CHANGES IN CHURCH REGISTER:
- Peg Ebel- DOD February 3, 2021 and husband George Ebel- DOD February 7, 2021. They joined PCM on November 16, 1969. Peg and George, lifetime partners both succumbed to COVID-19. Peg had served PCM as an elder, ordained on February 8, 2004.
- Fred Figa- DOD February 16, 2021. Fred joined PCM in 1992. Fred was ordained as an Elder in 1997.
Ordination and Installation of Deacons on January 21, 2021 via Zoom
On January 21, 2021 via Zoom Jason Lawlor, Neill Hamilton, Carole Ramsey, and Christine Volinsky were ordained and installed. Karen Crooks and Nancy Shearer were installed to service as members of the Class of 2024 at the same time.
Ordination and Installation of Elders
On January 21, 2021 via Zoom Liz Annis, Gretchen Cotnoir, Karen Griffith, Ken Novitsky, and Bob Spurr, were ordained and installed for the Class of 2024. Also installed was Janet Foster, Class of 2023, completing the term of Donna Tomlinson, who resigned.
The Minutes of the Presbyterian Church in Morristown for 2019 and 2020 were approved, without exception. The Clerk of Session of the First Presbyterian Church in Blairstown, Deborah Albrecht reviewed our Minutes and Registers. The worksheets were submitted to the Presbytery of Newton and approved by Acting Stated Clerk, the Rev. Dr. Carl Wilton.
Session approved the dates for Communion services in 2021:
Sunday, January 3, Sunday, February 7, Sunday, March 7, Thursday, April 1- Maundy Thursday, Sunday, April 4- Easter, Sunday, May 2, Sunday, June 6, Sunday, July 4, Sunday, August 1, Sunday, September 5, Sunday, October 3, Sunday, November 7, Sunday, December 5.
Next Presbytery Meeting: March 16, 2021 via zoom at 7:00 p.m
Commissioned Elder for this meeting are: Walt Fleischer, Janet Foster, and Wendy Doidge.
Discussions regarding Livestreaming of our Worship services and the Discernment process to begin the pastor search took place.
Presbyterian Happenings & Information January 23, 2021 meeting:
The director of Camp Johnsonburg Elise Bates Russell led the body in exercises for Zoom breakout groups for the exchange of information and to meet members of the other presbyteries that will be joining Newton in March- Elizabeth, New Brunswick, and Palisades.
February 20, 2021 was the Annual and final meeting of the Presbytery of Newton as an entity unto itself. Meeting via zoom as the Presbytery of Newton for the last time, the February meeting brought nostalgia and a challenge to do “a new thing,” as the Rev. Susan Andrews shared as the worship service leader. She told those in attendance, “God makes a way when there is no way.” “We replace nostalgia with newness”. Communion was served by the Rev. Jeff Hatch of Branchville, the longest serving minister in Newton Presbytery, and by the Rev. Katherine Scott-Kirschner of Sussex- the newest minister. Interjected throughout the meeting were stories related by members of the presbytery. Our own Elder Mickey McDonnell and the Rev. Linda Gaden were among those to share their stories. As of March 1, 2021, the Presbytery of Newton will cease to be. The ecclesiastical way has been cleared by the Synod- the corporate changes are still underway. Seven presbyteries will now be four; our new name is in the process of being chosen- Skylands or Highlands. ~ Presbytery leader, the Rev. Jeanne Radak, gave an update on the transition. Rev. Steve Huston of Ramsey Presbyterian Church has been hired as the transitional support and Resource Coordinator.
CHANGES IN CHURCH REGISTER:
- Norman Hayward, DOD: January 17, 2021 (#9898), his wife Joyce is a member of the chancel choir. A private memorial service was held on Friday, January 22, 2021.
The Session approved the 2020 Statistical Report. This report gives a snapshot of the congregation to our denomination; e.g.: our baptisms, member gains and losses. It is the report upon which our yearly Per Capita amount is based. Upon confirmation each of us enters into church membership and the responsibility of paying your Per Capita. Our $40 gets split with the General Assembly getting $8.98, the Synod: $4.10, and our Presbytery gets $26.92. Some of the monies cover operating costs but locally, much of it goes to our presbytery’s local mission.
Treasurer Karen May updated the Session on our overall finances as we ended 2020. More on this in her annual report.
