Georgia Settle, wife of PCA minister Paul Settle, died on Sunday evening (9/19) after a long battle with Alzheimer’s.

‘Georgia’s eyes twinkled, and she could not stifle her grin. Her whole face betrayed her excitement. She was leading a devotion for the women on our committee. “Girls,” she announced with glee, “we are frapping cables!*”’

Paul Settle announced the passing of his loving wife and companion of 54 years in an email he sent to family and friends this morning (Monday, 9/20):

“Georgia was received by Jesus Christ into His immediate presence, on the Lord’s Day evening, September 19, at 8:30 o’clock. I was with her, and the children and grandchildren and other family members had been with her off and on for several days. Please keep praying for us. ‘To be absent from the body is to be present with the Lord. AMEN!

As close friends had known, Georgia had been suffering from Alzheimer’s disease for the past eight years. Paul kept stepping back from church-related duties as things progressed, and they finally moved back from Dallas to their adopted home town of Greenville, SC (where he had served as Senior Pastor at Second Presbyterian (PCA) for fourteen years).

Paul wrote another email just a short 16 days ago in which he described the pain of having to finally put her into a care center – one of those crushing decisions that faces far too many people in families that struggle with this disease. One can sense the love and emotion behind these words:

It was the most difficult decision I have ever made, but Georgia and I and our children, David and Jo Lynne, and some close friends who have made the same decision for one or more of their loved ones, agreed that it was necessary. I took Georgia yesterday, September 3, to the Hawthorne Inn, a fine nursing home offering special care for Alzheimer’s and dementia patients within a warm, friendly, Christian atmosphere. She did well—we broke down only a time or two—and enjoyed some very special times in the Word and prayer and as deep discussion as is possible with her very limited ability to speak.

Georgia’s condition was serious, but now is grave. She deteriorated alarmingly fast about six weeks ago and is now only a shadow of her former self. She is unable to see clearly, speak coherently, hear accurately or remember anything or anyone more than a few seconds (though sometimes she seems clearly aware of conversations or events that have occurred in the past few days). She knows me most of the time, and welcomes me with tears and kisses. Today, after she had fallen (but thankfully was unhurt), I lay beside her on her bed, holding her hands and stroking her hair while she “came and went.” From time to time she stirred, took one of my hands and placed a soft kiss on each finger. Needless to say my visits are a blessing though emotionally difficult.

Your prayers have lifted us repeatedly for years and especially in the past few months. We cannot thank you enough for your faithfulness. Please keep it up!

A Memorial Service will be held this coming Saturday, September 25, in the Sanctuary of Second Presbyterian Church in Greenville at 11:00AM
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Georgia Brown, born on March 6, 1935, was from Betsy Lane, Kentucky. She met Paul Settle from Charleston, WV while they were students at Bob Jones University in the mid-50’s. Shortly after their shared graduation, they were married back in Betsy Lane on August 22, 1956. To understand Georgia’s story, you have to understand Paul’s story, as they are so closely intertwined.

Together they went to seminary at Columbia in Decatur, GA and Paul received his MDiv three years later. He immediately returned to West Virginia where he took a call and was ordained as Pastor of the Pliny Presbyterian Church about 35 miles northwest of downtown Charlestown. That church, although very small these days, is still open and is in New River Presbytery of the PCA. (I drive past it all time going to and from Dayton, Ohio to see grandkids. DKC)

Following Pliny, Paul followed his love for Christian Education and spent four years as Minister of Education at Trinity PC in Montgomery, AL followed by three years in the same position at Coral Ridge PC in Fort Lauderdale, FL. During this time they were raising a family, a boy – Paul David (now living in Greenville) and a girl – Jo Lynn Sprouse (now living in Waynesville, NC).

Paul’s love for education was shared by Georgia, as she taught speech education in public schools in Winfield, WV, Smyrna, GA, and Montgomery, AL and served Library Assistant at Columbia Theological Seminary, Decatur, GA during these years.

In 1969, Paul took a call to become pastor of the Northside Presbyterian Church in Burlington, NC and dropped right into the middle of the struggle of conservative members of the Presbyterian Church in the U.S. (known as the Southern Presbyterian Church) against a denomination that was slowly moving away from its Biblical and Confessional roots.

By 1971, things were moving swiftly towards the formation of a new denomination (now the Presbyterian Church in America). Paul and Georgia moved to Montgomery, AL where Paul became the Executive Secretary of the Presbyterian Churchmen United, one of four groups that provided the facilitation for churches who wanted to leave the PCUS to form a new denomination. Georgia, not surprisingly, became the office manager! When the denomination was about to be formed in 1973, the job title became Executive Director of the Continuing Presbyterian Church. Then, at the formation of the denomination, Paul became the Coordinator of the Committee for Christian Education and Publications (CE/P). They changed the office title to the new name and stayed in Montgomery.

