ARP Synod: Synod and Erskine Settle the Question of Institutional Oversight

After years of debate, Erskine College and Seminary are clearly identified as under the authority of the ARP Synod

After a year of study, the Erskine Board agreed with the Synod’s committee that Synod does have the right to remove trustees with cause. According to board member Bill Cain, a “significant majority” of the board voted to change the charter at its May meeting. On Wednesday, June 12, the Synod-Erskine committee re-proposed the charter change, which Synod unanimously adopted. With this charter change, Erskine is clearly identified as an agency under the authority of the ARP Synod.

 

Background

The 2011 Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (ARP) General Synod requested the Erskine College and Seminary Board of Trustees to concur in revising Erskine’s charter. The change in the charter explicitly recognizes that the ARP Synod has the right to appoint and remove trustees with cause. The Board initially rejected this proposal, arguing that such a charter change would threaten the school’s accreditation. Some members of the board sent an informal “minority report” to Synod in 2012, prompting the Synod to create an ad hoc committee to study the Erskine-Synod relationship in conjunction with an Erskine Board committee.

Charter Change and Discussion of the Future of the Seminary

After a year of study, the Erskine Board agreed with the Synod’s committee that Synod does have the right to remove trustees with cause. According to board member Bill Cain, a “significant majority” of the board voted to change the charter at its May meeting. On Wednesday, June 12, the Synod-Erskine committee re-proposed the charter change, which Synod unanimously adopted. With this charter change, Erskine is clearly identified as an agency under the authority of the ARP Synod.

The Synod-Erskine committee introduced a final recommendation requesting that “the Erskine Board of Trustees work with the Church to establish Erskine Theological Seminary as an institution separate from Erskine College, with its own Board of Trustees and administration,” along with other recommendation on how to operate in the transitional period. Ruling Elder Ken Wingate, speaking for the Synod committee, offered an amendment that framed the motion as a request for the Erskine board to look into the matter and report back to the Synod in 2014. The recommendation passed as amended. After the presentation of the Erskine-Synod committee, the committee was dissolved with the thanks of the court.

The impact of the charter change for the ARP is immense. This resolves some tensions within the denomination that have been present since the Synod began the steps to reorganize Erskine’s board of trustees in 2009.

Scott Cook is a student at Reformed Seminary in Charlotte, N.C.