There are 30 living former moderators of the PC(USA) and its predecessor denominations, according to John Coffin of Louisville, a retired minister and former PC(USA) staff member who is working with the effort.
Coffin said they plan to put copies of the letter in the commissioners’ mailboxes at the Richmond Assembly.
Kirkpatrick is seeking a third four-year term in the post, the highest ecclesiastical office in the 2.4-million-member denomination. He is being challenged by three evangelicals: Bob Davis, a pastor and lawyer from Escondido, Calif.; Linn “Rus” Howard, a pastor from Venetia, Pa.; and Alex Metherell, a physician, engineer and elder from Laguna Beach, Calif.
The election is slated for Friday, July 2 (not June 2 as was incorrectly stated in the June 14 issue), the next-to-last day of the eight-day Assembly in Richmond.
The text of the letter to commissioners to the Assembly is as follows:
One of the important decisions of this General Assembly will be the election of a Stated Clerk for a four-year term. As former General Assembly Moderators many of us feel called to support for reelection our present Stated Clerk, the Rev. Clifton Kirkpatrick.
We believe that Cliff has done an excellent job under very difficult circumstances and much pressure. He has helped the church understand and use our Constitution in a thoughtful and even-handed way. He loves the Lord and the church.
We are grateful that at one time our church trusted and elected each of us to serve as the General Assembly Moderator for a year. We are still grateful for that trust and now have that trust in Cliff’s leadership.
Please prayerfully consider supporting Cliff for reelection at this crucial time in the life of our church.
Those signing, in reverse order of their service as moderator, are Susan Andrews, 215th GA (2003); Fahed Abu-Akel, 214th GA (2002); Jack Rogers, 213th GA (2001); Syngman Rhee, 212th GA (2000); Freda Gardner, 211th GA (1999); Douglas W. Oldenburg 210th GA (1998); Patricia Brown, 209th GA (1997); John M. Buchanan, 208th GA (1996); Marj Carpenter, 207th GA (1995); Robert Bohl, 206th GA (1994); John M. Fife, 204th GA (1992); Herbert D. Valentine, 203rd GA (1991); Price H. Gwynn III, 202nd GA (1990); Kenneth Hall, 200th GA (1988); Isabel Rogers, 199th GA (1987); Benjamin Weir, 198th GA (1986); William H. Wilson, 197th GA (1985); Harriet Nelson, 196th GA (1984); John F. Anderson, 122nd & 123rd GA (1982-83) PCUS; Howard Rice, 191st GA (1979) UPCUSA; Albert C. Winn, 119th GA (1979) PCUS; William P. Lytle, 190th GA (1978) UPCUSA; Sara Bernice Moseley, 118th GA (1978) PCUS; Thelma Adair, 188th GA (1976) UPCUSA; Robert Lamar, 186th GA(1974) UPCUSA; William Thompson, 177th GA (1965) UPCUSA; and Silas Kessler, 175th GA(1963) UPCUSA.
Davis, who is also executive director of the renewal organization Presbyterian Forum, has received endorsements — from Voices of Orthodox Women and the Presbyterian Coalition — but other Presbyterian affinity groups have remained officially neutral so far.
The last time a standing stated clerk was defeated in a bid for re-election was 1992 when James E. Andrews was upset by W. Clark Chamberlain at the 204th General Assembly. Chamberlain, however, suddenly withdrew during the Assembly and Andrews was re-elected. Kirkpatrick was elected to his first term in 1996 following Andrews’ retirement.