2009 General Assembly Report
The Seventy-sixth General Assembly met at Kuyper College in Grand Rapids, Michigan, from Wednesday May 27, 2009 until Wednesday June 3, 2009. This running daily report was written by Glen J. Clary and edited by Stephen Pribble and Linda Foh.
Navigation: jump to Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, Monday, Wednesday. GA photo. View a slideshow of the Seventy-sixth GA.
Wednesday, May 27, 2009
The Seventy-sixth General Assembly (GA) of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church began today on the beautiful campus of Kuyper College in Grand Rapids, Michigan.
In honor of John Calvin's 500th anniversary, there was a pre-Assembly conference which was very well attended. The Rev. Glen J. Clary, pastor of Immanuel Orthodox Presbyterian Church, West Collingswood, New Jersey, and a student of Dr. Hughes Oliphant Old at the Institute for Reformed Worship in Columbia, South Carolina, spoke on Calvin as a servant of the Word of God. And the Rev. Dr. Richard B. Gaffin of Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, spoke on Calvin's soteriology; that is, his doctrine of salvation.
Mr. Clary outlined Calvin's understanding of preaching under three headings: preaching as worship, the real presence of Christ in preaching, and union and communion with Christ through preaching. Dr. Gaffin set forth Calvin's understanding of union with Christ and the twofold grace of justification and sanctification by a close examination of Book III of Calvin's Institutes of the Christian Religion.
The GA convened at 7:00 p.m. with the singing of Psalm 135 (hymn 12 of the Trinity Hymnal, "Exalt the Lord, His Praise Proclaim") and prayer, led by the outgoing moderator, Rev. Alan D. Strange.
Mr. Strange then delivered a powerful exposition of Colossian 1:24-29, entitled "Struggling in Ministry." Paul writes, "Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me" (Col. 1:28-29).
Mr. Strange reminded the assembly that we are called to proclaim Jesus Christ, the One who did for us what we can never do for ourselves. The aim or goal of the ministry is to present everyone mature in Christ.
The Rev. William Shishko, pastor of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, Franklin Square, New York, was elected as the new moderator. Mr. Strange handed the gavel over to him and led the assembly in prayer on his behalf.
The assembly ended its business for the day at 8:41 p.m.
Thursday, May 28, 2009
We woke up to a cold morning today in Grand Rapids, and the commissioners eagerly went to work on their advisory or temporary committees at 8:15 a.m.
Commissioners at work
There are ten advisory committees, which review and report on items of business for the General Assembly. And there are three temporary committees, which examine presbyterial and standing committee records and handle the arrangements of the GA.
In order for these committees to do their work, the Assembly was in recess for most of the day. It did not reconvene as an assembly until 6:45 p.m., except for a brief devotional service before lunch, in which the Rev. Alan Pontier, pastor of Big Bear Valley OPC in Big Bear Valley, California, preached a passionate sermon on Hebrews chapter 10:15-22, which says,
Therefore, brothers, since we have confidence to enter the holy places by the blood of Jesus, by the new and living way that he opened for us through the curtain, that is, through his flesh, and since we have a great priest over the house of God, let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, with our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience and our bodies washed with pure water.
After dinner, the assembly reconvened with the singing of hymn 342, "Christ is Made the Sure Foundation" and the reading of Psalm 84 by the moderator, Mr. Shishko, and prayer led by the Rev. James L. Bosgraf, regional home missionary for the Presbytery of the Midwest.
The moderator exhorted the assembly from the Westminster Larger Catechism 131, 132, 144 and 145 before we began our deliberations.
We heard reports from the stated clerk, the Rev. Donald J. Duff, and the trustees of the General Assembly. Mr. Duff announced his retirement in 2010, at the end of his current three year term. The Rev. George R. Cottenden was elected to a three year term as stated clerk beginning 2010.
The report of the statistician was received and Mr. Luke E. Brown was re-elected as statistician.
