Hillcrest Presbyterian Church in Volant, Pa., hosted the October 15-16 meeting of the Presbytery of the Ascension. Moderator TE Scott Wright convened Presbytery, and TE James Smith preached from Matthew 9. A key theme sounded by Pastor Smith was that whatever our need, we have no need like the need of forgiveness and the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
A representative from the G. A. Committee on Administration, Bob Fiol, addressed the presbytery about the work and needs of the committee.
Elections for the year 2000 were held. Ruling Elder F. N. Neikirk was continued as Stated Clerk and RE Steven C. Morley as Treasurer. RE Richard L. McBane was elected as Moderator and TE Jeffrey C. Noyes as Vice Moderator.
Complaints submitted by TE Byron Curtis of Eastern Carolina Presbytery were ruled out of order by presbytery because Mr. Curtis is not under the jurisdiction of the presbytery.
Items 1, 2 and 4 of the BCO amendments passed unanimously, and item 3 passed, 27-3-1.
Under the Mission to North America report, presbytery rejoiced to hear of the organization of the West Erie Bible Presbyterian Church, pastored by TE Gerald Knight. A progress report was also given on the status of a Cleveland, Ohio, core group.
Saturday morning was used to involve all the presbyters in the reading and reviewing of sessional records. This was followed with a season of prayer prior to recessing for lunch.
The Stated Clerk's report noted that the overture sent up regarding women preaching in Tennessee Valley Presbytery has been taken as a case by the Standing Judicial Committee without going to General Assembly. It was also reported that Tennessee Valley Presbytery has communicated that they do not condone women preaching. A committee was appointed to do some preparation in the event that presbytery is called to be involved in the prosecuting of these overtures.
Presbytery voted affirmatively on a proposal from the Christian Education Committee to terminate a lease of a camp being run by the presbytery.
A major item of business was action of a complaint by TE Nick Protos against the action of presbytery at the July meeting which approved the following policy with respect to how exceptions to the Standards should be handled:
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 teaching 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 (i.e., plead for or support) 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.
Support for the complaint was argued extensively by TE T. David Gordon and carried the day, defeating the policy which had occupied the presbytery for several meetings before being passed in July. Numerous delegates registered their "No" votes.
Under the business of the Ministerial Relations Committee, two calls were approved. TE John Kenyon has been called to be a military chaplain, and TE Dale Szallai has been called as pastor to New Life Presbyterian Church, Aliquippa, Pennsylvania.
Dr. Carl W. Bogue, Correspondent
The Sixty Third Stated Meeting of Calvary Presbytery was held on July 24, 1999. The Moderator, the Rev. Ben Shaw, convened the opening worship service. Candidate David McIntosh preached from II Corinthians 4:1-6; and the Presbytery observed the sacrament of the Lord's Supper. Ruling Elder Bill Stenhouse, the Moderator in nomination, was elected Moderator.
Memorialized were the following ruling elders who had died over the past year: Michael Geer Anderson, Chester Lewis Foster, Sr., and William E. "Ed" Littlefield, Center Point Presbyterian Church; and Robert C. Wasson, Friendship Presbyterian Church.
The report of the Commission to install the Rev. Larry J. Gamble as Pastor of Westminster Presbyterian Church, Clinton, South Carolina, was approved.
The Rev. Allan Story was dismissed to the Presbytery of the Southwest of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, pending his reception.
Presbytery approved the internship plan for Jay Boccabello under the Rev. Robert Spears. The plan includes his previous ministry experience and further activities as he pursues graduate studies in Europe.
The Presbytery approved the distribution of monies from its Covenant Seminary Scholarship funds to six students. Candidate Rob Edwards was transferred to North Georgia Presbytery. Presbytery approved a Lamb's Fund loan to Candidate Matt Lucas.
Mr. McIntosh, who had preached at the opening worship, was examined and licensed to preach.
Presbytery approved the records of four sessions with exception. However, those particular exceptions were not listed in the minutes of Presbytery.
Presbytery voted to have a World Missions Forum in the near future under the direction of the Mission to the World Committee.
Presbytery voted to adopt a personal resolution from the Rev. Dr. Joseph A. Pipa, which petitioned the General Assembly to assume original jurisdiction over the Rev. John Wood for his advocacy of women's preaching.
The Mission to North America Committee reported on several mission works, including: Crossgate in Seneca; Grace in Pickens County; and a group in Honea Path. The Rev. David Conley of the Clemson (S. C.) Presbyterian Church was appointed to fill the vacancy as the campus ministry state representative.
Members of the Christian Education Committee were authorized by the Committee to speak with Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary in order to gain insight on how to set up a theological debate.
The 78th Stated Meeting of Central Carolina Presbytery met on the campus of Reformed Theological Seminary in Charlotte, North Carolina, on July 17, 1999. The Moderator, Ruling Elder George James, called the meeting to order and presided. The Rev. Dan Bartel preached from Isaiah 55:6-13.
Dr. Joseph Pipa, President of Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, gave a brief presentation.
Regarding the judicial appeal of Dr. Robert Shive from his excommunication by Christ Covenant Church, Matthews, North Carolina, it was moved and seconded that the appeal not be heard because of BCO 42-4, in that supporting reasons were not sent to the lower court. A substitute motion was moved and seconded, that Presbytery appoint a special committee to bring recommendations as to how the matter should be handled. The substitute failed, as did the main motion. Presbytery then voted to appoint a commission to adjudicate the appeal. The Presbytery noted that the lower court had received the Stated Clerk's opinion that the appeal was out of order, with the result that the lower court had not yet forwarded the record of the case to the higher court.
Five complaints against actions by the Session of Back Creek Presbyterian Church, Mt. Ulla, North Carolina, were received. These complaints were combined, and given to a commission for adjudication. The complaints revolve around a discipline case of the church's treasurer, who had pled guilty to stealing church funds. The commission was given authority to secure legal counsel with a beginning budget of $1,500, to come from the General Fund of Presbytery.
Various pastoral relationships were dissolved: between the Rev. Harry Reeder and Christ Covenant Church; between the Back Creek Church and the Rev. Alex Coblentz; and the associate pastoral relationship between Redeemer Presbyterian Church, Winston-Salem, and the Rev. Stuart Stogner.
Internship plans were approved for Messrs. Jeremy Sink, Scott Cook, and Clint Dowda; and Mr. Giorgio Hiatt was received under care as a ministerial candidate.
Presbytery voted to continue supporting the ministry of Grace Presbyterian Mission in Alamance County through June 2000. From July to December 1999, the amount will be $1000 per month; and from January to June 2000 it will be $500 per month. Presbytery approved setting aside $1000 per month toward the beginning of a church plant in the Pineville area southeast of Charlotte.
Covenant Presbytery met in its 86th Stated Meeting on Tuesday, May 25, 1999, at the Grace Evangelical Church, Germantown, Tennessee. The Moderator, the Rev. Brad Stewart called the congregation to worship with the reading of Psalm 105:1-6 and gave the invocation. The Rev. Linleigh Roberts, a member of Pacific Northwest Presbytery, preached from Joshua 6:1-16.
It was reported that Dan Morse, former member of Covenant Presbytery, had been in a wreck and is paralyzed from the neck down. At the request of the Moderator, TE Gunn led the presbytery in prayer for him, and for the wife of the Rev. John D'Arezzo, who has been diagnosed with cancer.
Lee Mattox, Presbytery Treasurer, presented his report. On January 1, 1999, there was a total balance of $57,320.37, with a total balance of $53,868.07 on April 30, 1999.
