Report of General Assembly Commissioner, Elder Tony Martin
REPORT OF GENERAL ASSEMBLY COMMISSIONER, ELDER TONY MARTIN,
A big Texas thank you for electing me as a commissioner to the 183rd meeting of General Assembly at Murfreesboro,Tennessee. Before GA began, Ann, my wife, and I had the opportunity to worship at the very friendly First Cumberland Church of Murfreesboro. It was the first service of their new pastor Rev. Chris Warren which concluded with a brother and sister’s profession of faith in Jesus Christ and becoming members of that Church. It was a very uplifting service.
Orientation began at 3 pm on 6/16/2013 with Rev Mike Sharp moderating. Committee assignments were made and a list of pre-assembly workshops was presented for us to choose for the next day. Sunday concluded with praise worship by the very talented Vocal Authority from Bethel University.
The first item of GA was the workshops and I chose the Lay Leader Program class led by Rev. Milton Ortiz. It was very informative with the entire focus to supply elders to preach at Churches that currently do not have a full time pastor for various reasons. This allows an elder at one Church, currently not on the session of that Church, to preach at another church. This can be accomplished in one year increments. This may be helpful at some point to Trinity Presbytery. Every question or comment that came up was again re-focused that this program is entirely for that smaller congregation and the help we could give them.
Monday afternoon the Rev. Robert Rush called the Assembly to order and on motion the program presented was adopted. There were 49 minister delegates, 44 elder delegates, and 24 Youth Advisory Delegates present. The theme of GA was “Telling your story” and no one told their story better than our very own Robert Rush as retiring moderator. Telling your story with confidence in God was his message and how we were just to let the Holy Spirit take over our lives. Thru this we can over come and deal with what life brings as all families have their cross to bear. Rev Rush pointed to the fact that he and Olene lost two children but their faith in God carried them through these difficult times. It was a very uplifting message. One commissioner commented to me how marveled he was with Rev. Rush’s message and he said he did all that without any notes. Oh how times have changed.
The next order of business was to elect a moderator. The Rev. Forest Prosser was nominated by Cliff Hudson of the Tennessee-Georgia Presbytery. James McGuire then nominated Rev. Jamie Lively of East Tennessee Presbytery for moderator. After the vote Forest Prosser was elected moderator and Jamie Lively was elected as Vice-Moderator. After the election we were all welcomed by the Rev. Jeff Clark, pastor host, of the Joywood CP Church and he welcomed local officials and CPCA representatives.
We were then adjourned to our committees and I was on the higher education committee. It was chaired by Rev. Nancy McSpadden and co-chaired by Rev. James McGuire. Due to many changes previously our sole mission was Memphis Theological Seminary. It was getting late that first day and we basically just met and introduced ourselves and what Presbytery we were from. That evening there was a reception honoring the Moderator, Vice-Moderator, Immediate Past Moderator, the President-elect, and the President of CP Women’s Ministry.
Tuesday began with a devotional led by Worship Director Rev. Lisa Scott’ Telling his story so that others might know and love Jesus Christ’ was the Rev. Wilfrido Quinonez from Cauca Valley Presbytery. He gave his message thru an interpreter and special music was again provided by Bethel’s Vocal Authority.
Moderator Prosser called the assembly to order and had personal business and Vice-Moderator Jamie Lively presided in his absence. He then introduced the various representatives from all aspects of our denomination and a special tribute was made by the family of Rev. Craig Martindale by his widow and son.
One of the recognitions at this meeting was by Rev. Lynn Thomas recognizing Boyce and Beth Wallace for 50 years of service as Missionaries to Columbia, South America and the good news is they are not done yet! Rev. Thomas also noted the CP Church is active in 17 countries with 34 missionaries. Also recognized was Beverly Stott widow of missionary Buddy Stott.
The remainder of the day was spent in committee work. Our committee was blessed to have as representatives of MTS Rev Jay-Earheart Brown, President of MTS, Mark Maddox, board member, and Rev.Michael Qualls, Director of Program of Alternate Studies. Five recommendations were presented and discussed at length by the Representatives and committee members. The one item that was presented that held the most interest was that MTS is considering a Capitol Campaign to enhance the Seminary’s future. The question I had was the MTS to do this and then go to a covenant relationship with the CP Denomination as Bethel U and the CPCH have done. This was not in their plans we were told. MTS would remain as it is. We offered these 5 recommendations and they were adopted by GA and a copy is attached to this report. We also had reps from Bethel U present a report. Nancy Bean ,VP of Arts and Sciences, Rev. Anne Hames, Chaplin at Bethel U, and Mr. Cliff Barner,Chaplin Assistant ministering to athletes, and all we could do was hear their report. We were saddened to hear that Dr. Robert Prosser was retiring as President of Bethel U. in July of 2013. I also was saddened to hear that of the 1500 on the McKenzie campus only 70 are Cumberland’s. This is too small a percentage of CP’s.
I attended the luncheon of the Children’s Home and it was a very inspiring program. My wife was fortunate to win one of the door prizes signed by the children at CPCH. Acting President Richard Brown gave a report and asked for our prayers for the selection of our next President of CPCH. Vice-President Latoyia Dennis then led a slide presentation of the Home. The evening program was a fun night with a celebration of 90 years of youth ministry followed by a film on Human Trafficking.
Wednesday was devoted to committee meetings giving us time to finish our reports. The evening worship was almost overwhelming as the attendance was in excess of 800 people. Rev Lisa Scott was again the worship director and Joywood Praise Band provided entertainment along with Vocal Authority from Bethel. We were blessed to have three speakers each telling their story with the Holy Spirit’s help. Rev. Randy Jacob, Rev. Jamie Lively, and Susan Parker, candidate for the ministry, each told their inspiring story of what can be done if people will only belief and act. Rev. Lisa Scott and Rev. Elton Hall, CPCA Moderator then served communion to the believers. It was amazing how orderly and quickly this was accomplished. It was a very moving experience.
Thursday began with a devotional service again led by Rev. Lisa Scott. We were blessed at this service to have Cole Cofman, YAD, from Missouri Presbytery tell his story. His title was “Telling his story to other Christians”. He told of his and his twin sister’s years of abuse from his mother. His life was total chaos but he reiterated to the one positive in his life. Cumberland Camp was his refuge and he would count the days till he could attend camp. Finally after many years he got relief from his abuse through a family member. His life is turned around and he will attend Bethel U this fall. At the end of his message there wasn’t a dry eye in the audience and he exited the stage to a standing ovation and congratulatory comments from the entire audience. It was a fitting for this young man and I pray he will be blessed and needs our prayers.
The Assembly convened again and each committee gave their reports and recommendations. The committee on Higher Education that I was a member of reported 5 recommendations and they were all approved and a list is attached. The Assembly was able to handle all business and close on Thursday.
It was a great time of renewing old friendships and making new ones. I am thankful to Trinity Presbytery to have served as our delegate.