Session Meetings

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Session Meetings

November Session Meeting

 

  • The meeting was opened with prayer by Elder Ed Moore.
  • Our Director of Facilities, Jeff Carawan, gave a presentation to the Session about security at our church. FPC has been actively improving the security at the church, and Jeff presented an up-to-date alternative to the traditional “Lockdown,” called “ALICE,” that is recommended by security professionals. The leadership will look into making training available to anyone at the church who is interested, as well as facility changes that would offer FPC increased protection from an assailant. More information will follow about this program.
  • Butch Gerfers reported for the Stewardship and Finance Committee that we are in the midst of our stewardship season. So far this year, unpledged giving has out-paced pledged giving. Butch led the Session in a discussion about what our church can do to offer financial assistance to First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs after their recent shooting incident. Bob Fuller recommended that we initially work through Baptist channels to assess their needs during their time of initial shock and recovery. The Session can then take appropriate action once the specific needs are known. Please continue to lift up this church in prayer after their many losses.
  • Tres Buchek reported that the Personnel Committee is working on salary figures for next year’s budget. There will be a celebration for pastor Ron Scates to be held on Sunday, December 31st in Westminster Hall after a combined 11 a.m. worship service.
  • Bob Fuller reported for the Youth Committee on behalf of Mike Wood. The search committee for the Director of Youth is hard at work and has been conducting interviews with applicants which have been suggested by Youth Specialties, a Youth Ministry Organization which is assisting our committee. The candidate with the right combination of talents should be announced sometime in the first part of 2018. Please pray that the Lord would lead us to an excellent director who will be an integral part of our Confirmation process.
  • Ron Scates met with leaders of the National Presbyterian Church of Mexico during the Reformation celebrations in Wittenberg, Germany. He suggested that FPC partner with ECO and the Mexican Presbyterian Church to develop Hispanic churches in the border area. David West authored a letter which the Session endorsed to invite them to begin a church planting partnership with us.
  • The Session called a congregational meeting for December 10, 2017, after the 11 m. Children’s Christmas Pageant Worship Service, to elect next year’s officer nominating committee.

Tripp Stuart, Clerk of Your Session

 

October Session Meeting

  • Betsy Zachry opened the meeting with prayer, and Rev. A. Mitchell Moore gave a moving account of his personal testimony to the Session.
  • The Session elected voting commissioners to the ECO National Gathering in January, to be held in Houston. Condoleezza Rice, the former Secretary of State, National Security Adviser, and a lifelong Presbyterian, will be one of the keynote speakers at the Synod. All are welcome to attend and more information can be found at http://econationalgathering.org/.
  • Tres Buchek reported for the Personnel Committee. Marie Nipp has returned as the Director of Finance, and Laura Ortiz is the new Director of the Children’s Center. Ed Hart has joined the Personnel Committee, which is currently working on salaries for next year’s budget process.
  • Bob Stevens reported news from the Property Committee. The sanctuary is currently being repainted, and the woodwork is undergoing repairs and oiling. The Session approved replacing the sump pumps which keep the first floor dry, and approved replacing the control system for one of our A/C chillers.
  • Ron Scates reported on a community effort called the McCullough Consortium, which intends to landscape and light McCullough Avenue from I-35 to I-37/281. FPC is proud to be part of this effort to improve the street, named for our first pastor, which is planned to become a major connection from downtown to the reawakening East Side.
  • Jim McCann reported for the Stewardship and Finance Committee that our revenues continue to be up over last year. Our pledged giving is relatively down, but our non-pledged income is up over last year. As our revenues allow, Stewardship & Finance will continue to fund our benevolences as planned. November will be our Stewardship Month during which we will all pray and make plans for financially supporting the Lord’s work here at First Presbyterian in the coming year.
  • Sheila Figueroa, the chair of the Associate Pastor Nominating Committee for our new Associate Pastor for Christian Education, reported that her committee is up and running. They have modified the job description for the position, which was approved by the Session. Soon they will start the interview process for this pastor, who will assume Bob Fuller’s current responsibilities when he steps into the senior pastor role in January.
  • The Session heard positive feedback about the recent presbytery meeting held here at FPC, including encouraging plans for ECO to increase its church planting efforts in the Rio Grande Valley.

Tripp Stuart, Clerk of Your Session

 

September Session Meeting

  • David Youngquist opened our meeting with prayer, and the Session was blessed to hear the personal testimony of Mike Munroe.
  • Tres Buchek brought the report from our Personnel Committee. Our price for the benefits package we provide for our employees through ECO has decreased this year. Personnel is currently searching for a University Intern and a Director for Student Ministries. Rev. Bob Fuller presented the current organizational flow chart for FPC, as well as the draft chart for next year. The Session also approved an APNC to begin the search for a new Associate Pastor for Christian Education, who will eventually take over the position when Bob becomes Senior Pastor in January 2018.
  • Jim McCann reported for the Stewardship and Finance Committee that our revenues are up over last year, and that in four out of the last five months we have enjoyed positive cash flow. We should have our financial audit report by next month and the process of creating next year’s budget has begun. As the year turns from summer to fall, let us all continue to remember to support the Lord’s work here at First Presbyterian financially.
  • Teresa McCaleb, the chair of the Local Missions Committee, led a discussion with the Session and our pastors about the future of our Loaves and Fishes ministry. The Session remains strongly committed to ministering to the homeless as well as supporting the city’s efforts through Haven for Hope. The committee will carefully research all of the issues involved and will reimagine the ministry in such a way that both spiritual and physical needs are met, just as Jesus did when He multiplied the loaves and fishes so that the crowds to which He was ministering would not go hungry.
  • The Session unanimously stood together with ECO to endorse, commission, and send out Pastor Ron Scates as a missionary to Jakarta, Indonesia as a church planter, chaplain to the University of Palita Harapan, and Senior Pastor for Karawaci Presbyterian Church, beginning in January 2018.

