The 191st Synod of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America convened today on the campus of Indiana Wesleyan University in Marion, Ind. The first day of the Synod meetings began with a morning devotional service focusing upon the doctrine of Christ’s resurrection from 1 Corinthians 15. Retiring Moderator Harry Metzger reminded delegates about the importance of living daily in the fact of the resurrection and the power of the resurrection.
After this rich period of worship, approximately fifteen new delegates to synod were introduced from the floor by a friend or fellow elder from their congregation.
Synod set aside time to remember the servants of the church who have died since the last meeting of Synod. Tributes were presented for three ministers: Godfrey Franklin, Gordon Keddie, and Robert “Bob” McFarland. Others were also remembered with thanks to God for their service: five ruling elders, three ruling elders’ wives, and two friends of the RPCNA—Rev. Edward Donnelly and Rev. G.I. Williamson (see article for details).
Presbyteries met separately on Synod’s first afternoon with an opportunity to conduct urgent business. Later, the entire Synod heard reports from all six North American presbyteries and the Japan Presbytery. Missing this year were congregations from Canada who have (in God’s rich blessing) formed a new sister denomination, the Reformed Presbyterian Church of Canada. For highlights from RPCNA presbyteries and congregations, see related article.
A strategic report that always comes on the first day of Synod is the report of the Business of Synod Committee about communications that arise from the various presbyteries. This year there were a total of ten communications. After discussion, six communications were returned to their authors without Synod hearing from the parties involved.
One communication arose from the Midwest Presbytery with proposed changes to the RP Testimony on the matter of abortion. The proposal would change Reformed Presbyterian Testimony 24.19 to read: “Deliberately induced abortion is murder. When medical intervention to remove the child from the mother’s body is necessary to preserve the life of the mother or the child, all medically reasonable measures should be taken to honorably care for both the mother and child’s life and body. Ex. 20:13; Ex. 21:22-23; Ps. 71:6; Ps.127:3; Ps. 139:13-16.” Synod will return to this matter later in its docket. A second complaint opposed an action of a presbytery to rebuke two elders for the restoration to the Lord’s table of a pastor under Synod’s discipline. Synod will hear briefly from the parties later this week.
Synod heard the report of a study committee it created last year to respond to a communication from Presbytery of the Alleghenies and Theresa Bloom regarding the possible future submission of a policy paper on abuse and/or proposed constitutional changes. After much discussion, a motion was passed that this report be recommitted to the committee to continue its work, getting feedback from the sessions and the presbyteries.
The day concluded with a report from the president of the Education and Publication Board and a ten-minute presentation from Crown & Covenant co-director Drew Gordon. Three titles have been published in the new imprint of Crown & Covenant Publications called Grassmarket Press, which seeks to provide short books on the doctrine, worship, and piety of the Reformed and Presbyterian faith. Several more Grassmarket titles are in production or being written. Overall, Crown & Covenant published 10 new books in the past 12 months, a record number. The board and staff gave thanks for the publishing legacy of Rev. Gordon Keddie, who published about 20 books over his lifetime; in his retirement he continued to work with Crown & Covenant on book projects until just before he went to be with the Lord in May.
Brad Johnston and Drew Gordon, Synod Reporters