Tazewell, VA (April 18, 1998)-The ninety-first stated meeting of Westminster Presbytery was hosted by Trinity Presbyterian Church. TE Rick Franks preached on the doctrine of assurance as summarized in the Westminster Confession of Faith. Host pastor TE Henry Johnson and the Trinity Church Session administered the Lord's Supper. TE Bill Leuzinger was elected Moderator by acclamation. Dr. John Robbins of the Trinity Foundation, Unicoi, TN, was given a few minutes to speak to the brethren.
The court noted that Asbury Presbyterian Church of Johnson City, TN, has elected another elder and therefore has a quorum for a Session. The Commission acting as a Session for the Asbury Church was dissolved with thanks.
The minutes read: "After some discussion about the January Minutes of Presbytery being sent for publication to Dr. Frank Smith by someone other than the Stated Clerk of Presbytery, by a vote of 16 to 12 the whole matter of the distribution of Presbytery Minutes to members of other courts of the PCA or to the public in general was referred back to the Committee on Overtures and Judicial Business."
Mr. Ron Creech, who had been licensed to preach at the January meeting, was transferred as a candidate from the Orthodox Presbyterian Church.
Presbytery took a position in favor of six 24-hour day creation and against denials of that doctrine, including the 'gap theory', the 'day age theory', and the 'poetic' view of Genesis 1. Presbytery adopted a declaration that the court "will not tolerate these in any teaching elder seeking admittance to this Presbytery, or any other man seeking to be licensed or to become a candidate for the ministry under care of this Presbytery. Furthermore, Westminster Presbytery considers that any view which departs from the confessional doctrine of creation in six 24 hour days strikes at the fundamentals of the system of doctrine set forth in the Holy Scriptures." The original version of this declaration, which had been proposed by Trinity Church of Tazewell, included the phrases that the Presbytery will not "approve these views in any of our elders in Westminster Presbytery. We will not ordain any elder holding such views and we will bring charges of heresy against any officer holding and teaching such views in our branch of the church of the Lord Jesus Christ." However, Presbytery struck those words.
Westminster Presbytery also adopted an overture to General Assembly, calling for a study committee on the doctrine of creation in order to bring to the 1999 Assembly "a proposed Statement of the PCA's beliefs" regarding it. [See stories in this issue regarding the Creation matter.]
The court denied a complaint by TE Jeff Yelton, former Pastor of Seven Mile Ford (VA) Presbyterian Church, against the failure of the Commission overseeing the congregation to exercise discipline in the matter of members who had absented themselves from public worship. Presbytery answered the complaint by stating: "Presbytery does not believe that its commission has been delinquent. Members of the Seven Mile Ford Church who absented themselves from worship have either returned to the worship services or joined another congregation. Thus the objective of church discipline has already been achieved. Presbytery believes that its commission has acted in a manner to encourage growth in grace. In doing so it has avoided an unnecessary provocation to wrath. . . ." Mr. Yelton stated in his complaint: "The failure of the Presbytery and its commission to properly discipline the members of the Seven Mile Ford Presbyterian Church who absented themselves from the stated worship services of that church without due cause may have a schismatic tendency, if it is indicative of an unbiblical practice concerning church discipline. The Bible commands us to be both united and agreed. Yet, the Bible also commands us 'in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us' (2 Thessalonians 3:6, KJV). The proper exercise of church discipline is usually recognized to be one of the marks of the true church. For this reason, failure to exercise it properly-even by those who are undoubtedly brothers in Christ, and so dearly beloved-can surely be construed as 'disorderly' conduct, and thus can sometimes necessitate withdrawal or separation. This is so, even the failure is perpetrated by the majority. Still, the complainant is confident of better things in the present case."
Presbytery authorized its Mission to the United States Committee to act as a commission "to organize the Grace Reformed Presbyterian Mission Church in Greeneville, TN, into a particular church, and be instructed to take care of all matters pertaining thereto as set forth in BCO 5 . . . ." [The Orthodox Presbyterian Church had had a mission work in Greeneville from 1967 to 1975, pastored by now-PCA pastor Bob Valentine. That mission work transferred into Westminster Presbytery, but after several years was dissolved.-Ed.] Curtis Stapleton was authorized to begin his work as RUM Campus Minister to East Tennessee State University on June 1, 1998.
Presbytery dissolved the pastoral relationship between TE John Monger and Arcadia Presbyterian Church, effective April 5, 1998, with the understanding that the Session will pay his salary through June 7 (pending a congregational vote on April 19). The Shepherding Committee is to "meet with John Monger and formulate any financial aid to John after June 7, 1998, if needed."
Presbytery approved a bulletin insert, Standard References to Church Discipline, by TE Carl Howell, Jr., for distribution to all of Presbytery's churches. It was reported that the Christian Committee agreed to pay the expenses for its chairman to attend the Presbytery Christian Education Chairmen's meeting in Atlanta.
Under Mission to the World report, Judith Newland was granted $300.00 toward her outgoing expense of $27,000.00 (of which 50% has been raised). Another $300.00 was given to the MTW Chairman, Rick Light, of which $100.00 will be used for his expenses in his trip to Russia and $200.00 for purchasing Geneva Study Bibles for Russian pastors.
TE Jim Reedy, Chairman of the Commission acting as a Session over the Seven Mile Ford Church, had requested that "Presbytery consider paying half the cost of removing the images from the stain-glass windows at the Church facility (which will amount to approximately $700)." The court adopted a motion "that the Chairman of the Shepherding Committee confer with the Commission acting as a Session over the Seven Mile Ford Church, and ascertain whether the $700 request has been deemed appropriate by the Commission and, if so, that the monies be made available from the Shepherding Committee budget."
The Stated Clerk was instructed to "invest the monies from the Walthall-Wood Scholarship Fund in a money market fund with a reputable Mutual Fund Company." Money will be taken from each Committee to purchase a new computer for the Stated Clerk, costing about $1,000.00.
TE Larry Ball, Stated Clerk
5101 Memorial Blvd.
Kingsport, TN 37664