The Rev. Randy Thompson, Chairman, presented the report of the Administration Committee. The motion was made, seconded, and passed that Presbytery instruct its treasurer not to include in his report money that has been put into the MNA Church Planting Fund (as is already done with the money put into Presbytery's Disaster Fund); that once Presbytery, through its MNA commission or by passage of a recommendation or motion, designates Church Planting Fund money to a church planting project, that money is removed from the Church Planting Fund and will be reported on the treasurer's report with the monies designated for that particular project.
Presbytery accepted the invitation of First Presbyterian Church, Dyersburg, Tennessee, to host Presbytery in May of 2000.
It was moved, seconded, and carried that Presbytery participate with the PCA group listing of tax exemption with the IRS. It was moved, seconded, and passed that presbytery participate in a 24 hour prayer vigil for General Assembly. The time assigned to Covenant Presbytery is from midnight to noon on June 14, 1999.
Presbytery amended its rule concerning executive session be amended to read as follows:
Executive session minutes will be sent to the GA Committee on Review of Presbytery Records. The minutes of an executive session will be shown or read to any member of presbytery who was present at the executive session and who makes this request of the presbytery stated clerk. Any other request for access to executive session minutes will be referred to the Administration Committee.
A memorial for Kenneth Edward Avis, D.Sc., was read and spread upon the minutes of presbytery. The document noted his service as an elder (including as clerk of session, in the Presbytery, and on the Covenant College Board), his strong Sabbatarianism, and his work in the area of pharmacology.
The following policy for distribution of the Covenant Presbytery Scholarship Fund was adopted:
COVENANT PRESBYTERY SCHOLARSHIP FUND POLICY
The Covenant Presbytery Scholarship Fund is a privately endowed fund for the children of teaching elders of Covenant Presbytery to attend the college of their choice. The award will be for one thousand dollars annually. The Administration Committee recommends the following standard stipulations for the award.
(1) It will be given in its entirety to one child each year.
(2) It will be voted upon at the May meeting of the Administration Committee.
(3) Members of the committee must excuse themselves from evaluating their own children.
(4) The award will be non repeatable.
(5) The applicant must have more than $1000 of unfunded cost in the Fall semester.
(6) The applicants must fill out a form supplied by the Administration Committee and have it in their hands by April 30 before the Fall of the desired award.
(7) The applicants who qualify according to #5 and #6 above will be rated by the committee on the basis of the following:
(a) Availability for the award (upperclassmen would be favored)
(b) Academic achievement in high school and/or thus far in college (qca + act)
(c) Need, based on a simple form application
Covenant Presbytery dissolved the pastoral relationship between TE Jeffrey Lancaster and the work of Reformed University Fellowship at The University of Mississippi. The Presbytery approved the changes in the calls of the following campus ministers: Brian Habig, Robbie Hinton, Ricky Jones, and Les Newsom.
Ruling Elder Bebo Elkin, RUM Mississippi Coordinator, reported that ministries on the campuses within Covenant, Mississippi Valley, and Grace Presbyteries are going well. He also reported that new RUM works are beginning at Louisiana State University, Rice, Middle Tennessee State, Appalachian State, Georgia, and Lehigh. He also explained the process by which the Rev. Dr. Rod Mays was selected as Coordinator of Reformed University Ministries.
Presbytery released the Session of Covenant Presbyterian Church, Little Rock, Arkansas, from pastoral oversight of the work at River Valley Covenant Fellowship and placed the Russellville, Arkansas, mission under the oversight of the Mission to North America Committee of Covenant Presbytery (BCO 5-3.(3)).
The Rev. Julian Russell reported on the work going on in the inner city of Memphis, New Beginnings Community Church. He told of God's grace in the ministry of New Beginnings Church. He exhorted the presbytery to be involved in this vital ministry. Presbytery changed his call by granting him a $3,000.00 per year raise in his housing allowance effective April 1, 1999.
Presbytery transferred $10,000 from the 1998 Presbytery MNA Committee budget to the church planting fund in accordance with previously-adopted guidelines.
The following resignations from the board of Beginning Again In Christ were accepted: TE Jeffrey Lancaster, TE Timothy Starnes, RE David Arant, RE Johnny Larson, and RE John Spencer.
The Rev. James Danner was examined and transferred from Evangel Presbytery, in order to receive the call from Main Street Presbyterian Church, Columbus, Mississippi; and the Rev. E. Stephen Irby was examined and transferred from Eastern Carolina Presbytery to receive the call of Northside Presbyterian Church, Sherwood, Arkansas. During the examination, Mr. Irby made reference to the views on the days of creation held by highly regarded men such as St. Augustine of Hippo and Dr. R.C. Sproul, Sr. Both Mr. Danner and Mr. Irby agreed that the views of St. Augustine and Dr. Sproul on this subject are exceptions to our Standards. Mr. Irby was asked if he agreed with the following statement: "The Constitutional Standards of the PCA do not allow for a type of continuing revelation that is not canonical Scripture (which is complete) but is more than mere illumination and providence; a type of non-authoritative, non-canonical, new revelation" (Explanatory Opinion, Judicial Case 50). Mr. Irby replied that he agrees with the statement and that he does not hold to any form of continuing revelation.
Dr. Roy Taylor, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly, reported that preparations are going well for the General Assembly in Louisville, Kentucky. He reported that the use of the denominational office building is running much smoother. The building mortgage was retired in December, 1998. He also reported that the General Assembly Administration Committee has been operating with a deficit of funds since the 1998 General Assembly.
Maura Ellen Bryan, MTW missionary to Bulgaria, also addressed the court. Miss Bryan reported that she was going to Sofia, Bulgaria, with a MTW Church Planting team. Her responsibilities will include women's discipleship and administrative tasks. Her plans are to leave for Bulgaria in September if her support is raised.
The Rev. Lawrence Rountree has rescinded his earlier request to demit the ministry. The Church Care Committee recommended that Presbytery transfer Mr. Rountree to South Texas Presbytery. The Chairman read a rationale for this recommendation which the Church Care Committee had approved and which is included in the committee's written report to Presbytery. The Chairman then read a communication he had received from Ruling Elder Howard Q. Davis opposing the committee recommendation. The Chairman moved to postpone action on the recommendation of the Church Care Committee regarding Mr. Rountree until any who might oppose the committee recommendation had an opportunity to bring before Presbytery an alternate motion regarding TE Rountree. After the motion was seconded, the Chairman explained that he supported the committee recommendation but that he wanted to give this opportunity to anyone opposed to the committee recommendation out of respect for Mr. Davis, who could not be at the meeting. After discussion, the motion passed.
The motion was made, seconded, and passed (32 Yea, 3 Nay, 4 Abstentions) that presbytery begin the two meeting process of divesting TE Rountree involuntarily without censure proceeding from his neglect of duty due to a lack of acceptance by the church in accordance with BCO 34-10, and that the Stated Clerk communicate to TE Rountree that, at the next stated meeting, the question of his being so dealt with will be considered and he will be given an opportunity to be heard in his own defense. This motion passed. The Moderator ruled that the original committee recommendation regarding Mr. Rountree was now moot and thus not before the court.
It was reported that the Church Care Committee sent a subcommittee to meet with the First Presbyterian Church, Clarendon, Arkansas, on February 23. A pastoral letter has been sent to the Session of First Presbyterian from the Church Care Committee. The following Report Concerning TE Greg Hoffman's Letter of Resignation as Pastor of First Presbyterian Church, Clarendon, AR, was spread on the record:
(1) The Church Care Committee grieves over the circumstances which led to the dissolution of the pastoral relationship between Pastor Hoffman and First Presbyterian Church, Clarendon, however, we do not agree with the judgments of Pastor Hoffman regarding the session, and therefore, the allegations. In other words, we do not believe that there is a "strong presumption of guilt" [BCO 31-2] of the session regarding Pastor Hoffman's allegations, therefore, the matter should not lead to formal process.
