Orthodox Presbyterian Church 2014 General Assembly Report 4

The 81st General Assembly of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church is meeting at Kuyper College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, from June 4–10, 2014

The overture proposed an amendment to our Form of Government which sought to clarify the difference between examinations for licensure and those for ordination. The overture proposed that the exams for licensure be restricted to the Westminster Confession of Faith. While CCE was sympathetic with the aims of the overture, it argued that there was a better way to achieve these aims, namely, it offered to the assembly a short, newly published work from CCE entitled “Reforming Our Expectations: The Credentialing Process in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church.”

 

Continuation of the Report Committee on Christian Education

Mr. Olinger continued the report of the Committee on Christian Education (CCE).

The committee presented a recommendation to the assembly to deny an overture that was brought to the 80th General Assembly (2013) and referred to CCE. The overture proposed an amendment to our Form of Government which sought to clarify the difference between examinations for licensure and those for ordination. The overture proposed that the exams for licensure be restricted to the Westminster Confession of Faith. While CCE was sympathetic with the aims of the overture, it argued that there was a better way to achieve these aims, namely, it offered to the assembly a short, newly published work from CCE entitled Reforming Our Expectations: The Credentialing Process in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church.

The assembly passed the recommendation of the committee, denying the Overture from the Presbytery of Connecticut and Southern New York.

The committee will take up the remainder of its report later so that representatives from the United Reformed Churches are present when the assembly debates the approval of the Psalter section of the proposed Psalter-Hymnal.

The Report of the Committee on Appeals and Complaints

The Committee on Appeals and Complaints (CAC) began its work, and the assembly spent the remainder of day addressing two cases from the same presbytery—one a judicial case brought on appeal, and the other a complaint brought on appeal. Various commissioners noted that, in an area that is often the occasion for sharp conflict, the debate and discussion regarding these cases was marked by a gentle, humble tone.

The work of CAC is important in helping the assembly to adjudicate the cases better that come before it. The work of the committee, according to the Standing Rules of the General Assembly of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church is to “act in advance of or during a General Assembly to receive appeals and complaints, to advise whether appeals and complaints are in order and properly before the assembly, to gather, summarize and/or index the relevant documents and data, and to recommend the whole order of the proceedings, but the not the disposition of the appeals or complaints.”

Morning Devotions

At 11:40 a.m. the assembly took a respite from its deliberations to hear a devotional from the Rev. Jonathan Shishko of Reformation Presbyterian Church in Queens, New York.

Mr. Shishko then encouraged the assembly from 1 Thessalonians 1:1–3 and noted that we should be thankful for the congregations we serve, despite the problems we face, and concerns we have. In fact, our overwhelming attitude towards our congregations should be that of thankfulness for them. The key to this thankfulness is to see the church of the Lord Jesus through the lens of the Christ himself, understanding our people not simply to be sinners, but blood-bought brothers and sisters.

Fraternal Addresses

The Rev. Ben Westerveld, minister in the Reformed Church in Quebec ((l’Église Réformée du Québec) brought fraternal greetings from his denomination. Last fall the ERQ celebrated its 25th anniversary with a family conference attended by over 150 members. The ERQ is composed of five congregations and maintains a viable and vibrant reformed witness. The confessional documents of the ERQ are the Westminster Confession of Faith and the Heidelberg Catechism.

The Rev. Kurt Vetterli is from the Evangelical Reformed Church Westminster Confession (ERCWC), which is located Switzerland and Austria. Mr. Vetterli was encouraged by the sweet fellowship of the assembly and expressed his appreciation for it. He asked for prayer that the Lord would bring them mature Christians and provide financial stability for their congregations.

The Rev. Keisuke Yoshioka, minister in the Reformed Church of Japan (RCJ), brought a fraternal address to the assembly and reported on the work of the RCJ. The RCJ was organized in 1946, subscribes to the Westminster Standards, and is in ecclesiastical fellowship with the OPC. The RCJ also has a long history of working with the OPC Japan Mission.

Mr. Yoshioka continued to give thanks for the help the OPC gave the congregations of the RCJ in response to the tsunami that hit Japan on March 11, 2011, and celebrated the long history of co-laboring in the gospel the RCJ has with the OPC. He then noted the OPC’s concern regarding the RCJ’s consideration of women in ecclesiastical office and asked for prayer as their general assembly considers this question at its next meeting.

The Rev. Mike McGee, minister in the Reformed Church in the United States (RCUS). Sixty years ago the RCUS and the OPC entered into ecclesiastical fellowship and have enjoyed a growing closeness with one another. Mr. McGee expressed his thankfulness for the seriousness with which the OPC takes the communion of the saints and the catholicity of the church.

Rev. Daniel F. Patterson, Pastor, Second Parish Orthodox Presbyterian Church, Portland, Maine.