Biloxi, MS (September 10, 1996)--First Presbyterian Church of Biloxi is located just across US Highway 90 from the Mississippi Beach of the Gulf of Mexico, and about a mile to the east of Beauvoir, the last home of President Jefferson Davis. Between Beauvoir and the Church, the Mississippi Gulf floats several casinos. A tourist booklet in the Hayes Cottage at Beauvoir introduces its visitors to the Play Ground of Mississippi. The church building is a beautiful old Southern Style of vaulted ceilings with large columns inside and outside. The outside is red brick with large white columns.
The Reverend Dr. Paul Honomichl, pastor of the Bay Street Presbyterian Church in Hattiesburg, and Moderator for 1996, presided over the meeting. The Reverend Mr. Robert Davidson, Pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Picayune, read Luke 15:11-32 and preached on the two sons in the parable of Jesus. Having sketched the character and conduct of the two sons of the Father, he then applied the passage to the audience with an appeal to recognize the love of the Father.
After the Sermon, the Honor Roll of Deceased Ruling Elders was read: William H. Flowers, S. T. Gray, Howard J. Stringer, Sherley Steele, and Malcom Galbreath, and the Commissioners and guests were led in a season of prayer by the Reverend Mr. David Jussely, Chaplain at the Forrest General Hospital and Doctoral Candidate at the University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg. RE Sam Duncan, First Presbyterian Church, Hattiesburg, closed the season of prayer.
The Reverend Mr. James "Jim" Richter, Pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Biloxi, administered the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper with the assistance of ruling elders from the Biloxi and Bay Springs Presbyterian Churches.
The Moderator called the 86th Stated Meeting to order, a quorum was declared to be present, and the docket was adopted with amendment. The Host Pastor, Mr. Richter, welcomed the Presbytery and visitors, and gave directions about the restaurants available for the noon meal (dinner to Southerners, but lunch to the rest of the world) with a warning not to go to the "boats"--i.e., the casinos.
RE Sam Duncan, First Presbyterian Church, Hattiesburg, was elected as Moderator-in-Nomination for 1997. The Moderator appointed TE Ray Bobo, Pastor of the Heidelberg Presbyterian Church, to serve as the Sessional Records Committee, and RE Sam Duncan and TE Martin Payne, Pastor of the Calvary Presbyterian Church, Mize, to serve as the Resolutions and Thanks Committee.
It was reported that the New Covenant Mission in Natchez had left the Presbytery in order to become a church in the Evangelical Presbyterian Church. The Committee overseeing this work had been unwilling to approve the Mission's selection of a minister. It was reported to Presbytery that the minister whom they had selected and desired to call was unable to subscribe to the Westminster Confession of Faith.
The Presbytery appointed a committee to consider all the issues concerning the New Covenant Mission in Natchez, including the question of funds which had been designated for the establishing of a church in Natchez, and report back later in the day. Near the end of the Presbytery, this Standing Committee recommended, and the Presbytery concurred, that the Presbytery "express its deep sorrow over over New Covenant's desire to withdraw itself from the fellowship of the Presbyterian Church in America in order to pursue a minister whose views appear out of accord with [our] standards," and that the Christian Education and Missions Committee be asked to study the question about the designated funds and bring a report to the 87th Stated Meeting of Presbytery. The Presbytery removed the mission from its roll of Mission Churches. The Session of the Faith Presbyterian Church, which had been appointed to oversee this mission, was relieved of its responsibilities effective this date.
The Presbytery received the request of TE Reid Derr to be divested without censure. The Presbytery acted according to BCO 38-2 to begin the process of divesture. Final action will be taken this matter at the next stated meeting. The resolution of the Heidelberg Presbyterian Church requesting that the Presbytery grant Pastor Emeritus status to TE Gene Reid was approved and the resolution will be spread upon the minutes of the presbytery.
The report of the commissions to install TE Alton Phillips, Pastor of the Columbia (MS) Presbyterian Church, and to ordain and install Mr. William Johnson, Pastor of the Pine Ridge Presbyterian Church, Natchez, were approved to be printed in the minutes. The Probationary Candidates Committee reported that Mr. Johnson had completed all of his assigned papers. Mr. Phillips and Mr. Johnson were invited to sign the Book of the Covenant, which is subscription to the Confession of Faith and Catechisms.
