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The winter stated meeting of the Presbytery of the Ascension met January 30, 1999, hosted by the Christ Presbyterian Church, Beaver Falls, Pa. Moderator RE Ted Georgian convened Presbytery and preached the opening sermon before turning the gavel over to incoming moderator TE Scott Wright.
The principal item of business for the morning was an hour-long meeting as a committee of the whole for open debate on the recommendation of the Ministerial Relations Committee for adoption of the policy that "Any member of the Presbytery of the Ascension or any person who has been approved to labor within the bounds of Presbytery, but who has reported to the Presbytery his exceptions to the Westminster Standards, is to be instructed that unless or until he is able to demonstrate to the church at large that his views, rather than those of the Standards to which they are opposed, are in accordance with the teachings of God's infallible word, and to have our Standards brought into conformity with that only infallible rule of faith and practice, he is not to advocate those views in teaching and preaching in his official capacity as an elder of the PCA because they threaten the purity and peace of Christ's Church."
MR Committee chairman RE Dick Case told the body that it was not the intention of the committee that Presbytery vote up or down on the recommendation, but that suggestions, comments or amendments made during the debate would all be referred to the committee for a report to be made at the spring meeting of Presbytery. A procedural motion was made and approved that suggestions and amendments would be referred to the committee. Opponents and proponents of the original recommendation agreed that they were not far apart in their understanding of subscription. TE James Smith emphasized that the opponents did not wish to endorse a blanket prohibition contrary to historic Presbyterianism. TE Scott Wright, who relinquished the chair during the debate, emphasized that the proposed policy is exactly in line with the historic pronouncements of the church dating back to the first North American synods, and that the policy does not bind liberty of conscience as individual Christians, but that church officers must be bound to maintain the standards.
TE Bryon Curtis of Eastern Carolina Presbytery, laboring out-of-bounds in Ascension Presbytery, was permitted to present a written statement on "The Standards of the PCA on the Duties & Rights of Conscience," to the committee. Members of Presbytery were later permitted to pick up copies of the paper from the Clerk. The committee will receive written statements from Presbytery members until March 15.
A budget of $23,904 was approved for 1999. The budget, recommended by the Administration Committee, was a reduction of $3,960 which reflected the fact that the Presbytery had operated at a deficit for three of the last four years. As approved, the budget included a reworking of the MNA committee funds with creation of a Church Planting Fund in order to funnel addition monies to a current work in Clarion County, Pa. In a separate later action, the Presbytery's churches were encouraged to think of ways in which additional funds could be found for church planting.
Presbytery also heard the licensure examination of candidate James Funyak which was sustained. A call of licentiate John Kenyon to the Reformed Presbyterian Church of Slate Lick was approved. Presbytery was assured that in extending the call the Slate Lick church understood that Kenyon is awaiting a call to the chaplancy. The commission previously appointed for the ordination of Kenyon is to install him.
The Clerk reported that he had corresponded, as directed at the October meeting, with the North Georgia Presbytery to determine what actions, if any, may have been taken in regard to published reports about the worship practices of the Parkview PCA of Lilburn, Ga., including a baseball-oriented service on August 23, 1998. A reply from Robert G. Sweet, chairman of the Shepherding Committee of North Georgia Presbytery, had been received and circulated prior to Presbytery meeting. An ad hoc committee of three was appointed to draft a reply.
The letter from Sweet criticized Ascension Presbytery for contacting North Georgia Presbytery rather than contacting Parkview Church directly. The letter also stated in regard to the August 23 worship service that "Hindsight makes it clear that this [service] was unwise and will not be repeated." In addition, Sweet reported that the Session of Parkview Church had prepared this statement:
We desire that our congregation's worship of God be marked by fidelity to Holy Scripture, and informed by the Westminster Standards and the "Directory of Worship" of our denomination's Book of Church Order. Our Sunday services normally are planned in accordance with the regulative principle of Reformed worship, and we sincerely regret any confusion or offense caused by insufficient attention to these guidelines on August 23.
The drafting committee reported a proposed response to the Session of Parkview Church regarding worship practices, and a proposed response to Sweet regarding the appropriate relationship between presbyteries and churches. After debate, Presbytery directed that a reply be sent only to the Parkview Session, encouraging continued adherence to the regulative principle of Reformed worship, with a copy to Sweet.
Richard McBane, Correspondent Return to Top
The Sixtieth Stated Meeting of Calvary Presbytery convened at Woodruff Road Presbyterian Church, Simpsonville, South Carolina, on October 22, 1998. TE Allan Story preached at opening worship from Hebrews 10:26-39.
Presbytery referred to its Mission to North America Committee a communication from Second Presbyterian Church, Greenville, South Carolina. It read: "That Calvary Presbytery be notified that Second Presbyterian Church's support to MNA church planting efforts will be conditioned on such churches being founded on a clear practice of the Regulated Principle of Worship." [This communique apparently was prompted by the use of video clips of secular movies in the public worship of a mission church of Calvary Presbytery-Ed.]
Messrs. Kyle Brown and Shawn Slate were taken under care as ministerial candidates. Mr. David Bolus, per his request, was removed from the roll of Candidates. Candidate Edward Chandler was dismissed to become a candidate in Potomac Presbytery.
TE Lee Moseley was transferred from Western Carolina Presbytery to become Pastor of Roebuck (S.C.) Presbyterian Church; his call of $41,000 was approved. TE Mark Burchette was transferred from Central Florida Presbytery to become Associate Pastor at New Covenant Presbyterian Church, Anderson, South Carolina, with total compensation of $48,000. Presbytery approved the call of Westminster Presbyterian Church, Clinton, South Carolina, to TE Philip McClimon at a salary of $1.00 per year. Mr. McClimon will soon become a Chaplain in the Navy Reserve. TE Mel Wright of Palmetto Presbytery was granted permission to supply the pulpit at Westminster Church, with the Examinations Committee conducting a licensure exam as soon as possible; also, Mr. Wright is to appear before Presbytery in January 1999.
TE David Bryan, who had been Pastor of Westminster Church, was dismissed to become an Assistant Pastor in Memphis, Tennessee. TE Bryan Austin's resignation from Westminster Church as Assistant Pastor was approved, pending his discussing his resignation with the Shepherding Committee.
TE Fred Thompson was permitted to labor out of bounds at a church in Fellowship Presbytery for one year. TE Paul Nasekos was permitted to labor out of bounds at French Camp (Miss.) Academy for one year.
Presbytery approved the report of its Sessional Records Committee, without listing what the exceptions were which were taken to Sessional minutes. [Previous General Assembly action has maintained that when there are exceptions of substance taken to Sessional minutes, the Presbytery must record in its minutes what those exceptions are.-Ed.] Return to Top
Second Street Presbyterian Church, Albemarle, North Carolina, hosted the 75th stated meeting of Central Carolina Presbytery, October 24, 1998. The Moderator, TE David Alexander of the host church, presided. At the opening worship, TE Harry Reeder preached from Ezekiel 47 on revival.
Presbytery approved the report of a judicial commission dealing with a teaching elder. The commission ordered the man to give notice that he is in counseling, that he explain the entire situation (what happened with the women involved as well as what the Presbytery is doing) to his wife, that he contact the PCA Presbytery in whose bounds he is residing of his presence, requesting to meet with the Pastoral Oversight Committee Chairman, and that he begin effort on these matters by December 1, 1998.
Presbytery approved the report of Commission to Examine the Elders of the North Hills Church. This previously-unaffiliated congregation in Salisbury, North Carolina, was received as a particular church of the Presbytery.
Presbytery voted to give $1,000 per month to Rev. Philip Nelson, a member of the Christian Methodist Episcopal Church, as an MNA intern, effective August 1, 1998, continuing for six months for the development of the North Charlotte Mission. Financial support for Christ Community Mission in Sanford was not continued beyond December 31, 1998. The mission in Clemmonsville/Lewisville was granted $6,000 for start-up costs, and $1,000 per month committed to this new work when TE Jim White moves onto the field. This arrangement is to continue for 18 months, and be reviewed at the end of 1999. The $1,000 per month pledged for Grace Covenant Mission, Elon College, North Carolina, was continued through June 1999, with a re-evaluation at that time "to determine if benchmarks are being met and what action should be taken at that time with no further support being committed past 1999."
The court approved a response to the Review of Presbytery Records Committee of General Assembly. The Assembly had taken exception to Presbytery's minutes because of approving the reception of a teaching elder. The Presbytery noted that the "views of TE James White were dealt with at the April 25, 1998 Stated Meeting by answering a complaint in the affirmative which forbids Mr. White from teaching his view of the Sabbath; therefore, the matter was under judicial process and has since been adjudicated by the court." In giving its answer, the Presbytery appealed to BCO 40-3, which states in part: "Proceedings in judicial cases, however, shall not be dealt with under review and control when notice of appeal or complaint has been given the lower court." Presbytery later approved the report of its Ad-Interim Committee on Minutes "to ascertain the accuracy of Presbytery minutes (July 19, 1997) with regard to Mr. White's views." That Committee found that the corrected minutes are accurate on this matter.
The Presbytery, which had overtured the General Assembly for a study committee on Creation, allocated $1,428.94 from funds given for Christian Education in 1995 for the expenses of this Ad Hoc Committee.
Presbytery received a communication from First Presbytery of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, one of the PCA's sister churches, responding to a protest from Central Carolina regarding an ARP congregation receiving as members people who were under discipline in a congregation of Central Carolina. The Presbytery received the communication "with thanks to that body for their diligence and humbleness in dealing with this matter." TE Scott Willett, pastor of the offended congregation, rose and asked for prayer for reconciliation. Mr. Patrick Womack offered prayer to that end.
Presbytery voted to initiate an internship for Mr. Mark South at Uptown Christ Covenant (Charlotte). Mr. John Gullette was transferred to Missouri Presbytery as a candidate. Mr. Laird's internship was suspended, as he is no longer engaging in that activity. Mr. Howe Burkhalter was examined and received as a candidate under care. Mr. Chris Bower's candidacy was transferred from Louisiana Presbytery. Mr. David Aucremann was examined and licensed.
