Recent Session Activity/Report to the Congregation
The Session approved a motion brought by the Buildings and Grounds Committee to change the name of the Session Room to Conference Room to better reflect its use as a meeting room that serves many groups within and outside the church.
Visions of Grace (VOG) task force members were nominated by the Session and the task force was commissioned the last Sunday in May. It’s first meeting was just prior to the commissioning. Its charge is as follows:
- LISTEN. Engage the congregation in a visionary dialogue, listening to their ideas of what our church’s mission and facilities could become. Committees and groups of the church (Food Pantry, Meals on Wheels, dance, Over Fifty, Choir, etc.) should all be given opportunities to express their ideas. It will also be critical to listen to the ideas of other churches and non-profits, to learn from them about what might be possible.
- DREAM. Think outside the box about how to use our physical space to “do justice, embrace kindness and walk humbly” with God.
- LEAD. Lead the congregation through the process, keeping them informed and engaged.
A called meeting of Session July 2 considered a motion from the Stewardship and Finance Committee to purchase the property adjoining our main parking lot at 207 Hargrove Road. The owner was willing to sell it below market price. Grace recently received proceeds from a certificate of deposit that will cover the purchase. After thoughtful discussion, the Session agreed to the purchase and decided the best potential for the property would include demolishing all structures on it. All had been damaged during and not repaired since the April 2011 tornado. The purchase and the demolition will cost about $102,000.
Printed information about the purchase was provided to the congregation and the motion to buy the adjacent property was brought to a congregational meeting on July 22 for a decision. The congregation approved the purchase without a dissenting vote. The trustees of Presbytery met shortly after our congregational vote and approved the sale also. The Presbytery approved the purchase at its August meeting.
A Session meeting was called for July 15 to consider recommending that Avery Smith move from Inquirer status to candidate for ministry status. Patrick Sprunger volunteered to be Avery’s liaison to Grace for the remainder of Avery’s seminary education. After listening to Avery’s life’s journey leading to pursuit of ordained ministry, Avery was excused and the Session voted to approve the application for candidacy. Avery was examined and was admitted to candidacy by vote of the Presbytery on August 16.
At the July 19 Stated Session Meeting, the Session welcomed new members Linda Roberts, Ann Weedon, Brittany Britten, Melvina Thomas, and Reggie Thomas. Also welcomed were Regjnae and Lilvina Thomas who will join the role of baptized children.
The Mission, Peace and Justice committee brought a motion for Grace to take the lead in forming an ecumenical small loan program designed to help persons in financial difficulty from going to pay day or title loan lenders whose interest rates are extraordinarily high. The committee has been researching this and reaching out to other faith congregations who wish to participate in the program. The motion was approved as was a second motion requesting $10,000 in seed money for the loan program.
Congregational Care and Fellowship Committee, out of concern for stewardship of the earth, brought a motion that Grace discontinue styrofoam use in all Grace activities to the extent possible. Styrofoam does not degrade to any appreciable amount. The vast majority of it already produced still resides on the land and in fresh water bodies and the ocean. The motion passed.
Grace has been invited to participate in a Samford University sponsored program, Life is Calling Initiative. A few Grace members and our pastor will go to occasional meeting with other churches for the purpose of discerning our corporate callings. This is a four-year project. The Session approved applying to the program. Participating churches will be eligible for $30,000 grants. It was agreed that the work of this group would be coordinated with the VOG.
The Session elected Linda Grote and Lee Keyes to serve on the Session Nominating Committee for elders to serve in the class of 2021. At the August Stated Session Meeting, April Lane was elected as a non-session member to work with Linda and Lee on the committee.
The Session has agreed to a request that Grace host the Presbytery meeting on August 15, 2019.
At the August meeting, the session approved two motions brought by the Mission, Peace and Justice Committee: (1) approval of a new logo for Loaves and Fishes food pantry; and (2) purchase of a used van at a cost plus some maintenance amounting to almost $3,000. The primary use for the van will be to transport pallets of food for the food pantry.
Kendra Peebles, theology student from Stillman College, will work under Cathy’s supervision during fall semester on a theology practicum preparing worship, liturgy, and sermons. She will attend worship with us all but one Sunday a month.
Notes prepared by Susan Benke, clerk of session