25th General Assembly Convenes, Elects Lawyer as Moderator
Colorado Springs, CO (June 10, 1997)--The 25th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) convened this evening in Colorado Springs. This is only the fourth time that a General Assembly of the largely Southern denomination has met west of the Mississippi River, and the first time in the Mountain Time Zone.
During the opening communion service, retiring Moderator Dr.
Charles McGowan preached on "As We Approach 25," a reference to the upcoming twenty-fifth anniversary of the founding of the PCA. Using Joshua 23:1-16, Dr. McGowan mentioned the faithfulness of God in what he called the "remarkable history" of the relatively young denomination. The Nashville, TN, pastor spoke of the missions outreach at home and abroad, the tremendous growth of the PCA, and her relations with other bodies, including the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and the North American Presbyterian and Reformed Council (NAPARC), which the PCA had initiated. But he also warned the overflow congregation about the danger of apostasy. The preacher exhorted that Joshua's address to the ancient assembly in Shiloh included a "sobering warning", adding "it's a warning against embracing the idols of our culture." He also said, "Be careful that you don't embrace the idols of modern techniques or popularity or prosperity. Be careful to remember that for God's blessing to remain we must remain faithful to our covenant-making and covenant-keeping God."
Every year since the founding of the PCA, the Assembly has, by
custom, alternated between choosing a ruling eldler and a teaching elder to be Moderator. Following that custom, Ruling Elder Samuel J. Duncan was elected to the post.
Nominated by TE Roy Taylor, a professor at Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson, MS, Mr. Duncan is a 39 year old lawyer. Dr. Taylor introduced him by saying that "he is a lawyer and he loves God." A graduate of Ole Miss, he served for 12 years in a law firm before founding his own a few years ago. According to Taylor, Duncan is so adept at his law practice that he has written manuals on solo and small law practice for his law association. "He has practiced his Christian faith in his law," said Taylor, as he cited his appearance as a young lawyer before the American Bar Association (ABA) leading a debate to get the ABA to reverse its pro-abortion stance. When the ABA refused to change its position, Duncan resigned from that organization. He does, however, continue to serve as a leader in the South Central Mississippi Bar Association.
Duncan has served in many capacities as a churchman, including
being twice elected moderator of Grace Presbytery. He has also
been elected to the Assembly's Constitutional Business Committee. Interviewed after the evening recess, Mr. Duncan said, "I trust
the Assembly will be one where the issues are debated" so that "we are a deliberative body."