Bethany Discernment

Bethany Presbyterian Church was accepted September 27, 2014 by the Evangelical Presbyterian Church (EPC).  Charles (Chuck) Echols, Pastor and Teaching Elder, was interviewed by the panel at the Southeast Presbytery Meeting and received as an EPC Teaching Elder.  Ruling Elders were also reviewed and received.  This begins a new chapter in the life of Bethany Presbyterian Church.

The following information is provided to give readers a view of Bethany Presbyterian Church’s history:

Bethany Presbyterian Church was part of the Presbyterian Church USA (PCUSA).  A discernment process was entered into by the Session and congregation and Bethany Presbyterian Church petitioned the Holston Presbytery to allow the congregation and property to be released to affiliate with another Reformed denomination.   In an attempt to inform the congregation and any other party who may be interested in this process, the following is provided:

Section I – Bethany Presbyterian Church “Position Papers”
  1. Bethany Presbyterian Church Reasons for Requesting Dismissal from Holston Presbytery and Presbyterian Church (USA) – Abbreviated Version
  2. Bethany Presbyterian Church Reasons for Requesting Dismissal from Holston Presbytery and Presbyterian Church (USA) – Full Version Link
  3. Five Solas – Reformation Faith and the Presbyterian Church (USA) – Brief summary plus Full Version Link
Section II – Correspondence Between Bethany Presbyterian Church and Holston Presbytery
  1. Letter from Bethany Presbyterian Church’s Session to Rev., Dr. Richard Fifield, dated December 17, 2012
  2. Email message from Holston Presbytery to Bethany Presbyterian Church, dated January 6, 2013
  3. Letter from Bethany Presbyterian Church to Holston Presbytery Requesting Administrative Committee, dated February 17, 2013
  4. Email message from Holston Presbytery to Bethany Presbyterian Church referring request for dismissal to another reformed denomination to Committee on Ministry, dated February 19, 2013
  5. Email message from Committee on Ministry Chair, Rev. Tom Philips to Rev. Charles Echols, Bethany Presbyterian Church Pastor, dated March 14, 2013
  6. Letter from Bethany Presbyterian Church to Rev. Tom Philips, COM Chair, dated March 19, 2013
  7. Email message from Rev. Tom Philips, COM Chair, to Roland Patterson, Bethany Clerk of Session, requesting meeting with session, dated June 4, 2013
  8. Email message from Rev., Dr. Richard Fifield to Roland Patterson, Bethany Clerk of Session, requesting to reschedule meeting with session, dated July 6, 2013
  9. Letter from Rev. Tom Philips, COM Chair, to Bethany Church Members, dated September 19, 2013 in advance of Committee on Ministry meetings.
  10. Email message from Rev. Tom Philips, COM Chair, to Roland Patterson, Bethany Clerk of Session, requesting meeting with congregation, dated October 7, 2013
  11. Email message from  Rev. Tom Philips, COM Chair, to Roland Patterson, Bethany Clerk of Session, clarifying schedule of meetings with congregation, dated October 14, 2013
  12. Letter from Rev. Tom Philips, COM Chair to Bethany Presbyterian Church, dated October 26, 2013 
  13. Email message from Rev. Tom Philips, COM Chair, to Roland Patterson, Bethany Clerk of Session, indicating decision to release Bethany to another Reformed denomination will be considered at June 7, 2014 Presbytery Meeting, dated January 27, 2014

Section I – Bethany Presbyterian Church “Position Papers”

Bethany Presbyterian Church Reason for Requesting Dismissal from Holston Presbytery and Presbyterian Church (USA):   (Abbreviated Version)

After considerable prayer, reflection, study and discussion, the Session of Bethany Presbyterian Church (BPC) voted unanimously to seek dismissal from the Presbyterian Church (USA) (PCUSA) to another reform denomination. Four Reasons for the request: 1.     The absolute authority of Scripture has been diminished and the “enlightened conscience” now takes precedence in the guidance and governing of the PCUSA

  • PCUSA still affirms in its Confessions that the Bible is the source of our faith and life. In its practice, it does not.
  • The Confession of 1967 states that Scriptural authority is determined not by Scripture, but by the interpreter. This means that our intellect is valued above the plain meaning of the text.  [C67 – 9.27]
  • Those who deny key biblical doctrines remain unchallenged.  For example, in a sermon on Pentecost 2012, Rev. John Shuck denied that most of the events in the Book of Acts ever happened.  [shuckandjive.org/2012/05/pentecosts-miracle-sermon.html]
  • General Assembly Permanent Judicial Parnell case, those who sought to reference the authority of Scripture were told that the Bible cannot be used to prove any one position since there are so many interpretations of the Bible. [ora.pcusa.org/media/uploads/oga/pdf/pic22003.pdf.

