Friday, June 20, 2008

20 June 2008 Special Edition

Presbyterians Week - Special Edition

2008 GA, Synod, and Denominational Meetings

[1] PCA General Assembly Rejects Deaconess Study Committee
[2] Three Challenge PCUSA Stated Clerk Committee Nominee Gradye Parsons
[3] CRCNA Synod Changes Name of The Back to God Hour
[4] Synod of the West of the Presbyterian Church of Nigeria Decries Rising Corruption, Crime
[5] RCA has 'Turned the Page' on Declining Numbers, Synod Speaker Says
[6] SBC Elects Johnny Hunt President

[1] PCA General Assembly Rejects Deaconess Study Committee

On 11 June, the Presbyterian Church in America’s (PCA) General Assembly (GA) voted to reject an overture that recommended forming a study committee to discuss the issue of women deacons.

“This is not a new area of study,” said Fred Greco, who served as the chair of the Overtures Committee (OC), which recommended that the GA dismiss the deaconess overture. “There is plenty of existing material on the subject, and our Book of Church Order is clear [that ordained church officers are to be men].”

Greco also expressed concern that further study of this issue would polarize advocates on either side—causing deepening division in the church.

“We have to listen to one another,” said Bryan Chapell, who serves as president of Covenant Theological Seminary and who presented the minority report. “We have to be willing to talk about difficult things without fear of demoralizing the church. We must get people together in the same room to talk about [difficult issues] in an atmosphere that’s not highly charged.”

The minority report recommended that a committee comprised of theologians on both sides of the issue—including Tim Keller, Phil Ryken, Ligon Duncan, and Jimmy Agan—meet together over the coming year to come to a Scriptural understanding of deaconesses.

In the end, a majority voted to follow the recommendation of the OC to answer in the negative Overture 9 (submitted by the Philadelphia Presbytery, recommended that the GA “erect a study committee on deaconesses”).

+ Presbyterian Church in America, 1700 North Brown Road, Suite 105, Lawrenceville, Georgia 30043, 678-825-1000, Fax: 678-825-1001,

+ byFaith Online, 1700 North Brown Road, Suite 105, Lawrenceville, Georgia 30043, 678-825-1005

[2] Three Challenge PCUSA Stated Clerk Committee Nominee Gradye Parsons

Jerry L. Van Marter reports that three challengers have stepped forward to stand for stated clerk of the Presbyterian Church (PCUSA) General Assembly (GA) against the Stated Clerk Nominating Committee’s choice, the Reverend Grayde Parsons.

One of the four will succeed the Reverend Clifton Kirkpatrick — who declined to seek a fourth four-year term. The election will take place 27 June during the upcoming 218th PCUSA General Assembly in San Jose, California. Nominations for stated clerk will formally be made on the second day of the Assembly, Sunday 22 June.

The candidates standing against Parsons — who as Director of Operations for the Office of the GA has for the past eight years served as one of Kirkpatrick’s top deputies — are the Reverends Edward H. Koster, stated clerk of Detroit Presbytery; the Winfield “Casey” Jones, pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Pearland, Texas; and William P. Tarbell, pastor of Saluda, South Carolina Presbyterian Church.

Information on the candidates for GA stated clerk is available in the 2008 Stated Clerk Candidates Handbook.

+ Presbyterian Church (PCUSA), 100 Witherspoon Street, Louisville, Kentucky 40202, 888-728-7228, Fax: 502-569-8005

+ Presbyterian News Service, 100 Witherspoon Street, Louisville, Kentucky 40202, 888-728-7228 x5493

[3] CRCNA Synod Changes Name of The Back to God Hour

On 17 June, the Christian Reformed Church in North America (CRCNA) Synod 2008 approved changing the name of The Back to God Hour, the media outreach ministry of the CRCNA, to Back to God Ministries International.

The change brings the name more in line with the actual work that the CRCNA agency does in countries around the world, said Reverend Robert Heerspink, the agency’s director.

Speaking to delegates before the vote, Heerspink said the The Back to God Hour name goes back nearly 70 years when the ministry consisted of one radio program on a station in Chicago.

“The identification of the entire ministry with the single English-language broadcast has impeded the agency’s ability to communicate its full mission and vision,” Heerspink said.

“This difficulty especially relates to the word ‘hour’ in the present name,” says the report of the advisory committee that recommended the name change to synod.

Additionally, on Monday night 15 June, delegates meeting at Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, declared 48 men and five women to be candidates for ministry of the Word in the CRCNA.

Synod discussed the issue of churches holding a second service on Sunday evenings, highlighting an ongoing debate about how congregations should do ministry in various contemporary settings.

