Wednesday, February 2, 2011

2 February 2011

Death of The Rev. Charles Leonard Wilson on 29 January 2011

The Charlotte Observer reported 31 January 2011 that the Rev. Charles Leonard Wilson, 67, of Charlotte, North Carolina, died 29 January 2011 after a courageous battle with cancer.

The retired Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) pastor graduated from Belhaven University in 1967 and then entered Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson, Mississippi, where he earned the M.Div. degree in 1971.

Pastor Wilson served churches in Linden and Aliceville, Alabama, and in 1973 became the first stated clerk of the Warrior Presbytery, which was the first presbytery in the PCA. In 1974, Pastor Wilson became founding pastor of the Alexander Presbyterian Church in Charlotte, North Carolina, which later became Christ Covenant Church in Matthews, North Carolina. In 1979, Pastor Wilson suffered a heart attack and took a medical retirement. In 1982, Pastor Wilson was called to Trinity Presbyterian Church in Van Wyck, South Carolina, and served there until 1986 before again having to retire for medical reasons.

In the early 1990’s, concern that the PCA was turning away from its biblical and confessional foundations brought together a group of PCA Teaching and Ruling Elders into the group Concerned Presbyterians (CP) under the chairmanship of the Rev. Charles Wilson. As a member of the Committee of Commissioners (CC) at the 21st PCA General Assembly in 1993, Mr. Wilson joined five other CC members in preparing a minority report after thirteen other CC members voted not to report on the PCA Legal Audit commissioned by the 20th PCA General Assembly in 1992.

The minority report called on the CC “to review the [PCA] Legal Audit and report any recommendations that may need to be handled at [the 1993 21st PCA] General Assembly.” The minority report went on to say: “PCA men who viewed portions of the Legal Audit with permission communicated to our Committee of Commissioners that they believe there are serious matters that may need to be dealt with by this General Assembly.”

The report additionally noted that there [were twenty-three] for-profit and not-for-profit corporations which list “1852 Century Place (The PCA Office Building) as the registered Office of these Corporations” and the search lists “PCA employees as some of the directors and officers of these corporations.” The most significant of the twenty-three corporations after the PCA, Inc., was the Investors Fund for the Building and Development of the PCA, Inc., whose CEO was the now-late PCA TE the Rev. Cecil A. Brooks and whose CFO and Secretary was PCA TE the Rev. John T. Ottinger, Jr.

The minority report was withdrawn after Cecil Brooks met with the minority report committee and broke down in tears during an emotional speech to the 1993 PCA 21st General Assembly.

Concerned Presbyterians submitted two memorials to the 1994 22nd PCA General Assembly, one concerned with the PCA’s drift away from biblical and confessional fidelity, and the other a call to present the PCA Legal Audit to the PCA 22nd General Assembly.

The late Rev. Dr. Edwin Elliott, in the July 1, 1994 issue of the Christian Observer, in an article titled “Presbyterian Church in America General Assembly Meets in Atlanta,” described the proceedings:

“A memorial from a conservative PCA interest group, Concerned Presbyterians, was ruled out of order. The procedure which broke over 150 years of Presbyterian tradition, was viewed as a slap at the CP claim the denomination was turning from its roots. All the points in the memorial appeared for consideration under overtures from various presbyteries and eventually received the court’s full attention at other times. Generally, the Concerned Presbyterian measures called for reaffirmation of earlier PCA positions on doctrine and practice, but they failed to gain substantial support when they eventually surfaced.”

The PCA in 1996 officially divested itself of the Investors Fund for the Building and Development of the PCA, Inc., and the then nominally-independent corporation became Cornerstone Ministries Inc. (CMI). CMI declared Chapter 11 bankruptcy in February 2008 in what the law firm handling the claims of 3500 investors who lost all but a few cents on the dollar of US$142 million, called a “[US]$140 million Ponzi scheme.”

Charles Leonard Wilson is survived by his father Bingham Rose Wilson, three brothers, his wife of forty-three years Ruth Ann Jent Wilson, six children, and eighteen grandchildren.

A memorial service is scheduled for 3:00 p.m., 2 February 2011 at Christ Covenant Church in Matthews, North Carolina.

Christian Observer staff expresses our sorrow and condolences to the family and friends of the Rev. Charles Leonard Wilson, and our rejoicing that a good and faithful servant is now in the presence of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

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