Summary of Actions at 77th General Assembly of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church – Saturday, July 10, 2010

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

Returning to the work left over from Friday night concerning an overture coming out of the Presbytery of Michigan and Ontario regarding a defined period of probation for licensed candidates for the ministry, the Assembly voted to deny the overture but refer its concerns to the Committee on Christian Education.

Advisory Committee #3 reported on two communications from the Presbyteries of Philadelphia and Ohio that proposed forming a new Presbytery of Central Pennsylvania. The new presbytery would have its own bylaws, and its geographical boundaries were agreed upon. The General Assembly approved the proposal, and the new presbytery will start on January 1, 2011.

In view of the report of the Committee on Ecumenicity and Inter-Church Relations, the Assembly determined to send an invitation to the “Free Church of Scotland Continuing” (FCC) to enter a corresponding relationship with the OPC.

The Assembly voted to elect ministers Tony Curto, Peter J. Wallace, and George R. Cottenden to the Committee on Ecumenicity and Inter-church Relations, class of 2013.

The next item of business involved several proposed exceptions to the OPC standards fro licensure. On occasion, there are some men who show through personal advancement and maturity in the faith that they have the gifts necessary for a spiritual ministry within the churches, and so exceptions are sometimes granted – but must go to a General Assembly to be approved.

Following the Advisory Committee 8’s report, the Assembly determined to exempt Mr. Douglas Bylsma from the requirement of the Form of Government (XXI.3) for a Bachelor of Arts degree or its academic equivalent. The Assembly also determined not to object to the reception of Rev. David Vander Meer, a minister from the Christian Reformed Church, who does not meet the requirement of the Form of Government (XXIII.3) for “an adequate course of study in a theological seminary equivalent to that required for a regular three-year theological degree.”

Next the Committee on Ecumenicity introduced The Rev. Michael S. Voytek who bore the greetings of the Reformed Church in the United States. He took a moment to introduce us to the history of his church, and noted with affection that his church liked to nickname itself the “ruckus” (“RCUS”).

More seriously, the RCUS has a long history of working side by side with the OPC. Together they supported the missionary endeavors of Harvey Conn to South Korea. A number of OPC ministers have served in the RCUS, and the RCUS Book of Church Government was largely based on that of the OPC. “We appreciate the OPC and love you as brothers,” he said.

After the address, the moderator asked Mr. Jack Peterson, an 80 year old pastor from San Antonio and longtime member of the Committee on Ecumenicity to pray for the RCUS and their work.

As recommended by Advisory Committee #7, the Assembly determined to refer Overture #2, which dealt with how to handle a pastor’s duties while serving as a military chaplain reservist, to the Committee on Chaplains and Military Personnel for study and response to the 78th General Assembly; and that the Committee through the stated clerk inform presbyteries of documents available through the committee concerning pastors/reservists.

The Assembly also advised its presbyteries when considering calls to “military reserve component service members” (which includes a reservist or national guardsman in the Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marines, and Navy), to give careful consideration to the details of the call and the implications to the congregation of potential mobilization and/or deployment of the minister.

Immediately after the luncheon a motion was approved to dismiss the members of Advisory Committee #10 from the afternoon session of the Assembly so that they could give their full attention to the matters that remained of their business.

The Committee on Chaplains presented their report. The OPC had received communications from representatives of the Department of Defense’s Comprehensive Review Working Group and the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense regarding the potential repeal of the current military policy prohibiting homosexual behavior.

Amendments to the “Presbyterian and Reformed Joint Commission on Chaplains and Military Personnel” (PRCCMP) Constitution were presented to the Assembly. The Assembly decided to approve the amendments to the PRJCCMP constitution with the exception of Article II, and requested the PRJCCMP to clarify their use of the words “endorses,” “ecclesiastically,” and “approves”. The reason for this is that some of these words are used ambiguously in the constitution.

The remainder of the Committee on Chaplains report will be picked up later.

The Committee on Pensions made their report in the form of a PowerPoint presentation. The net assets have increased from $325,893.00 in 1969 to $18,933,705.00 by the end of 2009. The fund lost 22% of its value during the crash of last year, about half of what the general equity markets experienced in losses. There has been a net gain of $2,745,135 for the year (2.54%).

After an election, the moderator declared that Messrs. Darren S. Thole, William C. Redington, and Robert M. Meeker were elected to the class of 2013 for the Committee on Pensions.

The Assembly offered a resolution of thanks to the Rev. Jack J. Peterson for his many years of service on the Committee on Ecumenicity and Inter-church Relations. “On the occasion of the conclusion of the Rev. Jack Peterson’s long tenure of service as administrator of the CEIR, the GA expresses its profound gratitude to God for Mr. Peterson’s manifold and faithful service to reformed ecumenism through the OPC.”

The Assembly also expressed its gratitude to the Rev. Robert B. Needham for his many years of service in the following words: “On the occasion of the resignation of the Rev. Robert B. Needham from the CEIR, as providentially necessitated by a life-threatening automobile accident, the GA expresses its gratitude for Mr. Needham’s many years of sacrifice and service to reformed ecumenism through the OPC.”

Just prior to 4:00PM the Assembly recessed to reconvene Monday at 8:15AM

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