Over Holiday Weekend, Session Majority Calls for Church Meeting to Elevate Assistant Pastors to Associates.

Despite being reminded of senior pastor’s prior opinion that associate pastors could fracture congregation…

Over the 4th of July holiday, Elders Bob Whitaker and Jim Wolfe called a July 8th Session meeting. The stated purpose: for the purpose of calling a congregational meeting to elevate assistant pastors Harrington, Knox, and Barry to that of associate. In the PCA form of government, associate pastors can vote on the Session where assistants cannot.

This motion first came up in the February 2020 Session meeting where it was withdrawn due to strong opposition.

No other discussion of this idea is recorded in any Session minutes prior to or since the February meeting.  

Elder Don Barrett requested the Session meeting be delayed until he could return, but the request was not granted.  Instead he stated his views in an email to the Session. Here is what he sent:


In response to Bob’s request I’ll try to respond. Karen and I are away for a few days and not able to get back in time to attend the meeting on such short notice. I don’t have access to computers aside from my cell phone so please excuse spell correct or other oddities.

If this is so important that we have to have a called meeting and it is too late to postpone  I would appreciate if someone at the meeting would ask that any motions made be tabled until the entire session has an opportunity to study the motions and be available to meet in person to act.

If that is not the case and it is some type of emergency that requires the session to act immediately, so be it.

If there is new information that is expected to be reveled at this meeting it will be impossible for me to anticipate or give you arguments for or against the motion in this email.

In the absence of any new information my position has not changed and consequently I do not support the proposed motion.

The session as comprised at the time of Gene Hunt’s retirement afterwards individually and collectively including pastor Hall expressed the opinion that we would not call another associate pastor at least in part because of potential fracture of the congregation should there be ideological differences or other problems that arise between pastors.

I believe this was and remains wise counsel.

I do not know all the reasons why the PCA allows for associate or assistant status but since it is there and given our experience I believe it best to continue our practice as it exist.

I do not know the reasons behind the move to have these men called as associates and I will not speculate.

The only change in their function that I can detect would be the ability to cast a vote in session matters.

I will restate that we currently regularly solicit their input or advice on specific matters when needed so they are not shut out from policy or practical matters.

Asking these men to go on record by voting opens us up to the problem we sought to avoid when we agreed not to call another associate pastor. What happens when good men disagree? The working relation between a senior pastor and other pastors can potential be harmed if it becomes obvious that they don’t hold the same view on important (or even trivial) subjects. People in the congregation may begin to gravitate to one man or another based on a known position.

If you say “That won’t happen here These are all great guys who work in harmony. “

I don’t really think you are that naive.

They already have the honor of being teaching elders in the church and I don’t see a change to associate as an addition to that honor nor do I think they would seek such.

I don’t think any man called to minister the gospel can think in terms of security if anyone thinks an associate position is more secure than an assistant. Our Lord never had a place on this earth to call his own and men seeking to follow his lead should be willing to go wherever and whenever He calls.

This leads me to my last and I believe most important point.

I said in our last session discussion on this matter that I thought our best purpose was to encourage men to go out from Midway and fill other pulpits with the same reformed message that is preached here.

On this point David Hall and I disagree and he expressed his opinion on that subject.

I think the better discussion to have at this time would be on that point.

Does the session at Midway want to create an incubator for the proclamation of the Gospel to the world in the fashion we see here by encouraging our most able men to seek those opportunities when they arise or do we want to create a strong and stable ministry in Powder Springs GA that can best help the cause of our Lord by identifying others and sending them?

The answer to this question should be set before we work on the mechanics of how to best work it out. I believe the answer to this is foundational to the ministries of this congregation.

Let’s be sure of our position on that point before we do anything else.

Thank you for your time and the opportunity to give this brief explanation of my thoughts on the matter.

Don Barnett

  Since ten day notice is required, the congregational meeting is set for July 19, 2020.