Tulsa, OK (October 10, 1997)--Mid-America Presbytery met in its 33rd Stated Meeting at Christ Presbyterian Church, Tulsa. The Moderator, TE Jim Tracy, called the meeting to order at 1:10 PM, and the presbytery moved to a time of worship. After the presbytery sung a hymn, the Moderator opened the meeting with prayer. RE/LIC Bill Mitchell, at the Moderator's appointment, preached from John 17:13-26 on "The Marks of the Church." TE David H. Bryson, Senior Pastor of Christ Presbyterian Church, and TE Jim Tracy, Assistant Pastor, presided over the service of the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper. After singing another hymn, TE Bryson pronounced the benediction. The Moderator then assumed the chair at 2:19 PM, and recessed the presbytery until 2:25 PM.

TE Bill Doerfel of the OPC Presbytery of the Southwest was welcomed as a visiting brother and accorded the privilege of the floor. John Mantooth and Doug Seewald, Grace PCA, Norman, OK, were recognized as guests of presbytery and welcomed.

RE Tony Miller of the host church was elected Moderator by acclamation. TE Dave Schwenk was, without opposition, declared the Moderator-Nominee.

The Stated Clerk read the Reports of Commissions to Particularize Christ PCA, Claremore, OK and to Ordain & Install Dave Schwenk as Pastor of Christ PCA, Claremore, OK, which reports were approved as read.

TE John Butler presented the report of the Candidates and Credentials Committee.

The history of RE/LIC Bill Mitchell's progress toward ordination under the extraordinary clause of BCO 21-4, and of the Committee's previous work in conducting written and oral examinations of RE/LIC Mitchell since January, 1997, was reviewed by TE Butler. It was reported to presbytery that the committee had sustained all of RE/LIC Mitchell's written examinations and papers. The presbytery was informed that the Committee had, however, voted not to sustain, as a whole, the oral examination before Committee, and the examination as a whole before Committee. The Committee moved its recommendation that RE/LIC Mitchell not be presented to presbytery for examination on the floor at this time. TE Butler explained to the court that the principle issue is RE/LIC Mitchell's less-than-satisfactory articulation of knowledge of English Bible and of Scripture support during oral examination in other sections. The motion carried. The court tabled the Committee's recommendation that the RE Stated Supply relationship between RE/LIC Mitchell and Covenant Life Church not be renewed.

Mr. Butler summarized the Committee's deliberations in consideration of a call to TE Bill Doerfel, a minister of Presbytery of the Southwest, OPC, from the congregation of Grace PCA, Norman, OK, to be Associate Pastor. TE Butler related that the Committee had examined TE Doerfel and approved his examination, and had examined the terms of his call and approved them. TE Butler related that the Committee had evaluated written and in-person communications from the Session and individuals concerning TE Doerfel, and the minutes of the congregational meeting to call TE Doerfel. The Committee recommended that the call to TE Doerfel be returned to the congregation of Grace PCA, without prejudice.

It was moved, seconded, and carried to table consideration of this matter.

TE Butler then presented information regarding the status of the Candidates Under Care of presbytery. Updates from Chuck Simmons and Mark Davis were read. No report was received from RE/CAND Wayne Sparkman.

With reflective pause and respect, TE Butler reported that Candidate Arnold Schiller passed on to the Church Triumphant on October 9th, the day before this meeting of presbytery. It was reported that Mr. Schiller, aged 49, had suffered a heart attack and died in Tulsa, where he was a middler student attending Oral Roberts University's Master of Divinity program. He was the pastor of an independent congregation, and was seeking to be received in the PCA. Mr. Schiller had been wheelchair-bound for the last 16 years after an automobile accident left him a quadriplegic. In that time, he organized his congregation as a church, earned a Bachelor's degree, and pursued a Master of Divinity degree. TE Butler related the current situation for Mr. Schiller's wife, Annie, and children Ezra and Anita, and for his congregation, Cornerstone Christian Church (Independent), Lawton. Words of testimony were received in memory of the life and many accomplishments, by God's grace, of our brother Arnold Schiller. At the Moderator's direction, TE David Bryson lead the court in prayer for the Schiller family, and the Cornerstone congregation, and in offering praise to God for all that is humbly represented in determination and perseverance of our late brother, Mr. Arnold Schiller.

After supper, TE John Butler continued the Candidates and Credentials Committee report. It was moved, seconded, and carried to take from the table Recommendation 2 [that the RE Stated Supply relationship between RE/LIC Mitchell and Covenant Life Church not be renewed]. A substitute motion was moved, seconded, and carried that the RE Stated Supply relationship between RE/LIC Mitchell and Covenant Life Church be renewed for one year.

It was moved, seconded, and carried to take from the table Recommendation 3 [that the call to TE Doerfel be returned to the congregation of Grace PCA, without prejudice]. After discussion, the motion from Committee carried. The presbytery discussed the rationale of the motion, being that of the peace of Grace PCA and that it was the concern of the court that Biblical resolution to the matter of opposition to the call to TE Doerfel be resolved before the matter again be brought to the court. Later in the meeting, Presbytery voted to transfer TE Mike Obel to the OPC Presbytery of Philadelphia.

