The 92nd stated meeting of Westminster Presbytery was held at Edgemont Presbyterian Church, Bristol, TN, on Saturday, July 18, 1998. Moderator Bill Leuzinger, pastor of the Abingdon (VA) Presbyterian Church, opened the meeting with prayer. TE Dan Foreman, following the long-standing Presbytery practice of having sermons on successive chapters of the Confession of Faith, preached on "The Law of God" as summarized in chapter 19 of the Westminster Confession. Host pastor Larry Stallard and several ruling elders from the host church administered the Lord's Supper.
Mr. Leuzinger was elected Moderator for this meeting. Among the visitors introduced was Dr. Phil Blevins, President of Graham Bible College and a member of Mississippi Valley Presbytery.
Presbytery received notice that the Seven Mile Ford (VA) Church had acted on June 14th to withdraw from the PCA. The vote was 4 in favor, 0 against, and 2 abstained. The Commission Acting as a Session of the Seven Mile Ford Church, with its business now complete, was dissolved with thanks. In the Commission's final set of minutes (June 22, 1998), it was noted that a phone call had been received from one of the heirs of the Preston family, which had deeded the property conditionally in 1881, of "their desire for the church and manse properties."
A complaint had been filed with the General Assembly, alleging that the Presbytery, which had original jurisdiction over the Seven Mile Ford Church, had not exercised proper discipline with regard to members who had absented themselves from public worship. According to the Presbytery Clerk, the General Assembly Stated Clerk had sent a letter to the Judicial Panel adjudicating Case 98-4 (Yelton v. Westminster Presbytery) "which suggested that since the Seven Mile Ford Church had withdrawn from the PCA, that the case might be considered moot."
TE John Monger, who had previously transferred from the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America into Westminster Presbytery, was transferred back to the RPCNA. He has accepted a call to the Covenanter congregation in Washington, IA [one of the congregations of the Associate Presbyterian Church of North America, when it was absorbed by the RPCNA on June 7, 1969-Ed.]
A letter was received from Dr. Joseph A. Pipa, President of Greenville (SC) Presbyterian Theological Seminary, soliciting advice regarding a possible sponsorship relationship of presbyteries with the Seminary. Contingent upon a certain amount of support by churches within a given presbytery, a member of that presbytery would be eligible to serve on the Seminary Board. This letter was received as information.
Upon recommendation of the Overtures and Judicial Business Committee, Presbytery adopted a motion which states that "presbytery minutes shall be distributed to any elder in good standing in the PCA who requests them." An amendment from the floor was added, to wit: "The cost of production and distribution to elders outside of Westminster Presbytery shall be borne by the elders requesting them." [See story on page 9 for the recommendation and the grounds.-Ed.] The main motion carried, 18-15.
Presbytery dissolved the pastoral relationship between the Sandlick Church, Birchleaf, VA, and the Rev. Pat Parham; and approved the call to Mr. Parham by Asbury Presbyterian Church, Johnson City, TN, effective August 2, 1998, with a total compensation of $27,000.00, and four weeks vacation. The call of Dickenson First Presbyterian Church, Haysi, VA, to Mr. Richard Hicks was approved. The terms of call are exactly the same as they were for him as Student Supply: $26,000.00 plus benefits, and two weeks vacation.
Presbytery adopted an overture from Trinity Presbyterian Church, Tazewell, VA, regarding the education of covenant children. [See separate article for the resolution as adopted.]
Presbytery appointed the Overtures and Judicial Business Committee to draft a response to Potomac Presbytery's open letter, which had taken issue with Westminster Presbytery's declaration on Creation. This proposed response will be considered at the October stated meeting.
Presbytery approved for ordination two men: Mr. Curtis A. Stapleton, who is working with Reformed University Ministries at East Tennessee State University in Johnson City; and Mr. Richard Hicks, who was called as Pastor of Dickenson First Presbyterian Church in Haysi, VA. The Session of Dickenson First was informed that providing only two weeks vacation was considered inadequate; and was requested to consider four weeks. A committee was appointed to oversee the campus work at ETSU, as follows: RE Ken Smith, RE Jarry Harr, TE Jeff Fulford, TE Carel van der Merwe, RE Neil Smith, TE Ross Lindley, TE Steve Meyerhoff, TE Ben Konopa (or designee), TE Preston Sartelle (or designee), and TE Pat Parham.
It was noted that Grace Reformed Church, Greeneville,
TN, was scheduled for July 19, 1998. The Mission to the United
States Committee had been appointed as a Commission to Organize
On September 15, 1998, Westminster Presbytery held a called meeting at the Abingdon (VA) Presbyterian Church.
Presbytery dissolved the relationship between TE Jeff Yelton and Christ Presbyterian Mission, Wytheville, VA, effective September 21, 1998. His present salary was continued through the end of the calendar year, with provisions regarding his health insurance. Presbytery voted to ask her churches to help pay Mr. Yelton's hospital debt, and also counseled him regarding his future career.
TE Steve Baker will fill the pulpit at Christ Mission, with the MUS Committee to bring a recommendation to the October stated meeting regarding the work.
The examination of Mr. Rusty Whitener was continued from the July meeting. A motion was made "to sustain the examination noting that Presbytery considered Mr. Whitener's views on tongues as an exception to the Westminster Standards chapter 21-3 and 1-1." The motion was divided. The part of the motion that his views were an exception to chapter 1-1 failed by a vote of 19 to 20. The part of the motion that his views were an exception to chapter 21-3 failed by a vote of 16 to 24. His examination was sustained, 20 to 17. Twelve commissioners asked for their negative votes to be recorded on the successful motion. The court approved the call to Pulaski (VA) Presbyterian Church, which included a salary and benefits package of $27,888.00, $1,000.00 for moving expenses, and four weeks vacation.
Recognizing the dissolution of the relationship between TE Richard Crews and Reformed Ministry International, Presbytery retained Mr. Crews on its rolls without call. The Stated Clerk was to "inform Mr. Crews that Presbytery does not approve his pursuing legal action in civil courts, and that Mr. Crews seek reconciliation with the Board members of RMI." The Clerk was also to "communicate with RMI Board and request that if there are any charges against Mr. Crews, that they pursue such charges through Westminster Presbytery."