We ended the day with a report from the Committee on Foreign Missions, which outlined the goals of the committee. The assembly was very encouraged to hear of the work that is going on in our 11 active fields. Christ is causing his kingdom to advance throughout the world through the ministries of the church. To him be the glory!
Friday, May 29, 2009
General Assembly gathered this morning with the reading of Psalm 67 (by the moderator) and prayer led by Elder William Muether; after which, we sang Psalm 67 (hymn 437, "O God, to Us Show Mercy").
Psalm 67 sets forth the mission of the church:
May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us, that your way may be known on earth, your saving power among all nations.
This was a fitting Psalm to re-introduce the Committee on Foreign Missions (CFM), which continued its report, presented by Elder Mark T. Bube.
Commissioners at work
The Assembly was very encouraged to hear from Rev. Bernard (Ben) Westerveld, who described his work in Québec. His primary duties include the planting of new congregations (with a view to their becoming congregations of l'Église réformée du Québec, the Reformed Church of Quebec [ERQ]), as well as the strengthening of already established ERQ congregations, especially those that do not have their own pastors.
Rev. Douglas B. Clawson encouraged the Assembly to pray for particular concerns of the CFM including the need for missionary candidates and laborers to serve in short term missionary projects. Matthew 9:36-38 says,
When [Jesus] saw the crowds, he had compassion for them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, "The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few; therefore, pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest."
Messrs. Paul Browne, Glenn Jerrell and Jack Peterson were elected to the CFM.
Dr. James S. Gidley and Rev. Danny E. Olinger reported on behalf of the Committee on Christian Education (CCE). The CCE serves the OPC by providing resources and training for teaching about the only name by which men may be saved. It assists in advancing the total ministry of the OPC as it works with local churches, presbyteries, the General Assembly, standing committees and the program committees of Home and Foreign Missions.
The CCE noted that in the last year, the OPC had a record number of internships: fourteen year-long interns and thirteen summer interns. However, the number of interns has drastically reduced. Please make this a matter of prayer.
We also heard an encouraging report from Elder David Winslow concerning the Timothy Conference. The apostle Paul charged Timothy, "What you have heard from me ... entrust to faithful men who will be able to teach others also" (2 Tim. 2:2). In order to assist OP congregations in identifying and encouraging young men with apparent gifts for the gospel ministry, the Timothy Conference for young men from ages 15-22 was established.
Messrs. Archibald Allison, Sydney Dyer and Darryl Hart were elected to CCE for the class of 2012.
Before lunch, the Assembly once again had a devotional service. Rev. Adam A. York delivered an exposition of Revelation 12:7-12. Focusing our attention on verse 11, Mr. York exhorted us to "conquer" by the Blood of the Lamb, Jesus Christ, who conquered Satan in his death, resurrection and exaltation. We concluded our devotional service by singing hymn 305, "Arise, My Soul, Arise."
After lunch, we reconvened with the singing of Psalm 72 (hymn 312, "O God, Your Judgments Give the King"). Greetings were brought to the GA from two fraternal delegates: Rev. Benjamin W. Dowling III (from the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church) and Rev. Richard Holst (from the Evangelical Presbyterian Church in England and Wales). Later in the day, we heard greetings from fraternal delegate Rev. Casey Freswick (from the United Reformed Churches of North America) and fraternal observers Rev. Kevin M. Backus (from the Bible Presbyterian Church) and Rev. David Murray (representing the Free Church of Scotland/Continuing).
Commissioners at work
The Committee on Home Missions and Church Extension (CHMCE) reported on its work to the assembly. The CHMCE exists to help the presbyteries and congregations of the OPC to start new Presbyterian and Reformed congregations throughout the United States, Canada and the Caribbean.
Rev. Ross W. Graham described the work of church planting in the OPC and introduced the Church Planters and Regional Home Missionaries, who were present at the Assembly. Three of our church planters were able to report on their mission works: Everett Henes (Hillsdale, Michigan), Chris Sandoval (Chicago, Illinois) and Norman De Jong (Freemont, Michigan).
