In 2014, there has been an increase in the number of OPC churches as the result of eight new mission works that were organized as particular churches. Six new mission works were started. There are now 273 local churches and 50 mission works. Total membership is 31,122. Total offerings were over $54 million. There are 534 ministers, 1095 ruling elders, and 866 deacons.
The 82nd General Assembly of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC) is meeting at Dordt College, Sioux Center, Iowa, from June 3–9, 2015.
Appeal #1 Concluded
On Monday, June 8, the Assembly returned to the consideration of Appeal #1 from TE John Carrick. The Assembly adopted Advisory Committee #10’s recommendations to sustain (uphold) the appeal, reversing the verdict of the trial.
The Rev. George Cottenden led in prayer for the parties of this case, lifting up the appellant and the presbytery as they go forward, for the rebuilding of the bond of the Holy Spirit between the parties, and that the oneness that we have in Christ may be seen by all the world.
Wednesday, June 3, 2014
The 82nd General Assembly of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church convened in the Campus Center of Dordt College at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, June 3, 2015. The moderator of the 81st General Assembly, the Rev. A. Craig Troxel, led the commissioners and guests in worship. His text was John 13:1–20 and his message was entitled “Washed by Jesus.”
Moderator Troxel called the meeting to order at 8:15 p.m. The Rev. Ross Graham, the stated clerk of the General Assembly, called the roll of commissioners, presbytery by presbytery. The representatives for the committees of the General Assembly were seated as corresponding members for the purpose of presenting their reports.
The Rev. Jack Sawyer, administrator and representative for the Committee on Ecumenicity and Interchurch Relations, introduced fraternal delegates Kent M. Moorlach from the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, Kevin M. Backus from the Bible Presbyterian Church, Davi Charles Gomes and F. Solano Portela from the Presbyterian Church of Brazil, Mike McGee from the Reformed Church in the U.S., Bradd Nymeyer from the United Reformed Churches of North America, Peter Bakker and Kim Batteau from the Reformed Churches of the Netherlands Liberated, Kurt Vetterli from the Evangelical Reformed Church Westminster Confession, and Kyle M. Borg from the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America.
The Rev. Archibald Allison was nominated and elected as the moderator of the 82nd General Assembly of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. The Rev. Danny Olinger, who had nominated Mr. Allison, prayed for Mr. Allison’s service as moderator, that the body would be guided by the Lord as it goes forward through the week, and that we would prefer one another in love. Mr. Allison commented that his father had named him after the Rev. Archibald Alexander, the moderator of the 19th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church in the USA, held in Philadelphia 208 years ago (and also the first professor at Princeton Theological Seminary, and the man referred to as Princeton Seminary’s Elijah), so that he would always know what he should believe and teach.
The clerk presented the overtures, communications, complaints and appeals, and the Assembly set times for convening, recessing and reconvening. The docket for the conducting of the business of the church was adopted, with times established for special orders of business during the assembly.
The clerk and previous moderator proposed the assignment of the matters of business to various advisory committees and temporary committees. The Assembly adopted the proposed assignments for each committee. The Assembly also elected the advisory and temporary committees with the members of the Assembly that had been proposed by the stated clerk, with about nine ministers and/or ruling elders being assigned to each of the ten advisory committees, a committee on arrangements, and two temporary committees.
Thursday June 4, 2015
Thursday morning and afternoon the commissioners gathered in their advisory committees to hear reports from the denominational committees and special committees, and to discuss the recommendations of the committees.
The moderator called the commissioners into assembly again at 6:45 p.m. Mr. Sawyer, administrator of the Committee on Ecumenicity and Interchurch Relations, introduced the Rev. Todd De Rooy from the United Reformed Churches of North America, and the Rev. Patrick Morgan from the Presbyterian Church in America. The men were enrolled as corresponding members.
