A congregational meeting was held Sunday, March 27 immediately after worship. A quorum was present, and the Session presented two motions for the congregation to vote on.
Motion one: severing the pastor/congregation relationship
Rev. Tucker-Motley requested that the Presbytery of the James dissolve her pastoral relationship with OPC effective April 30, 2022. The Session voted unanimously accepted her request at their last stated meeting.
The Session's motion was that the congregation also accept this request. The congregation voted to accept.
Motion two: severance
The Session held a called meeting with Interim General Presbyter Fred Holbrook. They discussed severance packages and supply pastor options.
The Session unanimously voted to give the pastor one month's continuation of salary. This would include salary, housing, and benefits. And it would exclude continuing education and mileage. Presbytery would cover the pastor's health insurance for an additional month after that.
The Session's second motion recommended that the congregation approve the salary continuation for the month of May. The congregation voted for approval.
The Session shared that they will begin looking for a part-time covenant pastor. They pointed out that the next few months will be challenging. But with all of us working together, we can move to the next chapter of OPC's faith journey.
OPC held a memorial service for Lloyd Parcell, a long-time and faithful member of the congregation.
The eulogy was given by Rev. Bill Nickels, who served OPC for many years.
"We are grieving, but this is not the end of the story."
Below is a link to Bill's eulogy, and one for the Facebook Live stream of the service.
Facebook Live video
Madam Clerk and the Session of Orange Presbyterian Church, as well as all the saints whom God has gathered into this family of faith, grace to you and peace in the name of Jesus Christ. I write this letter with a mixture of profound gratitude and great grief.
I am profoundly grateful for the love and support that members of this congregation have shown me over this chapter of my ministry. I am grateful for the trust with which you shared your struggles, the hospitality you showed in inviting me into your homes and lives. I am grateful for the front-row seat that I have when God has done powerful things in the life of this congregation.
I am very proud of the ministry I have done among you, or more correctly, the ministry God has done through me in the time I have been called here. During my time here, I have presided over five funerals, some of whom were beloved long-term saints of this congregation, others were those whom I tragically never got to know. I have ordained two of our elders and installed many more. I have prayed in your hospital rooms and in your homes. I have helped transition in and out of online and in-person worship over the course of the pandemic. I have gotten to know and loved all of you.
When I was called to this church almost three years ago, it was fully my intention to stay for as long as you would have me. However, as the course of history has changed before our eyes, I have discerned my pastoral skills are no longer what this church needs. The Holy Spirit has been moving in my heart for many months now and I trust that the Spirit will continue to move not only within my heart, but in the heart of the church as well.
Neither ambition nor a more lucrative salary are what is bringing our time together to an end. No minister can do all things, and there are lessons this congregation needs to learn which I am ill-equipped to teach. There are also areas in which I need to grow which I cannot accomplish here. I also have faith that God’s providence will send you a great leader for the transition and for the next chapter of this congregation’s life.
To that end, I have asked the Session to call a meeting of the Congregation for the purpose of dissolving our Pastoral Relationship. This meeting will take place immediately following worship on Sunday, March 27. That meeting will not, however, be our last time together, and we will have opportunities to grieve and tell one another goodbye in the time following that meeting. I will continue to be your Pastor in every way I can until the effective date of the dissolution of call. After that date, I will be abiding by the Presbytery’s Former Pastor policy.
I am grateful to God for my time among this congregation. I grieve that it is now coming to an end. I say to you all now: Be watchful, stand firm in your faith, be courageous and kind. Let all that you do be done in love. And may the peace of God, Creator, Christ, and Holy Spirit be with you this day and always. Amen.
Rev. Rebekah Tucker-Motley
For the First Sunday of Lent, Pastor Rebekah preached a powerful sermon. During Lent, our church is looking at the various roles of God. Her sermon was a contemplation of God as creator.
It reminded me of an obscure song by the Apollas, "Mr. Creator." Although not quite on message with Pastor Rebekah's sermon, I couldn't get the tune out of my head. And so I share it with you.
The song was written by Nickolas Ashford and Valerie Simpson. It was recorded by the Apollas in 1968. The Apollas were supposed to be Warner Bros.' answer to the Supremes. After three years and eight singles, though, the group failed to chart and disbanded in 1968.
That's not the end of the story, though. In the late 1960s a new dance movement emerged in Northern England. it was called Northern Soul. And its soundtrack was obscure soul singles British DJs brought over from the States.
By the mid 1970s. "Mr. Creator" had become a Northern Soul classic (which is how I first discovered it). It can be found on several Northern Soul compilation.
So does this have anything to do with Pastor Rebekah's message? Well, perhaps. Consider these lyrics:
The one who rules the earth and the sky,
You can change my loneliness in the twinkling of an eye.
Mr. Creator, I know you have a lot to do
I hope my problem isn't too small for you.
For God the Creator, can any problem be too small -- or too large?
- Ralph Graves
OPC Communications Team Leader
The way we talk about God is a direct reflection of how we think about God. When we refer to God with words like "Master" and "Lord," what is it we are reflecting about how we think about God?
These words might seem innocent to us, but what do they sound like to those who are or have been oppressed? What does "master" mean to someone who has been enslaved? What does "lord" mean to someone who has been held captive?
In consideration of what these words might mean to an oppressed audience, Orange Presbyterian Church will adopt a new Lenten practice for 2022.
Ordinarily there is a call to give up something for Lent. This is so we may better reflect on our complete dependence on God in all parts of our life. This year, our Lenten practice will be to give up oppressive language for God.
During the Lenten worship services, OPC will replace oppressive language for God with more creative ways to speak about God. We will explore different biblical stories that reveal to us more about who God is. We will consider God as creator, one who sees, healer, shepherd, the God of peace, and savior. Along the way we might even discover other ways to refer to God.
We will intentionally change words in the scripture readings to avoid using oppressive language. And we'll challenge ourselves to find hymns and liturgy that avoid such language as well.
My hope as the pastor of OPC is that this Lenten practice will broaden our understanding of who God is. And that it will broaden our understanding of how words can be used to oppress.
Grace and peace be with you all,
- Pastor Rebekah