Tripp Stuart, Clerk of Your Session

 

August Session Meeting

  • Butch Gerfers opened our meeting with prayer, and the Session was pleased to hear the personal testimony of Elder Jim McCann.
  • Jim McCann reported for the Stewardship and Finance Committee that our revenues are up over last year. We are still behind our budget, but have positive cash flow due to economizing measures. Summer has traditionally been a slower time for donations, but this year we are still receiving regular gifts. The committee officially released $70,000 to our benevolences, with more to be approved next month.
  • The Property Committee’s report was given by Bob Stevens. An electrical surge from CPS on July 9th took out the sanctuary’s air conditioning controls and we are working with CPS to have them reimburse us for the damage. The Session approved two expenditures at the committee’s request: to trim all the trees around the church and in the parking lot for tree health and to allow for the security lights to do their job, and to release funds to repaint the sanctuary ceiling, oil all of the beams and other woodwork, and to make needed repairs.
  • As step one of our strategic planning, the Session was asked to answer some questions about our church from Paul Borden, PhD, who will be coordinating the effort. More fact gathering will occur through the end of this year, and the presentation phase will be in January of 2018. The Session took his challenging questions very seriously, and are committed both to listening for God’s plans for our church and to making the difficult decisions which may be necessary to see His plans through. Please pray for all of our collective vision and strength throughout this process.

Tripp Stuart, Clerk of Your Session

 

June Session Meeting

  • Tres Buchek opened our meeting with prayer, and the Session was blessed to hear the personal testimony of Elder Martha Maynard. The Session spent time in small groups discussing the rise of anti-Christian sentiment being expressed by some in Congress.
  • The Session voted to form a task force to make recommendations on how to accurately and kindly update our rolls of covenant partners (members).
  • Kelley Terry reported for the Personnel Committee. The committee recommended that the Session consider forming an Associate Pastor Nominating Committee, to begin looking for a pastor to take over Bob Fuller’s tasks so Bob will be able to take the reigns as senior pastor January 1, 2018. The Session asked Bob Fuller and Ron Scates to submit a slate for their approval, along with the current leadership flowchart.
  • Jim McCann reported for Stewardship and Finance that this year’s revenues continue to exceed last year’s. Although we did not meet the goal for revenues set by this year’s budget, we continued to experience a positive net income due to judiciously trimming our expenses.
  • The Session approved a resolution in memory of elder George Gosling, and agreed to celebrate the 500th anniversary of the Reformation this autumn in sermons and teaching. Plans are underway to begin meeting with Paul Borden, PhD, to coordinate the future strategic planning of FPC, which has already been underwritten by an anonymous church member. The process of fact gathering will begin in August of this year, and the presentation phase will be in January of 2018. The Session encourages ALL to participate, especially all of our officers who are currently on rotation!

Tripp Stuart, Clerk of Your Session

 

May Session Meeting

Bullet Points from Your Session’s May 2017 Meeting:

  • Bob Stevens opened our meeting with a devotional and prayer, and we were joined by Rev. John Dearman, our Assistant Pastor assigned to lead Christ of the Hills, our ECO church plant in Boerne. If you haven’t already, please read about John on our website, and introduce yourself to him and his family.
  • The Session is enjoying hearing the personal testimonies of our Elders before the business of each meeting. This month we were blessed by Pastor Bob Fuller’s testimony.
  • Stewardship & Finance reported that we are in the black financially and the healthful trend in giving is continuing. It encouraged the Session that the congregation is responding positively to our church’s direction, and we are confident that the closer we all follow our Lord’s leading, the healthier we will be.
  • The Property Committee warmly invited everyone to visit the first floor to admire the changes in the Children’s Center. It has been a lengthy but fruitful investment in our future. Bob Stevens also gave us good news at the start of summer – that the air conditioning water-cooling chillers and their controlling mechanisms are being updated!
  • Michael Wood introduced Emily Yergler, one of our youth ministry associates, who apprised the Session of an exciting three-week mission trip being planned for the summer of 2018 in Budapest, Hungary. It is being coordinated with Steve and Barbara Johnson who are longtime FPC mission partners in Hungary. The trip is designed for more mature youth, namely college age students and those starting their senior year of high school in the fall of 2018. The session was supportive of this venture, both for the participants’ sakes, and in that it will support and reinforce our ties in ministry with the Johnsons. Please seriously consider supporting this trip financially and with prayer.
  • After discussion, the Session voted to commit to employ Paul Borden, PhD, to coordinate the future strategic planning of FPC, which has already been underwritten by an anonymous church member. The process of fact gathering will commence in August of this year, and the presentation phase will be in January of 2019. The Session is pleased that we will have a lengthier period of fact gathering, and encourages ALL to participate, especially all of our officers who are currently on rotation.
  • The Session elected Jim McCann as Church Treasurer, and re-elected Tripp Stuart as Clerk of the Session.

Tripp Stuart, Clerk of Your Session

 

April Session Meeting

Bullet Points from Your Session’s April 2017 Meeting:

  • The Session had one item on the agenda this month. Having decided to explore the possibility of using a professional team to help us evaluate our church and to explore what God’s vision will be for our future, Ron Scates invited Paul Borden, Th.M., Ph.D. to speak to the Session. Paul has worked with many North American churches including Highland Park Presbyterian and several others in ECO. We benefitted greatly from his discussion, and will decide in the coming Session meetings whether we feel God is leading us to re-explore our vision and purpose, and whether we use Paul’s team. Cost is not a factor for our budget, as members have already graciously come forward willing to underwrite these efforts.

Tripp Stuart, Clerk of Your Session

 

March Session Meeting

Bullet Points from Your Session’s March 2017 Meeting:

  • Dale Hendrix, Stewardship & Finance, reported a shortfall in net income of $26,500 for the month of February. Revenues were under budget for the month. The good news is that, year-to-date, we are in the black with a $165,280 surplus and revenues are ahead of last year.
  • Nancy Cross, Elder, proposed changing the nominating committee guidelines to allow husbands and wives to serve concurrently on the diaconate. This change only pertains to the diaconate and not the session. The change would allow the nominating committee to take advantage of the gifts a husband and wife team could potentially bring to the deacon role. Since the diaconate is not a governing body of the church, there would be no conflict of interest. The proposal was unanimously approved.
  • Ron Scates, co-pastor, requested input on whether a long range strategic planning session would be of benefit. After much discussion, it was decided that we would ask Paul Borden, a strategic planning consultant and associate of ECO, to attend the next session meeting to provide insight on the process and benefits of a strategic plan.

