Ministers, Educators, Administrators and Clerks, please share this information with your congregation.  
July 2, 2020
A Message from the Interim General Presbyter
As some churches have reopened and others are considering doing so, I am grateful for the careful planning that is essential in this time of pandemic. Many of you have called to ask, "What advice does the presbytery have? Just tell us what to do." Others, primarily pastors and other church staff, express concern, even fear about returning to "in-person" worship and activities. Some of them have children at home and cannot expose them to this virus. Others have preexisting conditions that put them in a susceptible position for contracting the virus.

Though I am a Presbyterian at the core of my being, I wish sometimes that our polity allowed for a bishop-type declaration that THIS is what you WILL do. But each session, consisting of ruling and teaching elders, has to prayerfully and carefully make the decision. And I ask sessions to deeply consider the fears and concerns of worship and activity leaders, including our pastors.

So, to help provide guidance, I am sharing the best practices of those who have opened ( Practices for Reopening Culpeper Presbyterian Church ) and praying for the sessions of those who are continuing to offer virtual worship. In some cases, our smaller membership churches have a more nimble capability because their sanctuaries are able to arrange the space to allow for safe physical distancing.

Genito Church in Powhatan has this message on their website: "Beginning on July 5, we will resume our regular schedule of Sunday services. Worship at 9:30 followed by Sunday School at 10:45. These are outdoor services in the pavilion. Please join us! Bring your own chair and wear a mask. We space chairs 6' apart (except for family)."

As a musician, I made a mistake recently while leading in-person worship at Trinity Church in Richmond and Laurel Church in Glen Allen. I removed my mask when I entered the pulpit area and led the service without it, even singing during the hymns. I apologize to my friends in those congregations and promise to set a better example. I wondered about choral singing and congregational singing in the midst of COVID-19 spreading. Emory Healthcare in Decatur, GA provides guidance ( COVID Update for Choral and Congregational Singing ). I will do better because I need to protect you and because I love being a grandfather to our little ones too much to let down my guard.

I am grateful to be a Presbyterian and this is as close as I can get to offering a "bishopric" requirement. Please know that we are praying for you as you seek to discern what is best for your congregations. May God bless us all.

In Christ's Service,


Fred A. Holbrook, D.Min.
Interim General Presbyter & Stated Clerk
Stated Meeting Summary Available
The 105th stated meeting of the Presbytery of the James was hosted by Salisbury Presbyterian Church and conducted via Zoom Webinar on Tuesday, June 16, 2020. A written summary of the meeting is now available for your review and to share with your session. The upcoming issue of the Vine, arriving in mailboxes near the end of this month, also will include the summary.
SDOP Seeks Projects for Funding
Self-Development of People Ministry awards grants annually to organizations that work on issues of poverty, injustice, and oppression. The application period for 2020 grants is open through August 31. Eligible organizations may receive up to $3,000; additional funding may be possible from the national SDOP committee through a separate application process. Find grant requirements and the application online .
Do You Have Youth Elders?
Colleen Earp, associate for youth ministry, is wondering which congregations have ordained youth elders. POJ's Youth Ministry seeks to support these young leaders. Does your church have a high school or college-aged ruling elder? Let Colleen know a t .
Other News
Grief Workshop Series Enrolling Now
Faith & Grief Ministries is holding a free, six-week workshop series beginning July 20. Spiritual practices are introduced in the workshop and designed to promote comfort for participants' grief journeys.
Series Helps Develop Leadership Skills
Omaha Presbyterian Seminary’s July Adaptive Leadership series will focus on Stepping Into Leadership. A limited number of scholarships are available for classes starting July 8.
Stated Meetings
October 17
106th Stated Meeting
Orange PC, Orange
Overture deadline: Aug 20 at noon
Packet online: Oct 1
February 20, 2021
107th Stated Meeting
Second PC, Richmond
Overture deadline: Dec 17 at noon
Packet online: Feb 4
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