We give praise to the Lord for the twenty new OP church plants established in 2008 and for the nine new church plants in 2009. Jesus said, "I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it." Please pray for these new works and that the Lord will continue to add to our number.
Mr. Bosgraf presented the report of the Committee on Coordination. Messrs. Anthony Monaghan and Ted Weber were elected to COC class of 2012.
Before dinner, the Assembly met in the chapel of Kuyper College for the GA photo. Trying to squeeze all of the men into the choir loft in the chapel wasn't easy, but at least it brought all of the men closer togetherquite literally.
After enjoying table fellowship with each other, we reconvened with the singing of hymn 358, "For All the Saints Who from Their Labors Rest."
The Assembly ended its very productive day at 8:10 p.m. with prayer led by the moderator.
Saturday, May 30, 2009
At 8:15 a.m., the GA reconvened with the reading of Psalm 148 and the singing of that Psalm in hymn 110, "Hallelujah, Praise Jehovah," after which the Rev. James T. Lim, associate pastor of Lake Sherwood OPC, Orlando, Florida, led the Assembly in prayer.
After the Assembly concluded its business with regard to the Committee on Coordination, Rev. Ronald E. Pearce reported on behalf of the Committee of Diaconal Ministries (CDM).
The CDM reminded us that our faithful God has blessed "us on our way with countless gifts of love" (hymn 86, "Now Thank We All Our God"), so we, in turn, may have the joy and privilege of sharing his blessings with others. He gives us opportunities and resources to minister compassion to individuals as well as to congregations in this nation and throughout the world.
The committee reported on its diaconal assistance to various diaconal services in the United States of America as well as in many other countries throughout the world. It also explained the purpose of the Obadiah Funda trust fund used for the care of retired ministers and widows in the OPC.
A Diaconal Summit will be held on the campus of Wheaton College in Chicago, Illinois on June 3-5, 2010. The purpose of the summit is to consider some of the common challenges that deacons face, to raise awareness of diaconal resources in our denomination and to provide an opportunity for informal interaction among participating deacons. Dr. Brian Fikkert (Professor of Economics and the founder and Executive Director of the Chalmers Center for Economic Development at Covenant College) and Bob Wright (OPC missionary-deacon) will be speaking at the Diaconal Summit.
Messrs. Lendall Smith, Robert Keys and Robert Wright were elected to the CDM class of 2012.
Elder Roger W. Huibregtse reported on behalf of the Committee on Pensions. The primary responsibility of this committee is to provide a retirement plan for the ministers and full-time employees of the OPC. The Committee on Pensions also provides a group life insurance plan for the ministers, officers and full-time employees of the church and their families. Finally, the committee makes supplemental payments to certain ministers with inadequate pensions. The Assembly stood to honor Mr. Garrett A. Hoogerhyde for 50 years of faithful service to the committee. Messrs. John McGowan, Roger Huibregtse and Jack White were elected to the committee, class of 2012.
Before the Assembly broke for lunch, Rev. Leroy E. Miller led us in a devotional service in which he expounded Ephesians 6:10-17; after which we sang hymn 578, "The Son of God Goes Forth to War."
When we reconvened, we sang Psalm 133 (hymn 356, "How Beautiful the Sight of Brethren Who Agree"), and the Rev. Kim M. Kuhfuss led the Assembly in prayer. In Psalm 133 we see a beautiful picture of the unity of the church of Jesus Christ, and thus, it was a fitting Psalm to sing before the report of the Committee on Ecumenicity and Interchurch Relations (CEIR), which was presented by Rev. George W. Knight III and Rev. Jack J. Peterson.
St. Paul wrote,
I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spiritjust as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your callone Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. (Eph. 4:1-6)
The OPC seeks to establish relationships with other faithful churches through the work of the CEIR. The mandate of the CEIR is to make recommendations to the General Assembly concerning the relationship of the OPC to other churches and to ecumenical bodies both in the United States and abroad. This includes the establishment and maintaining of the official relationships of Churches in Ecclesiastical Fellowship and Churches in Corresponding Relationships.