2.     The absolute Lordship of Jesus Christ over every area of life has been abandoned in favor of a growing “pluralism” and “inclusiveness” within our denomination in violation of Scripture and our own historic Reformed standards.

  • Although the PCUSA still affirms the importance of the example, teachings, and work of Jesus Christ, it seems much less certain about his Lordship.
  • Advocacy Committee for Women’s concerns brought a resolution to the 2012 General Assembly encouraging participation in the “Words Matter” project, which seeks to eradicate the term “Lord” for Jesus. [pcbiz.org/IOBView.aspx?m=ro&id+=3941&promoid=238]
  • Fall 2011 Presbyterian Panel Report only 41% of pastors agree that “only followers of Jesus Christ can be saved”. [pcusa.org/media/uploads/research/pdfs/panel_profile_survey_2011_summary_color.pdf]
  • PCUSA General Assemblies (2008 and 2010) struggled with the fact that exclusive claims for Jesus were a stumbling block in efforts at interfaith dialogues. Decision was made to join Jews and Mohammedans in claiming “We are all children of Abraham”, and to omit any references to the Trinity and Christ’s divine nature.  [Solas Page 3]
  • The 2001 General Assembly failed to support a motion to declare “the singular, saving Lordship of Jesus Christ”.
  • The new Form of Government begins with a claim that “the triune God … redeems…all people”.  This is universalism, a belief that all people will be saved, regardless of belief in Christ. (F-1.01)
  • The new Form of Government guarantees the full inclusion of all people “irrespective of theological conviction”, without mention of Christ as the means of salvation. (F-1.0403)
  • In 2002, a Covenant Network Conference speaker declared the atoning death of Christ to be an outdated doctrine.  [covnetpres.org2002/11/qwho-do-you-say-that-i-am/]
  • Traditional language for God as Father, Son, and Holy Spirit has been rejected, both by radical feminists who disapprove of masculine language, and by those who do not wish to offend people of other religions or those with no religion at all.   [gamc.pcusa.org/ministries/interfaith/interfaith-toolkit/]
  • Over the past two decades, representatives of The Jesus Seminar, which denies the divinity of Christ, have been invited to speak at PCUSA conference centers and have been published by PCUSA funded publishing houses.

3.     The “essential tenets (beliefs)” of our faith are not being specified by our denomination.

  • The 1993 “Re-Imagining God” conference, supported by PCUSA funds, one speaker declared, “I don’t think we need folks hanging on crosses and blood dripping and weird stuff…”  [brfwitness.org/?p=628]
  • This 1993 “Re-Imagining God” conference was funded by the PCUSA mission budget and planned largely by PCUSA staff at denominational expense. “Worship” leaders deny the existence of a transcendent God, worship the God within ourselves,” and exchanged the goddess “Sophia” for Jesus Christ.
  • On June 22, 2002, the 214th General Assembly, by a 77% vote, approved a statement that sanctions late-term abortions.
  • In 2010, Margaret Miles gave the Sprunt Lecture at Union Seminary in Richmond, VA. She suggested replacing the cross with a lactating breast and said “The cross is inappropriate as a symbol of God’s love.”  [christiancentury.org/article/2008-01/gods-love-mothers-milk]

4.       The PCUSA General Assembly (through the action and vote of its 173 presbyteries) and our new form of government have removed key Biblical standards for ordination so they now allow those who are openly practicing sin to be ordained, installed, and received into church leadership positions (Minister of the Word and Sacrament, elder, deacon, etc.)