Mr. Frank Newell was examined and approved for ordination. His call to an Associate Pastor at Uptown Christ Covenant Church, with compensation of $33,000 per year plus benefits, was approved. He is working towards becoming a church planter in the Middle East, under Mission to the World.
Mr. Dean Faulkner was examined for ordination. He takes an exception to the Confessional Standards regarding the first three days of creation. The Candidates Committee recommended that his exam be approved in all areas except theology, on the basis that "he gave insufficient exegetical support and study to the Committee for his confessional exception regarding creation. The Committee had asked him to study the Gen. 1 account in Hebrew." The Committee's recommendation lost on a show of hands; and the Presbytery then voted to approve his exam as a whole. His call by Goshen Presbyterian Church, Belmont, North Carolina, was approved, with a total package of $39,624. The Session was asked to increase his vacation time immediately from two to four weeks. As a matter of record, Mr. Faulkner opts out of Social Security.
TE Alex Coblentz reported for the Subcommittee on Guidelines for Candidates Committee. By unanimous vote, Presbytery approved, on a first reading, the following amendment to the Presbytery Manual: "When a candidate takes an exception to the Confession or has a disputable interpretation of the Confession, yet it is an issue where diverse opinions are held within the Presbytery, let the Committee note the issue and let the Presbytery decide."
Presbytery approved the dissolution of the assistant pastoral relationship between TE Joseph Sullivan and Christ Covenant Church, Matthews, North Carolina. Presbytery voted to appoint a judicial commission to hear the case of Mr. Sullivan. The court also voted to suspend him indefinitely from the office of Teaching Elder.
Presbytery received as information the report of the Ad-Hoc Committee on "Sabbatical Elders" (i.e., Ruling Elders who are not serving on a Session). It was determined that "members of Presbytery Committees are appointed from the courts of which they are members." Specifically, the Nominations Committee is to "recommend Teaching Elders to fill vacancies and Sessions will submit recommendations to the Nominations Committee to be voted on by Presbytery." Return to Top
Macon, Georgia (January 16, 1999)-Historic First Presbyterian Church in downtown Macon, site of the Second General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America in 1974, hosted the January stated meeting of Central Georgia Presbytery. Mr. Jack North, a ruling elder in Macon's Vineville Presbyterian Church, was elected Moderator. He referred the presbyters to Judges 21:25 ("Every man did what was right in his own eyes"), and stated: "We are here to declare that we are not lawless men . . . that we are under the authority of the King of kings. . . . Good to remind us of that in these lawless days in our society." He also made mention of I Corinthians 14:40 ("Let all things be done decently and in order").
TE Roland Barnes, Chairman of the Presbytery's Mission to North America Committee, reported on the sale of the church property of the dissolved congregation in Elberton, Georgia. (Although within the bounds of North Georgia Presbytery, the Elberton church had belonged to Central Georgia.) According to the wishes of the trustees of that former church, the proceeds from that sale are being given to Central Georgia Presbytery. The court approved a letter of thanks to those people who were making the donation.
Presbytery resolved to establish a Day of Prayer and Fasting, in the next three months. The exact date will be set by the MNA Committee, after making arrangements with a church to host the occasion.
The MNA Committee proposed sending a letter to the denominational MNA Committee, addressing what were considered as inconsistencies between the letter sent to Central Georgia Presbytery and the presentation made orally before the Presbytery in October by denominational representatives. This proposed letter brought instant reaction from the floor. TE John Kinser moved to postpone consideration of this letter until the April stated meeting, with the matter to be voted on before lunch. He said: "This is an incredibly serious letter. . . . The whole court isn't here. This is the end of the day. . . ."
TE Scott Reiber countered: "I've come to Presbytery to do the business of Presbytery. . . . The matters raised here are not of such complexity. . . . Turning the wheels of church government are ponderous enough. . . ."
Mr. Kinser replied: "Gentlemen, I want to be very careful in what I say." He noted that his father used to go home from Presbyterian Church in the United States presbytery meetings very frustrated and not very happy because a lot of business was conducted at the end of the day, when many men had left. He repeated: "This is a serious letter."
TE Terry Johnson expressed concern that the Presbytery, which has been embroiled in the controversy over church planting in the West, not shirk its responsibility to bring about a satisfactory resolution of the matter. He stated: "The motivation is that we as an institution not just be getting things behind us, as is happening in the political sphere."
Chairman Barnes noted that "our MNA Committee always ends up giving its report at this [late] hour, whether it's bland or entails sending correspondence to all sorts of officials." The presentation of this proposed letter was therefore not deliberately being put off until the end of the meeting.
The Presbytery voted to agree with Mr. Kinser's motion, to postpone the matter until April.
Correspondence had been received from several members of Eastern Heights Presbyterian Church, Savannah, Georgia. Eastern Heights was one of the Savannah churches which withdrew from the PCUS in the 1960s and which won their property in a series of key civil court cases. In subsequent days, the church moved its location. More recently, it was reduced to mission status as part of a re-organization.
Several members of Eastern Heights were upset about certain actions of the commission which has been exercising Presbytery's original jurisdiction over the mission church. Mr. Reiber raised the issue of what had happened to the correspondence which they had sent. Mr. Barnes, who serves on the commission, suggested that Presbytery respond to the alleged complaint by referring these people to Book of Church Order 43-2, which says that a complaint goes first to the court of original jurisdiction. Mr. Reiber pointed out that, since the commission is not a Session and is an agency of the Presbytery, the lower court is the Presbytery. Presbytery, however, voted to refer the complainants to take their concerns to the commission. Return to Top
Covenant Presbytery met in its 84th Stated Meeting on Tuesday, October 6, 1998, at the Independent Presbyterian Church, Memphis, Tenn. The moderator, RE Jim Alinder, called the meeting to order at 9:30 A.M. TE Ed Norton called the congregation to worship and gave the invocation. The congregation stood and sang the hymn, "I Greet Thee, Who My Sure Redeemer Art." TE Don Locke read from 1 Corinthians 10:1-13, prayed and preached a sermon on that text. At the conclusion of the sermon, TE Locke led the congregation in prayer. The congregation stood and sang the hymn, "How Sweet and Awesome Is the Place." Following the singing of the hymn, the congregation read in unison the Ten Commandments, and after the reading, confessed their sins before God. TE John Sartelle and TE Norton then administered the sacrament of the Lord's Supper. After partaking of the sacrament, the congregation stood to sing "When I Survey the Wondrous Cross." The benediction was pronounced by TE Norton.
In the absence of the stated clerk, TE Grover Gunn, the recording clerk, David Smith, announced that a quorum was present.
Presbytery approved the Treasurer's report. There was a balance on September 14, 1998, of $49,259.22.
Presbytery approved the commission report in the case of Stovall vs. Lawndale Presbyterian Church.
The Administration Committee recommended "that Covenant Presbytery rescind its action taken at the February, 1998, stated meeting when it voted to transfer all remaining budgeted money for church planting in 1997 to the Church Planting Fund. These monies would be returned to the undesignated budget." The Committee cited the following Grounds: "As can be seen in the Treasurer's Report, contributions to Presbytery are not being given at a level to meet the 1998 budget. Because contributions are not at the level to meet the 1998 budget, Covenant Presbytery risks not being able to fulfill our commitments to pay the salaries of RUM staff (Jeffrey Lancaster, Brian Habig, Les Newsom, Ricky Jones) and Presbytery officers, which monies all come out of the undesignated budget." A substitute motion was made, seconded, and passed "that TE Richard Rieves, TE Wayne Herring, MNA Committee Chairman, and members of the Administration Committee be excused from the court to meet after the report of the Administration Committee to formulate a motion to present to the court regarding the current budget shortfall in receipts." Later in the meeting, Covenant Presbytery voted, unanimously, through its Administration and MNA Committees to "inform its churches of the great need for prompt and substantial undesignated giving to meet its 1998 budget commitment, and that, in the event that the undesignated giving is insufficient to meet Presbytery's commitments, the Treasurer be authorized to borrow up to $8,500.00 from the Church Planting Fund, to be paid back, if at all possible, with year end giving, and that the Standing Rules (5-2.f) be suspended so the Administration Committee and the MNA Committee may meet together in January to discuss the repayment of the fund and the future giving to the fund at a time and place to be determined by the Moderator."
Covenant Presbytery set stipends for 1999 as follows: Stated Clerk: $4,200; Recording Clerk: $2,100; Treasurer: $1,200. The rate for automobile travel expense for 1999 was set at the current Internal Revenue Service allowable (i.e., $0.325 per mile). The 1999 Budget in the amount of $84,305 was approved. This represents a decrease of $6,125 from the 1998 Budget of $90,430. With 4,155 communicant members in Covenant Presbytery as of December 31, 1997, the asking for 1999 is $20.29 per communing member.
Presbytery approved the Administration Committee recommendation that Presbytery ratify the action of the Committee in renewing the Presbytery Liability Insurance for 1999 since the policy had to be renewed prior to the October stated meeting. The cost of the policy was $770. Presbytery also approved funding the Stated Clerk's trip to the Stated Clerk's Meeting in Atlanta, December 4-5, 1998.
Presbytery received an overture from the Carrollton (Miss.) Presbyterian Church regarding the interpretation of the phrase, "in the space of six days." Presbytery postponed consideration of this overture until the stated meeting following the General Assembly when the General Assembly Study Committee on Creation brings its report.
RE Will Frazer for the PCA Foundation presented information concerning the ministry and mission of that agency. He stated that the goal of the Foundation was helping God's people be good stewards of the gifts which God had bestowed on them. He told the members of the court to encourage those in their churches and friends to work with the PCA Foundation in deciding what to do with their estates.
TE Gary Johnson, MTW Team Leader, Sweden, told the court of the need for the proclamation of the Gospel in Sweden. He encouraged Presbytery churches to be involved in this mission to Sweden.
