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Truly a Historic Day

The big announcement for a continuing Presbyterian Church outside the Presbyterian Church, US was made on August 11, 1971 at the Journal Day gathering.  Much prayer and planning had gone into this point.  The July 15 devotional spoke of the first strategy meeting earlier in the year.  Now on this day was the unveiling of the whole plan, with those who were willing to take the lead for this historic departure.

Jack Williamson announced that the four conservative organizations — The Presbyterian Journal, Concerned Presbyterians, the Presbyterian Evangelistic Fellowship, and Presbyterian Churchmen United — had each officially given the impetus by naming representatives to serve as a Steering Committee “for the continuation of a Presbyterian Church loyal to the Scriptures and to the Reformed faith.”  All four organizations, instead of continuing to  represent conservative Christians inside an apostate denomination, had reached an agreement “to accept the apparent inevitability of division in the Presbyterian Church US caused by the program of the radical ecumenists, and to move now toward a continuing body of congregations and presbyteries loyal to the Scriptures and the Westminster Standards.”

The Presbyterian ruling elder continued, “We sincerely believe that the Holy Spirit is leading us in this direction.  We know that any result which is pleasing to Almighty God shall not be accomplished by our might, nor by our power but by His Spirit.  There, we urge and implore you to undergird this effort daily with much fervent prayer that God  will fill us with His Holy Spirit to guide us in this tremendous undertaking…This is truly a history day for all of us. We resolutely set our faces in a new direction.  We shall, with God’s help, preserve for future generations the witness of our  historic faith, that faith once delivered to the saints, to the glory of our King and Head, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.”

The Steering Committee consisted of the following: Donald Patterson, Chairman, James Baird Jr., Leon F. Hendrick, William E. Hill, Kenneth Keyes, John E Richards, John R. Richardson, Kennedy Smartt, G. Aiken Taylor, S.A. White, Ben Wilkinson, and Jack Williamson.

(This contributor is thankful for the book “To God all Praise and Glory” by Paul Settle, for the above information)

Words to live by:  When tough decisions have to be made, God provides faithful and courageous men to stand up  in the gap for His church.  Such were the above mentioned names who agreed to serve on the Steering Committee for a continuing Presbyterian Church faithful to the Scriptures, the Reformed Faith, and the Great Commission of Jesus Christ.  Today, the Presbyterian Church in America continues her ministry to a watching world because of their historic stand.  We should praise God for them and  honor them because they honored God.


patterson_donald_brayAN ANNOUNCEMENT
Made at Asheville, N.C. on August 11, 1971
by Dr. Donald B. Patterson [pictured at left]

It is my privilege to announce to you that the men on the platform with me now have been officially named as representatives from their respective boards to a steering committee. They represent the Presbyterian Evangelistic Fellowship, the Presbyterian Journal, the Presbyterian Churchmen United and the Concerned Presbyterians. Here is visible proof of the unity of conservatives working toward a common goal.

These groups have reached a consensus to accept the apparent inevitability of division in the Presbyterian Church US caused by the program of the radical ecumenists, and to move now toward a continuing body of congregations and presbyteries loyal to the Scriptures and the Westminster Standards.

This steering committee has been charged with the responsibility of developing and implementing a plan for continuation of a Presbyterian Church loyal to the Scriptures and Reformed faith, recognizing that the Sovereign Holy Spirit may be pleased so to revive our Church as to make revisions in the plan necessary.

This committee held its organizational meeting last night. I was elected its chairman; Jim Baird, its vice-chairman; and Kennedy Smartt, its secretary.

This plan anticipates the involvement of every single congregation in our Church that is interested in preserving the historic witness of our faith. You will be given the opportunity to participate soon.

We sincerely believe that the Holy Spirit is leading us in this direction. We know that any result which is pleasing to Almighty God shall not be accomplished by our might, nor by our power but by His Spirit. Therefore, we urge and implore you to undergird this effort daily with much fervent prayer that God will fill us with His Holy Spirit to guide us in this tremendous undertaking.

This is truly a historic day for all of us. We resolutely set our faces in a new direction. We shall, with God’s help, preserve for future generations the witness of our historic faith, that faith once delivered to the saints, to the glory of our King and Head, our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

THE STEERING COMMITTEE
Rev. Donald Patterson, Jackson, Miss., Chmn.
Rev. John R„ Richardson, Atlanta, Ga.
Rev. James Baird, Jr., Gadsden, Ala.
Judge Leon F. Hendrick, Jackson, Miss.
Rev. Kennedy Smartt, Hopewell, Va.
Rev. William E. Hill, Hopewell, Va.
Rev. G. Aiken Taylor, Asheville, N.C.
Mr. Kenneth S. Keyes, Miami, Fla.
Rev. John E. Richards, Macon, Ga.
Rev. Ben Wilkinson, Decatur, Ga.
Mr. S. A. White, V., Mebane, N.C.
Mr. Jack Williamson, Greenville, Alabama

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The following is drawn from an autobiography written by the Rev. Daniel Iverson, founding pastor of the Shenandoah Presbyterian Church in Miami, Florida. That church closed its doors some years ago, but the legacy lives on.

