In an under-the-radar event, pastor Joseph Morecraft of the popular Counsel of Chalcedon magazine and founding pastor of Chalcedon Presbyterian Church, is no longer a member of that church nor the Presbytery he resided in.

While under discipline of the Reformed Presbyterian Church in the United States (RPCUS), Morecraft sought membership in another Presbyterian denomination. The RPCUS publicly announced this sudden turn of event in the spring:

“Friday, April 17, 2015

Pastor Joe Morecraft was removed from the membership of the Covenant Presbytery, RPCUS under discipline at the Stated Meeting of April 17, 2015 and the pastoral relation between him and the Chalcedon PC dissolved. He has been received by the RPC Hanover Presbytery as a member without voting rights, and as per his request, the two indictments against him and additional documents have been communicated to the stated clerk of the Hanover Presbytery.

We are disappointed that the judicial process was incomplete due to his failure to remain in the Covenant Presbytery, RPCUS and cooperate with the process.”Morecraft_new denomination_2015

There is no public indication from the Hanover Presbytery of what they decided about the two indictments against Dr. Morecraft.  However, he is currently administering the Lord’s Supper, indicating full fellowship with the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Hanover Presbytery. He is also listed on the Heritage Presbyterian Church website as its leader.

The specifics of the indictment are not given beyond the following:

“The indictments were the result of more than one year of disruption at the presbytery level regarding the nature of Presbyterian government and polity, and were set before the presbytery in her called meeting of March 9, 2015. In this same meeting the Session of the Chalcedon Presbyterian Church of which Pastor Morecraft was the pastor, asked the presbytery to investigate the session and both pastors: ‘Given the grievous nature of the situation that has developed between our pastor and the Session, and its disturbing and adverse effects on the congregation, we are appealing the whole matter to Presbytery for an investigation.’ ”

Although he has some strict views other Presbyterian denominations would disagree with, overall, he is considered an upright man with sound doctrine.

[9.2.15: I am in the processes of contacting the Hanover Presbytery to get a public statement from their end. And as I noted several times in the facebook comments, we do not know the details of this turn of events so we should not draw hasty conclusions.]


27 thoughts on “Joseph Morecraft removed from Presbytery while under discipline

  1. Joe has no bigger fan than this one. I have listened to every single sermon he has preached for the past 6 years– most of them multiple times– on Sermon Audio. But of what use is the Presbytery if you remove yourself from the process– the BIBLICAL process– of redress? What is it but bullying and together cowardice?
    If only we had a godly civil government to return him to stand and to answer.
    I am sick of it.
    Don’t preach if you can’t live by your own words. Don’t take your living by those who you will abandon or shun when the going gets rough.
    Non-Christians are often bigger men than our very best.
    It is a sad day for me.

    1. [9.2.15: I am in the processes of contacting the Hanover Presbytery to get a public statement from their end. And as I noted several times in the facebook comments, we do not know the details of this turn of events so we should not draw hasty conclusions.]

    2. Hm…we’re all human. Praise be God for His gracious mercy. Not knowing all the details of the situation and not knowing of it’s more recent outcome, I have to stand for Dr. Joe Morecraft. There have been more times in my life that his sermons spoken with zeal for our Lord have set fire under my feet and put me on a closer walk with Him. I’ve known no other preacher like Dr. Morecraft. I’m grateful to him. My own church turned me out. They’re good, nice people, but prejudged me. They did not show me mercy and thought excommunication me would keep their church pure. It led me to wonder whose church it is in the first place. Petty, hard-hearted attitudes within the Christian church may be more attributable to its downfall than all the pagan culture surrounding it. My suggestion…stand together, be merciful toward each other, forgiving…and be grateful for souls who are inherently born sinful who can sing and preach mightily for the Lord despite such shortcomings.

  2. I’m a strong admirer of Bro. Morecraft, so this is sad news, indeed. I have every reason to believe this division is over a clash of personalities (and probably egos). Thankfully it’s not over moral failures (the last thing we need to hear about right now is another Ashley Madison scandal). Let’s pray for peace in the camp.

  3. Had to go back and read this again to wrap my brain around it, “Pastor Joe Morecraft was removed from the membership of the Covenant Presbytery, RPCUS under discipline at the Stated Meeting of April 17, 2015 and the pastoral relation between him and the Chalcedon PC dissolved.” What? He was under discipline but then they removed him from membership? That means he was no longer under their jurisdiction (they released him) and they had no authority, therefore, to keep him under discipline, or examine/investigate any charges against him. But then they say, “”We are disappointed that the judicial process was incomplete due to his failure to remain in the Covenant Presbytery, RPCUS and cooperate with the process.” If they actually expected him to stick around and submit to their disciplinary proceedings then they shouldn’t have released him. Pretty basic Presbyterian stuff.

    How is Covenant Presbytery acting at all Presbyterian in this matter? I’m not taking sides here but something doesn’t add up. Their story is disengenous. It strikes me as a convenient way of portraying Joe as having fled their authority when in reality they were the ones to release him. In any event it appears that now the matter is entirely in the hands of RPC Hanover Presbytery, since they, and not Covenant Presbytery, are his authority now.

    Some clarification on this, Pastor Mathis, would be appreciated.

    1. Technically, that is not correct. A member or pastor may be tried by a presbytery for actions that took place in the presbytery before they transferred out, if they were transferred under discipline. If they dropped the case they should not blame Dr. Morecraft. They had the power to continue the case if they wished to do so.

