Please see the latest update from our Session regarding our senior pastor’s recent resignation and join us in continuing to lift up our church before God in prayer. (Updated Thursday, July 2)

7p.m. on Thursday, July 9, 2020
Via Zoom Meeting
The Zoom meeting number and passcode were sent in an email from David Stephenson. If you are unable to find the meeting information please contact [email protected].


The Session of McLean Presbyterian Church has called a congregational meeting to consider the resignation of Senior Pastor James Forsyth. The Session recommends that the Congregation approve the following action:


That the congregation concurs with Teaching Elder James W. Forsyth’s request to the Potomac Presbytery to dissolve his pastoral relationship with McLean Presbyterian Church, effective July 15, 2020.


What is the process for the resignation of a pastor?

The Book of Church Order (“BCO”) outlines the process for the resignation of pastors[1]. Pastors are members of their local Presbytery and so resign to the Presbytery, and not to the church. The BCO calls for a formal act by the Presbytery to dissolve the pastoral relationship between the pastor and congregation after confirming that the pastor “is in good standing, with no charges pending nor problems known to prejudice his relationship with the Presbytery,” and when the “matter has been handled through a duly called congregational meeting.”[2]

Why must the congregation “concur” with a pastor’s resignation?

The BCO[3] requires a congregational vote to release a pastor, similar to the vote to extend a call. (Under the BCO, the local church votes to confirm a call to a pastor.)  When a pastor submits his resignation to his congregation, his congregation is not affirming his new call, but is concurring with his resignation.

 Should the congregation vote against concurring with the motion as a symbol of affection?

While that is an understandable sentiment, the church is planning more appropriate expressions of gratitude and affection for James and his family. In addition to several small online gatherings over the next few weeks, we are planning an in-person event on the evening of Sunday, July 19, 2020 (subject to reopening status).

How will the congregation vote electronically?

The congregational meeting will occur through a Zoom meeting.  A form link will be shared via the chat that will allow for multiple communicant members to vote in each household.  Several deacons will be designated as tellers to count and confirm the votes. An explanation of the voting procedures will be presented at the beginning of the meeting and a “chat” window will be available to handle specific questions regarding voting mechanics.

[1] BCO Section 23-1a: When any minister shall tender the resignation of his pastoral charge to his Presbytery, the Presbytery shall cite the church to appear by its commissioners, to show cause why the Presbytery should or should not accept the resignation. If the church fails to appear, or if its reasons for retaining its pastor be deemed insufficient, his resignation shall be accepted and the pastoral relation dissolved.

[2] Potomac Presbytery Bylaws Section 6-3.m

[3] BCO Section 23-1b: If any church desires to be relieved of its pastor, a similar procedure shall be observed. But whether the minister or the church initiates proceedings for a dissolution of the relation, there shall always be a meeting of the congregation called and conducted in the same manner as the call of the pastor.



Please see the latest update from our Session regarding our senior pastor’s recent resignation and join us in continuing to lift up our church before God in prayer.

“And there was much weeping on the part of all . . . being sorrowful most of all because of the word that [Paul] had spoken, that they would not see his face again. And they accompanied him to the ship.” Acts 20:37-38

Dear Church Family:

First: know that the Session of McLean Presbyterian Church has been praying steadfastly that you would each and all experience the grace and peace of God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

Last week, promptly upon our receipt of a letter of resignation from our Senior Pastor, James Forsyth, the Session wrote to communicate our deep and genuine sadness that James and his family feel called to leave McLean Presbyterian Church in mid-July (July 15).

As we promised, the Session has been leaning into the Lord, trusting Him, and prayerful for His guidance and direction.  The pastors and elders, in groups large and small, have met with each other and with James to discuss his decision and to pray about the paths before us. We heard James’s heart, discussed how he feels the Lord led him to this decision, and asked him questions about the timing of it all. We also discussed the impact this decision will have on the Capital Pres Family and, of course, our next steps moving forward as a church.

The Lord’s incredible, inexplicable, and expeditious work on hearts and minds is evident.  He has provided better understanding, healing, and clearer perspectives for next steps.  The fact that James loves Jesus and MPC is unmistakable, as is our love for James and the “clan Forsyth.”  It is a great joy to be reminded of that, but – still more – a joy to witness and experience how God has been at work . . . day by day, meeting by meeting, prayer by prayer. “May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 15:5-6).

We are grateful for the prayers of the Capital Pres Family and for the Community Groups that have been gathering to pray, to dialogue with and encourage one another, and to share concerns.

As we look toward the future, the Session voted unanimously to designate Executive Pastor David Stephenson as Acting Senior Pastor.  Please join us in praying for David, for David’s family, for all of our pastors and staff and their families, and for all among us who during this season will step into new or expanded roles.  Pray that the Lord would give them and our church family strength, wisdom, and discernment – that all we do would glorify God.

We expect to call a congregational meeting prior to July 15 (details on date, time and logistics to follow by email notice and a posting on the church website at least seven days prior) for the purpose of voting to release James, in satisfaction of our governance requirements. A committee within the Session has been assigned the task of developing initial plans for a Senior Pastor search, about which further detail will come at a later date.

During this season, rather than continually focusing on James’s absence, let us pray that the Lord would make us increasingly aware of His presence.  Pray that our church would, like the early church with Paul, lovingly walk with the Forsyths to the very last moment they are with us and to pray for them well beyond that.  Pray that we would each and all have hearts that are truly after Jesus and that, irrespective of our particular season of life, our hearts would be refreshed by a deeper understanding, and a greater appreciation, of the entirety of who God is and how much he loves us.

John Renken, on behalf of the Session

June 17, 2020

A Letter from the Session of McLean Presbyterian Church

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make straight your paths.
Proverbs 3:5-6

Dear Church Family:

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!

We write to share with you the letter of resignation from our Senior Pastor, James Forsyth, as presented to the Session earlier this week. As James notes in his letter, he, Rosie and their family have determined – with profound heartache – that it is the Lord’s desire that they leave our midst in order to discern a call to James to become the Senior Pastor at Cedar Springs Presbyterian Church in Knoxville, Tennessee.

The entirety of the Capital Pres community reciprocates, even amplifies, that profound heartache. Our wish for James and his family is, as it has always been, that they experience the Lord’s richest blessings: the grace of Jesus, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit.

God has expanded His kingdom and has blessed McLean Presbyterian Church and its ministries and missions through James’s teaching, shepherding, leadership and service. Many among us only know MPC, and some among us have only walked with the Lord, with James as “our” Senior Pastor. Upon receipt of James’s letter, we are reminded that he is not, in the first instance, “our” man – but God’s.

Last evening, the Session acknowledged receipt of James’s letter and, consistent with our governance, referred it to the congregation for action (which will be considered at a congregational meeting). Information about that meeting will follow soon, in the form of a notice that confirms the timing, agenda, required action and, particularly important in these times, the logistical arrangements.

During seasons of change in our church and our world, the Session is leaning into the Lord, trusting Him, and prayerful for His guidance and direction in all of our decisions and actions. We encourage you all to join us in doing so.

The work of the church remains the same: to glorify and enjoy God by making disciples who make a difference through grace-filled worship, community, and missions. We are still His church.

MPC is blessed with a gifted, enthusiastic and loving team (truly a team) of pastors, staff and leaders. Please join us in praying that the Lord would give them, the Session and the entirety of our church family strength, wisdom and discernment – to hear the Lord’s assuring voice and experience His peace.

John Renken, on behalf of the Session

June 10, 2020

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David Stephenson
Executive Pastor
[email protected]