Trial for the Jonesboro 7 – Part 3

On July 15, 2021, their elders suspended them from the Lord’s Table until they show proper evidence of repentance (BCO 36-5).

The Session placed the Jonesboro 7 in an untenable position; they had convicted and censured these lambs of Christ, but had still not told them how they had sinned; even at trial not a single witness could name any specific sinful action. Of what were they to repent?

The Session in its pastoral care and discipline over the Jonesboro 7 asserted, “Submission to the oversight of the Church Session is a mark of repentance and evidence of a willingness to be obedient to the will of Christ.” As Session saw it, the Jonesboro 7 were in rebellion against the will of Christ. But had not told them how they were in rebellion against Christ.

At the hearing the SJC Judges would later question how the men would be able to show proper evidence of repentance given the lack of specificity; one SJC judge asked whether proper repentance might seem to include having to vote for TE Wreyford.

As the SJC would later point out, however, “Session had neither the responsibility nor authority to determine or direct who, if anyone, would stand for election as the pastor of the mission church upon its organization as a particular church.”

Session had gravely transcended its authority. But for now, the Jonesboro 7 were forbidden from communing with Christ and His people in the bread and wine because they preferred to consider pastoral candidates other than the man preferred by the Session, who was also the Moderator of that Session, TE Jeff Wreyford.

Tomorrow in “Part Four,” we will consider the appeal of the Jonesboro 7 to Covenant Presbytery as the men desperately sought a court in the PCA where words would have meaning, where the Constitution would be upheld, and in which evidence, justice, and truth would vindicate their good names and reputations.

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