Moderator Candidate Meet and Greet – How did it go?

April 29, 2008 by · 6 Comments
Filed under: Religion 

It went very well.


On Friday, April 25, 2008 fifty-eight Presbyterians (and one Catholic) descended on the Presbyterian Church of Lawrenceville (NJ) in order to meet and hear from all four candidates for Moderator of the 218th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA).  They came from as far away as New York City, Philadelphia, and Delaware.

The evening started when the candidates arrived before the event.  At their request we gave them a private room in which to eat dinner and generally get to chat – this is apparently the first time that all four of them were able to meet privately.

A little after 7 we introduced all members of the Central Jersey Moderator Candidate Host Committee – a group that was put together to hold this event.  We also sang “Happy Birthday” to Rich Richards, as it was the right day.  (Apologies to Andy James – it was also his birthday but we didn’t know it at the time.)

Then we introduced all four candidates and were led in prayer by Rev. Jeff Vamos – the pastor of the Lawrenceville church and a commissioner from the Presbytery of New Brunswick.

After the prayer, and at the suggestion of a commissioner, we had each commissioner, alternate or advisory delegate quickly stand and give their name and presbytery/seminary.   Then each candidate was given up to 5 minutes to make an opening statement from the lectern.  The order of introduction and statement was determined randomly earlier in the week by my Catholic co-worker (who could care less who is elected Moderator :-).

Bruce Reyes-Chow

First up was Rev. Bruce Reyes-Chow, of the Presbytery of San Francisco.  Bruce’s address concentrated on his experiences in his unusual home church and how it reaches out to those who have not felt an affinity for “traditional” churches.  He asked the difficult question of whether or not we are willing to work to make the church a place that young people will feel welcome – “Do we really want young people in the church?”

Bill Teng

Then Rev. Bill Teng of National Capital Presbytery spoke.  Bill’s address spoke of how he is a product of PC(USA) mission through his great-grandfather, who was one of the first Presbyterian elders in China.  This has created a sense of call to express gratitude towards those who worked with his ancestors.  He also spoke of the importance of the basic goals of the church – mission and evangelism.

Roger Shoemaker

Then Elder Roger Shoemaker of Homestead Presbytery followed.  Roger’s address spoke of the need to enrich the roots of the church rather than spending time chopping branches off the top of the structure.  He believes that an increased focus on local congregations will help stem the loss of membership.

Carl Mazza

And last Rev. Carl Mazza of New Castle Presbytery completed the opening remarks.  Carl spoke of his years of mission work through Meeting Ground, and of a new definition of the church that isn’t bound by 4 walls.  He told a story of a woman who experienced the love of God and connection to others while washing dishes at Meeting Ground’s shelter.

The seating area of the room was laid out in 4 U-shaped “pods”.  After the opening remarks, we had the candidates each take a pod.  Every 15 minutes we rotated the candidates so that all pods got a chance to speak to all candidates.  The folks at the tables came up with the questions.

Pod 1

Pod 2

The questions in the pods covered a variety of subjects, and centered on the big questions.  I was busy keeping things going, so I was unable to hear many of the questions, but others have told me some of what was asked.  A topic mentioned by many is the problem/question of keeping young people involved in the church after confirmation or high school.  As always, homosexuality was talked about – one pod asked a question about it of each candidate and the responses covered all parts of the spectrum.  There were many questions and answers about how we can work together while disagreeing – about how we can stay together.  The Form of Government rewrite and the Belhar Confession were covered.  All of the discussion was earnest, open, honest, and respectful.  Laughter was heard at all tables from time to time.  (If you are looking for specifics of the candidate’s position, I invite you to go to their websites (linked above under the pictures) and ask them directly.  All have encouraged such conversation.)

After the Q&A time was completed, we had time for 20-25 minutes of unstructured mingling.  I invited those who still had questions to “find … hunt for … stalk their favorite candidate” to get to hear their answer.

We ended the evening with a prayer led by Rev. Jon Seitz, in a circle of joined hands.  After that people continued to talk and arrange other times to talk.

One very important aspect of the evening was the connection of the commissioners, advisory delegates, and other Presbyterians with each other.  Friendships were renewed and made and many people who knew each other only as an e-mail address, blog or Facebook friend were able to meet in person.

The host committee would like to again thank the session, deacons and staff of the Presbyterian Church of Lawrenceville for lending us the building and equipment and helping us find what we needed.  Jeff Vamos was also indispensable in the planning and execution of the evening, as well as providing some discretionary financing.