Presbytery commended the Stated Clerk and Recording Clerk because the Presbytery was not cited with any exceptions to the minutes submitted to the 1998 General Assembly. Presbytery commended to its churches the invitation to contribute to the purchase of a special gift of thanks to Ross Cook for his service to the Presbyterian Church in America as Business Administrator.
Presbytery spread upon its minutes a resolution from New Life Reformed Presbyterian Church, Munford, Tenn., in memory of RE James Richard "Dick" Bibb, who died on July 28, 1998, at the age of 83. He had served for twenty years (1955-1977) as an Alderman in Munford, and for ten years (1977-1987) as Mayor. Two parks, the new city hall, the city library building, as well as other offices and buildings were constructed or reconstructed with the benefit of his technical and architectural ability. In 1994, Mr. Bibb was honored as the Person of the Year in South Tipton County. An elder since 1947 in a mainline Presbyterian church in Munford, he left in 1977, because of reasons of conscience, and became a charter member of the New Life Presbyterian Church which later added "Reformed" to its name. He continued his faithful service to the Lord as a ruling elder and session clerk in the new congregation. He was a teacher, committee member and chairman, and church treasurer.
TE Gary Clowers, Chairman of the Candidates Committee, reported that the following candidates are no longer active candidates or interns in the Presbytery: Jonathan Barlow, Bryon Bond, McKay Caston, Michael Gant, Greg Hoffman, Tim Horn, John Hunt, Billy Johnson, Shawn Keating, Ed Mercer, Ed Murrey, Kevin Quiles, Ronnie Rogers, Clay Smith, Mark Stackhouse, Jeff Wilkins. Presbytery removed their files from the committee records.
Presbytery approved the transfer of Fritz Games' candidacy to Mississippi Valley Presbytery. He is presently serving as an intern at St. Paul Presbyterian Church in Jackson, Miss.
Mr. Clowers informed Presbytery that the active list of both candidates and interns are updated and that members of the committee will be receiving oversight assignments at the next meeting. As overseers they will follow the Covenant Presbytery Manual and will also lovingly hold accountable those they oversee to be prompt with required communication to the Presbytery.
Presbytery voted that the $1,950.00 credited to Covenant Presbytery in the Covenant Seminary Presbytery Scholarship Fund be evenly distributed between Clay Holland and Jeremy Huggins.
TE Don Locke was examined and received from Louisiana Presbytery, to labor out of bounds for the American Family Association, Tupelo, Miss. TE Wally Bumpas was examined and received from Mississippi Valley Presbytery to become Pastor of First Presbyterian Church, Dyersburg, Tenn.
Reporting for the Christian Education Committee, TE Charles Godwin, Chairman, encouraged the Presbytery to send their monthly newsletters to RE Avis for the Covenant Reporter. The Reporter will attempt to have a feature article on a different church in each issue. A Senior High Winter Retreat was scheduled for March 26-28, 1999, at a place to be determined. Mr. Godwin reported that Reformed Theological Seminary offered a matching grant program to churches who send candidates for the ministry to study there.
Dr. Bob Palmer (Christian Education and Publications Committee, Atlanta) addressed the Presbytery, as did Dr. Kenneth Avis (member of the Board of Covenant College). Dr. Palmer spoke of the mission of CE&P and encouraged churches to take advantage of the resources available through CE&P. He specifically mentioned the availability of the video library. Videos presenting the ministry of CE&P were left with the chairman of the Christian Education Committee for use in Presbytery churches. Dr. Avis reviewed the mission of Covenant College and informed the Presbytery of new developments there. He encouraged churches to send their young men and women to get their college education there, and mentioned that financial assistance was available.
TE Clay Harrington, Chairman, presented the report of the Church Care Committee. The committee reported that the investigation into matters reported in a letter from the Session of the Redeemer Presbyterian Church, Austin, Tex., produced no evidence of chargeable offenses against TE Rountree. The motion that TE Lawrence Rountree be dismissed to South Texas Presbytery pending their reception of him was replaced by the substitute motion, made, seconded, and passed that the Stated Clerk be instructed to deliver to TE Rountree a written note that, at the next stated meeting, the case of his failure to be engaged in the regular discharge of his official functions shall be considered in accordance with BCO 34-10.
TE Harrington apologized to the Presbytery on behalf of the committee for having not yet investigated the situation at the First Presbyterian Church, Clarendon, Ark., as directed by the Presbytery at its last stated meeting. Presbytery called a congregational meeting for October 25, 1998, at New Life Reformed Presbyterian Church, for the purpose of calling TE John Wingard as their pastor; voted that TE Wingard's call to be the pastor of the New Life Reformed Presbyterian Church be approved pending a positive vote on the call at the congregational meeting; and voted that John Wingard be called to open the congregational meeting until the congregation has the opportunity to elect a moderator. Mr. Wingard was allowed to move onto the field. Presbytery appointed the members of the Church Care Committee to serve as a commission to install Mr. Wingard, if called by the congregation, on October 25, 1998, at 6:00 P.M.
The licensure of Harold Sprayberry, who supplies the pulpit at the Bassett (Ark.) Presbyterian Church, was renewed. Presbytery dissolved the pastoral relationship between TE James Calderazzo and the Main Street Presbyterian Church, Columbus, Miss., and dismissed Mr. Calderazzo to Tennessee Valley Presbytery pending reception. Presbytery received as information TE Mark Krietzer's written intent to file for exemption from self-employment tax as per Internal Revenue Code 1402(E), and spread it upon the minutes.
TE Richard Rieves gave a report of the Church Planting sub-committee of Presbytery's MNA Committee. He reported that God is at work in the Memphis inner-city church planting project, and encouraged the churches of the Presbytery to support and encourage TE Julian Russell as he labors in this ministry. He informed Presbytery of the vision of the MNA Committee regarding instituting the church planting internship model in Covenant Presbytery. Presbytery appropriated $6,000 from the 1998 Church Planting Fund of Covenant Presbytery to begin the process of implementing the Church Planting Internship Model in Batesville, Miss., provided that funds are available at the end of the year subject to the stipulations of the previous motion regarding funds.
A letter was received from the Steering Committee of Gum Tree Presbyterian Church (an unaffiliated congregation) and the Session of the Lawndale Presbyterian Church stating that there has been reconciliation between the two groups and giving details of that reconciliation. Mr. Rieves led Presbytery in giving thanks to God for this reconciliation.
TE Wayne Herring, MNA Chairman, reported that groups in Hot Springs and Heber Springs, Ark., are moving toward establishing PCA congregations. Presbytery received and approved the petition from the Covenant Presbyterian Mission, Russellville, Arkansas, to organize as a particular church. Return to Top
The Winter Stated Meeting of Eastern Carolina Presbytery was held January 8-9, 1999, at Fort Caswell, N. C., site of an historic 19th century fort owned since 1949 by the North Carolina Baptist Convention as a conference center. Moderator RE Jeff Smith (Good Shepherd) called the meeting to order and presided. TE Kevin Thumpston led the opening worship and TE Mark Steimer (Associate Pastor at Greenville, NC) preached from 1 Samuel 2:1-10. TE Steimer noted that Hannah cries out for a son in chapter 1 but cries out in praise in chapter 2. The Presbytery was reminded that "anytime I take credit for what is going right I am in sin"; and was warned that "when things are going well we will know the temptation to place our confidence in that which we have done well." The commissioners were exhorted to praise God because His provision and protection are good. "Cowardice is spoken of as a sin in the Bible. It is so because it is a denial of God's provision and protection."
The presbytery, as an order of the day, had a one hour discussion of revitalization needs. The discussion was brought to a close by the Moderator leading in prayer at 9:37 pm.
On Saturday morning, TE Kevin Thumpston again led worship and Mr. John Musgrave preached from Ephesians 4:1-16. In the sermon he stated that we do not naturally forgive those who have sinned against us because of our pride which lives in our hearts. The result is the loss of unity in relationship. Paul exhorts us that since God is glorified by a matured and unified church therefore, we must pursue truth. How do we become unified and matured? There are two keys: (1) Truth, verse 15 and (2) Love, verses 1-2.
As to truth, note that each gift Paul mentions in verse 11 has to do with the communication of doctrine. It is in this pursuit of truth that we become unified (verse 13 attain unity in the knowledge of the Son of God to a mature man). Jesus declares in John 17 that our unity bears witness to His glory and causes sinners to believe in Jesus as the Sent One from the Father.
As to love, a worthy walk is one of humility, gentleness and patience with love. Paul doesn't simply call us to love but to pursue truth in love. One application of this is that we will have disagreements but we must love each other still.
We need to emphasize both love and truth not one at the expense of the other. Those of us who are strongly doctrinally oriented need to work carefully on loving others. Those of us who are very strong in the area of love need to work carefully on the pursuit of truth.
Eastern Carolina Presbytery approved the completed 10 month internship of Dale Buettner and commended him to Susquehanna Valley Presbytery as prepared for his ordination trials, according to BCO 19-11.
Presbytery examined and approved for ordination Mr. John Musgrave.
Eastern Carolina Presbytery direct its MNA Committee to present to the Presbytery for its approval, a policy regarding the planting of PCA churches in areas where our sister denominations of NAPARC have churches or mission churches.
The Presbytery recognized the Rocky Mount church plant as Covenant Presbyterian Church, and changed its status on the roll of presbytery from core group to a mission church.
It was moved and seconded that the Eastern Carolina Presbytery Manual of Operation NOT be amended by the addition of either the ECP-MNA Ministry Prospectus, approved by ECP April 20, 1996, or the document distributed by TE James T. O'Brien November 7, 1998. The Moderator ruled the motion out of order, and, upon challenge, his ruling was sustained, 28-2. It was moved and seconded that the ECP-MNA Ministry Prospectus be attached to the Manual of Operation (MOO). A substitute was moved and seconded that Mr. O' Brien's proposal be attached to the MOO. It was moved and seconded as a substitute to send both prospecti to MNA directing MNA to draft a new prospectus to bring to the Spring Meeting of Presbytery. The Moderator ruled the new substitute motion out of order. He was challenged and not sustained. After more debate, the substitute and the main motions failed.
