The Presbytery of Long Island
We are committed.
The question before the Presbytery of Long Island is: are we faithful followers of Jesus Christ in this place and beyond, and in these times? We seek to be a transformational presbytery continually asking: Who are we? Who are our neighbors? What does God expect of us?
The heart of the ministry and mission of the Presbytery of Long Island is Jesus Christ (G-1.0100).
There are several long-standing values in the history and culture of the Presbytery. These include: healthy and effective congregations, leadership development, partnership, compassion, and responsive mission.
Our vision statement reads: “We, the Presbytery of Long Island, through our congregations and beyond, will create lively partnership ministries that all may hear, embrace, and enjoy new life in Jesus Christ.”
Our strategic plan defines goals in seven areas: care and support of pastors, communication, congregational transformation, evangelization, lay leadership development, outreach in peace and justice advocacy, in global partnerships in Cuba, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Haiti, Hungary, Korea, and Ukraine in disaster assistance response, and stewardship.
There is a fresh sense of spirituality across the Presbytery. While we may not always agree with one another, we celebrate a unity in the Spirit of Christ. Common spiritual practices help us.
We are on a mission field.
The Presbytery serves two counties (Nassau and Suffolk) on Long Island which, if taken together, are the sixth largest city in the nation. Yet Suffolk County is the largest producer of agricultural products in the state of New York.
Long Island is in the midst of a major demographic change. It is becoming younger, more multi-cultural, more religiously diverse, and while Long Island remains a bastion for the traditional American family, many households are not married couples.
Presbyterians at about 2% of the religious population are less dense than Roman Catholics which claim 65% of the population. The fastest growing religious population is Islam. Thirteen active religious faiths are represented on Long Island including a substantial Jewish presence. The decline in the Presbyterian percentage of the population began in 1959, eight years before the peak membership year for the Presbytery (1967).
Long Island is the third most expensive place to live in the country, challenging most adult members of a household to work. Affordable housing is an acute problem. There are pockets of poverty, homelessness and a growing number of the working poor. 25% of the population report no medical insurance.
Being a commuter haven and a seasonal recreational destination present special challenges.
Many churches have been around a long time but something new is happening.
The two oldest churches in the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) date from 1640. Southold and Southampton are among nine churches in the Presbytery established in the 17th century. Shinnecock is the oldest continuing Native American congregation in the denomination.
The membership in the last few years remains stable at approximately 11,000 active members, but religious surveys indicate over 100,000 people on Long Island claim Presbyterian identity. 56% are female. 25% are racial ethnic. Membership of those age 35 and younger is growing (31%). 20% are 65 or older.
Some of our congregations are engaged in an intentional transformation process and two others are in the midst of redevelopment. Five program-size churches are redesigning their mission.
There are two new church developments: a Hispanic new church development (Hempstead) and a Korean new church development (Smithtown). An evangelical Egyptian fellowship is meeting in homes, a South Asian fellowship meets in the Valley Stream church, and a Korean fellowship meets in Mineola.
Six congregations have forms of worship reaching out to new and younger populations.
There are 100 Ministers of Word and Sacrament. 56% serve congregations. 31% are retired. 19% are racial ethnic. 22% are women. 15% are under 40 years of age. There are eleven clergy couples. 39% have come to the Presbytery in the last seven years. 17% have 20 or more years of experience.
The churches in the Presbytery rank third in the Synod in total contributions, fifth in per member giving, fourth in mission giving and third in per member giving to mission.
Congregations are caring for pastors and their families in special ways. Attention is also given to increased compensation which is below average household income on Long Island.
We are helping congregations do ministry and mission in the name of Jesus Christ.
Over three hundred persons serve in elected or appointed positions, working with congregations, leaders, and new ministries. There are two full time staff and five part time officers and staff. Four persons serve as volunteer specialist consultants.
There is training and support for church teams in church transformation, stewardship and fund-raising, evangelism, Hispanic ministry, Church school leaders and teachers, and leadership development. An Hispanic Lay Academy develops leadership in partnership with Princeton Theological Seminary.
There are networks of churches and leaders for small churches, ministry, interim pastors, young adults, and those concerned with justice issues.
Each year, partnership grants are made to congregations working together in outreach with families and children, in peace and justice ministry, meeting the needs of the poor and homeless.
International partnerships have a profound impact on our life and work. There are global partnerships involving thirty-three congregations with churches and leaders in Cuba, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Haiti, Hungary, India, Korea and the Ukraine.
There is a strong youth leader training program, and networks of youth leaders and Christian Education workers. The Presbytery Youth Connection is training leaders for the Presbyterian Church now, and challenging young people to consider a ministry vocation.
The Presbyterian Conference Center at Holmes, shared with Hudson River Presbytery and the Presbytery of New York City, touches the lives of children, youth and adults in 40% of our churches.
We have an active domestic violence prevention network that is recognized across Long Island. Twenty-seven congregations are involved. Sexual misconduct prevention training is required of all ministers, staff, inquirers and candidates and is offered twice a year. Similar training is offered for congregations. Models of child protection policies and practices are available and encouraged.
Long Island United Campus Ministry is a partnership of 50 churches in five denominations reaching out on four campuses.
Presbyterian Women are focusing attention on helping churches attract younger women into the fellowship, study and ministry of PW.
Incidents of racism and bigotry continue to tarnish Long Island communities. Racism/bigotry training has been expanded. A close partnership with the Long Island Council of Churches helps the Presbytery oppose overt and covert racism and bigotry in a coordinated manner.
Consultant services in demographics, congregational change, spiritual formation, pastor compensation, mission studies and planning, health ministry, family systems, peacemaking and justice advocacy are available and active.
Sometimes just being there in the name of Jesus Christ is enough.
Somehow, local, national and international disasters continue to happen. Churches and campus ministries opened their doors for prayer and worship. Members open their wallets and pocketbooks. Workers are trained and mobilized. Support groups are formed. Care continues. The Presbytery has a strong working relationship with Presbyterian Disaster Assistance Program.
The Presbytery of Long Island is a presbytery in the Synod of the Northeast in the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.).
“And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20)
“With believers in every time and place, we rejoice that nothing in life and in death can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (A Brief Statement of Faith 10.6)