Address by ARP Fraternal Delegate
The Committee on Ecumenicity and Interchurch Relations promotes fellowship between the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and churches of like faith and practice. Through this work the body of Christ is drawn together in fellowship, strengthened and at times challenged to re-examine current beliefs and practices, and drawn together in cooperation in carrying out the work of spreading the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
Mr. Sawyer introduced the Rev. Kent Moorlach from the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. Mr. Moorlach brought greetings from the ARP and gave thanks for the influence of Dr. J. Gresham Machen’s book Christianity and Liberalism in his own personal life. The ARP will be holding a concurrent assembly next week with the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America. The ARP is currently working on rewriting its Book of Discipline. Erskine College trains young people in the church. And an ARP church in Arizona has gone all the way to the Supreme Court on an issue of free speech, to defend the freedom of a church to put out a temporary sign on Sunday.
Report of the Stated Clerk
The office of the stated clerk prepares the minutes of the General Assembly and maintains the information with regard to the officers and local congregations of the denomination. The work of the clerks is important for the smooth operation of the church.
Mr. Graham gave his report. He gave thanks to the former clerk, the Rev. George Cottenden, for passing on a very well organized system for carrying out the work of the clerk, to the trustees for providing him with a staff that is excellent, and to the Committee on Arrangements for so excellently carrying out the work of organizing the General Assembly meetings.
Starting next year the minutes will be distributed digitally, but sensitive matters will be kept out of the digital minutes. He has created the informal position of clerk observer to invite young people to sit with the clerks, observe the work that is being done, and participate as part of a team to help carry out the work of the clerk.
The Assembly adopted an amendment to the Standing Rules to spell out the handling of business by the committees, asked the clerk to request a voluntary contribution for the reception of a hard copy of the minutes, and adopted amendments to the Standing Rules proposed by the 81st General Assembly.
Report of the Trustees
The Rev. Stephen presented the report of the trustees of the General Assembly and presented the proposed budget for 2015. The work of the trustees of the church is important in maintaining and handling the legal and financial matters of the church. The Rev. Samuel Bacon and ruling elder David Haney were elected to the class of 2018 for the trustees. The Rev. Richard Ellis was elected to the class of 2016 for the trustees. Elder Stephen Chung was elected to the class of 2017 for the trustees.
Report of the Statistician
Mr. Luke Brown presented the report of the statistician for the year 2014. There has been an increase in the number of OPC churches as the result of eight new mission works that were organized as particular churches. Six new mission works were started. There are now 273 local churches and 50 mission works. Total membership is 31,122. Total offerings were over $54 million. There are 534 ministers, 1095 ruling elders, and 866 deacons. There were nearly 600 professions of faith (half by non-communicants), and nearly 1000 reaffirmations of faith in 2014.
Mr. Brown has been faithfully serving as the statistician since 1985. The Assembly thanked Mr. Brown for 30 years of faithful service to the church as statistician. Mr. Brown was re-elected to serve as statistician.
Report of the Committee on Foreign Missions
The Rev. John Van Meerbeke (vice president), Ruling elder Mark Bube (general secretary), and the Rev. Douglas Clawson (associate general secretary) presented the report of the Committee on Foreign Missions. Mr. Bube has served for 24 years as general secretary, and Mr. Clawson has served for 13 years as associate general secretary.
Great praise was given to the Lord for the advance of the Reformed church in Asia, for the safe arrival of the Call family in Uruguay in October, and for such generous giving through the Worldwide Outreach Thank Offering that the Committee is able to send the Jackson family to Uganda in the summer of 2015.
Mr. Bube shared concerning the many missionary works of the OPC around the world. The Rev. Charles Jackson spoke of the excitement of himself and his wife concerning moving to Uganda and working with the Rev. Eric Tuininga in teaching at Knox Theological College, leading evangelistic Bible Studies in the villages, and working with Christian schools.