(2) The Church Care Committee appreciates the session of First Presbyterian Church, for their willingness to have met with and to have discussed these matters with the subcommittee. We appreciate the fact that the session was gracious in comments toward their former pastor, and yet also spoke with candor regarding various delicate matters including race relations, etc. The session also spoke with humility regarding their own weaknesses as a session in relationship to their former pastor.
(3) The Church Care Committee requests the session of First Presbyterian Church, Clarendon, AR consider asking the Church Care Committee to do an officer training course with the elders and deacons of the church. The goal would b to strengthen the current session, and prepare them to work effectively with the future pastor the Lord calls to Clarendon. May it all be done to His Glory and Honor, and to the furtherance of His Kingdom.
(4) The Church Care Committee encourages the session in the future to consider seeking assistance if there is a significant strain between the pastor and the session. The church care committee and others in the presbytery are willing to meet with the session to seek to avoid such unfortunate circumstances in the future.
Presbytery dismissed the Rev. Jeffrey Lancaster to Southeast Louisiana Presbytery effective June 1, 1999.
Covenant Presbytery called a congregational meeting for the Houston (Mississippi) Presbyterian Church, for the purpose of considering the call of TE Don Locke as pastor. The meeting is to be held on June 7, 1999, immediately following the morning service. Mr. Locke's call was approved by the presbytery pending a positive vote on the call by the congregation.
The Presbytery approved the change in call of the Rev. Charles Godwin from assistant pastor to associate pastor of Grace Presbyterian Church, Starkville, Mississippi. His salary package will remain the same.
Mr. Robert Farris, a graduate of Reformed Theological Seminary in the Marriage and Family Counseling program, was received under care of Covenant Presbytery. He is currently associated with Palmer Home for Children. The Rev. Claude McRoberts charged Mr. Farris from Psalm 12 and TE Ford Williams offered prayer for him. Mr. Dana E. Emborsky and Mr. John Dawson also were taken under care of Covenant Presbytery. Ruling Elder Clint Wood charged Mr. Dawson from Exodus 3 and the Rev. Charles Godwin offered prayer for him. Ruling Elder Jim Alinder charged Mr. Emborsky from Matthew 28 and Ruling Elder Baron Caulfield offered prayer for him.
After examination, Presbytery transferred the candidacy of Mr. Scott Fleming from Mississippi Valley Presbytery. Presbytery voted to take up his internship at the point at which it was left in Mississippi Valley Presbytery, conducting it to a conclusion in the same manner as if it had been commenced by itself, pending his satisfactory examination in accordance with the requirements of BCO 19-11.
Covenant Presbytery approved the completed internship of Mr. Clay Holland.
The court voted that the monies of the Covenant Theological Seminary Presbytery Scholarship Fund would be equally divided among the four CTS students who are under care of Covenant Presbytery.
The Rev. Charles Godwin, Chairman of the Christian Education Committee, reported that $1,750.00 is available for scholarships for summer conferences, including Reformed Youth Movement and the Christian Worldview Conference.
The Presbytery of Eastern Canada met in Miramichi, NB, at Covenant Reformed Presbyterian Church, September 24-25. Our discussion focussed on our church planting and outreach problems. These were highlighted by the report that our long-standing work in Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario, has failed. A commission was appointed to oversee its closing. There is hope that a core of the newer people taking part in that work will form a new mission. However it seems unlikely it will be part of the PCA simply because we cannot provide the necessary funding for a church planter, in time.
Presbytery was grateful to hear that GA MNA was willing to support a request that those who have been contributing to the Thames Valley Presbyterian Mission in London, Ontario, continue their support for another year. Without that support the work would almost certainly have to be closed. We were pleased to receive a request that Grace Japanese Mission be spun off from Grace Toronto Church.
As well, a report was received that the core group for the Sovereign Mission planned for Miramichi, NB, had finally found a potential church planter for their need. Ian Crooks, pastor of a strong church in Ireland, has since the meeting agreed to come to Miramichi as a church planter to establish a second congregation in that area. God willing, he will meet with the Presbytery and with the GA MNA committee, for approval of this mission, in a trip to this continent at the beginning of March. After that it will be necessary to raise a considerable support base, given that our tiny presbytery has extremely limited resources. We would ask your prayers for us in this.
For some time Eastern Canada has been concerned that our normal PCA church planting approaches do not seem to be working in our area. We are in what is likely the most culturally conservative area in the bounds of the PCA, and the response is typically far slower than in any other area. Even in Toronto, the least conservative part of the presbytery and a large world class city, progress has been noticeably slower than in other areas. Despite GA MNAs willingness to extend the time limits on the diminishing support plan, our church planting is marked by a pattern of failure. We have one particular church that did not exist 20 years ago, and one of those which did exist is about to be dissolved.
In discussion, the presbytery agreed that our situation is more like that of our foreign mission fields in Europe than the rest of our home area in Canada and the US. A commission has been appointed to put together a proposal for GA MNA committee, requesting that they consider a church planting model for our area more like that of MTW. This would mean a commitment of more funds for a longer time, an effort to send a team to work in an area with no deadline for success. A proposal to consider a circuit preaching approach for the nurture of small groups in a broader area was also raised, but not picked up on at this meeting.
The meeting was a time of good fellowship and encouragement, but the outlook for the presbytery was not very good. The dissolution of Grace Presbyterian Fellowship in Kitchener will leave the presbytery with four particular churches (one very weak) and between one and four missions scattered over a territory 1500 miles wide. It becomes very difficult to get the three ruling elders needed to hold a meeting in the Ontario area. We would ask your urgent prayers for this struggling part of our church. Pray for gifted men who will come as church planters. Pray for the strong funding support needed to build the church here. Pray for our discussions with the General Assembly MNA committee, that we may have together wisdom to discern what changes if any are needed to build the church in the eastern portions of Canada. Pray for an outpouring of God's Spirit, for revival.
Don Codling, Pastor
Bedford Presbyterian Church
49 Nelson's Landing Boulevard
Bedford, NS B4A 3Z6
On July 17, 1999, Eastern Carolina Presbytery met for a stated meeting at Christ Presbyterian Church, Winterville, North Carolina. Host pastor Carl Brannon led the opening worship, and the Moderator, Ruling Elder Tem Blackburn, preached from Jeremiah 36:22-24.
The Rev. James O"Brien reported on Emmanuel Ministries. He has developed two seminars, including one on Family Worship. Three series of lectures which he gave recently were on Prayer, Fasting, and History. His service as pulpit supply at Trinity Reformed Presbyterian Church, Wilmington, North Carolina, helped stabilize that congregation before it called a Pastor; however, his service there also meant that he was not able to itinerate. Mr. O'Brien and his family are planning to move to the Princeton, New Jersey, area, in order to be closer to family as parents age, and also because the town offers the best Presbyterian theological library in the world. He and Emmanuel Ministries were commended to New Jersey Presbytery, and he was granted permission to labor out of bounds until the next annual report or until he is received by New Jersey.
Mr. Ben Shaw, a member of Calvary Presbytery, presented the work of Greenville (S. C.) Presbyterian Theological Seminary. He stated that the school is the only Reformed seminary to his knowledge that has taken the view of six 24-hour days in Genesis 1 and that the faculty members are required to hold to that view.
The Rev. Gordon Crompton presented a resolution, asking the Presbytery to petition the General Assembly to assume original jurisdiction over John Wood because of his views of female preaching. The document was distributed, and placed on the October 1999 docket.