The Moderator read TE Al Herrington's written report. His surgery in October determined there to be no cancer. Further, the surgeon reported that Al had the gift of conversation even under anesthesia. "Many folks do not know why Jesus came. We must tell everyone about Jesus." Gifts may be made to the "Herrington Van Fund."
It was moved and seconded that Eastern Carolina Presbytery send the appeal of TE Byron Curtis, the complaint of TE Jeff Black, and all relevant supporting materials to the General Assembly as a "reference" (BCO 41) since the subjects they cover are "delicate and difficult", "over which the members of the lower court are very seriously divided," and since these subjects "relate to questions involving the Constitution and legal procedures respecting which the lower court feels the need of guidance" (BCO 41-2). The motion carried, 20-7. [This matter has to do with whether Mr. Curtis, a professor at Geneva College, may teach his exceptions to the church's standards.-Ed.] Presbytery appointed TEs Jeff Black and James Routszong as respondents to the Standing Judicial Commission (SJC) regarding TE Byron Curtis' "Appeal," to argue the "Appeal" is out of order and/or defend the Presbytery should the SJC take up the matter.
With gratitude for his outstanding performance, the Presbytery set aside the provisions in its rules relating to the number of consecutive years of service of the Stated Clerk in order to nomiate RE Austin Leake of Peace Presbyterian Church for the office of Stated Clerk of Presbytery. Deacon Brian Ellison of Church of the Good Shepherd was nominated as Presbytery Treasurer. Upon motion, the Treasurer was required to publish to the Presbytery every quarter the Askings of and the Givings by each member group of the Presbytery. The Treasurer was authorized to pay all properly requested financial obligations of a committee or officer, not to exceed the committee's or officer's total budget and that the Treasurer may, at the committee's request, disburse funds not to exceed 110 percent of a line item's budget for that committee. If at the end of any quarter the ECP year-to-date (YTD) income falls short of its YTD total budget by an amount greater than 5 percent, the Moderator will announce this shortfall at the next stated meeting of ECP.
It was moved, seconded, and carried to authorize expense to Rocky Mount and defer spending on New Seed and Reformed University Fellowship Start Up.
The Presbytery rules were suspended so that RE Jeff Smith could be elected Moderator. TE Jeff Black was elected assistant clerk, and TE David Bowen was elected parliamentarian.
Presbytery approved the call of the Antioch Presbyterian Church to TE James Routszong to be pastor.
Presbytery responded with understanding and granted permission to Trinity Presbyterian Church, Wilmington, to reduce its partnership share. The court appointed a commission to aid RE Ron Gilbert. Also, Presbytery resolved to consider Trinity's request for subsidy and report at the next stated meeting of presbytery.
The calls of TEs Murray Garrett and Greg Norfleet as associate pastors of the Church of the Good Shepherd were approved. Return to Top
Scherer Memorial Presbyterian Church, Lake Wylie, South Carolina, hosted the fall stated meeting of Fellowship Presbytery. The September 17, 1998, meeting was called to order by the Moderator, RE Philip W. Clark, Jr. The roll consisted of nineteen ruling elders and sixteen teaching elders. Pastor Walter Gene Thompson read from Isaiah 6:1-8 and John 12:37-41 and preached a sermon. A season of prayer followed.
Presbytery elected TE Bill Fox as Moderator. He appointed TE Sam B. Hoyt, Jr., as Parliamentarian.
Presbytery's 1998 budget is $71,900.00. The per capita askings to support this budget is approximately $22.00 per communicant member.
Presbytery unanimously adopted as a second reading the following change to its Manual: "All Ruling Elders not currently serving on a Session and all Deacons whether active or inactive must have the endorsement of their Session before their name can be placed in nomination for membership on any Presbytery or General Assembly committee or agency."
The court approved the reports of the commissions to ordain and install Barrett Jordan and Patrick Harmon.
Gene Thompson was examined and received into the Presbytery, to become Pastor of Bullock Creek Presbyterian Church, Sharon, South Carolina. Presbytery noted his exception to the Westminster Standards with regard to admitting covenant children to the Lord's Table. Mr. Thompson stated his willingness to subject himself to the denominational standards, and subject himself to the Presbytery in not promoting or practicing his view of paedo-communion. Mr. Thompson had been ordained by Central Carolina Presbytery. He had most recently been serving the Salem Reformed Church, Rome, Georgia, a daughter church of Messiah's Congregation of New York City.
Presbytery licensed Mr. David Jordan. Messrs. Chrishon Ducker and Brian Lowe were taken under care as candidates for the ministry. Mr. Ducker's internship in St. Louis under Dr. Phil Douglas was approved, as was Mr. Lowe's internship at Westminster Church in Rock Hill, South Carolina, under the direction of TE Bill Fox.
Presbytery dismissed TE Daren Russell to James River Presbytery pending receipt, and pending the dissolution of the pastoral relationship between him and Hopewell Presbyterian Church. TE Richard Schwartz was dismissed to Northern Illinois Presbytery pending receipt; the Session of Bethel Presbyterian Church had already approved the dissolution of the assistant pastoral relationship between itself and Mr. Schwartz. Return to Top
The 92nd Stated Meeting of Grace Presbytery was held on September 8, 1998, at Covenant Presbyterian Church, Laurel, Mississippi. TE Randy Kimbrough presided over the opening worship, and preached a sermon from Ezra 8:21-23, 31, 32, entitled "Trusting God Fully." Host pastor Steve Shuman administered the Lord's Supper, assisted by elders from the host church. RE Sam Duncan presided over the business portion of the meeting.
Presbytery dissolved the pastoral relationship between TE Phil McRae and the Crystal Springs (Miss.) Presbyterian Church.
Presbytery went into executive session to hear a report concerning the 1997 audit of the Mississippi Joint Committee for Reformed University Ministries. RE Bebo Elkin, a member of First Presbyterian Church, Jackson, Mississippi, and the Director for the Mississippi Joint Committee, asked to be allowed to stay in order to read the report, which had also been read to Mississippi Valley and Covenant Presbyteries.
Dr. Robert Penny of Covenant Presbytery was examined for reception, and his examination was sustained. He was granted permission to labor out of bounds as Principal at Presbyterian Christian School in Hattiesburg.
TE Curt Presley of Mississippi Valley Presbytery was examined and received. His call from the Sharon Presbyterian Church, Magee, Mississippi, was approved. It includes a yearly salary of $36,408, use of a manse, and four weeks vacation per year.
Mr. Tim Gibson, who preached before the court from II Corinthians 12:1-10, "The Sufficiency of Christ's Grace," was examined and approved for ordination. First Presbyterian Church of Hattiesburg called him to be an Assistant Pastor, with a total package of $34,836 and four weeks vacation per year.
Presbytery dismissed its commission serving as a session for the Magee (Miss.) Presbyterian Church, as there is now a quorum for the church's Session. The congregation recently elected two new elders, making a total of three ruling elders.
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Trinity Presbyterian Church, Charlottesville, Virginia, hosted the fall stated meeting of James River Presbytery on October 10, 1998. TE Tony Giles presided at the opening worship service, and the Retiring Moderator, RE Dan Carrell, preached from John 8:31-47. Mr. Giles administered the sacrament of communion, assisted by elders from the host church.
TE Clyde Bowie, Pastor of Knox Reformed Presbyterian Church, Mechanicsville, Virginia, was elected as the new Moderator. He read from Psalm 21:1-17 and led the court in prayer.
TE Daren L. Russell of Fellowship Presbytery was received, in order to become Pastor of River's Edge Bible Church, Hopewell, Virginia.
A resolution was presented which would permit ordained PCA teaching elders "who have moved within the bounds of the James River Presbytery but who are without call, without charges pending against them in the Presbytery their membership resides and are seeking a call, to transfer their membership to this Presbytery after passing the normal examination in Committee and on the floor of Presbytery." The court recommitted this proposal to the Ministerial and Church Relations Committee "for further deliberation and perfection."
Various reports from candidates and interns were received. Presbytery approved the administrative decision of the Church Vocations Committee "to require all annual under care reports henceforth to be submitted by September each year."
Mr. Kevin Greene of West End Presbyterian Church, Richmond, was examined for licensure. He stated that he was not sure whether the gift of tongues was still in existence today, and if it is, it is not revelatory. He cannot justify the cessationist position from Scripture. Presbytery approved his exam. The court also approved his internship plan at the Orangewood Presbyterian Church, Maitland, Florida.
TE Ron Gray was transferred to Eastern Carolina Presbytery to be an evangelist and church planter. Presbytery dissolved the assistant pastoral relationship between TE David Carrick and the Stony Point Reformed Presbyterian Church, Richmond.
Presbytery referred back to the Court Duties Committee a proposed amendment to the Presbytery's Standing Rules, that would require church sessions to record in their minutes exceptions held by officer candidates.
Presbytery voted to receive the New Life in Christ Church in Fredericksburg, Virginia, as a particular church of the Presbyterian Church in America. This is an independent congregation which has been pastored by Douglas Kittredge, a member of James River Presbytery, since 1975.
With regard to creation matters, Presbytery voted to disburse $500 to support the work of the Creation Study Committee of General Assembly. It also voted to postpone reconsideration of Presbytery's action regarding Andrew Conrad's view of creation. (Presbytery's action in prohibiting him from promulgating his view on the days of creation, has been the subject of a complaint.) The discussion on reconsidering was scheduled to be a special order at the January, 1999, stated meeting.
All Saints Reformed Presbyterian Church, Richmond, Virginia, hosted the January 9, 1999, stated meeting of James River Presbytery. It was the 93rd Session of the Presbytery. Moderator Clyde Bowie preached from Romans 13:1-7; the message was entitled, "It's God's Authority." Mr. Bowie called the meeting to order at 10:30 AM, and read from I Thessalonians 3:1-13.
