From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
Several Candidates Will Seek Stated Clerk Job
25 May 1996 07:57:28
23 May 1996
96191 Several Candidates Will Seek Stated Clerk Job
by Alexa Smith
LOUISVILLE, Ky.--At least two candidates for stated clerk of the General
Assembly are expected to be nominated from the floor of the Assembly in
Albuquerque. In addition, three others are contemplating floor campaigns.
The Rev. Richard Dolin, a parish associate at Harvey Browne
Presbyterian Church in Louisville, and James B. Railing, an elder in First
Presbyterian Church of Scottsburg, Ind., told the Presbyterian News Service
they intend to run for the stated clerk's job at the Albuquerque Assembly.
Dolin is the longtime stated clerk of Louisville Presbytery and
Railing is the current moderator of Ohio Valley Presbytery. Both men are
The Rev. Cliff Kirkpatrick is the just-named nominee of the Stated
Clerk Nomination Committee. This nine-member body met over the past year
and interviewed four Presbyterians for the job after reviewing 20
applications. Currently director of the denomination's Worldwide
Ministries Division, Kirkpatrick has worked in ecumenical and national
church circles for more than 20 years.
It is widely acknowledged Kirkpatrick brings the race, a number of
advantages: name-recognition, a reputation for integrity that some go so
far as to call "squeaky-clean," and wide popularity -- especially among the
mission-minded. But other candidates are not just bowing out.
So it looks like both possible phases of the new process for electing
the church's stated clerk will get implemented in Albuquerque. There will
be a chance to consider Kirkpatrick, the candidate coming out of the
completed search process. And there will be a chance to vote for other
candidates nominated from the floor by the Assembly's commissioners.
"I think the decision needs to be made on the floor," Dolin said,
explaining his decision to run from the floor despite the selection of a
single nominee by the search committee. "I'm always uncomfortable when
decisions are made without alternatives. ...
"And I thought a long time ago: no matter what, I'm continuing on."
That's Railing's rationale too. He said he received encouragement to
run even after Kirkpatrick's nomination was announced. "I'm firmly
committed to being nominated from the floor," Railing said. He is well
aware Assembly insiders might think he has not "paid enough dues" in
national church work to be qualified, but he thinks of the job as a call.
"I see the committee," he said, referring to the Assembly committee of 19
that will convene to interview all the nominees, "as benefiting from the
opportunity to examine several candidates."
Candidates -- including Kirkpatrick -- will be examined at the
Assembly by a Candidate Review Committee consisting of the existing
nine-member search committee plus 10 commissioners. After five days the
review committee will report its conclusions to the full Assembly. Each
nominee will have five minutes to address the Assembly before commissioners
question both the committee and the nominees.
Two other Presbyterians are more circumspect about seeking the stated
clerk's position: the Rev. R. Richard Baldwin III of Evergreen
Presbyterian Church in Memphis, Tenn., and moderator of the General
Assembly Advisory Committee on the Constitution; and the Rev. W. Clark
Chamberlain of Central Congregational Church in Houston, Texas, and stated
clerk of the Synod of the Sun.
Baldwin -- who has been vocal about seeking the stated clerk's
position for more than a year -- said he is "not inclined" to run against
Kirkpatrick, whom he describes as "an excellent choice" by the search
committee. But neither is he -- currently -- ruling out running either.
The same is true for Chamberlain, who was elected the denomination's
stated clerk in 1992 in Milwaukee but declined the election the next day.
Though he declined comment on whether he intends to launch a campaign,
Chamberlain said he is "not opposed" to considering the position once again
as a call.
A third potential candidate -- another male -- was unwilling to go on
the record at press time. But he has not ruled out seeking the position
Princeton Seminary student and Committee on the Office of the General
Assembly member Brian Ellison, who chaired the search committee, said its
members "probably expected" other candidates to run from the floor. "But I
guess we have mixed feelings ... We believe we've been faithful to our
task. We looked at all the applicants before us fairly. And we believe
we've chosen the most qualified person.
"At the same time, we respect the process," Ellison said, stressing
that he has "every confidence" the nine committee members will be open to
listening to all nominees as part of the Assembly's Candidate Review
Committee. "And I hope the 10 commissioners will have the same openness to
listen to the nine who've been part of the process for a year. Its not us
versus them. ...
"The 19 of us will come together as a single group to explore options
For more information contact Presbyterian News Service
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Louisville, KY 40202
phone 502-569-5504 fax 502-569-8073
E-mail PCUSA.NEWS@pcusa.org Web page: http://www.pcusa.org
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