The Rev. Anthony Curto reported on his labors to train ministers in Ethiopia. Evangelists are needed desperately to plant Reformed churches. He reported how 2000 people had shown up to hear the preaching of the Gospel. The church is growing rapidly there. He also visited churches in Austria and found a small band of Reformed men with a heart for German-speaking Europe.
Friday June 5, 2015
Fraternal Address from the Presbyterian Church in Brazil
Mr. Sawyer introduced the Rev. Dr. Davi Charles Gomes (chancellor of Mackenzie Presbyterian University, Sao Paulo, Brazil) from the Presbyterian Church of Brazil. Rev. Gomes brought greetings from the brothers and sisters in the Presbyterian Church of Brazil. He read from Acts 15 and shared his desire that the OPC would have part together with them in their ministry in Brazil. Christ’s church must be a church that seeks to display the biblical truth and Christian love for one another that the church will have in heaven. Rev. Gomes closed in prayer.
Committee on Foreign Missions
Mr. Bube answered questions about the work of the Committee.
The Rev. Messrs. Paul Browne, Glenn Jerrell, M. Scott Johnson and ruling elders Miguel Flower and Benjamin Stahl were elected to the class of 2018 for the Committee on Foreign Missions.
Committee on Christian Education
Ruling elder Dr. James Gidley and the Rev. Danny Olinger, general secretary of the Committee on Christian Education, presented the work of the Committee on Christian Education. Mr. Olinger spoke of the many men who have benefitted from the internship program. The Rev. Travis Yonkman spoke of the great difficulty and discouragement that many men and their families have experienced as they have gone through the long and difficult process of seminary education, incurring of debt, and seeking a call to ministry in a church, but never making it into the ministry. The internship program provides the vital practical training, shepherding and guidance that a young man needs in order to be able to move into the position and role of a pastor.
The Ministerial Training Institute of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church provides classes in important theological, historical, and pastoral subjects for the benefit of ministers young and old and ruling elders. The MTI has completed classes again this spring. Two summer classes will be held in Philadelphia. Ruling elder John Muether will teach a class on Presbyterian history, and ruling elder Dr. David Noe will teach a Greek refresher course.
The Revs. Marvin Padgett (executive director of GCP) and Mark Lowery (associate executive director of GCP) of the PCA spoke of the work of Great Commission Publications. GCP is a joint venture of the OPC and PCA, created 40 years ago. GCP publishes sound Reformed, biblical Sunday School materials for all ages, Vacation Bible School materials, Bible Studies materials, Catechism materials, communicant membership materials, and the new Pilgrim’s Progress book study materials.
The Rev. Dr. A. Craig Troxel spoke on the issue of sexual brokenness and the legal issues facing our churches in light of the cultural shift on issues such as transgender and same sex marriage. The Committee has created an exploratory subcommittee to study these issues. Possible plans may include creating a website, some pamphlets, holding a conference, and working with other churches on these issues.
The Rev. Dr. Alan Strange spoke on the joint work of the OPC with the United Reformed Church of North America to together produce a Psalter-Hymnal, which includes a full Psalter and about 400 hymns. The intent is to complete the work by next year.
Committee on Home Missions and Church Extension
Rev. Hilbelink (president) introduced the church planters and regional home missionaries that were present. Rev. Shaw (general secretary of the Committee on Home Missons and Church Extension) spoke of the encouraging news of the seven new church plants last year, some of the new church plants already begun this year, and the two or three expected new regional home missionaries.
The Rev. Chris Hartshorn spoke on the church plant in Anaheim Hills, California. They are seeing unbelievers come to faith, families attending membership classes, and individuals stepping up to serve in the church, which is very important in a church plant.
The Rev. Stephen Doe spoke of his work as regional home missionary in the Presbytery of the Mid-Atlantic. He spoke on the critical work of reaching those who are unsaved and do not go to church. He spoke of many communities where Christianity is declining, and of communities where it is the immigrants that are coming to the churches and seeking the Lord.
The Rev. Bradley Peppo spoke of his work in planting Living Water OPC in Springfield, Ohio.