An overture from Calvary Reformed Presbyterian Church, Hampton, Virginia, was presented. The overture reads:
Whereas there has been much discussion within the PCA recently regarding the length of creation days and the meaning of the words in the Westminster Standards, "in the space of six days," and
Whereas there is a great amount of historical evidence from among the writings of the framers of the Westminster Standards that they meant six twenty-four hour normal days, and no historical evidence that they meant anything else but this, and
Whereas the Westminster Standards is an excellent interpreter of itself and does consistently use "day" to mean a twenty-four hour day in reference to creation (see WCF XXI:7; L.C. 120; S.C. 58, 59),
Therefore, be it resolved that the Session of Calvary Reformed Presbyterian Church overtures James River Presbytery to affirm that:
1) Any position on the length of creation days other than six twenty-four hour days constitutes an exception to the Westminster Standards, and
2) Every Teaching Elder and Licentiate enrolled in the James River Presbytery who does not hold to this position and who has not already declared his exception to it is asked to do so as soon as possible, and
3) That this interpretation of "in the space of six days" to be six twenty-four hour days is to be communicated to all the churches of the James River Presbytery as the official interpretation of Presbytery, and any other position is an exception to our Standards.
Presbytery voted, 32-18, to postpone deliberation on this overture indefinitely. TE Pete Hurst and TE Robert Wilson requested their negative votes to be recorded.
Later in the meeting, Presbytery voted to postpone indefinitely discussion of the reconsideration of Presbytery's action regarding Andrew Conrad's view of creation.
The Mission to the World Committee recommended that a letter be sent to all the churches of Presbytery, urging support of Jill DeVere, a member of Westminster Reformed Presbyterian Church, Suffolk, Virginia, a missionary slated to go to the Ukraine in the spring of 2000. The motion carried.
Presbytery heard from Will LaRose of the denominational Christian Education and Publications Committee.
The meeting was adjourned at 12:05 PM-one hour and thirty-five minutes after convening. Return to Top
The Fifty-ninth Stated Meeting of the Louisiana Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church in America was called to order by the Moderator, RE Ellis Smith, at 11:15 a.m. on Saturday, October 17, 1998, at the Rocky Creek Nazarene Camp in Pineville, Louisiana. RE Hewitt Carter led the Presbytery in an opening prayer. The following visitors were present and introduced to the Presbytery: Ben Thompson from Bethel, Lake Charles; Andre Louviere from Acadiana, Lafayette; John W. Hogue, Jr. from Delhi; Grover Gunn from Covenant Presbytery; Wesley Baker and Bill Bradford from Mississippi Valley Presbytery; and Alonzo Ramirez from the Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Peru. Presbytery extended the privilege of the floor to the visitors.
TE Jeff Steel introduced Mr. Alonzo Ramirez from the Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Peru and TEs Bill Bradful and Wesley Baker from Mississippi Valley Presbytery. Mr. Ramirez, Mr. Bradford, and Mr. Baker presented a plan to bring itinerant theological education to the pastors and people of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church of Peru under the auspices of the Presbyterian Evangelistic Fellowship and asked Presbytery for prayer and possible financial help in the reformation of Peru. TE Jeff Steel led Presbytery in praying for the work in Peru. Presbytery later voted to give a one-time gift of $2,000 to this effort.
The court voted to terminate Mr. Randy Jackson's licensure in Louisiana Presbytery per BCO 19-6, since Mr. Jackson is no longer a member of Auburn Avenue Presbyterian Church or of the Presbyterian Church in America. RE Ben Thompson's licensure was renewed. TE Don Locke was dismissed to Covenant Presbytery.
TE Ken Roth informed Presbytery that Mrs. Frank C. Horton's book on teaching the Children's Catechism had been reprinted and was available from the RTS Bookstore in Jackson, Mississippi.
Presbytery received as information the report of the Commission to organize Acadiana Presbyterian Mission in Lafayette, Louisiana, as a particular church, to install TE Marcus Rench as pastor, and to ordain and install Mr. Christian Lewis as a ruling elder in the aforesaid church.
The court cited RE Ed Ducote before Presbytery as a Commissioner from the First Presbyterian Church of Oakdale to show cause why the Presbytery should or should not accept the resignation of TE Bill Manning, as per BCO 23-1. Presbytery appointed the Pastoral Care Committee and TE Jeff Steel as a Commission to dissolve the pastoral relationship, if appropriate. Presbytery acknowledged its error in allowing TE Bill Manning to leave the field of the First Presbyterian Church of Oakdale prior to Presbytery's dissolution of the pastoral relationship. Presbytery voted to allow TE Bill Manning to labor out of bounds of Louisiana Presbytery as a U.S. Army chaplain in Hawaii, pending dissolution of his pastoral relationship with the First Presbyterian Church of Oakdale.
RE Hewitt Carter gave a report on a teaching elder and his marital status. Prayer was offered for him and his wife. Mr. Carter gave a report on TE James Meek, and prayer was offered for him, his health, and his ministry at Covenant Theological Seminary. The court voted to allow TE James Meek until March 1, 1999, to arrange for the transfer of his membership from Louisiana Presbytery to Missouri Presbytery, in whose bounds he has been laboring, and that the Pastoral Care Committee communicate with Mr. Meek to this effect and express its prayer and concern for him.
As per BCO 38-2, Presbytery, at its next stated meeting, will consider and act upon the request by TE Rennie Keller that he be allowed to demit the ministry.
TE Ken Roth and RE Ellis Smith presented an informal report on the situation in DeRidder, whereupon RE Hewitt Carter led Presbytery in a season of prayer for the DeRidder Presbyterian Church. TE Jeff Steel also led the Presbytery in prayer for TEs Bill Frisbee and Eric McQuitty and for the churches in Presbytery without pastors: First in Stamps, Arkansas; First in Oakdale; and Westminster in Opelousas.
RE Hewitt Carter also reported on TE Cleve Chandler's situation, calling attention to a letter of apology and explanation written by Mr. Chandler to the Stated Clerk and reporting that Mr. Chandler was requesting Presbytery for permission to labor out of bounds at a Bible church in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Presbytery granted its corporate forgiveness to Mr. Chandler for leaving the field of the First Presbyterian Church of Stamps, Arkansas, without Presbytery's knowledge or action. The Pastoral Care Committee, along with Mr. Steel, was appointed to serve as a Commission to resolve the matter with the Stamps Church per BCO 23-1.
Mr. Chandler then further explained his situation and his ministry in Baton Rouge and formally requested Presbytery's approval to labor out of bounds within the bounds of Southeast Louisiana Presbytery. Presbytery voted to instruct Mr. Chandler to request that his membership be transferred from Louisiana Presbytery to Southeast Louisiana Presbytery, pending the successful completion and conclusion of the Commission's business with the Stamps Church, per BCO 19-1. (Rationale: There were insufficient reasons to warrant an exception to BCO 13-2.)
The Presbytery took up consideration of "A Declaration by Westminster Presbytery" regarding the issue of six-day Creation and the Westminster Standards. It was moved, seconded, and carried to defer any action on this matter until the next stated meeting of Presbytery. TE Jim Jones asked that his negative vote be recorded. RE Dale Peacock announced that the Session of Auburn Avenue Presbyterian Church intended to submit an overture to Presbytery concerning the issue of Creation. He requested all Sessions to send him their input and views concerning this issue so that their views can be considered. Mr. Peacock further stated that he would provide each Session with a copy of Auburn Avenue's overture when it is completed.
Presbytery elected TE Dana Casey as Moderator of Louisiana Presbytery for 1999, and re-elected RE George Thompson as Stated Clerk of Louisiana Presbytery for 1999.
It was moved, seconded, and carried to ask the Stated Clerk to write a letter by January 1, 1999, to every teaching elder laboring out of bounds of Presbytery to remind him of his duty to submit at least an annual, if not quartaerly, report of his work to Presbytery, per BCO 8-7.
The Moderator announced that the 60th Stated Meeting of the Louisiana Presbytery would be at the Pineville Orthodox Presbyterian Church in Pineville, Louisiana, on Saturday, January 16, 1999, at 9:30 a.m.
TE Jim Jones presented a brief devotional on the sovereignty of God based upon Romans 8:28-30. The meeting was closed in prayer at 3:06 p.m. by the Moderator. Return to Top
Tulsa, Oklahoma_Mid-America Presbytery met in its 35th Stated Meeting at Christ Presbyterian Church, Tulsa, Oklahoma, on Friday, October 9, 1998. The Moderator, TE David Schwenk, called the meeting to order at 1:10 PM, and the Presbytery moved to a time of worship. The Moderator delivered a message on Revelation, chapters 2 & 3. TE Bill Shows, HR, presided over the service of the Sacrament of the Lord's Supper. After the close of worship the Moderator then assumed the chair at 2:15 PM, and recessed the Presbytery until the Moderator's call.
TE Bob Fiol, a member of James River Presbytery, and assistant to the Stated Clerk of General Assembly, was introduced, recognized as a visiting brother, and given the privilege of the floor. Also recognized as visiting brothers and given the privilege of the floor were TE Bill Doerfel, Stated Clerk of Presbytery of the Southwest, OPC, and TE Arthur Raj, a minister of the Church of South India. Also present, and welcomed as a guest to presbytery, was RE Wayne Sparkman, Acting Director of the PCA Historical Center, St. Louis, Missouri.
The Moderator placed the name of the Moderator-nominee, TE William P. Shows, before the court. Without objection, the Moderator declared that nominations be ceased, and that TE Shows, who is observing 50 years of ordained Gospel Ministry this year, be elected Moderator of Presbytery. TE Shows took some time of personal privilege, recounting how he came from the PCUS (also known as the "Southern Presbyterian Church") to the PCA. He then led the court to the throne of grace.
RE Robert Whittaker was elected Moderator-Nominee by acclamation.
TE Bob Fiol, assistant to the Stated Clerk of General Assembly, gave a report on the activities of the GA-Stated Clerk's Office. RE Wayne Sparkman, Acting Director of the PCA Historical Center, brought a report on the activities of the Center.