Georgia shifted from her role as an administrator and began to help Paul in the ministry, especially in establishing a Women’s Ministry in the PCA. She became the initial Christian Education Consultant to the Women’s Advisory Sub-Committee of the Presbyterian Church in America, a position now known as Director of Women’s Ministry.

In 1976, after 7 years of organizational work, Paul was called to be Senior Pastor of the historic Second Presbyterian Church in Greenville and he served there for over 14 years. During that period, Georgia turned her attention to the needful work of Historian of the PCA, as well as writing her first book, called ‘Women In The Bible’. It was published by the CE/P Committee as a Women’s Bible study in 1978, and is in the process of being reprinted so check back later at the CE/P bookstore site.

In the role as Historian she personally completed oral histories with some of the preeminent leaders of the continuing church movement and the early PCA including (alphabetically): Jim Baird, John Clark, Bill Hill, Ken Keyes, Harold S. Laird, Arthur Matthews, Will McIlwaine, Don Patterson, Robert Rayburn, John and Kitty Richards (the Settle’s co-workers with PCU), Paul Settle (that one was easy to schedule), Kennedy Smartt, Morton Smith, Aiken Taylor, Steve White, Ben Wilkinson, and Jack Williamson.

As Wayne Sparkman, current Director of the PCA Historical Center noted in putting this list together for The Aquila Report: “she did a BUNCH of interviews. The entire PCA will always be in her debt.”

Besides just doing these oral histories, Georgia wrote the small handbook that is still in use for those who want to do some of this very interesting and very crucial work of creating history for the future. You can download that handbook at: http://www.pcahistory.org/local/oralhistory.html

(Contact Mr. Sparkman by email: archivist@pcahistory.org for more information about all of the oral history interviews and their transcriptions.)

In 1988, still while Paul was at Greenville, Georgia published a second book, entitled Seasons of Change, Seasons of Grace, also published as a study by the CE/P in Atlanta. The CE/P Committee has just republished this work and it can be obtained here
In 1991, the founder and primary gift-giver to establish Ridge Haven Conference Center, a PCA ministry in the mountains of southwestern North Carolina, Kenneth Keyes, Sr. asked Paul to put his combination of administrative and education skills together and so he left the pastorate and took the job as Executive Director of Ridge Haven for two years.

But as soon as things were organized there, Paul and Georgia moved on to Paul’s next and final call, on the staff of the Park Cities PC (PCPC) in Dallas. The Senior Pastor was Skip Ryan, who with Paul was a Board Member of Westminster Seminary in Philadelphia. By that time PCPC had grown to mega-church status (2,000+ people) and Paul came on as Associate Pastor with his primary work of discipleship (which is to say, Christian Education in its basic form).

Among those who were part of the discipleship work were many college and seminary students. It wasn’t long before a Reformed University Fellowship chapter was started at Southern Methodist University, and Georgia again pitched in to serve as the Executive Director to the Campus Pastor.

In 2003, when Georgia began the ‘Long Goodbye’ as many Alzheimer’s caregivers call it, Paul stepped down from the staff at Park Cities and spent most of his time caring for Georgia. A few years ago, they moved back to Brevard, NC to be closer to their children. Then, this September, the ‘Long Goodbye’ became a final farewell to family and friends on earth and a joyous arrival in heaven to be with Jesus and all the saints who have gone before us.

Surviving Georgia, in addition to her husband, are a son, Paul David Settle and wife, Shirley, of Greenville; a daughter, Jo Lynne Sprouse and husband, Ken, of Waynesville, NC; two granddaughters, Shelby and Carly Sprouse; a step granddaughter, Alyssa and a brother, Billy Brown and wife, Faye, of Belleville, MI.
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Two of the ladies who came after Georgia in the work of the PCA Women’s Ministry, Susan Hunt (the first official Director) and Barbara Thompson, a long time Advisory Committee Member and recent staff member in Atlanta, wrote a book entitled: The Legacy of Biblical Womanhood (click on hyperlink to order from PCA bookstore)

The two authors dedicated the book to Georgia, just as she began her battle with Alzheimer’s. Here is their dedication, which will tell you way more than all the facts in the story to this point put together about who Georgia Brown Settle really was!

Georgia Settle is not a settler. We dedicate this book to her because she is a pilgrim whose progress has encouraged and inspired countless daughters of the covenant. She embodies the helper design. She is a life-giver. She represents the scores of women who have given the legacy to us.

