Category Archives: Free Church of Scotland (Continuing)

General Assembly Season 2017

It is May 1st – Already? We have once again returned to the date on my calendar that marks the beginning of the General Assembly Season. Where has the time gone?

This is simply the list – further detail will be necessary on a number of important and interesting items of business that will come before the GA’s this year.

As always, this is the line-up as I know it – I will update as I clarify additional Assembly and Synod meetings.

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62nd General Assembly
Presbyterian Church in Taiwan
18-21 April 2017

 

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Synod
The Presbyterian Church of Eastern Australia
2-4 May 2017
Mt. Druitt, N.S.W.

 

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General Assembly
Presbyterian Church of Tasmania
16 May 2017 (begins)

 

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General Assembly
Church of Scotland
20-26 May 2017
Edinburgh

 

 

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General Assembly
Free Church of Scotland (Continuing)
22-25 May, 2017
Edinburgh

 

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General Assembly
Free Church of Scotland
22-25 May 2017
Edinburgh

 

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General Assembly
United Free Church of Scotland
31 May – 2 June 2017
Perth

 

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84th General Assembly
Orthodox Presbyterian Church
31 May – 6 June 2017
Trinity Christian College
Palos Heights, Illinois

 

Presbyterian_Church_in_Canada_(logo)143rd General Assembly
Presbyterian Church in Canada
4-7 June 2017
Queen’s University
Kingston, Ontario

bush

General Assembly
Presbyterian Church in Ireland
5-9 June 2017
Belfast

 

arpc_2846216
213th Stated Meeting of the General Synod
Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church
6-8 June 2017
Bonclarken
Flat Rock, North Carolina

 


45th General Assembly
Presbyterian Church in America
12-16 June 2017
Greensboro, North Carolina

 

pca-logo-4b-small
General Assembly
Presbyterian Church of Queensland
18-22 June 2017
Fairholme College Toowoomba
Toowoomba
Note: The Presbyterian Church of South Australia will not hold an Assembly again this year and operates as a presbytery of PCQ

 

cpca_7255060

142nd General Assembly
Cumberland Presbyterian Church in America
18-21 June 2017
Innisbrook Resort
Tampa, Florida
Concurrent with the Cumberland Presbyterian Church

 

cplogosmallwithtext200x200187th General Assembly
Cumberland Presbyterian Church
18-23 June 2017
Innisbrook Resort
Tampa, Florida
Concurrent with Cumberland Presbyterian Church in America


37th General Assembly
Evangelical Presbyterian Church
20-23 June 2017
Fair Oaks Presbyterian Church
Fair Oaks, California

 

Reformed_Presbyterian_Church_of_North_America_(banner)

186th Synod
Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America
28-30 June 2017
Indiana Wesleyan University
Marion, Indiana

 

 

pca-logo-4f-small
N.S.W. State Assembly
Presbyterian Church of Australia
in the State of New South Wales

3 July 2017 (begins)
Croydon, N.S.W.

 

NYA_0National Youth Assembly
Church of Scotland
21-24 July 2017
Stirlingshire
(Technically not a governing
body, but still an Assembly I track)

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81st General Synod
Bible Presbyterian Church
3-7 August 2017
Edmonton BPC, Edmonton, Alberta

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General Assembly
Presbyterian Church of Victoria
9 – 13 October 2017

 

 

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General Assembly
Presbyterian Church in Western Australia
27 October 2017

 

These are the ones that I am tracking at the moment. I will update as appropriate. If I have missed one, or have information wrong or incomplete, please provide the appropriate information and I will update the list.

And, to make the GA season complete here are two more items…

The first is the series of articles I wrote as an introduction to Presbyterian General Assemblies seven years ago. My GA 101 series consists of the following

GA101: Preface
GA101: Introduction – Why in the world would anybody want to do it this way?
GA101: Connectionalism – The Presbyterian Big Picture
GA101: The Cast of Characters – A score card to identify the players
GA101: The Moderator – All Things In Moderation
GA101: Where does the GA business come from? – Incoming!
GA101: Doing the business of GA — Decently and in Order

Yes, what started as a six part series expanded into seven completed articles with two more unfinished ones (still) in the queue.

And finally, on to the ridiculous. Lest we take ourselves too seriously, a couple years ago I had a little fun with the General Assembly and in the post passed along the GA drinking game and GA Bingo. In addition, Allan Edwards has posted an alternate Bingo card reflecting the polity of the Presbyterian Church in America and Neil MacLennan has created one that reflects the idiosyncrasies of the Church of Scotland. Please play responsibly. 😉

One other thing is that you may have noticed a new tab on the top navigation bar for a Calendar of Presbyterian and Reformed General Assemblies, Synods and Other Events. I have just begun to populate it but hope that within the week I will have most of the items in this post, plus a few more, entered into that calendar. It is an attempt to provide a resource for those times when someone asks about a GA date well before my May 1 date for publishing this list.