Fraternal greetings were brought to the Assembly from Bernard (Ben) Westerveld (from l'Église réformée du Québec, the Reformed Church of Quebec). Mr. Westerveld is also the current chairman of NAPARC (North American Presbyterian and Reformed Council). Rev. Walter Lorenz brought fraternal greetings from the Presbyterian Church in America, and later in the day, we heard from Rev. Leo de Vos (from the Reformed Churches of New Zealand).
The Assembly considered an overture from the Presbytery of Ohio that asked the Committee on Home Missions to develop additional presbyteries within and among our existing presbyteries, but the overture did not pass.
The Assembly ended its business for the day at 5:15 p.m. We will remain in recess until Monday morning. The commissioners are eagerly looking forward to the Christian Sabbath. Many are planning on attending services in local churches including Fremont Presbyterian Church (Fremont, Michigan), Community Presbyterian Church in Kalamazoo, Michigan and Spencer Mills Presbyterian Church in Gowen, Michigan.
Conducting the business of the Assembly for the past three and a half days has been hard work, and this makes us all the more thankful that "The Sabbath was made for man" (Mark 2:27)!
Come to me, all who labor and are heaven laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. (Matt. 11:28-30)
Sunday, May 31, 2009
On Sunday evening nearly 800 Orthodox Presbyterian men, women and children came together for a combined evening worship and communion service at North Pointe Christian School in Grand Rapids. The pastors of six OPCs from western Michigan participated in the service: Eric Hausler, Redeemer OPC, Ada; Norman DeJong, Freemont OPC, Freemont; Martin Novak, New Life OPC, Holland; Robert VanManen, Little Farms Chapel, Coopersville; Dale Van Dyke, Harvest OPC, Wyoming; and Stephen Igo, Cedar OPC, Hudsonville.
The rafters of the gymnasium rang with the praises of our triune God. Our voices were accompanied by musicians from the Ada and Hudsonville congregations. The offering was designated for the Worldwide Outreach of the OPC.
Pastor Van Dyke's message, "How to Come to God," was from Luke 18:1-14, the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector. Rejecting the sacrifice being performed in front of him as God's means of reconciliation, the Pharisee rested in his own righteousness. The tax collector, on the other hand, was convicted of his sin, cried out for God's promised mercy and was justified.
Following the administration of the Lord's Supper, the service concluded with a hymn and the benediction. Here at the western end of the eastern time zone, a longer evening provided ample opportunity for fellowship between old and new friends following the service.
Monday, June 1, 2009
We woke up to a cold and rainy morning today and gathered with the reading of Psalm 100 (by the moderator) and the singing of that Psalm (hymn 1, "All People That on Earth Do Dwell"), after which Rev. James A. La Belle led us in prayer.
On behalf of the Committee on Revisions to the Directory for the Public Worship of God, Rev. George R. Cottenden briefly reported on its work to the Assembly. Rev. Daniel J. Dillard reported on behalf of the advisory committee.
The Amended Proposed Revised Version (APRV) of the Directory for Worship (DPW) was considered at length by the 74th and 75th General Assemblies. This year, the Assembly picks up where it left off last year with consideration of proposed amendments to the APRV.
After the Advisory Committee finished its report, the Assembly voted on their recommendations.
Then, a motion was placed on the floor that the 76th GA propose the APRV to the presbyteries for approval as the new Directory for the Public Worship of God. This refers only to the constitutional portion of the APRV and not to the Suggested Forms.
The Assembly resumed seriatim consideration for approval of the APRV at the point of opening up the whole constitutional document for final amendment. Deliberation took place on various proposed amendments for the rest of the morning.
