St. Louis, Missouri (July 2, 1998)-The Presbyterian Church in America General Assembly voted today to erect a special committee to study the matter of creation. The action came in response to overtures from Central Carolina and Westminster Presbyteries.
The Bills and Overtures Committee had recommended, 13-11, to deny these overtures. But the Assembly substituted the minority report for the majority report by a vote of 521-371 (or a margin of 58.4% to 41.6%).
Presenting the minority report was last year's Moderator, RE Sam Duncan. In closing arguments, he noted that "there were almost no seats in the house" when the Standing Judicial Commission report germane to this matter was voted on yesterday. "It's an issue that's resonant in our denomination. And we need to talk about it. . . . to help this denomination come to a resolution. . . . Study committees have helped us in the past to retain our unity."
The original proposal was "to study the exegetical, hermeneutical, and theological interpretations of Genesis 1-3." Upon motion from the floor, the committee was also charged with examining "the original intent of the Westminster Standards' phrase 'in the space of six days.'" But an effort to add an inquiring into the original intent of the founders of the PCA, failed, overwhelmingly.
Usually study committees have no more than seven
members. The Assembly's rules were suspended by a greater than
2/3 vote so as to allow eleven members, who will be appointed
by the Moderator.
St. Louis, Missouri (July 2, 1998)-Without opposition,
Dr. Roy Taylor was elected as Stated Clerk of the General Assembly
of the PCA. He will assume his new duties after adjournment of
the 26th Assembly.
St. Louis, Missouri (July 1, 1998)-Dr. Morton H. Smith, the initial Stated Clerk of the Presbyterian Church in America, preached this evening on remaining faithful to the Reformed faith. His sermon was part of a special worship celebration held in conjunction with the 25th anniversary observation of the denomination.
Dr. Smith, who is currently Dean at Greenville (SC)
Presbyterian Theological Seminary, rang the changes on basic Reformed
theology, including such doctrines as God's sovereign election
and limited atonement. He also touched on the importance of the
Law of God, including the 2nd Commandment (and the limitation
of practices of worship to those items prescribed in Scripture)
and the 4th Commandment. With respect to the Sabbath, Dr. Smith
expressed concern over men who took exception to the Confessional
teaching. Reading from Isaiah 58:13-14, the professor stated
that he was concerned that ordinands were disagreeing not simply
with the doctrinal standards, but with the Word of God.
St. Louis, Missouri (July 1, 1998)-A dispute between Mission to the World and Administrative Committee over the use of the denominational office building appears to be headed toward resolution. The controversy has arisen over MTW's reduction of office space at 1852 Century Place in Atlanta with a prospective reduction of rent payments.
Among the concerns raised by MTW were "the growing difficulty of Atlanta's traffic commute" and the "[r]eduction of overhead cost." MTW took umbrage that it had "not been given 'its day in court.' . . . The present system establishes rent without any input from the agencies, which must pay the rent."
The court adopted the following motion: "That
the Capital Building Fund Committee and the Administrative Committee
meet and develop an amicable solution to the request of MTW to
vacate space in the PCA office building between now and the end
of 1998 with all rents paid. Further, MTW will not decrease its
space (as of June 30, 1998) any further until the aforementioned
resolution to the problem is resolved." MTW Coordinator
Paul Kooistra indicated his support for this motion and that the
parties were committed to working things out.
St. Louis, Missouri (July 1, 1998)-With no debate, the Presbyterian Church in America General Assembly voted to suspend the Christian Reformed Church from membership in the North American Presbyterian and Reformed Council (NAPARC). The action follows on the approval of the same measure by the major assemblies of the other NAPARC churches, whose action already guaranteed that the CRC would indeed be suspended from the ecumenical body.
Several fraternal delegates and official observers addressed the 26th PCA General Assembly. Representing the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church was Dr. John Carson, new President of Erskine Theological Seminary. He stated that he had watched the birth and growth of the PCA. "It's been with great joy that I have seen your growth in Christ." He spoke of the increasingly Reformed position of his denomination, and suggested that his induction into the presidency of his church's seminary "may be a final indication of the direction of the ARP."
Rev. Mark Herrington of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church stated: "My brothers and I in the OPC do celebrate with you. . . . We bring you genuine fraternal greetings. . . . We do want to see the unity of the church of the Lord Jesus Christ. . . . I believe that you and I love the same things that are important."
Rev. Chung Il Cho of the Korean American Presbyterian Church spoke of the KAPC's recent 22nd General Assembly in Los Angeles. The increase of bi-lingual congregations and younger leaders replacing older were mentioned as significant phenomena.
Dr. Ed Davis, Stated Clerk of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, addressed the court as an observer. He began: "Having been a Clerk for 18 years, I know what it's like to watch the docket and listen to fraternal delegates." He stated: "We trust that the partnership we continue to hammer out will first and foremost be a partnership in Christ, and only secondarily organizationally." The PCA has on several occasions declined to enter into close fraternal relations with the EPC, a denomination which ordains women to all ecclesiastical offices.
Rev. Jerome Julien of the newly-established United Reformed Churches of North America also spoke to the Assembly. The URCNA's approximately 60 churches and 15,000 members are mostly recent seceders from the Christian Reformed Church. "The hurts are there, the scars are there," said Mr. Julien. "The Reformation continues, because we must always be reformed by God's Word. . . . We ask you that, as an older sibling in the Reformed tradition, with a similar history, you will teach us."
Several representatives of the Synod of the Nile
were recognized; and Rev. Safwat el Bayyadi, Chairman of the Protestant
Council in Egypt, brought greetings from this historic Presbyterian
church. "We are looking forward to sisterhood," he
declared; and he presented to the Assembly a golden medallion
from his church. A representative from each of two Korean denominations
were granted the opportunity to speak, as was Rev. Scott Lindsay
of the Presbyterian Church of Australia.
*"I don't think this Assembly has ever voted down an effort to refer back."-Kennedy Smartt.
*"Is it allowable to take less than 30 minutes?" "It is certainly allowable, Mr. Moderator-but I wouldn't take odds on it."-John White.
*"For some reason, I'm being called off the floor-it may be by unanimous consent."-David Coffin. "I was wondering if we could continue if Mr. Coffin is off the floor."-Fred Schumpert.
*"Those who would favor the motion raise your yellow cards. . . . Those opposed lower them."-Kennedy Smartt.
*"One brief point, so I can confess my sins."-David Coffin. "We'll have to extend time."-Sam Duncan.
*"I wish you weren't so logical. . . . I will demonstrate my consistency by agreeing with Mr. Coffin's logic."-Kennedy Smartt.
*"Do you know where the [$12,000] is coming from?" "The Lord will provide."-John Owen Butler.