There were many highlights at the Synod of the Trinity’s Assembly Meeting in State College, PA, in late June, from discussions about civil unrest and race relations to roundtable talks among commissioners to times of communion and listening to spiritually-moving sermons and devotions. Another key component to the two-day meeting was the formation of the Governing Commission, which includes eight commissioners who were elected to the group after being nominated by the Executive Advisory Team.
The Governing Commission, which all told includes 15 people, will oversee the governance work of the Synod, including the evaluation of the “ends” (purposes/goals). The Governing Commission is a product of the Synod’s new Policy Governance Manual, which was approved at the March Synod Assembly Meeting. Along with eight commissioners, the Governing Commission also consists of three Synod staff, the Synod’s Moderator and Vice Moderator, who are also commissioners, and two ex-officio members.
Synod Transitional Executive Susan Faye Wonderland is joined on the Governing Commission with Synod Stated Clerk Wayne Yost and Treasurer Chantal Atnip. What follows is a list of the other 12 members of the Governing Commission and a brief biography of their work in both the Synod and their presbyteries.
BARBARA CHAAPEL – Barbara is the Synod’s Moderator and a Teaching Elder Commissioner in the Presbytery of Philadelphia. She is in the year six of consecutive three-year terms as commissioner to the Synod. At the Synod level, she has served on the Grants and Scholarships Committee, the Scholarship Review Task Force and the Communications Committee. Barbara was moderator of the presbytery in 1998 and has served on the Committee on Preparation for Ministry and the Committee on Nominations for the presbytery. For eight years she was a member of the Presbyteries Cooperative Committee for the General Assembly, the committee that writes, administers and grades ordination examinations for Presbyterian candidates.
JOHNNIE MONROE – Johnnie is the Synod’s Vice Moderator and the Racial Ethnic Teaching Elder at Pittsburgh Presbytery. He is in the fourth year in a period of consecutive three-year terms during this stint with the Synod. He retired as pastor of Grace Memorial Presbyterian Church in 2009 after 16 years there. In 1986, Johnnie became Pittsburgh Presbytery’s Associate Executive for Evangelism and Social Witness. He was called to serve as the Associate for Evangelism and Church Development for the Synod in 1990. In 2000, he had become the first president of the Pittsburgh Interfaith Impact Network, which works for causes such as public transportation across all religious lines.
JUDY ANGLEBERGER – Judy is a Teaching Elder Commissioner at Beaver-Butler Presbytery. She is in the first year of her term as commissioner to the Synod. Judy has served the Synod as Chair of the Nominating Committee, served as a member of the Stewardship and Communication Unit and was a fundraiser for the denomination’s Bicentennial Campaign, hired by the Synod as an area and then regional representative for the presbyteries in the West. Recently, she was elected to the Synod’s Personnel Committee, which has now become an Advisory Committee to the Synod Executive in the Synod’s new Governance Policy. In Beaver-Butler, she is serving as a new commissioner to the Synod. She has served Beaver-Butler Presbytery twice as its Moderator, served on the Committee on Ministry and the Coordinating Team and as Chair of Self-Development of People Committee and the Chair of the Interpretation and Stewardship Committee. In addition, she has had the privilege of serving the PCUSA as Chair of the GAC’s (now PMA) Division of World Mission and most recently as PCUSA’s representative to the Central Committee of the World Council of Churches.
CHRISTINE FULLER – Christine is a Ruling Elder Commissioner at the Presbytery of Northumberland. She is in the fifth year of consecutive three-year terms as commissioner of the Synod. Christine is on the presbytery council with voice but no vote by virtue of her serving as Synod commissioner. She also served as Presbyterial president in the 1980s and has also served as chair of the nominating committee of the Presbytery of Northumberland and also served as a commissioner to General Assembly from Northumberland. “My most challenging work has been with a response team on sexual misconduct investigation and mentoring a minister as he fulfilled the requirements of the PJC,” she said. She also served on the search committee for the Stated Clerk and is in the penultimate year of her second term as a Synod commissioner. “My hope is that this first Governing Commission will be able to set the stage for productive activity of the Synod Assembly and future Governing Commissions. I really have little idea of the details of the work we will do and look forward to learning what the job entails and contributing effectively to the effort.”
HARRY JOHNS – Harry is a Teaching Elder Commissioner at the Presbytery of Lake Erie. He is in the first year of a three-year term as commissioner. Harry served the Synod PJC for one term in the 1990s and has served many terms on the Committee of Ministry and served as President of the Trustees for six years. He is also a former moderator of the presbytery.
JEAN KENNEDY – Jean is a Ruling Elder Commissioner at the Pittsburgh Presbytery. She is in the third year of a three-year term as commissioner and has served multiple stints as commissioner, with her previous term being from 2003-06. She was a Synod Moderator in 2005 and has been serving at the will of the Executive(s) and Moderator(s) as part of the Executive Advisory Team. A current assignment is with the Advisory Task Force on Mid-Council Report to General Assembly. She moderated the Polity Committee during a previous stint as Commissioner to Synod. In Pittsburgh, she was a member of the staff for 15 years, working in the area of Justice and Mission Ministries as well as on the Presbytery Mission Study Team, Permanent Judicial Commission, Interim Committee and Moderator of Presbytery. She was also part of an early mission exploration trip to Africa in preparation for the partnership with Malawi.