Before lunch, in our devotional service, we sang praises to our Lord with hymn 411, "Shine Thou Upon Us, Lord." The Rev. William Shishko delivered an exposition of 1 Thessalonians 1:1-10:
For our gospel did not come to you in word only, but also in power, and in the Holy Spirit and in much assurance, as you know what kind of men we were among you for your sake. And you became followers of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became examples to all in Macedonia and Achaia who believe. For from you the word of the Lord has sounded forth, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place. Your faith toward God has gone out, so that we do not need to say anything. For they themselves declare concerning us what manner of entry we had to you, and how you turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God, and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come. (1 Thess. 1:5-10)
After lunch, the Assembly reconvened with the singing of hymn 4, "All Praise to God, Who Reigns Above," and prayer led by Rev. Bruce G. Buchanan.
Rev. Jack J. Peterson introduced two fraternal observers, Messrs. Augustus Lopes and Ludgero Morais from Igreja Presbiteriana do Brasil (the Presbyterian Church of Brazil, IPB), who brought warm greetings to the Assembly. Later in the day we were also greeted by Messrs. Riemer Faber and John Ludwig, fraternal delegates from the Canadian and American Reformed Churches (CanRef).
The Assembly resumed its consideration of the motion that the 76th GA propose the APRV to the presbyteries for approval as the new Directory for the Public Worship of God. After a period of deliberation, the Assembly adopted the motion. The APRV will now be known as the Final Proposed Revision (FPR).
Having approved the FPR, the Assembly voted to send it to the presbyteries for their approval with the following grounds:
- The FPR more consistently explicates the implications of the fact that public worship is "divine" (II.4) and that it is "before all else a meeting of the triune God with his chosen people" (II.2).
- The FPR more nearly adheres to the Westminster Standards in applying "ordinary" and "occasional" to different services of worship, not to different elements of Lord's Day worship.
- In accord with WCF XXI.5, the FPR includes the worthy receiving of the sacraments instituted by Christ as part of the ordinary worship of God as distinguished from special occasional worship whereas the present Directory identifies the sacraments as "occasional elements of the public worship of God," which use of these terms was an innovation.
- Also in accord with WCF XXI.5 and the Westminster Assembly's Directory for the Publick Worship of God, the FPR provides guidance for "solemn fasting and thanksgivings upon special occasions."
- The FPR more fully spells out that the Lord's Supper is a means of grace by which our Lord applies himself and his benefits to those who receive it in faith to their spiritual nourishment and growth in grace.
- The FPR puts greater emphasis upon the corporate implications of the sacraments.
- The FPR more explicitly details the positive commitments of the responsibilities of church membership in the membership vows.
- The FPR shows greater conformity to the fact that, according to our Standards, baptized covenant children are members of the church, albeit non-communicant members.
- The FPR clearly expresses the integral relation between the Sabbath day and public worship that is implicit in the Directory, but not stated explicitly.
- The FPR more explicitly states the regulative principle of worship.
- The FPR helps clarify certain issues surrounding the conduct of worship.
- The FPR surveys the elements of worship in a more complete fashion.
- The FPR shows greater care in its allusions to Scripture.
- The FPR is organized in a more logical manner for increased ease of use.
Our Form of Government explains the process by which amendments may be made to the Directory of Worship.
... the ... Directory for the Public Worship of God may be amended only in the following manner: The general assembly after due discussion shall propose the amendment to the presbyteries; each presbytery shall vote on the question before the next regular assembly, and the clerk of each presbytery shall notify the clerk of the assembly, in writing, of the action of the presbytery; if a majority of the presbyteries has thus signified approval of the amendment, the amendment shall become effective on January 1 of the first year ending in 5 or 0 following the year in which the clerk announces to the assembly that a majority of the presbyteries has approved the amendment. (FG XXXII.2)
Since the 76th GA has approved the FPR, it will now be sent down to our presbyteries for approval. If nine of our sixteen presbyteries approve it, then the stated clerk of the GA will announce that a majority of the presbyteries has approved the FPR, and it will officially take effect on January 1 of the year following the year in which the announcement is made. Please keep these important matters in your prayers. The Lord's will be done!
After dinner, the Assembly reconvened with singing hymn 80, "Lord, with Glowing Heart I'd Praise Thee," and prayer led by Rev. F. Allan Story.
