Dear Members and Friends,
First of all, I want to express my deep appreciation to all of you for your enthusiastic support and gracious hospitality toward Diane and myself during my candidate weekend. I found your reception heartwarming, personally affirming and very encouraging as we begin this partnership in ministry together. Diane and I are both very excited about following God’s call in our lives to Cazenovia, New York to serve in the Cayuga-Syracuse Presbytery and with the good folks at First Presbyterian Church.
I am also extremely grateful for your patience and magnanimity as I take ample time for leave-taking at my current call, and prepare for my service to our denomination, the Presbyterian Church (USA), as an elected commissioner to the 222nd General Assembly in Portland, Oregon from June 18th to June 25th.
Being selected as a GA commissioner is both an honor and an awesome responsibility. I’ve been chosen to serve on the Social Justice Committee, which will be addressing some pivotal issues impacting both the church and our nation. Issues having to do with racial reconciliation for past injustices against people of color, as well as confronting current structural/institutional racism in our society; building bridges with those who have been marginalized by both church and culture due to differing faiths or spiritual background; advocating campaign finance reform and equitable national election processes; creating a climate of inclusion, tolerance and change in the culture of the church, to name just a few.
It is, indeed, an exciting and critical time in the life of the church. And I believe, with all my heart, that our cherished Reformed Tradition has a vital and important voice to be heard, as well as sacred values to impart, to the world as it faces today’s increasingly complex challenges. Therefore, I humbly go, being sent with the courage of faith and in all good conscience, to study and learn, deliberate and debate, pray and discern, advocate and vote with Presbyterian sisters and brothers gathered from around the world, as together we seek God’s will in Jesus Christ for our denomination, the Church writ large, and this great nation we live in. And I greatly appreciate knowing that your prayers are with us all as we do.
Then we will return to Davenport, Iowa, to pack up the condo and make our way, at long last, to Cazenovia and our exciting new partnership in ministry with you all. I greatly look forward to that new beginning, to getting to know each and every one of you, and to discovering your unique gifts as disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ!
August 1st will be upon us sooner than we know; in the meantime, let us persevere in faith, patience and hope knowing that God is working even now in our lives together.
I Remain Yours In Jesus Christ,
Rev. Dr. Tom C. Oak