The Session of the Presbyterian Church in Morristown calls the Annual Congregational Meeting for Sunday, February 14, 2021 following the service of worship
at 11:00 a.m. on Zoom for the purpose of receiving the annual committee reports, the presentation of the 2021Budget, the review of the Pastors’ Terms of Call, the selection of a Nominating Committee, and other business which may rightly come before the Congregation.” (G-1.0503)
Session approved a “dry-run” for in person worship service on April 25, 2021 with session elders and Re-entry task force members only. This will give Session an opportunity to determine and improve procedures and protocols for in person worship in the future. COVID-dependent, we are looking at May 9, 2021- Mother’s Day for a possible first in person worship service! Registration would be required in order to attend. Details will follow, but it is our hope that a ‘dry-run” will help iron out any difficulties ahead of time. It should be noted that once we begin in person worship services, volunteers from our membership will be needed to make this work. (Ushers, Registration check & temperature checks, etc.)
Session approved a one year renewable terms of office for Wendy Doidge, Clerk of Session and for treasurer Karen May.
- Rev. Green and the Session thanked the outgoing Elders, Class of 2021, who have faithfully
served and guided our church through the crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic:
Ken Clark, David Darcy, Jose De Los Santos, Cheryl Maginley, Sheldon Rajkumar,
Donna Tomlinson, and Bill San Filippo. This has been a time like no other in recent
- Rev. Green and the Session welcomed incoming Elders, Class of 2024: Liz Annis, Gretchen
Cotnoir, Janet Foster (Class of 2023), Karen Griffith, Michael Karl, Ken Novitsky, and Bob
- Session voted on and approved the budget for 2021.
- The Safety and Security Team has been updating our guidelines and procedures, making
the necessary adjustments for the colder weather and the need to move indoors, and in
accordance with the Presbytery of Newton guidelines.
- Session voted to remove a number of inactive members from the roll due to their request,
out-of-date contact information, or lack of response to inquiries.
- Treasurer Karen May presented a Memorandum of Understanding between PCM and the
Nursery School that explains the relationship and responsibilities of both parties to the
other. It is an effort to formalize procedures and expectations in our special relationship
with our program.
- Management & Administration has agreed to allow full time staff to carry over unused vacation days from 2020 into the first six months of 2021. This is due to the extraordinary
circumstances of the pandemic.
- Session expressed its gratitude to Rev. Halldorson for stepping in during this time of transition so ably. It is a joy to work with him. His preaching was relatable, on point, and enjoyed
by those near and far. Thank you for taking us through the wilderness; we look forward to
your return when we are in person. Blessings to you and your family.
CHANGES IN CHURCH REGISTER
- Dorothea Gamble, DOD September 2, 2020 at 99 years old. Dorothea joined PCM March 29, 1936- 84 years ago.
- Harold “Hal” Crosthwaite, DOD September 30, 2020. Hal was 83. He joined PCM in November of 1985. Hal served as an Elder, ordained on February 12, 1995. An avid photographer, Hal traveled worldwide capturing wildlife on land and underwater. Hal and devoted wife Carolyn celebrated 10 years of marriage this past July. Hal’s ashes will be spread amongst four locations: the Puget Sound, California, the Cayman Islands, and Africa. Rest in peace DiverHal.
Dropped from the Roll:
- Mrs. Ann Smazik, at her request
- Michael Browne, at his request
- Bill Short, Jr.
Session has given permission for the Bell choir to resume practice, using the Church on the Green narthex. All appropriate health precautions will be taken.
Our Committee on Ministry Liaison, Elder Jeanne Perry conducted the exit interview at the October session meeting. Elders had a chance to share their feelings about Rev. Smazik’s time at PCM and the impact of his ministry on our church, congregation, and community.
A special Task Force has been set up to work on how and what worship will look like once we return to our sanctuary for in-person worship.
Session approved the commencement of Sunday School classes, indoors, starting on November 1, 2020.
Session, Building & Grounds, and the Safety Committees continue to refine and update our safety criteria for building use. This is ever-evolving as conditions change and we consider the many uses of our buildings.
Session met twice in September.
Changes in Church Register:
Nathan Sarver, son of Rev. Sarah Green and Eric Sarver, on August 9, 2020,
Zoe Schultz, daughter of Sarah and Jonathan Schultz, on August 16, 2020
Julia Grace Havelin, daughter of Jennifer Catherine Marrash Havelin and Joseph David Havelin on August 16, 2020
Henry Allred, son of Patrick and Hannah Faye Allred, on July 22, 2020.
