June 18 : Founding of Covenant Presbytery (PCA)

This Day in Presbyterian History:  

Covenant Presbytery begins in 1973

Covenant Presbytery was one of the original sixteen Presbyteries constituted upon the formation of the Presbyterian Church in America, and it is specifically numbered as the seventh PCA Presbytery.

From the Minutes of the organizational meeting of the Covenant Presbytery (PCA), we read that the meeting was held at the First Presbyterian church of Indianola, Mississippi, at 10 AM on June 18, 1973. The host pastor, the Rev. John W. Stodghill, preached a sermon on John 17:1-26, titled “One in Christ.” Following this, the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper was observed, conducted by Rev. Stodghill and assisted by ruling elders of the host church.

It was a humble beginning, with only two teaching elders and seven ruling elders numbered as official participants. Another eleven ruling elders were present as observers from other area churches and an audience of some forty-seven church members also attended. The meeting proceeded with the Rev. Stodghill elected as moderator and the Rev. Robert L. Mabson, pastor of the Eastland Presbyterian church, Memphis, TN, was elected as Clerk.

At this first meeting, the new Presbytery was careful to adopt a resolution stating certain foundational principles and in particular resolving:

  1. That we, the undersigned, do covenant together to form an association to be known as Covenant Presbytery; and,
  2. That this association shall have as its purpose to perpetuate the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ as it is proclaimed in the Scriptures and declared in the Westminster Standards; and,
  3. That we, the undersigned, met in Indianola, Mississippi, at 10:00 a.m. on Monday, June 18, 1973.

An appended document defined the rights of particular churches, with noted attention to insuring the property rights of local congregations.

Also noted among the audience at that organizational meeting of the Covenant Presbytery were two seminary students, Mr. Tom Barnes, approved as temporary student supply for the Itta Bena and Morgan City churches and Mr. Edwin Elliott, approved as temporary student supply for the First Presbyterian church, Water Valley, MS and the Oak Ridge church, also of Water Valley, MS.

From those humble origins, the Covenant Presbytery has grown to now number fifty-three churches, making it one of the largest Presbyteries in the PCA. The Presbytery represents a total membership of nearly 9,000 communicant and non-communicant members.

Words to Live By:
Pray for this Presbytery and for the deliberations at General Assembly, as the Presbytery now comes before the 40th General Assembly this June 19-22, 2012 and seeks, under Overture 42, to incorporate churches from the dissolved Louisiana Presbytery :

OVERTURE 42 from Covenant Presbytery (to MNA)
“Expand Covenant Presbytery Upon Dissolution of Louisiana Presbytery”
Whereas, Louisiana Presbytery has initiated the process of dissolving as a presbytery; and
Whereas, Covenant Presbytery includes all of Arkansas excluding the counties of Miller,
Lafayette, Columbia, and Union, which are currently part of Louisiana Presbytery; and
Whereas, the Joining and Receiving Commission of Louisiana Presbytery has encouraged Covenant Presbytery upon their dissolution to receive these counties; and
Whereas, Covenant Presbytery has expressed a desire to see churches planted throughout Arkansas with a prayerful goal of one day planting a new presbytery in the state; and
Whereas, there are no existing churches or works in these counties;
Therefore, Be It Resolved that Covenant Presbytery respectfully overtures the 40th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in America to redraw the boundary of
Covenant Presbytery to include the whole state of Arkansas upon the dissolution of
Louisiana Presbytery.
Adopted by Covenant Presbytery at its stated meeting.

Through the Scriptures: 1 Kings 11 – 13

Through the Standards:  Special and particular uses of the law to saved and unsaved

WCF 19:6
“Although true believers be not under the law, as a covenant of works, to be thereby justified, or condemned; yet is it of great use to them, as well as to others; in that, as a rule of life informing them of the will of God, and their duty , it directs and binds them to walk accordingly; discovering also the sinful pollutions of their nature, hearts, and lives; so as, examining  themselves thereby, they may come to further conviction of, humiliation for, and hatred against sin, together with a clearer sight of the need they have of Christ, and the perfection of His obedience.  It is likewise to use to the regenerate, to restrain their corruption, in that it forbids sin: and the threatenings of it serve to shew what even their sins deserve; and what afflictions, in this life, they may expect for them, although freed from the curse thereof threatened in the law.  The promises of it, in like manner, shew them God’s approbation of obedience, and what blessings they may expect upon the performance thereof: although not as due to them by the law as a covenant of works.  So as, a man’s doing good, and refraining from evil, because the law encourages to the one and deters from the other, is no evidence of his being under the law; and not under grace.”

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