From Susan Hunt: Georgia’s influence in my life is deep and wide. Her sweet love for Jesus has reached the perimeters of my life. As a young pastor’s wife, I watched her from a distance and saw her love for her husband. I once heard her describe herself as the happy wife of a happy pastor. This joyful statement lodged in my heart and often kept me from falling into the “poor me” trap.

Her constant passion for God’s glory and love for His church often steadied me, though she was unaware that I was watching. And then I became Director of the Women in the Church ministry for our denomination. Georgia had served in this position sev­eral years previously and was on the women’s advisory committee when I became a staff member. She was so wise, and I was such a novice. But she did not flinch. She found that wonderful balance of being available but not crowding me. She was never territorial. She became my cheer­leader and my friend.

I have watched her move from life season to life season with grace and dignity. She journeys from strength to strength. Her gentle presence comforts troubled hearts and encourages weary warriors. And her laughter makes me smile. She is so empty of self and so filled with Jesus.

From Barbara Thompson: The threads of Georgia’s life are woven throughout my life and are part and parcel of who I am in Christ. I remember my first impression: Oh dear Lord, this sweet woman is sure to be repulsed by me, this very rough-around-the-edges new believer. But Georgia’s gentle spirit and love for God’s people rests .on the sure hope of Jesus Christ, and so she has shown me, from the beginning, His steadfast love.

I think of her as a sort of spiritual Renaissance woman—ageless, multitalented (she makes her own clothes!), benevolent—in whose presence is rest. She strongly took me under her wing and celebrated me. She treated me as though I knew something! She showed me how to love my husband, love my child, love God’s Word, and love His people. Georgia has invited me into her heart to watch her live amidst the joys and sorrows. It is my great privilege to be her spiritual daughter and friend!

Our prayer

Georgia’s eyes twinkled, and she could not stifle her grin. Her whole face betrayed her excitement. She was leading a devotion for the women on our committee.

“Girls,” she announced with glee, “we are frapping cables”

We did not share her excitement.

She let the thought sit for a while before she explained that while her husband was preparing to preach on Acts 27, he made a discovery. She read Acts 27:14-17:
A tempestuous wind, called the northeaster, struck down from the land. And when the ship was caught and could not face the wind, we gave way to it and were driven along . . . we managed with difficulty to secure the ship’s boat. After hoisting it up, they used supports to undergird the ship . . . .

*The word translated “supports” is the Greek word boethia. It is sometimes translated “help,” “rope,” or “supporting cables.” The nau­tical term for these ropes is “frapping cables.” They were used on the old wooden ships in rough waters. It is the same as the Hebrew word translated “helper” in Genesis 2:18.

Suddenly we all wanted to be a frapping cable, and we wanted the women’s ministries in our churches to be frapping cables. And now it is our prayer that you and the women in your church will be the same— for the glory of King Jesus and the advancement of Christendom.

Since it was Paul’s email that got us started on this journey of remembrance of Georgia’s life, let his final paragraph from that same email just a few weeks ago close this story:

I shared a blessing with Georgia this morning (September 4) and I share it with you: this morning when I awoke, I turned to find an empty pillow beside me. The sense of loss almost undid me, but in the same moment, through the window the first rays of a rising sun darted across the pillow. I turned to see a lovely sunrise, and on impulse, sat up and opened my Bible to Habakkuk’s beautiful prayer contained in chapter 3.

My eye fell immediately on verse 3, and the glory of the rising sun was transformed into worship of the Risen Son in a most marvelous way. “God came . . . the Holy One. His splendor covered the heavens, and the earth was full of His praise.” My heart was full. I thought of the tender kindness of the sovereign God who powerfully meets our needs and hears the cries of a sinner like myself.

The brilliance of that text seemed to fill the bedroom! Indeed, the heavens—every sunrise—declares the glory of God until that Day when He who came shall come again and the light of the sun will be replaced by the Light of the Lord God. I turned to verses 18-19—“I will rejoice in the LORD. I will take joy in the God of my salvation. God, the Lord, is my strength . . .”
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Some important information:

To sign the online guestbook maintained at the funeral home go to
http://www.thomasmcafee.com/_mgxroot/page_10792.php?id=833042

Once there, look for the group of seven links near the top. Click on the one that says ‘Guestbook’. When that page comes up, look for a dark blue link at the right side near the top that says ‘Sign Guestbook’ and you are there!

In lieu of flowers, memorials may be made to Women In The Church Ministry of The Presbyterian Church in America, c/o Second Presbyterian Church, 105 River Street, Greenville, SC 29601.

Paul Settle is moving into an apartment in Greenville. You may send him a personal note at: 181 Inglewood Way, Greenville, 29615

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