RPCNA Synod Day Three

As Men Who Dream!

Each presbytery has seen growth in numbers as well as depth of love for the Lord Jesus Christ. It was reported that over 35% of our membership resides within congregations that were planted in the past 30 years. This shows a significant shift in membership in the last generation.  


When the LORD restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream. Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; then they said among the nations, “The LORD has done great things for them.” The LORD has done great things for us; we are glad! Psalm 126:1-3

The Reverend John McFarland (Lawrence, KS RPC) opened Friday’s session of the 181st Synod of the RPCNA with a powerfully moving sermon on the 126th Psalm. Rev. McFarland wove anecdotes from the current global mission efforts of the RPCNA into the sermon and encouraged the court with the fact that the Lord is at work among us on a global scale. Rev. McFarland, a life-time Reformed Presbyterian, noted, “I remember the day when we thought that the smaller we were the more faithful we must have been.  We have moved out of the ‘faithful remnant mentality’ and into a ‘dreaming Psalm 126 dreams’ mentality.”

The Lord is doing great things among the nations and the court stood humbled by the fact that there are church planting efforts going on globally that are “more abundant than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us. To Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations” Ephesians 3:20-21.

The moderator, noticeably choked up and teary eyed, noted that it is truly amazing and humbling what Jesus is doing on a global scale in our midst. Due to security measures this writer is not free to disclose much of what Jesus is doing through our global mission efforts, but it is safe to say that the number of Reformed Presbyterians in closed areas of the world is quickly outnumbering (if it hasn’t already) the Reformed Presbyterians in Western countries. We are as men who dream and as we reflect on what Jesus is doing, laughter and gladness are the most appropriate “Psalm 126” responses! Some of the work of RPGlobal Missions can be found here.

The court gave praise and thanks to our head and king with the singing of the 22nd Psalm calling on all the families of the earth to worship Him.

The State of the Church Report was given by Drew Gordon (Ruling Elder, Wilkinsburg, PA RPC) further underscoring the ways in which the Lord Jesus is blessing the RPCNA. The short report is republished here in its entirety:

What the Lord is doing in the RPCNA can be summed up in three words: vision, growth, and thankfulness. 

Vision: The presbyteries and congregations within the church show much evidence of moving forward with renewed and Christ-centered vision. There is a sustained passion for church planting, for renewal of older congregations, and a desire to see the Lord Jesus plant indigenous churches throughout the world. 

Growth: The vision has resulted in seeing the Lord Jesus build His church in parts of Asia and Africa; older congregations being revitalized; and new works and churches planted, watered, and growing throughout our denomination. 

Each presbytery has seen growth in numbers as well as depth of love for the Lord Jesus Christ. It was reported that over 35% of our membership resides within congregations that were planted in the past 30 years. This shows a significant shift in membership in the last generation.  

Thankfulness: The church is thankful for what Jesus is doing in our congregations. We are thankful for the spiritual growth we have seen. We are thankful for renewed interest in the Westminster Standards and confessional Christianity among the younger generation. We are thankful for the global outreach of the church. We are thankful for the raising up a new generation of office bearers and witnesses. We are thankful for students under care who are being trained in historic confessional reformed presbyterianism. We are thankful that Jesus Christ is keeping His promise that He would build His church and that the gates of hell would not prevail against her. 

What a blessed reminder for a denomination that from 1891 to 1980 was in steady decline. Rev. Phil Pockras (Belle Center, OH, RPC) reminded the court that when he first became a pastor in the RPCNA the Synod was asking, “In the future will there be an RPCNA?”  The Lord Jesus has truly blessed us as we have returned to the old paths.

The Japan Mission Presbytery was formed in the 1990s following forty years of missionary work that began in the 1950s. The Japan Presbytery brought a request to the Synod for clarification of funding matters. A healthy discussion ensued of how to apply missiological principles in Japan focusing on a love and concern for their growth as an indigenous denomination. There was an explanation of the Global Mission Board’s decision to put them on a 10 year reducing aid financial package, and the Japan Presbytery was encouraged by the Synod to continue their work of building the Kingdom in their country where only 1% claim to be Christian of any kind! The presbytery consists of 5 congregations, a bookstore outreach, and a theological hall for the training of ministers.

In reflecting upon the work of this Synod as it came to a close, it became clear that many great things were accomplished in 3 short days. Among the work, a committee to study the realignment of our North American presbyteries was formed. Many young and kingdom-driven ministers are serving on that committee and they will report in 2013. Be in prayer for that work as it will affect the future outreach and growth of our denomination. Overall, the Synod went well and the spirit of love and unity along with a strong commitment to confessionalism and historic Reformed Christianity was abundantly evident during the meetings and debates.

The court adjourned with the singing of Psalm 133 expressing our unity in this Gospel-centered song of Zion! (The closing psalm can be heard here.)

Rev. Nathan Eshelman is pastor of the Los Angeles, California RPCNA. He is a contributing blogger at www.gentlereformation.com and can followed on Twitter: @pastoreshelman