The fall stated meeting of the Presbytery of the Ascension met October 16-17, hosted by Gospel Fellowship Presbyterian Church, Valencia, Pa. Presbytery convened with a celebration of the Lord's Supper on Friday evening. TE Steve Maker preached on Matthew 5:19-20, underscoring the theme of "the righteousness that unlocks the door of heaven." Host pastor, TE Nick Protos, presided at the administration of the Lord's Supper.
As part of the Christian Education Committee report, Presbytery heard a report on Pres-WIC from Jan Hall of Gospel Fellowship Church.
A major item of business on Friday
evening was action on a Commission to Adjudicate a complaint,
RE Ken Peterson v. Session of Faith Reformed Church. At issue
was whether a session policy and practice in evangelism was out
of conformity with PCA "policy." The Commission recommended
"to sustain the complaint and to annul the action in question
of Faith Reformed Church." The Commission cited among its
"reasons" that: "That document does not accord
with" a passage from the "position paper MISSION AND
PURPOSE OF THE PCA, which the first general assembly adopted."
The paragraph quoted underscores being "earnest in training
our constituency to do the work of evangelism." Presbytery
approved the Commission recommendation. A Protest against the
action was lodged and signed by various members of Presbytery.
Dr. Bogue comments: At issue are
two strong and opposing viewpoints as to evangelistic methodology.
The position complained against is a strong view that preaching
of the Word by ordained men is the primary way of doing evangelism
Biblically, and that members are not obliged to be directly involved
in evangelism, but may certainly "share the Gospel"
as occasion presents itself. The complainant's view argued that
the position of the PCA is that all members ought to be involved
directly in evangelistic work. That is a superficial summary,
and there are certainly aspects of both sides that may need refinement.
It seems to me, however, that both of these emphases have adherents
in the Reformed churches and reflect more of a preference of methodology
than an issue of judicial prohibition of either of the positions.
It should be noted that the tension is heightened by there being
only one ruling elder on the session.
Ministerial Relations Committee also reported on Friday evening. Two of the matters handled concerned guidelines for memorializing deceased elders and a policy regarding the teaching of exceptions to the Westminster Standards. Regarding the latter, the Committee recommended that the Presbytery again adopt a policy that no member of the Presbytery nor anyone approved to labor within the bounds of the Presbytery be permitted to teach or preach exceptions to the Westminster Standards. The recommendation included an amendment to the original policy by adding the words "in his official capacity as an elder of the PCA." The policy had been adopted at the April meeting, which was complained against at the July meeting and referred back to the M. R. Committee for clarification. The amended policy was postponed until the January Presbytery meeting with an hour set aside for debate.
Saturday morning was used to involve all the presbyters in the reading and reviewing of sessional records. This was followed with a season of prayer prior to recessing for lunch.
The Session of Rocky Springs Presbyterian Church, Harrisville, PA, had asked Presbytery to encourage North Georgia Presbytery to investigate the worship practices of one of its congregations. According to published reports, Parkview PCA of Lilburn, GA, had conducted a worship service that centered on baseball rather than on the Word of God. The proposed letter was adopted with minor amendments, but upon reconsideration Presbytery directed the Clerk to contact the Clerk of North Georgia Presbytery to determine what action, if any, may have been initiated by that Presbytery into the reported actions of the Parkview church, before the letter of concern is sent. [See related story.-Ed.]
As a part of the Administration Committee report, TE Scott Wright of Covenant Reformed Presbyterian Church in Aurora, Ohio, was elected moderator of Presbytery for the year beginning with the adjournment of the October Presbytery meeting.
Carl W. Bogue, Correspondent