Since no motion was made to override the COM report, the decision stands.
Aware that it’s decision to call Anderson would be controversial, the church PNC and the presbytery COM had consulted extensively over the possible conflicts within the congregation and probability of judicial action against both the presbytery and the minister. The COM assured the PNC that Anderson was a minister in good standing and, following the standard clearance interview for the call, supported her nomination and would be willing to confirm her call should the congregation vote without substantial minority opposition.
But there was too much opposition for the presbytery committee. The COM had set a “base line” of what it would consider a substantial minority — an issue left open in the Book of Order — at a 90 percent favorable vote by the congregation. On Jan. 12 the congregation voted 65 percent in favor of the call. After a discussion to gain the support of the minority for the call, in compliance with the Book of Order, a second vote was taken with the same result.
Thus the COM, which in National Capital Presbytery acts as a commission of the presbytery in matters of ministerial call, decided not to confirm the call.
In her report to National Capital Presbytery, COM chair Cynthia Bolbach, shared the process used in preparing for the presentation of Anderson to the congregation to assure that the members were fully aware of all facts and possible issues.
First, the unprecedented step of having the PNC introduce Anderson to the congregation through a series of meetings with various groups within the church so they could get to know her as a person and minister. Second, the PNC and COM sent letters and materials to each church member regarding the issues of the call, including the strong probability of judicial action should the call be approved. Third, Bolbach led a forum one week prior to the congregational meeting to discuss the issue and explain the presbytery’s position. There she restated the position of COM that the presbytery was prepared to defend the validity of the call. During the forum, it was clear opposition to the call was growing.
Bolbach told the presbytery meeting Wednesday that the COM, “thankful every minute of every day for God’s redeeming grace, had carried out, prayerfully and as faithfully as we know how, the responsibilities that presbytery had elected us to do.” She closed her presentation asking for prayers for Anderson, the PNC and the congregation as they grieve and heal from this difficult journey.
As for the congregation, interim pastor Chris Looker said, “The pain and division we have experienced here at RPC reflects the pain and division that exists in our greater denomination. God has already begun working through our people and session to begin the process of healing and reconciliation. Our people love Jesus Christ and each other and provide a caring ministry in this community. We are grieving now, but we know that after grief comes the resurrection. So, we look for the resurrection promised by our Lord.”