    2. I sat through the presbytery meetings dealing with this issue and others related to it. Covenant Presbytery was careful in her wording of her letter because another minister who was friends with Pastor Morecraft filed suit on some members of presbytery. Said suits were unfounded and unbiblical. Covenant Presbytery was seeking to say what she could while avoiding becoming tangled in a legal mess. This is called bullying in grade school. It did not go unnoticed by those in sitting in the meetings. Joe Morecraft definitely fled Covenant Presbytery. He ran to avoid discipline. Sadly, Hannover took not one but two pastors fleeing discipline during this time. This did not reflect well on their denominational leadership (in the opinion of a church member who saw this mess unfold).

  4. I wish to make a point of clarification. Joe Morecraft was never a member of Chalcedon Presbyterian Church. He was a member of the Reformed Presbyterian Church in the United States.
    He has been received as a member of RPC Hanover Presbytery and the charges made by RPCUS were dismissed by RPC Hanover. That ends the matter.

    1. Thank you for the clarification Keith. I had contacted the RP Hanover but never received a reply. It would be good if that were officially clarified. Take care.

      1. That’s because it’s NOT a real presbytery. It’s a bunch of independent rouge ministers. Sad. They only meet once a year, but sometimes they miss year from year meetings. The clerk can ordain men, without the oversight of elders. Hanover is a joke. Sadly, Rome has better ecclesiology.

  5. I was in the RPCUS for years. If you had any idea of the things that happened you would leave as well. We did and didn’t look back. Pastor Joe made the right decision. Oh and by the way a few of the churches that were in that denomination are gone now. Good for them! Hard to stay in denomination when found out some of the leaders at a church were secretly recording their members in private conversations in order to use information against them. No trust :). A very high double standard as well going on …. Rules seem not to apply to the few that run the place now….. And I mean few 🙂

    1. If those things are true, then people ought to be warned about it. A public trial (even if they lost) would have helped tremendously. As it is now, given how under the radar it is, we just have a “he-said-she-said” situation. I did contact Hanover Presbytery but got no response.

    2. This comment demonstrates why there is so much misinformation out there about this sad situation. I doubt on purpose nevertheless it is still misleading. Joe joined HP when he heard charges were being filed against him. HP did not investigate and made it clear they were not interested in doing so. And about the implication that churches left because Joe left. One church did because of Joe; they no longer wanted to be associated with Joe his actions or his reputation. Only one church left with Joe and it was a church pastored by Joe’s brother-in-law who followed him into the HP and that church soon after disbanded. The statement about private recordings- No private conversations were ever recorded. A RE recorded a session meeting without the knowledge those present included the other elders. This same RE was with Joe and a part of the Morecraft exodus because he too was being brought under charges. So your statement “rules seem not to apply to the few that run the place now” is wrong and backwards. The one’s who left are the ones who didn’t think the rules applied to them. And I’ll take a few men with integrity over the many any day.

      1. Thank you for clarifying the facts to us, jhs! This is a very sad matter the Church, and it is not to be taken lightly. I hope the Lord convicts the heart of the ones at fault and they come into true repentance. Blessings

    3. These are serious accusations you are making sir! This is a very sad division in the church, and it’s not to smile about! I had Pastor Morecraft as a mentor and am very disappointed with this issue. And I also love to listen to Pastor Price’s sermons. I think both have great biblical teaching, and as we all know, they are not perfect. This is a sad sad event for the biblical Church! Let’s pray that, as men of God, all the parts involved leave the pride aside and come to reconciliation, for the good of Christ’s Church!

  6. Hanover Presbytery is NOT a real presbytery. There are more than 4 men in this rouge presbytery that fled ecclesiastical cases. Hanover harbors fugitives of justice. They take men in who are under discipline for authoritative issues and bring them into a makeshift presbytery. Don’t take my word for it, go on the website, you do not even need to take vows, and ecclesiastical credentials are not needed to give the sacrament. The clerk has all the power. It’s weird. Not presbyterian. They even took in a Methodist minister for a while.

  7. JHS .. Pastor Jess Stanfield maybe? Not sure if secretly recorded conversations happened in Joe’s case but they did at Zion Presbyterian, a church in the RPCUS. Pastor Jess admitted to it. Knowing what I know from my experience at Zion, Pastor Morecraft did the right thing and fled. He didn’t continue to argue with accusers. I have every email and letters by mail that Zion sent. Oh by the way, Pastor Jess and his session parted ways after they devoured one another… there is a pattern here… Will be glad to share the info I have if interested. By the way, that church has lost over 80% of its congregation. How many members do they have now? 5,6, maybe 7. I did not see the love of Christ there only sociopathic leadership that sought to hide in a leadership role of the church since the church automatically has credibility. Look at Pastor Jess’s life.. went AWOL from Army… later in life filed for bankruptcy in his business, was taking close to $90k a year from a small church, and then tore apart his own church.. another pattern people. Funny how Pastor Jess and team love arguments and thrive on controversy. It’s so easy to see their fruit and that’s why people leave. There simply is nothing Christian about them. They love to rule over and bully people but finally people catch on and just walk away. They have way more in common with the Devil than God… hum… wonder why?

    1. Did you ever find out the core issue? I am looking to market Morecraft’s commentry. I am investigating what really happened. I want to know for myself so that I can give answer when I am asked
      Bryon Michael Donner

  8. Whoever it was that claimed Joe Morecraft wasn’t a member of Chalcedon is wrong. He was the pastor of Chalcedon Pres in Roswell/Alpharetta GA area in the 1980s & 90s.

  9. Love the people that defend him saying,”he spoke to me”. Can a man not give an excellent sermon and be a poor human being at the same time?

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