Central Georgia

The 101st Stated Meeting of Central Georgia Presbytery met on July 18, 1998, at Covenant Presbyterian Church, Milledgeville, GA. The Moderator, TE David Harding, called the meeting to order and brought a message from Hebrews 12:1-3. RE David Toller of the host congregation was elected Moderator for this meeting. TE Daniel Clay was elected as Moderator-in-Nomination.

TE Raymond C. Ortlund, Jr., was examined and received from Pacific Presbytery to become Pastor of First Presbyterian Church, Augusta, GA. TE Jonathan S. Van Hoogen was examined and received from Northern California Presbytery to become Organizing Pastor of Providence Presbyterian Church, Harlem, GA.

Presbytery approved the completed internship of Mr. Randy Compton. An extension of twelve months was granted to Mr. Toller, who is serving as Stated Supply of the church in Milledgeville.

Mr. Robert Lucas and Mr. Philip Hart, per their request, were removed as candidates under care.

RE Dillard Noggle presented the Shepherding Committee report. The pastoral relationship between TE Joe P. Easterling and Christ Community Church, Thomasville, GA, was dissolved, and he was transferred to Southeast Alabama Presbytery. TE Jeffrey Candall, who had been Assistant Pastor at Perry (GA) Presbyterian Church, was transferred to South Texas Presbytery.

TE James Knight presented the Mission to the World report. A teaching elder reported on his work in the Muslim world. The quarterly report of TE Curtis B. Singleton, Chaplain/Director of the International Seamen's House, Savannah, was received as information.

TE David M. Gordon of Reformed Theological Seminary, Orlando, thanked the court for its support and asked for continued prayers.

Presbytery erected an ad hoc committee "to examine all issues relating to attendance and conduct of business at the meetings of Central Georgia Presbytery and report back to the Court at the October meeting of Presbytery, with recommendations to assist Presbytery in: (1) The efficient use of meeting time, (2) Scheduling to allow sufficient time on deliberative matters, (3) Incorporating more time for edification and encouragement."

Presbytery voted to adopt three letters, to General Assembly Mission to North America Committee, to Northern California Presbytery, and to Rev. Phil Stogner, regarding remaining questions surrounding the controversy over church planting, particularly in Utah (see the Summer 1998 issue of P&R News for the basic text of those letters-Ed.) Representatives of the denominational MNA Committee were also invited to appear at the October 1998 meeting of Central Georgia Presbytery.

Macon, GA (October 13, 1998)-Meeting at historic Vineville Presbyterian Church in downtown Macon, the 102nd Stated Meeting of Central Georgia Presbytery opened with public worship. RE David Toller, Moderator of the court, preached from Revelation 3:1-5 on the necessity of holding to one's first love and on avoiding the danger of hypocrisy.

Presbytery heard from three representatives of the denominational Mission to North America Committee [see related stories, pp. 4-7].

The court also heard a report from the Georgia Christian Council on Referendum C, to be voted on by the citizens of Georgia on November 3. This ballot measure would make clear that all properties used in religious ministry and mission are exempt from taxation. At present, Georgia law only exempts "places of religious worship", and some county tax assessors are interpreting that law to mean that only the sanctuary area of church property is exempt from taxes. Making that presentation on behalf of the Georgia Christian Council was Mr. Leland Collins. As he distributed material on the issue, he said: "Baptist money is paying for these brochures. . . . I'm a Methodist myself." [On Election Day, Georgians overwhelmingly approved the legislation.-Ed.]

TE David Harding was transferred to Southeast Alabama Presbytery. Presbytery approved the dissolution of the pastoral relationship between TE Jim Shipley and the Perry (GA) Presbyterian Church. TE Les Prouty had written a letter to Presbytery, indicating his desire voluntarily to demit the ministry. Presbytery instructed the Candidates and Credentials Committee to meet with him to ascertain if his reasons for demitting are valid.

TE Jim Hope was received from Palmetto Presbytery to become Pastor of Liberty Presbyterian Church, Sylvania, GA. He had previously been licensed by Central Georgia Presbytery and had just completed six months of being Stated Supply there.

The ad hoc committee erected in July proposed changes in the way presbytery does its work. It identified six areas needing to be addressed: (1) What is the purpose of Presbytery to be in the life of the church? (2) How may we make the most efficient and effective use of our time? (3) How may we foster a more spiritually edifying atmosphere at Presbytery? (4) How may we encourage more wide spread attendance and participation? (5) How may we streamline the examinations led by Candidates & Credentials and still be thorough? (6) What will be the process and results of the future realignment of Presbytery?

The committee brought in several recommendations regarding the on-going reform of the Presbytery. The motif is that of a presbytery being a "regional church" and more than just a "court"; the model being utilized is that which Metropolitan New York Presbytery has pioneered. The committee proposed three "compass points" to guide the Presbytery's ministries: Equip, Encourage, and Execute. After brief debate, the matter was scheduled for consideration at the January 1999 meeting, after the churches have had an opportunity to study the proposal.

The Presbytery thanked the host church for the "outrageously delicious meal" at lunch time.