Retiring moderator Bruce Parnell (Stillwater OK RPC) called RPCNA synod delegates to take their “marks” Tuesday morning in the worship of our great God, preaching on the theme of “Take Up Your Cross & Follow Christ.” He preached from Matthew 16:21-28, applying the call of self-denial (v 24) to the elders of the RPCNAFollowing this season, 24 first-time delegates lined up to be introduced to the Court. Then Synod “got set” to begin its work for the week, electing Pastor Harry Metzger (North Hills [Pittsburgh, Pa.] RPC) to serve as moderator of the 190th Synod. John McFarland was elected to serve as clerk and Andrew Barnes as assistant clerk.
After determining how to treat numerous Communications later in the week, Synod “got to it” with attention to the report of the Home Mission Board. The HMB reports that there are 101 congregations in the RP Church of North America (89 organized congregations and 12 mission churches). In the Japan Presbytery there are four congregations and one mission church. Delegates also learned that since last summer the Oklahoma City Mission Church and the Houston Mission Church were established. Also, our mission church in Columbia, Mo., was organized as a congregation after many years of laboring toward this end.
The HMB expressed its love for, and concern for, our church planters (and their families) amidst the burdens and rigors of church planting. A church planters’ retreat is scheduled for October at the Lake Williamson Christian Center outside of St. Louis Mo. The theme will be pastoral refreshment, and the speaker will be Dr. Eric Watkins, who currently serves on the OPC Home Missions Committee.
Later, the Global Mission Board focused attention on the courageous labors of our missionaries and fruits seen upon the various RPCNA mission fields in Japan, South Sudan, Central Asia, and South Asia. Currently, RP Global Missions has numerous short-term mission trips planned or in the works. Please pray for team unity, health, and fruitfulness that will lead to future Kingdom growth. Numerous resources (including an RPGM newsletter) are available to inform local congregations of God’s work through global missions.
Pastor Andrew Quigley (Ottawa RPC) presented the report of RP Global Alliance, a mechanism for cooperation between Reformed Presbyterians worldwide. Quigley noted the Alliance FB page has been a particularly useful tool in connecting RPs throughout the past year. The Synod also approved the Alliance’s proposal that October 2, 2022 be featured as an “RP Global Day of Prayer” with a particular focus on the need in many churches for additional ruling elders. RPs worldwide were encouraged to subscribe to the Global Alliance newsletter.
The Stated Clerk reported a modest but healthy 2% growth of the denomination in the past calendar year. He also pointed out a 10% decline in the number of ruling elders in our churches over the past 10 years. This is a matter of concern and needs to be brought before the Lord.
After recessing for lunch, delegates marched across the Indiana Wesleyan Campus to the Noggle Center to constitute as presbyteries for one hour of necessary business, including examination of students under care.
Later in the afternoon, the court reconvened and learned details about the ongoing work of its CASA (Central and South America) Committee. Despite COVID flareups and travel restrictions, plans continue for an updated Spanish Psalter and Spanish-language edition of the RPCNA’s website. The RPCNA Constitution is now available in Spanish for download and printing. Pastor Edgar Ibarra (Las Vegas RPC) reported providing teaching to six pastors in Iglesia Presbiteriana de Bolivia via online lectures. Congregations were particularly asked to pray that the Lord of the harvest might grant and bless future church planting endeavors in Cuba, Ecuador, and Paraguay.
Tuesday evening the court took several actions on papers that had been filed according to ordinary procedure. Synod ruled in a complaint arising from actions of the Atlantic Presbytery (Communication 22-01), that “the … actions of Atlantic Presbytery were in opposition to Westminster Confession 20.2-4 and RP Testimony 4.8 and 20.4-5 and 26.5, 8.” The matter arose over a Covid resolution from the presbytery concerning one congregation in particular. The presbytery had later withdrawn the resolution and apologized for acting in haste. Synod also decided not to accept proposed revisions to its Vows of Communicant Membership (Communication 22-05) which would have streamlined the vows with one query per section. The court also clarified for the Presbytery of the Alleghenies (Communication 22-12) that according to the RPCNA Constitution “a presbytery may appoint a commission for examination, ordination, and installation of a teaching elder.”
Delegates adjourned at 9:15pm for fellowship and rest before they take up the work again on Wednesday.
Brad Johnston and Drew Gordon
This report was originally written for the RP Witness magazine, check out their website here.