Tripp Stuart, Clerk of Your Session

 

February Session Meeting

Bullet Points from Your Session’s February 2017 Meeting:

  • At the Officer Dinner, our co-pastors shared their vision for First Presbyterian Church. They shared exciting ideas and visions and challenged us to dream big dreams for God’s kingdom in San Antonio. The city’s slogan for San Antonio’s 300 year anniversary is “The first 300 started with a mission; so will the next.” First Presbyterian sits at the crossroads to be that mission and need to be God’s hands, feet, and voice calling our culture away from the siren song of changing mores and values, and to proclaim God’s unchanging word for our city’s benefit.
  • Kelly Terry, chair of the Personnel Committee, asked the Session to approve salary and housing loan plans for both a new Young Adults Associate Minister, and a new Assistant Minister that will be serving at our church plant, Christ of the Hills Church in Boerne. She also reported that we had received a very favorable settlement with the IRS over one of our previous retirement plans which was not in strict compliance with IRS regulations. By working honestly with them, they were able to significantly decrease our penalty and prevent any of our employees from being fined. The current plan is in full compliance with IRS regulations.
  • Dale Hendrix, reporting for Stewardship & Finance, had even more good news about the end of the year finances. You really came through for kingdom work at FPC! Revenues exceeded expenditures for the year such that monies borrowed from other accounts were able to be restored, leaving a $94,155 excess to be distributed to our benevolences, as directed by the Session. January revenues were also very favorable. This significant turnaround demonstrates your growing confidence in our church and its health. Thank you, and let us all continue this trend so that we are able to do all that bringing the Love of Christ to our world entails.
  • Rick Jordan, the chair of our search committee for an associate pastor for young adults came with the news that his committee, made up of a significant number of young adults, has chosen a candidate. Many of you remember Mitchell Moore who used to work with our youth here. He is now ordained and is excited to return to FPC with his family to take the reins that Shannon Pappas used to hold. Mitchell is full of energy and thinks outside the box such that his positive influence at FPC will likely extend well beyond the young adult ministry. The committee’s faces were beaming as they communicated their collective excitement about their choice. The Session set February 26 for a congregational meeting to vote on calling Mitchell Moore as Associate Pastor of Young Adults. A biography including all that Mitchell has accomplished since leaving us will be available for that meeting.

Tripp Stuart, Clerk of Your Session

 

January Session Meeting

Bullet Points from Your Session’s January 2017 Meeting:

  • At the Officer’s Dinner, Rev. Bob Fuller challenged us to be the type of church that makes people want to investigate the claims of Jesus Christ. When our experiences with other members do not meet our expectations, we need to think the best of each other, remembering that God did much more for us; He was confident that we were redeemable. Only by modeling God’s love for us in Christ will we make Jesus visible and attractive to those whom God is calling to Himself.
  • Tres Buchek reported for the Personnel Committee that our 403b retirement plan has been reviewed by our attorneys and has been deemed to be in compliance with IRS regulations. The Personnel Committee is actively searching for a replacement for Marie Nipp, our Finance and Human Resource Coordinator, who is relocating.
  • Dale Hendrix, reporting for Stewardship & Finance, had good news about the end of the year finances. You really came through for kingdom work at FPC! Revenues exceeded expenditures for the year such that monies borrowed from other accounts were able to be restored, leaving a $75,000 excess to be distributed to our benevolences, as directed by the Session last month. This is a significant turnaround that demonstrates your growing confidence in our church and its health. Thank you, and let us all continue this trend so that we are able to do all that bringing the Love of Christ to our world entails.

Tripp Stuart, Clerk of Your Session

 

December Session Meeting

Bullet Points from Your Session’s December 2016 Meeting

  • Your Session studied “Faithful Stewardship of All of Life” from the book “Doorways Study Guide for the Essential Tenets” together and in small groups. Ron reminded us all that it is false to artificially separate our lives into “sacred” and “secular” as “The Earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof.”
  • Kelley Terry reported for the Personnel Committee that we are losing two of our valued staff members due to relocation. Please let Morgan Ford and Marie Nipp know how much we will miss them! As we continue to look for efficiencies, Personnel found that Joe Moore, our director of Older Adults Ministry, also has a keen interest in Missions, and he will be gladly attempting to fill Morgan’s shoes, as an additional assignment. For tax purposes, the Session also approved the portion each pastor designated of his salary for housing.
  • Dale Hendrix, reporting for Stewardship & Finance, came to the Session with good news! We are very close to budget! Members are taking seriously our pastors’ encouragement to invest in Christ’s Kingdom here at FPC. While we are thankful, we need to press on through the end of the year with our sacrificial giving. Our goal is to end the year without dipping in to reserve funds. The Session also decided that should we be so blessed as to have an overage this year, 100% of it will go to benevolences. The Session approved next year’s budget, which was decreased somewhat from this year’s by S&F taking a hard, responsible look at all of our expenditures.
  • Ed Moore, chair of our Worship Committee, led a discussion with your Session concerning the possible restructuring of our Sunday morning worship schedule. During fruitful dialogue, many different goals and preferences were expressed. The Session, after consideration, decided not to make any changes at this time. There will be ongoing discussion as elders attempt to make both Christian Education and flexible worship service opportunities a priority.
  • The Session carefully listened to your questions and comments at the Town Hall Meeting on December 7th and formally examined each pastoral candidate at a specially-called meeting afterwards. Your Session then joyfully voted unanimously to formally place in nomination The Rev. Ron Scates and The Rev. Robert Fuller, Jr. to serve as Co-Pastors for 2017, and for The Rev. Robert Fuller, Jr. to serve as the Senior Pastor of First Presbyterian Church of San Antonio, effective January 1, 2018. Please take part in our Congregational Meeting today immediately following the 11 a.m. Traditional Worship Service in the Sanctuary for the purpose of the congregation electing to call these faithful men of God.

