Grenada, MS (February 4, 1997)--Grenada Presbyterian Church hosted the 79th Stated Meeting of Covenant Presbytery. Due to illness, the Moderator, TE Claude McRoberts, could not be present. In his absence, TE Wayne Herring called the meeting to order. The Moderator Nominee, RE Buck Falls, who was attending Presbytery for the first time, was elected Moderator by acclamation.
A proposal that "every other meeting of Covenant Presbytery be held in Memphis, Tennessee" was forwarded to the Administration Committee for its consideration.
Stated Clerk Grover Gunn told of the ministry of the Institute for Christian Conciliation (ICC). "He told the presbytery that the Administration Committee was studying the possibility of recommending that Covenant Presbytery become a formal Partner with the ICC by taking the Peacemaker's Pledge."
Presbytery approved an overture from First Presbyterian Church, Stamps, AR, asking that it and four Arkansas counties be transferred to Louisiana Presbytery.
Dr. John Stodghill, Presbytery MTW Chairman, reported on the Presbytery Missions Conferences held on January 19, 1997. He stated that one of the lessons learned was that "it may be better to have the conferences later in the spring rather than in the winter since scheduling during November-December is very difficult due to holidays. A one-day conference seems to work very well and perhaps this format should be used."
TE Keith Kanavel of South Texas Presbytery, who has been called with his wife, Debbie, to do Bible translation and literacy work with Wycliff Bible Translators in Niger, addressed the court. He reported that the church in the overwhelmingly Muslim nation in west Africa is not growing. He hopes to be on the field in April 1997.
Messrs. James Calderazzo, Clay Harrington, and Greg Hoffman were examined for ordination. Mr. Calderazzo stated three exceptions he has to the Westminster Standards: he "takes exception to the view that God created the world in six twenty-four days"; he "takes exception to the terminology 'covenant of works' found in the Standards"; and he "takes exception to the Standard's prohibition of recreation on the Sabbath Day." The minutes read "Mr. Calderazzo clarified that the recreation he considered allowable on the Christian Sabbath is family recreation such as a nature walk and not organized sports or for pay spectator recreation. TE Grover Gunn stated that he did not consider this position contrary to the teaching of the Westminster Standards on the Christian Sabbath. During the examination, Mr. Calderazzo clarified that he takes exception only to the terminology 'covenant of works' and not to the concept as taught in the Standards." With regard to the six days of creation, Mr. Calderazzo "believes the earth is several millions of years old, and that the six days of Genesis one are not literal days but an anthropomorphic metaphor for extended ages. He believes in supernatural creation and not in an evolutionary origin of life and species. He believes in the literal chronological order of events in Genesis one, including an earth covered with vegetation on day three chronologically preceding the creation of the sun, moon and stars on day four. He believes that God literally formed Adam out of the dust of the earth and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life and that God literally took a rib from Adam's side and formed it into the first woman. Mr. Calderazzo believes in a literal universal flood that covered the earth and drowned all land animals except those on the ark. Mr. Calderazzo stated that if scientific consensus strongly favored the young earth view, he would reconsider his extended age interpretation of Genesis one."
The minutes read, "The Stated Clerk was asked if ministers are allowed to preach and teach their exceptions to the Standards." Mr. Gunn referred to the January 10, 1995, called meeting of Presbytery where this matter had been discussed; and to the Minutes of the 14th General Assembly, pp. 125-26 ["When a man is ordained with the allowance of exceptions to his full acceptance of the PCA standards, he thereby obtains (1) approval of his suitability to function within the ordained office, and (2) liberty to believe and live in some way not fully in accord with some portion of those standards. This allowance of exceptions, however, does not warrant his teaching or preaching of that matter so as to disturb the peace and purity of the church. The court of jurisdiction must determine in each situation whether such unwarranted actions have occurred."--Ed.]
The theological portion of the ordination exams for all three men were approved. TE John Stodghill requested that his negative vote on approving this portion of Mr. Calderazzo's examination be recorded.
