Nominating Speech For Moderator of General
Mr. Moderator, Ladies and Gentleman of the 105th
General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.:
I take great satisfaction in offering in nomination
for the office of Moderator the person I earnestly feel to be the
best qualified to lead us in the critical and challenging year ahead.
He is Paul Tudor Jones, pastor of the Idlewild Presbyterian Church,
Statistically speaking, his life, as yours and
mine, may be scanned in a few broad strokes. A native of Mississippi,
and graduate of Southwestern University, he took his basic theological
seminary training at Louisville Seminary. Married to a lovely lady
from Mississippi, they have raised a family of three children. All
across the Assembly he has a wide and growing circle of people enriched
by the scope and insight of his Biblically sound preaching.
Of a rich variety of things that could be brought
before you more fully to acquaint you with this singularly gifted
man, let me point out but a few.
First, the aspect of his ministry. Dr. Jones meets
all conditions of people caught in this burning vortex of anguish
and bliss, the wills and will-nots of life where men daily fight
for self, identity, and society. Many that he meets as pastor of
a relevant and effective local congregation are living either harassed,
frantic, and frustrated existences or, equally desperate, with a
strange, cold isolation from and indifference to the common confrontations
that mark us as fellow human beings. Here in this urgent and often
taken-for-granted position of local pastor this man has spent thirty
years of his life redemptively and creatively. There have been only
five pastors elected Moderator in the past 20 years!
One of the most impressive things about Dr. Jones
is his constant seeking after still greater knowledge. To me, he
is a fine fulfillment of that frequent injunction by Jesus: "He
that has ears, let him hear ? he that has eyes, let him see." For
Dr. Jones keeps alert to the vibrations of this aching world, sensitive
to the wide variety of needs to which the healing Balm of Gilead
in Christ may be applied to the wounds of mankind.
A skilled artist, his eyes do not just look: they
see. He is aware of those shadings of light and color and texture
which God prodigally has put around us to enrich the world, and
which seen, lead a man closer to God. His appreciation of these
ministries to the spirit equip him to minister in turn ever more
effectively to all sorts and conditions of people.
A master of the spoken and written word, you will
find him at home with poets, playwrights, and novelists who portray
the prevailing mood of any given generation as well as theologians
who employ the craftsmanship of words and thoughts to attempt to
convey the unsearchable richness of God in Christ Jesus.
But Dr. Jones is not merely one who appreciates
the value of study, the right word for the idea under consideration.
He uses these words, not with any contrived or theatrical effort,
but to put plainly yet compellingly the message of the Gospel ?
the whole message! His sermons do not dally around the outer edges
of those issues in which man may so easily lose their souls. They
get quickly, intelligently, factually to the heart of the matter
and serve to bring men and women and young people to an honest understanding
of the sovereignty of God over all there is of every life.
His preaching, while extremely relevant, is not
controversial for the sake of controversy. He has more royal business
to accomplish than merely to become the central focus of a side-taking
division among people. His sermons, while hueing closely to the
Biblical foundation upon which they are always built, are presented
in such a loving, sincere fashion that even those few who differ
with his point of view rejoice in the wholesomeness and genuineness
and reality of the man presenting them.
From his church young students in the colleges
of Memphis go out to undertake their tasks as scholars and later
as leaders in all the disciplines of life. His quick and cultivated
mind has provided the bridge over which more than one puzzled and
disturbed student has been able to walk from the agonizing contradictions
of this unideal world to the total power of the grace of God in
Christ. Dr. Jones does not check his mind at the foot of the stairs
when he enters the pulpit. He believes thoroughly that God meant
it when He called upon His followers to serve Him with our minds.
But the preaching of Dr. Jones is not something
coldly intellectual, polished and gleaming and dead, like a tombstone
in a cemetery gleams under the flitting light of the moon. Not at
all. This man, whose cultivated mind is matched by a concerned heart,
leads people first to desire, and then to implement that desire
of putting the gospel into life. And what else is it supposed to
do, if not to be put to use in life? Are we not called upon to be
something more than merely hearers? Are we not called upon to be
busy about the works of God for the sake of man and the glory of
God? One is not likely to come away from the proclamation of the
gospel by Dr. Jones content merely to comment on how nice it was
and straightway to forget it. His preaching, because it is so truly
Biblical, moves from the surface of the mind to the motive centers
of the will and men do differently because they have been made new
by God through the preaching of this man.
I would hasten to point to another phase of Dr.
Jones' ministry other than the power and persuasiveness of his preaching.
That is the work of pastor.
Above all things else, rooting out of his very
real love of God, Dr. Jones cares about people. Now you know and
I know that people come in all sizes and shapes. Some you can care
about more easily than others. Some can irritate you by merely saying
"good morning." But I have been amazed at the catholicity of appeal
Dr. Jones has, and a very unusual way of making all kinds of people
with all sorts of differing needs feel comfortable and at home in
his presence. This is true simply because people know that here
is a man whose interest in them is genuine; whose ability to help
will be made totally available to them; whose concern is not judgmental
Dr. Paul Jones is and has always been a diligent
presbyter. He has carried his share, and more, of the work of Presbytery,
Synod and Assembly for a good many years. But in it all he has successfully
resisted the temptation to become so concerned with the machinery
that he forgot the purpose it was created to meet. That is no easy
trick! Let me quickly list some of the areas in which the considerable
and varied talents of this dedicated man have been put to work in
leading our denomination through the years.
He has been moderator of three Presbyteries, and
two years ago was Moderator of the Synod of Tennessee. Both in Virginia
and North Carolina he has served as Clerical Chairman in the Assembly's
Negro Work Campaign. For two years he served on the ad-interim Committee
on World Missions. He was a valued member of the board of trustees
of the PSCE from 1951 to 1960. He has served his denomination as
accredited visitor to the Sao Paulo meeting of the Presbyterian
and Reformed World Alliance and represented our General Assembly
at the North American Area Council of the Alliance of Presbyterian
and Reformed Church, in January of this year.
He is, you easily see, a man who has been a good
and faithful steward of his talents and time in the wider service
of your denomination.
Now, let me come to the conclusion of the matter.
The office of Moderator of the General Assembly
is the highest office open to a member of this denomination. While
it is indeed honorable, it is in no sense honorary. It is a working
task to which we call our Moderator.
This is an office of dynamic leadership. In the
person of the Moderator this entire denomination finds visual summation
again and again. Both within and outside the regional boundaries
of this denomination this man will travel, will stand before the
leaders of our culture and will represent the general mood and mind
of this Assembly. He ought, therefore, to be the sort of person
whose life has already been doing this in a fine fashion, and whose
vitality gives promise of his being able to do it well through the
extremely busy days of his Moderatorship.
Dr. Paul Tudor Jones is eminently qualified for
Devoted husband and wise father, continuing scholar
in a world whose seams of knowledge are fairly bursting; at home
in the arts and without guile in his wisdom among the leaders of
business; courageous, prophetic, compassionate preacher; administrator
of one of our most active and sizable churches; diligent presbyter,
carrying out a creative stewardship before God in all the courts
of our church; skilled in the difficult art of presiding over bodies
in which widespread differences of opinion are to be heard; effective
counselor of the troubled and able inspirer of the young; leader
in the community that lies beyond the organizational framework of
the congregation but not beyond the redemptive love of God, I take
it as a singular honor to present now in nomination for the office
of Moderator of the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church
in the United States, Dr. Paul Tudor Jones.
Back to Biography Home