The Shenandoah Presbyterian Church in its first twenty-four years under Daniel Iverson grew from seventeen worshipers in an old dance hall (half of them Iversons) to 1664 members with a Sunday School of 1200.  150 went into full-time Christian ministries, 4000 persons made a public profession of faith joining Shenandoah and her missions in this period, and some twenty-one churches were founded through Shenandoah and its pastor, together with its “children and grandchildren.  With the vast shift of population, seventy five years later, the Calle Ocho Church began to replant the church, “Reformed according to the Word of God” in the heart of what is now known as “Little Havana.” This autobiographical sketch in Dan Iverson’s own words best explains the miracle of Shenandoah. It is a simple answer.  Obviously, God did it!

The Work Begins: Sweating in Miami

iversondaniel01In February, 1927, Mrs. Iverson and I began to visit from home to home in the Southwest section of the city to see about prospects.  The people were in such an unsettled condition due to the collapse of the business boom and the terrible hurricane, it looked like a hopeless task. We were greeted with more or less indifference. We did not have a place to worship, and did not know where we could secure such a place; but we felt it was God’s will that we should work as though everything would work out alright, trusting Him every step of the way.

We found some people suspicious, charging that we had an ax to grind.  We found some very receptive and interested, and that most of them had heartaches they were trying to hide.  Having had some experience with people (Dan was about thirty eight years old), we felt it was our duty to penetrate the crust that hid the real self, and be of comfort and service to those in distress.

Having felt it was the time to start the church in the Shenandoah  community, I put notices in the newspapers, inviting those who were interested in establishing a Presbyterian Church to visit us in our home on a Tuesday evening in late February. About eight people attended that meeting, but only one became a member of what is now known as the Shenandoah Presbyterian Church.

After visiting for several weeks, we had interested enough folks, we thought, to jusify our finding a place of worship. There was an apartment on the corner of Southwest 20th Avenue and 12th Street that had stores on the ground floor.  We thought that was the place to begin, and tried to secure one of the stores. The owner of the building said that if we could gain the consent of those in the apartment building, we could use the store for a short time.  After four days, we had the people’s consent, but then the owner of the building decided against it. This was discouraging, for we had tried several places and met with similar rebuffs.

On Tamiami Trail and 20th Avenue there was a wooden building, now very much dilapidated, but then being used as a dance hall. It did not look to be the right thing to start a church in a Dance Hall. I found the building open, and walked in to take a look, and found it ideal as a Tabernacle.  I felt God had led me to this place. There was a little orchestra stand in the center of the building, and I knelt down behind the stand and claimed the building for God, and as I knelt and prayed, I felt God had answered my prayers.  I did every thing I could to secure this building, but failed.  Yet I felt in my heart that it would finally be ours.

I kept looking around the area and found an open air theater, now known as the Trail Auto Parts Company, that had closed its doors as a moving picture concern. I felt it was an unwise move to begin, but feeling it was imperative, I was ready to accept anything.  I secured this building for ten dollars per Sunday, and did not have the ten dollars to pay it.

That week, having  printed ten thousand invitation cards, my two boys, Dan and Ned, and my little girl Ella Lillian, went with me and assisted me in placing under the doors of 1000 homes these cards.  This interested them in the venture, and I found in family prayers they were constantly remembering this effort before God. Having given out one thousand cards, they thought everyone would respond and expected to see a large gathering on that first Sunday, March 13, 1927 at the Kew Garden Theater.

We advertised the Bible School hour at 9:45 A.M. I painted a sign and placed it outside the door, and opened up at 9:00 AM. There were five from our own family present,  At 9:45 there were still just five present, and that was a matter of anxiety for us all. As we were beginning with just our family at five minutes of ten, one person strolled in and asked if this was the place for the service, and wondered where the crowd was. At five minutes after ten, there were possibly ten present, and by 10:15 AM we had our first Sunday School of seventeen people divided into three classes. These classes were led by Mrs. Jennie Anderson, and for the adults  a class by Mrs. Daniel Iverson, and one by Miss Alice France.

shenandoahPCThe open air theater had a concrete floor and sunshine rules very strongly in Miami in March. It was unbearably warm and the glare very hard on the eyes. We found we were laboring under tremendous hardships. After a brief Sunday School session of the three classes, we asked the people to stay for church, and we would not keep them long.  Some people were added to the eleven o’clock service, making the attendance perhaps twenty-five or thirty. The sun was so hot that the people complained about it.  I suggested we hold a short service and someone suggested that they go home and get their parasols and come back.  I was afraid that if I let them go, they would not come back. They were so nice and kind, I gave them their wish and everyone  came back. This was just a little thing, but that was an encouraging thing, and I needed that little encouragement at what seemed to be a very dark moment in the blazing sun.

