During the General Synod 2018 meeting, the following Memorial was approved with no discussion. This was done in peace and unity and not a matter of division but a matter of multiplying.
FIRST PRESBYTERY MEMORIAL #2 (Establishment of a new Eastern NC Presbytery):
Whereas, the Presbytery is the essential court of the Presbyterian system, which has oversight of a group of congregations within a specific geographical area as determined by the General Synod. (FOG 10.1).
Whereas the primary responsibility of Presbytery is the “initiation, planning, organization and administration of programs designed to enable it to carry on the mission of God in Christ’s Church by word and deed,” (FOG 10.2) and its role in doing so can be summarized as oversite and care for ministers and candidates for ministry; oversight and care for congregations within its jurisdiction especially for those struggling or without pastors; establishment and organization of new congregations; and in general the extension of Christ’s kingdom within its boundaries and beyond. (FOG 10.3)
Whereas First Presbytery has been used and blessed by God in carrying out this responsibility such that the number of churches has grown substantially and its boundaries extended across the entire state of North Carolina to such a degree that it is significantly larger than any other presbytery of the ARP.
Whereas the 2012 General Synod Committee on Efficiency recommended that “First Presbytery be divided into two presbyteries” along with supporting reasons (2012 Minutes of Synod, pgs. 566, 571-572), which recommendation was referred to First Presbytery.
Whereas First Presbytery, in response to the General Synod Committee on Efficiency’s recommendations, did appoint the Committee on Realignment and further adopted its recommendation “to develop and pursue a unified vision and practical strategy for realignment and multiplying presbyteries that will strategically and effectively further the advancement of the gospel in and through our churches” (Minutes of First Presbytery, June 2013), and the Committee on Realignment presented three viable scenarios for such realignment (Minutes of First Presbytery, October 2013), all three of which included the formation of an Eastern NC Presbytery.
Whereas the work of the Committee on Realignment never progressed to a final recommendation, yet provided valuable assessment of and information on the need and strategy for multiplying presbyteries.
Whereas the Sessions of the proposed Eastern NC Presbytery congregations, with great appreciation for the faithful ministry and growth of First Presbytery, do now desire and are committed to working together as a new presbytery in the eastern regions of North Carolina, with a unified vision for effectively and efficiently carrying out the mission and message of Christ’s church and the advancement of Christ’s kingdom through the care and oversight of ministers, candidates and congregations; the establishment and organization of new churches; and proclamation of the Gospel in word and deed.
Whereas the number and size of congregations in this eastern region has grown such that it can be more effective and better steward the spiritual gifts and resources of its ministers, sessions and congregations by implementing and overseeing the work of our ARP churches in a more focused geographical area. We believe this will encourage more lay involvement of elders and members in the work of Presbytery, greater personal care for one another, and better gospel- partnership together in this region.
Whereas these churches are committed to work together as congregations to form a new presbytery that seeks the glory of Christ and the advancement of his Church in general, and the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in particular, in eastern North Carolina.
And whereas these churches are committed to have a fully functional plan in place by April 2018 and to work with First Presbytery for a smooth transition and implementation for this new presbytery.
Therefore, First Presbytery, on behalf of the Sessions of the proposed Presbytery, memorializes General Synod to approve the establishment of a new eastern NC Presbytery of the ARP Church beginning
as soon after the 2018 meeting of Synod as feasible and:
- That the new Presbytery be defined geographically as including the following North Carolina counties: Stokes, Forsyth, Davidson, Montgomery, Richmond and all other NC counties to the east;
- That due to their location so close to the above boundary line and the express desire of the Maupin Avenue ARP Session to be included in the new Presbytery, that Synod be requested to grant Maupin Avenue inclusion in the new Presbytery.
- That the transition timeline outlined in the above report be recommended to General Synod with the goal of the new Presbytery being organized on January 1, 2019.
- That retired ministers, ministers without a call, and ministers laboring outside the bounds who are residing in the geographic boundaries of the new Presbytery have their membership in the new Presbytery unless they appeal to remain in First Presbytery prior to the organization of the new presbytery.
In understanding the official motion, a brief history of First Presbytery follows.
Compiled by Kenneth McMullen, First Presbytery Clerk.
Constituted in October 1800, it was formed by the division of the Associate Reformed Presbytery of the Carolinas and Georgia in to First and Second presbyteries. The Broad River in SC was used as the dividing line. Everything east of the river and south of Virginia became First Presbytery; everything west became Second Presbytery. In 1919, Catawba Presbytery was formed out of First Presbytery. It contained the portion of First Presbytery in South Carolina east of the Broad River. First Presbytery thereafter encompassed all of the ARP congregations in North Carolina. The General Synod in 2010 designated First Presbytery as the ‘holding presbytery’ for a church planting effort in Edinburgh, Scotland. That church later transferred to the Free Church of Scotland, and First Presbytery’s direct involvement in Scotland ceased. In 2014 the General Synod also assigned the Chicago, IL, metropolitan area to First Presbytery. On January 1, 2019, Grace Presbytery will be formed from the eastern portion of First Presbytery. It will contain the counties of Stokes, Forsyth, Davidson, Montgomery, Richmond and all other NC counties to the east. It will initially have twenty-one congregations. First Presbytery will continue on with the western portion of North Carolina along with the Appalachian counties in Kentucky, Tennessee, and Virginia, which were added to it in recent years. It will retain almost fifty congregations.