The Assembly continued its business with the Directory of Worship. In particular, it considered proposed amendments to the Suggested Forms, which are not part of the Constitution of the OPC but are included in the Book of Church Order (BCO) as forms that are suitable and convenient aids in the conduct of particular services: marriage services, burial services and dedications of churches.
Various amendments to the Suggested Forms in the FPR were considered and adopted. The Assembly also considered and adopted forms having to do with the public imposition and removal of censures.
In due course we reached the point when the committee made its last motion that it be dissolved by the Assembly. It was an emotional moment for everyone, especially for some of the men who served on the committee for many years. Mr. Cottenden served on this committee for twenty years and Rev. John P. Galbraith served on this committee and other committess having to do with revisions to the Book of Church Order for more than fifty years!
After an exuberant standing ovation for the committee for its many, many years of service, the Assembly dissolved the committee with our most profound thanks. Rev. George W. Knight led the Assembly in prayer, giving thanks to the Lord for his gracious guidance and the many blessings he has bestowed upon church through the labors of his faithful servants.
At the end of the day Robert M. Coie reported on behalf of the Committee on Chaplains and Military Personnel. Mr. Coie informed the Assembly of the activities of our chaplains and noted certain items for prayer.
We concluded our business for the day at 8:35. Soli Deo Gloria!
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
The Assembly gathered this morning with the reading of Psalm 98 (by the moderator) and the singing of that Psalm in hymn 14, "New Songs of Celebration Render," after which the Rev. Peter C. Van Doodewaard led us in prayer.
We have a full day of work ahead of us today, and several weighty matters will be brought before the Assembly including an appeal and two complaints brought to the Assembly by way of appeal.
First, we heard from two of our temporary committees. Elder Michael F. Montemarano reported on behalf of the Committee to Review Presbyterial Records, and Rev. W. Vernon Picknally reported on behalf of the Committee to Review Standing Committee Records.
After the Assembly concluded its business with these temporary committees, we returned to the report of the Committee on Chaplains and Military Personnel. Elder Robert M. Coie and Elder Gordon E. Kauffman concluded the report of the committee and presented its recommendations to the Assembly.
We considered at length a recommendation of the committee to send a "humble petition" to President Obama.
The Westminster Confession of Faith (WCF) states, "Synods and councils are to handle, or conclude nothing, but that which is ecclesiastical: and are not to intermeddle with civil affairs which concern the commonwealth, unless by way of humble petition in cases extraordinary; or, by way of advice, for satisfaction of conscience, if they be thereunto required by the civil magistrate" (WCF 31.4). One may compare, for example, the humble petition that the 60th GA sent to President Clinton.
The Assembly did not finish its business with regard to the Committee on Chaplains and Military Personnel, so it will continue with that business tomorrow.
Before we broke for lunch, Rev. W. Vernon Picknally led the Assembly in a devotional service in which he expounded 1 Timothy 4:6-8,
If you instruct the brethren in these things, you will be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished in the words of faith and of the good doctrine which you have carefully followed. But reject profane and old wives' fables, and exercise yourself toward godliness. For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come.
After lunch, the Assembly reconvened with the singing of hymn 574, "Christian, Dost Thou See Them?" and prayer led by the Rev. David E. Chilton.
The Assembly received warm greetings from Rev. Michael McGee, fraternal delegate from the Reformed Church in the United States.
Elder David E. Haney briefly reported on behalf of the Committee on Arrangements, and upon recommendation of the committee, we decided that the 78th General Assembly will convene on June 8, 2011 at the Sandy Cove Conference Center in North East, Maryland.
Rev. John W. Mallin reported on behalf of the Committee on Appeals and Complaints. One appeal was brought to the Assembly, and two complaints were brought by way of appeal to the Assembly. Rev. Alan R. Pointier presented the report of the Advisory Committee.
The OPC's Book of Discipline contains rules regarding appeals and complaints (see chapters VII and IX).
