Louisville, Kentucky (June 15, 1999)-Tom Leopard, church administrator for Briarwood Presbyterian Church, Birmingham, Ala., was elected Moderator of the 27th General Assembly tonight. He won on a ballot vote, 553-289-1.
Mr. Leopard is well-known to the Assembly, having attended every meeting of the court except the first one, in 1973. He has served in a variety of capacities, including on the denominational Standing Judicial Commission (SJC).
Dr. Cortez Cooper, who was Moderator of the 18th General Assembly, nominated the successful candidate. In his nominating speech, Dr. Cooper stated that "the General Assembly has shown great confidence through the years in Tom Leopard." He also said: "I've seen the gleam in his eye when he speaks of the Lord."
Also nominated for Moderator was Howard Q. Davis of Indianola, Miss. A lawyer, "Q." has served the General Assembly and Covenant Presbytery in a variety of ways, including being on the Candidates Committee of the Presbytery. Placing his name in nomination was the Rev. Mr. John Stodghill.
Shortly after his election, Mr. Leopard quipped: "I will address you only as 'brothers,' since there's no one here old enough to be my 'father.'" After the evening recess, Mr. Leopard was asked how it felt to be elected. He replied, "Oh, I'm scared to death."
Asked about the state of the denomination, the Moderator responded: "I think we've got a very healthy denomination. The Lord is blessing." He opined that the church will expand tremendously as it adapts not its message, but the methodology in presenting its message. He expressed hope that "every brother will keep in mind what we're here for-building the kingdom. We can get lost in paperwork and points of order."
In his view, the key issue is that of the Study Committee on Creation. With regard to a personal resolution presented this evening by Dr. Joseph Pipa [see related story-Ed.], the Moderator said "I think I could affirm every affirmation that he was affirming." However, he declined to comment regarding another controversial issue, viz., women preaching. On that issue, he would "rather let the Assembly speak to that."