Session Highlights

By Wendy Doidge, Clerk of Session.

January 2020

Staff members, Session Elders, and Deacons meet for in a joint planning meeting. Patrick Allred led a presentation that focused on our youth and young people- Growing Young. This is a continuation of Sticky Faith. Discussed were things about youth that may seem obvious and perhaps, not so obvious. All agreed that the generations benefit from shared interactions. The group focused on essential strategies which included: Warm Relationships, Keychain Leadership, and Best Neighbors. Lots of brainstorming and shared ideas.

The group also viewed our video that explains our Sexual Misconduct, Youth & Child Protection Policy, followed by further instruction from Rev. Dr. Smazik, after which, each person signed the policy, acknowledging their understanding and agreement.

Session approved the Annual Statistical Report to be submitted to the Presbytery.

The Clerk of Session and key staff members are working to update the Church Registers so the information is accurate and consistent with our online data system.


Presbytery Meeting- Sparta Presbyterian Church, January 11, 2020. Commissioned Elder for this meeting: Wendy Doidge. Rev. Green was also in attendance. The theme of this meeting was Matthew 25: Dismantling Structural Racism; special guest speaker, the Rev. Larissa Kwong Abazia. As part of our denomination’s focus in 2020 on the Matthew 25 Challenge, Rev. Kwong Abazia spoke to the body about systemic racism and implicit bias. She preferred the phrase “Brave Space” over “safe” space. Not everyone feels safe in these conversations about systemic, structural racism. But being brave is a start. We viewed a video narrated by Jessica Vasquez Torres entitled “Why us, Why now?” The inequities of life in our country were shown with immigrants and their families, the unsafe water in Flint, MI, gun violence, and implicit bias. Activities and conversation followed. The theology of representation is inspired by the God who calls us to do justice and is enacted in and embodied through the work of God’s people. Rev. Kwong Abazia suggested setting a “new” table, letting hospitality set the stage- keeping in mind that implicit bias is pervasive & malleable, representation does not mean equity, and time cannot drive the process. More information is available on the Newton Presbytery website.

The Body voted to concur with the two Overtures that were presented. (OVT-11) Regarding a Korean Peace Treaty and (OVT-013) Fossil Fuel Divestment. All of the New Jersey presbyteries voted in favor of the new Missional Structure of the northern NJ presbyteries. The Synod of the NE has a working group that is examining the technical, financial and boundary aspects of the consolidation. It is a process of redefining boundaries rather than merging. Elise Bates Russell from Camp Johnsonburg spoke to the group about new ways that the camp is being used and by whom. In the near future, Living Water for the World will use the camp for training. Rev. Kwong Abazia gave the Message: “In the Shade of Our Fig Tree.”

Session approved Communion service to be “by tray” at the Church on the Green; Also approving service by Intinction at the Parish House, South Street Hall, July 5 through September 6, 2020.