Actions of the ARP Synod – Wednesday AM Session (June 9, 2010)

The initial business meeting of the 2010 ARP Synod began at 8:30AM in the Youth Activity building (think gymnasium) at Bonclarken Conference Center in Flat Rock, NC.

A brief worship service, including a sermon by The Reverend William C. (Bill) Marsh of Christ Community ARP in Greensboro, NC began the day.

Following the service, the delegates were greeted by the President of Bonclarken Conference Center, Mr. Joseph H. (Chip) Shrerer. Chip noted that this is year number 60 that Bonclarken has hosted the Synod.

After a declaration of a quorum by the Principal Clerk, C. Ronald Beard, the Retiring Moderator, Dr. John R. de Witt gave what he described as the shortest Retiring Moderator Remarks in the history of the ARP. (He had included much of what might have been included in his message to the Synod on Tuesday night.)

Dr. de Witt then introduced Ruling Elder Stephen J. Maye as the previously elected Moderator-Elect, passed on to him the ceremonial staff and identification badge, thus installing him as the new Moderator.

Mr. Maye then addressed the delegates, rehearsing the great heritage of the Scottish Covenanters who came to America and settled in the Shenandoah Valley and Piedmonts of the Carolina’s from which the ARP church grew, but made a forceful challenge to the Synod to regain and maintain the same commitment to the infallible, inerrant Word of God as held by their spiritual ancestors, as well as a call to God for a new Spirit-led revival in the land.

The new Vice Moderator of the Synod, The Reverend Dr. Robert E. (Rob) Patrick, III, was introduced and presented the docket for the Synod meeting. With an amendment to add two additional reports to the Reports for Reference, the docket was approved.

The Moderator then went over the document assigned delegates to service on various committees that will be meeting on Wednesday afternoon.

The Synod’s Parliamentarian, The Reverend Andy Putnam, then ruled that one of the new reports just added to the docket this morning – the Additional Report of the Moderator’s Commission on Erskine – was in fact New Business and must be dealt with at that point in the docket.

A member of the Moderator’s Commission, Ruling Elder Kenneth Wingate of First Church, Columbia, SC, gave a brief overview of the report, which contains a summary of actions taking place in the South Carolina courts, the Board of Trustees of Erskine and the Executive Board of the Synod during the period since the Called Meeting of Synod in March, along with supporting documentation.

A printed copy of the report was then distributed to all delegates (50+ pages in length). A motion was then made from the floor that a period of approximately 15 minutes of discussion on this document (with no motions made during the discussion) to begin just after the morning recess. The motion was overwhelmingly approved.

The Principal Clerk then announced that three memorials from Presbyteries had been adopted during their meetings the previous day, and they would need a 2/3 vote of Synod to receive them and assign to committees that would be meeting Wednesday afternoon. The Reading Clerk then read them and, one at a time. Two were approved by 2/3 vote (one requiring a counted vote). The third one failed to receive the required 2/3 vote.

The topics of the two memorials that were received are as follows:

From Second Presbytery: to inquire of the Board of Trustees of Erskine as to the reasons for the admission of non-Christian students into the Doctor of Ministry program at Erskine Seminary, including Jews, Mormons, and Muslims

From Catawba Presbytery: Synod instruct the Executive Board to act immediately to meet with the Board of Trustees of Erskine to bring about an agreement to the previously approved slower time frame to bring about changes sought by the Synod in the March meeting.

The memorial not received was also from Catawba Presbytery and asked the Synod to act to seek an out-of-court settlement with the Plaintiffs in the on-going law suit.

After the morning recess, a motion was made and seconded that the Vice Moderator not be seated on the platform when not actually serving as Acting Moderator. The motion failed on a voice vote.

Next business was introduction and thanks to the staff personnel assisting the Synod during this meeting. Following that, newly received ministers (ordination or transfer) introduced themselves. No newly organized churches were introduced. A number of seminary students were introduced. All newly retired Ministers, Non-Ordained Employees and Missionaries were then introduced.

The Permanent Committee on the Minister and His Work then made the presentation of the report on Chaplains and Military Personnel.

The next item was to receive discussion concerning any possible misunderstandings or errors in the additional report by the Moderator’s Commission. No motions or debate on the substance was allowed and was carefully enforced by the Moderator.

Following the discussion, it was moved to dismiss the Moderator’s Commission on Erskine. After some discussion, it was amended to table the motion until later in this meeting and that motion passed on a standing count.

The next order of business involved the allocation of synod’s unrestricted funds. This involves deciding how to use funds as they are received by the Synod that were not designated for use by the various committees and agencies. In 2009, the actual total allocated was $2.9 million. The amount previously approved for 2010 was $2.8 million. The total amount recommended to the Synod by the Stewardship Committee for 2011 was $2.7 million.

The Chairman of the Stewardship Committee explained the basis for the new recommendations and then moved the allocations be approved. The motion was carried by a voice vote.

Report of the Strategic Planning Committee came to the floor next. It was a brief summary of three meetings held during the year and a request that the committee be extended for another year. It was approved by a voice vote.

Report of the Special Committee to Revise the Form of Government. They had no report this year but hoped to have a report by next year.

After hearing announcements of meetings during the afternoon, the Synod recessed until 7:00PM.