After dinner, we reconvened with the singing of hymn 609, "Why Should Cross and Trial Grieve Me?" and prayer led by Rev. Stephen S. Payson.
The Assembly continued with its consideration of the appeal and the complaints, and we spent the remainder of the day in deliberation. The order of the day was extended to 9:30 p.m., and then again to 10:00 p.m., and yet again to 10:15 p.m., to allow the Assembly to continue its consideration of these weighty matters.
Listening to the debate
We give praise to the Lord our God that he, as the generous giver of every good and perfect gift, graciously gives us wisdom from above, as Saint James says,
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. (Jas. 1:5)
But the wisdom that is from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, willing to yield, full of mercy and good fruits, without partiality and without hypocrisy. Now the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. (Jas. 3:17-18)
May the Lord continue to grant us wisdom that we may do all things according to his Word, to the praise of his glory and for the benefit of his people. To God all praise and glory!
We recessed at 10:15 p.m. with prayer led by the moderator.
Wednesday, June 3, 2009
We gathered this morning at 8:15 a.m. with singing hymn 470, "How Vast the Benefits Divine," and the reading of Ephesians 1:3-14 by the moderator; afterwards, Elder Joe Mark Moody, Jr. led us in prayer.
The Assembly picked up where it left off last night with elections to the Committee on Appeals and Complaints. Rev. Alan D. Strange was elected to the committee to the class of 2012, and Rev. Thomas A. Foh was elected as alternate. After finishing our business with the committee, Rev. Alan R. Pointier led the Assembly in prayer for the committee.
At this point we returned to the business of the Committee on Chaplains and Military Personnel. The Assembly deliberated on a motion that was pending from the previous day. In due course, we voted to postpone indefinitely the motion to send a humble petition to President Obama (see yesterday's report). Other items of business with regard to the Committee on Chaplains and Military Personnel were concluded. Rev. James Zozzaro was elected to the committee to the class of 2012.
After our morning break we reconvened with singing hymn 125, "Let All Things Now Living," and prayer led by Rev. Joseph Puglia. Fraternal delegate Rev. Ray B. Lanning brought us warm greetings from the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America.
The OPC Historian, Elder John R. Muether, presented his report to the Assembly, and Rev. Danny E. Olinger reported on behalf of the Committee for the Historian. More information concerning the OPC's 75th anniversary was given. The committee continues its plans to mark the anniversary at the 78th GA (2011), as the church did in 1961 and 1986, with a banquet, special activities and OPC historical literature. The plan is to hold the anniversary at the Sandy Cove Conference Center in North East, Maryland. The 78th GA will convene on June 8, 2011.
Rev. Chad E. Bond was elected to the class of 2012. Rev. Jack W. Sawyer led in prayer for the historian and the committee as well as for a dearly beloved saint and faithful servant of the Lord, Miss Grace Mullen.
The Assembly adopted a budget for the GA operation fund for 2010. In accordance with this budget, the GA request the churches of the OPC to contribute $14.00 per communicant member to the GA operation fund in 2010.
Rev. George W. Knight offered the following resolution of thanks on behalf of the Assembly:
The 76th General Assembly of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church extends to Kuyper College the expression of our thanks for the use of the facilities, the hospitality, and the cooperation of the College's staff. We are especially thankful to Mr. Mike Palmer, director of safety and facilities, and his student assistant, Miss Angela Hubers, summer conferencing coordinator, and other student helpers. We are deeply grateful for the tasty meals and fine snacks provided by chef Jeff Battig, food services director, and Mrs. Sarah Veen, assistant food services director, and their able staff.
We, the Assembly, extend our gratitude as well, to our own Committee on Arrangements, Messrs. David E. Haney, Edward K. Tress, Robert M. Meeker, and John R. Muether, who sacrificially oversaw all of the arrangements leading up to this year's General Assembly and during the Assembly. The Assembly also gives thanks to the ministerial interns Messrs. Ken Montgomery, Travis Yonkman, David Donovan (and his wife Christy), and David Sawyer, son of Pastor Jack W. Sawyer, Jr., for distributing to the commissioners throughout the whole General Assembly all the papers that they needed from the clerks and committees. We thank Columbia Presbyterian Church, Maryland, for the production of our name tags.