  • In 1991, the General Assembly Task Force on Human Sexuality recommended a “Justice/Love Principal” to the General Assembly.  The task force concluded that all sexual activity among adults, whether marital or extramarital, heterosexual or homosexual, is good if it occurs by mutual consent, is not coerced (justice), and is motivated by a sincere desire to please the partner (love).  The task force report recognized that this quote “Justice/love principal” does not comport with Scripture, so it offered a new understanding of Scriptural authority: “Whatever in Scripture, tradition, reason or experience embodies genuine love and caring justice, that bears authority for us and commends an ethic to do likewise. Whatever in Biblical tradition, church practice and teaching, human experience and human reason violates God’s commandments to do, love and justice that must be rejected as ethical authority.” The report failed approval by the General Assembly, but, the assembly agreed the report could be used as a “study resource” for the church.  The concept of “Justice/Love” has since appeared in numerous denominational conferences, study guides, curricula and promotional materials.
  • Report on Peace, Unity and Purity (PUP) at 2006 General Assembly stated “Therefore, we believe the church should seek constructive, Christ-like alternatives to the ‘yes/no’ forms in which questions about sexuality, ordination, and same-gender covenantal relationships have been put to the church in recent decades.”
  • PCUSA 2010 General Assembly recommended that Presbyteries to overturn the “fidelity-chastity” clause governing ordination in the Book of Order.  2010 General Assembly recommend to the Board of Pensions that same-gender couples be provided with benefits comparable to those offered to opposite-gender couples.
  • In May 2011 Amendment 10-A was ratified by a majority of Presbyteries.  The “fidelity-chastity” language was removed from the constitution and Presbyteries began ordaining and installing Ministers of the Word and Sacrament whose lives do not conform to the denomination’s own espoused confessional standards.  In its Frequently Asked Questions on Amendment 10-A and Ordination Standards, the PCUSA Office of the General Assembly PCUSA states that “a person in a same gender relationship can be considered for ordination as deacon, elder, or Minister of the Word and Sacrament.
  • The Rev. Tara Spuhler McCabe, on April 28, 2012, officiated a wedding for two women despite the fact that the PCUSA Book of Order and Book of Confessions defines marriage as between one man and one woman.  Rather than discipline the Rev. McCabe, the PCUSA accepted her candidacy as a vice moderator of the 2012 General Assembly.

CONCLUSION This action of seeking dismissal, as mentioned earlier, is being taken after much prayerful consideration.

* * * * * * * *

Bethany Presbyterian Church Reason for Requesting Dismissal from Holston Presbytery and Presbyterian Church (USA):   (Full Version)
For Full Version of This Document Click Here:  Reason for Dismissal – full version

 * * * * * * * *
FIVE SOLAS 
REFORMATION FAITH AND THE PRESBYTERIAN CHURCH (USA) – Brief Summary

In the sixteenth century the Christian Faith was often expressed in terms of five “solas” of the Protestant Reformation.  How does the PC(USA) relate to these standards?  It appears that the authority and reliance on scripture alone, Christ alone, grace alone, faith alone, and the heart’s attitude “to God be the glory!” are all eroding.  Refer here for the full document:  Five Solas PDF

* * * * * * * *

Section II – Correspondence Between Bethany Presbyterian Church and Holston Presbytery

Bethany Presbyterian Church’s Initial Request for Dismissal

December 17, 2012 Rev., Dr. Rich Fifield (Executive Presbyter & Stated Clerk) Holston Presbytery 1415 Waverly Road Kingsport, TN  37664 Subject:  Motion from Bethany Presbyterian Church to be Dismissed from Holston Presbytery Dear Rev., Dr. Fifield (Rich), Bethany Presbyterian Church has labored with Holston Presbytery, Presbyterian Church USA (PCUSA), since the merger of 1983 to bring the Gospel of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ to all in fulfillment of the “Great Commission”.  We have fought the “good” fight of faith and doctrine with many of you to affirm the absolute Lordship of Jesus Christ, the infallible authority of Scripture, salvation by God’s grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone, and giving glory to God alone through vote after vote within our denomination.  We have many friends within the presbytery so to seek dismissal from the PCUSA comes after many years of struggle, continued prayers and tears over and for the state of the PCUSA.  However, in the providence of almighty God and the leading of the Holy Spirit within Bethany Presbyterian Church, we now seek dismissal from the PCUSA to another Reformed body based on the following reasons: Whereas, the PCUSA General Assembly (Through the action and vote of its 173 presbyteries) and our new Form of Government have removed key, Biblical standards for ordination in PCUSA churches now allowing those who are openly practicing sin to be ordained, installed, and received into church leadership positions (Minister of the Word and Sacrament, elder, deacon, etc.); and Whereas, the absolute Lordship of Jesus Christ over every area of life has been abandoned in favor of a growing “pluralism” and “inclusiveness” within our denomination in violation of Scripture and our own historic, Reformed standards; and Whereas, the absolute authority of Scripture has been diminished and the “enlightened” conscience now takes precedence in the guidance and governing of the PCUSA; and Whereas, the “essential tenants” of our faith are not being specified by our denomination; Therefore, we, the Session of Bethany Presbyterian Church, humbly request and move that we be dismissed from Holston Presbytery, Presbyterian Church (USA), with all our assets and property to another Reformed body that we might continue our high calling in Jesus Christ, the Son of God, Lord of lords, and King of kings! * * * * * * * *

