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Today in Church History

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May 24

Presbytery of the Midwest

On this day in 1969, the thirty-sixth General Assembly adjourned its meeting at Silver Spring, Maryland. During this Assembly, all fifty states were assigned to specific Presbyteries for the first time in the history of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. Prior to this Assembly, certain churches were routinely described as “Within the Bounds of No Presbytery.” This move corrected that anomaly. Within that broader action was a more narrow issue involving the Presbytery of Wisconsin. At its Spring Stated Meeting on March 4-5, 1968, the Presbytery of Wisconsin voted to change its name to “The Presbytery of the Midwest.” It then requested the approval of the General Assembly for this change. This action was viewed by the Assembly as irregular, since the naming or renaming of Presbyteries required an enabling action by the General Assembly prior to such change. In the minutes of the 1969 Assembly, the commissioners from that Presbytery are deliberately listed under “The Presbytery of Wisconsin.” Furthermore, the minutes record the following action: On motion the Stated Clerk was authorized to insert the following note at this point: “Since the Presbytery of Wisconsin incorrectly adopted the name ‘Presbytery of the Midwest’ without the approval of the Assembly, and used the latter name in its documents presented to this Assembly, the word ‘Wisconsin’ has been substituted at the proper places in these Minutes.” In the journal of the Assembly’s actions, it was noted that “The GA deliberately made the effective date of the renaming of ‘the Presbytery of Wisconsin’ to be after the Assembly, whereas the presbytery had simply announced the change and requested the GA’s approval. The purpose of this, which some may have missed, was to establish that it is the Assembly that determines the names of the presbyteries. Presbyteries may not choose, or change, their names without enabling action by the GA.” On June 1, 1969, the name change officially took effect.

Picture: The thirty-sixth (1969) General Assembly

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