The Moderator directed that the Clerk read the Complaint of Session of Beal Heights Presbyterian Church, et al., vs. Mid-America Presbytery. The complaint was found in order and sent to the Shepherding Committee.
RE Robert Whittaker, Chairman of the Candidates & Credentials Committee, opened his committee's report with prayer. The Committee moved that the presbytery move into Executive Session, at 5:10 PM. The Motion carried. Matters concerning a member of the court were heard. The court arose from Executive Session at 5:53 PM.
After the supper break, Presbytery installed Mrs. Lyle (Georgean) Fogle as President of the Mid-America Presbytery (PresWIC). TE Joe Staub, Chairman of the Christian Education / Shepherding Committee, propounded questions to Mrs. Fogle regarding her entry into office as the PresWIC President, to which she gave her assent. TE Staub then declared Mrs. Fogle as installed as PresWIC President, with the consent of Presbytery.
Reports from the churches of presbytery and its teaching elders were given, and prayer for the various concerns mentioned was made.
Presbytery acceded to TE Geoff Andress's request that he be dismissed to Northeast Presbytery, pending reception.
Reports of the candidates of presbytery were given. Simon Torokwa, Covenant Theological Seminary, has completed his M.Div., and is working on a Th.M. at CTS. Chris Miller, working with Young Life in NW Arkansas, and laboring at Covenant Presbyterian Church, Fayetteville, is taking extension courses at RTS-Jackson. He anticipates graduating from RTS in three to four years. Kyle Dixon is taking courses from Bahnsen Theological Seminary. He anticipates graduation in three to four years. RE/Licentiate Bill Mitchell is currently working on an M.Div. and M.A. in counseling at CTS. Mark Davis has completed seminary, and is doing youth work in the St. Louis area. It is anticipated that he will be ordained by Missouri Presbytery in the near future. Chuck Simmons is experiencing personal difficulties, and the session of Christ PCA, Tulsa, is working with him. RE Wayne Sparkman reported that his M.Div. has been completed, and that he is working as Acting Director of the PCA Historical Center.
Presbytery acceded to the request of the congregation of Covenant Life Presbyterian Church, Tulsa, OK, that it be dissolved as a particular church of this presbytery, as per BCO 13-10, and that TE Weaver and RE Cleary be appointed as a commission to handle dismissal of the membership, as per option 3 of BCO 13-10. Presbytery also granted the request of the congregation of Grace Presbyterian Church, Norman, that it be dismissed as a particular church to Presbytery of the Southwest of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, pending reception by that court.
The Mission to North America/Church Extension Commitee recommended that the Presbytery petition the General Assembly of the PCA that the geographic areas of Mid-America Presbytery be declared out of bounds. After discussion, the matter was tabled.
Presbytery approved an overture from the Session of Covenant Presbyterian Church, Fayetteville, Ark., which requested transfer of northwestern Arkansas to Covenant Presbytery. This overture now goes to the General Assembly.
TE Jeff Birch, newly elected Chairman of the MTW Committee, brought his committee's report. TE Joe Staub introduced TE Arthur Raj, a campus worker with international students in India. Mr. Raj brought a report on his work. Presbytery approved the circulation to the mission committees of the churches of Presbytery a request from RE and Mrs. Beryl Wilkie, members of Covenant Presbyterian Church, Fayetteville, Ark., for prayer and monetary support for them in a short-term mission opportunity in Belgium.
Presbytery, on overwhelming votes, approved the five BCO Amendments sent down by the 26th General Assembly.
A request from Heritage Presbyterian Church, Edmond, OK, to host the 36th Stated Meeting, was accepted by common consent.
The Stated Clerk was directed to write to churches not having ruling elders in attendance, gently encouraging them to attend presbytery in the Spring.
John O. Butler, Stated Clerk/Correspondent
614 SW Park Lawton, OK 73501-5239
(580) 355-4702/email: MAPby@aol.com Return to Top
The Presbytery of New Jersey of the Presbyterian Church in America met for its 87th stated meeting on Saturday, November 21, 1998 at Mt. Carmel Presbyterian Church in Somerset, New Jersey. The host pastor, Dr. Robert Cameron, conducted the opening service and the Rev. Mr. Alan McClure, co-interim pastor of the Bible Presbyterian Church of Collingswood, New Jersey, preached from Ephesians 1:1-14. Thirteen teaching elders and seven ruling elders from a total of six churches were present.
TE Stan Armes of Westminster Presbytery gave a report on his proposed ministry in South Africa.
The proposed English language mission in Newark was discussed and the committee moved:
that New Jersey Presbytery support Charlie Baldini and the work in Newark at $5,000 in 1999, contingent upon the approval and support of this work by the New York Metropolitan Presbytery and Charlie's reception of a call to this endeavor.
As amended, Presbytery adopted a resolution on creation from the Mt. Laurel session. The main motion as adopted reads as follows:
Be it resolved that Presbytery recognizes that the Westminster Confession of Faith holds the view of creation in six twenty four hour days. Be it further resolved that all other views must be taken as exceptions to our standards, which exceptions will be voted on at the time of the examination of candidates, ordinands and transferring ministers.
The report of the commission erected at the called meeting of Presbytery, October 17, 1998, to respond to the letter writers objecting to some of the events at the Covenant Bible Church of Cape May was approved, presented and received by vote of Presbytery. The commission responded as follows:
We understand that there has been much hurt and disappointment by nearly all in the Cape May church. We know that no matter what decision is made by the Congregation or by this Presbytery, or how well any authority has acted to carry out its duties, that there will be those who will not like the decisions made or will find fault with the process. In cases like this, many will complain because the outcome did not go the way they wanted. We certainly hear the pain in the communications and know that some things were said in them out of hurt feelings.
The Presbytery has heard the concerns of the various parties to the division in the Cape May church agonized over the division in the body of Christ, and has prayed for reconciliation and healing. The Presbytery also sent a committee to hear the concerns of the parties involved and make recommendations. The elders who went to Cape May were godly men sent with the authority of Presbytery and should be respected as such. We are grieved that charges are being made that things were not done decently and in order, as directed in the Scriptures.
The Presbytery, having heard the committee's report and, having discussed in full the recommendations made by the committee, has found nothing that was done contrary to the Book of Church Order, the Westminster Standards, or Scripture. The committee's recommendations were approved; conduct of the matters assigned to it were found to have been done decently and in order; it was dismissed with thanks and the matter is now concluded. (Please see the resolution passed by Presbytery which may be found at the end of this communication.) There is now an interim Pastor in place and a temporary Session in charge to help guide Cape May to healing and growth. We would expect that all parties would cooperate with those who are giving of their time and gifts.
The commission in the same correspondence responded to various charges found in all the communications sent to the Presbytery. The commission maintained that the prior Presbytery committee sent to the Cape May Church "did not judge, nor did it have authority to do so. Rather it had authority to investigate, meet with the parties to the dispute, seek reconciliation, and make recommendations. It looked at the situation, saw that it had gone beyond the point where the leaders involved could work together and recommended that the pastor resign and that the ruling elder take a year's leave of absence. The committee came to this conclusion unanimously, having reviewed the situation, the Presbytery believes that it was the only proper recommendation that could have been made. There was a general consensus at Presbytery and by the committee members that if action was not taken, the church was in danger of dying within a short period of time."
The commission report continues: "The letters also go into detail about the conflict between those who appreciated and were positively helped by the pastor's ministry and those who disagreed with his approach, style, and conduct. The letters complain that the pastor was a good pastor and they see no reason why he should not continue as pastor. But that was the issue and such statements beg the question. It was obvious that there was no confidence in the pastor by the officers of the church and many church members. The pastor knew this and so submitted his resignation. The vote of the Congregation to accept the resignation shows what the majority felt about the issue. It is time to let the matter go. Those who appreciate the ministry of the pastor can still appreciate it. The fact is that the pastor himself resigned voluntarily seeing that the situation was against his staying any longer. The congregation in a properly constituted meeting accepted that resignation. No matter how disappointed one is in this outcome, it is time to accept what has occurred and move on working for the healing of the church. Our prayer is that all parties will do so."
TE Roy Wescher had written a letter to Presbytery, "noting that he did not wish to demit but that if Presbytery should see fit to depose him and needed to refer his membership to a local church that he be referred to Covenant Church of Cherry Hill." By a count of 10-0-4, Presbytery voted to depose Mr. Wescher without censure in accordance with BCO 34-10. His membership was assigned to Covenant Church, per his request.
RE Rob Berry, whose license to preach had expired, requested through his pastor, Elwin Jewell, that his license not be renewed. Presbytery took his name off the list of candidates. Return to Top
The 73rd Stated Meeting of New River Presbytery was hosted by the Covenant Presbyterian Church, Nitro, WV, on July 10-11, 1998. The Moderator, TE David Currence, conducted the meeting. Host pastor John Rollins led the opening worship and preached a sermon, "A Blueprint for Resistance," based on Jude 20-23.
On Saturday morning, Michael Butterfield, a ruling elder at Calvary Presbyterian Church, Greenville, SC, preached from I Peter 2:6 a sermon entitled "The Precious Cornerstone." He was later examined and approved for licensure. A student at Greenville (SC) Presbyterian Theological Seminary, Mr. Butterfield was approved to be part-time pulpit supply for the Princeton Church, traveling to Princeton an average of two Sundays per month while completing his studies.
RE Virgil Roberts was elected as Moderator in Nomination.
The Stated Clerk, TE Don Clements, reported that Sam Gibb had been enrolled in the Upper Ohio Valley Presbytery of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). His name was therefore automatically erased from the roll of New River Presbytery, in accord with BCO 38-3.
Mr. Clements also reported on behalf of the Commission to Instruct Trustees of the Wheeling Property. It was moved, seconded, and carried to approve the terms of a proposed contract and to instruct the trustees to seek to arrange for the sale. [The Wheeling property had belonged to a now-defunct congregation.-Ed.]
Presbytery divested TE Tim Dye without censure, per his request, and assigned him membership in the Harvestwood Covenant Church.
