presbytery meeting were love, grief, and hope. In addressing the presbytery, I shared that this experience is very similar to when a pastor decides to leave a beloved congregation to pursue God’s call in another field of ministry. The joy and anticipation of a new call are tempered with regret at leaving behind a group of people that we love.
“Over the years we’ve worked together, laughed together, served Christ together, worshiped together, and sometimes fought together. But it has always been in the context of love, because we are brothers and sisters in Christ. I don’t see any enemies in this room tonight. I see a great many friends. I hope that none of you see an enemy standing here. And although after tonight we won’t be sharing ministry hand-in-hand, we look forward to continuing side by side.”
After the vote, I was privileged to lead the presbytery in singing “God Be With You ‘Till We Meet Again.”
This Sunday during worship we will be celebrating this new beginning for First Presbyterian Church. We are now members of the Presbytery of the East in ECO, and our new faith-family is rejoicing with us as we move forward together in Christ. A new day has begun!
-Jeff Wildrick, Pastor