After all portions of their exams were approved, Presbytery approved the calls to Messrs. Calderazzo (as Assistant Pastor at Main Street Presbyterian Church, Columbus, MS) and Hoffman (as Pastor of First Presbyterian Church, Clarendon, AR). Mr. Harrington may not be ordained until he has completed his internship.
TE Richard Rieves, Presbytery MNA Chairman, asked TE Jeffrey Lancaster to report on the Presbytery's new relationship with Beginning Again in Christ (BAIC), a prison ministry. Mr. Lancaster "exhorted churches to have the executive director, Joe Elliott, visit them and tell of the ministry of BAIC. He announced the need for a minister with reformed convictions to serve in the north Mississippi area including Parchman," where a state penitentiary is located. The court transferred $7,500 or its remainder designated in Presbytery's 1996 budget to Faith Prison Ministry to BAIC for disbursal.
TE Wayne Herring reported on the new church planting effort in the Bartlett area of Memphis, which he is pastoring. Saint Andrews Presbyterian Church is averaging 140 in attendance. Land has been bought for a future building.
Mr. Herring's call was amended; as were the calls for campus ministers TE Brian Habig, TE Ricky Jones, TE Jeffrey Lancaster, and TE Les Newsom.
The MNA Committee was allowed to enroll in the Presbyterian Investor's Fund incentive program. [Until 1994, Presbyterian Investor's Fund belonged to the PCA and was known as Investor's Fund for Building and Development. It is now a totally private venture.--Ed.]
The minutes for the Oxford Commission, which has oversight of the Christ Presbyterian Mission, Oxford, MS, were approved and spread on the minutes.
Presbytery transferred "all the remaining money designated to church planting in 1996 to the Church Planting Fund." This amounts to $12,500.
Covenant Presbytery encouraged its churches to send bulletins and newsletters to Dr. Ken Avis "so that he can obtain information for the Presbytery newsletter, The Covenant Reporter.
The following salaries were set: Stated Clerk, $3,600; Recording Clerk, $1,500; Treasurer, $1,200.
Presbytery received and adopted a memorial to RE Marvin E. Pearson of the Houston (MS) Presbyterian Church.
Presbytery reminded the Forrest City Commission "of the urgency of the situation and need for oversight of the Ragland Memorial PCA congregation." Because the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Pontotoc, MS, now has two ruling elders, the Pontotoc Commission was dissolved and thanked.
TE Randy Thompson, Chairman of the Christian Education Committee, reviewed the success of the regional CE conferences in the Memphis and Delta areas. "While there was good support for the conferences, he noted that most of the participants were from larger churches and not the smaller churches which were targeted." Mr. Thompson introduced the President of the Presbytery Women in the Church (WIC), Mrs. Jane Caveness, who "thanked the presbytery for supporting WIC and encouraged churches to send the wives of teaching elders to the conference for them in Atlanta in August."
TE Mack Plunket was dismissed to Southeast Louisiana Presbytery, effective today.
The following men were elected: Stated Clerk, TE Grover E. Gunn, III; Recording Clerk, TE David M. Smith; Treasurer, Mr. W. Lee Mattox; Parliamentarian, Mr. Howard Q. Davis.
Fifteen churches were noted as not having submitted their minutes for review.
Under New Business, Presbytery adopted an overture to General Assembly from the host church, asking for a full investigation of the Interchurch Relations Committee.
Clarksdale, MS (April 8, 1997)--First Presbyterian Church hosted the called meeting of Covenant Presbytery, which was held in order to deal with the situation regarding Reformed University Ministries (RUM).
With only one dissenting vote, the Presbytery sent a strongly-worded overture to General Assembly, setting forth a "grass roots" concept of RUM ministry and asking that the Assembly "instruct the GA/MNA Committee that its study committee has been discharged of further consideration of Covenant Presbytery's Overture 18 to the 24th General Assembly" and answer that overture "by constituting GA/RUM a General Assembly permanent committee or agency with equal status with the other permanent committees and agencies of the General Assembly."
TE Grover Gunn, Stated Clerk
PO Box 201, Carrollton, MS 38917; (601)237-6101