Presbyterians of the Past

James Richards, Joiner, Pastor & Professor

The ancestors of James Richards were from Wales. His father, also named James, was a farmer and his mother’s name was Ruth (Hanford). He was born in New Canaan, Connecticut, October 29, 1767. When he was a boy...

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The Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) is meeting this week for its 49th General Assembly in Birmingham, Alabama. One hundred years ago the Presbyterian Church in the United States (PCUS), convened in First Church, Charleston, West Virginia, May 18. The retiring moderator was pastor of Second Church, Memphis, A. B. Curry, whose sermon was from John 20:21, "As My Father hath sent Me, even so I send you." The pre-assembly conference was on evangelism, and the theme of the Assembly was evangelism and relief work. The moderator elected from a slate of four after two rounds of balloting was Professor R. C. Reed of Columbia Theological Seminary. An important item of business was the resignation of Stated Clerk T. H. Law after twelve years of service; he had become seriously ill. His successor was J. D. Leslie who would continue in office to 1935. There were "about 120 overtures" before Moderator Reed as well as numerous communications concerning the dire situation in Europe since the end of WW I. Reed appointed 19 standing committees with the synodical record committee having 17 sub-committees for a total of 35. Dr. James I. Vance, minister First Church, Nashville, gave the report of the Committee on Protestant Relief in Europe. He said that so far 17,000.00 had been raised towards construction of a church at Compiegne for a memorial to American soldiers killed in France. A. M. Fraser, First Church, Staunton, reported for the Committee on Conferences with other Presbyterian and Reformed Churches, saying "they had been unable to find any ground upon which the churches could agree, and therefore recommended that the whole matter be dropped." The minority report given by Professor Thornton Whaling of Louisville Theological Seminary requested a new committee be appointed "to make further efforts towards closer relations." The outcome of this request was not determined, but the minutes for 1922 should have further information. The denomination's membership in the Federal Councils of the Churches of Christ in America was continued, but the Assembly decided no longer to support it financially. The Assembly adjourned by May 24. Statistically the PCUS had 3,492 churches; 2056 ministers; 13,849 elders; 14,632 deacons; 532,310 "Resident Communicants"; 53,620 "Non-Resident Communicants"; and an enrollment in Sunday School of 398,850. Both Vance and Fraser have biographies on Presbyterians of the Past. The source of information for this "Notes & News" entry was located in The Presbyterian of the South, May 24, 1922, as available through the Library of Congress, or virginiachronicle of the Library of Virginia. [posted 6/21/2022]

The bit that follows was compiled for something I was contemplating writing but decided not to pursue--Of one-hundred-forty-six occurrences of the English word Sabbath in the first edition King James Version of the Bible published in 1611, ninety one occur in the Old Testament and 55 in the New Testament with 45 of these occurrences in the gospels. The Old Testament constitutes just over seventy-six percent of the Bible with Sabbath occurring in its books sixty-two percent of the time leaving thirty-eight percent for the New Testament. The word occurs throughout Scripture with, as might be expected, one-fifth in the books of the Law with the first occurrence in Exodus 16:23. The Lord rested from the work of creation on the seventh day beginning the pattern of six days work and one of rest. [posted 5/2/2022]

Understanding the Westminster Shorter Catechism is enhanced by a number of books explaining the meaning of the questions and answers, but for some students a teacher proves particularly beneficial. Pastor James J. Cassidy at Reformed Forum has recorded a series of excellent videos that explain all the questions and answers in the Shorter Catechism. The series is divided into two sections—questions 1-38 and most recently completed are 39-107. Accompanying the videos are review questions to help students process the information. The lessons are free but registration is required. [posted 4/23/2022 ]

Commentaries about books of the Bible vary in helpfulness from nigh useless to others having jots-and-tittles mania with a variety of renditions spanning the spectrum between. I was looking for a simple, brief, but scholarly commentary on the Gospels (no, simple and scholarly are not mutually exclusive terms) and purchased Handbook on the Gospels by Benjamin L. Gladd, Baker Academic, 2021. It is called a handbook to separate it from commentaries. The author is associate professor of New Testament at Reformed Theological Seminary in Jackson, Mississippi. I have read only the introductions, the summary for the Sermon on the Mount in Matthew, and the information about Luke 22-24. The author provides for each gospel a brief introduction, outline, a running summary of its content that includes brief identifications and points of context, and finally a bibliography. The summary is simple but built on scholarly spade work and is just the type of book I was looking for. I look forward to using it further as I read the Gospels. If you need help understanding the Gospels and want a concise but well grounded guidebook, you might want to consider Dr. Gladd's handbook. [posted 4/12/2022 ]

The sessions offered earlier this month by Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary during its conference titled, "Light in the Darkness: Christian Living in a Post-Christian World," are now available in video recordings. The speakers included: George Grant, Ian Hamilton, Jonathan L. Master, L. Michael Morales, Mike Myers, Jon D. Payne, and Carl R. Trueman. I was not able to attend all the sessions, but the ones I heard were well done and surely indicative of the quality of those I missed. The videos are available on ubiquitous You-Tube. [Posted 3/25/2022]

The post celebrating Reformation Day 2021,The Reformation in Scotland: Some Resources, was the 300th added to Presbyterians of the Past since it went online in August 2015. The author hopes the material has been beneficial and he anticipates continuing the site for some time. I have strived to maintain high standards by documenting sources and copy editing each post several times. I do make changes to earlier posts but only when absolutely necessary for accuracy or to improve clarity, but in other cases earlier posts are more extensively revised with new material added. My intention is to provide reliable information on the Internet. Thank you for reading my site. [Posted 3/16/2022]

[Previous entries in "Notes & News" have been moved to the "N&N Archive" which is accessed through the "Archives" button on the toolbar. The "General Archive" selection provides the catalog of previous posts.]

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