Miami, FL (July 15, 1997)-Kendall Presbyterian Church hosted the Summer Stated Meeting of Southern Florida Presbytery. TE Jan Sattem was unanimously elected Moderator.
TE Dominic Aquila presented the report of the Commission which handled the complaints from Jupiter Presbyterian Church Session and TE David Stockment regarding the failure of Presbytery to receive TE Dennis Slack from Great Lakes Presbytery. The complaints, which had been returned by the Standing Judicial Commission (SJC) of General Assembly for adjudication, were denied. Noted was the fact that, based upon Mr. Slack's resignation as Stated Supply at Jupiter, the Session had withdrawn its complaint "in the interest of the peace of the church of our Lord Jesus Christ."
Dr. Aquila also presented the report from the Session of Shenandoah Presbyterian Church, Miami. Founded by the late Dan Iverson in a dance hall, Shenandoah has found itself in a changing neighborhood. The Session reported that the church's membership peaked over thirty-five years ago; and that the congregation has "been on a generally slow decline ever since." The elders stated: "In the last ten years we have made several concentrated attempts to rebuild our congregation. We wanted to try and somehow reach out to our surrounding area using whatever methods of ministry proved successful. While these efforts may have increased the neighborhood's awareness of Shenandoah through our various ministries, for whatever reason, they did not come full circle in providing any significant number of new members that would support the church by their attendance and their givings. We had been blessed with resources from the past and during this time we used these resources in order to keep the level of ministry moving forward, but now those funds have been depleted.
"So here we are today in 1997, seventy years after we were established, with a congregation made up mostly of older members and several young families with children. In addition, we are faced with the reality that we simply can no longer afford to financially support a facility of our size, even without the services of a full-time pastor.
"In view of this situation, the congregation of Shenandoah took the following three actions in a meeting on June 22, 1997: (1) to place the church property on the market for sale; (2) to authorize the officers of the corporation to negotiate the terms of a sale in order to present the corporation with a recommendation; and (3) to authorize the officers of the corporation to secure information and take appropriate steps to plan for the establishing of a not-for-profit foundation into which the proceeds from the sale of the property may be placed for the purpose of perpetuating the gospel."
The document also says: "We want you to know, brothers, that thise entire process of considering our course of action has come about with much prayer and emotion as we realize the magnitude of these decisions. Some members did not want to take these actions; however, in spite of our differences, our commitment to the Lord's work and to each other remains strong. In a congregation where the average memmber has there 35 to 40 years, we have been truly blessed with people who love the Lord, love His church, and love each other.""
Presbytery voted to refer this Special Report from Shenandoah to the Minister and Church Relations Committee. The Committee is to report to Presbytery at a called meeting no later than September 15, 1997.
Presbytery approved the internships of the following interns: David Crandall, Philip W. Rich, and Joseph Vacchiano. Mr. Vacchiano was examined for ordination. He does not have a college degree, although he has completed a full seminary curriculum. Presbytery voted unanimously to waive the requirement of a bachelor's degree under the extraordinary clause. Presbyery approved a call to him as Assistant Minister of West Boca Presbyterian Church, Boca Raton, FL.
The following men were taken under care as ministerial candidates: Paul K. Manuel, Joseph C. Nestor, Hernando Saenz, Pablo H. Toledo, and Ray A. Trezona.
TE Phillip B. Binnie was transferred from Missouri Presbytery. He has been and remains a chaplain at the Miami Veterans Affairs Medical Center.
RE Stephen H. Fast was examined and licensed to preach. He has been called to be Ruling Elder Supply at his congregation, Jupiter Presbyterian. The call to Dr. Fast, who is a professor at Palm Beach Atlantic College, provides for $20,000 compensation and four weeks of vacation. Intern Edward L. Reed, Jr. was also licensed to preach. Both men took exception to the Confession of Faith, XXI.8, regarding "recreations" on the Sabbath.
Presbytery dissolved the pastoral relationship between TE David N. Beckmann and the Presbyterian Church of Botswain Bay. Presbytery asked TE Danny Levi, who will be going to Botswain Bay in the Cayman Islands for Vacation Bible School, to investigate "why a proper severance package was not offered to TE Beckmann and the condition of the church."
It was moved, seconded, and approved that TE Danny Levi be transferred to to Granada Presbyterian Church, Coral Gables, as Stated Supply with the understanding that his financial support will not change from his current package at Old Cutler Presbyterian Church, Miami.
TE Frank J. Erdman, Jr. has informed the Presbytery that he is leaving the gospel ministry to pursue a career in business and politics and is taking steps to join the Orthodox Church. In a May 14, 1997 letter, Mr. Erdman stated: "while in the pastorate in Anniston, Alabama, I became acquainted with the writings of a minister in the Reformed Episcopal Church whose theological beliefs were very similar to my own. Imagine my surprise when I later discovered that year that this minister had just converted to the Orthodox Church. Although I knew at that time nothing of the Orthodox Faith, I couldn't help but be perplexed at why he had done that, and so began to study the books that had been instrumental for him in leading him to the Orthodox Church.
"Those books, along with the testimonies of such men as the former Campus Crusade evangelist Peter Gilquist as well as that of Frank Schaefer, the son of the renowned Reformed theologian Francis Schaefer, enabled me to discover that the church I had been so eagerly in quest of no only existed, but was thriving just as Christ said it would when He said to Peter that He would build His Church and that not even the gates of hell would be able to stand against it."
[Mr. Erdman had last been employed by Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, Ft. Lauderdale. It is perhaps interesting to note that his wife's uncle, who had been a professor at Gordon College (MA), several years ago converted to Roman Catholicism.-Ed.]
The court voted to "begin the process to divest TE Erdman without censure as per BCO 38-2 and to erase his name from the roll as per BCO 38-3."
RE Daniel J. Domin, Stated Clerk
20821 Soneto Drive
Boca Raton, FL 33433