ARP News Update

Executive Board

IMG_7191The Executive Board met today in Greenville, SC. Let us continue to pray for this board as they make decisions for the denomination and prepare for Synod.

 

Bertha Johnson

Bertha (Bert) Johnson passed away Tuesday, March 24. She was the wife of former ARP pastor, Grant Johnson, who pastored First Gastonia, First Lancaster, Neely’s Creek, and organized Burlington ARP. There will be a memorial service at 1pm Saturday, March 28 at Pinecrest ARP Church in Flat Rock, NC and another service, at 5pm at Neely’s Creek ARP Church in Rock Hill, SC.

ARP News Update

A Note from the Moderator

0714 Littlejohn headshotLet us be found faithful! 

The current proliferation of misinformation regarding the Statement on Human Sexuality adopted a few weeks ago by the Erskine Board of Trustees should not surprise us. The one who is the enemy of all good uses deception and lies to divide and destroy as he has since the beginning of time. In the midst of darkness, thankfully we serve a God who is truth, goodness, and light.

Therefore, it is fitting that the Board affirms a position statement embodying the truth as presented in the Holy Scriptures. To do otherwise is cowardly in a day-and-age when boldness is needful. Only truth spoken in love sets one free. (See Ephesians 4:15)

As Erskine goes through this time of testing and sifting, pray for Dr. Kooistra’s opportunities to faithfully spread the light, for other staff and student leaders’ continuing dialog on campus and in the greater Erskine family, and for the evil one’s destructive efforts to be thwarted. Pray for liberty for the captives through the power of the gospel. (See Luke 4:18)

Erskine Board Chair Bill Cain reminds us at each meeting that prayer is not just a preliminary to the work; prayer is the work. We can support those on the front line. Let us be found faithful!

Julia Hardeman Rhodes Nominations Due

Julia Hardeman Rhodes was a passionate and tireless advocate of creating awareness and action in connecting ARP’s across the denomination. In her honor, this award is to be presented annually to a candidate who has demonstrated excellence in service and dedication in the ARP Church, reflecting the heart of Julia Hardeman Rhodes. Nominations for the 2015 Julia Hardeman Rhodes award are due by August 10. You can find the nomination form and other information in regards to the award on the Christian Education Ministries website by clicking here.

ARP News Update

News From Canada Presbytery

I am writing to you on behalf of the Canadian Presbytery to inform you of the passing away of the Rev. William Campbell (a member of our presbytery). Rev. Campbell is the father-in-law of our former moderator, Rev. Jeff Kingswood. He passed away on Friday morning, March 13, 2015 at Rev. Kingswood’s home where he resided. His daughter Joan was with him. He had been suffering from declining health over a number of years.

Rev. Campbell has faithfully served Christ’s church over many years. He began his ministry in the Presbyterian Church of Canada and was very involved with the establishment of the ARP in Canada in the 1980’s and 90’s. He is also the father-in-law of the the Rev. Dr. Jack C. Whytock. Rev. Kingswood’s daughter Rebecca is also married to Dr. Bill Van Doodewaard. The funeral is planned for Tuesday, March 17, 2015. More information will follow.

He has shed his earthly form which held him back and now stands before the throne of His Lord and Saviour singing the praises of He who is eternal and glorious. He is exactly where he has wanted to be for many years.

Please pray for the Kingswood, Whytock, Campbell and extended families as they mourn his passing.

Please let me know if there is any other information you will need.

In Christ,
Bill McKay
Stated Clerk
Canadian Presbytery

ARP News Update

Invitation from Vice Moderator of Synod

Dear ARP Churches,

As you know, this year we will have the privilege of having our Synod meeting concurrently with the Reformed Presbyterian Church North America’s Synod, at Bonclarken.  We will each be having our separate business sessions, but there will be numerous opportunities for us to worship together as well as learn about our various ministries.  What a historic and wonderful opportunity this affords us!  

We are grateful to our RPCNA brothers for their willingness to travel and be with us for this special week.  In coming to us, they are incurring additional travel expenses over their normal Synod expenses.  Their willingness to do so is a testimony of the value they place on our fraternal relationship with them.  