Holston Presbytery’s Initial Response

From:rich@holstonpresbytery.org

To: charliechaplain78@hotmail.com

Subject: Our conversation

Date: Sun, 6 Jan 2013 02:49:29 +0000

Chuck, Again, thanks for taking time to talk on Friday. I will pass along the Bethany session letter requesting that the Bethany congregation be dismissed from Holston Presbytery and the PCUSA to the presbytery General Mission Board, which will meet on Tuesday, February 19. The General Mission Board will have several options regarding the Bethany request. Generally speaking, the General Mission Board may postpone the matter, they may refer the matter to a particular group, or they may make a recommendation, such as the appointment of an Administrative Commission, to handle the matter. If the General Mission Board/presbytery approves the appointment of an Administrative Commission, the presbytery will either give the AC limited powers or unlimited powers. Part of the AC’s work will be to assess the seriousness of the congregation’s desire to be dismissed (e.g. how do all of the members feel about dismissal?); propose any steps for possible reconciliation; and, in the event that reconciliation is not possible, propose any steps for dismissal, dissolution or dividing the congregation. Please know that if the AC is granted unlimited powers, the AC would have the authority to act in any way they deem necessary, including the possibility of dissolving the pastoral relationship. Since you have decided personally to transfer your ordination from the PCUSA to the EPC at some future date, I ask that you refrain from influencing the congregation in their discernment about their relationship with the PCUSA. It is important for the congregation to discern the matter of dismissal for themselves, with the assistance of the AC, so that they will not merely adopt the stance of their pastor. Furthermore, please know that the Committee on Ministry could deem a pastor’s encouragement of a congregation’s dismissal as an “unapproved work,” and if the pastor persists in an “unapproved work” that is the equivalent of a renouncement of jurisdiction, resulting in the pastor’s ordination being withdrawn. I am telling you of these possible outcomes so that you will be aware of the potential consequences or future actions, however likely or unlikely they may be. Chuck, it is certainly my desire that you and the Bethany congregation be fully reconciled with Holston Presbytery and the PCUSA… at any rate, let us both pray that God’s will be done among us!

Rich Fifield, Executive Presbyter/Stated Clerk Holston Presbytery P. O. Box 3647 Kingsport, TN 37664

* * * * * * * *

Bethany Presbyterian’s Request for Special Administrative Committee

February 17, 2013

Rev. Dr. Rich Fifield (Executive Presbyter & Stated Clerk)
Holston Presbytery
1415 Waverly Rd.
Kingsport, TN  37664
Subject: Request for consideration on appointment of special Administrative Committee
Dear Rev.  Fifield (Rich)
This is a follow-up to our motion for dismal from Holston Presbytery and our meeting on December 14, 2012.  We would like to request that an Administrative Committee of Holston Presbytery with limited powers be selected to work with us on our motion and report their findings to the floor of Holston Presbytery. And that the committee be composed of a balance of members with varied viewpoints on our request. We feel this is the only true and honest way that God’s will and long term direction for Bethany Presbyterian Church can be obtained . Please respond to us in writing on this request and our motion for dismal.  Thank You!
Sincerely,
Bethany Presbyterian Church
Roland Patterson
Clerk of Session
Note:  This letter was read  and unanimously approved  at the Stated Session meeting on Sunday 2/17/13. The Session directed that the
Clerk of the Session hand deliver this letter to Holston Presbytery offices on Monday 2/18/13.
* * * * * * *
Holston Presbytery’s Referral of Bethany Church’s Request to Committee on Ministry

