Friday, October 23, 2020

2020 General Synod Report (2020.10.23 Pastoral Letter and Hopewell Herald)

Hopewell Herald – October 23, 2020

Dear Congregation,

Thank you for your prayers. Synod has made this a long week, but the Lord has been very merciful. Having come from a denomination in which such meetings were almost never encouraging, it is a great blessing and encouragement to be able to give you a good report.

For more than thirty years, the Lord has been granting to the ARP reformation back to our original confession and catechisms in many areas of doctrine and worship. That reformation is ongoing, and this week it began to extend to the area of ecclesiology.

Specifically, we began to move back toward the nature of a Synod as we confess it in WCF 31.2.
“It belongeth to synods and councils, ministerially to determine controversies of faith, and cases of conscience; to set down rules and directions for the better ordering of the public worship of God, and government of his church; to receive complaints in cases of maladministration, and authoritatively to determine the same: which decrees and determinations, if consonant to the Word of God, are to be received with reverence and submission; not only for their agreement with the Word, but also for the power whereby they are made, as being an ordinance of God appointed thereunto in his Word.”

For several generations, during the time of slide and wandering in the ARP, more and more ministry has been centralized and bureaucratized at the Synod level—in addition to many things that were not even really ministry. But, we confess from Scripture that Synods primarily answer thorny theological and judicial questions. In the Bible, it is the local church and the bodies of local churches formed in presbyteries, that join together in ministry.

This week, the General Synod acted to extract itself from the business of operating a pension plan, and to form a committee for the restructuring of the Synod in a manner that is more Presbyterian.

The Synod’s theology committee presented a draft of a new (and very good) edition of the Book of Discipline.

An unbiblical recommendation from the Synod’s worship committee was rejected by the Synod.

Finally, the Synod received several memorials (communications) from various presbyteries on important theological questions, which will be studied and reported back to next year’s General Synod meeting. This, in conjunction with the nomination of several good men to the Synod’s theology committee, bodes well for next year’s Synod. This includes such subjects as whether Scripture permits women to serve as deacons and whether Sessions have the prerogative to cancel the public worship of God on the Lord’s Day or administer the Lord’s Supper “virtually.”

Many other discussions and actions occurred, and the business took much longer than expected, but I (and, I am sure, Elder Rentschler) am very grateful to you for your prayers and encouragement, and to our Redeemer for His great mercy to us.

I am very much looking forward to being home with you for the public worship of God on the Lord’s Day. It's always odd when I have a mid-week trip. The congregation hardly knows that I've been gone, but it always feels to me like an extended exile from which I'm so glad to return.

Longing to worship with you again in the spirit of Psalm 42:4,


LORD'S DAY – October 25, 2020

9:50 a.m. Breakfast Line Opens

10 a.m. Sabbath School
This week, we will continue to work through Ryan McGraw’s The Day of Worship, learning about the goodness of God in this good commandment.


11 a.m. Public Worship
Children’s Catechism for Oct 25
Q52. For whom did Christ obey and suffer? A. For those whom the Father had given Him.

Shorter Catechism for Oct 25
Q60. How is the Sabbath to be sanctified? A. The Sabbath is to be sanctified by a holy resting all that day, even from such worldly employments and recreations as are lawful on other days; and spending the whole time in the public and private exercises of God's worship, except so much as is to be taken up in the works of necessity and mercy.

Psalms and Hymns
TPH413 “Revive Thy Work, O Lord”   
ARP51B “From My Sins, O Hide Your Face” 
TPH89B “My Song Forever Shall Record”

Scripture Text for first portion of worship service
Ezekiel 37:11–14

Scripture Readings
1Samuel 21:1–9
Ephesians 5:15–17
Luke 9:18–26

Sermon Scripture text and topic
We will be hearing from Genesis 35:9–15 about The Persistent, Patient Power of the Purpose and Promise of God.

1:15 p.m. Coffee Fellowship and Catechism Class

1:30 p.m. Fellowship Lunch & Open Mic Time
Members are encouraged to bring way more than enough, so that there will be plenty for everyone, including any members or guests who are deciding last-minute whether or not to stay.

At open mic time, we’ll begin with birthdays and anniversaries and recitations of the memory verse:
Genesis 35:11Also God said to him: “I am God Almighty. Be fruitful and multiply; a nation and a company of nations shall proceed from you, and kings shall come from your body.”

3 p.m Psalm/hymn Sing

4 p.m. Evening Sermon from
Ephesians 5:15–17, Purchasing Time from an Evil Day for Our Good Lord

Hopewell this Month

Hopewell’s Presbytery Prayer Focus for October
Camden ARP in Camden, AL

October Psalm of the Month
ARP51B From My Sins, O Hide Thy Face

Upcoming Events

Johnston Fall Fellowship: October 31. They invite everyone to arrive anytime after 1:30p. We will eat at 2:30. Russ is smoking turkeys, and Meredeth is preparing desserts, coffee, and water. They ask that you bring a side dish, camp chairs, and any outdoor games that you might wish for us to enjoy.
•November 14, Leadership (men’s and boys’) breakfast, 6:30 a.m.
•November 16, Elders’ Meeting, 6 p.m.

No comments:

Post a Comment