Presbytery approved the minutes of a Session with the following exception: "Minutes signed by an individual who was not in attendance at the meeting."
Responding to an exception taken to Presbytery's minutes by the 1997 Assembly, the court adopted the following regarding Licentiate Terry Roush: "Terry Roush has rescinded his exception concerning the Decalogue as the New Testament ethic and expressed a view consistent with the Reformed Faith. The Presbytery finds his other two exceptions acceptable and therefore his license remains in effect."
Presbytery received TE David Eades from Mississippi Valley Presbytery to serve as a church planter in the Parkersburg, WV, area. Presbytery encouraged TE Mike Hall and his wife Vickie to attend an MNA Assessment Center with a view to his becoming a church planter for the Putnam County area.
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Stone Mountain, Georgia (January 16, 1999)-Grace Presbyterian Church hosted the January stated meeting of North Georgia Presbytery. Moderator Ken Melton RE called the meeting to order. TE Roy Taylor preached a sermon in preparation for communion from 1 Corinthians 10:14-17. Host pastor Robert Jackson served communion.
Women in the Church
Jane Patete, president of North Georgia PresWIC, gave a report on upcoming Women in the Church activities. The spring meeting will be at Chestnut Mountain Presbyterian Church on April 10, leadership training will be on May 10, and the WIC national conference in Atlanta September 10-12.
Presbytery granted honorary retirement to TE Cecil Brooks and TE George Hutchinson. TE Craig Pitkin was transferred to Palmetto Presbytery, and Oliver Claassen to Missouri Presbytery. Presbytery approved the call to and received TE Charles Frost from Redeemer Presbyterian Church, Jacksonville, Fla., as Senior Pastor of Westminster Presbyterian Church, Atlanta. Also approved was the call of TE David Robinson as Associate Pastor of Covenant Presbyterian Church, Fayetteville, Georgia.
Presbytery accepted six men under care: Brent Weathers, Bob Brownlee, Thomas Sainata, Tom Reinhardt, Chad Donahoe, and Dudley Crowe. Presbytery examined and approved four men for ordination: Steve Na, Assistant at Open Door Community Church, Lawrenceville; Howard Brown, Assistant at Redemption Fellowship, Riverdale; Benson Bottoms, Assistant at Redeemer Mission, Athens; and Brian Pierce, Youth Pastor, Westminster of Gainesville.
Presbytery received a memorial in honor of TE Mitchell Hall who passed away in November, 1998.
RE Mike Carter thanked Presbytery for pulpit supply for Willow Woods during past difficult times. Willow Woods and its mother church, Chapel Woods, have joined together as one church with Chapel Woods the surviving church ministering in the Snellville area.
Presbytery received a letter from Ascension Presbytery in response to an article in the Summer 1998 Presbyterian and Reformed News about the August 23, 1998, worship service at Parkview Church, Lilburn, Georgia. North Georgia Presbytery was asked to investigate and respond back to Ascension regarding the events reported in P&R News. TE Jon Adams, pastor of the church, read a letter that he sent to TE Bob Sweet, Chairman of the Shepherding Committee, regarding the service and that Parkview planned to be more in conformity with the regulative principle of worship. TE Adams regrets the appearance of the service. TE Sweet answered Ascension's letter on December 8.
First reading and vote of proposed changes to the bylaws by an ad hoc committee appointed to amend the bylaws and the purpose of the Shepherding Committee was passed. Return to Top
At a called meeting on January 23, 1999, Northern California Presbytery denied a complaint lodged by TE David Brown, a retired minister. The complaint centered around the failure of the Presbytery to institute judicial charges against TE Lewis Ruff, Western Coordinator for the denominational Mission to North America Committee.
At the October 16-17, 1998, stated meeting, Mr. Brown presented a motion which alleged violations of the First, Second, Fifth, and Ninth Commandments by Mr. Ruff. The charges and specifications revolved primarily around his involvement with the New Song-Salt Lake mission work in Salt Lake City, Utah, and actions resulting from the controversy.
The vote to deny the complaint was 17-3. Although the court turned away the complaint, it did refer eight of the nine charges to the Ministers and Churches Committee for resolution; and also instructed Messrs. Brown and Ruff to meet together prior to the March stated meeting of Presbytery and report on their meeting to the Ministers and Churches Committee. Return to Top
Lansdale (Pa.) Presbyterian Church hosted the November 14, 1998, stated meeting of Philadelphia Presbytery. In the absence of Moderator TE Ted Lim, who had relocated per plan to Korea, the Vice-Moderator, RE Royce Seifert, called the meeting to order and presided.
Licentiate Adam Brice read from I John 4 and preached a sermon therefrom as part of his ordination trials.
The Stated Clerk reported that on October 5, 1998, the Philadelphia Soh Mang Presbyterian Church had been received by the Korean Capital Presbytery (PCA), to which court the congregation had been dismissed by Philadelphia Presbytery on March 14, 1998. The Presbytery voted to remove this congregation from its roll of member churches effective October 5.
It was reported that TE Dan Seale had been installed as Pastor of Knollwood Presbyterian Church, Sylacauga, Ala. He was dismissed to Evangel Presbytery, effective the date of his reception by that court.
TE Jonathan Inman requested dismissal to Eastern Carolina Presbytery. The relationship of associate pastor between Mr. Inman and New Life Presbyterian Church, Ft. Washington, Pa., was dissolved, and he was dismissed to Eastern Carolina effective upon today's adjournment.
The Clerk had received notice that Licentiate Stephen J. Casselli had been ordained on September 27, 1998, by Southwest Florida Presbytery, to serve as a church planter in Tampa, Fla. The Presbytery removed his name from the roll of candidates and noted the irregularity of the procedure, viz., his accepting a call without the approval of his presbytery (BCO 21-1).
Dr. Anees Zaka, Chairman of the World Mission Committee, reported a proposal from the Session of Proclamation Presbyterian Church, Wayne, Pa. That Session was offering a one-time gift of $1,000 toward funding a pastor of Presbytery for a missions trip, with the following stipulations: a. that the pastor has not had opportunity to go on a missions vision-raising trip before; b. that the gift will be administered by the Presbytery MTW Committee; c. that the pastor and the MTW Committee together choose the site; d. that the pastor, the Presbytery, the MTW mission and/or the pastor's own church cover expenses of food, lodging, and spousal travel, should that occur. Presbytery voted to accept this offer and the stipulations with thanks.
TE Dan McBride, missionary to Dar Es Salaam, Tanzania, reported on his work. He will be returning to Africa on January 3, 1999.
TE Tom Hudson, missionary to Portugal on home ministry assignment, reported on his work.
RE Ralph Ruth reported on General Assembly MTW matters, noting especially the great growth of short-term missionaries (one week to two years), such as with MTW's IMPACT.
RE Sam Grillo, Chairman of the MNA Subcommittee, reported that the Subcommittee had attempted to contact Licentiate Nasrat Ghattas to clarify the questions raised at the May, 1998, stated meeting, but had been unable to do so due to his absence from the area. It was reported that the Subcommittee on Reformed University Ministries (RUM) had been selected, consisting of TE Fred Klett, TE Don Stone, RE Sam Grillo, and RE Del Supplee. TE Tom Cannon, member of Metropolitan New York Presbytery and RUM campus minister at New York University, reported on the work of RUM. Licentiate David Green reported on the Reformed University Fellowship ministry he is conducting at Lehigh University. RE Bob Miller reported on the progress of the work through Hope for America.
Presbytery approved the call of Tenth Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia, to Licentiate Adam Brice as an assistant pastor and planter of a new daughter church. The call from the Session included salary of $46,919 plus benefits and four weeks vacation. After his ordination exam, a motion to grant an exception to his view on creation, inasmuch as he holds to a "framework hypothesis" view of Genesis 1 and 2, was defeated. TE Erwin Morrison and RE John Harley requested the recording of their affirmative votes on the failed motion. The following motion was moved and seconded: "Our favoring a framework hypothesis view while holding to an ex nihilo view and the special creation of Adam and Eve is not necessarily taking an exception to the Westminster Standards." Action on this motion was postponed until after the final report of the General Assembly's Ad Hoc Committee on Days of Creation.
TE Richard Craven was received from Philadelphia Presbytery of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. His call to service as a minister of the Church of the Savior (unaffiliated), which position he already holds, was approved. Terms of that call include total salary and benefits package of $78,567.
TE Erwin Morrison presented the Judicial Business Committee (JBC) report. Chaplain Robert Nay's request for Presbytery's assistance regarding his understanding of the duties and requirements in the administration of the sacraments by an evangelist had been referred to the JBC. The Committee reported: "Although the Book of Church Order asserts that 'the teaching elder . . . appointed to the work of an evangelist . . . is commissioned to preach the Word and administer the sacraments . . ." (8-6), no specific mention is made of chaplains, much less of the particular problems pertaining to their situation.
"Although answers to some of his questions can perhaps be deduced from the BCO, without specific warrant from Presbytery the Judicial Business Committee is reluctant to act as a theological study committee and to draft a theological answer to Chaplain Nay's queries or, further, to draft an overture proposing additions to the BCO. The JBC recommends to Presbytery that, since Chaplain Nay's request for counsel has substance, it appoint a committee for the purpose of giving him a full and careful answer, and that it give said committee authority to draft a proposal for any corresponding additions to the BCO."
Mr. Kyuboem Lee, a member of Tenth Presbyterian Church, was examined and approved as a ministerial candidate. Mr. Lee's internship proposal with Calvary Baptist Church and Tenth Presbyterian, under the supervision of TE Marion Clark, was approved, retroactive to January 1, 1998. Internship reports were received from Messrs. Steve Huber, Michael Kearney, Tae Suk Kim, John Muhlfeld, and Jeff Waddington. There were no reports for Geoff Bradford and Walter Copeland. The following internships were declared completed: Messrs. Joe Fitzpatrick, David Green, and Bryan Stoudt. Presbytery adopted the recommendation that past internship work under the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) and present work at ACTS Retirement Communities be approved.
