North Georgia

Westminster Presbyterian Church of Gainesville, GA, hosted the summer stated meeting of North Georgia Presbytery, July 18, 1998. The Moderator, TE Tom Irby, convened the meeting. TE Kennedy Smartt, who had recently been elected Moderator of General Assembly, preached from I Kings 19:1-8. Host pastors John Grauley and Jack Beall served the Lord's Supper.

TE Legree Finch was examined and received from South Texas Presbytery to become pastor of Christ PCA, Marietta. TE Robert Omer was examined and received from Central Florida Presbytery to plant a church in Newnan, GA. TE Jeff Taylor was examined and received from the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, along with the church he pastors, New Hope in Cumming.

Presbytery dissolved the relationship between TE George Ganey and Harvester Presbyterian Church in Douglasville, and approved his call as Pastor of Smyrna (GA) Presbyterian Church. The pastoral relation between TE Oliver Claassen and Westminster Presbyterian Church of Atlanta was dissolved.

TE Jim Baxter was released to Southeast Alabama Presbytery, and TE Tom Patton to Central Florida. The status of TE Dwight Linton was changed to honorably retired. The dissolution of the headmaster relationship with Harvester Christian Academy and the pastoral relationship with Harvester Presbyterian Church with TE Dan Steere was approved; Presbytery referred the matter of reconsideration of severance pay to the Harvester Session.

TE Bruce Farrant encouraged the presbyters to go on a missions trip, foreign or domestic. He spoke of his life-changing experience on an Impact Missions trip to Fairmont, WV.

Doug Merkey shared the good news of the closing of the Midtown Abortion Clinic.

Presbytery approved the acquisition of property for Redeemer Fellowship in Athens, GA. Covenant Family Fellowship was approved as a mission of the Presbytery, and TE Paul Bellino was given limited powers of evangelist.

Presbytery approved the Shepherding Committee recommendation that "presbyters shepherd one another and be shepherded through active participation with their fellow ministers in their respective Presbytery Shepherding Regions, earnestly striving to develop koinonia among presbytery ministers, elders and churches and enhance pastoral care of our ministers, elders and churches."

Willow Woods Presbyterian Church's request for change from particular church back to mission status was referred to the Mission to North Georgia Committee, to bring a recommendation at the fall meeting.

RE Dwight Allen reported for the Administration Committee. He recommended that each church buy copies of To God All Praise and Glory (the new PCA 25th anniversary book written by Paul and Georgia Settle) and I Am Reminded (Kennedy Smartt's anecdotal history of the PCA). He encouraged the presbyters to read the new bylaws. He exhorted presbyters to attend presbytery meetings. He praised God for the facility in which Presbytery was meeting, which had recently been acquired by Westminster Church. He thanked Kennedy Smartt for his message this morning. And he encouraged the presbytery members to examine the directory for mistakes and pass them along to the Stated Clerk.

TE Mark Rowden reported for the Moral Concerns Committee. He recommended that the men look through the materials for Citizens for Family Values; and he made the Presbytery aware of opposition to "Teen Plus" Clinics in Georgia.

TE Robert Edmiston reported for the Christian Education Committee. The annual elders and wives dinner will be January 29, 1999, at Christ Church in Buckhead. A conference, "Understanding the Rising Generation," will be held October 17, 1998, at the same place.

Presbytery adopted the following resolution: "That North Georgia Presbytery declare itself to accept only the historic twenty-four hour day account of creation as recorded in Genesis as in the Standards of our churches. Candidates who hold positions other than this shall have their exceptions noted and not be allowed to teach these positions."

Atlanta, GA (October 20, 1998)-North Georgia Presbytery, by an overwhelming margin, rescinded its prior position regarding the literal understanding of Creation as recorded in Genesis. Upon motion by TE Bob Sweet, the court voted, 62-13, to rescind the action taken at the July meeting.

The two major grounds for the action were: (1) that the previous action had been taken late in the meeting; (2) that the Presbytery should wait until the General Assembly study committee reports.

The debate was relatively brief. TE Warren Gardner, Pastor of New Life Presbyterian Church in Winder, GA, moved to postpone consideration until the next meeting, so that due notice could be given. "This is an issue where I struggle with whether I should even stay with the denomination," said the pastor, who strongly favors a literal understanding of Genesis 1. But the court proceeded with the vote to rescind.

The Presbytery approved a system of Shepherding Regions. TE John Ragland addressed the question of whether such a system is worth having, and he gave three grounds for an affirmative answer: (1) the building of genuine brotherly love; (2) the resource of wisdom; (3) prayer support.

Presbytery received Dr. L. Roy Taylor, recently-elected Stated Clerk of the General Assembly; and TE Christopher Robins, who has been called by the Presbytery home missions committee and by Perimeter Ministries to plant a church in downtown Atlanta. His total salary package is $65,346.00.

The Credentials Committee had recommended that the terms of call for ministers be approved in committee. One presbyter, speaking in favor of that motion, said, "In the case of large staffs, we assistant pastors don't know what the terms of call are for senior pastors." But TE George Mitchell countered: "We are bound by the Book of Church Order. . . . It is the Presbytery's responsibility" to approve the call. Retired minister Bob Bradbury was concerned that a pattern would repeat which he experienced in the United Presbyterian Church, where a similar proposal had been enacted: committees were willing to approve calls with inadequate salaries. The Chair sustained the challenge brought by TE Warren Gardner, that the motion was unconstitutional.

Mr. Steven Murphy, a member of Intown Community Church, was taken under care. He is studying for the ministry at Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary.

Examined and approved for ordination were Messrs. Weldon Williams, Charles Hooper, and Bruce Owens. Their salary packages are $48,000.00, $55,000.00 (plus benefits), and $59,000.00, respectively.

Presbytery heard reports from TE Mark Rowden regarding his missions trip to Peru; Crown Ministries; Jim Hughes of Insurance, Annuities, and Relief, and General Assembly Stated Clerk Roy Taylor.