From: Rich Fifield [mailto:rich@holstonpresbytery.org]

Sent: Tuesday, February 19, 2013 7:18 PM
To: Charles W. Echols (charliechaplain78@hotmail.com); Roland Patterson (rrp4810@chartertn.net)
Cc: J. Thomas Phillips (tom@chpres.org)
Subject: Bethany Church request for dismissal
Importance: High
Chuck and Roland, The General Mission Board considered the Bethany Church request to be dismissed from the PCUSA to another reformed body and took the following action: The General Mission Board unanimously referred the Bethany Church request to the Committee on Ministry to investigate the session, pastor and congregation to determine why the session is requesting dismissal from the PCUSA to another reformed body. Tom Phillips, the Committee on Ministry moderator, will be in touch with you soon as to how the COM will proceed.
Rich Fifield, Executive Presbyter/Stated Clerk Holston Presbytery P. O. Box 3647 Kingsport, TN 37664
* * * * * * *
Rev. Charles Echols Acknowledgement of Scheduled Meeting with Holston Presbytery Committee on Ministry
March 14, 2013
Rev., Mr. Thomas J. Phillips
Colonial Heights Presbyterian Church
213 Colonial Heights Road
Kingsport, Tennessee  37663
Subject:  Meeting(s) with Holston Presbytery Committee on Ministry
Dear Rev. Phillips(Tom),
Thank you for your very kind and thoughtful letter outlining future meetings with Holston Presbytery’s Committee on Ministry (COM).  I appreciate your considering my upcoming procedure and I do covet your prayers.  All of the dates look very good to me and I should be available to meet with the COM on April 25, 2013 if that is the wish of the committee.  Dates with the Session and Congregation will have to be coordinated through Mr. Roland Patterson for he’s coordinating and scheduling all of their meetings concerning Bethany Presbyterian Church’s discernment process with the COM. I’ll be in touch with you after Easter to firm up time(s) for our meeting together.  Again, thank you for your understanding, prayers and discerning with me and Bethany what our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, has in His sovereign plan for all of us.  Happy Easter!
Sincerely,
Charles W. Echols, Jr. Pastor,
Bethany Presbyterian Church (423) 943-8739(Cell)
* * * * * * * *
Bethany Presbyterian’s Response for Holston Presbytery’s Request for Meeting with the Session

March 19, 2013

Rev. J. Thomas Philips Chair, Committee on Ministry,

Holston Presbytery – PCUSA

213 Colonial Heights Road Kingsport, TN 37663

Dear Rev. Philips,

Grace and peace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Thank you very much for your gracious letter of March 4, 2013. Bethany Session understands your time schedule and will be available on your Committee’s schedule. We look forward to meeting with you and the Committee on Ministry to discuss reasons for our request to be dismissed to another reformed body. Please contact me when you have possible dates for this first meeting with the Session. I will schedule the meeting at a mutually agreed upon time. You may contact me by mail at the church or any of the following: Email: rrp4810@chartertn.net Phone: 423-230-5995 Cell: 423-677-1213 After meeting with Rev. Echols and the Session, I will be available to assist you in scheduling meeting times with the congregation. Please feel free to call me if you have questions.

Yours in Christ,

Roland Patterson, Clerk of Session, Bethany Presbyterian Church

* * * * * * *

Holston Presbytery’s Request for Meeting with Bethany Presbyterian’s Session

From: Tom Phillips [mailto:tom@chpres.org]

Sent: Tuesday, June 04, 2013 2:57 AM

To: rrp4810@chartertn.net Cc: Richard L. Fifield

Subject:

