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Annual Congregational Meeting and Denominational Discernment Update

Dear friends,

Don't forget! Our Annual Congregational meeting is tomorrow, Tuesday, January 21st at 7pm. At the outset of our regular meeting, Presbytery Representatives will meet with us to discuss our ongoing dismissal process. Please make every effort to be there. Childcare is available!

In February, after the Presbytery team has met with the congregation and Session (on Tuesday, January 28th), the serious negotiations to be dismissed from the PC(USA) will begin. We will leave with our property, but there also will be a financial cost.

This week I heard, "This negotiation process is a mystery." "I hope the team doesn’t give up the farm!" "Why do we owe the Presbytery anything?" This post will try to answer these questions. Also, feel free to contact any member of the negotiating team near the church office between services if you still have questions.

The Mystery of Negotiation

Our Executive Presbyter, Reverend Steve Yamaguchi, has set a vision for the 11 churches asking to be dismissed. We will negotiate so that the separation will be gracious and give glory to God. The Joint Solution reached should not cripple either Good Shepherd or the Presbytery. Our goal is to continue to work with Los Ranchos Presbytery in areas of mutual interest and keep friendships which have been made. We are compelled by the Presbytery Property Policy and Procedures to reach a joint solution that will consider the value of our property which is held in trust for the use and benefit of the Presbyterian Church USA. There are examples of settlements from other Presbyteries in Northern California and around the United States involving lawsuits and very negative press which we plan to avoid.

Giving Up the Farm

Two members of our team met with the Stewardship Team this week to ask for guidance in the negotiation process. The Stewardship Team was very helpful in providing a picture of “acceptable” and “crippling” scenarios for our solutions. We have no intention of “giving up the farm.”

Why do we owe Presbytery and PC(USA) anything?

In June 1961, The Presbytery of Los Angeles paid $100,500 for the 3.35 acre parcel on which Good Shepherd stands. The loan was paid off at a discount in October 1978. In 1977, the ‘trust clause’ was made part of our Book of Order and we signed off on that change, so we agreed that the property would be held in ‘trust’ by the national denomination. If we want to leave with our property, then we must pay an amount for the impact to Presbytery that our leaving causes. The amount negotiated will be different for each church since the circumstances are different for each church. We could just walk away from our property and start over, but I don’t think any of us would want to consider that option when we can negotiate graciously and leave with the property.

Again, the Presbytery representatives are visiting us Tuesday night at our Annual Congregational meeting as part of the dismissal process. They will ask the congregation (not Session or Negotiating Team members) three to five questions during the 30 minute time frame. The questions will cover our discernment process (including town hall/small group meetings) and our dismissal request to verify that the negotiating team has been accurate in our presentation and that we really do want to leave PC(USA).

We hope to see you there!

In Christ,
Sue Nelson (Brown)
Chair of the Congregational Representatives Team

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