Louisville, Kentucky (June 16, 1999)-The 27th General Assembly vindicated its Mission to North America (MNA) staff with regard to allegations that it had violated the instructions of the 1997 Assembly. At the heart of the dispute was a woman speaking at a church planters conference in California in February of this year, whose two addresses allegedly contained exhortation to the men and application of Scripture (see box for excerpts from one of her speeches). The issue was raised via a personal resolution introduced by the Rev. Mr. Jeff Black of Fremont, N.C.
The Rev. Mr. Roland Barnes, who serves on the MNA Permanent Committee, offered a substitute motion to the recommendation from the MNA Committee of Commissioners. The substitute would have stated that the staff did violate the instructions of the Assembly. However, by a substantial margin, the court decreed that the activity did not violate the directives, and also voted that "the MNA staff be considered vindicated from any bad reports." The Assembly also instructed the MNA Permanent Committee to "study the issue of women speaking and teaching in public, and present clear guidelines to the 28th GA of their application of 1 Timothy 2:11-12 and other scripture when selecting women for such ministry."
In recommending to vindicate the staff, the MNA Committee of Commissioners declined to consider evidence that was at hand-an audio tape of one of the addresses which the lady speaker gave at the California conference. Chairing the MNA Committee of Commissioners this year was the Rev. Rod Whited, who also serves as a "co-opted" member of the MNA Permanent Committee.
North Texas Annexes Huge Amount of Territory
In other action, the Assembly approved all requested boundary changes for several presbyteries. But approval of two of those proposals did not come automatically: the transfer of I-35 corridor counties in Oklahoma from Mid-America to North Texas Presbytery, and the extension of North Texas' boundaries to include much of west Texas. Minority reports on both of them sparked considerable debate on the floor.
With regard to Mid-America, the MNA Committee of Commissioners wanted the four remaining churches to "work with MNA over the next year to determine which presbytery they may wish to join." The Assembly, however, agreed with the ruling of the Moderator, that that terminology was out of order in that in essence it was advising the Presbytery with regard to dissolution, and the Constitution does not allow the Assembly to dissolve a presbytery without its consent.
Granting the North Texas expansion means that that court now stretches approximately 450 miles east-west along Interstate 20.