The OPC finished its annual General Assembly on Tuesday, a day earlier than scheduled.
The Commissioners returned on Tuesday and began with led in prayer by the Rev. John Fesko for the Rev. Robert Godfrey (URC pastor in Visalia, California, and son of Dr. W. Robert Godfrey) as he undergoes brain surgery today.
The Rev. Hank L. Belfield of the Presbytery of the Southeast reported for the Temporary Committee to Review Presbyterial Records. All but one recommendation was adopted. The final recommendation concerned the minutes of the Presbytery of the Southwest. The Assembly determined to adopt an amended motion to approve the minutes with two notations and no exceptions.
The Rev. William Snodgrass reported for the Temporary Committee to Review Standing Committee Minutes. The recommendations were moved as a whole and adopted by the Assembly.
The moderator returned to further consideration of the report of the Committee on Appeals and Complaints. He reminded the Assembly that they were finished with Appeal #1 itself, but that there may be ancillary matters that could be considered.
Discussion began on Appeal #2. The Rev. John W. Mallin III reported for the committee. The Assembly voted to approve the recommendation of the committee that the complaint on appeal be found in order and properly before the Assembly.
The Advisory Committee recommended that Standing Rule V.5.c-e be suspended and a new procedure establishing the time limits and order of the debate be set. The Assembly approved this recommendation.
After a brief mid-morning recess, The Rev. Gregory R. Gentry, currently the moderator of the Presbytery of New Jersey, served as counsel for the presbytery and spoke in her defense. He argued that the vote to rescind, dubious as it may have been in terms of church law, upheld a higher law of righteousness, justice, and a man’s standing in the church of Christ. Therefore the complaint ought to be denied and the decision of the presbytery to rescind left in place.
Advisory Committee 10 recommended to the General Assembly that it deny the complaint. The moderator determined that the question should be put in the form “Shall the complaint be sustained?” This will allow an additional option of remanding the complaint to the original presbytery if the motion should fail. The ordinary way to put a motion is in the positive for clarity’s sake. The ruling of the moderator was sustained by the Assembly.
After the luncheon break a vigorous debate continued over the appeal. The Assembly voted not to sustain the appeal.
The Assembly then voted to form a temporary visitation committee composed of three members drawn from the presbyteries near the Presbytery of New Jersey to meet with all concerned members of the regional church of New Jersey and the particular congregation involved to seek reconciliation of offended parties.
The moderator spent a moment reflecting on the kind of men who should be ready to serve on this committee. They should be men of inflexible will who follow the provisions of our Book of Church Order closely, and of judicious temper, to pastorally minister to those in need. The moderator will contact such men and appoint them at a later date.
The Assembly elected Mr. Mallin from the Presbytery of Connecticut and Southern New York to the Committee on Appeals and Complaints, class of 2013.
After a mid-afternoon break, the Assembly elected the Rev. Tom Foh of the Presbytery of Philadelphia to serve as an alternate on the Committee on Appeals and Complaints for a term of one year.
The Assembly returned to the report of the Committee on Chaplains. Mr. Needham introduced the Rev. Christopher Wisdom, one of our chaplains, who addressed the Assembly and thanked them for their prayers.
Chaplain Douglas Lee (BG, USA, Ret), executive director of the Presbyterian and Reformed Joint Commission on Chaplains and Military Personnel (PRJCCMP) and chaplain endorser, addressed the Assembly. He expressed his appreciation for the sterling support he has received from the men of our committee. He offered to send representatives to our churches to introduce the chaplain ministry. This is a ministry that touches the world.
After the dinner break the Assembly returned to consideration of further business by the Committee on Chaplains. With the completion of the report by the Committee, an election was held for the class of 2013. Mr. Christopher Wisdom was elected. The Assembly then gave Mr. Needham an extended standing ovation for over 25 years of service on the committee. Mr. Poundstone led in prayer for the committee and the chaplains under its care.
The Committee on Arrangements reported on travel compensation for the commissioners and various proposals for future expenses of the General Assembly.
As the normal time for recess approached, the Assembly determined to extend the order of the day until all business before the Assembly was concluded.
Mr. Muether was elected to serve on the Committee on Arrangements. Mr. Edward K. Tress was elected as an alternate.
The Assembly approved a resolution of thanks to Trinity Christian College for their very gracious hospitality. It also thanked the churches in the area for their hosting worship services for the commissioners. The moderator was thanked for his capable leadership “and attempts at humor.” Mr. Duff was commended for completing his service with faithfulness. The new stated clerk and his assistant clerk were thanked for their services. The moderator expressed his personal thanks to Mr. Bube and Mr. Shishko, who served the Assembly as parliamentarians.
The Assembly voted to include an alternate for the special committee to deal with the regional church of New Jersey.
It was announced that Rev. Godfrey’s surgery today was successful.
The assistant clerk read the minutes of the General Assembly, and they were approved as a whole.
The Assembly approved a motion to adjourn at 9:08 p.m. The Assembly concluded by singing “Hallelujah! Hallelujah!” The moderator closed in prayer and pronounced the benediction and the 77th General Assembly of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church was adjourned.
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