OPC 2012 General Assembly Report Thursday, June 7

An observer might wonder if the five or six hours that advisory committees meet is really a good use of time. Wouldn’t the assembly be better off just plunging right into the great number of reports and issues which will consume it’s time during the week? The answer is a resounding “no.” These committees have proven year after year that they actually save the Assembly time, eliminate much confusion and help the church conduct its work in a more orderly manner.

 

Thursday dawned sunny and warm in Wheaton, Illinois. Commissioners to the assembly gathered for breakfast and then scattered throughout the campus to the various rooms where advisory committees began their work. The assembly divided itself into ten advisory committees whose purpose is to receive, review, and evaluate the reports of the denomination’s permanent or “standing” committees. The standing committees of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church conduct their work year round. They administer some aspect of the church’s life, such as its home and foreign missions, Christian education, diaconal ministries, interchurch relations, etc. When the Assembly gathers each year, these standing committees then report on the progress of their ministries. The advisory committees receive the reports, discuss their contents with representatives of the standing committees, and then advise the Assembly on what actions it should take. They also handle any communications, overtures, appeals and complaints sent to the Assembly.

Three “temporary” committees meet in addition to the advisory committees (AC’s) to review presbyterial and standing committee records, as well as arrangements for future meetings of the General Assembly. An observer might wonder if the five or six hours that advisory committees meet is really a good use of time. Wouldn’t the assembly be better off just plunging right into the great number of reports and issues which will consume it’s time during the week? The answer is a resounding “no.” These committees have proven year after year that they actually save the Assembly time, eliminate much confusion and help the church conduct its work in a more orderly manner.

The Assembly reconvened at 11:40 a.m. with the singing of hymn 598, “Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah.” In both word and music this hymn expresses the sublime comfort of dependence on our faithful Lord.

Open now the crystal fountain, Whence the healing stream doth flow; Let the fire and cloudy pillar Lead me all my journey through; Strong Delive’rer, strong Deliv’rer, Be thou still my strength and shield. Be thou still my strength and shield.

The Rev. Glenn Ferrell from the Presbytery of Northern California and Nevada led us in a devotional taken from 2 Timothy 1:13, “Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.”

After the devotional we had lunch and then returned to the work of the advisory committees. The moderator informed the assembly that we would reconvene at 2:30 p.m. to begin our regular work.

At 2:30 Mr. Curto reconvened the assembly with the singing of hymn 30, “Our God, Our Help in Ages Past,” a hymn that contrasts the changelessness of our God with the impermanence of man.

Time, like an ever-rolling stream, Bears all its sons away; They fly forgotten, as a dream Dies at the op’ning day.

Our God, our help in ages past, Our hope for years to come: O be our guard while troubles last, And our eternal home.

The Rev. LeRoy Miller opened in prayer.

One of the blessings that we experience at the assembly is the presence of representatives of churches from around the world. We are reminded that we are not alone in our work for the Kingdom of our Lord. The Body of Christ is truly universal, encompassing people “from every tribe and people and language and nation.” Mr. Mark Bube, General Secretary of the Committee on Foreign Missions, introduced six fraternal delegates from other denominations. They are:

  • The Rev. Kim Batteau of the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands (Liberated)
  • The Rev. Davi Charles Gomes and ruling elder Solano Portela of the Presbyterian Church of Brasil
  • The Rev. Maarten Kuivenhoven of the Heritage Reformed Congregations
  • The Rev. Messrs Takashi Yoshida and Yasuyoshi Kawasugi of the Reformed Church in Japan

Toward the beginning of every assembly a poll is conducted which gives an indication of the range of ages of the commissioners. The men were counted in each decade in which they had been ordained. The poll revealed that:

  • 12 men were ordained in the 2010s
  • 39 men were ordained in the 2000s
  • 23 men were ordained in the 1990s
  • 30 men were ordained in the 1980s
  • 10 men were ordained in the 1970s
  • 10 men were ordained in the 1960s
  • 1 man was ordained in the 1950s

There were 21 men who were first-time commissioners.

The stated clerk, George Cottenden, presented his report to the assembly. This was quickly followed by the report of the trustees of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. The trustees have oversight over all the legal and tax issues related to the denomination. The trustees also submit a budget to provide for the ongoing work of the clerks, the historian and various expenses of the committees that serve the assembly.

As a part of the trustees’ report the assembly elected Mr. Cottenden for another year as stated clerk. In addition, Mr. David Haney (ruling elder) and the Rev. Samuel Bacon (minister) were elected to the class of 2015 of the trustees. The Rev. John Mahaffey was appointed as assistant clerk.

The assembly then moved on to the report of statistician, Mr. Luke E. Brown. A highlight of the report was the encouraging news that the OPC now has 275 churches, 51 mission works and 30,279 members.

The Rev. Dr. Richard Gaffin, Jr., president of the Committee on Foreign Missions, introduced Mr. Mark Bube to present a visual overview of the work of our foreign missionaries. As part of this overview we heard from Dr. Jim Knox and the Rev. Al Tricarico who serve at our mission among the Karamojong people. We were also reminded of the dangers that some of our missionaries and especially some of the pastors that we work with face. May our Lord continue to protect his servants from harm, and may he give them strength to bear faithful witness. Associate general secretary Rev. Doug Clawson presented the need for more missionaries to fill the opportunities that the Lord has placed before us.

After the report of the committee Mr. William Papke and Mr. Mark Green, both ruling elders, were elected to the class of 2015. Ministers Glenn Jerrell, Scott Johnson and Paul Brown were also elected to the class of 2015.

A written communication from the Reformed Church of Quebec was read to the assembly by the stated clerk. Mr. Bube led in prayer for that church.

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