REPORT #1 OF THE BOARD OF MISSIONS
To the members of Trinity Presbytery meeting at Freeport Cumberland Presbyterian Church, February 16, 2018:
The Board of Missions of Trinity Presbytery met in Huntsville, TX on Saturday, January 20, 2018. In attendance were Chairperson Tony Martin, Ray Santillano, Mary Kathryn Kirkpatrick, Fredy Daiz, Tammy Bailey, Dell Sheftall, and Geoff Knight. Jeff Gehle was also present.
The Board has received written requests from the Session of Bertram Cumberland Presbyterian Church and Rev. Daryl Johnson asking that Rev. Johnson be installed as pastor.
RECOMMENDATION #1: That Rev. Johnson be installed as pastor of Bertram Cumberland Presbyterian Church. (This recommendation was defeated)
RECOMMENDATION #2: That the following moderators of churches that are without a pastor be approved:
Antioch: Don Nunn
Jefferson: Mark Davenport
New Journey: Steve Turner
Pine Hill: Jack Holt
Stone Oak: J. P. Kessie
Progress: Steve Turner
Concord: Mary Kathryn Kirkpatrick, after July 31, 2018
Oak Grove: Sharon Bowers
Bertram: Mark McNeese
Freeport: Gloria Villa
RECOMMENDATION #3: That the current Nueva Vida Commission be dissolved.
RECOMMENDATION #4: That a new Nueva Vida Commission be elected, comprised of Rev. Ray Santillano, Elder Jack Holt, Elder Kathy Bettoney and Rev. Geoff Knight. The purpose of of the commission is to identify the barriers that are preventing Nueva Vida from fully participating in the life of Trinity Presbytery.
Board members Dell Sheftall and Geoff Knight, along with the Chairperson of the Board of Finance and Trustee, James Webb, met with the Session of Austin First Cumberland Presbyterian Church on February 1, 2018. Pastor Ron Stevenson and four of the six elders on the Session were in attendance. After a thorough discussion, it became clear that a majority of the congregation no longer wishes to continue. They are currently unable to meet the financial demands of maintaining the building and staff salaries, even with the $6000 a month rent they receive from two Latino congregations worshipping there. Their attendance has dwindled to five or ten for Sunday worship, and most who are left are elderly. At a recent Congregational Meeting, by a vote of nine to two, the congregation voted to allow Trinity Presbytery to take control of the property.
An investigation of the surrounding neighborhood revealed that it is undergoing gentrification. Austin commercial real estate broker Joe Willie McAllister, who attended the meeting at the Board’s request, confirmed this. Additionally, there is a growing Latino population in the surrounding area, although not in the neighborhood itself. This is supported by the success of the two Latino congregations that currently meet there.
A walk through the building revealed a structure that still has many beautiful features, but which would require a significant amount of restoration at significant cost.
The Board believes that to try to retain this asset for the purpose of engaging in ministry in this location, either as a Latino congregation or as a retooled ministry to the new people moving into the neighborhood, would strain the financial resources of Trinity Presbytery and not be the best use of this resource.
RECOMMENDATION #5: That the Session of Austin First Cumberland Presbyterian Church be dissolved, and the Trustees of Trinity Presbytery be authorized to proceed with the sale of the property.
The presbytery’s desire to have a service of worship to celebrate the life and ministry of the church was discussed with the Session. No one in attendance was in favor of having the service. The overwhelming feeling expressed was that they were worn out, tired from trying to hang on for so long, and they want it to be over with as quickly as possible. They did make one request.
RECOMMENDATION #6: That the remaining members of Austin First Cumberland Presbyterian Church be allowed to continue to use the building until it has been sold.
Tony Martin, Chairperson, The Board of Missions of Trinity Presbytery