Temporary Session Update
The June meeting of the Temporary Session of Southwood (TSS) was held on Monday, June 11, 2012. All members of the TSS were in attendance and the meeting began with a presentation from a group of Southwood members who have expressed interest in pursuing a new church plant in Huntsville.
In the Presbyterian Church in America the Mission to North America Committee (MNA) of our Presbytery is the overseeing body that would guide, direct and ultimately recommend approval of any new church to the full Presbytery. It is the long-standing practice of our MNA committee to connect with other churches in the probable vicinity of a new church to obtain their input prior to proceeding. This is especially the case if the individuals desiring a new church are primarily members from one particular church, as is the case with this particular group from Southwood.
The MNA committee had requested the input of the TSS; therefore, several members of the exploratory group shared their hearts and deep desire for the establishment of a new church. Members of the TSS asked many questions and expressed their love and concern for the individuals involved. The TSS shared their commitment to ensuring that any new work would facilitate and not hinder reconciliation. While the TSS has a deep desire to see everyone who could remain at Southwood remain, they did agree that the establishment of a new church under the leadership of the MNA committee should be supported at this time. The spirit of and passage of that motion was communicated to the group through their leadership and to the MNA committee of Providence Presbytery.
Reconciliation chairman Alan Judge reported on the on-site mediation work of the Peacemakers. He was encouraged to see many individuals pursuing reconciliation with each other as well as the recognition by many that the “issues” which God had been dealing with revolved more around their hearts than anything else. Will Spink presented a detailed shepherding plan to the TSS describing how our Elders would continue to pursue church members and engage in practical pastoral care for the flock.
Rick McCann, chairman of the Diaconate, reported to the Session on the current status of the Deacons and communicated a request from the Deacons that the TSS would clarify the reconciliation process and asked the Session to specifically define what Reconciliation was. The Session responded: “Reconciliation is evidenced when 2 brothers can have heated disagreements but submit to one another to maintain the unity, peace, purity, and edification of the church.” The TSS intended to help us all to remember the weight of our calling as Christians to always love one another although we will not always agree.
The TSS spent a significant amount of time focused on the other area of specific focus given to us by the Pastoral Care Committee. While we were charged with shepherding toward reconciliation we were also asked to facilitate the training and election of a permanent Session. As you know nominations were open during the month of June and during the month of July men will be trained and examined by the TSS. Men who will stand for election will be examined according to our Biblical and Constitutional standards. The requirements of 1 Timothy and Titus give us clear Biblical qualifications for service. The Book of Church Order and the Westminster Standards give us clear theological and ecclesiastical parameters for that same service. The TSS is committed to carefully examining each nominee to ensure that any man who will be put forth to stand for election is qualified, equipped and called to serve Southwood as a Ruling Elder in this next season.