This timeline was included in the report of the Stated Clerk to the Presbytery of Boston at its November 14, 2016 meeting.
Timeline: Newton Presbyterian Church Dismissal Process To Date In Brief
- May 2013 – Rob Perkins time as pastor ended
- April 2014 – Jean Risely began to serve as interim pastor. Garret Smith was given the responsibility of preaching the majority of the time as has been the case through most of this time period.
- January 6, 2015 – Conditional Approval of Newton’s Mission Study by COM. Pastoral Nominating Committee elected shortly thereafter. The Pastoral Nominating Committee remains in place at the writing of this report, November 11, 2016.
- April 2015 – Jean Risely stepped down as interim
- April 2015 – Congregation meets with representatives form PC(USA), ECO, and EPC to learn about denominational options
- May 2015 – Al Padilla began as second interim pastor since departure of Rob Perkins
- September 2015 – At request of the session and in accordance with Presbytery Standing Rule found in E-14, the Council along with session formed a Response Team as the session and congregation considered requesting dismissal from the PC(USA). The members were Rick Otty (chair), Mike O’Brien, and David Currie.
- October 2015 – Response Team begins work with session.
- December 1, 2015 – Congregation was surveyed and asked if they would like to request dismissal from the PC(USA). Results were as follows:
Need More Information: 13
Not Significant Issue: 14
After the vote on December 8 the session voted 7-4 to request dismissal from the PC(USA).
- December 2015 – Stated Clerk informed them that in order to request dismissal they must create a plan with the Response Team. An Administrative Commission would then implement the plan. This was in accordance with the policy, which they had received at the beginning of the process with the Response Team.
- February 2016 – The Response Team had to be re-formed with two new members, and they began their work again. The members were now Rick Otty, Bart Kelso, and Tom Forster-Smith.
- March 6, 2016 – There was a Congregational gathering with Response Team. 40- 50 people attended. The Response Team Identified 4 groups: Pro-ECO, Pro- PCUSA, Pro-PCUSA(without much importance attached to denomination), Church Family priority (people who felt it was important to stay together as one family
- March 8, 2016: An option for joining High Rock, a network of churches within the Evangelical Covenant Church was initiated. Stated Clerk, after consulting with the Office of the General Assembly, informed them the following week that the presbytery cannot dismiss to the Evangelical Covenant Church as it is not a reformed body.
March 30, 2016: There was a meeting with the Response Team and Session. Since Dismissal to the Evangelical Covenant Church is not possible, the Response Team suggested a joint congregational witness as a possible compromise.
April 12, 2016: Session met with representatives of ECO.
April 19, 2016: At session meeting it was announced that ECO approved Newton for membership pending a 2/3 vote of the congregation. Due to concerns that there would not be a 2/3 vote, the session decided to continue to explore the High Rock/Evangelical Covenant option.
May: Meetings with High Rock and Newton Session began. Session voted in May to become a congregation within the High Rock Network.
May-June: Session and Response Team worked on a plan to report to the council.
June 22, 2016: Response Team agreed to recommend a Joint Congregational Witness with the Evangelical Covenant Church. A report was written. Newton received the report. Council dismissed the Response Team with Thanks at its July meeting. Newton was informed several times by the Stated Clerk in the following weeks and months that the next step is to request an Administrative Commission.
July 31: Joint worship service with High Rock (ECC congregation)
August 2016: Al Padilla completed his term as pastor.
September 2016: COM approved Jim Singleton as moderator of the session.
September 13, 2016: Pastoral Nominating Committee reported that after reviewing over 180 PIFs, they only made one offer, which was declined. Session voted to suggest that the PNC take a few months off. The PNC voted to agree to this suggestion.
September 13, 2016: The session voted to pursue changing their denominational affiliation to the Evangelical Covenant Church.
September 23, 2016: Resource Presbyter and Stated Clerk meet with Howard Burgoyne, Superintendent of the Evangelical Covenant Church East Coast Conference. We learned that Joint Congregational Witness is not particularly desirable for the ECC, but that we would continue the conversation. We informed him that we are unable to dismiss to the ECC.
Throughout the fall of 2016: Evangelical Covenant pastor from High Rock meets with session in unofficial (without a moderator) and official meetings. This pastor also met with the congregation at the invitation of the session. He has also preached twice and the two congregations have worshipped together twice. Howard Burgoyne also met with the congregation for an “educational session” on Sunday October 30 after worship.
Throughout the entire process a remnant has been raising the concern that their voices are not being heard by the session. They also report that this ongoing question about the denomination has caused many members to leave. This is consistent with the attendance numbers, which were about 100 on rally day and at about that number throughout the fall compared with averages of over 200 in 2012, and 170 in 2013. Average attendance was 325 in 2009.