The Moderator, Ruling Elder Tem Blackburn relinquished the chair so he could speak on a resolution he had presented at the June 26th called meeting of Presbytery. During the discussion on the motion, it was moved and seconded to rescind all actions taken with respect to this resolution at that called meeting, as they are out of accord with BCO 13-12 (which requires that only matters listed in a call may be dealt with at a called meeting). This motion to rescind failed, 15-8, in that a two-thirds vote was necessary for passage.
Presbytery approved Mr. Blackburn's resolution. As amended, the motion reads:
RESOLVED, that Eastern Carolina Presbytery establish a committee to recommend on a temporary basis changes in the conduct of meetings of the presbytery for the purposes of: (i) enhancing the unity of the members of presbytery; (ii) effecting greater attention to the important substantive issues which should be addressed by the presbytery; and (iii) avoiding unproductive controversies during meetings of the presbytery.
FURTHER RESOLVED, that said committee shall have the power, by unanimous vote, to recommend changes to the procedures of meetings of presbytery to be effective for and only during the next succeeding meeting of presbytery, following adoption by said committee, by prior written notice of such changes; and said changes shall not be effective as to any subsequent meetings of presbytery except to the extent thereafter duly authorized by vote of the presbytery.
FURTHER RESOLVED, that the membership of said committee include a representative of each of the three metropolitan churches having the largest membership in the presbytery, an equal number of representatives from non-metropolitan churches and at least two members who have actively promoted the detailed examination of candidates for ministry on the floor of presbytery.
Those on the committee are as follows: Teaching Elders Terry Traylor, Carl Brannon, Fred Hofland, Dave Bowen, Bill Marshall, and Jim Routszong; and Ruling Elders Tem Blackburn, Rob Helms, Paul Wright, and Austin Leake.
By a vote of 13-10, Presbytery adopted the budget proposed by the Committee on Administration.
Presbytery approved the move of Grace Covenant Fellowship, a mission work pastored by Bill Marshall, from Durham to Raleigh, North Carolina.
Presbytery received, as a first reading, a resolution from Terry Traylor which would amend the Manual of Operations. The purpose of the amendment would be to add, under the duties of the Mission to North America Committee, the establishing of a subcommittee to deal with university ministries, which would be responsible to facilitate the establishment of Reformed University Ministries chapters.
A dissent from the Rev. Jeff Black was received and spread on the minutes. The dissent expressed concern that the Presbytery failed to record Mr. Ben Inman's inability to affirm belief in six literal days of creation as an exception to the Standards, and that "this action has produced the anomaly of accepting a man for licensure at the same time in which it is not determined whether or not his view is out of accord with our Standards which action essentially stated that our Standards are not our standards for licensure to preach and for membership in presbytery." Mr. Black expressed his hope that the Presbytery would either rescind its licensure of the man "until after the GA Study Committee on Creation has reported to the General Assembly", or declare that he has taken "an exception to the Standards, allow this exception, but disallow him to teach it as true, in any public forum save that of the courts of the Presbyterian Church in America."
A motion with regard to Mr. Inman's exam had been postponed from the May 8, 1999, meeting until the report of the General Assembly's Study Committee on Creation had been presented to the floor of the General Assembly. That Committee having submitted a report, the question was now before the court, "to record Mr. Ben Inman's exception . . . in his refusal to affirm the 6 days of creation to be approximately 24 hour days." A substitute motion was moved and seconded, that the Presbytery "rules that Ben Inman has not taken an exception to the WCF and Catechism regarding creation." The substitute became the main motion by a vote of 11-7; the amended main motion then carried, 10-8. Messrs. Black, Bill Marshall, Ted Trefsgar, and Bill Brown recorded their negative votes.
Presbytery transferred the Rev. Steve Irby to Covenant Presbytery, as he has been called as Pastor at Northside PCA, Sherwood, Arkansas. Former licentiate Ted Rivera, whose license to preach had expired, was removed from the rolls, as he has joined the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. Candidate John Lindsay was transferred to New River Presbytery.
The Rev. Byron Curtis has appealed to General Assembly with regard to the Presbytery's action in prohibiting him from teaching his exceptions to the Confessional Standards. His "brief" was spread on the minutes of the Presbytery. One of the main points of his appeal is that the Presbytery may not bind his conscience by prohibiting him from speaking what he perceives to be the truth. Mr. Curtis, who teaches Bible at Geneva College, is also maintaining that the First and Ninth Commandments mean that the Presbytery's action was incorrect.
First Presbyterian Church of Biloxi, Mississippi, hosted the ninety-fifth stated meeting of Grace Presbytery, on September 14, 1999. The Rev. Alton Phillips presided as Moderator. The Rev. Michale Ganucheau preached from II Chronicles 26:1-23, "The Measure of the Means of Grace." Host pastor James Richter administered the Lord's Supper.
Presbytery dismissed the Rev. Monty Kirk to Gulf Coast Presbytery, which had already received him. The court approved the report of its commission to install the Rev. Marty Payne at the Bay Springs (Miss.) Presbyterian Church.
The Presbytery voted to increase compensations of Presbytery officers by ten percent.
Received under care as a ministerial candidate was Mr. Scott Robar. Both he and Mr. Curt Moore were examined and licensed to preach.
Presbytery approved, until the next meeting of the court, the stated supply relationships between the Leakesville (Miss.) Presbyterian Church and the Rev. Henry Bishop, and between Calvary Presbyterian Church, Mize, Mississippi, and the Rev. Phil McRae. No action was taken on the request by the Liberty (Miss.) Presbyterian Church for a stated supply relationship with Rev. Walt Gaston, a United Methodist lay pastor.
Presbytery authorized its Christian Education and Missions Committee to meet with a group in Pearl River County, with a view toward helping them organize a new PCA church there. Mr. Gary Hitzfield, a ruling elder from Hattiesburg, was granted five minutes to address the Presbytery in order to solicit funds for his ministry with SERVE International. The Presbytery voted to give him a one-time gift of $1,000.
Presbytery voted down the adoption of a resolution from First Presbyterian Church, Woodville, Mississippi. That resolution called upon the Presbytery to do several things with regard to the doctrine of creation:
First of all, to affirm and declare its belief that our Almighty, Omnipotent, Omnipresent, Omniscient, Merciful Triune God and Creator did in the space of six, consecutive, ordinary days create the heavens, the earth, the sea and all that in them is;
Second, to affirm and declare that the Presbytery of Grace will consider any view contrary to this one-including specifically those views or variations of those views known as the 'gap' theory, the 'day age' theory, and the 'poetic' or 'framework hypothesis'-to be an exception to the fundamentals of our system of doctrine and constitutional standards; and
Third, to affirm and declare that while the Presbytery recognizes that we may not bind the conscience of a brother we may bind him with respect to his actions, and that Presbytery will not tolerate the propagation of or agitating in behalf of views contrary to the above stated principles, and that anyone who refuses to submit to the position of the Presbytery in this matter will be subject to discipline for failure to adhere to the fourth ordination vow (BCO 20-5).
Ruling Elder John Waddell convened the Summer Stated Meeting of James River Presbytery at New Life in Christ Church, Fredericksburg, Virginia. The Moderator preached from Joshua 1 and II Timothy 1:2-3.
A proposed amendment to the Bylaws would have scheduled three rather than four stated meetings per year. On this, its second reading, that motion failed, in that it did not achieve the requisite two-thirds supermajority.
Presbytery dissolved the pastoral relationship between the Rev. Shayne Wheeler and New Life in Christ Church. The court voted to table a committee recommendation to proceed to examine the Rev. John Crimmins, a minister without call, to be transferred from Southern Florida Presbytery.
