The broadest court of the Reformed Presbyterian Church—the RP Synod—convened this morning on the verdant grounds of Geneva College in Beaver Falls, Pa., for the 192nd meeting of the court. The main basketball court in Geneva’s Metheny Fieldhouse was configured for nearly 200 delegates seeking to complete their work in 3-1/2 days.

Courts, Communications, and Congregations

The court immediately turned its attention to the preaching of God’s Word with former moderator Pete Smith’s sermon “Blessed are the Merciful” from Matthew 5:7. This timely sermon was referenced by delegates throughout the day, who also expressed prayers for Mr. Smith as he faces surgery on Thursday.

Afterward, 18 new delegates to the Synod were introduced. Then it was time for Synod to select a new moderator, and the court unanimously called upon Ruling Elder Tom Fisher of the Cambridge, Mass., RPC to lead us for the week.

Following other business matters, this highest court of the church turned its attention to a series of 12 communications that arose from throughout the RPCNA, coming through her seven presbyteries. Some papers were handed off to judicial committees to report back, and one was withdrawn. Several were simply received for information, such as a paper from an RP minister defending the church’s position of the eligibility of women for the diaconate, offered in consideration of a current Synod committee studying the position (and giving an update report this year). Other communications will be addressed on the floor of synod later this week, such as these:

  • Communication 24-05 is an appeal of Midwest Presbytery’s suspension of a teaching elder for publishing a book and web site advocating a position on wine in the Lord’s supper contrary to the position of the RPCNA.
  • Communication 24-06 concerns a difference between the Reformed Presbyterian Home and the Orlando RPC over matters related to a (previously) unpaid balance by a retired RP minister in that congregation. Orlando RPC asserts that the matter has not been resolved and, along with Dallas RPC (see Communication 24-08) seeks clarity on the ongoing relationship between the RPCNA and the RP Home.
  • Communication 24-09 and 24-10 refer to whether an elder-elect in Midwest Presbytery can properly take the vows of ordination holding to the system of doctrine and manner of worship of the RPCNA if he takes exception to exclusive psalmody while following no divisive course.

A significant portion of the day was spent taking up the Business of Synod Committee’s recommendations of how to handle each of these 12 communications. In mid-afternoon, a brief season was set aside for presbyteries to meet for 1-1/2 hours to conduct pressing business. Then the court reconvened for the purpose of hearing these same presbyteries report on activity within each presbytery. Highlights included:

  • The Alleghenies Presbytery reported that the River Valley RPC was organized in February in Beaver, Pa., with Barry York as pastor and Ian Gillies also having been called as a pastor. They were disappointed at the closing of the Meadville, Pa., congregation, but also pleased that a recently licensed student may soon take up the pastoral work at Trinity RPC in Maryland.
  • The Atlantic Presbytery reported a special meeting was held in Walton, N.Y., for the ordination and installation of Ryan Alsheimer as associate pastor of the Walton RPC for work in Oneonta, New York. Currently Broomall, Pa., and Coldenham-Newburgh, N.Y., congregations are without installed pastors.
  • The Great Lakes-Gulf Presbytery noted that the Lord has been adding his blessing after several years of difficulty. The presbytery clerk reported a great measure of unity in their recent presbytery meeting and important work done in charity and cooperation.
  • The Japan Presbytery shared about the recent retirement of one Japanese pastor, plus the recent graduation of Yusuke Hirata from a theological college in Belfast, Ireland, with a Ph.D. in Old Testament. One particular prayer need in Japan is the raising up of ruling elders to effectively shepherd the congregations.
  • The Midwest Presbytery shared the difficult news of the Dallas RPCNA petitioning to align with, and being received by, the Free Church of Scotland Continuing. The presbytery also reported the ordination and installation of Pastor-elect Frank Du to serve as church planter in a Chinese-speaking plant in Little Rock, Ark. One particular prayer is that God would provide additional elders for church plants in Houston and Oklahoma City.
  • The Pacific Coast Presbytery asked for additional laborers, as three of their eight pulpits are currently vacant. Alex Tabaka was recently installed as teaching elder in the Los Angeles RP Church. The presbytery also reported on the presbytery-wide conference from last year.
  • The Finally, the St. Lawrence Presbytery updated the Synod on events in their presbytery, including the establishment of the Glengarry Mission Church in 2023. Also, several students have been taken under care or certified to preach or receive calls.

Extensive highlights from all the presbyteries may be found here: Report of the Presbyteries

We thank the Lord for his faithfulness in all these presbyteries, and the congregations that work and worship together week by week. Additional reports were received from the Global and Home mission boards, which will be reviewed later.

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