Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
I want to update you on a special meeting of Session on Tuesday, February 16, 2021. This meeting was held to discuss the Holiness and Leadership Statement of First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood. You may recall that in May of 2020, the Holiness and Leadership Statement of 2011 was changed in the final paragraph. The changes raised several concerns by members of our community. In response to the raised concerns, the revised statement’s implementation was postponed a couple of times, with the most recent implementation date being March 1, 2021.
In response to the concerns, a sub-committee of Session members was formed last fall to explore possible ways forward. One of the sub-committee’s considerations was how The Fellowship Community of Presbyterians might inform our way forward. Pastor Joel had timely conversations with other Fellowship Community pastors to facilitate Session’s understanding of The Fellowship Community and its Essential Tenets. In addition to the sub-committee, I know of several individuals who formed Bible studies and book studies to explore the Holiness and Leadership Statement contents. The results of these various activities, and specifically, exploring our relationship with The Fellowship Community presented us with some options to consider.
In January 2021, I offered five (5) potential options for Sessions consideration. Members of Session prayerfully studied the five (5) options along with Scripture passages. Resulting from the aforementioned efforts were two groups who developed two (2) motions for Session’s consideration as a way forward regarding the Holiness and Leadership Statement. Session considered those two motions in the Special Meeting.
The meeting began with prayer and a reading from Colossians 3:12-17:
12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
I designed the meeting with the help of the Stated Clerk of the Presbytery to ensure that all Session members were given an opportunity to speak to each motion. Session previously decided that the discussion was among members of Session only, although a number of guests attended the meeting. Two Elders brought forward the following motion:
In honoring our commitments to live our lives and lead according to scripture, we move that FPCH adopt the Essential Tenets of The Fellowship Community as our leadership statement. This statement will be the document we look toward in order to demonstrate what we expect from our leadership.
The Essential Tenets leadership statement will apply to deacons, elders, pastors, interns, teaching and ministerial staff.
Each leader will be asked to read, understand and abide by the Essential Tenets and will be continually supported, encouraged and held accountable to the statement. As elders, we will be responsible for providing that support and accountability to our leaders.
The Essential Tenets will replace previous leadership holiness statements (e.g. 2011 and 2020 Holiness and Leadership Statements).
The Essential Tenets for The Fellowship Community can be found at this link:
The Fellowship Community Essential Tenets
The motion passed 17 to 2.
Why The Fellowship Community? FPCH has been affiliated with The Fellowship Community since April 2013, when Session voted unanimously to join The Fellowship. Several congregants and members of Session past and present have attended Fellowship events. The visibility of FPCH’s participation has been limited; however, Session believes it offers common ground for our community.
Please take the time to explore the link to the tenets above.
As we enter into the Lenten Season, may you be filled with the Holy Spirit as we are called, gathered, and enlightened as a community of faith confessing our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ crucified, buried, risen, and ascended to God.
Yours in Christ,