We had no hymn books, but I found a friend from my home town that was kind enough to make a couple hundred copies of three hymns. We used those hymns for a number of weeks for we had no funds with which to purchase hymn books.  During the following weeks I felt it necessary to get another place of worship, but found it impossible to secure them. So I printed one thousand more cards and with some neighbor children and my own, we placed cards under the doors again. I know we were not as welcome as we ought to have been, but I overlooked that, and went on. In spite of the handicap of a very uncomfortable place, we had a slight increase of both Bible School and Church. On these cards we suggested that people bring their parasols, and they did. We prayed earnestly that God at that time would answer the prayers for the dance hall.  Another week went by with the same disappointment and fear, but again, there was a slight increase in attendance.

Words to Live By:
When the Lord has a work to do, He prepares the way. Nothing will prevent or hinder the accomplishment of His will. It will happen in His time. Our role is to watch, and to faithfully obey, as He leads. The Gospel must be proclaimed. God will do the rest.

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This Day in Presbyterian History:

An Educator and Minister to the Souls of Young and Old

Arriving at the Mason-Dixion line dividing Virginia from Pennsylvania in 1861, Dr. George Junkin and his family stopped their carriage carrying all their worldly possessions.  In an act of more than a symbolism, Dr. Junkin cleaned off of his boots and the horses hoof’s all  the Southern mud, wanting to make sure that none of the Rebel dirt would be carried into the  Union North.

The Rev. Dr. George Junkin was born on November 1, 1790 outside the small village of New Kingstown, Pennsylvania. The sixth son of Joseph Junkin, who was a ruling elder in the Junkin Tent congregation of the Covenanters in central Pennsylvania, remained on the farm of his parents at first.  Educated in private schools in Cumberland County, he was sent first to Jefferson College in western Pennsylvania, graduating from there in 1813.  He then attended the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary in New York and became a Covenanter minister.  For eleven years, he was the pastor of two Pennsylvania churches of that denomination.  In 1822, he transferred into the Presbyterian Church in the United States of America, and became a leader in the Old School Presbyterian Church. He was accorded the honor of being Moderator of the 1844 General Assembly of the PCUSA.

The education phase of his ministry started in a small Manual Labor Academy in Germantown, Pennsylvania.  He then became the first president of the brand new Lafayette College, building up that Presbyterian school into a fine educational facility.  After a brief stint at Miami at Ohio College, he went down to Washington College in Lexington, Virginia from 1848 – 1861, resigning at  71 years of age.

Two of his daughters married Confederate officers.  Elinor was the first wife of Thomas Jonathan Jackson, later Stonewall Jackson. She did not survive the birth of their first child, who also died.  Another daughter married Confederate and later General  D. Harvey Hill.  A son, named after him, became a staff member of Gen Jackson’s headquarters, and was captured at Kernstown, Virginia, by Union forces.   So, as it was in so many families of the War Between the States, their allegiances were in two different nations.

Returning to the North, Dr. Junkin in the last seven years of his life preached seven hundred sermons, many of them to Union soldiers in their camps.  He visited wounded Union soldiers in hospitals.  He went to be with the Lord in May of 1868 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

It was unique that near the end of the century, his coffin was dug up and sent south for re-burial in the Stonewall Jackson Memorial Cemetery outside Lexington, Virginia.

Also this day:
The Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church was formed by union of the Associate Presbyterians and the Reformed Presbyterians of America, meeting in Philadelphia on November 1, 1782.  

Words to live by:  Conviction, both religious and national, was part and parcel of George Junkin’s life.  He knew what he believed and his actions reflected that to both friend and enemy.  Of all the Junkin family, he was the most celebrated not only in that family, but in his generation.  It is great to have a good name.  Solomon wrote in Proverbs 15:1 “A good  name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.” (NIV) He is remembered, not only by the Junkin ancestors, but by Presbyterians everywhere.  Let us seek to be known by our biblical convictions and have a good name.

Through the Scriptures:  Luke 14 – 17

Through the Standards:  Parts of a sacrament

WCF 27:2
“There is, in every sacrament, a spiritual relation, or sacramental union, between the sign and the thing signified: whence it comes to pass, that the names and effects of the one are attributed to the other.”

WLC 163 “What are the parts of the sacrament?
A.  The parts of the sacrament are two: the one an outward and sensible sign, used according to Christ’s own appointment; the other an inward and spiritual grace thereby signified.”

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