Jean is a regular participant in the Presbytery as ex-officio former Moderator. The most significant work she does in her opinion is as Health Minister helping to inform and inspire staff to experience Christ’s abundant life. “I hope that we will continue to be open to the leading of the Holy Spirit in this new way of governing,” she said, “and that we will be less anxious about ‘success’ in terms of numbers by being more concerned about the quality of our love for one another.”
DAVID LEE – David is a Teaching Elder Commissioner at the Presbytery of West Virginia. He is in the first year of a three-year term as commissioner. In the presbytery, David worked with Congregational Development for five years (chaired it for four) before becoming the chairperson for Finance/Stewardship. He has been a part of the presbytery’s reassessment and restructuring process and served on its inaugural Leadership Team. David said, “I believe that this Governing Commission will have two main tasks: 1) to figure out what a Governing Commission really does (and doesn’t do) in a sustainable fashion, and 2) to help the Synod, presbyteries and churches to discover what ‘connectional’ will really mean in our changing context.”
DAVID LESLIE – David is a Ruling Elder Commissioner at Washington Presbytery. He is in his fifth year serving consecutive three-year terms as commissioner to the Synod. David is an active Ruling Elder at First Presbyterian Church, Washington, serving on the Finance, Stewardship and Master Plan committees. His activity in Washington Presbytery over the years includes Stewardship, Personnel, Ministry, Budget and Finance, and Trustee committees, chairing each at some point. “Living on the cusp of change and desired transformation of function, Policy Governance is a helpful tool to move into the future,” he said. “I am prepared to assist in establishing it as a worthwhile reality for the benefit of the Synod and an aid to our leadership and personnel.”
KATE SILLMAN – Kate is a Ruling Elder Commissioner at Huntingdon Presbytery. She is in her fifth year serving consecutive three-year terms as commissioner to the Synod. In the Huntingdon Presbytery, she has been on the Nominating Committee and currently serves on the Committee on Ministry and the Committee on Preparation for Ministry. As co-chair of CoPM, she helped organize its CRE program, which includes planning six Saturday workshops throughout the year for current and prospective lay pastors. Kate has been a lay preacher in Huntingdon Presbytery since 2010 and enjoys visiting churches in need about once a month. As a COM liaison, she enjoyed the recent experience of working with a church through its mission study and with its PNC as it called a pastor. She was the commissioner to General Assembly in 2014 and actually interviewed the pastoral candidate there, and she, too, felt the call to this church, so it was really a joy to see the entire process unfold.
At the Synod level, Kate has served as Synod Commissioner since 2013 and will complete her second term at the end of 2016. In 2012-13, she served on the Scholarship Review Team to help discern how it could best use scholarship funds of the Synod. In 2014, she served on the search committee for its current Stated Clerk. “My goal for our first Governing Commission is to do the very important work we were called to do, setting a worthy standard for those who will follow,” she said.
MADELINE VALENTINE – Madeline is a Ruling Elder Commissioner at the Presbytery of Philadelphia. She is in her first year of a three-year term serving as commissioner. She has been the Clerk of Session at The First Presbyterian Church in Germantown in Philadelphia for just over a year. Madeline has also held that position for a three-year period at Mt. Airy Presbyterian Church, her former church, in the early 2000s. She has been a ruling elder at First Germantown for the past five years, chairperson of the Congregational Development & Fellowship Committee and recently installed as secretary for the Rachel Circle, part of the Presbyterian Women’s Association. Also, some years ago she co-taught the middle school Sunday School class. “As a member of the first Governing Commission I look forward to together discerning the important tasks and responsibilities that will become a part of this commission,” she said.
WILLIAM KNUDSEN – Bill is a Teaching Elder at the Presbytery of Northumberland where he has served as Executive Presbyter since 2003. He is also currently the presbytery’s Stated Clerk. As an ex-officio member, he can contribute to the discussions of the Governing Commission but cannot cast a vote. He served a three-year term on the General Assembly Committee for Presbyterian Chaplains and Military Personnel. With the Synod, he served on the taskforce to evaluate the staff and leadership of the Synod, was co-chair of a Synod’s summer conference and served on the committee for New Initiatives. “I want to be responsive to the needs of the presbyteries and to empower and encourage our Synod leadership to build strong relationships with the leadership of our 16 presbyteries,” he said. “I want to empower clergy and laity for the mission and ministry God is giving to the whole church as we enter into this 21st century.”
RICHARD ‘SKIP’ NOFTZGER – Skip is the Executive Presbyter at the Presbytery of Redstone, serving in that capacity since 2013. As an ex-officio member, he can contribute to the discussions of the Governing Commission but cannot cast a vote. During the move toward “policy governance,” he served on the task force writing team. In addition to the overall work, he joined with two other colleagues specifically in the task of crafting “ends” statements to guide the mission and work of the Synod in relationship to presbyteries within its boundaries. Prior to his calling in Redstone, Skip worked at Waynesburg University for many years as Senior Vice President and served many congregations throughout Washington Presbytery in various pastoral roles in both installed and temporary relationships. “My goals for the governing commission would be that appropriate decision making may empower the executive, other Synod staff and the use of resources in both supporting and challenging member presbyteries to be vital, innovative and faithful as we serve the Lord in our region of the world,” he said.