This engaging day began with an encouraging move toward Scripture through the preaching of the Word by Pastor Matthew Ma (North Hills [Pittsburgh, Pa.] RPC). Delegates were reminded that Paul did not primarily seek to prove Jesus’ resurrection—rather, he proclaimed it far and wide in the authority of Jesus’ name. The apostle was confident that those ready to let the resurrection of Jesus shape their future hope (the gospel) would be radically blessed in their present life (sanctification).
Synod then moved in the direction of our public profession of our faith with Communication 23-05, which aims to enhance the Reformed Presbyterian Testimony on the matter of abortion. A robust conversation on the floor of synod provided additional guidance for a soon-to-be-appointed study committee, tasked with clarifying the dignity and value of the bodies and souls of both mother and baby.
Later, Synod was pressed into its faithful gospel heritage in history, receiving copies of Bill Edgar’s History of the Reformed Presbyterian Church in concise booklet form.
Next, we heard of Christ’s Word being proclaimed in the United States by church planting works gathering worshipers through the means of grace. Current church planting works receiving Home Missions aid include congregations in Bryan, Tex.; Harrisonburg, Va.; Great Basin, Nev.; Columbia, Mo.; and Las Vegas, Nev. In addition, funds have been provided for two younger pastors serving as residents in training with experienced pastors. The board requested that Synod approve a Memorandum of Understanding between the RPCNA and the new Reformed Presbyterian Church of Canada. Under this renewable five-year agreement, the congregations in the new Canadian denomination would contribute annually to the Time to Plant fund, and church plants in Canada would be eligible for aid from that fund. The RPCC would also have a seat on the Home Missions Board.
The RP Global Missions board gave a substantive report about the many details of our church’s mission fields, including the following:
- Sudan: With the Lucas Hanna family planning on returning from South Sudan in mid-2024, there is a need to grow the Cush4Christ team in order to sustain the ministry. The Board has made out two calls, one to the Jonathan Blackston family from the Frankston RPC in Australia, and one to Megan Hanson from Southside RPC in Indianapolis. While Jonathan Blackston is an ordained elder, much of what he is able to do would commonly fall under the description of a diaconal missionary, hopefully freeing up Zach Smith from some of his logistical duties. Megan Hanson would devote much of her time to teaching at Cush Christian School as well as serving the team in logistical and administrative matters. The improved translation of the Book of Psalms nears completion as composition of new, locally developed tunes also continues. These psalms are being sung exclusively in a growing number of congregations. The Weer Bei Radio station is scheduled to be moved out of the training center this year and will be housed and managed by Every Village in a new compound a few miles away. Cush Christian School enjoyed record enrollment this year. Scott Brinkerhoff continues to invest heavily in the teaching & organization of the school.
- South America: Representatives from the RPGM Board met with the CASA Committee to discuss how they might move forward together. They agreed that a Latin American commission should be established to oversee any church planting opportunities in Latin America; this would include the works in Paraguay and Ecuador, as well as other works that may be explored in Latin America. This commission would serve as a temporary governing body to oversee the organization of congregations and ordination of officers.
- The board decided to align short-term missions under the RP Global name. Instead of referring to RP Missions (the term used to refer to short-term mission trip opportunities), they will be referred to as RP Global short-term missions.
Members of the CASA (Central and South America) committee traveled to Paraguay this year to meet with a group of Christians who have petitioned to become an RPCNA mission work. They also traveled to Chile to encourage the church there, which was approved by the Presbytery of the Alleghenies for organization as an RPCNA congregation. The committee visited other brethren for a possible second mission plant in Chile. A Spanish Psalter based on the Book of Psalms for Worship tunes and the Hebrew Scriptures is underway.
Reformation Translation Fellowship reported that it is increasingly translating books into languages besides Chinese.
We can rejoice with the board and staff of the Reformed Presbyterian Home that Reformed Presbyterian student of theology Shane Helton recently joined the RP Home staff as Director of Spiritual Support & Church Outreach. The Home celebrated its 125th anniversary at the Founders Day celebration June 18. The Home served 12 RPs in 2022.
Following dinner, Synod reconvened to hear from several fraternal delegates. We heard greetings, reports, and collaboration ideas from representatives of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (Benjamin Glaser), the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (Iain Wright), and the Heritage Reformed Churches (Bart Elshout). In connection with this report, a special resolution was proposed and approved “that our denominational delegate would recommend at the next meeting of the North American Presbyterian and Reformed Council the production of a NAPARC psalter.”
Synod’s representative to the RP Global Alliance concluded the reports of the day on important work going on in this networking organization among RP churches in the US, Canada, Ireland, Scotland, and Australia. He reported the Alliance is recommending RP member denominations appoint the Lord’s Day of October 1 as an RP Global Day of Prayer for the Covenant Youth in the Global RP Church, and Saturday, October 7, as a day for regional online prayer meetings.
The Stated Clerk of the RPCNA reported a modest 1 percent increase in the denomination’s membership in 2022, continuing a pattern that has spanned many years. Worship attendance also increased.
Other deliberations took place, but will be completed and reported on tomorrow. Reflected in today’s reports, we see our tiny denomination moving in countless directions with the eternal gospel of Jesus bearing fruit in many far-flung corners of God’s amazing world.