Long Island Presbytery (LIP) in New York, following a recommendation by its Committee on Ministry (COM), approved the request of Arumdaun Church to transfer its membership to the non-geographic Eastern Korean Presbytery (EKP).
The action took place during the June 25 stated meeting of Long Island Presbytery.
Arumdaun Church, started in 1991 in Bethpage, N.Y. (Nassau County), is a congregation comprised of 1,358 members. It will remain as a member of the Presbyterian Church (USA).
The EKP was formed in 1997 with 12 churches as part of the Synod of the Northeast and now totals nearly 30 congregations and 6,300 members.
Seeking a new alignment
According to a COM report to the LIP, the PCUSA created racial-ethnic presbyteries like EKP with an expectation that some Korean language congregations would seek to affiliate themselves with those presbyteries.
The report indicated sadness, disappointment and concerns on the part of the COM over the long-term ministry at Arumdaun, but the committee also acknowledged the transfer request as valid given current denominational governance.
The desire expressed by both parties was to continue partnerships in ministry and mission together even after the transfer takes place. The COM report indicates a desire to maintain and even strengthen ministry ties between the church and Long Island Presbytery, leave open the possibility of a return to LIP by Arumdaun, and protection of interests and long-term ministries of all parties involved.
Arumdaun began exploring transfer to another presbytery more than a year ago, appointing a task force to look into the impact of transferring.
Terms of transfer
The congregation’s transfer to Eastern Korean Presbytery was OK’d by LIP after the session agreed to the following terms:
- Two teaching elders (ministers) – the Rev. Joshua Jong and the Rev. Jeehong Song – will retain membership in Long Island Presbytery. If there are future changes in the pastoral staff, the presbytery will consult with church officials about how best to maintain the connection. Review and approval of annual compensation packages and other pastoral guidelines for Jong and Song will be handled by LIP in consultation with Arumdaun and the Committee on Ministry from EKP.
- To actively pursue chartering the English language ministry at Arumdaun as a New Church Development (NCD) with dual membership in both presbyteries. Arumdaun, working as partners with LIP, will provide primary resource and financial support to the NCD. Chartering as an independent congregation of the PCUSA will occur when all parties agree the group is ready for such a step. When that happens, the English language ministry will choose which of the presbyteries will hold its membership as an independent PCUSA church.
- Continue to maintain the ministry and mission ties between the church and Long Island Presbytery, a stated desire of Arumdaun and the COM. Such ties include Arumdaun’s connection to and support of Brentwood Healthcare Initiative; identifying existing or initiating new joint mission programs (one from the church, one from the presbytery), such as continuing the presbytery-wide Easter sunrise service, use of Arumdaun’s facilities for presbytery events, partnering with Arumdaun’s Panama mission or other existing missions within the presbytery, such as those in El Salvador, Cuba or Haiti.
- The church agrees to pay a per capita equivalent after the transfer on the following scale: full amount in first year; two-thirds of amount in second year; one-third of amount in third year; no payment in fourth year.