Synod’s Committee on Inter-Church Relations recommended that the ARP Synod extend an invitation to the Reformed Presbyterian Church in North America (RPCNA) to hold concurrent synods at Bonclarkin in 2015. Both synods would conduct business in separate facilities in Bonclarkin, but the worship services would be conducted together and opportunities for fellowship would be built into the schedule.
The 2013 General Synod of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (ARP) proved unusual in at least two ways. This Synod actually finished all its business slated for this year. While this doesn’t sound unusual, it is in light of the fact that two of the previous three Synods failed to keep a quorum, leaving some of the ARP Church’s most vital ministries (World Witness and Outreach North America) without any action from Synod.
What was even more unusual about this Synod is that all business was concluded ahead of schedule, a full day ahead of schedule. Moderator Kingswood’s efficient leadership combined with a relative lack of contentious issues brought Synod to a close in record time.
The Synod conducted these important points of business in the final business section on the afternoon of Wednesday, June 12:
- Committee to Study Christians and Lawsuits: The Minority Report from the Judicial Commission on Ecclesiastical Affairs made a recommend that the Committee on Theological and Social Concerns “consider the matter of Christians taking other Christians to a court of law.” Though this recommendation was rejected by Synod along with the rest of the Minority Report (See Here), a member of the court reoffered this recommendation as a stand-alone motion, which passed with unanimous support.
- Committee to Study Chapters 34 and 35 of the Westminster Confession: The ARP Church added two chapters to the Westminster Confession (Of the Holy Spirit and Of the Gospel) in the mid 20th century. These two chapters were written and adopted by the Presbyterian Church in the US (PCUS), in what appeared to be soften the Calvinism of the Westminster Standards. A number of ARP Synods has informally discussed addressing these chapters for some time, but no official committee or report has ever studied these chapters. The ad hoc committee appointed by the moderator will address the necessity and theological integrity of these two chapters, and report back to the 2014 Synod with recommendations.
- Joint Synod to be held with RPCNA: Synod’s Committee on Inter-Church Relations recommended that the ARP Synod extend an invitation to the Reformed Presbyterian Church in North America (RPCNA) to hold concurrent synods at Bonclarkin in 2015. Both synods would conduct business in separate facilities in Bonclarkin, but the worship services would be conducted together and opportunities for fellowship would be built into the schedule. The recommendation received unanimous support. Dr. Mark Ross of Erskine Seminary further moved that the Synod assure the RPCNA that all singing in worship will consist of unaccompanied psalms, which also passed with unanimous support.
Just before the court adjourned on Wednesday afternoon, the court elected a new moderator, RE Larry Littlejohn. TE Calvin Todd nominated Littlejohn for moderator, speaking highly of his humility and Christian character. Littlejohn is originally from Texas, and has been working at French Camp Academy in Mississippi for over 25 years, producing the school’s daily devotional radio broadcast. Littlejohn is clerk of session of French Camp Presbyterian Church, has taught Sunday school at his church for twenty five years, has served on Mississippi Valley Presbytery’s Minister and His Work Committee, and last year served as moderator of presbytery. Littlejohn has also served the town of French Camp as mayor. TE Andrew Putnam, former parliamentarian and moderator of Synod, seconded Littlejohn’s nomination, commenting that it was an honor to get to know Littlejohn the past few years. With no other nominees before the court, nominations were closed and Littlejohn was elected by acclamation.
Littlejohn addressed the court with the characteristic humility Todd and Putnam had spoken of so highly. He then nominated TE Lee Shelnutt, pastor of Huntersville ARP in Huntersville, N.C., for vice-moderator, who was also elected by acclamation.
After hearing the report and recommendations of the Nominations Committee, Synod closed by singing Psalm 133.
Scott Cook is a student at Reformed Seminary in Charlotte, N. C.