At a called meeting on May 18, 2019, Missouri Presbytery met to receive the report of our Ad Hoc Committee to Investigate Memorial Presbyterian Church and Revoice (the “CIM”). The report is available for download below; we encourage you to consider the overview of how we have received, adopted and approved varying portions of it as a Presbytery prior to reading the report itself.
Greetings in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
There has been much concern over the past two years regarding the Revoice Conference that met in St. Louis in 2018 and 2019. This conference falls under our purview with respect to the original hosting congregation, Memorial Presbyterian, and due to the fact that several of the speakers and leaders are members either of our Presbytery or of congregations in our Presbytery. However, we wish to make very clear that we have no official jurisdiction over Revoice itself.
Over the course of the past two years, many questions have been raised regarding the conference and specifically regarding our response to it. Some have brought these questions with brotherly love, sincerity, charitable esteem, unwillingness to admit evil reports, preservation of our good name, and discouragement of tale-bearers and slanderers (See Westminster Larger Catechism 144). For those interactions we are grateful. These interactions have not been in the public eye because these brothers and sisters have approached us directly with their concerns. We have had fruitful and God-honoring interactions with them, and we are grateful for the way they are sharpening us.
The concerns that have been expressed regarding our Presbytery’s response to Revoice, Memorial Presbyterian, and Pastor Greg Johnson can be categorized into two main themes. One regards our need to act in shepherding and governing those within our bounds on this issue. The other regards our theological and moral positions on the issues of human sexuality. I hope to address these two main thematic concerns in this letter.
First, as Presbyterians we have well established procedures of order and judicial process that must be followed. These procedures take time, but they are designed, and have been proven throughout the centuries of the Church, to promote truth and morality while also respecting the rights of the minority and the accused. We also have confessional standards that hold us to a very high standard with regard to the keeping of the ninth commandment. As a confessional body we must adhere to these standards and what they require of our conduct. This does not allow us to move very quickly on difficult matters like these. But let us assure the PCA and the broader Christian Church: we are not idle. We are acting to preserve the purity, peace, and unity of the Church. We have spent hundreds and hundreds of hours reading, interviewing, discussing, writing, deliberating, correcting, and shepherding. We are properly overseeing the churches, ministers, and members under care.
Secondly, the Missouri Presbytery remains and will remain steadfastly committed to our confessional stances on Christian morality. We will never compromise on the core Christian teachings on sexual morality that are expressly taught in the Holy Scriptures and expounded in the Westminster Standards. I have not interacted with a single pastor or elder in our presbytery that has shown even a hint of a desire to shift in this area. We remain steadfastly and uniformly committed to Christian orthodoxy and morality.
Here is a summary of our actions over the past two years that demonstrate these two points. In late 2018 we convened a committee to examine and respond to Revoice and Memorial Presbyterian Church’s involvement in the conference. That committee presented its findings at a called meeting of Presbytery in May of 2019. At that meeting we approved nine theological judgments and one judicial judgment regarding Pastor Greg Johnson and Memorial Church. As part of that action, Memorial and Pastor Johnson were required to respond to the report and a new committee was convened to work with them on our findings and judgments. That committee work is ongoing. Additionally we received requests from two presbyteries and two local church sessions of the PCA to investigate Greg Johnson in particular. Those requests were referred to the existing committee and that work is ongoing. When the work of that committee is completed, they will recommend to the Presbytery whether there is a strong presumption of guilt of Memorial and Pastor Johnson. If there is a strong presumption of guilt for either party, we will proceed to a trial.
In addition, there was an official judicial complaint against several actions taken at the May 2019 meeting to discuss the report of the investigation into Memorial and Revoice. That complaint was heard at our October 2019 stated meeting and was partially sustained. The result was that we rescinded our action to approve the nine theological judgments and convened a called meeting of Presbytery in December of 2019 to reconsider those nine judgments. At the December meeting we adopted amended language regarding eight of the theological judgments. One of the theological judgments was recommended for a rewrite. That work is ongoing. If one compares the wording of the original judgments in May with the amended wording adopted in December, one will see that we have carefully listened to concerns and reflected those in the statements we adopted.
Further, at our October 2019 stated meeting our presbytery approved the creation of a committee to produce a statement of affirmations and denials regarding the issues raised by Revoice. That work is on-going, and we anticipate completion in April 2020. May we also remind the Church that our denomination, the PCA, has a study committee at work on these issues that we anticipate reporting to this year’s General Assembly in June of 2020.
In summary, Missouri Presbytery is currently acting to exercise our oversight and governance in the following five ways:
For those who may be dissatisfied with the length of time these various processes require, let us give the reminder that all of us in the presbytery are doing this extensive work on a voluntary basis. Our presbytery has no full-time employees. All of our members have vocations, families, and local churches outside of the work of governing our presbytery. We ask the broader church for patience, grace, and trust as we work through these issues with the charity, judiciousness, and deliberation required of us.
The peace of Christ be with you all.
Rev. Dr. Timothy R. LeCroy Outgoing 2019 Moderator of Missouri Presbytery For the Administrative Committee of the Missouri Presbytery
This letter does not necessarily reflect the views of every member of Missouri Presbytery, but does express the views of its elected leadership. Approved by the Administrative Committee of Missouri Presbytery on 1/9/2020.
At our May meeting, we used the following language to “approve” of the nine theological judgments of the report:
We approved the Theological Judgments and Arguments 1-9, as being, in substance, consistent with the teaching of Holy Scripture and our confessional standards, and recommended them to our churches for their serious study, consideration, and guidance.
However, at our July 2019 stated meeting, we received a complaint from a member of Missouri Presbytery concerning the action we had taken to approve and adopt varying portions of that May 2019 report. A Complaint Review Committee was formed to consider those concerns, other concerns shared within our Presbytery and feedback from other believers from outside the Presbytery. In October, we heard the results of the committee that considered the complaint and, at their recommendation, voted to sustain a portion of the complaint and rescind the motion quoted above, agreeing to reconsider each of the theological judgments individually at a future called meeting.
We had that called meeting on December 7, 2019. At the meeting, we reconsidered each of the nine judgments, approved new language concerning eight of the report’s judgments and sent one back to committee for further consideration.
Here are the results of the December 2019 meeting concerning theological judgments 1-9 in our report:
These actions were taken at our May 2019 called meeting and remain in effect:
Missouri Presbytery is continuing its work of engaging on these issues and we have several active committees still laboring on matters around Revoice, including the reconsideration of theological judgment #7 and an “Affirmations and Denials Committee” preparing a document that speaks to the Biblical truths we hold as a Presbytery on these matters. We intend to share the fruits of those continued efforts publicly as soon as we possibly can.
You can download the complete report here.