I hope this note finds you well and well loved. We miss you more than you know. When we remember the beauty of worship, common service, and mutual care we enjoyed at Central in person, we are filled with gratitude for our shared past and hope for our future. It is a profound joy to witness the resiliency of the Central congregation in this season, as we persist in worship, service, care, and social witness. We look forward to seeing you online and discovering what God has in store for us in the days to come. In the meantime, here are a few important updates from the Central Session, which met on Monday evening by Zoom.
The Session, upon considering the wisdom of the Worship, Music, and Arts Committee, agreed that the Central congregation would not gather again in the Central sanctuary for worship any sooner than August 16th. While this is extraordinarily disappointing, Central leaders believe that it is essential that we be good stewards of the health and wellbeing of its members, friends, and guests. The Session will be monitoring the virus situation closely and may well have to extend this period of virtual meetings.
We will continue to grow in creativity and participation in our online worship services, which we now offer in one, continuous stream on Facebook, Youtube, and our newly relaunched website at www.cpcatlanta.org.
Vision and Future Decision-Making: In light of the ongoing changes and adaptations we and our world continue to face, the Session approved the launch of the 201 Washington Street Task Force. This Task Force will advise the Session about how our campus ministry activity and operations might look in the future, given the ongoing challenges of living with COVID-19. Using their church leadership and professional expertise, the members of this task force will help guide us to decisions that prioritize the health of every member, friend, and guest of Central Presbyterian Church and grow in mission and ministry with our neighbors in this unique season.
Task force members include Melanie Bliss, Denise de la Rue, Kathy Ashe, Mike Sizemore, Jerry Miller, David York, Martha Crenshaw, Kathy Harben, Gary Cornell, and Mary Lillian Walker.
Mission and Ministry: Central’s Local Mission leaders continue to explore avenues and partnerships to serve our neighbors and offer social witness. Leaders encourage our congregation to lend immediate support to our partner organizations, Emmaus House and Partners for Home.
You can find more information about both in our weekly e-news, on social media and on our web site. The committee will be back in touch with the congregation very soon about next steps following our Ready, Set, Love survey.
The Session approved a motion from the Local Mission Committee for the church to engage in a partnership with Second Chance Georgia. Second Chance Georgia is a campaign led by the Georgia Justice Project (GJP), that aims to bring change to millions of lives by working to expand expungement (known as “Record Restriction” in Georgia law) in the state of Georgia.
The Session approved another motion for Central Presbyteran to become a Matthew 25 church. The Matthew 25 Ministry is part of our denomination’s efforts to continue the ministry stated in Matthew 25. You can read more about the ministry here.<
The Session recognized a dynamic Youth Sunday and applauded the efforts of all those involved in recognizing Central’s young people and their importance to our congregation.
Finances: The Downtown Task Force provided an update that the Church has received approval from The Atlanta City Council for a Special Use Permit to advertise the sale of $1 million of developmental rights. The Church began looking into this measure in 2018. Since the Church is a historic building and has no plans to build to its maximum allowable amount, the city of Atlanta approved the church to sell a portion of its development rights to another party. This will allow the Church to maximize its resources and sell its development rights to a developer with such stipulations in the plan as including affordable and supportive housing. We will publish further updates as they occur. If you have questions about this, please contact either Gary Cornell or Jerry Miller who have made the presentations and played a vital role in this process.
Bob Riordan reported that since our last meeting we have secured a Paycheck Protection Program loan to help us cover payroll for the next eight weeks. The loan should be forgiven in whole or in part provided we meet criteria still being developed by the SBA. Otherwise the loan is a one percent obligation. We also received a substantial gift from a member designed to help us through economic stress. Revenues overall are slightly over budget without considering the PPP loan or the special gift, but payment on pledges has dropped significantly. If this trend continues, we will likely fall short of overall budgeted revenue in May, but the PPP funds and the special gift will help us cover the shortfall if it materializes. Expenses remain slightly under budget.
Ordination and Installation of Officers: The Session approved a motion to examine incoming officers at the June 1 Session meeting and to ordain and install new officers on Sunday, June 14. Session members expressed enthusiasm with the robust class of incoming officers and are looking forward to the ordination and installation.
Care and Support: We are also profoundly grateful for the depth and breadth of the care of the Central Deacons, who have organized dozens of members to reach out with love and concern for Central members, friends, and neighbors.
If you find yourself in need of additional support in this season, please don’t hesitate to contact a member of our pastoral staff. We are all navigating losses, difficult emotions, isolation, and uncertain futures. Every single one of us needs the love and support of many others in order to be well. We are grateful for the ways in which you have reached out to us with love and concern, and we, our pastors, elders, deacons, and congregation members would be honored to know how to better support you in the days ahead.
Thank you for the gift of serving you, our congregation, and God’s world in this season.
Jessica Patchett and Steve McKinney