Part of being in a fraternal relationship with another denomination means that under the oversight of our various presbyteries and sessions, we can have pulpit exchanges with ministers from these other denominations.  As your Inter-Church Relations Committee discussed matters of the concurrent Synods, the idea arose to encourage our ARP churches within driving distance of Bonclarken to consider inviting an RPCNA minister to preach on either the Sunday before or the Sunday following Synod.  Therefore, on behalf of our Moderator, Mr. Larry Littlejohn, our Moderator-Elect, Rev. James Hunt, and the Inter-Church Relations Committee, I ask the sessions of the churches within driving distances to consider the possibility of extending such an invitation to an RPCNA minister.  Those sessions desiring to make a connection to RPCNA ministers are asked to contact me at lee@huntersvillearp.org, and I will forward your contact information to our counterparts in the RPCNA.

Please prayerfully consider partnering with our brothers, aiding them as they seek to worship with us and conduct Christ’s business in their own denomination this coming summer.  For example, church members can open up their homes to host and enjoy fellowship with our fraternal brothers, or your church may consider assisting with hotel and transportation expenses.  Not only will this help minimize costs through our partnership, but it will also strengthen the ties that bind us in our union with Christ.  More than that, however, your congregations and ministers will undoubtedly be blessed by this opportunity to hear from another faithful minister of Christ’s glorious Gospel.  

Grace & Peace,

Rev. Lee Shelnutt

Vice Moderator of Synod

Pastor, Huntersville ARP Church

REAL ESTATE

FLAT ROCK: Beautiful wooded .98-acre lot just outside Bonclarken’s back gate in Pinecrest Estates. Bonclarken’s lake, swimming pool and Youth Activities Building are just a few steps away. If interested, please contact Rev. Bob Elliott at 803-627-6286 or at bob3edgemoorarp@gmail.com.

ARP News Update

images-24Erskine in the News

Much of the recent news coverage of Erskine’s Statement on Human Sexuality has been based on an inaccurate understanding of the timeline and reasons for the statement. For those who are interested in the discussion surrounding news coverage, we would like to offer a few points of clarification. The statement was not developed in response to any individual students or group of students. It was not a response to any previous news coverage. It was not prompted by pressure from individuals seeking to exclude students. It is the attempt of the board of trustees of Erskine to provide clarity regarding a complex issue within the context of a Christian academic community. Erskine seeks to honor both our theological commitments and our students as we engage in civil, respectful dialogue on this topic. Erskine does not ban gay students. We don’t discriminate against any group of students. Our campus community is welcoming and supportive to students from a wide variety of backgrounds.

Here are two places to find more accurate information about this issue:

images-79Twins!

Congratulations to Rev. Tim & Anna Phillips, pastor of Midlane Park, KY, and big sister, Grace, on the birth of their twin girls on March 3, 2015. Elizabeth Faith Phillips, 3 lbs., 10 oz. and Ruth Joy Phillips, 3 lbs,15 oz. Anna and the babies are doing well, but they could all use your prayers.

 

ARP News Update

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Some offices at the ARP Center, Greenville, SC may be closed today due to the weather. The best way to communicate with the staff would be through email as those who cannot make it to the office will be working from home.

 

Erskine Board Update

Erskine trustees heard an optimistic report of progress on the two-year financial stability plan from President Paul Kooistra when they convened last week for their first meeting of 2015. A record pace in Erskine Annual Fund giving and success in reclassifying permanently restricted net assets to unrestricted net assets within the endowment lead the list of encouraging signs, according to Kooistra.

Kooistra announced a series of significant financial measures last fall just after being named president by the board in August. When trustees met with the institution’s independent auditors a year ago, several key financial concerns were noted. Among the most immediate were the rate of draw on Erskine’s $42 million endowment, the levels of unrestricted annual giving, and insufficient unrestricted assets held by the institution. According to Kooistra, many of his first-year goals have been achieved and others are on track.

“We reached the $1 million mark in giving to the annual fund before the end of the calendar year for the first time anyone can remember,” Kooistra said. Taking into account gifts received and pledges, there is still a little over $300,000 needed to meet the $1.6 million goal for 2014-15. “There is a lot of hard work left to do, so we aren’t easing up. But this is encouraging,” he said.