Presbytery approved the report of a commission dealing with two complaints against the Session of West End Presbyterian Church, Hopewell, Virginia. One complaint was denied, while another one was sustained. The Presbytery ruled that the Session erred when it "did not sustain the examination" of a man for the office of ruling elder. The matter was sent back to the Session "with instructions that the West End Session rectify this matter as soon as practicable and in a way that is in conformity with the Book of Church Order and such Bylaws that may be in effect at the West End Church." Another commission reported that it had not been able to complete its work on another pending complaint against the West End Session.
After hearing from Rod Mays, the Coordinator for the denominational Reformed University Ministries (RUM), Presbytery established a subcommittee to oversee the work of RUM within the bounds of the Presbytery.
Trinity Presbyterian Church, Norfolk, Virginia, was received as a mission church. The Rev. Jack Howell was given the powers of an evangelist for one year; the Session of Calvary Presbyterian Church in Norfolk was appointed to serve as the temporary session for the mission work.
The Rev. Don Ward's powers as an evangelist were renewed for one year. He is the organizing pastor of Grace Community Mission, Charlottesville, Virginia.
Presbytery voted to give $1,000 from the MTW Scholarship Fund to a missionary for his eleven-month mission trip to Egypt with Mission to the World Impact. James Barr was given $500 from the same fund for a mission trip to Honduras this summer.
As a first reading, it was moved and approved by the requisite two-thirds supermajority to amend the Bylaws with regard to the Ministerial & Church Relations Committee and the Church Vocations Committee. The amendments would restructure those two committees, and change the name of the latter to Candidates and Credentials Committee. Final enactment of the amendments awaits a two-thirds majority at the next stated meeting of Presbytery.
The 37th Stated Meeting of Mid-America Presbytery was held at Christ Presbyterian Church, Tulsa, Oklahoma, October 8, 1999. The Moderator, Ruling Elder Lyle Fogle, exhorted from Romans 12:5, and the Lord's Supper was administered by the host pastor, David O' Dowd.
The Rev. Craig Weaver, Associate Pastor of the host church, was elected Moderator by acclamation. Ruling Elder Clayton Lewis was elected as Moderator-Nominee.
The Stated Clerk, the Rev. John Owen Butler, tendered his resignation, after approximately eight years of service. The court postponed consideration of his resignation until the Spring 2000 Stated Meeting. It was moved, seconded, and carried to express to him "the court's every confidence in his functioning as Stated Clerk."
The court considered as a second reading the proposed change to its By-Laws, which would seek merger with North Texas Presbytery. It was moved and seconded to postpone deliberation on this matter until the 38th Stated Meeting. That motion failed, 3-6-2. The proposed By-Laws change failed, 4-7-0. It was moved and seconded to answer in the affirmative an overture from the First Reformed Presbyterian Church, Minco, Oklahoma, seeking transfer of Grady County, Oklahoma, to North Texas Presbytery. After lengthy discussion, the overture was withdrawn.
The Presbytery approved the call of the St. Augustine Academy to the Rev. Jim Tracy. He will be providing instruction in Biblical Greek, English Bible, Christian Ethics and Theology.
Presbytery received under care Mr. Doug Shepherd, Jr., as a ministerial candidate. He is a student at Covenant Theological Seminary, and he recently served as a short-term MTW missionary in Ukraine.
A protest by Mr. Butler was placed on the record. The protest was with regard to the failure of the Presbytery at its called meeting of August 26, 1999, to record that Mr. O' Dowd has exceptions to the Confessional Standards. Among the contra-Confessional views which Mr. O' Dowd expressed were a belief in the legitimacy of drama and dance in worship, and of women reading Scripture and leading in prayer in public worship. In support of his protest, Mr. Butler cited Scripture and the PCA Standards. In making the case that most of the founders of the PCA were opposed to innovative worship, he cited a 1973 article in the Presbyterian Journal, authored by Richard G. Watson, who was then Pastor of Seminole Presbyterian Church, Tampa, Florida. Ironically, Mr. O' Dowd, immediately prior to his move to Tulsa, Oklahoma, pastored the Seminole Church.
The 76th Stated Meeting of New River Presbytery was held July 9-10, 1999, at Grace Covenant Presbyterian Church, Blacksburg, Virginia. Ruling Elder Virgil Roberts, Moderator, presided. Host pastor Gordon Woolard led the opening worship. The sermon was preached by the Rev. David Stuart of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, from Ephesians 1:15-23.
Per the request of the Friendship Presbyterian Church, Princeton, West Virginia, Presbytery dissolved the congregation effective July 10. Presbytery accepted the gift of the congregation "of the remaining assets of the church after the close of the sale of the property and agree[d] with the instructions of the congregation to use them for church planting in the near future in the Princeton-Green Valley area of West Virginia." Presbytery declared that that "these instructions are not viewed as legally binding on the Presbytery, but rather are guidance." The Mission to North America Committee of Presbytery was instructed to present a plan of action for pursuing a church planting opportunity in the Princeton-Green Valley area to the November meeting of Presbytery. The Treasurer of New River Presbytery was instructed "to invest these assets in such a way to provide for the highest rate of interest consistent with ethical investments and reasonable safety of the principle, seeking advice from the PCA IAR and Investors Fund in so doing. The Treasurer is also to consult with the MNA Committee concerning the projected times which funds might be required for church planting work." It was moved "that the Treasurer of New River Presbytery be instructed to place with these assets all monies received from TE Craig Bailey in repayment of his loan from the Friendship Church." A substitute motion to forgive the loan to Mr. Bailey was seconded, but failed. The main motion then carried. [Mr. Bailey was the last pastor of the Friendship Church.-Ed.]
Various reports were heard, including: the Rev. James Eades on the Parkersburg, West Virginia, mission work; and the Rev. Ken Robinson on the Fairmount, West Virginia, mission. Presbytery granted $400 to send the Rev. Brant Wilkie to Atlanta to confer on the possibilities of a Reformed University Fellowship work in the Charleston area.
It was reported that the Session of Faith Reformed Presbyterian Church, Fairmount, West Virginia, would be moderated by the Rev. John Ledden. A member of Pittsburgh Presbytery, Mr. Ledden had already been licensed by New River Presbytery and approved as the pulpit supply. Mr. Stuart was examined and received from the EPC, in order to be Assistant Pastor at Westminster Presbyterian Church, Roanoke, Virginia. His official title is Minister of Music and Evangelism.
The Fourth Stated Meeting of the Presbytery of North Florida was held at Pinewood Presbyterian Church, Middleburg, Florida, on July 20, 1999. The Moderator, Dr. Benson Cain, exhorted the Presbytery from Ephesians 3:1-10. Mr. Bill Zvara, a ruling elder from Ortega Presbyterian Church, was elected new Moderator. The Rev. Mr. Chuck McArthur was appointed to serve as parliamentarian.
Licentiate Neil Ganzel, a ruling elder, reported on his preaching ministry and his student activities.
Presbytery examined and transferred from Philadelphia Presbytery the Rev. D. Marion Clark, to become Pastor of Faith Presbyterian Church, Gainesville, Florida. He noted his exceptions to the Confessional Standards, by stating that in his view other parameters were permissible than the "literal" understanding of the "days" of creation. He also took exception to the doctrine of the Sabbath, in that he believes that recreation is allowed on the Lord's Day. And, he stated that he could not affirm that the gift of tongues has ceased; however, he does believe that continuing supernatural revelation has ceased. With regard to polity, he believes that women may be ordained as deaconesses. However, he stated that he would abide by the Book of Church Order and that he does not have any agenda on the matter. By common consent, the Presbytery agreed that the Moderator would exhort Mr. Clark not to be divisive in his ministry with regard to these exceptions.