Tripp Stuart, Clerk of Your Session

 

November Session Meeting

Bullet Points from Your Session’s November 2016 Meeting:

  • The Session will begin hearing the testimonies of individual Session members after the opening prayer each meeting. This will allow us to get to know each other on a deeper spiritual level, and draw us closer as a Session. This month we heard from Boxy Hornberger, who suggested the idea.
  • The Session heard a report from our Interim Senior Pastor, Ron Scates, that it is time to begin looking for our next Senior Pastor. After much discussion, the Session, being a representative body elected by the congregation, decided the best way forward was to act as a Pastor Nominating Committee itself, which is permitted under ECO polity. Please read the Congregational letter that is available on our website and was e-mailed to all members.
  • The Session believes that God has already provided for us. We have a strong Interim Pastor in Ron who is tested and true and who we have already employed through 2017. Bob Fuller was chosen by the APNC after a nationwide search. In a very short time Bob Fuller has endeared himself to many members of our congregation. His 13 years of experience as a Senior Pastor at Fairview Presbyterian Church in North Augusta, South Carolina has been an asset to First San Antonio. What many of you may not know is that the PNC which called Trey Little considered Bob Fuller a strong contender at that time; however, Bob removed himself from that search because of obligations he had to his then-congregation. God has led two different PNCs which searched the entire country to Bob Fuller!
  • There will be a Congregational Dinner and Town Hall Meeting on Wednesday, December 7th at 5:30 p.m. in Westminster Hall. The Session will meet afterwards to potentially set the date for a Congregational Meeting on Sunday, December 18th immediately following the 11:00 a.m. worship service in the sanctuary for the purpose of voting to elect The Rev. Ron Scates and The Rev. Robert Fuller, Jr. to serve as Co-Pastors for 2017, and to vote on the election of The Rev. Robert Fuller, Jr. to serve as the Senior Pastor of First Presbyterian Church of San Antonio, effective January 1, 2018.
  • The Personnel Committee has been at work on increasing efficiency while remaining fair to our valued employees. Please continue to show all our staff how much we appreciate them, and how valuable they are.
  • Stewardship & Finance reported that October’s giving was increased, but there is still room for improvement. Steps are being taken to fund expenses for the rest of the year. Please do not fail to take advantage of your opportunity to invest in Christ’s Kingdom. Please remember to turn your pledge cards in, either to the church office or place them in the offering plate. Cards are available in the pew racks as well as Mauze Lobby.

– Tripp Stuart, Clerk of Your Session

 

October Session Meeting

Bullet Points from Your Session’s October 2016 Meeting:

  • The Session studied “The Covenant Life in the Church” from the ECO tenets review book, in small groups.
  • The Church Planting Team came to the Session with members of our first church plant, Christ of the Hills Church, of Boerne, which is currently a satellite congregation of FPC, their members being affiliate members of our church. A pastor nominating committee will soon be formed, consisting of four members of Christ of the Hills and one from FPC. The committee will coordinate with our new presbytery, the Texas and Louisiana Presbytery under ECO. Their future pastor will be considered an assistant pastor of FPC, and will serve in Boerne. The Session approved using the interest generated from the proceeds of the sale of the 1604 property, to help this congregation pay their pastor’s salary over the next five years. If you are in the Boerne area, please visit their vibrant and growing church!
  • The Personnel Committee reported that the process of our staff joining ECO’s benefits plan is complete.
  • The Stewardship and Finance Committee reported that we got a clean bill of health from our financial auditors. Although giving is slightly up from last month at this time, we are still behind for the year and need to increase our investments in Christ’s kingdom here at FPC.
  • The Texas and Louisiana Presbytery is holding a presbytery meeting in Dallas at Highland Park Presbyterian Church in November. Members of our ministerial staff and Session will be attending.
  • Rick Jordan, chair of the APNC currently searching for an Assistant Pastor for Young Adults, reports that his committee has come together successfully as an effective group, and that the committee has six exciting, qualified candidates with whom they will be conducting initial telephone interviews this month.

-Tripp Stuart, Clerk of Your Session

 

September Session Meeting

Bullet Points from Your Session’s September 2016 Meeting:

  • The Session welcomed Reverend Dr. Bob Fuller, who joined us for the first time, and has already started working as our Associate Pastor of Christian Education. Please welcome him, his wife Morgan, his daughter Ellie, and his son Bo!
  • Stewardship & Finance reported that overall giving is still down, although the July numbers ended up being better than first reported. Boxy Hornberger, the President of the FPC Foundation, applauded our ongoing commitment to fiscal responsibility, and asked that if it be necessary to end the year with a deficit, that it be kept to a minimum. A group from the Stewardship & Finance and Personnel committees will meet soon to determine the steps that need to be taken to accomplish this goal and to begin to prepare an appropriate budget for next year. Ron Scates reminded us all that the money definitely exists to support God’s work at FPC, but that our hearts need to be moved to faithfully invest in the Kingdom here. Please examine your commitment to giving back to the Lord through FPC, that we may continue to serve Him effectively in San Antonio and throughout the world.
  • Having previously extended Interim Senior Pastor Ron Scates’ contract through December of 2017 in order to provide for FPC’s stability, the Session agreed that everyone should continue to regard and respect him as our leader and head pastor, not as a “short-timer,” and the Session thanked him for his service and asked him to continue to confidently preach the Word, and to lead our church as the Holy Spirit directs.
  • Doug Beach brought the Session great news that “Pathways to Hope,” the two-day in town conference held in August to educate and break the stigma of mental health issues, was a huge success with over 1400 attending, representing 316 different congregations. Doug and Barbie deserve our thanks and congratulations for planning it and for encouraging FPC to be sponsors.
  • The Property Committee received approval for the final step in the refurbishment of the first floor. All leaks will have been definitively repaired before the installation. This is an exciting and necessary project to demonstrate our church’s commitment to its future members and leaders. Please be patient as the project is underway, it will have been well worth all the time and trouble when it is complete! Everyone who uses the first floor will benefit: primarily our children, but also Loaves and Fishes, Young Lives, visiting mission teams, and Urban Plunge, to name but a few.
  • The Personnel Committee reported that through the diligent work of Kelley Terry and Jeannie Douglas, the projected increase in costs to maintain our current level of staff benefits through ECO were greatly reduced. Transitioning to ECO’s benefits plan was the final required step in completing the affiliation process with our new denomination, and that is now accomplished!
  • The Session felt that it was appropriate at this time of transition and recovery to unanimously reaffirm its resolution of April 2012 asking the entire church and staff to continue to speak to each other out of love, with mutual respect and forbearance, to deal with any concerns through the proper channels, and to know that the leadership of FPC affirms its confidence in each of its pastoral and program staff.
  • Your Session is excited and optimistic at the celebration of our 170th As we celebrate with our church family, may we all envision and plan for what the Lord has in store for us here. By prayerfully considering increasing the level of our donations of time, talents, and treasures to The Lord’s work at First Presbyterian Church, we will be better able to serve our city and our world, and to “Make Jesus Visible,” from Fourth and Alamo into the future.

