Pastor Jerid Krulish argued that Midway’s Overture 31 would allow Sessions to diminish congregational rights…
This report is fresh from the floor of the 48th General Assembly of the PCA in St. Louis where the assembly just considered multiple overtures.
After acting to ensure it wasn’t included in an omnibus passage of overtures, TE Jerid Krulish of the Pacific Northwest Presbytery boldly spoke recommending that the controversial Midway-authored Overture 31 be answered in the negative by the assembly.
It is possible that the overture, authored by RE Robert Whitaker at Midway Presbyterian Church, was intended to justify alleged violations of the PCA Book of Church Order by his Session in the past. TE Krulish’s words were similar to those used by a Northwest Georgia Presbytery judicial commission that ruled multiple times that Midway’s Session “muted” their congregation’s voice by denying them the ability to speak into pastoral candidate selection through a pulpit committee.
TE Krulish rose in opposition to Overture 31, and defended the rights of all members of PCA congregations as he warned against the very situation that has befallen the members of Midway Presbyterian Church saying:
“The reason that I am against this is that it creates a loophole, and I don’t think it was the intention to create a loophole, I like the intention behind this, but I don’t like the loophole.
What this means is that a Session could actually call an Assistant Pastor, have him installed, and the very next day put him in front of the congregation, or with 14 days notice, put him in front of the congregation to be called as an Associate Pastor.
My concern for this is that it actually diminishes the congregation’s rights.
The congregation in the PCA has very few rights and so it is very important that we would not encroach upon those rights. If we’re going to call a pastor who will represent them on the Session, there in the church, they have two levels in which they do that. The first is that we ask the congregation “please select people to represent you”, so that they can establish what we’re are looking for in a pastor, so they can make that decision, and they can help find some candidates, sift through the candidates, and then bring that man to the congregation, and then the congregation gets to vote.
What we are doing here is giving the opportunity for a Session to actually drive right around the congregation’s first important step of selecting a pulpit committee.
And remember, the congregation can always select the Session as the pulpit committee if they choose, and you think “Well can’t the congregation just vote no?” – Relationally, do you know how hard that’s gonna be to say that we have an Assistant Pastor, and now we’ve decided that we’re not gonna vote against him?…You’re all a bunch of men here who are gonna stand up and make speeches, you’re the bold men in the church. We have men and women and children in the congregations who are not gonna oppose, even if they don’t feel comfortable with it. And so if we wanna be a grassroots denomination, let’s make sure that we demonstrate that we respect the rights of those who have very little voice in our system of government. Thank you.”PCA 48th General Assembly livestream.com/accounts/8521918/events/9731338/videos/222954013
Providing no rebuttal, TE Tyson Turner then moved to call the question on Overture 31 which subsequently was answered in the affirmative as amended by the assembly. It remains to be seen if the presbyteries across the denomination will act to defend their congregation’s rights and reject Overture 31.
CHOOSING GOOD OFFICERS
Pacific Northwest Presbytery readers may have noticed that TE Krulish had brought messages from his pulpit at Faith Presbyterian Church in Anchorage Alaska on the role of church elders and importance of selecting the right ones. Shortly before his floor speech at the assembly, he preached:
“And lastly who are being served? The Lord Jesus does not simply say, He doesn’t say anything like “Direct my slaves! Tell my servants what they are to do!” Instead, He refers to us. He refers to you as His lamb. As His sheep. Sometimes you hear phrases people say “well sheep are messy, they make messes, and they so dumb” and I think that kind of misses some of the point here. The fact that we are referred to as lambs and sheep by Jesus…is a reference back to Ezekiel.
What is the shepherd’s business? It is not to devour, and to exploit, but to guard, and protect, and feed, and heal, bind up. When Nathan the Prophet goes to David, he uses the story of a man and his little lamb. Why? Because he’s affectionate towards it. Because he loves his lamb. And saints, that is you, and that is me, no less than you. Jesus looks at you and He says “you are my sheep, you are my lambs.”
The office of Elder was established because Jesus was not content to simply save us, and spin us on out and say “well go do what you’re gonna do, do your best, and we’ll see you when you die.” But that He cares about you today. He loves you where you are, and has a deep and abiding interest in your health, in your nourishment, in your safety and protection. And so He has not only blessed us with the presence of His Spirit, but His Holy Spirit has empowered certain men in the congregation to guard and protect, nourish and feed, and care for those who are beloved of Jesus.
So really Elders and Pastors like myself – we are just stewards. We certainly don’t sit on the throne.”TE Jerid Krulish, June 13, 2021
TE Krulish went on to state that elders should remember that the flocks they care for do not belong to them – rather the flocks belong to the Lord Jesus.
TE Krulish’s words embody the spirit of the PCA Book of Church Order when it states in 20-2 that the purpose of a pulpit committee for selecting pastoral candidates is to ensure that the congregation, and the congregation alone, can determine “who, in its judgment, fulfills the Constitutional requirements of that office and is most suited to the profitable to the spiritual interests of the congregation.” These interests being the ones TE Krulish extolled in his sermon, and which he sought to protect on the floor of the 48th PCA General Assembly.