We give thanks to the Orthodox Presbyterian congregations in the greater Grand Rapids, Michigan, area for arranging the Sunday evening worship service, and particularly for the leadership of Pastor Eric Hausler of the host church, Redeemer OPC, Ada, Michigan, and for the ministry of the Word by Pastor Dale Van Dyke of Harvest OPC, Wyoming, Michigan. We also thank all these churches for their inviting and transporting commissioners to Sunday morning worship on the Lord's day followed by a meal.
The Assembly gives thanks for the delightful expertise of its moderator, Mr. William Shishko. The Assembly also extends its gratitude to its dedicated stated clerk, Mr. Donald J. Duff, along with the splendid efforts of the assistant clerk, Mr. John W. Mahaffy, both of whose attention to the work of the Assembly has served the church well. We also extend our gratitude to Mr. Stephen L. Phillips for his labors with reference to communications and voting.
We pray that our God may richly reward all of those, whether named or unnamed, who have served the Lord Jesus Christ in their service to this Assembly, laboring in all things with the attitude of, "To God Alone Be The Glory!"
The Assembly adopted the Committee on Arrangement's recommendation that the 2010 GA convene at Trinity Christian College in Palos Heights, Illinois (near Chicago) on June 16 at 7:00 p.m. with a terminus no later than 12:00 p.m. on June 23.
The Assembly also decided to send the following letter to Rev. John P. Galbraith:
Dear Mr. Galbraith,
On the occasion of its approval of the Amended Proposed Revised Version of the Directory for Public Worship, the 76th General Assembly gives thanks to God for your faithful service on the Committee on Revisions from 1989 to 2006, having earlier served on the Committee on Revisions to the Form of Government from 1948-1978. We are deeply grateful to you for your labors and for the example that you have set of faithfulness to Christ and love for his church in serving on committees dealing with the Book of Church Order for almost 50 years. Though you were not able to be part of the Assembly in which the APRV was finally approved, your role in getting us to this point was gladly acknowledged.
May God continue to bless you and give you the strength to serve him each day.
Yours in Christ,
A survey was taken of the commissioners concerning when they were ordained, with the following results:
Twenty-six commissioners attended for the first time.
After the Assembly finished making corrections to the minutes, the minutes were approved as a whole.
Our moderator led us in prayer with the following words:
Sovereign God, Thy cause, not my own, engages my heart, and I appeal to thee with greatest freedom to set up thy kingdom in every place where Satan reigns; Glorify thyself and I shall rejoice, for to bring honour to thy name is my sole desire. I adore thee that thou art God, and long that others should know it, feel it, and rejoice in it. O that all men might love and praise thee, that thou mightiest have all glory from the intelligent world! Let sinners be brought to thee for thy dear name! To the eye of reason everything respecting the conversion of others is as dark as midnight, But thou canst accomplish great things; the cause is thine, and it is to thy glory that men should be saved. Lord, use me as thou wilt, do with me what thou wilt, but, O, promote thy cause, let thy kingdom come, let thy blessed interest be advanced in this world! O do thou bring in great numbers to Jesus! Let me see that glorious day, and give me to grasp for multitudes of souls; let me be willing to die to that end; and while I live let me labour for thee to the utmost of my strength, spending time profitably in this work, both in health and in weakness. It is thy cause and kingdom I long for, not my own. O, answer thou my request! (from the Valley of Vision)
We, then, sang together hymn 56, "When All Your Mercies, O My God," after which the moderator pronounced a benediction in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The 76th General Assembly of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church was dissolved at 11:51 a.m. Soli Deo Gloria!
The Rev. Glen J. Clary is pastor of Immanuel Orthodox Presbyterian Church, West Collingswood, New Jersey.