-Tripp Stuart, Clerk of Your Session

 

July/August Session Meetings

Bullet Points from Your Session’s July and August 2016 Meetings:

  • Your Session has some good news! An Associate Pastor Nominating Committee has been formed in order to look for an Associate Pastor of Young Adults. Rick Jordan is the chair of the committee, of which half are young adults themselves! This future associate pastor will eventually join Ron, Scott, and now Bob Fuller, our new Associate Pastor of Christian Education. Bob and his family are in San Antonio, and Bob will be up to speed towards the end of August.
  • At the recommendation of the Church Planting Committee, your Session approved the sponsorship of a new ECO congregation made up of Presbyterians in Boerne.
  • The Personnel Committee announced that as of October first, the benefits packages of all staff will be aligned with the ECO benefits packages and will be as close to the previous coverages as possible.
  • The Property Committee reported that the courtyard fountain has been repaired and is once again providing the refreshing sound of water and new life. Work on maintenance of the stained glass in the Sanctuary behind the organ is commencing, and two new passenger vans have been purchased and were put into use at Mo Ranch. The Session approved replacing the flooring on the first floor including the hallways, as part of our intentional care of our younger members and our future.
  • The Local Missions Committee is off to a vigorous start and is currently evaluating our local giving plans to better fulfill the Great Commission and Jesus’ command to “love our neighbors as ourselves.”
  • Ron announced a plan to promote the staff and Session working together more effectively. A mini staff and session retreat will be planned in the fall, probably November, in order to strengthen the relationships between the two groups.
  • Stewardship & Finance reported that giving is unfortunately still lagging below our budget. The committee, our pastors, and your session requested prayer that all officers and members would consider increasing their support by faith for all that the future holds for FPC. While it is normal to be slightly behind in the summer, we all need to support what God is doing here at FPC now more than ever!

-Tripp Stuart, Clerk of Your Session

 

June Session Meeting

Bullet Points from Your Session’s June 2016 Meeting:

  • Your Session has some good news! The Associate Pastor Nominating Committee has placed a pastor in nomination for the position of “Associate Pastor of Christian Education.” The pastor will direct our Christian education program for all ages. A Congregational meeting is called for June 26th for the purpose of electing this pastor. We will know a name and be able to release a biography as soon as their current church is notified
  • The Personnel Committee also sought and received session approval for the position of “Assistant Pastor of Young Adults.” The Session will form an APNC for this position. The Session recognizes that young adults are our future and want to fully support this ministry as soon as possible. These two new pastors will help us move forward confidently into the future, while providing needed relief for Ron and Scott.
  • Stewardship & Finance reported that although giving is still down, through limitation of expenditures, the church was in the black for May. Please pray about increasing your giving to our dear church in the coming months, to support our Lord’s work here at Fourth and Alamo.
  • Barbara Anne Stephens reported on behalf of Local Missions that the position of Missions Director has been filled, by our own Morgan Ford. She will start immediately to support all of our mission programs. Barbara Anne and Doug Beach reported that on August 26th and 27th there will be a citywide conference at the Tobin Center, supported by First Presbyterian, called “Pathways to Hope” to provide education and support for those touched by mental illness, to break its stigma. For more information, see www.pathwaystohope.net.
  • The Session voted unanimously to fund long-needed major cosmetic improvements downstairs in the children’s area. This will be paid for by funds available outside this year’s operating budget, and begin this summer. Everyone who uses the first floor will be benefitted: primarily our children, but also Loaves and Fishes, Young Lives, visiting mission teams, and Urban Plunge, to name a few.
  • Your Session is very excited and optimistic to be able to announce these important milestones, and invites each of you personally to join with your church as we move forward into the exciting future the Lord has in store for us here. Please prayerfully consider increasing the level of your donations of time, talents, and treasures to First Presbyterian Church to allow us to better serve our city and our world, and to “Make Jesus Visible,” from Fourth and Alamo.

Tripp Stuart, Clerk of Your Session

 

May Session Meeting

Bullet Points from Your Session’s May 2016 Meeting:

  • The Session prayed together in small groups for our church, that its momentum would continue, and that Christ would protect and empower us to do His will as we lift Him up.
  • Ron Scates thanked and dismissed the Session’s Class of 2016 for all they have done through this stormy yet victorious period in our congregation’s history.
  • The Session approved a resolution in honor of Olive Davis, written by Barbara Anne Stephens, and asked that a letter of condolence be penned to the family of Rev. James Hickson Lee, who was a true friend of this congregation, and was the pastor of New Covenant Fellowship in Austin.
  • The Personnel Committee reported on negotiations with ECO on our staff’s benefits and reported that the Assistant Pastor Nominating Committee was making good progress and would make a report as soon as they have finalized their recommendations. Please pray for this committee as they seek to follow the Holy Spirit’s lead.
  • The Stewardship & Finance committee reported that we were behind in collections as of May, and that we all need to pray and resolve to regularly give sacrificially to the church.
  • Repairs to the stained glass windows behind the choir loft and to the courtyard fountain were approved by the Session and will begin shortly. We believe that with the fountain repairs, we will be approved by SAWS to be able to run the fountain continuously.
  • The Session thanked Dirk DeKoch and the Church Relations Committee for all they did on behalf of FPC during our transition, and dissolved the committee. A committee for the celebration of our church’s 170th anniversary was approved, as was a Church Planting Committee, which will support and aid new congregations and those going through transitions.
  • Dale Hendricks was submitted as the Stewardship and Finance Committee’s nominee for the post of Church Treasurer and was unanimously approved. Tripp Stuart was unanimously approved to continue as Clerk of the Session.

