1. Tell us a little of your testimony of when Jesus saved you from your sin.
I was born into a Christian family. I first came to an understanding of the Gospel at the age of five, through the preaching of the Word. By God's sovereign grace, I came to understand that I was a sinner, my sin deserved God's judgment, Christ died to endure the wrath of God, and that if I repented of my sin and trusted in Christ I would be saved. The first impact of the Gospel for me was that I was no longer afraid to die (Hebrews 2:15). That may seem strange that a five-year old would have such a concern. But my father had died when I was only three months old, and World War II had ended just a few years prior. So I was keenly aware of the reality of death.
2. What does the stated clerk of the Presbyterian Church in America do?
The duties of the Stated Clerk are extensively detailed in the Rules of Assembly Operations 3-1; 3-2; 3-3. Prior to 1973-1988, the Coordinator of Administration and the Office of the Stated Clerk were two separate positions. In 1988 those two were combined into one. Since 1988, the Stated Clerk has also served as the Coordinator of the Administrative Committee fulfilling both ecclesiastical and administrative functions for the General Assembly. The Stated Clerk is the Coordinator of the Administrative Committee (see answer to question 6 below) managing AC functions; by virtue of office he is a member of the Interchurch Relations Committee that relates to other denominations and Christian organizations; by virtue of office is a member of the PCA Historical Center Sub-committee; serves a parliamentarian of the General Assembly; serves as Secretary and Treasurer of the PCA, a Corporation; serves as clerk of the Standing Judicial Commission; serves as an advisory member of other PCA boards (RBI, PCAF, RH); serves as a spokesman for the PCA regarding its Constitution and actions of the General Assembly; and is secretary of the Cooperative Ministries Committee.
3. How many years have you served as the stated clerk of the PCA?
I became the Stated Clerk of the General Assembly in 1998, after serving as a pastor for a total of 16 years (in AL and MS), and a seminary professor (Reformed Theological Seminary) for a total of ten years.
4. What do you enjoy the most about your current ministry as stated clerk?
The thing I enjoy the most about serving as Stated Clerk is having the opportunity to serve the entire denomination.
5. What is one of the hardest challenges to your current ministry?
One of the chief challenges of this ministry is communicating to the PCA constituency what the breadth of responsibilities and range of services of the AC/SC are, though that is not due to any lack of trying on our part.
6. What does the Administrative committee do?
The Administrative Committee and Office of the Stated Clerk supply essential support services for the PCA to exist, be connected, and minister as a denomination. The AC is the Board of Directors of the Presbyterian Church in America, a Corporation (our legal entity). The AC is responsible for the logistics of the annual General Assembly meeting and all of its Committees of Commissioners; facilitates the ministries of the Interchurch Relations Committee, the Nominating Committee, the Standing Judicial Commission, the Review of Presbytery Records Committee, the Committee on Constitutional Business, the Theological Examining Committee and the Cooperative Ministries Committee; operates the PCA Historical Center; publishes ByFaith Magazine and www.byfaithonline.com; publishes the Book of Church Order and Westminster Standards of the PCA; assists in training Stated Clerks of Presbyteries; defends the PCA in lawsuits; provides placement services to ministers and churches; supplies support services for any ad interim committees of the General Assembly; and provides constitutional advice and counsel when requested by PCA members, officers, and Church courts. The AC is unique in that (1) it is a service committee rather than a program committee, and (2) in addition to eleven members elected at-large from the General Assembly, also has a voting members representatives from the other nine Committees and Agencies.
7. Why is it important for PCA churches to support the AC?
It is important for churches to support the Administrative Committee/Office of the Stated Clerk because
· It will be difficult for the PCA to exist and advance without an adequately funded AC.
· The AC has a major role in connecting the PCA (churches, Presbyteries, ministers, and General Assembly Ministries).
· It is reasonable and equitable that churches, Presbyteries and ministers who benefit from being part of the PCA would share in the costs of the support services of the AC/SC.
8. There are two amendments to the Book of Church Order (BCO) being voted on by presbyteries this year that deal with a complete change to the way the AC is funded. In your opinion, why should presbyteries vote for these amendments?
In my opinion Presbyteries should vote for the proposed amendment to BCO 14-1 and 14-2 because:
· The AC/SC supplies essential support services for the entire PCA.
· Very few denominations attempt to fund support services as a special request because a separate request for support services is ineffective over the long run.
· The plan is constitutional (CCB advice).
· The plan is legally sound (legal opinion received from counsel).
· The plan is minimal in contributions (e.g. 1/3 of 1 % for churches).
· The plan is equitable to all churches (a percentage, not a per capita).