The Shepherding Committee reported on its work with a congregation, and with a teaching elder who is under discipline. The Committee has been working on how to conduct its work. Presbytery instructed the Committee to develop a working statement with regard to confidentiality, and to refer that statement to the Administrative Committee.
The Rev. Mr. Rob Pendley and the Rev. Mr. John McNicoll, the Presbytery's two church planters, reported on their mission works.
Presbytery approved an internship plan for Mr. Brad Bradford, who will be working under the mentorship of the Rev. Mr. Bill Lyle.
Presbytery voted, 27-2-1, to increase the number of meetings per year from four to six. This vote constitutes the first of two votes necessary to change the Standing Rules. The meetings are to be held on alternating Fridays and Saturdays, preferably the second Friday or Saturday of January, March, May, July, September, and November. This format will be a one-year experiment "with a formal review and report by the Administrative Committee." The proposed docket for the meetings will include opening worship and a time of edification under the Christian Education Committee, from 10:30 to 12:00; with Administrative and other Permanent Committee reports scheduled for the afternoon.
The Christian Education Committee reported that at the Presbytery's 1999 camps at Southland Conference Center, there were 525 senior high campers and 678 middle school campers.
The Resolutions Committee report, in thanking the host church, referred to "luscious pastries, fruits, juice and especially the eye-opening coffee," and expressed "great fondness for the hot fudge sundaes."
The Rev. Chuck McArthur, Pastor of Cross Creek Presbyterian Church, Fruit Cove, Florida, was elected as the Moderator-in-nomination.
Atlanta, Georgia (July 17, 1999)-The Intown Community Church hosted the summer stated meeting of North Georgia Presbytery. The Moderator, the Rev. George Mitchell, preached from I Samuel 17:20-51 on "Slaying the Enemy Completely." Host pastor Scot Sherman administered the sacrament of communion. The worship was concluded with the singing of the Old Hundredth.
Messrs. Jay Taylor, Rob Edwards, Danny Wannell, and Brad Gregory were taken under care as ministerial candidates. Mr. Edwards was approved to begin the new Reformed University Ministries campus work at the University of Georgia. Presbytery approved the internship plans for the following: Rob Edwards, Mark Gaking, Caleb Mitchell, Bill Nash, Danny Wannell, and Dudley Crowe.
Four men were transferred from other presbyteries, to take up work within the bounds of North Georgia. The Rev. Shane Wheeler came from James River Presbytery to be called as Assistant Pastor of Ivy Creek Presbyterian Church, Lawrenceville, Georgia. The Rev. Dr. Paul Fowler was transferred from Rocky Mountain Presbytery to receive a call from Perimeter Ministries International as President of a new theological seminary. The Rev. Archie Parrish, who has been serving with Mission to North America, was transferred from Southern Florida Presbytery. Also transferring from Southern Florida was the Rev. David Beckmann, called as Assistant Pastor by Cherokee Presbyterian Church, Woodstock, Georgia, to be the church planter for the Rome (Ga.) Presbyterian Church. Mr. Beckmann was also given the limited powers of evangelist.
The Rev. Dr. L. Roy Taylor, Stated Clerk of the General Assembly, was given powers of an evangelist with a view to starting a mission church in the Buford, Georgia, area.
The Moral Concerns Committee presented a resolution which asked the Presbytery to go on record as being in opposition to gambling, specifically casino gambling in the State of Georgia. After extended discussion, the proposal carried.
Hope Church, Moosic, Pennsylvania, hosted the September 11, 1999, stated meeting of Philadelphia Presbytery. Ruling Elder Royce Seifert, Moderator, called the meeting to order and presided. Licentiate Joel Holm preached a sermon on prayer, taking his text from Luke 6:12, as part of his trials for ordination.
Presbytery examined Mr. Holm and approved him for ordination as Pastor of the Church of the Redeemer.
Presbytery approved the call of Tenth Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia, to the Rev. Richard Phillips as Associate Pastor. The Rev. John Clark, Sr., honorably retired, was given a certificate of transfer to Southwest Florida Presbytery. The Rev. Timothy Conkling was dismissed to Northern California Presbytery. The Rev. D. Marion Clark was dismissed to North Florida Presbytery, to become Senior Minister of Faith Presbyterian Church, Gainesville, Florida; a resolution expressing appreciation for his ministry at Tenth Presbyterian and in Philadelphia Presbytery was spread on the minutes.
Presbytery approved the call of the Lansdale (Pa.) Presbyterian Church to be Senior Pastor. He is currently the Associate Pastor. The required supermajorities (4/5 for the congregational vote, and 3/4 for the presbytery) were achieved. The call of the Snyder Avenue Congregational Church, a member of the Conservative Christian Congregational Conference, to the Rev. Paul Kreamer as Associate Pastor was also approved.
Messrs. Gregory C. Hobaugh, Stephen G. Lutz, Jeffrey T. McRobbie, and Andrew J. Webb were taken under care as ministerial candidates. An internship proposal for Candidate George King, under the supervision of the Rev. Mel Farrar at Quakertown (Pa.) Presbyterian Church and at Lehigh University (Reformed University Fellowship) under the Rev. David Green, was approved. The following internships were approved as completed: Geoff Bradford, Mark Malyj, and Jeff Waddington. Candidate Jay Hood was examined and licensed. The Licensure Committee was directed to continue to work with him on his position on the Sabbath.
With regard to Mr. Hood, the Presbytery approved prior ministry experience as interim pastor at a Presbyterian church in South Africa and as an intern at Tenth Presbyterian, as satisfying his internship requirements. The court likewise approved the prior ministerial experience of Michael Kelly as Clerk of Session of New Life Presbyterian Church, Philadelphia, in conjunction with which he fulfilled wide-ranging duties of administrative pastoral care, preached and led worship at regular opportunities.
Received as information was a communication from the Rev. Peter Lillback, the Rev. Paul Karlberg, and Ruling Elder John Templeton, on behalf of the Session of Proclamation Presbyterian Church, expressing their concern on the issue of gambling.
In response to the 27th PCA General Assembly's action, which answered in the affirmative Philadelphia Presbytery's overture regarding abortion and the right to life, the Rev. Peter Lillback, the Rev. Paul Karlberg, and Ruling Elder Bill Devlin presented a motion which would establish the Presbytery Pro-Life Committee. The resolution, which was approved, encouraged other PCA presbyteries to establish their own pro-life committees. Philadelphia's Pro-Life Committee is to urge and enable each local church in the Presbytery, and ultimately the PCA, to establish their own pro-life committee. It is also to contact each local church in the Presbytery so that each church will able and hopefully willing to know its closest crisis pregnancy center, a source of reliable information on legislative issues relating to the sanctity of life, and a local adoption agency; to preach at least once a year on pro-life issues; to aid in a practical and/or financial way a pro-life agency; and to participate as a congregation in at least one lawful expression of the sanctity of life within their community, examples of which include: a fund-raiser for a local agency, a life chain, the Washington March for Life held every year in January, a local peaceful protest, a community prayer meeting focused on the sanctity of life, and a conference on the issue. Presbytery voted also to draft a call to a day of prayer and fasting (to be set by each presbytery), which day presumably will not be on a Sunday (as the Lord's Day would not be appropriate as a day of fasting). The Presbytery's Pro-Life Committee was authorized to cooperate with the Pro-Life Initiative of the Urban Family Council (where Mr. Devlin is Executive Director) and Proclamation Presbyterian Church (where Messrs. Lillback and Karlberg pastor) in fulfilling these goals.
