First Presbyterian Church of Seattle Administrative Commission
First Presbyterian Church of Seattle Administrative Commission/session
February 16, 2016
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
We, the Administrative Commission (AC) for First Presbyterian Church of Seattle (FPCS) were appointed at a specially called meeting of the Presbytery on November 17, 2015. We were commissioned to do a thorough investigation of allegations which suggested that the Session of FPCS “is affected with disorder and call into question its ability and willingness to exercise its authority and manage wisely its affairs”; give the FPCS Session a full opportunity to be heard; and, take appropriate actions.
We have not taken our commission lightly. Our investigation was characterized by open hearts, prayerful deliberation, pastoral concern, and a desire to build up the kingdom of God in the Seattle area.
With this part of our work now completed, we have concluded that the FPCS Session is unable or unwilling to wisely manage its affairs in accordance with PC(USA) polity, and has caused a schism within the congregation.
A detailed report of our findings and actions is available on the Presbytery website, including the Executive Summary. Acting on behalf of the Presbytery, the AC has assumed original jurisdiction of FPCS on February 16, 2016. In short, this means the AC now is the Session of the congregation.
We are grateful to God for the many leaders and members of this presbytery who have prayed, worked diligently, shared perspectives and insights, and been silently faithful during this time of confusion and conflict in the life of FPCS. We ask the presbytery to continue to pray for the former co-pastors and elders, and the current congregation; and to surround its members with our on-going love and support.
We want to assure you that we, the members of the AC/Session, have a concern for the pastoral care of FPCS members. We are deeply committed to doing all we can to bring healing and reconciliation to the life of the FPCS congregation.
Especially in light of the fact that the previous co-pastors have renounced jurisdiction, we have acted deliberately to make provision for a pastor to serve the congregation. The Reverend Dr. Heidi Husted Armstrong, an experienced interim, has agreed to serve as Transitional Pastor, providing pastoral care and leadership for worship gatherings.
The AC has also acted swiftly to invite FPCS members and friends to gather for a brief time of worship, followed by conversation, so that we may share with them information we have gathered in our investigation, try to correct any misunderstandings they may have, answer their questions, and offer pastoral care. In particular, we would like to address the processes the Presbytery has used and the decisions Presbytery has made over the last several years (including the property contract, discussions about ministry possibilities with A Seattle Church and, more recently, the formation and duties of the Administrative Commission.)
If you desire to show your prayerful support for FPCS and the AC/Session, we invite you to please join us for worship and conversation. For time, date, location, and more details go to: seafirstpres.org.
Please know that we remain available to you should you desire further conversation (our names are listed below).
We sincerely appreciate your prayers for us as we continue in this challenging work.
Grace and peace to you all through Christ our Lord,
The Administrative Commission