So GA Junkies, go for it. It is GA season so enjoy! May you have an exciting experience over the next few months of watching us do things decently and in order!

General Assembly Season 2016

May 1st – The date on my calendar that marks the beginning of the General Assembly Season. This is our binge year, or we max out on GA’s, as we can include the two biennial assemblies and the triennial one.

So buckle up and here we go.

As always, this is the line-up as I know it – I will update as I clarify additional Assembly and Synod meetings.

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61st General Assembly
Presbyterian Church in Taiwan
29 March-1 April 2016

 

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Synod
The Presbyterian Church of Eastern Australia
3-5 May 2016
Mt. Druitt, N.S.W.

 

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General Assembly
Presbyterian Church of Tasmania
10 May 2016 (begins)

 

Logo_of_the_Church_of_Scotland
General Assembly
Church of Scotland
21-27 May 2016
Edinburgh

 

 

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General Assembly
Free Church of Scotland (Continuing)
23-26 May, 2016
Edinburgh

 

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General Assembly
Free Church of Scotland
23-26 May 2016
Edinburgh

pca-logo-1a-hires

 

General Assembly
Presbyterian Church of South Australia
22 May 2016 (anticipated) No Assembly this year – see comment below

 

Presbyterian_Church_in_Canada_(logo)142nd General Assembly
Presbyterian Church in Canada
3-6 June 2016
York University
Toronto, Ontario

bush

 

General Assembly
Presbyterian Church in Ireland
6-10 June 2016
Belfast

 

arpc_2846216
212th Stated Meeting of the General Synod
Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church
7-9 June 2016
Bonclarken
Flat Rock, North Carolina

 

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General Assembly
United Free Church of Scotland
8-10 June 2016
Perth

 

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83rd General Assembly
Orthodox Presbyterian Church
8-14 June 2016
Sandy Cove Conference Center
North East, Maryland

 

logo+pcusa222nd General Assembly
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
18-25 June 2016
Portland, Oregon

 

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General Assembly
Presbyterian Church of Queensland
19-23 June 2016
Brisbane Boys College
Brisbane

 

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141st General Assembly
Cumberland Presbyterian Church in America

19-22 June 2016
Nashville, Tennessee
Concurrent with the Cumberland Presbyterian Church

 

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186th General Assembly
Cumberland Presbyterian Church
20-24 June 2016
Nashville, Tennessee
Concurrent with Cumberland Presbyterian Church in America

 

01645A81-A5D8-4EB1-9E4C30D14028D30744th General Assembly
Presbyterian Church in America
20-24 June 2016
Mobile, Alabama

 

EvangelicalPresbyterianChurchLogo
36th General Assembly
Evangelical Presbyterian Church
21-25 June 2016
Ward Church
Northville, Michigan

 

Reformed_Presbyterian_Church_of_North_America_(banner)

Synod
Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America
27-29 June 2016
Indiana Wesleyan University
Marion, Indiana

 

 

pca-logo-4f-small
N.S.W. State Assembly
Presbyterian Church of Australia
in the State of New South Wales

4 July 2016 (begins)
Croydon, N.S.W.

 

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80th General Synod
Bible Presbyterian Church
4-9 August 2016
Sharonville, Ohio

NYA_0National Youth Assembly
Church of Scotland
19-22 August 2016
Stirlingshire
(Technically not a governing
body, but still an Assembly I track)

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General Assembly
Presbyterian Church of Australia
12 September 2016 (begins)

 

 

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General Assembly
Presbyterian Church of Victoria
3 October 2016

 

 

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General Assembly
Presbyterian Church in Western Australia
28 October 2016
Peppermint Grove, WA

 

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General Assembly
Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand
15-19 November
University of Otago
Dunedin

 

These are the ones that I am tracking at the moment. I will update as appropriate. If I have missed one, or have information wrong or incomplete, please provide the appropriate information and I will update the list.

And, to make the GA season complete here are two more items…

The first is the series of articles I wrote as an introduction to Presbyterian General Assemblies seven years ago. My GA 101 series consists of the following

GA101: Preface
GA101: Introduction – Why in the world would anybody want to do it this way?
GA101: Connectionalism – The Presbyterian Big Picture
GA101: The Cast of Characters – A score card to identify the players
GA101: The Moderator – All Things In Moderation
GA101: Where does the GA business come from? – Incoming!
GA101: Doing the business of GA — Decently and in Order

Yes, what started as a six part series expanded into seven completed articles with two more unfinished ones (still) in the queue.

