The Atlantic Presbytery held its annual spring meeting online due to the travel restrictions in place for some states, especially those in New England. The meeting was held on Friday evening, March 26th and Saturday morning, March 27th.

John Cripps who was recently ordained and installed in the Walton church as a ruling elder was welcomed as a first-time delegate to Presbytery. Bill Chellis had been installed in the Walton Church in the same service as John Cripps.

Students Under Care

The greatest amount of time was taken up with the examination of our two theological students, Zachary Dotson and Hunter Jackson. Both men are eligible to preach and are making progress toward being eligible to receive a call. There is another seminary student who may soon be taken under care of the presbytery, but we pray for God to raise up others to prepare for the Gospel ministry.

Zach Dotson has been serving the Coldenham-Newburgh Church at the session’s request while he is taking courses online from Greenville Presbyterian Seminary. His course of study should be completed with the end of this academic year, so the Presbytery established a commission “to take the steps they find are necessary to secure the future of the Coldenham-Newburgh Church.”

Call Accepted

The Ridgefield Park Church has called Dr. Andrew Kerr from the RPC of Ireland and he has indicated his desire to accept this call, but travel restrictions have not yet permitted him to travel to America.

Defining “Desertion”

In response to their appointment at the meeting of Presbytery last fall, a five-man committee prepared a study of the matter of divorce where desertion is the reason given for the dissolution of a marriage. This was raised by the teaching of some that would broaden the meaning of desertion to include reasons other than a physical departure. 

This has been before Synod in recent years, but the brief committee reports which agreed with Presbytery’s conclusions have not been adopted by the Synod. Two concerns are addressed in Presbytery’s report beyond what the previous reports have done. 1) It is not a brief study but an in-depth study which also 2) addresses some pastoral concerns over the way various situations can be addressed. 

It should be noted that while desertion is often noted as one of two Biblical reasons for divorce (the other is sexual immorality) our constitutional documents use stronger language. In the Westminster Confession of Faith (24:6) it is called “such wilful (sic) desertion as can in no way be remedied by the Church or civil magistrate.”

Coming Up…

  1. Christ Church in East Providence, Rhode Island is once again planning to host a summer intern.
  2. The delegates held a 10-minute discussion of the upcoming meeting of Synod including such matters as the likely venue, the number of communications already uploaded about judicial concerns and the time that will be allotted for the meeting in light of the limitations brought on by COVID-19.
  3. Because of COVID-19, White Lake Family Camp will be a virtual camp again this summer.
  4. We hope to hold a centennial celebration of White Lake Camp in 2020.

Rev. J. Bruce Martin grew up in the Santa Ana RPC and was licensed to preach by the Pacific Coast Presbytery of the RPCNA in 1972. He has pastored several RP congregations, most recently the Ridgefield Park RPC, where he ministered from 1997 until his retirement in 2019. Twice Rev. Martin has served as moderator for the RPCNA Synod. He currently serves as Atlantic Presbytery Clerk. Bruce and JoAnne Martin live in Elkins Park, PA.

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