Central Carolina

The 79th Stated Meeting of Central Carolina Presbytery was hosted by First Presbyterian Church, Ellerbe, North Carolina, on October 23, 1999. The Rev. James Watson preached from Acts 11, "When is a Church Christian?" The Moderator, Ruling Elder George James, presided over the meeting.

In executive session, the court approved the report of two judicial commissions. First, the judgment in the case of Presbyterian Church in America vs. Dr. Robert Shive was sustained, and his appeal from his excommunication by Christ Covenant Church, Matthews, North Carolina was denied. Then, the judgment by the Back Creek Judicial Commission was approved. This commission dealt with several complaints which arose because of embezzlement by the church treasurer, and the alleged failure of the Session of Back Creek Presbyterian Church to deal adequately with the man. Among the commission's determinations were that the Session had clearly erred when it approved the treasurer's "Repenting and Restitution Agreement." For example, his statement in the Agreement "that he 'mishandled church funds' contradicts his guilty plea to specific acts of stealing church funds as enumerated in the indictment. His assertion that he gave a false report of church funds by not using proper accounting methods contradicts his plea of guilty to specific acts of issuing false documents and specific acts of falsifying records." The commission wrote that the wording by the treasurer's admissions in the Agreement "lead us to conclude that he is admitting only to inability or negligence in his duties as treasurer and not to intentional acts of wrongdoing. This is completely contradictory to his plea of guilty to intentional acts of wrongdoing as charged in the indictment. . . ." The commission ruled that the Session's acceptance of the Agreement was "null and void." The commission also ruled that the Session erred when it cancelled a full audit of the financial books. And, the commission deferred to the lower court which saw fit not to impose suspension from the sacraments upon the treasurer.

Out of executive session, the Presbytery approved the report of the South Point Commission. The court approved the recommendation that the South Point Mission, Gastonia, North Carolina, be closed and that its assets be used for church planting and renewal. Presbytery thanked the pastors and elders of First Presbyterian Church, Stanley, North Carolina, for their revitalization efforts and commitment to the South Point Mission.

As a second reading, the Presbytery approved the following amendment to its Manual, with regard to the Credentials Committee: "When a man 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 organization of Sovereign Grace Mission and Hope Mission as particular churches. The matter of ending the church planting apprenticeship of the Rev. Phillip Nelson was referred back to the Mission to North America Committee and his support was continued at the $1000/month level through January 2000.

Presbytery received Mr. Christopher A. Faria as an ordained minister from the Independent Fundamental Church of America (IFCA). His Th. M. degree is from Dallas Theological Seminary. He was granted permission to labor as a chaplain in the U. S. Army.

Mr. Joe Laird was removed from the roll of candidates, as he is under the discipline of his session and by his own admission unable to return to that church and perform the necessary conditions for restoration as outlined by that session. Mr. Kris Decker was transferred as a ministerial candidate from the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, and Mr. Mike Kuhn was received as a candidate. Both are members of Christ Covenant Church, Matthews. Presbytery established an internship for each of these men at Christ Covenant.

Mr. Clint Dowda was examined and licensed to preach. He stated one exception to the Westminster Standards, with regard to the Sabbath. He stated: "I affirm the abiding normativity of the fourth commandment. I affirm that it should be devoted to worship, mercy, necessity and rest. I do attempt to honor the day uniquely as a day of rest and worship. I do attempt to remember the Christian Sabbath and keep it holy. I take exception only to the prohibition against recreation as found in 21:8 (WSC 60; WLC 117). I believe that there is freedom of conscience for how the day can be observed that is impinged upon by the prohibition against recreation. My concern is that the definition of what 'worldly recreation' is must be different for different people in different places. I agree that the church can provide some guidelines. But that it must not legislate what individuals and families do on the Christian Sabbath. If recreation would contribute positively to worship, mercy, necessity and rest, then I would not oppose it, as long as my session concurred." On the vote to sustain his licensure exam, the Rev. Mike Ericson asked that his abstention be recorded.

Presbytery voted to lift the suspension of the Rev. Danny Van Zant, upon his demonstration of sincere repentance. Presbytery dissolved the pastoral relationship between Christ Covenant Church and the Rev. Jerry Currin, and voted to approve the call to him by North Hills Presbyterian Church, Salisbury, North Carolina, to be the pastor. Presbytery dissolved the pastoral relationship between the Rev. Randy Edwards and Redeemer Presbyterian Church, Winston-Salem, North Carolina, and approved his call from Grace Presbyterian Church, Kernersville, North Carolina, to be assistant pastor. Presbytery dissolved the pastoral relationship between Redeemer Church and the Rev. Rick Downs, who was called to be senior pastor of Christ the King Presbyterian Church, Cambridge, Massachusetts. And, the pastoral relationship between the Rev. Scott Willet and Bible Presbyterian Church, Concord, North Carolina, was dissolved, as he accepted a call to an Orthodox Presbyterian Church in Virginia.