Tripp Stuart, Clerk of Your Session

 

April Session Meeting

Bullet Points from Your Session’s April 2016 Meeting:

  • The Session heard a report from Holly Youngquist, chair of the Assistant Pastor Nominating Committee. Holly and her team sought guidance on whether the job description initially described was flexible, as her team had uncovered some great prospects which may not fit into the way the job descriptions for future ministers had been written. The Session asked her to follow the lead of the Holy Spirit, and to make their suggestions whatever they may be. The Session was excited about the potential for strong candidates.
  • Kraig Kelly, the Assistant Pastor at Highland Park Presbyterian in charge of church planting gave a presentation to the Session, and the session of Leon Springs Presbyterian on church planting. It was exciting and inspiring and opened up new visions as to what the Lord may be calling us to do.

Tripp Stuart, Clerk of Your Session

 

March Session Meeting

Bullet Points from Your Session’s March 2016 Meeting:

  • Your Session spent the first twenty minutes in small group study of the Essential Theological Tenets of ECO, our new denomination.
  • Hank Cherry, our Director of Communications, presented the ongoing plan to improve communications throughout the church. You may have seen the digital screen in the Mauzé Lobby on the column next to the receptionist’s desk. More of these attractive and informative screens will be placed in key locations around the church for your convenience. The Session also had ongoing discussions about the potential digital elevated monument sign at the East corner of the parking lot reaching Highway 281 traffic.
  • The Personnel Committee reported that the church staff and the Session would meet together on Saturday, April 9 to have the new organizational structure explained in detail and to have all questions answered. This model is divided according to our missions of worship, grow, serve and support.
  • Stewardship & Finance reported that February’s giving resulted in a surplus. Ron Baker presented several ways by which our benevolence giving could be made more transparent and more easily understood. The Session adopted a plan to achieve these ends in a stepwise fashion which had been approved by our auditor.
  • The Session received a report from Lady Romano about our Children’s Center pre-school. The finances are in order and they are looking at the possibility of expanding the number of children served.
  • The Session approved the final documents that will complete our affiliation process with the ECO denomination.
  • Under the Fellowship of Presbyterians, FPC had worked with Grace Presbyterian of Houston as a Mission Affinity Partner. The same relationships between similar congregations are also encouraged by ECO and Grace invited us to continue to partner with them in our new denomination. The Session gladly accepted their offer and looks forward to meeting regularly with their session.

Tripp Stuart, Clerk of Your Session

 

February Session Meeting

Bullet Points from Your Session’s February 2016 Meeting:

  • The proposed financial settlement to end our suit with Mission Presbytery PC(USA) to establish that we own our own property was approved unanimously at the Congregational Meeting on January 31st. We will also continue to have the exclusive use of our name, First Presbyterian Church, San Antonio.
  • The work of reconciliation with those who voted differently than we did continues. On a person-by-person, friend-by-friend basis, please reach out to those whom you hold dear. Barbara Anne Stephens reminded the Session that none other than Jesus Christ Himself (Col. 1:19, 20) is our model for the call to reconciliation and that we serve a God of reconciliation.
  • The Session continued studying the Essential Tenets of ECO together. This month we studied and discussed what we believe about God’s Word. The ECO Essential Tenets are available at www.eco-pres.org under “Resources.”
  • The Session heard a report from the Personnel Committee that the Four Initiative Team model leaders, called moderators, have begun meeting. They are committed to educating not only the staff, but also the congregation about this new model which consists of dividing all of our activities into “Worship, Grow, Serve, and Support.” As we go forward, our budget will conform to this model to closely tailor our budget to all parts of our mission.
  • A pastor nominating committee of members has been formed to seek an Assistant or Associate* Pastor of Christian Education from “cradle to grave.” Members of this important committee are: Carter Ray, Dana Carter, Holly Youngquist, Janie Worth, Jerry Hardwick, Michael Wood, and Cindy Lutz. Greg Anderson will serve as alternate. The committee has already begun its work, so if you should have a recommendation, please contact them.
  • The Session was excited to hear that giving in January led to a surplus, and that due to the future of our local church being settled, some members are beginning again to plan for long term gifts to the church. The Session renewed its commitment to transparent benevolent giving to local and world missions. Please continue to support all of our efforts to fulfill the Great Commission and Lift up our Lord and Savior here at Fourth and Alamo with your faithful stewardship.
  • The Session will read the last two documents that remain to be signed to finalize our agreement to join ECO. On March 21st, the Session will vote on these and sign and submit them, which is also the date that our settlement with Mission Presbytery and the PC(USA) becomes final.
  • The Session wants to celebrate both this year as a new beginning for us with ECO, as well as the important milestone of existing to serve Jesus Christ in San Antonio for 170 years. Look for celebratory activities in the near future!

*For the differences between Associate and Assistant Pastors, which are both ordained, called positions, see www.eco-pres.org under Resources, ECO Polity & Ordination, and the ECO Polity, see 2.0401.

Tripp Stuart, Clerk of Your Session

 

January Session Meeting

Bullet Points from Your Session’s January 2016 Meeting:

  • The 2016 Officer Nominating Committee was elected at the congregational meeting on January 10th. Please nominate qualified members for leadership in our church.
  • The Session began studying the Essential Tenets of ECO together. They are available at www.eco-pres.org under “Resources.”
  • The Session renewed its commitment, on a person-by-person, friend-by-friend basis, to continue the important work of reconciliation and renewal of friendships with those who may have voted differently than us last November. Members are strongly encouraged to join in on this process with their own friends.
  • The Session appointed volunteers to lead the four initiative teams in our new organizational structure. Ron Scates will head up “Worship,” Ellen Meadows and Dana Carter will head up “Grow,” Ben McCaleb will head up “Serve,” and Buddy Johnson and Ron Baker will head up “Support.”
  • After two months of thought and discussion, the Session decided that Ron Scates’ contract of up to eighteen months more as our Interim Senior Pastor, should be extended such that he remain with us through the end of 2017, that is, for 24 months. Ron has graciously agreed to stay with us.
  • A pastor nominating committee of members is being formed to seek an Assistant or Associate* Pastor of Christian Education from “cradle to grave.” When the time comes to look for a new Senior Pastor, the Session is committed to appointing a PNC which will consist of a broad spectrum of members, and which will be duly elected by the congregation.
  • The Session was grateful to hear that giving in late December was greater than projected, and that we had the best Christmas Eve Special Offering ever. Third and fourth quarter benevolence monies were released to be distributed, and our 2016 budget was approved by the Session. Please continue to support all of our efforts to fulfill the Great Commission and Lift up our Lord and Savior here at Fourth and Alamo with your faithful stewardship.
  • Hank Cherry, our Director of Communications, presented an intriguing and well-conceived proposition for a tasteful sign at the east corner of our parking lot, which could be read from traffic driving either direction on highway 281.

*For the differences between Associate and Assistant Pastors, which are both ordained, called positions, see www.eco-pres.org under Resources, ECO Polity & Ordination, and the ECO Polity, see 2.0401.

Tripp Stuart, Clerk of Your Session

 

December Session Meeting

Bullet Points from Your Session’s December 2015 Meeting:

  • Your Session spent the first twenty minutes exploring “What’s Next?” for FPC by examining our traditional Christmas Eve benediction point by point.
  • The Personnel Committee began Session discussions on appointing Pastor Nominating Committees for two new pastors. The Session will continue these discussions in January and will consider which pastor positions should be filled. The PNCs will eventually be nominated by the Session and confirmed after congregational input and election.
  • Stewardship & Finance reported that this year’s finances still need an end of the year boost and requested prayer that all officers and members would consider increasing their support by faith for all that the future holds for FPC. Pledges are slightly increased over last year, but unpledged support continues to represent a growing percentage.
  • The nominated slate for next year’s Officer Nominating Committee is almost complete. These volunteers will be placed before the congregation for election on January 10th at a Congregational Meeting.
  • The Connecting Committee received approval to bring our Discover First new member classes in line with ECO polity to be ready for our next class of new members in January.
  • First Presbyterian will not allow “open carry” in our building, but will have information cards, as required, in lieu of signage. Tripp Stuart, Clerk of Your Session

Tripp Stuart, Clerk of Your Session

 

October Session Meeting

Bullet Points from Your Session’s October 2015 Meeting:

  • Your Session spent the first twenty minutes in small group prayer, using the ‘ACTS’ scheme: Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication.
  • The Personnel Committee reported on the ongoing efforts to fill key leadership positions in our new organizational structure. Please pray that God will raise up those elders and others to chair the key positions, which will be discussed in November.
  • Stewardship & Finance reported that this year’s Stewardship Campaign will kick off on November 8th, and the theme will be “Rediscovering our Future.” Finances were somewhat down in September but were tracking with last year’s giving patterns. As our future direction becomes clearer, we anticipate that the resulting stability will increase giving which at this time may be being held back temporarily.
  • The Property Committee made two requests for funding for needed building maintenance. First, for approximately $32 thousand dollars, to address serious drainage issues causing water to leak into our building along the southeast side. This has been causing damage to carpeting and has required rooms to be closed. Second, our telephone system has failed and is not able to handle voice mail. After significant research, the entire phone system needs to be completely replaced and updated, which will allow flexibility in the future as well. The cost for this is approximately $40 thousand dollars. Both requests were approved.
  • The Session received a report from the Church Relations Committee, which after years of prayer and thoughtful planning and discussion, resulted in a series of motions:

The Session of First Presbyterian Church, San Antonio approved and recommended that the congregation adopt the following resolutions:

  1. That First Presbyterian Church, San Antonio terminate our voluntary affiliation with the Presbyterian Church (USA).
  1. That First Presbyterian Church, San Antonio petition A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians (ECO) for voluntary affiliation, and so affiliate, if approved.
  1. That First Presbyterian Church, San Antonio reaffirm and ratify its previous elders and deacons, both active and those on rotation; the officer nominating committee; and the terms of call of all ordained staff wishing to remain employed by First Presbyterian Church, San Antonio.

Further, The Session set:

  1. October 25th after the 11:00 o’clock worship service for a congregational informational meeting, to be led by the Church Relations Committee, to discuss these issues.
  1. November the 1st after the combined 11:00 o’clock worship service for a congregational meeting to vote on the above three resolutions according to our church’s by-laws.

Your Session also approved a packet of informational materials to be distributed to aid members in better understanding the reasons behind these actions and the implications of the choices before us. Please look for this packet in your U.S. mail, your e-mail and on our website, fpcsanantonio.org.

Tripp Stuart, Clerk of Your Session

 

September Session Meeting

Bullet Points from Your Session’s September 2015 Meeting:

          • Your Session spent the first twenty minutes in small group prayer, using the ‘ACTS’ scheme: Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication.
          •  The Personnel Committee reported that three of our empty positions have been filled! Please join us in welcoming:
            1.) Alex Solorio, our University Ministry Associate
            2.) Kevin Dailey, our Contemporary Music Leader
            3.) Hank Cherry, our Communications Director.
            We are still searching for our Minister of Christian Education.
          •  Stewardship & Finance reported that this summer was the first in many years that we did not have to dip into the operating reserve fund to borrow money to make up for the summer doldrums in giving. However, that was due mainly to the fact that we have less ministerial staff salaries to pay at this time. Please continue to be faithful in your giving, as our call and our ministries in service to Christ’s Kingdom continue! This year’s Stewardship Campaign will kick off on November 5th, and the theme will be “Rediscovering our Future.”
          •  Janet Slayden reported that the official third party audit of our church’s finances was completed, was successful, and that our financial accounting was found to be in order.
          •  The Session received a report from the Church Relations Committee, which proposed a letter which the Session approved, as a response to the letter we had received from the Session of University Presbyterian. An update on the progress of our property litigation suit was also presented. All of these documents will be e-mailed to our members and be available on our website.Tripp Stuart, Clerk of Your Session

Session Resolution in Gratitude for the Life of Ralph E. Lehr:
Click here for the full Session Resolution.