And finally, on to the ridiculous. Lest we take ourselves too seriously, a couple years ago I had a little fun with the General Assembly and in the post passed along the GA drinking game and GA Bingo. In addition, Allan Edwards has posted an alternate Bingo card to use or modify for your particular polity. Please play responsibly. 😉

So, for all the GA Junkies out there I wish you the best of GA seasons. May you enjoy the next few months of watching us do things decently and in order!

General Assembly Season 2015

It is the First of May, the day I have traditionally used to mark the start of the General Assembly Season. (Although you will see it started a bit before that.)

There is lots of excitement ahead this year so get ready.

Here is this year’s line-up as I know it now. I will update as I clarify additional Assembly and Synod meetings.

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60th General Assembly
and 150th Anniversary of the founding
Presbyterian Church in Taiwan
7-10 April 2015

 

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Synod
The Presbyterian Church of Eastern Australia
5-7 May 2015
Mt. Druitt, N.S.W.

 

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General Assembly
Presbyterian Church of Tasmania
12 May 2015 (begins)

 

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General Assembly
Church of Scotland
16-22 May 2015
Edinburgh

 

 

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General Assembly
Free Church of Scotland Continuing
18-21 May, 2015
Edinburgh

 

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General Assembly
Free Church of Scotland
18-21 May 2015
Edinburgh

pca-logo-1a-hires

 

General Assembly
Presbyterian Church of South Australia
25 May 2014 (begins)
Naracoorte, S.A.

 

bush

 

General Assembly
Presbyterian Church in Ireland
1-4 June 2015
Belfast

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82nd General Assembly
Orthodox Presbyterian Church
3-9 June 2015
Dordt College
Sioux Center, Iowa

 

Presbyterian_Church_in_Canada_(logo)141st General Assembly
Presbyterian Church in Canada
4-8 June 2015
University of British Columbia
Vancouver, B.C.

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140th General Assembly
Cumberland Presbyterian Church in America

7-10 June 2015
Huntsville, Alabama

 

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Synod
Reformed Presbyterian Church of Ireland
8-10 June 2015
Bready

 

 

Reformed_Presbyterian_Church_of_North_America_(banner)
Synod
Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America
8-12 June 2015
Bonclarken
Flat Rock, North Carolina
Concurrent with the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church

 

arpc_2846216
211th Stated Meeting of the General Synod
Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church
9-11 June 2015
Bonclarken
Flat Rock, North Carolina
Concurrent with the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America

pca_new_2014
43rd General Assembly
Presbyterian Church in America
8-12 June 2015
Chattanooga, Tennessee
(And the logo at left was proposed last year and referred so we will see what the report back is.)

 

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General Assembly
United Free Church of Scotland
10-12 June 2015
Perth

 

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185th General Assembly
Cumberland Presbyterian Church
19-26 June 2015
Cali, Columbia

 

EvangelicalPresbyterianChurchLogo
35th General Assembly
Evangelical Presbyterian Church
23-27 June 2015
Orlando, Florida

 

pca-logo-4b-small
General Assembly
Presbyterian Church of Queensland
21-25 June 2015

 

 

pca-logo-4f-small
N.S.W. State Assembly
and 150th Anniversary Celebration
Presbyterian Church of Australia
in the State of New South Wales

29 June 2015 (begins)
Croydon, N.S.W.

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79th General Synod
Bible Presbyterian Church
6-11 August 2015
Cape Canaveral, Florida

NYA_0National Youth Assembly
Church of Scotland
14-17 August 2015
Stirlingshire
(Technically not a governing
body, but still an Assembly I track)

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General Assembly
Presbyterian Church of Victoria
5-8 October 2015

 

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General Assembly
Presbyterian Church in Western Australia
30 October 2015
Peppermint Grove, WA

 

And in case you were looking for one of these high-profile GA’s, they are not annual events and you will have to wait for next year:

These are the ones that I am tracking at the moment.  I will update as appropriate.  If I have missed one, or have information wrong or incomplete, please provide the appropriate information and I will update the list.

And, to make the GA season complete here are two more items…

The first is the series of articles I wrote as an introduction to Presbyterian General Assemblies seven years ago.  My GA 101 series consists of the following

GA101: Preface
GA101: Introduction – Why in the world would anybody want to do it this way?
GA101: Connectionalism – The Presbyterian Big Picture
GA101: The Cast of Characters – A score card to identify the players
GA101: The Moderator – All Things In Moderation
GA101: Where does the GA business come from? – Incoming!
GA101: Doing the business of GA — Decently and in Order

Yes, what started as a six part series expanded into seven completed articles with two more unfinished ones in the queue.  (Maybe this will give me some motivation to finish those up.)

And finally, on to the ridiculous.  Lest we take ourselves too seriously, a couple years ago I had a little fun with the General Assembly and in the post passed along the GA drinking game and GA Bingo. Please play both responsibly. 😉

So, for all the GA Junkies out there I wish you the best of GA seasons.  May you enjoy the next few months of watching us do things decently and in order!

