In Presbyterianism we do not believe that congregations are independent, isolated, or unaccountable from a larger body. In the RPCNA our Synod is the broadest court of the church. This year Synod is being held at the Indiana Wesleyan University in Marion, IN. We begin next Tuesday morning and plan on concluding our work on Friday.
The purpose of Synod is not simply to hear reports — although, in the spirit of Acts 15:4 we do hear a lot of these from Presbyteries, boards/committees, and institutions within the RPCNA. Perhaps more important, our Synod takes up issues and problems that arise within the denomination and seeks to determine these things by the Holy Spirit and the Word of God.
“It belongeth to synods and councils, ministerially, to determine controversies of faith, and cases of conscience; to set down rules and directions for the better ordering of the public worship of God, and government of his Church; to receive complaints in cases of maladministration, and authoritatively to determine the same…”WCF 31.3
Distinct from Presbyteries and sessions (who also do similar work) the decisions of the Synod are final but subordinate to our standards. Since the church is the “city on a hill” (Matthew 5:14) it is a pillar of Presbyterianism to do this work openly, publicly, and transparently.
There is a full 703-page Docket and Digest for our Synod. Below, however, is a summary of some of the business we’ll be taking up:
- Every day we will begin with the preaching of God’s Word from selected pastors Bruce Parnell, Kyle Sims (ARP Fraternal Delegate), Rom Prakashpalan, and Matt Kingswood.
- Several hours throughout the week are dedicated to praying for presbyteries and the ongoing work of the RPCNA around the world.
- Reports will be heard from Boards & Commissions including EA, Education & Publication, Geneva College, Global Missions (with Pakistan and South Asia), Home Missions, Benefits Board, Synod Trusties, and RP Seminary.
- Reports will be heard from various Committees including Church History, Finance, Graduate Study, Interchurch, RP Global Alliance, Commission on Chaplains and Military Personnel, Vital Churches, Youth Ministries, Reformed Translation Fellowship, etc.
- Study Committees will report and make recommendations including committees on Christ’s Mediatorial Kingship, Inmate Church Membership, Constitution Revisions, Videoconferencing in Ecclesiastical Trials, Vows and Queries, and the RP Canada Formation.
- Communications will be heard and decided on including: Durham RPC’s request to change presbyteries from Gulf Great Lakes to the Presbytery of the Alleghenies, edits to the Covenant of Communicant Membership, US Religious Census, a request to form a denominational sexual abuse board, and a request to publish denominational salaries.
- The Synod is being asked to form a Canadian Presbytery of the RPCNA to help pave the way for that Presbytery to peacefully separate from the from the RPCNA and form the RPC of Canada.
- There are a couple of complaints/communications related to COVID decisions. One comes from members of the Hazelton congregation and another from within State College RPC.
- A complaint from member(s) of the Seattle congregation against the session’s invitation of a guest preacher.
- Five complaints have been filed against the Synod Judicial Commission appointed last year to address the response given by the leadership of Immanuel RPC to sexual abuse. After an ecclesiastical trial the commission found the former pastor guilty of sin in the way he responded, and he was deposed from the ministry, and suspended from the privileges of membership.
- A communication will be heard from former Immanuel RPC members supportive of the actions of the Synod Judicial Commission.
The meeting will have good and high points, and others that are sorrowful and challenging. Pray for us as we exercise the keys of the kingdom to the further peace, purity, and progress of the church.
Kyle Borg, Winchester RPC