Columbia, SC (July 24, 1997)-The 55th Stated Sesion of Palmetto Presbytery has hosted by HIS International at Belk Auditorium on the campus of the University of South Carolina (USC). The Moderator, RE William A. Simoneau, called the meeting to order and presided.

Candidate Douglas A. Nystrom preached at the worship service on "The Minister's Diet" from Ezekiel 3:1-4. TE Richard Burguet and TE Gary Bainton administered the sacrament of the Lord's Supper.

TE Jim Hope led the Presbytery in prayer and presented the report of the Administration Committee. Presbytery commended the Stated Clerk, Mr. W. C. Plowden, Jr., and the Recording Clerk, Mrs. Becky Baston, for their good work in preparing the Minutes of Palmetto Presbytery.

The court voted to approve the report of the Commission to Install T.E. David Sinclair as Pastor of Lexington (SC) Presbyterian Church. The commission met on July 27th.

TE Tom Wood presented the report of the Mission to North America Committee. It was moved, seconded, and approved that "Church Essentials" be "adopted as the principal guidelines for the planting of churches within Palmetto Presbytery." Daryl Madi reported on the Reformed University Fellowship chapter which has now been re-established at USC.

TE Cameron Kirker presented the report of the Mission to the World Committee. TE Mark Long of Lexington reported on his recent missions trip. Missionary Candidate TE Jamie Gildard reported on his upcoming work as a missionary.

TE Bob Edmiston (North Georgia Presbytery), from the General Assembly Christian Education and Publications Committee, reported on the "Worship in Music" and "Celebrate the Child" programs which will be conducted at St. Andrews PCA, Columbia. It was also reported that a Bible conference will be held at Surfside PCA November 6th-9th, entitled "Worship That Pleases God . . . not Man."

Presbytery approved the call from Kingstree (SC) Presbyterian Church to TE John Gregory Farrell in the amount of $45,000. Mr. Farrell was later examined and received into Presbytery pending release by Calvary Presbytery.

With the approval by the Rose Hill PCA and Southeast PCA Sessions, Presbytery approved the merger of these two congregations. The church will now be known as Rose Hill with TE Richard Burguet, who has been pastor of Southeast, becoming Associate Pastor. [The latest denomination statistics reveal that Rose Hill had 117 total membership, and Southeast had 63.-Ed.]

Presbytery dissolved the pastoral relationship between TE Tom Musselman and Eastbridge PCA,

Mt. Pleasant, SC. The Presbytery voted that support for Mr. Musselman over the next three months will be supplied by the church; "if it becomes necessary to support T.E. Musselman further the amount of $3,000 per month for up to 3 months will come first from the Sheperding Committee's budget and then from the MNA Committee's budget (since T.E. Musselman was originally hired by the MNA Committee as a Church Planter)." This motion was approved by 2/3 majority vote.

RE Dan Ratchford led Presbytery in prayer for the life of Joe Spears, St. Andrews PCA, who died this morning, and for his wife, Frances.

TE Eric Perrin presented the report of the Ad Hoc Committee. It was moved and seconded by the Ad Hoc Committee "that the complaint of Mr. Donald Drinkwater be found out of order because Mr. Drinkwater has no legal standing to bring a complaint to Presbytery (BCO 43-1)." The motion was approved. The minutes then read as follows:

WHEREAS three Palmetto Presbytery Committees have investigated matters of alleged sin by T.E. James Hope and have arrived at similar conclusions; and

WHEREAS the last of these, the Ad Hoc Judicial Committee, conducted an investigation meeting with various interested parties in Aiken on March 10, 1997, and received numerous written documents which it considered; and

WHEREAS the Ad Hoc Committee recommended and Presbytery overwhelmingly concurred on April 24, 1997, to take no further action; and

WHEREAS that recommendation was made partly in belief that the Grace PCA congregation was at peace with this issue; and

