The report of the Mission to the World (MTW) Committee to this year's General Assembly defends the MTW mission team in Madrid, Spain. In doing so, it also speaks disparagingly of the questions that have continued to be raised from across the church.
The report reads: "We continue to field questions concerning our church plant in Madrid, Spain. We have faithfully worked through three presbyteries concerning this matter. MTW has been acting in a Presbyterian manner. We have received countless assurances from the team leader that his intentions are to build a Reformed church in Madrid, and a second missionary in Madrid also assures us this is the case. We have made three on-site inspections of the situation, have heard the testimonies of these two missionaries, and have corroborated their testimonies. We have then acted to protect them and their ministry. Our protection of them is also part of the Presbyterian system--which exists to protect the truth, to protect the will of the majority, and also to protect the rights of individuals. We disapprove of the letters and rumors which have been passed around, put on the Internet, and published in news reports. We believe that we have handled this matter in a responsible manner."
The situation regarding the church planting team in the Spanish capital became public in 1994 when two MTW missionaries contended that they were being threatened with removal from the field because of their opposition to the strategy set in motion by the team leader, TE Tom Courtney. According to TE Jack Campbell and TE Tito Padilla, Courtney was opposed to the public practice of infant baptism in the budding mission church in Madrid. The MTW Committee put a stop to this strategy when it was presented to the committtee in October 1994. Nevertheless, frictions continued; and, despite the offer of Dr. Paul Kooistra to be Campbell's team leader from his Atlanta office, Campbell resigned in 1995 from MTW, preferring to work with a new organization called Reformed Ministry International (RMI). Founded by former MTW missionary TE Richard "Pete" Crews, RMI has supported Campbell in his work in planting a church in Spain's capital city.
The first issue (Spring 1995) of this publication, then known as PCA News, covered this story by publishing a lengthy document by Campbell and Padilla which had been presented to their respective presbyteries (Calvary and Potomac); by talking with several men from South Carolina who had been involved in the inquiry by Calvary Presbytery; and by interviewing Dr. Kooistra. At the close of the article on the MTW Coordinator, we stated: "Kooistra admitted that mistakes were made in this situation by MTW. He also confessed that he is not perfect and that he would make mistakes in the future. But he is not deterred from his goal to see the spread of the Reformed faith through the efforts of the PCA's foreign missions arm. An article of his in an MTW publication recently was entitled, 'Missions with a Capital "R"'-- and that stands for 'Reformed.'"
For that initial issue, we had tried to reach Mr. Courtney by telephone, first in Spain and then in Switzerland, but had been unable to do so. In the Summer 1995 issue, we reported that he declined to be interviewed on the matter; and that he complained about the distorted perspective which, in his opinion, had been represented in this publication. Since that time, this publication has not published anything concerning the controversy.
To what news reports this year's MTW report is referring is not immediately clear. A number of people on the MTW Committee pleaded ignorance regarding the paragraph cited above. TE's Tom Cheely, Dan Faber, Dr. Addison Soltau, and Gene Craven (who is the Committee Secretary) said that, with regard to the report they
adopted, they did not know what news reports were intended. Similarly mystified was RE J. Olin Coleman, who was not sure that the Committee had not even adopted the report. (In point of fact, the report was properly adopted.) TE Dr. D. Clair Davis was not able to attend the Committee meeting, as he was out of the country, and therefore he did not know, either.
This news agency kept on being referred to the MTW staff in Atlanta, especially Dr. Kooistra and John Rollo. However, both men were unavailable for comment, as they were out of the country.