· There are safeguards built into the plan to prevent abuse.
· There are provisions for hardship cases.
· Retired ministers are exempt.
· It is a means by which every church, presbytery and minister may participate in funding support services.
· All other Committees and Agencies favor this plan as indicated by their votes in Coordinators meeting, Cooperative Ministries Committee meeting and AC meeting.
· This plan is put forward after ten years of considering funding possibilities in the strategic planning process.
· The plan has garnered support from a broad spectrum. See video testimony at http://www.pcaac.org/2010StrategicPlanDocuments/ACFundingPlan.htm
· See also the rationale attached to the Proposed BCO Amendments http://www.pcaac.org/2010StrategicPlanDocuments/ACFundingPlan.htm
9. These amendments have stirred a lot of debate within the denomination. In what way are you sympathetic to the arguments against these amendments, and the funding plan?
I have previously posted a response to many of the arguments offered against the AC Funding Plan, http://www.pcaac.org/2010StrategicPlanDocuments/ACFundingPlan.htm. I support presbyteries' rights and responsibilities to engage in debate of issues in accordance with the Bible, the PCA Constitution, and Roberts Rules of Order standards of decorum in debate. The arguments I have read thus far opposing the proposed amendments to the BCO that would enable the Assembly-adopted AC Funding plan to go into effect, I have found to be factually inaccurate, logically inconsistent, or both.
10. What is your response to the charge that these amendments are contrary to BCO 25-8 (“The superior courts of the Church may receive monies or properties from a local church only by free and voluntary action of the latter.”)?
I agree with the unanimous advice of the Committee on Constitutional Business that proposed amendments to BCO 14-1 and 14-2 are not in conflict with the PCA Constitution.
Note: There was some discussion within the CCB as to whether these proposed changes are in conflict with BCO 25-8 through 25-11 that protects a congregation from attempts by a higher court of the Church to secure possession of the congregation's property against its will. In the opinion of the CCB, there is no conflict, as none of the proposed provisions would remove a congregation from the denomination for failure to pay the proposed Annual Registration Fee, nor would they force a congregation to surrender its property, however, broadly the term “property” is construed. The CCB finds no constitutional difference between the provisions of the proposed amendments and the current practice of requiring a registration fee in order for a commissioner to be seated at the General Assembly (38th General Assembly, Commissioners' Handbook, p. 276).
See CCB Chairman Dan Carroll and TE David Coffin’s video comments, http://www.pcaac.org/2010StrategicPlanDocuments/ACFundingPlan.htm
11. Why is the AC hurting financially? Is it just a lack of giving or is it more than that? Why, in your opinion, do churches and people not support the AC?
There is no one sole reason why the AC is underfunded. Less than half of the churches in the PCA give anything to any General Assembly-level ministry. Some regard administration as not being a ministry. Some do not regard essential support services to be a very high priority cause to support, if compared to some other causes. Some are not informed concerning all that the AC/SC does for the denomination, though we try to get that information before the churches. The downturn in the economy has adversely affected individuals, churches, Presbyteries and general Assembly Ministries so that giving has been reduced. The AC, as others have done, has reduced expenditures, made salary reductions, curtailed growth, and taken other cost-saving measures.
12. What is a book that you are reading or have recently read that you would strongly recommend? Why?
I have completed reading Jaroslav Pelikan's 5-volume work, The Christian Tradition, A History of the Development of Doctrine. I recommend that people read that series because Pelikan had a unique ability to see panoramic view of the History of Doctrine, drew from a broad range of original sources that had been written in numerous languages, and yet was able to analyze and summarize issues well for the English reader.
13. In your opinion, is the PCA a healthy denomination? Why or why not?
The PCA is not a perfect denomination (there is none). The Church Universal has never been without controversy and conflict, as the New Testament and the Church History both testify. I believe that the PCA is a healthy denomination because we have remained true to our original commitment to be a Church that is "Faithful to the Scriptures, True to the Reformed Faith, and Obedient to the Great Commission;" though our growth is not as rapid as in earlier years, we are still reaching more and more people through our ministries; the PCA has been able to maintain all three of the major emphases of evangelical Presbyterianism in North America (doctrinal fidelity, evangelism and piety, and the societal implications of the Gospel); the PCA has expanded geographically out of our Southeastern U.S. origins, and ethnically into a more multi-ethnic Church; and the Lord has given the PCA a Gospel influence in North America and abroad in greater proportion to our size. We need to bear in mind, moreover, that our Lord's promise to preserve and advance the Church (Matthew 16:13-20) was given to the Church Universal, not to one denominational branch of the Church, and that greater opportunities carry greater responsibilities (Luke 12:48 b.).