Central Jersey Moderator Candidate Host Committee

  • Mark Smith, Presbyterian Church of Lawrenceville
  • Carolyn Smith, St. Gregory the Great R. C. Church, Hamilton, NJ
  • Sara Ferguson, Presbyterian Church of Lawrenceville
  • Laura Ferguson, Presbyterian Church of Lawrenceville
  • Bob Smith, Presbyterian Church of Toms River (NJ)
  • Ellen Smith, Presbyterian Church of Toms River
  • Rev. Jon Seitz, parish associate at Westminster Presbyterian Church, Trenton, NJ
  • Rev. Neal Presa, pastor of Middlesex Presbyterian Church (NJ)
  • Rich Richards, youth director, Presbyterian Church of Lawrenceville
  • Grier Booker-Richards, Princeton Seminary student and intern at Lawrenceville
  • Peter Billings, Presbyterian Church of Lawrenceville

Moderator Candidate Meet-and-Greet Reminder

April 15, 2008 by · Leave a Comment
Filed under: Uncategorized 

Lawrenceville Moderator Meet and Greet Flyer
Click the image to download a PDF of the flyer.

This is just a reminder.  The Moderator Candidate Meet-and-Greet event will be held Friday, April 25, 2008 from 7 to 9pm at the Presbyterian Church of Lawrenceville (NJ).

Apparently the Times of Trenton published an event notice listing April 15 as the date.  We were informed of the error by a very nice woman who unfortunately was standing in the parking lot of the church looking for the event.  The Central Jersey Moderator Candidate Host Committee would like to apologize to anyone who showed up at the church today expecting the event.

We’ve gone back and checked, and the press release that we sent out lists the correct date of April 25.

We hope to see you there a week from Friday!

PC(USA) Moderator Candidate Meet and Greet, Lawrenceville NJ, April 25, 7-9pm

March 10, 2008 by · 4 Comments
Filed under: Religion 

Lawrenceville Moderator Meet and Greet Flyer
Click the image to download a PDF of the flyer.

What: A meet-and-greet event with all 4 candidates for PC(USA) moderator:
Rev. Carl Mazza
Rev. Bruce Reyes-Chow
Elder Roger Shoemaker
Rev. Bill Teng

Where: Presbyterian Church of Lawrenceville
2688 Main Street (US Route 206)
Lawrenceville, NJ 08648
See below for directions.

When: Friday, April 25, 2008 7-9pm EDT

Who: The event is presented by the Central Jersey Moderator Candidate Host Committee, a group of local Presbyterians who have come together to put on this event.  The Lawrenceville church is thanked for providing the building free of charge.

Who’s Invited: You.
The event is primarily intended for General Assembly commissioners, YADs, TSADs, presbytery moderators and presbytery stated clerks but all who are interested are invited to attend.

What do I need to do? Please RSVP if you plan to attend to or the phone number in the flyer image above (not after 10pm Eastern, please).  Please provide the names and any General Assembly status (commissioner, YAD, etc) for those attending as well as a way to contact you in case something changes.  Contact Mark with any questions, too.

Any other Useful Information? Light refreshments will be provided.  Child care will not be provided.


See the church website directions at

Basically, you want to get to I-95 northeast of Trenton, or US 206 coming south from Princeton.  Here are a few suggestions:

From the northwest: Take either NJ 31 South to I-95 North to US 206 North (exit 7B), or US 206 South through Princeton.  On 206 North from I-95 the church is very shortly after the 3rd light on the right.  On 206 South from Princeton the church is on the left after Cold Soil Road.

From the northeast: (NYC/Long Island/points Northeast) Take the NJ Turnpike to exit 7A, then take I-195 West towards Trenton.  Take I-295 North which turns into I-95 South as it crosses US 1.  Take exit 7B for US 206 North.  The church is very shortly after the 3rd light on the right.  In case of traffic issues on the NJ Turnpike you may take Route 1 South from Turnpike exit 9 (take Route 18 North to Route 1 South) and then get on I-95 South.

From the east/southeast: (NJ Shore)  Take the Garden State Parkway to I-195 West if necessary.  Take I-195 West towards Trenton.  Take I-295 North which turns into I-95 South as it crosses US 1.  Take exit 7B for US 206 North.  The church is very shortly after the 3rd light on the right.

From the southwest: (Delaware and points south)  Take I-295 North from the Delaware Memorial Bridge all the way up to US Route 1 where it turns into I-95 South.  Take exit 7B for US 206 North.  The church is very shortly after the 3rd light on the right.  In case of traffic problems on I-295, take the NJ Turnpike to exit 7A and follow the northeast directions above.

From the Philadelphia area: You have three choices.  1.  Take I-95 North across the Scudder’s Falls Bridge to exit 7B.  2.  Take US Route 1 North across the Morrisville Toll Bridge (no toll this way) and continue north to I-95 South to exit 7B.  3.  Cross the river and get on I-295 North until it changes into I-95 South at Route 1.  From any choice, the church is very shortly after the 3rd light on the right once you get off exit 7B on I-95.

If you need help with directions contact Mark at the e-mail or phone above.

The Central Jersey Moderator Candidate Host Committee

  • Mark Smith
  • Carolyn Smith
  • Rev. Jon Seitz
  • Richard O. Richards
  • Grier Booker Richards
  • Laura Ferguson
  • Sara Ferguson
  • Rev. Neal Presa, Press Contact