General Assembly Season 2014


As the First of May rolls around we mark the start of the 2014 General Assembly Season.

Are you ready for an interesting year of Assemblies?

Here is this year’s line-up as I know it now. I will update as I clarify additional Assembly meetings.

  59th General Assembly
Presbyterian Church in Taiwan

  22-25 April 2014
Tainan

  General Assembly
Presbyterian Church of Tasmania
  13 May 2014 (begins)

  General Assembly
Church of Scotland

17-23 May 2014
Edinburgh

  General Assembly
Free Church of Scotland Continuing
19-22 May, 2014
Edinburgh

  General Assembly
Free Church of Scotland
19-23 May 2014
Edinburgh

  General Assembly
Presbyterian Church of South Australia
26 May 2014 (begins)
North Adelaide, S.A.

  140th General Assembly

Presbyterian Church in Canada
30 May – 2 June 2014
Wilfrid Laurier University
Waterloo, Ontario

  General Assembly
Presbyterian Church in Ireland
 
2-6 June 2014
Belfast

General Assembly
United Free Church of Scotland
  4-6 June 2014
Perth

81st General Assembly

Orthodox Presbyterian Church
4-10 June 2014
Kuyper College
Grand Rapids, Michigan

Synod
Reformed Presbyterian Church of Ireland
9-11 June 2014
Dervock

210th Stated Meeting of the General Synod

Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church

10-12 June 2014
Bonclarken
Flat Rock, North Carolina

221st General Assembly (2014)

Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
14-21 June 2014
Detroit, Michigan
(note this is a biennial Assembly)

139th General Assembly
Cumberland Presbyterian Church in America

15-18 June 2014
Chattanooga, Tennessee

184th General Assembly
Cumberland Presbyterian Church
16-20 June 2014
Chattanooga, Tennessee

42nd General Assembly

Presbyterian Church in America
17-20 June 2014
Houston, Texas

34th General Assembly

Evangelical Presbyterian Church
17-21 June 2014
Knoxville, Tennessee

  General Assembly
Presbyterian Church of Queensland

  30 June – 3 July 2014
Clayfield (Brisbane), QLD

  N.S.W. State Assembly
Presbyterian Church of Australia
in the State of New South Wales

 
30 June 2014 (begins)
Croydon, N.S.W.

  78th General Synod
Bible Presbyterian Church
31 July – 5 August 2014
Olympia, Washington

  National Youth Assembly

Church of Scotland

15-18 August 2014
Stirlingshire
(Technically not a governing
body, but still an Assembly I track)

  14th General Assembly
Presbyterian Church of Ghana

15-21 August 2014
Abetifi Kwahu

  General Synod
ECO: A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians
18 August 2014
Dallas, Texas

  6th General Assembly
Evangelical Presbyterian Church — Ghana
August 2014
Ho

  General Assembly
Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand

  3-7 October 2014
Saint Kentigern College
Auckland

  General Assembly
Presbyterian Church of Victoria
  6 October 2014

  General Assembly
Presbyterian Church in Western Australia
  24 October 2014

These are the ones that I am tracking at the moment.  I will update as
appropriate.  If I have missed one, or have information wrong or incomplete, please provide the appropriate information and I will update the list.

And, to make the GA season complete here are two more items…

The first is the series of articles I wrote as an introduction to Presbyterian General Assemblies six years ago.  My GA 101 series consists of the following

GA101: Preface
GA101: Introduction – Why in the world would anybody want to do it this way?
GA101: Connectionalism – The Presbyterian Big Picture
GA101: The Cast of Characters – A score card to identify the players
GA101: The Moderator – All Things In Moderation
GA101: Where does the GA business come from? – Incoming!
GA101: Doing the business of GA — Decently and in Order

Yes, what started as a six part series expanded into seven
completed articles with two more unfinished ones in the queue.  (Maybe
this will give me some motivation to finish those up.)

And finally, on to the ridiculous.  Lest we take ourselves too seriously, a couple years ago I had a little fun with the General Assembly and in the post passed along the GA drinking game and GA Bingo. Please play both responsibly.

So, for all the GA Junkies out there I wish you the best of GA
seasons.  May you enjoy the next few months of watching us do things
decently and in order!

Moderator Designate Of The Free Church Of Scotland (Continuing) 2014 General Assembly


Earlier this month the Free Church of Scotland (Continuing) made the announcement that their Moderator Designate for the 2014 General Assembly would be the Rev. Allan Murray.

Rev. Murray resides and worships in Brora and the Brora church was his charge until his retirement last November. He is a second-career pastor having practiced dentistry for 23 years before studying for the ministry at Free Church College and then taking up his first charge in 1988. He served there at Rogart and Scourie until the division and afterwards for a while served at Scourie and Lochinver at the same time as the Brora charge.