WHEREAS there now appears to be continuing uneasiness on the part of some, and questions on the part of others that trouble the congregation and have begun to disturb the community; and

WHEREAS these questions have the capacity to be unfairly twisted to impugn the reputation of the congregation, Palmetto Presbytery, the Presbyterian Church in America and the name of the Lord Jesus Christ Himself; and

WHEREAS the immoral and improper behavior on the part of T.E. James Hope with a woman in the church is clearly sinful, though limited in its scope; and

WHEREAS the sinful behavior was stopped voluntarily and repented of by T.E. Hope more than one and one-half years ago; and

WHEREAS T.E. Hope brought the matter to Presbytery openly and voluntarily when the sin belatedly became known; and

WHEREAS T.E. Hope is evidently repentant and contrite and has pursued multiple steps to correct his sin and preclude its reappearance in his life, following the advice of the Session and the Ad Hoc Judicial Committee; and

WHEREAS the Session of Grace Church has thoroughly dealt with the matter, privately and before the congregation as well, including confession by T.E. Hope; and

WHEREAS T.E. Hope, in the interest of the peace of the congregation has resigned from his pulpit;

THEREFORE in order to lay the matter to rest, the Ad Hoc Judicial Committee moves Palmetto Presbytery to go beyond the actions of April 24, 1997, and

1) to consider this a case without process (BCO 38-1) and

2) to admonish T.E. Hope, "exhorting him to be more circumspect and watchful in the future" (BCO 30-2; 36-3; 38-1)

T.E. Jim Hope was admonished publicly by T.E. Rick Perrin, Chairman of the Ad Hoc Judicial Committee, using Hebrews 12 & Hebrews 13:4.

The Presbytery also authorized the Ad Hoc Committee to "respond to the complainant Mr. Drinkwater."

[Editor's Note: Ever since initially learning approximately six months ago about the matter recounted immediately above, we have agonized long and hard over how to report the story. It is a story about which the bulk of Palmetto Presbytery apparently knows very little. According to the information we have received, the Presbytery as a whole has never been made acquainted with the complaint and supporting documents; nor even with the fact that Mr. Drinkwater had written in a March 5, 1997, letter to Presbytery urging "the committees to take quick and decisive action in suspending Jim Hope from office." In the same letter, he wrote: "I urge the Palmetto Presbytery to discharge their disciplinary duties that the LORD has entrusted you to do." (It was the failure of Palmetto to entertain charges which led him to complain that non-action.) Certain disturbing aspects of the handling of this affair by Palmetto had led Potomac Presbytery to have a called meeting at General Assembly in Colorado Springs to see if the extraordinary action envisaged in BCO 34-1, that of two or more presbyteries asking the Assembly to assume original jurisdiction over a minister involved in scandal, needed to be taken. Potomac declined to do so, based primarily on the fact that a complaint had been filed against the April action by Palmetto-a complaint which, as noted above, the Presbytery has now thrown out. Although we are presently declining to publish the extensive material we have, we are willing to share it with any Presbytery which requests it of us.]

Mr. Mark A. Vivian was dismissed as a candidate to Missouri Presbytery. Mr. Jason Brewer's and Mr. John Olson's internships with Mullins (SC) Presbyterian Church were accepted as being completed. Messrs. R. Andrew Newell, Forest Jay Sikkema, Michael Walters and Joseph Parsons were examined and came under care as candidates for the ministry. Mr. Douglas A. Nystrom, who as a candidate of Philadelphia Presbytery had completed his internship under that court's supervision, was examined and approved for ordination as Assistant Pastor of Lexington (SC) Presbyterian Church. Presbytery approved his theological thesis, "Communion to the Sick Within the Bounds of the Westminster Confession of Faith." The call included a total salary package of $38,000.

RE W.C. Plowden, Jr., Stated Clerk

PO Box 1895, Columbia, SC 29202


[NOTE: This information about the Stated Clerk is provided as a courtesy to our readers, and does not necessarily imply that he was the direct source of the minutes upon which this report was based.-Ed.]