June Session Meeting

Bullet Points from Your Session’s June 2015 Meeting:

          • The Session approved a new organizational plan for the church which was designed by a special task force of the Personnel Committee. The plan is built around Purpose rather than Function. It will allow Session members true responsibility for their committees and allow pastors more time to devote to pastoral duties. The plan will also guide us as we begin to define and refill our empty pastor positions.

          • The Session heard an encouraging report from the Stewardship & Finance Committee that giving is up. The budget will eventually be re-worked to match the changes in Church organization, and will become a Mission-based budget.

          • The Church Relations Committee will host several informational “Gatherings” which will provide information and discussion on two of the critical issues we are facing as a congregation:
            1) Can we keep our property? and
            2) Where might we go if we decide to leave the PC(USA) denomination? Look for announcements in the near future concerning the schedule for these important meetings.

          • The Session, acting in concert with a request from the Global Missions Committee, approved $50,000.00 to be added to $10,000.00 already earmarked to build two sorely needed bakeries to serve the Yazidis in Iraq.

 

April Session Meeting

Bullet Points from Your Session’s April 2015 Meeting:

          • The Personnel Committee, with the concurrence of the Stewardship and Finance Committee, made a motion to amend the Interim Pastor Employment Contract between First Presbyterian Church, San Antonio and the Rev. Doctor Ron W. Scates to reflect an increase in the Salary and Housing allowance terms from the specified $120,000 per annum to $150,000 per annum, effective April 6, 2015, this was unanimously approved by the Session.
          • March donations to the church were not quite as robust as had been hoped for. Despite this, Stewardship and Finance did approve the release of 1st Quarter benevolences in the amount of $166,002.17, to be distributed per the pre-approved schedule of 15% to Benevolence and Oversight, 40% to Global Missions, and 45% to Local Missions.
          • The Session approved an email voting policy, for those non-controversial decisions and votes which are time sensitive.

 

The Session received a report for the Church Relations Committee, which plans to have another meeting with representatives of Mission Presbytery, later in April.

 

 

March Session Meeting

Bullet Points from Your Session’s March 2015 meeting:

          • The Session heard a report that Mission Presbytery had approved – 212 to 142 – an amendment to The Book of Order to change the definition of marriage from “one man and one woman” to “two people.” (As of Tuesday, March 17, 2015, the majority of presbyteries needed to approve the amendment across the PC(USA) had been achieved.)
          • The Session formed a Task Force at the suggestion of the Personnel Committee to redesign our church’s organizational chart, to be approved by the Session to best support our ministries and to guide our search for new associate ministers in the future.
          • The Stewardship & Finance committee reported that we were behind in collections as of February, but they were closely monitoring the decrease in giving.
          • The Benevolence & Oversight committee successfully brought a motion for FPC to divert our voluntary per capita payments from The Synod of the Sun and The General Assembly to The Fellowship (of Presbyterians) Community, due to the fact that Mission Presbytery had decreased their own funding to the higher governing bodies and due to the fact that The General Assembly is currently being investigated for possible misappropriation of funds. The Session in April of 2014 had approved and published the statement that “Going forward, the session intends to give increased scrutiny to denominational funding that does not align with our theological convictions.”
          • The Session strongly supported Reverend Ron Scates’ letter to the congregation and stood by him while voicing their own disappointment that the amendment to the Book of Order regarding marriage had passed in that it was contrary to our local church’s historic beliefs, contrary to the Directory of Worship, contrary to the Constitution of the PC(USA) as found in our Book of Confessions, and most importantly, contrary to the authority of Scripture. The statement by the Session will be mailed to the congregation as well as published in First Press and on our website.

 

February Session Meeting

Minutes in Seconds

At the Stated Session Meeting on February 9 the following business items were conducted:

          • The meeting was moderated by the Rev. John H. Seiders as appointed by the Rev. Dr. Ronald W. Scates.
          • Elder Chuck Bunn opened the meeting in prayer.
          • The Session approved the items on the Consent Agenda including: the approval of minutes from previous Session meetings, the review and approval of minutes of previous Deacons’ meetings, changes to the Church Register, and received the minutes of Session Committees.
          • The Clerk reported on correspondence and other details.
          • Committee Reports were given by the following committees:
            • Personnel – Elder Buddy Johnson (Chair) reported on the details of the dissolution of the respective calls of the Rev. Dr. Ruthie Seiders and the Rev. John H. Seiders; reviewed the current organizational chart and noting reporting and supervision responsibilities after Ruthie and John Seiders depart; and, urged Session members to step up in their roles as we enter this season of ministry transition.
            • Stewardship and Finance – Elder Butch Gerfers (Chair) reviewed the final 2014 financial report indicating a surplus in excess of $2,000; received approval of the Session to apply the entire overage to the previous year’s deficit; and, addressed the current status of the 2015 budget.
            • Worship – Elder Ed Moore (Chair) noted the good work of the Interim Contemporary Worship Leader (Samuel Pitamber); gave and update of the search for a permanent Contemporary Worship Leader; and, spoke about the possibility of a new hymnbook.
            • University and Young Adults – Elder Brian Biggs (Chair) gave a brief report.
            • Church Relation – Elder Dirk DeKoch (Chair) introduced the report and asked committee member George Spencer to review the report which contained four separate motions: one which provides survey information for elders to review, one for authorization of committee members to meet with representatives of Mission Presbytery regarding the survey results, one which is an official Wedding Policy, and one to provide a task force to prepare and recommend a policy for the election of officers at FPC. All the motions were passed.
          • New Business included approval of the 2014 Statistical Report; the setting of the date of April 12 for the Annual Congregational Meeting; and the setting of the date of May 31 at the 11:00 Traditional Service for the Ordination and Installation of new officers.
          • Several announcements were made: the March Stated Meeting of Session will be on March 16 and the Mission Presbytery Meeting will take place at the Parkway Presbyterian Church in Corpus Christi on March 6 and 7.
          • The meeting was adjourned in prayer by the Rev. Dr. Ruthie Seiders.

 

 

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