He and his wife Maureen have, as the press release says, “five of a family, now mostly spread around the world.”

The press release was picked up by the Storoway Gazette and pretty much printed verbatim. His sermons, leading up to his retirement, are posted on sermonaudio.com.

The Free Church of Scotland (Continuing) General Assembly will convene in Edinburgh on 19 May 2014. We wish Rev. Murray the best as he prepares for the Assembly and our prayers for him during the Assembly and his moderatorial year.

General Assembly Season 2013


Ah, the First of May — the start of General Assembly Season 2013! 

Coffee? Check.
Alarm clocks set? Check.
Internet streaming? Check.

It looks like we are all ready to go so here is this year’s line-up:

  General Assembly
Presbyterian Church of Tasmania
  14 May 2013 (begins)

  General Assembly
Church of Scotland

18-24 May 2013
Edinburgh

  General Assembly
Free Church of Scotland Continuing
20-24 May, 2013
Edinburgh

  General Assembly
Free Church of Scotland
20-24 May 2013
Edinburgh

  General Assembly
Presbyterian Church of South Australia
  27 May 2013 (begins)
North Adelaide, S.A.

General Assembly
United Free Church of Scotland
 
29-31 May 2013
Perth

  139th General Assembly

Presbyterian Church in Canada
31 May – 3 June 2013
Toronto, Ontario

  General Assembly
Presbyterian Church in Ireland
 
3-7 June 2013
Londonderry

80th General Assembly

Orthodox Presbyterian Church
5-11 June 2013
St. Mary’s College
Moraga, California

Synod
Reformed Presbyterian Church of Ireland
10-12 June 2013
Dromore

209th Stated Meeting of the General Synod

Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church

11-13 June 2013
Bonclarken
Flat Rock, North Carolina

183rd General Assembly
Cumberland Presbyterian Church
17-21 June 2013
Murfreesboro, Tennessee

41st General Assembly

Presbyterian Church in America
17-21 June 2013
Greenville, South Carolina

33rd General Assembly

Evangelical Presbyterian Church
18-22 June 2013
Highlands Ranch, Colorado

  General Assembly
Presbyterian Church of Queensland

  24 June 2013 (begins)
Clayfield (Brisbane), QLD

  N.S.W. State Assembly
Presbyterian Church of Australia
in the State of New South Wales

 
1 July 2013 (begins)
Croydon, N.S.W.

  77th General Synod
Bible Presbyterian Church
1-6 August 2013
Grand Island, NY

  National Youth Assembly
Church of Scotland

16-19 August 2013
Dundee
(Technically not a governing
body, but still an Assembly I track)

  General Assembly
Presbyterian Church of Australia

9 September 2013 (begins)
Surry Hills (Sydney)
(note: this is a triennial Assembly)

  General Assembly
Presbyterian Church of Victoria
  October 2013

  General Assembly
Presbyterian Church in Western Australia
  25 October 2013
Bassendean, W.A.

A few branches have biennial assemblies so those with their next assembly in 2014 include the Cumberland Presbyterian Church in America, Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), and the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand.

These are the ones that I am tracking at the moment.  I will update as
appropriate.  If I have missed one, or have information wrong or incomplete, please provide the appropriate information and I will update the list.

And, to make the GA season complete here are two more items…

The first is the series of articles I wrote as an introduction to Presbyterian General Assemblies five years ago.  My GA 101 series consists of the following

GA101: Preface
GA101: Introduction – Why in the world would anybody want to do it this way?
GA101: Connectionalism – The Presbyterian Big Picture
GA101: The Cast of Characters – A score card to identify the players
GA101: The Moderator – All Things In Moderation
GA101: Where does the GA business come from? – Incoming!
GA101: Doing the business of GA — Decently and in Order

Yes, what started as a six part series expanded into seven
completed articles with two more unfinished ones in the queue.  (Maybe
this will give me some motivation to finish those up.)

And finally, on to the ridiculous.  Lest we take ourselves too seriously, a couple years ago I had a little fun with the General Assembly and in the post passed along the GA drinking game and GA Bingo. Please play both responsibly.

So, for all the GA Junkies out there I wish you the best of GA
seasons.  May you enjoy the next few months of watching us do things
decently and in order!

Moderator Designees Of The Free Church Of Scotland (Continuing) And The Presbyterian Church In Canada

Over the last couple of weeks we have news of two pastors from North America becoming the Moderator Designees for the Free Church of Scotland (Continuing) and the Presbyterian Church in Canada. (Yes, you read that right.)