Columbia, SC (October 23, 1997)-Palmetto Presbytery met for its October Stated Meeting at Columbia International University (CIU). In the absence of the Moderator, RE William A. Simoneau, who was ill with a virus, Acting Moderator Rev. Rick Perrin called the meeting to order and presided over the meeting.

President Johnny Miller of CIU addressed the Presbytery. He said that he had a great respect for Presbyterians and he reminded the assembled elders that several of the pastors present were graduates of CIU. He also mentioned that several of the CIU faculty members were teaching elders in the PCA. Dr. Miller said that he had been converted under the ministry of the late Bruce Dunn [long-time pastor of Grace Presbyterian Church (PCA), Peoria, Ill.-Ed.]. Dr. Dunn continued to be his mentor during his seminary days at Dallas Theological Seminary. As a special order, a video was shown before lunch concerning the 75th anniversary of CIU.

Rev. H. R. (Pat) Patteson preached the morning sermon-the same sermon he had delivered at the First General Assembly of the PCA at Briarwood Church, Birmingham, in December 1973. Rev. David Sinclair of Lexington (SC) Presbyterian Church presided over the administration of the sacrament of the Lord's Supper.

Ministry time from 1:30 to 2:30 PM was especially important and challenging. Rev. John Kinser, organizing pastor of Lake Oconee Presbyterian Church in Central Georgia Presbytery, spoke on the importance of planting churches in small towns and rural areas and also revitalizing churches in these locales. He spoke from personal experience, having pastored a small church in the little town of Florala, Ala., and having helped lead the Milledgeville (GA) Presbyterian Church in revitalization. Lake Oconee is a resort and retirement community where he has been ministering since July 1996. After beginning public worship services early this year, he said that Sunday morning attendance is averaging more than forty. Three small groups are meeting, with two more such growth groups planned for the immediate future.

Kinser pointed out that we must intention to tell the gospel story week by week and extend freely the offer of the salvation in our preaching. "I have learned this from hearing and observing David Nicholas of Spanish River Church. We need to lead our congregations in sharing Christ in all of our relationships in the community," he said. He challenged us to have faith that God will bless us as we plant new churches to advance our Reformed faith. He said: "Personally, I have been shaken by the statistic of 19-20 churches per 10,000 people in the United States in 1900, [which] has declined to 12-14 churches in 1990." He said that he believed that we neglect small towns and rural areas in order to plant flagship churches in large cities. Kinser said that people in smaller populations areas need the gospel just as much as those in big population areas. He reminded us that the PCA began, with only a few exceptions, with small town and rural churches.

This reporter thought one of his most important points was that planting and revitalizing churches in small towns would also help solve the overage of pastors in our denomination. He asked, what will you pastors of large churches do, when your fourth or fifth teaching elder without charge and his family start to attend your church. The obvious answer is to find a place where a church really needs planting and, if they are qualified, let them go and start it. Pastor Kinser strongly recommended The Church Planter's Tooolkit (CMR Publishing, 1-800-253-4CRM) as an excellent resource.

The Candidates and Credentials Committee recommended that Timothy Haley be received as a candidate for the gospel ministry, and that an internship be established between him and Cornerstone Presbyterian Church, Columbia. It was also recommended that Jason Brewer be ordained to the ministry as Pastor of Mullins (SC) Presbyterian Church. It was further recommended that Andrew Kornreich be ordained to the ministry as Assistant Pastor of adult ministeries at Northeast Presbyterian Church, Columbia. All these recommendations were approved.

The Shepherding Committee reported that a teaching elder had left his wife and steps should now be taken to depose him from the ministry. That minister had been suspended from office in December 1994. The court approved the committee's recommmendation.

TE Robert Slimp, Correspondent

4636 Crystal Drive, Columbia, SC 29206-1011