Christ the King Presbyterian Church, Conshohocken, Pa., was recognized as a mission church of Philadelphia Presbytery, under the direct supervision of the Session of Tenth Presbyterian; Mr. Brice is the church planter. The core group in Coopersburg, Pa., was recognized as a mission church under the direct supervision of a commission. During discussion on this matter, the court went into executive session, with nonvoting ruling elders of the Quakertown Church and Tenth Church being allowed to remain.
The licensure of Licentiate Angelo Juliani was extended for another four years. Presbytery asked the Clerk to inquire if TE Jung Ree had yet been installed, or had made plans to be installed, as Pastor of the Korean Saints Presbyterian Church.
With no negative votes, an overture regarding church unity and interchurch relations was adopted and submitted to the 27th General Assembly.
Presbytery adopted the following report of the Committee on Thanks:
Whereas giving thanks is one of the means God has appointed for our growth in wisdom; and
Whereas love from God to us enables us to love Him and each other; and
Whereas that love binds us in Christ's body in Dar Es Salaam, Lisbon, and Philadelphia; and
Whereas that love inspires ministry to the lost on college and university campuses across the northeast; and
Whereas that love allows ministries to prosper across denominational and congregational structures; and
Whereas that love compels prayers and petitions for all God's people; and
Whereas that love provides the food we need, both physical and spiritual, and the physical food was prepared by loving brothers and sisters of Christ from both the Quakertown and Lansdale congregations; and
Whereas that love gives us good hope for blessing on the remainder of the day and to life's end;
Be it resolved that we, the Presbytery of Philadelphia, give thanks to God, for His love endures forever. Return to Top
Southeast Alabama Presbytery held its winter stated meeting on January 26, 1999. Meeting at historic First Presbyterian Church in Montgomery, Alabama, the court elected TE Randall Yelverton as Moderator.
TE Henry Bishop, Pastor of Covenant Presbyterian Church of Montgomery, was honorably retired. TE Phillip Palmertree, Associate Pastor of Covenant Presbyterian Church, Auburn, Alabama, was transferred to Mississippi Valley Presbytery in order to become Pastor of Macon (Miss.) Presbyterian Church. (The Macon Church had been pastored by Joel Beezley, who was killed in an automobile accident in 1997.) Also transferred was TE Mark Horn, who had been Assistant Pastor at Trinity Presbyterian Church, Montgomery. Return to Top
Westminster Presbytery's ninety-third stated meeting was held at the Westminster Presbyterian Church, Johnson City, Tennessee, on Saturday, October 10, 1998. TE Ed Crook preached on "Christian Liberty, and Liberty of Conscience"; and the Lord's Supper was administered by host pastor Ben Konopa and members of the Session of the host church. RE Hugh Belcher of Dickenson First Presbyterian Church, Haysi, Virginia, was elected Moderator.
Among the items of correspondence were letters from TE Richard Crews and Dr. Peter Doyle of Reformed Ministries International, thanking the Presbytery for actions taken at the September called meeting which addressed the dispute between Mr. Crews and the missions agency.
Mrs. Debbie Kelley of the Draper Valley (Virginia) Church reported on the work of Women in the Church at the Presbytery level. TE Gary Johnson of Mississippi Valley Presbytery reported on his MTW team which is pioneering a Presbyterian work in Sweden. TE Bob Palmer of the denominational Christian Education and Publications Committee also gave a report.
TE Brent Bradley presented the report of the Committee on Overtures and Judicial Business. TE Pat Parham had requested that the name of the home missions committee be changed from Mission to the United States to Mission to North America; he gave as his reasoning that this "would bring our Presbytery in line with our denomination as to nomenclature thus preventing any unnecessary confusion. Our committee should not be independent of our denomination. The committee members need to obtain whatever help they can from the denominational level while at the same time retaining control over our own committee operations." The court voted to consider that change to its Manual at the January, 1999, stated meeting as a first reading.
The complaint of G. Brent Bradley against Westminster Presbytery was found in order and scheduled to be heard at a called meeting on November 17, 1998. The complaint alleged that the Presbytery erred when it sustained the examination of Mr. Russell Whitener without exception. According to the complaint, Mr. Whitener's views regarding the continuation of the gift of tongues, and the continuation of tongues as a non-revelatory, unknown prayer language, are out of accord with the Confession of Faith, I.1 and XXI.3. (For action on the complaint, see below.)
Presbytery did not adopt the recommendation of its Mission to the United States Committee, viz., that "any desire to adopt MNA policy and practices come to Presbytery either by overture or referral to the MUS Committee for study and recommendations to Presbytery." Instead, Presbytery voted to "appoint one person to prepare an argument, up to 30 minutes long, for why we should embrace the MNA's philosophy and practices regarding church planting and one person to prepare an argument, up to 30 minutes long, for why we should not embrace the MNA's philosophy and practices regarding church planting. These reports would be given at the January meeting of Presbytery. After these two presentations there would be free debate and questions for as long as the presbytery as a whole deems necessary. Also, that Presbytery direct our Clerk to obtain written guidelines of MNA as to church planting and as to the particular nature of the process and tests used in the MNA Assessment Center to be distributed to our church sessions prior to the January Presbytery Meeting." The Moderator appointed TE Rick Light to present the perspective for embracing MNA philosophy and practices, and TE Henry Johnson, Chairman of the MUS Committee, to present the position against embracing MNA philosophy and practices.
Presbytery approved a bulletin insert, Church Officers Administration of Discipline, authored by Dr. Steve Meyerhoff, for distribution to all the churches in the Presbytery.
The Shepherding Committee had recommended the following motion: "That when and if Presbytery is asked to transfer TE Jeff Yelton's membership to another Presbytery or denomination this Presbytery inform that body to which he is transferred of the following: that although TE Yelton still feels called to the pastorate two issues have repeatedly surfaced in his past calls, giving rise to conflict-the observance of special days (festival days) and his views of separation from other Christian brothers in community worship services. TE Yelton still feels strongly about these issues and is not willing to change his views at the present time." Presbytery instead adopted the following: "Presbytery sees no reason to question the call to the ministry of TE Jeff Yelton, but urges Mr. Yelton, in seeking a future call, to communicate to prospective congregations his strong feelings about festival days and separation."
Presbytery approved the dissolution of the pastoral relationship between TE Preston Sartelle and the Draper Valley Church as of December 31, 1998, pending receipt of the minutes of the congregational meeting voting to accept this dissolution; and gave Mr. Sartelle permission to labor out of bounds with the Caribbean Christian Centre for the Deaf in Jamaica.
Presbytery entered the following commendation on the minutes: "The Session of Edgemont Presbyterian Church requests that Westminster Presbytery would place Dr. Kyle Barr on the roll of our Presbytery as Honorably Retired effective July 31, 1998. He fully deserves that status in light of his faithful service to Christ, His Kingdom, His Church, Westminster Presbytery, and Edgemont. His many years of ministering the Gospel have made a great impact upon a host of people. He has been a true partner in Kingdom Work with Christ's servants in our Presbytery."
Presbytery voted to allow Isac and Pauline Scarela, missionaries of the Independent Presbyterian Churches of Brazil, to seek prayer and financial support in the churches of Presbytery. (Mrs. Scarela is a long-time member of Walnut Hill Presbyterian Church, a member church of Presbytery outside of Bristol, Tennessee.)
At a called meeting on Tuesday, November 17, 1998, at the Abingdon (Virginia) Presbyterian Church, Westminster Presbytery sustained the complaint of TE Brent Bradley against Presbytery. The complaint alleged that the Presbytery had erred in sustaining the examination of Mr. Russell Whitener without exception, despite his belief in the continuation of the gift of tongues and in the continuation of tongues as a non-revelatory, unknown prayer language. The complainant urged that "it is not sufficient to deny the cessation of revelation absolutely and, at the same time, affirm a prayer language that, by definition, is an extraordinary gift and a form of continuing revelation." Further, "Mr. Whitener's hermeneutic in defending his position violates the doctrine of the authority and sufficiency of Scripture. There can be little doubt that Mr. Whitener desires to use the Scripture as the only infallible rule of faith and practice. Yet, at this critical point he is inconsistent with his expressed commitment. One of the passages that he uses to sustain his view that the gift of tongues continues to be operative is I Corinthians 13:8-9. His hermeneutic at this point denies his affirmation that revelation has ceased, since that interpretation requires one to affirm the continuation of revelatory knowledge and prophecy as well. Asked why he does not affirm the continuation of those two gifts, his response was just that he doesn't affirm it. At this point Mr. Whitener's authority is himself, not God's Word."
The complaint continued: "The reasoning of some in Presbytery that WCF XXX,3 does not apply because the chapter head is that of Religious Worship and the Sabbath Day is in error. On the basis of that logic private prayer need not be regulated by anything else in the paragraph. If one applies the majority's reasoning to the rest of the chapter, worship could be offered to other creatures without a Mediator, or through the mediation of Mary, as long as it does not take place in public worship (WCF XXI,2). Indeed, private prayer might be made for things unlawful, or for the dead, if done in private, but not public worship (WCF XXI,4). In fact WCF XXX,6 deals explicitly with prayers offered in families and in private."
The complaint's rationale concluded: "By sustaining Mr. Whitener's views without exception, Presbytery has improperly revised the constitution of the Church and lowered the standard for future generations. As a result of Presbytery's actions these views can now be taught and promoted throughout the churches of Presbytery with no possibility of redress since Presbytery has declared them to be in accord with the Constitution."
The complaint sought two amends: an acknowledgment of the error in sustaining the examination; and that the Presbytery "sustain Mr. Whitener's examination, noting his exceptions to WCF I,1 and XXI,3, and instruct him to refrain from teaching his views or promoting them in any fashion."
The complaint was sustained, 20-16-4.
The court also approved the dissolution of the pastoral relationship between TE James Reedy and the Coeburn (Virginia) Presbyterian Church, effective November 22, 1998. His salary and housing provision are to be continued at least through January 31, 1999. Return to Top