Free Church of Scotland (Continuing)

First, in what must be a highly unique, if not unprecedented, action in the history of Scottish Presbyterians the Free Church of Scotland (Continuing) has named the pastor from the Free Church in Atlanta, Georgia, their Moderator Designee for the 2013 General Assembly. The Rev. Warren Ewing Gardner was born in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, did his undergraduate work at Geneva College and his theological training at Westminster Theological Seminary (Philadelphia) and Pittsburgh Theological Seminary. Based on the information in the Stornoway Gazette (I don’t see a press release on the denomination’s web site yet) it appears he was ordained by the PCUS in 1972 in Atlanta and he served three churches in that area.  He transferred to the Presbyterian Church in America in 1981 and served as a church planter for them in Georgia, for 23 years shepherding the congregation he founded there.  In 2003 he associated with the Free Church of Scotland (Continuing) and again became a church planter founding his current congregation.  The denomination page includes his study at Columbia Theological Seminary so he likely began work on a Doctor of Ministry there (although that is just an educated guess on my part). He and his wife Valerie have five adult children and thirteen grandchildren.

It is worth noting that this might represent a certain Presbyterian reciprocity with Scotland as Princeton University and Princeton Theological Seminary have been know to get the likes of John Witherspoon and Iain Torrance from Scotland to serve as presidents of those institutions.

Presbyterian Church in Canada
The selection of the Rev. Dr. David Sutherland is also a bit unique but in a different way. Rev. Sutherland was the only nominee for the office when nominations were submitted last fall as no other candidate received the multiple presbytery nominations required to appear on the ballot. While not unheard of, this is an unusual occurrence. UPDATE: I inquired about this to the General Assembly Office and the response was that no one remembered this happening before.

With the nomination situation as it was the Rev. Sutherland was know to be the only candidate for Moderator last fall, and a detailed press release was issued by the PCC at that time. But being Presbyterians and being required to do things decently and in order and according to the Book of Forms, the position became official Tuesday as The Committee to Advise the Moderator met at the appointed time and place to make the nomination final.

Rev. Sutherland has been the pastor of St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church in St. John’s, Newfoundland for almost 14 years and he has served in other churches in the Atlantic Provinces through his career. (And check out the picture of the church on Panoramio to get a better feel for the setting.)  In his career he has served in positions and on committees at all levels of the church including as a presbytery moderator, presbytery clerk, synod moderator and he now serves as the synod clerk. He has a significant number of initials after his name (B.Comm., M.Div., M.Th., D.Min.) but all the bio tells us is that he studied at Knox College. He and his wife Irma have two adult children and four grandchildren. Rev. Sutherland’s son is a pastor at the Bass River Pastoral Charge in New Brunswick.

He will be formally elected and installed as Moderator of the 139th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in Canada when it convenes on May 31 in Toronto.

So our congratulations to both Rev. Gardner and Rev. Sutherland as they prepare for this calling and prayers and best wishes to them for their responsibilities moderating the Assembly and for their whole moderatorial year. May God continue to bless your ministries.

Church Of Scotland Sexuality Discussion And Resulting Departure Actions


Over the last few weeks and months there have been some significant developments regarding ministers and churches that are concerned with the direction the Kirk is headed.

Briefly, the background to the recent actions is in the on-going discernment by the Church of Scotland through the General Assembly to determine the church’s stand on same-gender relationships. The current stream can be traced back to January of 2009 when Queens Cross Church in Aberdeen extended a call to the Rev. Scott Rennie who was in a same-gender relationship. This call was sustained by the presbytery and later that Spring the dissent and complaint concerning the presbytery decision was refused by the General Assembly. The Kirk has done what in my opinion is a wise thing and that is to deal with the matters of same-gender relationships as a whole including consideration of ordination standards and civil unions and marriages. The 2009 General Assembly, after refusing the dissent and complaint, considered some additional overtures and ended up setting up a Special Commission to consult with the church more widely concerning these matters. The Special Commission brought to the 2011 GA a set of recommendations which included a choice of which direction to head concerning this matter. By a vote of 351 to 294 the General Assembly chose to “Resolve
to consider further the lifting of the moratorium on the acceptance for
training and ordination of persons in a same-sex relationship, and to
that end instruct the Theological Commission to prepare a report for the
General Assembly of 2013…” So that is where we are, waiting for next year’s GA to see how the report of the Theological Commission is acted upon. From there, any polity changes based on the Theological Commission report would take another year.

Except that not everyone is waiting. With a trajectory chosen some members of the Church of Scotland are concerned with what they see as a non-biblical direction and are considering their options.

Most recently, the Rev. Paul Gibson has moved from the Church of Scotland to the Free Church of Scotland, being accepted by the Commission of Assembly on 4 October. In the Free Church news article he is quoted as saying:

I’m under no false illusions that somewhere out there is the perfect denomination or Church.

However, in these days of political correctness, pluralism and great
moral confusion, I believe that what is so desperately needed is not
further confusion and liberal ambiguity from the Church, but instead a
consistent appeal to the unchanging truths of God’s word, the Bible.