Mr. Lance Lewis reported on his learning inner-city church planting in Atlanta. His goal is to return to Philadelphia to undertake a similar ministry in the future.
Dr. Anees Zaka, Chairman of the World Missions Committee, noted with thanks that the John Lenks were not injured in the earthquake in Turkey. Another item for thanksgiving was the cancellation of a large Muslim rally which had been scheduled for Fairmount Park, Philadelphia; a dispute among the leaders resulted in a cancelling of the event.
Others giving reports included: the Rev. David Green (Reformed University Fellowship ministry at Lehigh University), the Rev. Fred Klett (CHAIM), Ruling Elder Bob Miller (Hope for America), and Mr. Mike Spence (African Enterprise, a multicultural, interdenominational ministry targeting the approximately 700 million people in the cities of Africa through "stratified evangelism").
Presbytery approved the minutes of several sessions, with exceptions, but did not spread the exceptions on the Presbytery minutes. [EDITORIAL NOTE: In 1984, the General Assembly took exception to the minutes of Palmetto Presbytery because "exceptions to session minutes were not set out on the record (BCO 40-3; RAO 9-13-5b)."-Ed.]
Presbytery voted to establish an ad-interim committee "to plan Presbytery fellowship events for all elders in the Spring of 2000 and the Fall of 1999, if possible, and that they not be in conjunction with a Presbytery meeting."
Presbytery voted to divest the Rev. Steve Krentel without censure, "with the notation of the irregularity of Mr. Krentel's having joined the Wayne Presbyterian Church, PCUSA, prior to his divestiture."
Presbytery ruled out of order a complaint by Dr. David C. Lachman against the Session of Calvary Presbyterian Church, Willow Grove, Pennsylvania, in that it was originally a complaint to Presbytery rather than to the Session. Presbytery also ruled out of order Dr. Lachman's complaints of July 27 and 30 against the Session, on the basis that "the Book of Church Order makes no provision for complaints against a court's actions in the conducting of a trial while the trial is in process." The Judicial Business Committee also informed the Presbytery that, "in light of the matters raised in the latter two complaints, and a result of its own thorough consideration of the matters, it is the intention of the Committee to prepare an overture to the General Assembly concerning the BCO, Chapter 43 on complaints, to add language making explicit what many, including the Committee, believe to be implicit, namely that a party under process may not complain against the process of a trial while the trial is ongoing."
The Rev. Erwin Morrison came forward to present a motion with regard to the complaint which he, three other members of the Judicial Business Committee, and the Rev. Mark Herzer had brought. An objection to consideration was raised from the floor (which would require the support of two-thirds of those voting to be sustained). On the motion, "Shall the motion be considered?", 23 voted yea and 6 voted nay.
The following motion by Mr. Morrison was then considered, and eventually passed, 17-15:
That Presbytery POSTPONE further action on all matters related to the complaint concerning the Lachman Memorial until the November meeting of Presbytery in order to afford:
1, Complainants the opportunity to amend, withdraw, or continue their complaint at the November meeting of Presbytery, dependent upon the response of the parties to item 2 below;
2, The parties in the current ongoing trial at Calvary Church in Willow Grove opportunity to respond to Presbytery, through the clerk, on the following suggestions:
A, The session of Calvary Church abandon the trial of David Lachman;
B, The session of Calvary Church expunge from its records all that which David Lachman considers injurious concerning himself;
C, The session of Calvary Church move speedily in granting David Lachman a transfer to another church;
D, David Lachman withdraw all current proceedings against Calvary Church and Philadelphia Presbytery AND not bring further proceedings or actions against either court in anything related to the current actions; and
E, David Lachman move expeditiously to transfer his membership from Calvary Church (if it all possible by the November meeting of Presbytery or as soon as possible thereafter as may be practical).
It is understood that neither the session nor Mr. Lachman is obligated by our Constitution in this matter. These suggestions are made as a possible means of obtaining a satisfactory compromise resolution of all the matters touching the Presbytery, session of Calvary Church, and Mr. Lachman.
New Covenant Presbyterian Church, Abingdon, Maryland, hosted the 39th stated meeting of Potomac Presbytery. Worship was begun with the singing of the Old Hundredth. The Rev. John Sackett, Associate Pastor of the host church, preached from Isaiah 66:1-4, a sermon entitled, "There's Death in the Doing." The worship concluded with the observance of the Lord's Supper.
The Moderator, the Rev. Ronald E. Steel, convened the meeting. Presbytery approved the following commission reports: to install Barry M. Smith as Associate Pastor of Severna Park (Md.) Presbyterian Church; to install Thomas S. Poehlman as Associate Pastor of Safe Harbor Presbyterian Church, Stevensville, Maryland; and concerning the dissolution of the pastoral relationship between Larry Wanaselja and New Covenant Presbyterian Church.
Presbytery added $1000 to its proposed budget to establish a Presbytery Web Page. Another $1000 was added for Matching Scholarship Fund at Covenant Theological Seminary.
An overture from Timonium (Md.) Presbyterian Church, regarding amending BCO 4-3, was referred to the Committee on Credentials to study and report on the Biblical and theological grounds for the overture as well as the history of Presbyterian usage and to report the same at the February 2000 stated meeting. The motion to refer carried, 46-32.
The Rev. Will LaRose was examined and received by transfer from North Georgia Presbytery, to become Assistant Pastor of Grace Evangelical Presbyterian Church. The Rev. James Tonkowich, who is without call, was examined for reception from Northern California Presbytery. Presbytery referred him back to the Committee on Credentials in order to clarify his views on the Sabbath and on the Roman Catholic Church.
Mr. Wesley Weeks was taken under care as a candidate. Mr. Tony Kim was examined and licensed to preach.
The Special Ministries Committee presented Mr. Steven Patrick Marusich as its choice to be the Reformed University Ministries campus minister at the University of Maryland in College Park. Presbytery discussed the desirability of transferring his under-care status from Southeast Alabama Presbytery; after considerable discussion, it was decided to leave matters as they were. It is anticipated that he will complete his ordination requirements in July 2000.
Presbytery voted to give $10,000 of unused new works funds from the 1999 MNA budget to Harvest Fellowship to help with the purchase of a new facility.
It was reported that T. M. Moore has resigned as President of Chesapeake Christian Ministries. Presbytery gave a standing ovation to Mr. Moore. Ruling Elder Lightly Wallace of Harvester Presbyterian Church has been appointed as Interim President.
Several reports were heard from a variety of people: the Rev. Dan Pinckney, World Harvest candidate, on his proposed work in Rome during the Roman Catholic Year of Jubilee, 2000; Dr. O. Palmer Robertson on the work at the African Bible College in Malawi; the Rev. David Silvernail on Potomac Hills Presbyterian Church, Ashburn, Virginia; the Rev. Kevin Smith on Mt. Zion Covenant Mission, Bowie, Maryland; the Rev. Drew Derreth on Hanover Valley Mission, Hanover, Pennsylvania; the Rev. Dan Claire on the Reformed Theological Seminary campus in the D. C. area; the Rev. Gerald McFarland on Westminster Theological Seminary; Mr. Kevin Good on the Pen Lucy Youth Partnership ministry in inner city Baltimore; and Grace Honeywell, President of Potomac PresWIC, on the Women in the Church.
An internship for Mr. David Nelson was initiated at Second Presbyterian Church (EPC), Memphis, Tennessee.
