Synod’s final day (June 17) at Indiana Wesleyan University in Marion, Ind. was a day of judicial decisions, along with an election for board and committee openings. Moderator Bruce Parnell (Stillwater, Okla., RPC) helped delegates deal with complex issues in a unified and efficient way.
The main agenda items were the reporting of two judicial committees appointed at the beginning of the week.
Judicial Committee 2 (chaired by Pastor John Edgar) reported first. This temporary “committee of the day” was assigned to address a sexual abuse case within the Great Lakes–Gulf Presbytery, particularly the subsequent judicial matters within the church and the presbytery, as civil authorities have already been involved in the case with their own procedures. The committee aided Synod skillfully in preserving confidentiality, debating pastorally (some victim families were in attendance), and sorting out decisions of the leadership. After debate, Synod voted that “Synod assume original jurisdiction,…and the moderator appoint a seven-man judicial commission to address this matter.”
Then Synod turned its attention to the numerous complaints addressed to this court of the church concerning Dr. Michael LeFebvre, who had written a book and articles determined to be in violation of the RP Testimony’s stance on creation and evolution. These complaints were received both from presbyters and from church members complaining in various ways about presbytery’s actions. Judicial Committee 1 (chaired by Pastor Daniel Howe) had been appointed to review these complaints.
Some complaints were focused on the doctrinal issues involved (i.e. the denomination’s stance on creation over against theistic evolution). Earlier in the week, Synod had overwhelmingly affirmed its views on the doctrinal matters involved. Other complaints focused on technical matters related to preparations for a trial and Great Lakes–Gulf Presbytery’s decision to not conduct a trial but to give Dr. LeFebvre his ministerial credentials without adjudicating the issues.
The Judicial Committee’s recommendations guided Synod through this process. The court made clear decisions; however, numerous dissenters lined up to record their dissent to particular actions. It was determined that Synod did not have the constitutional power to undo the sending of ministerial credentials; so that option was off the table. Synod directed the Great Lakes–Gulf Presbytery to “appoint a two-man committee to communicate with Mr. LeFebvre and, if possible, shepherd him into a true branch of the visible church.”
Synod then turned its attention to the matter of nominations to its boards and committees. For the first year, the Nominating Committee employed an online ballot that alleviated the collection and counting of paper ballots.
As Synod neared its adjournment deadline at noon, Pastor Paul Brace the presented the State of the Church report, available here.
Then the Resolution of Thanks Committee brought the final report as follows:
“We give thanks to Jehovah, the great God of the Bible, for lifting His wrath and curse of the COVID pandemic to the degree that the RPCNA might hold Synod, and we thank Him for His grace and presence as He continues to build His Church even in difficult times.
“We also give thanks for: the teaching elders and ruling elders who sacrificed much time and energy to attend and serve the church, including our brothers participating online from Canada and Japan, noting our Japanese brothers have been joining us from 7:30 p.m. through their morning hours; the representatives of the various Reformed Presbyterian Missions & Ministries who bless the church with their gifts and took time this week to share their work; to our moderator (Bruce Parnell), manager (Herb McCracken), clerks (John McFarland, Brian Wright), parliamentarians (David Merkel, Brian Coombs, Martin Blocki), pages (Allen Blackwood, Robert Kelbe, Jonathan Kruis), and others who guided the work of Synod this year with their tireless efforts;
“We also give thanks to Indiana Wesleyan University and their staff who made such accommodations possible, particularly the housing and food staff and the IWU Salt, Light, and Sound department; to Crown & Covenant Publications and their workers (Drew and Lynne Gordon, Carla Butler) who provided their pop-up bookstore. We give glory to our resurrected King Jesus who forgives us our sins and has helped us to walk in humility and love for another, and we go forward with confidence that He will continue to glorify His name through His Church.”
– Brad Johnston, pastor, Topeka, Kan., RPC,
and Drew Gordon, editor, RP Witness