Golding baptism, approved for August 3, 2020 was rescheduled for October 18, 2020
Learned T. (Dag) Bulman, DOD: August 15, 2020
Donna Kowalski, DOD: August 15, 2020.
Carleton Cronin, DOD: August 15, 2020. Burial will be in Arlington National Cemetery
Kevin Graf and Gloria Hu, on August 15, 2020, Rev. Dr. David J. Smazik officiating via Zoom.
Rev. Linda Gaden, 8/22/2020- now member of Presbytery of Elizabeth
Termination of Service:
Rev. Dr. David J. Smazik, August 23, 2020
Commencement of Service:
Rev. Dr. Ed Halldorson, September 1, 2020
At the September 3rd special kickoff meeting, the Stewardship Committee presented the 2021campaign: Our Children, Our Community, Our Commitment. A community matching gift program has also been created. Lead donors will match up to $45,000 from additional contributions from the Congregation. This $90K will provide 50 scholarships for local youth to attend the Summer Plus program. The program will be administered by the Morris Educational Foundation and the Morris School District.
Session accepted the resignation of senior pastor, Rev. Dr. Dave J. Smazik. During his almost 10-year tenure, Dave brought new ideas that set the tone for our “Fresh Traditional” congregation.
He led two major fundraising campaigns that renovated both the Parish House and the Church on the Green. Dave was a prominent figure in our local community, be it civic or with fellow clergy. Dave and Ann have relocated to Indianapolis, IN where he will serve as an interim pastor at the Northminster Presbyterian Church.
Session approved the Midweek program. Our youth will meet on Wednesdays but with the modifications due to COVID-19.
Session met with our Committee on Ministry liaison, Elder Jeanne Perry, to go over the process in our search for an interim minister. She will also attend the October meeting, at which time she will do the exit interview reflecting on Rev. Smazik’s time at PCM.
Session approved a new cloud-based phone system, updating our current twenty-year old system. This was part of a recommendation from the NJ Homeland Security team that did an assessment of our buildings. This new system will be able to handle thirty locations throughout the Parish House as well as allowing remote use. The cost of this new system will be covered in a grant we received several months ago.
Session has created a task force in preparation as to how and when our sanctuary will be reopened. Task Force members are: Christy Allen, Ken Clark, David Darcy, Wendy Doidge, and Sue Wood.
The Nominating Committee is hard at work. Still needed: one elder and two deacons.
June 2020 Session Notes
Session received and welcomed into Membership our 2020 Confirmands:
Abby Ewing, Bridget Ewing, Colleen Ewing, Kevin Clark, Lily Crean, Ben Knesl, Brooke Leahy, Gideon Nichols, Jana Rinaldi, Luke Stebbins, and Griffin Thomas
As you read in last month’s Tower Tidings, our Safety & Security Ministry team continues to be hard at work establishing guidelines for the safest return to our buildings and the use of our outdoor spaces.
Session Actions approved on June 18, 2020:
~ Entering into an agreement with Kraft Events (Jennifer Kraft) to serve as our exclusive event planner. However, PCM Buildings & Grounds Committee must approve all requests for the use of our facilities.
To Be Determined after June 30, 2020:
~Allowing our PCM small groups to use the Parish House, following safety guidelines from our Safety & Security Committee.
~Allowing Baptisms to be held, outdoors in the Church on the Green courtyard, following the safety guidelines from our Safety & Security Committee.
~Allowing Memorial Services to be held, out of doors, in our Memorial Garden, following the safety guidelines from our Safety & Security Committee.
~Vacation Bible School (VBS) is set to take place, out of doors (August 17-21) following protocols set by State Summer camp guidelines, limiting participation to 50 children. Mrs. Mead has additionally worked out protocols for small groups of 8 or 9 children, the sanitizing and individual use of materials to minimize cross contact, safe games- being mindful of social distancing. The hours will also be shortened to 9:00 to 11:30 am.
~A video will be created and sent to families letting them know what to expect when their children attend VBS. Motion approved.
Worship services will continue to be filmed and shown on YouTube on Sunday mornings. Members will be receiving a survey that will seek information about their comfort level and timing with re-entry.