On Saturday 14 June, the Reverend Thea Leunk, pastor of Eastern Avenue Christian Reformed Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan, made CRCNA history when she was elected as the first woman vice president of a Synod meeting.

+ Christian Reformed Church in North America, 2850 Kalamazoo Avenue Southeast, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49560, 616-241-1691, Fax: 616-224-0803,

+, 339 East Liberty Street, Suite 210, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48104, 734-997-7083

[4] Synod of the West of the Presbyterian Church of Nigeria Decries Rising Corruption, Crime

Synod of the West of the Presbyterian Church of Nigeria has lamented the high level of crime, violence and corruption in Nigeria in spite of the proliferation of churches.

It attributed this to the collapse of religious, social and moral values in the face of poverty and mass unemployment.

Rising from its 13th Annual Synod meeting held at its Divine Parish, Lome, the Republic of Togo, the Synod called on all religious organizations to pay more attention to the teaching of religious values in order to reduce to the barest minimum, incidents of crime, violence, corruption and indiscipline.

The Synod expressed concern over the worsening situation in the Niger Delta vis-à-vis the kidnapping of toddlers, women and workers and appealed to the people of the area to embrace the culture of dialogue in addressing and resolving their issues. On the part of government, the Synod called for the immediate implementation of the Niger Delta Development Master Plan to reduce the tension in the area.

The Synod of the West comprises Presbyterian churches in Lagos, Ogun, Oshun, Oyo, Bendel and Delta States as well as The Republics of Benin and Togo.

+ The Presbyterian Church Of Nigeria, 26 Ehere Road, Post Office Box 2635, Aba, Abia, Nigeria, 082-234-780


[5] RCA has 'Turned the Page' on Declining Numbers, Synod Speaker Says

Matt Vande Bunte reports that stemming the tide of declining membership was the focus of the Reformed Church in America's (RCA) annual meeting, which convened 7-10 June at Hope College.

At the midpoint of a 10-year growth goal, the president of the 202nd General Synod told delegates in his report Friday that the church is advancing. The Reverend John Ornee, pastor of Peace Reformed Church in Zeeland, cited 1,488 adult baptisms in 2006 and more new RCA church starts than ever before, adding an estimated 10,000 people to the church.

About 400 people, including 250 ministers and elders from RCA churches across the country, conducted church business and shared stories of church growth. Seated in groups of five around tables on the floor of DeVos Fieldhouse, delegates heard from Ornee that the RCA "is growing and prospering in new and innovative ways" and "persevering in old tried and true ways."

Additionally, Synod continued efforts launched in past years to make the church more inclusive. Recommendations include tracking the racial and ethnic makeup of congregations in order to gauge progress toward becoming a more diverse church.

+ Reformed Church in America, 4500 60th Street Southeast, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49512, 800-968-6065,

+, 339 East Liberty Street, Suite 210, Ann Arbor, Michigan 48104, 734-997-7083

[6] SBC Elects Johnny Hunt President

Johnny Hunt, pastor of First Baptist Church in Woodstock, Georgia, was elected president of the Southern Baptist Convention (SBC) 12 June on the first ballot.

Hunt was nominated by Ted Traylor, pastor of Olive Baptist Church in Pensacola, Florida.

Traylor said he was nominating Hunt because of his "heart for the nations" and his "heart for the next generation." Hunt will unite the convention and "forge a hopeful future" focused on the Gospel and connected to local churches, Traylor said.

Traylor’s assessment of Hunt’s ability to unite the SBC and to focus on the Gospel is not a unanimous one within and without Baptist circles.

Hunt for several years has been on the forefront of widespread efforts within the SBC to condemn Reformed doctrines of grace and to marginalize Reformed Baptist pastors and congregations in the SBC.

At a Pastor’s Conference sermon preceding the 2005 SBC annual meeting, Hunt ridiculed the biblical doctrine of election and indulged in compound logical fallacy by setting up the straw man of a false dichotomy between election and Christ’s command in Matthew chapter 28 to preach the Gospel to everyone. Additional examples of Hunt’s and others’ campaign against Reformed doctrine can be found through key word searches at the Alpha & Omega Miniseries Blog.

+ Southern Baptist Convention, 901 Commerce Street, Nashville, Tennessee 37203-3699, 615-244-2355

+ The Baptist Press, 901 Commerce Street, Nashville, Tennessee 37203-3699,

+ Alpha & Omega Ministries, 3805 North 12th Street, Phoenix, Arizona 85014, 602-264-7223, Email

+ Locusts and Wild Honey, 6028 Lakeshore Road, Bay Saint Louis, Mississippi 39520,