Presbytery approved the call to the Rev. John Aldrich to serve as Associate Pastor of Covenant of Grace Presbyterian Church, Reisterstown, Maryland. The request of the Rev. Robert Louthan, an honorably retired minister, to labor out of bounds at Faith Evangelical Presbyterian Church (EPC), was approved, pending approval of Rocky Mountain Presbytery. The call of the Rev. Richard Ramsay, MTW missionary, to work with Logoi was approved, and he was granted permission to labor out of the geographical bounds of Potomac Presbytery, pending approval of Southern Florida Presbytery. Presbytery accepted the resignation of the Rev. George Miller as Pastor of Faith Reformed Presbyterian Church, Frederick, Maryland, and dissolved the pastoral relationship; the congregation's representative conveyed the congregation's concurrence with regret for losing their pastor. Presbytery dissolved the pastoral relationship between the Rev. Philip Du and the Session of Chinese Christian Church, Falls Church, Virginia.
The responses of several ministers to requests for information about their status were judged to be satisfactory. The Rev. Michael Conord had not responded; and he was directed to meet with the Committee on Ministerial Relations at its next stated meeting to show cause why he should not be held in contempt of Presbytery.
The Presbytery Bylaws were amended by adding a new section, as follows: "The CMR [Committee on Ministerial Relations] shall report to Presbytery annually at the September meeting, regarding the general well-being of each of its honorably retired Teaching Elders. This report shall include information concerning: 1. The TE's spiritual health and continued connection to the body of Christ; 2. his physical, emotional, and financial well-being; 3. any recommendations for appropriate administrative actions relevant to such Teaching Elders and the Presbyteries within which they live or labor."
Dickenson First Presbyterian Church, Haysi, Virginia, hosted the 96th stated meeting of Westminster Presbytery, held on July 10, 1999. Mr. David Queener, candidate for licensure, preached at the opening worship service, and the sacrament of communion was administered by the Rev. Richard Hicks of the host church.
Mr. Neil Smith, who was the Moderator, was nominated and elected for a second term.
The Rev. Jack Bowling, Chairman of the Mission to North America Committee, presented that report. After a long debate, Presbytery voted down, 19-21, a motion to go into executive session for consideration of recommendations with regard to Trinity Presbyterian Church, Tazewell, Virginia.
The MNA Committee brought two recommendations regarding the Trinity Session: "1. That because the MNA Committee has been offended by the actions of TE Henry Johnson, the Trinity Church Session, TE Jim Reedy, and the 5 heads of the families who joined the Trinity Church in rebellion against the counsel and instructions of this committee, Westminster Presbytery calls these so named above to repent or be admonished by Westminster Presbytery and to have Westminster Presbytery redress the wrongs that have been done. 2. The MNA Committee requests Westminster Presbytery in accordance with BCO 13:9 to empower the Court Records Committee to review the records of the Trinity PCA Session from the beginning of the year until now with regard to the Wytheville Mission."
A minority report from TE's Raymond Colgrove and Jim Reedy was also presented.
A substitute by the Rev. Larry Ball, Presbytery Stated Clerk, was adopted, as follows:
Whereas, at the April Stated Meeting of Westminster Presbytery on April 11, 1999, Westminster Presbytery approved the dissolution of the "current Session giving oversight to the Wytheville work and approve(d) the appointment of TE Cortez Cooper and the elders (or their designees from the Session) of the Draper Valley Church as the Session to give oversight to the Wytheville work under the auspices of the MUS Committee"; and
Whereas, upon recommendation of the MNA Committee, Westminster Presbytery assigned the Christ Presbyterian Mission Church to the oversight of the Draper Valley Session, and according to testimony of members of the Mission Church, and unknown to Presbytery at the time, such recommendation for assignment was contrary to the desires of the members of the Christ Presbyterian Mission Church; and
Whereas, at a Called Meeting of Westminster Presbytery on May 11, 1999, the purpose of which was in part "to change the oversight of that work from the Draper Valley Session and the MNA (formerly MUS) Committee to another church within the bounds of this Presbytery", that Presbytery adopted a motion to "instruct the MNA Committee, in consultation with the Draper Valley Session, to reconsider as soon as possible, the assignment of the Wytheville Mission Church to the Draper Valley Session, giving consideration to the action of the members of the Wytheville Mission Church on 4/25/99, and bring a recommendation to Presbytery at the July Stated Meeting"; and
Whereas, at the request of all the members of Christ Presbyterian Mission Church in Wytheville, Virginia, the Session of the Trinity Presbyterian Church of Tazewell, Virginia, received them as members of the Trinity Church on reaffirmation of faith on June 2, 1999; and
Whereas, Westminster Presbytery recognizes that although the actions of the members of Christ Presbyterian Mission Church and the Trinity Session were taken on the basis of what they considered as good reasons, yet it is the position of Presbytery that their actions were premature and demonstrates a disregard for presbyterian polity. The matter of dissolution of the Mission Church and transfer of membership should have been brought to the Presbytery as the court of original jurisdiction, even though the members of the Christ Presbyterian Mission Church expressed disappointment with the cooperation of the MNA Committee; and
Whereas, Westminster Presbytery recognizes the principle inherent in BCO 25-11 that our relationship to one another as church bodies "is voluntary, based upon mutual love and confidence, and is in no sense to be maintained by the exercise of any force or coercion whatsoever"; and
Whereas, Westminster Presbytery recognizes the principle inherent in historic presbyterian polity that the members of a local body of believers have the right to participate in the choice of their own leadership; and
Whereas, there are genuine differences among us within the parameters of the Confession and Catechisms, challenging us to recognize our diversity within the bounds of the Confession and Catechisms, and challenging us to get beyond this particular issue for the sake of the unity of the Church and our witness before the world;
Therefore, in light of the desires and actions of the members of the Mission Church, Westminster Presbytery hereby dissolves the Christ Presbyterian Mission Church as being under the direct jurisdiction of Westminster Presbytery, effective today, and with such dissolution Westminster Presbytery ceases to be responsible for any direct oversight or financial support of the Mission Church.
Ruling Elders Charles Newland and Dave Parlier and Teaching Elders Ben Konopa, Jeff Fulford, and Jim Thornton recorded their negative votes on the adopted motion.
Mr. Queener, who has been serving as an intern at Westminster Presbyterian Church, Kingsport, Tennessee, was examined and approved for licensure. Presbytery noted his exception to the Confession and Catechisms regarding the relationship of the Sabbath and the Lord's Day, and his reservation about the classification of the Law into the three categories of moral, civil, and ceremonial. Presbytery approved his sermon with the exception "that it is the opinion of Presbytery that he (Mr. Queener) needs to be more cautious in his applications, specifically, how he imputes motives to the actions of other people." He was also instructed not to teach any exceptions taken to the Confessional Standards Standards.
During the meeting, Mr. Bill Carr was ordained by the Presbytery to be a missionary with Mission to the World, serving in South Africa.
Presbytery approved the call of the Trinity Presbyterian Church to Mr. Jim Reedy to be Associate Pastor; his particular responsibilities will be to serve as organizing pastor of the mission work in Wytheville, which is now under the direct oversight of the Session in Tazewell. The terms of call included compensation of $40,000, plus four weeks vacation.
Presbytery dissolved the pastoral relationship between Westminster Presbyterian Church, Johnson City, Tennessee, and the Rev. Rick Franks. He was dismissed to Southwest Florida Presbytery, pending receipt.
The Rev. Brent Bradley "made known to Presbytery his exception to the Confession of Faith since he had come to a different understanding of the Confession in regard to exclusive psalm singing in worship (Section 21-5). Mr. Bradley said that he could not assert the exclusive psalm singing position. Presbytery took note of his exception."