Daily emails will be modified to more of how we sent them pre-Covid; weekly email being sent out on Mondays with a devotion, Thursday would broadcast the weekend news along with another devotion, and Sunday’s email would be the link to the worship service.
There are no plans for indoor worship in the sanctuary at this time.
March April May 2020
Session Chronology During this Time of Pandemic
CHANGES IN CHURCH REGISTER:
Transfers out: Robert and Betty Cariello to a Baptist church in VA.
Births: To Elders Jose and Sarah (Sheffield) Del Los Santos, a daughter, Skylar Kathleen, on April 25, 2020.
Deaths: Jean Jones on April 16, 2020 and former member Malcolm Heffner on January 21, 2020.
Dropped from Roll: Megan Fleischer, at own request.
The next Regular Session Meeting is May 21, 2020.
The May 14th Special meeting was the most recent. It was for the purpose of hearing from the Strategic Planning Task Force- PCM members are: Elder David Darcy, (Building & Grounds), Elder Bill San Filippo, (Communications), Robert Davies, (Safety & Security), and Jim Kutsch. Their report focused on short-term considerations should restrictions start to ease and there is the possibility of holding in-person worship in our facilities. Working with Basking Ridge and Central/Summit, all aspects and implications of such a decision are being examined. These short-term plans are a preliminary look at what the process might look like; State, PC(USA) and local officials will set the guidelines by which PCM’s decisions will be made. In concert with the Strategic Planning Task Force, Rev. Smazik, as a member of the Morris Clergy Council, is working to create a unified approach with area Congregations for when they all plan to reopen. The possibility of a member survey is being considered to determine the comfort level of members in different scenarios of reopening.
PCM was awarded the PPP loan grant, in the amount of $139,000, thanks to the help of Elder Walt Fleischer and the Peapack Gladstone Bank. This money will help keep our staff employed and working, behind the scenes, for the Congregation. Session was always committed to supporting our non-clergy staff persons who are paid hourly-not working under a contract.
For those with computers and other devices that allow on line participation, our forays into the virtual world have kept them connected to the church and each other. We have some members for whom this is not an option. Rev. Green is providing pastoral care to these members through a weekly call-in prayer meeting. This small but faithful group was able to connect, receive prayers, and make requests, enabling them to remain part of our community- that matters.
Session meet again on Special meetings on April 9th to discuss the status of the Congregation and to hear from committees as they navigated through this pandemic and, on April 16th at a regularly scheduled Session meeting with all committees reporting. PCM, through the Finance Committee, and the nursery school each applied for a Payroll Protection Plan loan under the CARES Act. This is a forgivable loan, if the funds go to paying staff. On April 30th another Special Session meeting was held to determine the next extension of our facilities’ closure. It was decided to remain closed through Memorial Day Weekend, May 26th. Members were notified that Communion would be serviced on May 3rd during the on line service held in the sanctuary and those at home should have the bread and juice elements on hand to partake. Committees reported how the pandemic and closure was affecting their area: Finance and Management & Administration are closely looking at congregational giving, Youth & Young Adult was maintaining contact with our Confirmands- virtually, not ideal- but it was happening. The Strategic Planning Committee was in conversation with two other very large churches- Basking Ridge and Central in Summit in planning beyond the pandemic. Buildings & Grounds is working in concert with the Strategic Planning Task Force. The Communications Committee has provided support and technical know-how to getting the behind-the-scenes work done for staff and ultimately, the Congregation. Outreach has been trying to help area food pantries and soup kitchens with monetary donations and letting the Congregation know how to help with their donations, be it money or food. Christian Education, continues to meet, virtually, with our Midweek students and those in High School. We all can see the work of the Worship & Music Committee who have put in tireless hours to provide a meaningful on line worship service, week after week. Rev. Green has initiated a new group for our members who are Caregivers, providing group support as they reach out and connect with others in similar circumstances.
On March 26th, another Special Session meeting took place, at which time plans for Holy Week were discussed, but, with ever-worsening conditions due to the virus- it was a forgone conclusion that we would not be in our Sanctuary for Easter. It was reported that the March 22nd on line service had had 645+ views. Elders Sheldon Rajkumar, Jenny Tooley, and Bruce Frazier are the key people in making those broadcasts happen, along with the staff who perform the actual service. It was voted that our buildings remain closed through April 30, 2020. Matt Webb, Kevin Graf, Ignacio Angulo Pizarro and so many choir members have added their gift of music; helping to us to be drawn in to a virtual world.