TE Chuck Garriott, member of the MNA/Church Extension Committee, brought the Committee's report. The Committee moved that presbytery agree to the request of Providence Presbyterian Church (Mission), Eureka Springs, Arkansas, to be dissolved, subject to the approval of the Session of Covenant Presbyterian Church, Fayetteville, Arkansas (whose Session serves as a commission overseeing the work). After discussion, the motion was carried. The Committee moved that presbytery support for TE Jim Tracy for church planting in the south Tulsa area be terminated, effective this meeting. The motion was carried. The Committee reported the request of the Session of Immanuel Reformed Presbyterian Church, Springfield, Missouri, for financial assistance from presbytery. The Committee moved that presbytery approve an unsecured, no-interest, no-time limit loan to Immanuel Reformed Presbyterian Church in the amount of $10,000, $4,000 of which would be used for outreach, and $6,000 for operations, contingent upon the congregation's agreeing to proceed to the sale of its current real property. The motion carried.

The Committee moved that the Stated Supply Relationship between TE Marvin Camp, HR, and Providence Presbyterian Church (Mission), be dissolved, and that TE Camp be returned to the roll of Honorably Retired. The motion was carried. The following resolution was adopted by common consent: "With deep appreciation, Mid-America Presbytery, at its 33rd Stated Meeting, expresses its thanks to TE Marvin Camp, HR, for his selfless efforts and work in attempting to plant a church in Eureka Springs, Arkansas." TE David H. Bryson brought a report on the activities of Mission to the World, opening it with prayer. The report was received as information.

TE Joe Staub, chairman of the Christian Education/Shepherding Committee, opened the Committee's report with prayer. It was moved, seconded, and carried that $1000 be given to Covenant Trailblazers Christian Camp for activities for its 1998 camp.

RE Ray Verner brought the report of the Administration Committee, opening the report with prayer. Regarding the exception of substance to the Minutes of the Called Meeting of 4 January 1997 taken by the 25th General Assembly, the Committee moved, and motion carried, that the Stated Clerk be directed to communicate to the 26th General Assembly the following response: "1. Mid-America Presbytery recognizes that the exception taken to the Minutes of the Called Meeting of 4 January 1997 taken by the 25th General Assembly is legitimate. 2. Presbytery respectfully directs the Assembly's attention to the Minutes of the 30th Stated Meeting of Mid-America Presbytery, where the TE in question indicated that he had fully read the subordinate standards of the PCA prior to his installation. 3. Presbytery has made it its practice since the Called Meeting of 4 January 1996 to fully inquire of all candidates for licensure, ordinands and ministers seeking admission to presbytery whether they have fully read the subordinate standards of the PCA, and to not proceed in sustaining their examinations at the Committee on Candidates and Credentials level or on the floor of presbytery unless and until they have complied with this requirement. 4. Presbytery makes its humble confession with regards to this matter, and promises, with God's help, to manifest its repentance by faithful adherence to the principles and requirements of our Church in this matter."

Regarding the overture to erect a Ministerial Relief Fund the Committee moved the overture be adopted, with amendment, to read that Mid-America Presbytery establish a Ministerial Relief Fund to assist the Teaching Elders of Mid-America Presbytery, and their families, to be seeded initially with $3000 from the Presbytery's General Fund, and additionally receive 20% of the Presbytery's undesignated receipts, gifts from individuals, and churches; Furthermore, that the Administration Committee of Mid-America Presbytery be tasked with administration of said fund. The motion carried.

The Committee moved the approval of the following second reading to the By-Laws of Mid-America Presbytery: "That Article VIII Standing Committees be amended by adding the following: "Section 7. A Mission to the World Committee, consisting of at least four members. The purpose of which is to assist the churches of Mid-America Presbytery in world evangelism and church planting, to recruit and send missionary personnel from within the bounds of presbytery, and to promote within the presbytery the ministries and missionaries of the Presbyterian Church in America." The motion was carried by a vote of 22 FOR, 0 AGAINST, 0 ABSTAIN.

The Committee reported its recommendation that the BCO Amendments be approved. The presbytery then voted in favor of Item 1 (22-0-3) and Item 2 (17-0-5).

RE Ray Verner was appointed as the Presbytery's Bursar.

Presbytery heard a report on the activities of Covenant Theological Seminary. TE Chuck Garriott opened the report with prayer. The report was received as information. The court then heard reports from the Churches of presbytery and from its Teaching Elders. It then spent a season in prayer.

TE Lad Heisten, chairman of the Sessional Records Committee, opened his Committee's report with prayer. No exceptions of substance were taken to the Sessional minutes which were examined.

The meeting adjourned at 9:35 PM, and was closed with prayer by RE John Cleary.

TE John Owen Butler, Stated Clerk
Beal Heights Presbyterian Church
601 SW 69th Street, Lawton, OK 73505-6727
(580) 536-7161 (Study) / 355-4702 (Church)
jbutler@sirinet.net / OKCalvin@juno.com / MAPby@aol.com