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.

ARP News Update

Promotional CCLI Discount for ARP Churches

As part of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, we strive to do everything with excellence and integrity.  Currently over 115 of our churches are using Christian Copyright Licensing International (CCLI) to print, project, and photocopy songs legally to assist with their congregational singing.  This copyright permission also extends to any church ministry, such as youth activities, camps, retreats, weddings, etc., on or off the church’s property.

As Easter is quickly approaching, and a number of you may be planning to print special music for your Easter services.   Central Services has secured a special 10% CCLI discount for new License orders.  If you would like to make copies of songs, please visit https://store.ccli.com/ and use the referral code INC141 to receive your new License at the 10% discounted rate.  This discount is valid until April 30th and you can request to be billed or pay with a credit card.

If you have any questions, please call 1-800-234-2446, extension 4 from 10am to 7pm (EST) or via email at groups@ccli.com.

Get Your Copy Today

IMG_6808The 2015 Revised ARP Standards, including the new Form of Government, is available through the Christian Education Bookstore. Click here to order your copy. You can also download the PDF for free at http://arpchurch.org/documents/form-of-government/.

 

Ebenezer ARP Church, Rock Hill, SC is seeking Senior Pastor

We are a generationally balanced congregation seeking to build a community in Christ to reach our community for Christ.  Our strong children’s, youth and adult programs enjoy a blended worship style of both contemporary and traditional music and activities. We strive to be both prayer and mission focused. For more information, please visit our website at ebenezerarp.org or contact us at searchcommittee@ebenezerarp.org.

 

ARP News Update

Letter to the ARP Church

I am Alan Flowers, a 1996 Erskine Theological Seminary graduate, now serving as Pastor with the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and Chair of our Ecumenicity Committee for Michigan Ontario. I wanted to write and rejoice with the good blessings you are having particularly in regards to your committee report on the removal of the two chapters of the Westminster Confession of Faith.

Too often, when historically orthodox churches have drifted, that is when splits occur. One more Presbyterian denomination is born and a bit of our corporate witness is silenced. It is much more rare to see a change of course back to greater faithfulness. But this is what I read with the ARP; to God be the glory!

OPC Book of Order: Form of Government  IV:4 The visible unity of the Body of Christ, though not altogether destroyed, is greatly obscured by the division of the Christian church into different groups or denominations. In such denominations, Christians exercise a fellowship toward each other in doctrine, worship, and order that they do not exercise toward other Christians. The purest churches under heaven are subject both to mixture and error, and some have gravely departed from apostolic purity; yet all of these which maintain through a sufficient discipline the Word and sacraments in their fundamental integrity are to be recognized as true manifestations of the church of Jesus Christ. All such churches should seek a closer fellowship, in accordance with the principles set forth above.

1 Corinthians 15:58 Therefore, my believed brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.

In Christ the Lord,

Alan M. Flowers

First Greenwood ARP Church

56830_103105333093830_6139178_o-2First Greenwood ARP Church, Greenwood, SC, is seeking an experienced pastor. The church just celebrated 100 years of service and ministry to the Greenwood community and would like to continue in that tradition with a visionary minister. For more information, please visit their website at www.greenwoodarp.org. If interested in the position, please send your resume or Ministerial Data form to Bob Bowyer, 135 Valley Road, Greenwood, SC 29646 or email caandbob@embarqmail.com.

ARP News Update

Rev. Dr. Harry Theodore Schutte

IMG_6492The Rev. Dr. Harry Theodore Schutte passed away peacefully on Saturday, January 17, 2015 at the age of 87. Dr. Schutte was born in Des Moines, Iowa.

Dr. Schutte served as an ordained minister in the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church for 63 years. Among his many activites, Dr. Schutte served as Moderator of the General Synod of the ARP Church, Chairman of the Board of World Missions, member of the Board of Directors of Erskine College as well as an organizer of the Presbyterian Church of America.

Dr. Schutte is survived by his wife of 68 years, Dorothy G. Schutte; son, Mark Edward Schutte and his wife, Lisa of Suwanee, GA; daughter, Harriet Schutte Chepesiuk and husband, Ray of Whitby, Ontario Canada; grandchildren, Caleb, Sarah and Rachel Chepesiuk, Lyndsey and David Schutte.

Family and friends of Dr. Schutte are invited to attend his visitation beginning at 1:00 PM Saturday, January 24, 2015 at First ARP Church with his memorial service to follow at 2:00 PM in the church sanctuary. Rev. Matt Kuiken will officiate.

Condolences may be sent online to www.mcleanfuneral.com

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be sent to Covenant Village Benevolence Fund, 1351 Robinwood Road, Gastonia, NC 28054 or First ARP Church, 317 S Chester Street, Gastonia, NC 28052.

McLean Funeral Directors of Gastonia is serving the family of Dr. Schutte.

– See more at: http://www.mcleanfuneral.com/obituary.php?id=1472831#sthash.iNnjTUso.dpuf