On Saturday, March 14, 2020, Rev. Smazik called a Special Session meeting for the purpose of discussion whether to hold in-person worship services that Sunday, March 15, 2020 and subsequent worship services as well as other gatherings in the upcoming weeks, in light of the Covid-19 pandemic. We met in Erdman Hall with many attending through the use of Zoom. (Who knew what “ZOOM” was then?) We had the ability to record both the audio and visual of the service, but we were not quite ready for live-streaming; we could use YouTube video.
At that time there was a case of the virus in Morristown but testing was limited. Morristown Memorial Hospital was setting up tents for testing. We knew that the Presbyterian Church in Chatham Township was shutting down. Of concern for Session: how will these decisions fare if conditions necessitated prolonged closures, say 3 months or more? It was important that they find ways to keep the Congregation connected and feel part of a community. Session voted to close our buildings through March 31, 2020 for all use to all known ministries and groups; worship services would be broadcast on line. It was also decided that, aside from key staff, Openpath access to our buildings would be de-activated; making unknown entry into our buildings impossible. It should be noted that PCM has had a Safety and Security Committee for quite some time. Its research and input has been vital in keeping our membership safe with improved security measures that have long been in place.
Rev. Smazik had three immediate concerns: the worship service for the next day had to be filmed, a daily Lenten devotion needed to be sent out, and Deacons needed to be in contact with those for whom they provided extra care. Names of members of the Congregation were divided amongst the Elders and Deacons to contact and determine how everyone was doing. An unintended consequence: the chance to update accurate contact information, which now seemed so vital. Holy Week would soon be upon us- many decisions needed to be made. And so it began.
The February 20, 2020 regular Session meeting seems like another world away now. It appeared to be business as usual; recording the milestones of the church, approval of baptisms, receiving committee reports, approving PCM becoming a Matthew 25 Congregation, elders signing up to collect the offering for the month of March, discussion on the use of the Parish House, and recording when Communion had been served as part of the Pastor’s report, in the Sanctuary and/or in the Chapel. How quickly the world changed.
CHANGES IN CHURCH REGISTER:
Member Transfer: Joy Orteza, to the Reformed Episcopal Church in Basking Ridge, NJ., January 21, 2020.
Deaths: Robert N. Harris, February 7, 2020. Bob joined PCM twenty-five years ago with first wife, Jan. He served as Elder and was a member of Triple A. He married Marilynn Hummer in November of 2019.
Ordinations & Installations: Elders, Class of 2022, January 12, 2020:
Christy Allison, Dianne Grenz, Lori Szoke, *Donna Tomlinson, February 2, 2020
Elder Installations: Walt Fleischer and Kevin Hubbard, January 12, 2020
Ordinations & Installations: Deacons, Class of 2022, January 12, 2020:
Carol Johnson, Sue Leloia, Phil Scaduto, *Kimberley Davies, February 2, 2020
Deacon Installations: Daria Lisco and Helen Quinn, January 12, 2020.
- Presbytery is offering a workshop on cemeteries to answer questions about NJ State laws pertaining to cemeteries, monument & structure maintenance, rules regarding cemetery funds & bequests, and more. Several PCM members are signed up to attend.
Approved: Consent Agenda
- Approval of Sacrament of Baptism March 22, 2020 of Nathan Alexander Sarver, son of Rev. Sarah Green and Eric Sarver.
- Approval of Wedding of non-members (Morristown residents)
- Approval of Sacrament of Baptism April 26, 2020 for Declan Moyle, son of Lauren and Patrick Moyle, and for Logan Moore, son of Kate and Bradley Moore, grandchildren of Jane Whitehead.
- Worship & Music requests the wedding of Rafael Torres and Thalita Peteria Loureiro on Friday, April 24, 2020 in the Chapel.
Community & Membership requests the removal of Joy Orteza from our rolls at her request.
In 2020, our denomination has chosen to focus on Matthew 25:31-46 as a way of re-prioritizing the work of the Church. (See the May/June issue of Presbyterians Today). There are 3 areas of discipleship: building congregational vitality, dismantling racism, and eradicating systemic poverty involved in the Matthew 25 Invitation. Session approved signing on to become a Matthew 25 Congregation. In Matthew 25:36-41 we are reminded that Jesus separated the goats from the sheep.
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 HAPPENINGS & INFORMATION:
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.