Aliquippa, PA (January 25, 1997)_The winter stated meeting of the Presbytery of the Ascension was hosted by New Life Presbyterian Church. Outgoing moderator, RE Kenneth Peterson, led in worship. Using the text from Revelation 3:14-22, he exhorted all, but especially ruling elders, to be faithful in their participation in the courts of the church. Citing the statistics of attendance at past General Assemblies, their neglect and need for repentance were underscored. Following worship, the gavel was handed over to the new moderator, TE Leon Ben-Ezra.
The Ministerial Relations Committee came with a recommendation to approve the change in status of MTW missionary James Kobb from an active service to leave of absence. This was coupled with the recommendation to approve a call to TE Kobb from the Cleveland Korean Church of the Korean Presbyterian Church in America (not connected with PCA). Presbytery policy states that: "As a matter of ordinary procedure, we recommend that the Presbytery not approve such calls." This policy also provides that presbytery may "approve such a call only if [Presbytery] believes that the interests of the church at large, the PCA, the particular church, and the teaching elder will be advanced."
The MR Committee gave reasons why they thought this call met the criteria. The Cleveland Korean Church has called TE Kobb to be the pastor of an English-speaking ministry in the church primarily as the result of a two-fold vision. First, this church desires to provide an effective ministry to second-generation Koreans whose first language is English, but whose culture is still tied to their Korean roots. Second, the Cleveland Korean Church recognizes its responsibility to spread the gospel beyond the boundaries of the Korean ethnic community. Therefore, it desires to have an English-speaking ministry that will reach out, not only to second-generation Koreans, but to those of other ethnic backgrounds as well. It is the hope of this church that the day might come when this ministry would result in the birth of another conservative Presbyterian church. Pastor Kobb served as a foreign missionary in South Korea since 1981, and his knowledge of the Korean language and culture should enable him to minister effectively to second-generation Koreans. The call was approved.
Another major item before the presbytery also concerned the Cleveland area. A motion was taken from the table in which the MNA Committee had recommended approving a petition from a core group in Cleveland requesting permission to plant a PCA church but to do so under Great Lakes Presbytery, which takes in parts of Ohio, Michigan, Indiana and Kentucky. In addition to not being persuaded of the validity of the reasons for the request, some presbyters were troubled by the fact that the leaders in the Cleveland group apparently have the belief that the Presbytery of the Ascension has a negative reputation. This sentiment seemed to be the driving force in the Cleveland group's request. Some were also concerned about the status of planned multiple church plants from this "flagship" church, as well as whether there was even a constitutional basis for permitting other presbyteries to plant churches within the bounds of another presbytery. Before going into executive session, Bruce Wells, representing the Cleveland group, was asked what they were likely to do if Presbytery voted down their petition. He replied that they might try to take it to General Assembly. After considerable debate, the petition was defeated by what appeared to be about a 2 to 1 margin. After this vote, it was reported that Mr. Wells indicated that there was no likelihood that the group would become a mission work of Ascension Presbytery. The MNA Committee had a subsequent recommendation that we enter into discussions with Great Lakes and Pittsburgh Presbyteries about the desirability and feasibility of creating an Ohio Presbytery. That motion passed.
In other business, members were chosen for some of the General Assembly Committees of Commissioners. Presbytery committees met briefly to organize for the coming year. TE Daniel P. Kerley was dismissed to Central Florida Presbytery. A presentation was given on MTW's Estate and Gift Design Service. Plans for a Round Robin Missionary Conference in the Spring were announced. The next stated meeting will be at Christ Presbyterian Church in Beaver Falls.
Dr. Carl W. Bogue, Correspondent
2540 S. Main Street
Akron, OH 44319-1137
RE Frederick R. (Jay) Neikirk
P.O. Box 129, Volant, PA 16156
[CORRECTION: TE John Smed, who was quoted in our last issue regarding the petition from the Cleveland group to the effect that Ascension Presbytery had a reputation that it needed to live down, took exception to the way his remarks were presented. According to Mr. Smed, he was actually trying to be conciliatory by empathizing with a presbytery which, like the MNA Committee, whether rightly or wrongly, has not always enjoyed a favorable reputation.]