The Church should, by God’s grace, do all in its power to further,
rather than hinder, the good news of Jesus Christ in Scotland.

Something about this transfer caught the attention of the mainstream media and Rev. Gibson did an interview with The Scotsman which was picked up by several other news outlets. Something that caught my attention was the nuance that each headline writer gave. In The Scotsman it is said that he “defects” to the Free Church. The Christian Post says he was “forced out,” and at least they use that term again in the body of the article. And in the Christian Institute article the headline says he “quits Kirk.”

The other news is related to the congregation of St.George’s Tron, a landmark church in the centre of Glasgow. (Hey, if your URL is thetron.org you have something going for you. )

Back in June, after a year of prayer and discernment, the church decided to leave the Church of Scotland because of their disagreement with the GA’s chosen trajectory. This past Tuesday the Presbytery of Glasgow received a report from a special committee and, based on documents online, approved the report’s recommendations to retain the property — the buildings as well as the contents, bank accounts and church records. The presbytery decision is fresh so the situation is still developing but this disagreement could certainly head to the courts.  In the statement from last Sunday the Rev. Dr. William Philip addresses this:

Now, we mustn’t pre-judge the issue, Presbytery on Tuesday night can
reject this report, but I have to tell you that I think that seems
extremely unlikely. And so, barring an intervention of God, that means
that we must be prepared for the fact that we must soon be forced out of
this building where we meet and where we so delight to share the gospel
of the Lord Jesus Christ. It may also be that the family and I are
forced to leave the manse and that we as a Church may lose all of our
other assets as well. (These things are more complicated, we may have a
better legal defence there, although it does seem that the Scottish
charity regulator has tended to side with the Church of Scotland view.
But as I say, these things are complex.)

Nevertheless, the deliverance being urged upon Presbytery on Tuesday
night includes taking further legal action without delay to dispossess
us of these things. As you know, there is already legal action underway
personally against myself and our Session Clerk and our treasurer.

[Note: the last action he is referring to is most likely the already initiated legal action to recover the church records.]

There are articles about the decision from The Scotsman and the Herald Scotland.

Let me make a few comments on church polity and legal precedents in this matter.

The Church of Scotland does not have a “trust clause” as American Presbyterians are familiar with. As I understand the property situation in the Kirk, title to church property in Scotland is, with minor exceptions, held by the General Trustees at a national level. This clearly presents a major legal hurdle for a congregation to overcome to retain their buildings and as noted in the statement above the charity regulator tends to side with the Church of Scotland.

Now, I have been advised that Scottish laws, and property laws in particular, have some unique aspects to them so I don’t want to go too far out on a limb here, but from the reading I have been doing the current situation does appear to present an up-hill battle for the congregation.

There is one recent church property decision that may present a precedent that supports the denomination and that is the July 2009 decision in the case of  Smith and other v Morrison and others. In this case the Free Church of Scotland successfully sued the Free Church of Scotland (Continuing) claiming that when the two groups split in 2000 the Free Church (Continuing) congregations were not entitled to take the property with them.

There is an interesting nuance here because it appears that under Scottish law a church may keep property if they separate after, and because, the denomination has “departed from fundamental principles.” The Free Church decision talks extensively about fundamental principles and how they are not an issue in that case. One such passage says

[63] The national church cases were of limited importance to
the essential issues in the present case. Each dealt with the issue of
fundamental principles in a different context. The pursuers here did not aver
departure by the defenders from fundamental principles
.

The implication throughout is that if fundamental principles were at stake the decision might have been different. Since this case does involve doctrine we will have to see if that does qualify as a fundamental principle and makes a difference in any legal proceedings.

[A couple of interesting points for those familiar with current happenings in American cases. The first is that American courts stay clear of doctrinal issues in property cases under the “neutral principles” concept and can not judge whether one side or the other has departed from fundamental principles of doctrine. The second is that for PC(USA) folks this idea of fundamental principles probably carries echos of the ongoing discussion about essential tenets and if this question goes forward it will be interesting to see the arguments made about where these issues are, or are not, fundamental principles of doctrine.]

It is interesting to note that the Free Church (Continuing) is now trying to cast their continuing property dispute with the Free Church as a fundamental principles case. Now that the Free Church has relaxed their position on exclusive unaccompanied hymn singing the Free Church (Continuing) is claiming that they have made a change regarding their fundamental principles. (Opinion: I personally don’t think that will go very far.)

If you want more on the FC/FCC property dispute you can find it with Martin Frost and Scottish Christian. There is also the statement by the Free Church regarding the decision on the Sleat and Strath Free Church blog. These actions do continue and about a year ago the decision was upheld on appeal. In the decision regarding the appeal one of the judges, Lord Drummond Young, wrote

In this respect, the exhortation to long suffering forbearance and unity
of the spirit within a congregation may be as relevant to Broadford and
other communities in Scotland in the 21st Century as it was to Ephesus
in the First Century.

