Regional Church News – October 2020

Regional Church News – October 2020

The Presbytery of the Southeast met on October 16-17, 2020 for its fall stated meeting. A presbytery meeting is a meeting of the regional church–a gracious meeting of Christ with His people, as He works through His servants, the ministers and elders of the local churches in a particular geographic region. Our presbytery has churches in the states of Virginia, North and South Carolina, Georgia, Kentucky, and Tennessee.

The meeting opened with a worship service, during which our stated clerk, Rev. Ken Montgomery, preached from Matt. 5:13: “You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt loses its flavor, how shall it be seasoned? It is then good for nothing but to be thrown out and trampled underfoot by men.” Mr. Montgomery exhorted us to see our role in this world as that of introducing the flavor and seasoning of heaven into a world that is without flavor or taste.

Several men were examined by the presbytery at various stages in the process toward ordination to Gospel ministry. Nick Thompson, a graduate of Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary (PRTS) in Grand Rapids, MI, was examined in preaching and theology. Mr. Thompson preached a wonderful and providentially timely sermon on humility from Prov. 3:33-34. He reminded the ministers and elders present that “Pride is your number one enemy.” He went on to define humility as “a downward disposition produced by a Godward self-perception.” As the soul grows upward in the fear of God, it grows downward in the spiritual fruit of humility. The remedy for pride is Christ and the Gospel, which Mr. Thompson unfolded beautifully and applied to our hearts in the power and demonstration of the Spirit. I spoke to several men afterward about this sermon, and none could remember the sense of hearing the voice of Christ so palpably in the preaching of the Word at a presbytery meeting. Keep in mind that Mr. Thompson was (at that point) an unordained man preaching to ministers and elders of Christ’s church!

Mr. Thompson’s preaching and theology exams were sustained, and he will be ordained and installed as pastor of Cornerstone OPC in Chattanooga, TN. The presbytery also licensed Jeremiah Mooney and brought a number of other men under its care.

Following examinations of theological candidates, the presbytery moved on to another important matter. At the April stated meeting, a committee was formed to investigate an online theology forum called Genevan Commons (GC) and some public complaints regarding some men in the presbytery who had been involved in that forum. The committee was composed of four ministers (of which I was one) and one ruling elder. It produced a report, with recommendations, two of which were adopted. First, the presbytery decided to erect a committee to contemplate charges against a minister under its jurisdiction for the manner he has conducted himself online, in his preaching, and in his writings. Second, the presbytery decided to petition another presbytery to study the writings of a member of one of its churches.

After the Genevan Commons report, the presbytery heard from the Judicial Matters Committee, which had received charges against two ministers in the presbytery. The charges were discussed, and it was decided that in the case of the charges against one of the ministers (the same minister mentioned above), the charges were in order and the presbytery could begin the process of adjudicating those charges. This does not mean the minister has been found guilty of any wrongdoing, but rather, that the presbytery determined there is sufficient reason to move ahead with a trial. The charges against the second minister were not determined to be in order.

The presbytery also heard reports from the other standing committees. Rev. Lacy Andrews gave a report for the Home Missions Committee on his church planting work as Regional Home Missionary. The presbytery is currently supporting 7 new mission works: Neon Reformed in Neon, KY; Harvest Presbyterian in Winston-Salem, NC; a refugee ministry in Clarkston, GA; Heritage Presbyterian in Wilmington, NC; Peninsula Reformed (our daughter congregation) in Yorktown, VA; Landis Presbyterian in Marion, NC; and Covenant Presbyterian in Bluffton, SC. In addition, there are three possible church planting opportunities currently being explored by the Home Missions Committee. It goes without saying that Lacy Andrews is a busy man and we should remember him often in our prayers! The Home Missions budget of $168,550 for 2021 was approved.

One other item I should mention is that I was asked by the presbytery to serve on the Home Missions Committee, which I am honored to do and very excited about.

We heard a report from the Foreign Missions Committee, in which we were asked to remember our brothers and sisters in Ethiopia. Dr. Tony Curto, who served for years as a missionary to Uganda, and has extensive relationships in Ethiopia, has been trying to get back into that country for years, but has been unable to do so. Those efforts have been hindered even further by COVID-19. We also learned that one of our missionary families, which had been separated for a time because of COVID-19 restrictions, has now been reunited. Praise the Lord for that mercy in the midst of so much distress!

The presbytery also elected a new moderator at this meeting, Rev. Boyd Miller, who serves as the pastor of Covenant Presbyterian Church in LaGrange, GA. He served the presbytery well during a long and difficult meeting.

At the end of every presbytery meeting, a resolution of thanks is drafted to express appreciation to the host congregation for its hospitality. I had the privilege of drafting that resolution, which reads:

To the congregation of Christ Orthodox Presbyterian Church in Marietta, Georgia,

Your love for Christ and His church was to us a savor of heaven and a foretaste of the life of the world to come. We came with hungry souls and hungry stomachs and we were filled with an abundance of food for both. You were to us the very salt of the earth, for we found that you not only opened your church building to us, but your hearts as well. We saw in your gracious and selfless service a heaven-drawn picture of that spiritual fruit of humility, that “downward disposition produced by a Godward self-perception” which we had heard of in the preaching of the Word. You showed us what it means to live the “salt life” even very far from the beach.

We give thanks to the Father through our Lord Jesus Christ for the work of His Spirit in you, and for His kindness in allowing us to celebrate twenty years of our life as a regional church with a congregation that bears the name of Christ not only in word, but in deed and in truth. May you continue to be both salt and light until the great day of His return.

With our warmest affection, extended together with the “fist bump” of fellowship,

The Presbytery of the Southeast

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