Rock Tavern, NY (September 19-20, 1997)-Westminster Presbyterian Church hosted the September Stated Meeting of Northeast Presbytery, with Moderator Dr. T. David Gordon presiding.
Presbytery had received letters from several parties just prior to the May meeting, expressing concern about the sponsorship of a Racial Unity Ministry conference by Redeemer Presbyterian Church. The event, held last January in New York City, rhetorically asked, "What can Christians learn from Martin and Malcolm?"-that is, from Martin Luther King, Jr., and Malcolm X. Northeast Presbytery had declined to take immediate action with regard to Redeemer, and instead asked each of the parties from whom it had received correspondence to write directly to the congregation; if reconciliation proved to be impossible, then the parties were invited to approach the court before its September meeting. One of those parties, the Session of Jupiter (FL) Presbyterian Church, did write to the Clerk of Session of Redeemer, dated June 16, 1997. When the Florida church did not receive a reply, it sent a letter to Northeast Presbytery, requesting that court to take action under Book of Church Order 40-4 ("Courts may sometimes entirely neglect to perform their duty, by which neglect heretical opinions or corrupt practices may be allowed to gain ground; or offenders of a very gross character may be suffered to escape; or some irregularity may not be distinctly recorded by them. In any of these cases their records will by no means exhibit to the higher court a full view of their procedings. If, therefore, the next higher court be well advised that any such irregularity has ocurred on the part of the lower court, it is incumbent on it to take cognizance of the same, and to examine, deliberate and judge in the whole matter as completely as if it had been recorded, and thus brought up by review of the records."). Because the General Assembly had approved the erecting of a new New York Metro Presbytery, which encompasses New York City, Northeast Presbytery was obliged to refer the latest letter from Jupiter to the new presbytery. This is because, upon the convening of the new court (in July), Northeast Presbytery no longer had jurisdiction.
Presbytery transferred Dr. Joseph Gatis from Palmetto Presbytery to minister as a Harvard chaplain. The possessor of numerous academic degrees, Dr. Gatis is a First Amendment lawyer who works for the Rutherford Institute. He is the first evangelical and Reformed chaplain at Harvard since the 1930s.
Presbytery approved for ordination Chris Robinson, who is planning on establishing a church in Portsmouth, NH.
The court licensed Glen Hoburg, who has been designated to work with Harvard students. Among his exceptions to the confessional standards was his not being able to affirm Larger Catechism, Q/A 156, as he professed having a difficulty "with only ministers being able to read Scripture in public." In his view, anybody in good standing may be allowed to read the Word in public worship. However, he indicated that, in practice, he would have teaching and ruling elders to read Scripture. Also licensed were William Spanjer and Tom Morrison.
The court declined to license Carl Shoemaker, due to concerns over his expressions regarding the relationship of law and grace and the doctrine of sanctification. Overturning the favorable recommendation of the candidates committee by the count of 18-10 was a substitute motion, remanding him to the committee for further study.
Presbytery took under care as a ministerial candidate Mr. Art Luse.
Presbytery approved TE Mel Sensinig, who has been on staff at Christ Presbyterian Church, New Haven, to become evangelist for Berea Presbyterian Church, Providence, RI.
The matter of John Evans was back again. Northeast Presbytery voted to send a letter to Southwest Presbytery, informing that court that, in Northeast's view, the question of restoring Mr. Evans to the ministry had been handed over to Southwest. Further, unless Northeast hears differently by its January meeting, it will assume that Southwest has exclusive jurisdiction in the matter. The issue became complicated when Southwest sent the matter back to Northeast (which had imposed the censure), based upon counsel it had apparently received from Atlanta.
RE Norman Therrien, Stated Clerk
8 Constitution Drive, Bedford, MA 01731