Summary of Actions at 77th General Assembly of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church – Friday, July 9, 2010

The OPC is meeting through next Wednesday on the campus of Trinity Christian College in Palos Heights, Illinois (a community about 30 minutes south of Chicago).

The Assembly returned to its business from the previous night with the Committee on Home Missions and Church Extension.

The Rev. DeLacy A. Andrews, Jr., regional home missionary for the Presbytery of the Southeast reported on his work in several communities and highlighted particularly the joint effort made by his presbytery and the Presbytery of the South to plant a new church in the Memphis suburb of Collierville, Tennessee.

In 2003, the committee intentionally targeted five major metropolitan areas of North America where the OPC had no presence. Today, there are active church plants in the areas of Memphis, Minneapolis, St. Louis, Tampa, Chicago, and New York City.

With the growing interest in the Reformed faith among Hispanics, the Committee is exploring ways to expand its church planting strategy to reach those who speak Spanish in North America.

The committee hosts a variety of educational and training conferences over the course of a year to prepare men for a ministry in church planting. The committee also publishes a bi-weekly report called “Home Missions Today” in which it informs the church of the good news and prayer needs of these church plants.

Following the report of the committee, the moderator declared Ministers George W. Knight III, Donald M. Poundstone, and Gerald S. Taylor elected to the class of 2013. Also, ruling elders Robert L. Ayres and Gregory S. De Jong were declared elected to the class of 2013.

Mr. Mark Bube, the general secretary of the Committee on Foreign Missions reported for the committee. After distributing a “Pastor’s Prayer List for OPC Foreign Missionaries” and a brochure on the work of the Committee, Mr. Bube observed that “the Lord sends us to some really messy places.”

Missionaries enter nations that are hostile to the work of church missions, and we need to be very careful about how we conduct ourselves around them. Currently there are 18 missionaries serving in Asia, Africa, South America, Canada, Haiti and Ukraine. There are plans to add 12 more within five years. The largest missionary presence by far is in Uganda, where there are seven missionaries serving in church planting, evangelism, theological instruction, leadership training and medical aid.

The goal in all of the fully operational mission fields is the establishment of “a healthy indigenous national church” that is firmly and fully committed to the Reformed faith, that is self-supporting, self-governing, and self-propagating; with which the OPC may have fraternal relations; that is itself sending out foreign missionaries to other nations, and which no longer needs the services of OP foreign missionaries.

Two missionaries who ere home on furlough reported to the Assembly; only one of which could be reported on publically. The Rev. Benjamin K. Hopp, missionary to Haiti noted that God has begun the formation of an indigenous Presbyterian church in Haiti.
Mr. Hopp and his family were present in Haiti when the tragic earthquake hit Port-au-Prince and he related several personal stories of the tragedy.

After the quake, the committee encouraged Mr. Hopp to bring his family back to the States (his wife was pregnant), and he was thankful for the Lord’s protection. His wife and three children are doing well, but it has been hard on them as he has been absent for about six months.

After a brief recess, the Moderator declared ruling elders Dr. Robert H. Joss and Mr. Christopher A. Boersema elected to the class of 2013 to the Committee on Foreign Missions, along with ministers Van Meerbeke, John W. Mahaffy, and William B. Kessler. For the class of 2012, Mr. Billie J. Papke was declared elected by the moderator in view of the resignation of Mr. R. Arthur Thompson.

The general secretary of the Committee on Christian Education, the Rev. Danny E. Olinger, addressed the assembly. The committee serves the OPC by providing resources and training. It is divided into two subcommittees, the Subcommittee on Ministerial Training (SMT) and the Subcommittee on Resources for the Churches (SRC). The committee publishes the monthly New Horizons magazine, manages the denominational website, and is currently working on the development of a Psalter-hymnal, scheduled to be completed by 2015. It also serves the church by managing the ministerial internship program to equip men for the ministry.

After a brief recess for lunch, Mr. Olinger introduced the Rev. Thomas Patete to the Assembly, who was accordingly enrolled as a corresponding member with privilege of the floor.

Mr. Patete is executive director of Great Commission Publications (GCP), a joint publishing arm of the OPC and the PCA. He emphasized that the content of the Sunday school curriculum is rooted in the Westminster Confession of Faith. The goal is to provide a Christ-centered education for our children. “Show Me Jesus” is not simply a slogan; it informs the whole endeavor. There is no mission in the church that is more vital than nurturing our children in the word of God. We want to “tell the coming generation the glorious deeds of the Lord.”

The moderator declared Messrs. Muether and Gidley elected as ruling elders for the class of 2013 for Christian Education and Messrs. Strange, Pribble, and King were declared elected as ministers for the class of 2013.

The Rev. George Knight introduced the report of the Committee on Ecumenicity and Interchurch Relations. The Committee meets nationally and internationally with other churches within the broader Reformed community to seek closer ties with them in Christ. The committee is losing its first administrator, the Rev. Jack Peterson. The Rev. Jack W. Sawyer will be the new administrator.

The committee’s first recommendation, “that the General Assembly invite the Free Church of Scotland Continuing (FCC) into a corresponding relationship with the OPC,” was re-committed to Advisory Committee #6.

The Assembly approved the second recommendation, that the General Assembly invite the Heritage Reformed Congregations into a corresponding relationship with the OPC.

The Assembly voted in favor of inviting the Independent Reformed Church of Korea to enter into a corresponding relationship with the OPC.

The Assembly also approved the recommendation “That the General Assembly invite the Reformed Church of Quebec into a relationship of Ecclesiastical Fellowship with the OPC.”

The General Assembly declined to enter into a relationship of Ecclesiastical Fellowship with the Gereformeerde Kerken in Nederland (vrijgemaakt), in view of concerns regarding its full commitment to a Reformed understanding of the sufficiency, interpretation and authority of Scripture.

Mr. John Muether gave the report of the historian. In celebration of the 75th anniversary of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, he announced that issues of The Presbyterian Guardian are now available on the denomination website, opc.org.

“Begun on the eve of the founding of the church, the Guardian was the voice of Presbyterian orthodoxy. Its inaugural issue outlined its mission to describe for readers the ‘changing scene’ of American Presbyterianism ‘in the light of the unchanging Word.’ ”

Mr. Olinger gave the report of the Committee for the Historian. The committee is actively preparing a variety of publications in anticipation of the 75th anniversary. Mr. Muether and Mr. Olinger are co-editing an anthology with the working title Confident of Better Things: Essays Commemorating Seventy-Five Years of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. Dr. Daryl G. Hart is writing a seventy-fifth anniversary history of the OPC that focuses on the OPC from the 1950s through the early 1990s.

The moderator declared Mr. Brenton C. Ferry elected to the class of 2013.

Mr. Westerveld reported for Advisory Committee #2, dealing with Overture #1 from the Presbytery of Michigan and Ontario. A concern arose within this presbytery with regard to the preparation of men for the ministry. The denomination standards require that a man who desires to enter the ministry be licensed so that a trial can be made of his gifts. However, in practice there seems to be insufficient oversight given to some who proceed rapidly from licensure to ordination.

The Presbytery of Michigan and Ontario proposed some amendments to the Form of Government to remedy this apparent “oversight.” However, the advisory committee, in its review of the overture, felt the proposed remedy was too cumbersome for use in larger presbyteries, and a motion was made to refer it to the Committee on Christian Education. After a long period of amendments, the order of the day for recess came before the decision had been formalized and the matter will return to the floor on Saturday. The meeting was recessed at 5:17 p.m.

This report is adapted, with permission, from the more detailed daily blog produced by the OPC, which is available at: http://www.opc.org/GA/77th_GA_rpt.html