Mr. Patterson, It is not that I did not receive your previous letter it’s just that I could not find where I filed it and thus did not have immediate access to your address/phone/email! Let me bring you up to date: Committee on Ministry had a good meeting with Chuck in April and decided we wanted to wait and pray until the May meeting to decide what our next step should be. After our discussion in May we agreed that we want to find a time to meet first the entire Session of Bethany for an open and frank discussion of your feelings and intentions. Chuck believes that it would be best if he did not attend that meeting and we agreed with him. We are not talking about some formal meeting but rather a chance to sit down and come to a greater understanding. We want to primarily to listen, probably ask some questions and hopefully to gain some better sense of the Bethany Church’s position as we all seek together what is in the best interest of Christ’s Church and the Bethany congregation as a part of Christ’s Church. What we would like to purpose is an evening meeting to allow working members of your Session and COM to participate. This does not need to be a long meeting – perhaps an hour to an hour and a half. As we talk together we hope for greater clarity over what comes next in this process. I would suspect that we might want to also meet at some future date with any members of the congregation who would like to meet with us. Now, as to the time for this first meeting. We want to meet at the greatest convenience of your Session. The Committee on Ministry will do our best to have as many of our members in attendance as possible so we can all hear first hand whatever you have to tell us. My suspicion is that Monday – Thursday late afternoon/early evening would work however it may also be that a Sunday afternoon/evening would also work. If you would poll the other members of Session and give us two or three potential dates we will do our best to schedule as soon as possible. (I know of course that with summer upon us lots of folk will be taking vacations. In fact, if possible please do not schedule for the week of June 23-30 as I myself will be traveling.) I have copied Rich Fifield on this email for as our Stated Clerk and Exec of the Presbytery he will also want to be in attendance. I look forward to sitting down and meeting with all of you

Yours in Christ, Tom Phillips

* * * * * * *

Holston Presbytery’s Request to Reschedule Meeting with Bethany Presbyterian’s Session

From: Rich Fifield [mailto:rich@holstonpresbytery.org]

Sent: Saturday, July 06, 2013 1:02 PM

To: Roland Patterson (rrp4810@chartertn.net)

Cc: J. Thomas Phillips (tom@chpres.org); Charles W. Echols (charliechaplain78@hotmail.com)

Subject: Committee on Ministry Meeting with Bethany Presbyterian Church Session

Importance: High

Mr. Patterson, The Committee on Ministry would like to reschedule their meeting with the Bethany Presbyterian Church session on Tuesday, July 30, 6:00 PM, at the Bethany Church. Would you please ask the Bethany Church session if this date is agreeable? Thanks!  Have a great Lord’s Day tomorrow!

Rich Fifield, Executive Presbyter/Stated Clerk Holston Presbytery P. O. Box 3647 Kingsport, TN 37664

* * * * * * *

Rev. Tom Philips, COM Chair, to Bethany Church Members in advance of Committee on Ministry meetings

September 19, 2013

Dear Bethany Presbyterian Church Member:

Earlier this year, the session of Bethany Presbyterian Church requested that Holston Presbytery dismiss the Bethany congregation from the Presbyterian Church (USA) to another Reformed denomination.  That request was referred by the presbytery General Mission Board to the Committee on Ministry, which oversees congregations within the presbytery. The Committee on Ministry, in fulfilling its responsibilities mandated by the Book of Order, has interviewed the pastor and the session of Bethany Presbyterian Church.  In addition, the Committee on Ministry will be interviewing the members of Bethany Church regarding the session’s request to be dismissed from the PCUSA. Within the next few months the Bethany Church session will schedule gatherings for church members to meet with the Committee on Ministry.  This will be an opportunity for you to share any concerns, comments and suggestions you may have, as the Committee on Ministry evaluates the dismissal request. In the meantime, the Committee on Ministry has approved the enclosed “Response to the Bethany Presbyterian Church Session Position Paper,” which seeks to address the session’s main criticisms of the denomination.  We feel that it is important for church members to receive full information about the issues that are being raised in the discussion surrounding dismissal. I encourage you to read the enclosed material carefully, and make every attempt to be present at the future gatherings with the Committee on Ministry. Thank you for your prayerful deliberation about the future of Bethany Presbyterian Church!

Sincerely, Tom Phillips, Moderator Committee on Ministry

Email:  tom@chpres.org Phone:  (423) 239-9194

Enclosure:  Response to Bethany Presbyterian Church Session Position Paper PDF

* * * * * * *

Holston Presbytery’s Committee on Ministry Request for Meeting with Bethany Presbyterian Congregation

From: Tom Phillips [mailto:tom@chpres.org]

Sent: Monday, October 07, 2013 1:43 PM

To: Roland Patterson Cc: Richard L. Fifield

Subject:

Dear Mr. Patterson:

The Committee on Ministry for Holston Presbytery has come up with some dates we would like to use in talking with your congregational membership. Given the difficulty of everyone working around our various schedules we have chosen the dates of Thursday, October 17 from 5:00 – 7:00 pm and then again on Sunday afternoon October 20th again from 5:00 pm- 7:00 pm. What we would like for you to do is to ask members and/or member families ( i.e. a husband/wife or even an extended family with adult children and their spouses) to sign up for a 20 – 30 minute time slot on one of these days.  Teams of two members from COM will sit down with these family groups and we will simply ask question and listen for answers/comments. We believe we can meet with approximately 24 family groups in both of these two meetings if we need to. We will need about 6 rooms in which we can meet and Sunday School rooms are just fine. As we discussed before, no one is being forced to meet with us, but we do hope we can meet with as many as possible since that gives us a much better feeling for where the congregational membership is in this process. Please let me know if we can do anything to help in planning these meetings.

Yours in Christ, Tom Phillips

* * * * * * *

Holston Presbytery’s Committee on Ministry Scheduling Message for Meetings with Bethany Presbyterian Congregation

From: Tom Phillips [mailto:tom@chpres.org]

Sent: Monday, October 14, 2013 2:13 PM

To: Roland Patterson Cc: Richard L. Fifield

Subject:

Dear Mr. Patterson; just a reminder that this is the week for COM is to meet with as many of the members of Bethany Presbyterian and may choose to meet with us. The schedule is as follows: Date:  Thursday, October 17, 2013, 4:00 PM – 6:00 PM, at Bethany Presbyterian Church Date:  Sunday, October 20, 2013, 4:00 PM – 6:00 PM, at Bethany Presbyterian Church It might be useful, if you have the information, to give us a list of the families and the time/date they will meet with us. Or if you have created a schedule for your members, to forward a copy to me before the Thursday meeting. We look forward to meeting with every one.

Sincerely Tom Phillips

* * * * * * *

Holston Presbytery’s Response from COM Chairman, Tom Phillips

From: Tom Phillips [mailto:tom@chpres.org]

Sent: Saturday, October 26, 2013 9:28 AM To: Roland Patterson Cc: Richard L. Fifield Subject:

Dear Mr. Patterson,

Committee on Ministry discussed the Bethany Congregation’s desire to be dismissed a different Reformed Denomination at length at its meeting on Thursday, October 24.

After much discussion, COM has voted to continue our season of prayer and contemplation seeking what we believe is best for both the Bethany Congregation and Holston Presbytery. We are simply not ready to make a recommendation to the General Mission Board at this time and therefore the General Mission Board will NOT have any recommendation for the December 2013 meeting of Presbytery.

Just as it has taken many months, even years for the Pastor, Session and congregation at Bethany to reach your decision, so too Committee on Ministry also need time to prayerfully deliberate so we may make a informed decision.

COM will continue to meet, discuss, pray and seek God’s will in this manner. We are praying for the Bethany congregation and we trust that you will continue to also pray for Holston Presbytery. In time, and according to God’s good will, we will each a decision/recommendation as we are able.

Your in Christ,

Tom

J. Thomas Phillips,

Chair, Committee on Ministry; Holston Presbytery

* * * * * * *

Holston Presbytery’s Update from COM Chairman, Tom Phillips

From: Tom Phillips [mailto:tom@chpres.org]

Sent: Monday, January 27, 2014 10:59 AM

To: Roland Patterson

Cc: Richard L. Fifield

Subject:

Mr. Patterson,

On behalf of the Committee on Ministry for Holston Presbytery I wanted to once again touch base with you concerning the request for the Bethany Presbyterian Church to seek membership in another Reformed Denomination and to keep you apprised of our progress.

As you perhaps remember Committee on Ministry did not meet during November and December 2013 (except by email for routine business).

We have just completed our January 2014 meeting last Thursday and Bethany was once again on our agenda. Committee on Ministry has five new members and we are working to bring them “up to speed” with all our conversations and meetings with the Bethany Congregation. It is the desire and hope of the Committee on Ministry to reach our conclusions and report our recommendations to the General Mission Board in time for the June 7, 2014 meeting of Presbytery.

At this time I do not anticipate any further meetings with the Bethany Session or membership, however some of that will depend on our new members feeling confident they have sufficient information to proceed to recommendations.

Grace and Peace

Tom Phillips, Chair, COM