On September 17, 2021 Stephen Mulder was ordained and installed as Associate Pastor of Stillwater Reformed Presbyterian Church (Stillwater, Oklahoma, USA). The steps that led up to that moment reflect God’s care for the Stillwater RPC. It is not uncommon for RP churches to have members who travel sizable distances to remain faithful to their RP vows of church membership. Currently about a third of the Stillwater RPC travel an hour or more to Stillwater each week from the OK City area. A few years ago, the SRPC realized this group of people could become the core of an RP church in OK City with opportunities for ministry there and beyond. From that time, deliberate steps took this idea from the concept stage to informal Bible studies, Psalm singing gatherings, fellowship meals, community service projects, and prayer meetings.
By 2019 monthly public worship services were being held in the chapel of a Christian school on the north side of OK City. A variety of preachers from the denomination were invited to preach, some of whom became candidates for the pastoral call to be church planter.
The next step was to find a church planting pastor for OK City church planting. This seemed like an insurmountable hurdle because of the obvious shortage of men for the ministry in North America. But God in his perfect timing intervened. On April 18, 2021 the Stillwater RPC gathered for a congregational meeting to call Stephen Mulder as Associate Pastor for Church Planting in OK City. He was elected and quickly informed the congregation of his intent to accept. He and his wife, Grace, moved to Oklahoma City on June 22nd. Midwest Presbytery sustained Stephen in his ordination exams on July 16th.
The ordination and installation service on September 17th was not unlike other such services. Prior to the service the congregation, provided a meal for all the local members and visitors, some of whom traveled from a distance. The service was actually a constituted meeting of the court of the Midwest Presbytery, so there were some elements of the service that seemed like a business meeting. Those who presided were actually members of a commission drawn up for the purpose of ordaining and installing Stephen Mulder. However, other elements of the service felt like a worship service. The list of Psalms sung included Psalm 84B, 86B, and 126B, with precenting provided by Jessie Forthun. Elder Dave Carroll read the steps that led to Stephen being called. Elder Jeff Spitler then read the edict of ordination and installation for the final time. Moderator Bruce Parnell asked members of the Stillwater RPC to indicate their adherence to the pastoral call of Mr. Stephen Mulder by standing, and asked Mr. Mulder to indicate his adherence to his acceptance of the call. Mr. Mulder then came forward to answer the prescribed Queries for Ordination and Installation, as asked by the Clerk of the Commission, Elder Alan Noell. A sermon was preached by Rev. Dr. C. J. Williams, Professor of Old Testament Studies at Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Pittsburgh, PA, and father-in-law to Stephen. The sermon was entitled “Regulative Principles of Ministry” and was based on 1 Timothy 4:12-16. All Mid West Presbytery elders present came forward. Rev. Gary McNamee of Grace Reformed Church (RPCNA Mission Church, Columbia, MO) offered the prayer of ministerial ordination and installation as Mr. Mulder knelt, and the elders laid their hands upon him. Rev. Romesh Prakashpalan of Dallas RPC charged the congregation from 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13. A charge was given to Rev. Mulder by the Moderator from 2 Timothy 4:1-2. The court was adjourned with prayer by newly ordained and installed Pastor Stephen Mulder, who then pronounced the benediction from Numbers 6:24-26. A reception for the Mulders was provided by the Stillwater RPC.
As one who has lived in Stillwater, OK since 1985, it is stunning to reflect on what God has done here. In 1986 Midwest Presbytery was approach to consider a church planting endeavor in Stillwater. A committee was formed to explore the idea which led to a commission. Then monthly visits by a pastor from the Midwest Presbytery commenced in which Lord’s Day evening preaching took place in a private home. Meanwhile much prayer and community involvement in a variety of outreach activities took place. Finally, a church planting pastor, Rev. Bruce Parnell, was called in 1990 and a particular congregation was established, which is still active to this day. That alone is a reason for praising God. However, an effort was made to plant a church in Enid, OK. For a period of years that was a dream fulfilled until Enid’s RP Church closed in 2017. It remains to be seen if God will bless the efforts that would lead to a particularization of a congregation in OK City, but God has now blessed the congregation with the ordination of a church planting pastor who has settled in the metro area and begun fruitful work with that end in mind. And the people of the Stillwater RPC are grateful. To God be all the glory.
Thanks to Liz Noell for putting together this article. Liz is a retired home school mom to 4 adult children, wife to Alan, grandmother to 2 one year old boys, and a community volunteer. In 1986 she became part of the core group that helped to plant the RP church in Stillwater, Oklahoma. That church became an organized congregation in 1990.