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[PCUSANEWS] Elder is 3rd evangelical candidate for clerk
PCUSA NEWS <PCUSA.NEWS@ecunet.org>
Thu, 1 Apr 2004 15:13:36 -0600
Note #8185 from PCUSA NEWS to PRESBYNEWS:
April 1, 2004
Elder is 3rd evangelical candidate for clerk
Advocate of special 'crisis' Assembly throws hat in ring
by John Filiatreau
LOUISVILLE - Alex Metherell, an elder at 4,000-member St. Andrew's
Presbyterian Church in Newport Beach, CA, has become the fourth candidate for
stated clerk of the Presbyterian Church (USA).
"My sense of call to this position grows stronger every day," he said in a
press release announcing his candidacy, "as I look at the state of the church
and the problems the new stated clerk will be facing."
Metherell, a 64-year-old physician (radiologist) and engineer, described
himself in the release as "very much a rational, objective thinker," and
contended that his mix of "talents and abilities" makes him especially
well-suited to serve in the PC(USA)'s highest ecclesiastical office:
"The compassion of a physician. The objectivity and rational thinking that
come with an earned doctorate in engineering. The innovation and
problem-solving ability of one with numerous scientific publications and
patented inventions. The business background that comes from running a large
successful medical practice."
Metherell added that he also would bring to the job "the perspective of an
elder - much like Elder John Detterick does as General Assembly Council
Commissioners to the 216th General Assembly, which opens in Richmond, VA, on
June 26, will elect a stated clerk to a four-year term.
The other candidates are the Rev. Robert "Bob" Davis, a pastor from
Escondido, CA, and executive director of the Presbyterian Forum; the Rev.
Linn "Rus" Howard, a pastor from Venetia, PA; and the incumbent, the Rev.
Clifton Kirkpatrick, a Texan who is seeking a third term.
All three challengers describe themselves as evangelicals. Metherell, who was
born in Great Britain and baptized in the Church of England, is the only lay
person in the field.
Metherell said yesterday by telephone that is not worried that the
evangelical candidates will split the vote and ensure Kirkpatrick's
re-election. "That is a possibility," he said, "but I believe this will
actually give the commissioners more choices. We three are all very
different. I think the commissioners will listen to us all and then elect one
Metherell is the church activist who collected signatures of commissioners to
the 2002 General Assembly and in January 2003 petitioned for a special GA
session to deal with what he called "widespread defiance" of the PC(USA)
constitution, especially "with respect to G-6.0106b" - the "fidelity and
chastity" provision of the Book of Order that is invoked to prevent the
ordination to church office of non-celibate gays and lesbians.
The Rev. Fahed Abu-Akel, the moderator at the time, lobbied against the
proposal and ultimately refused to call a special meeting, which would have
been the first in the denomination's history.
"Respond to the growing defiance of, delinquency, and enforcement of the
Constitution of the Presbyterian Church (USA) by officers, agencies and
governing bodies with respect to G-6.0106b (the commonly called "fidelity and
chastity" provision of the Book of Order ) and the General Assembly Permanent
Judicial Commission decision on holy unions (Benton vs. Hudson River
The Committee on the Office of the General Assembly had estimated the cost of
a special session at $400,000 to $500,000, depending on the timing and
The PC(USA)'s highest court, the Permanent Judicial Commission (PJC), ruled
last March that Abu-Akel "acted improperly" when he "implored" commissioners
not to press for a special meeting. The PJC nonetheless upheld Abu-Akel's
refusal, ruling that he hadn't received "sufficient requests" to trigger a
constitutional provision for a special session.
In the release about his candidacy, Metherell charged that Kirkpatrick and
Associate Stated Clerk Mark Tammen "succeeded in sabotaging the meeting by
getting our moderator to act unconstitutionally."
"I long to have an open and thorough debate on the issues that are critical
to the life of our denomination," he wrote, "particularly in matters that
concern the leadership from the office of the stated clerk."
Before the Assembly convenes, Metherell said, he will be sharing with the
church his "observations that reflect my concerns for a denomination that has
had an extended constitutional crisis and a painful loss of membership."
Kirkpatrick, who disputes the claim that the denomination faces a
constitutional crisis, has argued that he has rightly deferred to "the
careful, thorough, and sometimes-lengthy process our constitution sets up to
address defiance and sin while providing due process and the opportunity to
defend oneself." Under PC(USA) polity, he points out, disciplinary authority
is largely exercised by sessions and presbyteries.
Metherell and his wife, Pam, have three grown children.
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