St. Louis, MO (July 3, 1998)-Perennially, the Mission to North America Committee has asked for a special collection for its efforts. Instead of the routine approval that was expected, the General Assembly voted down the motion.
The debate started when a former railroad engineer from Rocky Mountain Presbytery raised objection to the scheduling of the offering on Mother's Day. Frank VanLandingham, who pastors Trinity Reformed Presbyterian Church, Montrose, CO, spoke against the motion by stating: "I am concerned about this tendency in the PCA to use the emotional impact of certain days to foster the collection."
TE Don Stone arose to substitute "Pentecost Sunday" for the nomenclature "Mother's Day." The pastor from Allentown, PA, contended: "Even the Apostle Paul recognized Pentecost. And I am quite concerned that we have allowed a civil calendar to influence us. . . . I would encourage us by helping our people to recognize the flow" of redemptive history.
The opposite perspective-that of Presbyterianism's Puritan heritage-was represented by TE David Coffin. The congregation which he pastors, New Hope Presbyterian Church in Fairfax, VA, does not observe special religious holy days. With regard to Ascension and Pentecost Sundays, Mr. Coffin stated: "You're referring to things that we have no knowledge of."
The substitute motion was defeated. But to the amazement
of many, the MNA recommendation for a collection on Mother's Day
was also defeated. An effort to re-commit the matter to committee