The congregation of Progressive ARP in Princeton, NC met on April 29, 2012 and voted to restore the (Presbytery deposed) Session; to withdraw membership from the ARP Denomination; and to dissolve the pastoral relationship with the Rev. Percy Coleman.
The First Presbytery of the Associate Presbyterian Church, which at the moment covers the entire state of North Carolina, met for their scheduled summer meeting in the sanctuary of the Pinecrest ARP Church in Flat Rock, NC – just a hop, skip and jump from the main gate at Bonclarken Conference, where the annual General Synod of the ARP is being held.
The Moderator, the Reverend Robert Hunter, Pastor of the Gilead ARP Church in Huntersville, NC, called the meeting to order with prayer shortly after 2:00PM
A ‘Senior Sermon’ was given by Navy Chaplain Mark Brooks, who was ordained by the Southern Baptist Convention but now is seeking transfer to the ARP in the near future.
The Rev. Lee Shelnutt (Huntersville ARP) asked a point of personal privilege to bring a memorial to the presbytery floor to refer to the Memorials Committee. The memorial concerned the officers of Synod and their terms of office, recommending that an officer of Synod not serve more than 2 consecutive terms before needing to take time off. Rev. Shelnutt noted that this memorial comes from the wisdom of local churches where consecutive terms of church officers are separated by a year off the rotation. This memorial would allow an officer of Synod to serve 8 years before needing to take time off. Motion carried to refer memorial to the Memorials Committee.
CANDIDATES AND CREDENTIALS: Rev. Tim Weldon was examined to be transferred from PCA to be a mission developer in the Concord area. He stated that his lone exception to the Westminster Standards regards the “recreation” clause in WCF 21.8. Rev. Jamie Hunt of the Coddle Creek ARP Church in Mooresville, NC raised the concern about any candidate stating an exception to the Standards over the Sabbath as well as how Rev. Weldon makes the distinction between appropriate and inappropriate recreation on the Sabbath. Rev. Weldon responded that in his PCA presbytery, his views on recreation on the Sabbath was to be seen as an exception. Rev. Vaughn Hathaway spoke in favor of Rev. Hunt’s concern. Rev. Weldon noted that Isaiah 58:13 convinced him that light recreation with family and other believers may be a form of “spiritual exercise” which is distinct from formalized recreation which puts demands on families and individuals.
Rev. Dean Turbeville graciously raised the point of approving the candidate’s exam before approving the candidate’s call to plant a church. Rev. Hathaway contended that the presbytery has acted out of order for years by first sustaining an exam for ordination before the approval of a call.
Rev. Weldon’s examination was sustained as was his transfer to First Presbytery.
Rev. Phillip McCoy transferred from Catawba Presbytery to serve at First Statesville ARP.
Rev. Matthew Mantooth transferred from Catawba Presbytery to become the Associate Pastor of Student Ministries at Back Creek ARP.
MINISTER AND HIS WORK COMMITTEE: There was discussion about approving Mr. Joshua Brister as the Stated Supply of Glenwood ARP in Charlotte, NC. It was noted by the court that a non-ordained man cannot be the Stated Supply for a church. So, the recommendation was stricken.
PROGRESSIVE ARP CHURCH PRINCETON, NC. A report from a special committee of First Presbytery Regarding Progressive ARP Church, presented by the Moderator of Progressive’s Provisional Session, Rev. Tim Robinson. In summary, the deposed elders of Progressive and a majority of the congregation disapprove of First Presbytery’s actions in April to dissolve Progressive’s Session due to their lack of submission to First Presbytery’s ruling on a matter dealing with Progressive’s pastor, Rev. Percy Coleman. The congregation met on April 29, 2012 and voted to 1) restore the Session of Progressive ARP Church to active status, 2) to withdraw membership from the ARP Denomination, and 3) Percy Coleman’s continuing as their pastor. The congregation overwhelmingly voted to restore the original session, withdraw from the ARP, and to disapprove of Rev. Coleman continuing to be their pastor.
As Progressive ARP Church seeks to leave the ARP, members of First Presbytery met with eight members of the church and non-members who have expressed interest to remain in the ARP. Thus, there is hope for the formation of a mission group in the near future. It was noted that the church is not paying Rev. Coleman (in disobedience to the call they extended to Rev. Coleman and to First Presbytery’s instructions), but the presbytery is paying him.
Recommendations were: 1. That the Provisional Session continue to act until October 2012, 2. No decision be made of Rev. Coleman until the completion of his Sabbatical in July, 3. in light of the required second sometime before September before First Presbytery’s October Stated Meeting, 4. to communicate the presbytery’s concerns to the congregation of Progressive ARP Church.
During debate of these recommendations, Rev. Joseph Algrahry of Lakeside ARP Church in Mooresville, NC made a substitute motion that the presbytery would censure the former elders of Progressive ARP Church so that they would forfeit all rights of property of the church if the church would not submit to the presbytery’s authority. Rev. Hathaway pointed out that the Provisional Session has original jurisdiction over this issue.
Rev. Coleman also clarified that the congregational vote to separate from the ARP Church did not meet the required 65% as per the Form of Government’s stipulations.
Several ministers also noted that a presbytery cannot grant an exemption to churches as they seek to leave the ARP Church. The current Form of Government stipulates a two year waiting period between a first vote and the second vote to leave the denomination. This requirement may not be suspended by a presbytery.
A motion was made and approved to make the Provisional Session a commission to continue governing this matter.
The discussion (with recommendations) was tabled to move on to other business.
CHURCH EXTENSION COMMITTEE REPORT: Approved the call for Rev. Weldon to begin the Afton Run Church Mission in Concord, NC.
MEMORIALS COMMITTEE: The committee gave their positive recommendation for the adoption of three memorials. The three memorials include the one brought to presbytery by Rev. Shelnutt on Synod officer terms, as well as a memorial to revise the Form of Government to come in line with the 2011 ARP Synod’s decision to grant voting power to ruling elders who previously served as Synod Moderator even if they aren’t an elder representative from their church and a memorial regarding the certification of the vote of presbyters to be obtained by a simple majority vote of the Synod in affirmation of the vote of presbyteries.
The Presbytery finished their work and adjourned at about 6:15PM
Daniel Wells graduated a year ago from RTS Charlotte and is currently serving as a Church Planting Intern with the Hill City APR Church Plant in Rock Hill, SC and is serving as a volunteer intern with The Aquila Report for the 20112 Synod.