Regarding the endowment, Kooistra said that staff and trustees have reviewed every fund agreement over the past several months and have identified nearly $9 million (contributed value) that can be reclassified from permanently restricted net assets to unrestricted net assets on Erskine’s Statement of Financial Position. The board took actions that allow the administration to pursue the necessary reclassifications. The net result is a positive impact on financial ratios that both the federal government and accreditors look at closely.

According to Greg Haselden, senior vice president for finance and operations, “a better ratio of unrestricted net assets definitely helps our audit, which in turn, helps our position with accreditors.”

The president pointed to several other encouraging items related to the financial plan:

  • Draws on the endowment have been reduced already to 7% this year and will be at 5% in 2015-16.
  • Enrollment is holding steady. Mid-year withdrawals were lower than anticipated, and numbers for the incoming class of 2015 are currently on pace with the two previous near-record years.
  • Net tuition revenue is also anticipated to improve.

Kooistra also reported on a recent administrative change that will place Bible and Religion courses in the college under the oversight of the seminary beginning next academic year. The move, Kooistra explained, allocates institutional resources and staff more efficiently and will offer more choices to college students in the required core Bible content, while also opening up more cross-instructional options between the college and seminary, such as B.A.-M.A. and B.A-M.Div. programs.

The Seminary Committee of the board addressed an ongoing discussion regarding Erskine’s contract with the U.S. Army Medical Command (MEDCOM), which provides advanced ministry education and training to military chaplains. The program is a subset of the seminary’s Doctor of Ministry degree and has been a significant part of the seminary’s ministry for the past decade according to Dr. R.J. Gore, himself a retired chaplain and the seminary’s academic dean.

The issue at hand, according to Dr. Chris Wisdom, vice president of the seminary, who is also a retired Army chaplain, is one of mission alignment. “Some trustees expressed concern that the stipulations of the contract were potentially in conflict with the mission of the seminary.” The stated mission of the seminary is to educate persons for service in the Christian church.

While all but a handful of the Army’s more than 1,600 active duty chaplains are professing Christians, the stipulations of the contract with MEDCOM allow admission of any chaplain who is approved by the army and qualifies academically. Even though Erskine’s program is distinctly Christian in focus and not required by the Army, in rare instances chaplains from other religions choose to attend the program.

Wisdom noted that in those unusual circumstances, Erskine imposes additional prerequisite requirements — a passing grade in two Bible survey courses (O.T. and N.T.) and a course in Christian theology. Gore also made it clear to trustees that nothing in the contract requires Erskine to alter its course content or requirements. “If anything, the presence of someone I know isn’t a professing Christian has made me more aware, more explicit, and more precisely gospel oriented in my teaching,” he said.

Both Gore and Wisdom see the MEDCOM program as an extension of the seminary’s mission within the larger institutional context rather than at odds with it. “This program provides a truly unique opportunity for Erskine to extend the work of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church into the world far beyond the boundaries of its congregations,” says Wisdom.

To date, approximately 10 percent of the active duty chaplains in the army have been a part of the program through Erskine. “That’s literally thousands of military personnel that have benefited both directly and indirectly from the work of the ARP and Erskine in theological education,” says Wisdom.

With unanimous recommendation from the Seminary Committee, the trustees approved a measure to affirm the MEDCOM program and instruct the administration to begin moving the program under the auspices of the college, where the broader stated mission does not create the same potential mission conflict.

According to Wisdom, “This move fits very well with Erskine’s broader institutional mission statements, with SACS’s accreditation of the institution as a whole, and with the president’s long-term vision.”

The Student Services and Athletic Committee submitted and the full board approved a Statement on Human Sexuality. The administration will add the statement to its official manuals and determine how it will be integrated into campus culture and procedures.

The trustees voted to grant degrees in May to graduates approved by the faculty and also named officers for next year. The 2015-16 officers will be Ron Vigus, Thompson Station, Tenn., chairman; Bobby McDonald, Simpsonville, S.C., vice chairman; and the Rev. Andrew Savill, Moncton, N.B, Canada, secretary.