Pray for the Rev. Richard Gerber and his wife. He retired as Associate General Secretary, and Rita is dealing with some health issues. The Committee also requests your prayers for the finding of a new associate general secretary, which is in much needed.
Fraternal Address from the Reformed Church of the Netherlands Liberated
Mr. Sawyer introduced the Rev. Kim Batteau from the Reformed Churches of the Netherlands Liberated. He brought greetings from the brothers and sisters in the RCNL. He asked for the prayers of the OPC for their church in its struggles to maintain biblical doctrine and resist the great pressures in society and even in the church that are calling for an acceptance of ordaining women as ministers and an acceptance of the world’s attitudes on homosexuality.
Survey of the Years Men were Ordained
The Assembly conducted a survey of what decade each commissioner who was attending General Assembly as either a minister or ruling elder was ordained. It was noted that 20 men were ordained between 2010 and the present, 26 men from 2000–2009, 29 men in the 1990s, 25 men in the 1980s, 16 men in 1970s, 6 men in the 1960s, and 1 man, Elder Mac Laurie, in the 1950s. There was a standing ovation for the men ordained in the 1960s and earlier.
Committee on Appeals and Complaints
One of the functions of the General Assembly of the Church is to act as the highest court of appeal for cases that have originated in the lower courts of the church (presbyteries and local church sessions). A case that is appealed to the General Assembly may be a complaint against an action that was taken by a presbytery or a local church, and that is contrary to the Word of God, the Westminster Confession of Faith, or another Standard of the church. Or a case that is appealed to the General Assembly may be an appeal of a charge(s) that was brought against an individual for teaching/preaching contrary to the Word of God, or for sinful/immoral conduct.
The Committee on Appeals and Complaints is charged with helping the Assembly to understand the appeals that come before the body. The Rev. Alan Strange presented the Report of the Committee on Appeals and Complaints with reference to Appeal 1 and the Rev. George Cottenden presented the recommendations of Advisory Committee #10 regarding the Appeal.
On motion the appeal was found in order.
Fraternal Address from the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America
Mr. Sawyer introduced the Rev. Kyle Borg of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America. Mr. Borg shared that the RPCNA has 96 churches in North America and Japan, as well as some congregations in persecuted lands. On Monday the RPCNA and the ARP will be holding concurrent assemblies to help them to draw closer. Their church committee is working on a proposed global Presbyterian alliance that would be a consulting body to strengthen ties. Geneva College is currently looking for a new president. The college is also awaiting a Supreme Court decision on the HHS mandate. Many liberal arts Christian colleges will not be given any freedom on civil mandates, because they are not under a church. Please be in prayer for all Christian colleges and for their freedom to be faithful and true to God.
Continuation of Appeal 1
Two members spoke on behalf of the Presbytery. A time of questions to the appellant and presbytery from the commissioners was followed by final remarks from the presbytery and the appellant.
Election for the Committee on Christian Education
The moderator announced that Elder David Winslow and the Rev. Daniel Patterson were elected to the Committee on Christian Education’s Subcommittee on Ministerial Training.
Fraternal Address from the Presbyterian Church in America
Mr. Sawyer introduced the Rev. Wim Wullschleger of the Christian Reformed Churches in the Netherlands, and he was seated as a corresponding member for privileges of addressing the Assembly.
Mr. Sawyer welcomed the Rev. Patrick Morgan of the Presbyterian Church in America. Mr. Morgan commented that next week the PCA is having an Assembly-wide seminar on increasing ethnic outreach in the USA. The PCA is thankful for its partnership in the Gospel with the OPC.
Report of the Committee on Ecumenicity and Interchurch Relations
Mr. Sawyer presented the Report of the Committee on Ecumenicity and Interchurch Relations. On motion the OPC Assembly voted to enter into a Sister Church relationship (Ecclesiastical Fellowship) with the Presbyterian Church of Brazil.