The Advisory Committee communicated to the Presbytery that it had acted as a Commission to dissolve the pastoral relationship of TE Jerry Robbins with the Waynesboro (MS) Presbyterian Church and dismiss him to Evangel Presbytery in order that he might accept the pastoral call of First Presbyterian Church, Tuscumbia, AL.
The Probationary Candidates Committee reported that the two candidates to be examined by the Presbytery today had completed all of the requirements and assigned tasks.
The Nominating Committee reported that Mr. William "Bill" Herrington had requested, because of health, that he be relieved at the end of the year of his two committee assignments. RE J. W. "Pete" Mangum, Jr., Clerk of Session of the First Presbyterian Church of Hattiesburg, was elected to replace Mr. Herrington in the Class of 1997 on the Nominating Committee. RE St. Clair Thompson, First Presbyterian Church of Crystal Springs, Crystal Springs, was elected to replace Mr. Herrington in the Class of 1997 on the Christian Education and Missions Committee.
RE Sam Duncan, First Presbyterian Church of Hattiesburg, and TE Scott Rich, Assistant Pastor of the First Presbyterian Church of Hattiesburg. were elected to the Class of 1999 on the Nominating Committee. The following Class of 1999 for the permanent committees of presbytery was elected: Advisory: RE Mike Land, Faith (Brookhaven); TE M. D. Connor, First Gulfport; Christian Ed. & Missions: RE John Ohrtman, Bay Street (Hattiesburg); TE David Jussely, Chaplain/Doctoral Student; Examining: RE Charlie Probst, Ellisville (MS) Presbyterian; TE Tommy Shields, Collins (MS) Presbyterian; RE Thomas L. Rosenblatt, First Woodville; TE Eugene C. Case, First Woodville; Probationary Candidates: RE Richard Ulerich, First Picayune; TE Steven E. Burton, Woodland. RE Norman G. Hortman, Jr., Covenant Presbyterian of Laurel, was elected to serve in the Class of 2000 on the General Assembly's Committee on Review of Presbytery Records.
The Examining Committee presented two Candidates, John Allen Taylor Bankson and Jeremy Jones, for examination for ordination. Each had previously been examined, recently, by the Presbytery for licensure. Their previous examinations were accepted (in lieu of re-examination) in the areas of Christian experience and call to the ministry, systematic theology, Bible content, and church government and discipline. Their examinations in the sacraments and church history were sustained and the commissions approved for their ordinations.
Mr. Bankson has been called to be an Assistant Pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Hattiesburg. Mr. Jones has been called to be the Reformed University Ministries Campus Minister at the University of Southern Mississippi. Mr. Jones offered two exceptions to the Confession of Faith and Catechism. He was/is unable to affirm that the Bible and Confession of Faith teach a literal six day creation, and that the Bible teaches the prohibition of all recreation on the Christian Sabbath as set forth in the Confession of Faith and Catechisms.
Objection was made to sustaining Mr. Jones' examination in theology. Only a small minority concurred in the objection. The Presbytery was given notice of complaint against this action of Presbytery to sustain Mr. Jones' theological examination.
The Memorial Resolution for RE Howard James Stringer presented by the Session of the Bay Street Presbyterian Church, Hattiesburg, was adopted with copies to be sent to his family and to be spread upon the minutes of the Presbytery.
TE Ray Bobo presented the report of the Session Records Committee with the recommendation that the Sessional Records of the Bethany and McDonald Presbyterian Churches be approved with notations.
Presbytery accepted the invitation of the First Presbyterian Church, Hattiesburg, to host the 87th Stated Meeting, which will convene at 9:00 a.m. on Tuesday, 14 January 1997.
The 86th Stated Meeting of Grace Presbytery was adjourned with prayer being offered by TE Robert Oates, Pastor of the Faith Presbyterian Church, Brookhaven.
Pastor George G. Felton, Sr., Correspondent
McDonald Presbyterian Church