Report from ARP General Synod, Day Three

One recommendation from that report was to consider ending its relationship with the Presbyterian Council for Chaplains and Military Personnel (PCCMP) as an endorsement agency and seek endorsement from the Presbyterian and Reformed Joint Commission on Chaplains and Military Personnel (PRJC).

The day began with a wonderful sermon preached by the Rev. Paul Patrick, campus minister at Erskine. The sermon text was Romans 10:13-17. Rev. Patrick spoke on the great need for evangelism at discipleship, not only in the context of campus ministry, but also within the churches of the ARP. From the text, he spoke about the beautiful message of the gospel, the beautiful feet of those who bring the message, and the beautiful mission of the church. Students (past and present) from Erskine College also assisted in worship.

Upon the start of business, the floor was opened to nominations for moderator. Dr. Mark Ross of Erskine Seminary nominated Dr. Steve Suits, a ruling elder at First Presbyterian Church, Columbia, SC (Dr. Suits is a medical doctor from Columbia). The nomination was seconded by Dr. Bill Evans of Erskine College. A second nomination was brought forth: Michael Evans, an elder at the Arsenal Hill Presbyterian Church and a businessman from Columbia. The nomination was seconded by Rev. Charles Edgar. Nominations were closed and both nominees spoke briefly to the court.

After a brief morning break, Synod reconvened with the report from Moderator’s Committee on Memorials.

Two memorials from Canada Presbytery were defeated. At this point, a motion was made to amend the Form of Government to require current ministers and elders to reaffirm their ordination vows, particularly with regard with the issue of affirming the inerrancy of Scripture as it has now been defined by the ARP Church. The motion was referred to the Committee to Revise the Form of Government (to be reported at Synod 2012).

A third memorial dealing with rules of order for Synod passed. A fourth memorial was defeated, but a substitute motion that would allow the recording of names for votes in the Minutes of Synod passed.

Other committee reports were considered. The court agreed with the recommendations of the Committee on Inter-church Relations to discontinue membership in the International Council of Reformed Churches and to dissolve fraternal relations with the Christian Reformed Church.

The Report of Erskine College and Erskine Theological Seminary was then considered. The chairman of the Erskine Board of Trustees (BoT), Joe Patrick, addressed the court. Two other trustees also spoke.

Rev. Ray Cameron spoke on the new by-laws that had been drafted by the BoT, and he addressed the concerns over non-Christians being admitted in the U.S. Army’s MEDCOM program at the seminary. This portion of the report clearly states that mistakes were made by the seminary with regard to admission of students to the program, and the BoT has taken steps to reaffirm its commitment to Christian commitment and biblical inerrancy, and it is taking steps to deal with this and other related issues.

Bill Cain (incoming vice chair of the BoT) also addressed the Synod. He spoke about financial issues affecting the college and seminary, as well as issues of personnel and tenure and the difficulties these present.

Finally, Dr. David Norman, President of Erskine College and Seminary, spoke to the court. Dr. Norman gave a PowerPoint presentation that showed students at Erskine College who had been admitted (directly) into Ph.D. programs, medical school (9 students — roughly 10% of the graduation class — applied to medical school, and all 9 were admitted). Several other students had been admitted to graduate school. But Dr. Norman also spoke about the number of professions of faith on campus and the number of students who were serving on short term mission trips.

Five recommendations from the Moderator’s Committee were all approved, including calling for a season of prayer and fasting for the college and seminary and the amendment of the proposed by-laws of the BoT to put them in accord with the newly adopted procedures for the removal of board members.

After these recommendations were approved, Rev. Clint Davis made a motion that would amend the charter of Erskine, should both the Synod and the BoT agree with the changes. The motion received enthusiastic support from members of the court and BoT and passed. Another motion, whereby the Synod expressed its support for 6 faculty members of Erskine Seminary (see here for the context), also passed.

A motion to refer the newly adopted procedure for removal of board members to the Executive Board of General Synod was defeated after lengthy debate. The report of the ARP Magazine was being considered as the Synod headed into the lunch hour.

After a devotion by Rev. Jeff Kingswood on Ezra 7:8-10, General Synod resumed with the election of Moderator for 2012. After the votes were counted, it was announced that Dr. Steve Suits was the new Moderator-elect of General Synod. Rev. Ken McMullen was nominated and selected as Vice Moderator-elect.

The Report of the Committee on Nominations was considered next and was adopted without debate.

The Report from the Minister and His Work Committee was then considered and discussed. One recommendation from that report was to consider end its relationship with the Presbyterian Council for Chaplains and Military Personnel (PCCMP) as an endorsement agency and seek endorsement from the Presbyterian and Reformed Joint Commission on Chaplains and Military Personnel (PRJC). All the recommendations were adopted by the Synod. (Editor’s Note: The Aquila Report will have a follow-up article on the PRJC early next week.)

A moderator’s committee submitted a motion calling the PC(USA) to repentance for its recent actions permitting the ordination of homosexual ministers and elders. The motion passed. A subsequent motion directed the Principal Clerk of General Synod to communicate the substance of the adopted motion to the Stated Clerk of the PC(USA).

There was some discussion of the Stewardship Committee report, but most of the remaining business was presented and adopted without objection. After the conclusion of the reports, retired Moderator of General Synod Steve Maye proposed a resolution giving thanks to God for the peaceful way in which difficult issues were handled at this meeting of Synod.

The meeting of General Synod adjourned at 4:36 pm with the singing of “Christian Unity” (Psalm 133).

Tim Phillips is an ordained minister in the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. He serves as pastor of the Midlane Park ARP Church in Louisville, Kentucky. He blogs at Gairney Bridge where this article first appears. Since the staff of The Aquila Report is at the PCA General Assembly, we will post articles by Tim from the ARP Synod this week.

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