And so just as there is the prospect of more Free Church cases to reclaim property there is also the prospect of not just St. George’s Tron but other Church of Scotland congregations getting involved in legal actions if they decide to leave the denomination.

As with so many things Presbyterian there is a long way to go here. Stay tuned…

UPDATE: 15 October – Herald Scotland brings the report that legal proceedings against St. George’s Tron have been initiated.

UPDATE: 21 October – The Church of Scotland has issued a statement about the St. George’s Tron situation. In the statement it is pointed out that the congregation has unpaid contributions to the Presbytery of Glasgow and has a loan of almost £1M from the General Trustees. (H/T Peter Nimmo)

General Assembly Season 2012

GA Junkies ready? It is the start of General Assembly Season 2012!  Get your coffee ready, alarm clocks set and your internet streaming tuned up. Here is what I am looking forward to… (based on best available information – I will update as I get full details)

General Assembly
Free Church of Scotland (Continuing)
May 2012
EdinburghGeneral Assembly
Church of Scotland
19-25 May 2012
Edinburgh

General Assembly
Free Church of Scotland
21-25 May 2012*
Edinburgh

General Assembly
Presbyterian Church in Ireland
28-31 May 2012
Belfast

138th General Assembly
Presbyterian Church in Canada
3-7 June 2012
Oshawa, Ontario

138th General Assembly
Cumberland Presbyterian Church in America
4-7 June 2012
Huntsville, Alabama

208th Stated Meeting of the General Synod
Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church
5-7 June 2012
Flat Rock, North Carolina

General Assembly
United Free Church of Scotland
6-8 June 2012
Perth

79th General Assembly
Orthodox Presbyterian Church
6-12 June 2012
Wheaton College, Wheaton, Illinois

182nd General Assembly
Cumberland Presbyterian Church
17-22 June 2012
Florence, Alabama

40th General Assembly
Presbyterian Church in America
19-22 June 2012
Louisville, Kentucky

181st General Synod
Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America
(researching – will update)

32nd General Assembly
Evangelical Presbyterian Church
20-23 June 2012
Baton Rouge, Louisiana

220th General Assembly
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.)
30 June – 7 July 2012
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

76th General Synod
Bible Presbyterian Church
9-14 August 2012
Lakeland, Florida

General Assembly 2012
Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand
4-7 October 2012
Rotorua

These are the ones that I am tracking at the moment.  I will update as
appropriate. [* These entries have been updated since the original post.]  If I have missed one, or have information wrong or incomplete, please provide the appropriate information and I will update the list.

And, to make the GA season complete here are two more items…

The first is the series of articles I wrote as an introduction to Presbyterian General Assemblies four years ago.  My GA 101 series consists of the following

GA101: Preface
GA101: Introduction – Why in the world would anybody want to do it this way?
GA101: Connectionalism – The Presbyterian Big Picture
GA101: The Cast of Characters – A score card to identify the players
GA101: The Moderator – All Things In Moderation
GA101: Where does the GA business come from? – Incoming!
GA101: Doing the business of GA — Decently and in Order

Yes, what started as a six part series expanded into seven
completed articles with two more unfinished ones in the queue.  (Maybe
this will give me some motivation to finish those up.)

And finally, on to the ridiculous.  Lest we take ourselves too seriously, a couple years ago I had a little fun with the General Assembly and in the post passed along the GA drinking game and GA Bingo. Please play both responsibly.

So, for all the GA Junkies out there I wish you the best of GA
seasons.  May you enjoy the next three months of watching us do things
decently and in order!

Moderator Designate of the Free Church of Scotland (Continuing) — Rev James Gracie


Earlier this week the Stornoway Gazette carried the news that the Free Church of Scotland (Continuing) announced that the Rev. James Gracie is the Moderator Designate for the 2012 General Assembly. Rev. Gracie is the pastor of the Free Church (Continuing) congregation in Edinburgh.

Rev Gracie is a second career minister, having worked first in the Agricultural industry after attending the West of Scotland Agricultural College. While working on the Island of Skye he began preaching for congregations in that area and applied to become a candidate for ministry. After attending Free Church College he was ordained and inducted into his first charge on the Island of Arran in 1994. Between there and Edinburgh he also served a congregation in North Uist.

In the Fall Rev. Gracie made headlines when during the open comment period on the proposal to permit same-sex marriages in Scotland he came out strongly against the proposal on a BBC Radio program. Groups in favor of same-sex marriage condemned the tone and content of his comments, and particularly his comparison to pedophilia. He issued his own rebuttal and clarification and others wrote in to support him as well.

Our prayers are with Rev. Gracie for his leadership of the General Assembly and his term as Moderator.