James River

Fall Stated Meeting

James River Presbytery met for its Fall Stated Meeting at Trinity Presbyterian Church, Charlottesville, Virginia, on October 9, 1999. Host pastor John Hall preached from Revelation 5 and administered the sacrament of communion. The Rev. Paul Carter of Lexington, Virginia, was elected Moderator.

The Treasurer's Report revealed that the Presbytery had a beginning balance (January 1, 1999) of $28,923.44, and an ending balance (September 30, 1999) of $40,564.59.

Mr. John Lindsay was transferred as a ministerial candidate from Eastern Carolina Presbytery. He has accepted an internship position at West Hopewell Presbyterian Church, Hopewell, Virginia. The Presbytery voted to inform the congregation and Mr. Lindsay of the irregularity of his having assumed a position there without being licensed or ordained. The Presbytery instructed the church and the candidate that until he sustain a licensure examination, he should not preach regularly. The Presbytery also voted to allow Mr. Lindsay to fill the pulpit at West Hopewell "under the supervision of his internship supervisor, submitting to him each week the outline and point of his sermon." Presbytery voted to hold a called meeting within six weeks in order to examine Mr. Lindsay for licensure, and to consider the call of a pastor by Centralia Presbyterian Church, if a call has been made and if the Ministerial and Church Relations Committee asks to place the matter on docket.

Mr. David Bentz was examined and approved for licensure. The sermon he preached for this licensure exam was on justification, based on Romans 5. His internship was also approved.

Reports were received from the ministerial candidates and the licentiates of the Presbytery.

Messrs. Charles Bussada and Richard Gordon were removed from the roll of ministerial candidates.

Mr. Bret Carl was examined to be ordained as Assistant Pastor at Westminster Reformed Presbyterian Church, Suffolk, Virginia. He preached from I Corinthians 15:9, Ephesians 3:7-8, and I Timothy 1:15 on the Christian life. Presbytery voted that Mr. Carl continue to study the doctrine of the Sabbath with the Committee, especially such aspects as: (1) the Sabbath as a creation ordinance (Confession of Faith, XXI.7), (2) the Sabbath as perpetually binding on all men in all ages (Confession of Faith XXI.7), and (3) the Sabbath as binding on Christians today. He is to be brought back for examination "when he is prepared to state clearly whether or not he accepts the positions of the Confession of Faith and further that he continue to study the relationship of justification and sanctification with particular attention to the role of justification in sanctification and the role of faith in the sanctification process."

The Rev. Mr. John Crimmins, without call, was examined for transfer from Southern Florida Presbytery. He noted two exceptions and one reservation to the Constitution. (1) He believes that God created everything in six days, but not necessarily six twenty-four hour periods. (2) He does not believe that there is any new revelation and he does not believe that the exercise of spiritual gifts will result in new revelation, but he is not a secessionist with regard to the extraordinary spiritual gifts. His reservation concerns proper observance of the Sabbath. He believes he can take his wife out to dinner or play tennis with his son on the Sabbath and still honor the Lord. The matter of Mr. Crimmins' views was sent back to the Committee and brought back to the Presbytery "with a view to a clearer presentation of his views on the continuation of tongues and prophecy in relation to the doctrinal standards." His examination was suspended until the next stated meeting of Presbytery when he will be re-examined in theology.

The Rev. Ruffin Alfin introduced Miss Jill DeVerer, who has served on four separate one-year missionary terms with MTW to Ukraine. She is seeking to become a full-time missionary there as part of a church planting team. The Rev. Pete Hurst introduced Mr. Vance Brown, who is an approved MTW candidate to work in Ukraine. He has taught English there and wishes to go back to continue.

Presbytery approved the report of a judicial commission, handling an appeal from West End Presbyterian Church. The commission ruled that it lacked jurisdiction to decide the first three issues raised, namely: (1) Did the notification and trial procedures in June 1998 conform with BCO 32-3? (2) With respect to the defendant's membership at West End, did the Session err in rejecting his request to proceed under BCO 38-4 ("Cases Without Process") by trying him instead, finding him guilty as charged, and inflicting censures? (3) With respect to his holding the office of deacon, did the Session err in rejecting his request to proceed under BCO 24-8 (allowing for resignation from office) by trying him instead, finding him guilty as charged, and inflicting censures? The court accordingly lifted the suspension of those judgments. However, with respect to the fourth issue, the court ruled that the Session did err by proceeding to excommunicate the defendant; and that censure was reversed.

Presbytery amended its Bylaws to restructure two of its committees. The Church Vocations Committee is now named Candidates and Credentials, and will handle all the examinations, the interns, and the men under care. The Ministerial & Church Relations Committee will focus on shepherding the churches.

A budget of $43,7000 was adopted for the year 2000. This includes $10,000 for Reformed University Ministries at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville.

Presbytery received and approved a petition from Grace Community Church, Charlottesville, for organization. The organizational service was scheduled for December 5, 1999.

Called Meeting

A called meeting of James River Presbytery was held at Centralia Presbyterian Church, Chester, Virginia, on November 20, 1999. The court licensed Mr. John Lindsay, who has been called to fill the pulpit at West Hopewell Presbyterian Church, Hopewell, Virginia. Mr. Lindsay stated his opposition, based on his understanding of Scripture, to creation in the space of six literal days. He also opined that "the authors of the confession [Westminster Confession of Faith] did not intend for the phrase 'in the space of six days' to be understood as necessarily denoting six solar days."