March 31, 2020
Dear Special People,
“How shall we sing the LORD’S song in a strange land?” (Psalm 137:4). It’s a great question, isn’t it? Those exiled Israelites did not hide their harps under the bushes, or the hollows of the rocks; rather they hung them up in plain view, that the sight of them might affect them with their deplorable change of circumstances. Yet, (dare I even say this?) perhaps they were at fault even in doing this; for praising God is never out of season.
Yes, praising God is never out of season! And, that’s what I want us to get in this strange place we are living through! And by His grace, living “through” it we are for we shall soon, we trust, be able to worship together again in those houses of worship we each love.
In the meantime, your local church expenses go on, as do those of Christ’s work around the world. Indeed, during this strange time some expenses, both local and missional, are greater than they would be in a normal time. So, as your Moderator, I write now to make an appeal because you have proven before that you are among the most generous of God’s people. Would you prayerfully consider sending your church your tithe right away? Maybe you can even make a special extra gift to support our mission work around the world. I am reminded of Oswald Smith’s great charge, “The mission of the church is missions and when the church takes care of missions God will take care of the church!” And He will!
You can put your gift in the mail directly to your church or to your church treasurer. Contact the ARP Center if your church needs help setting up a temporary online giving option. Either way, God will be honored and His work will be advanced and you will be appreciated. Remember, praising God with our money will never be out of season!
Yours for Building Healthy Churches and Birthing Healthy Christians,
Weekly giving in many of our churches’ is suffering because members are not able to gather, or have lower attendance under the Covid-19 restrictions. To help mitigate delayed, or reduced giving for those churches that do not have online giving capacity, we will create a custom online giving account with no set-up charge to benefit your church and serve your members through May 31st.
1) The General Synod will facilitate cash donations, then mail a check to your church weekly. — No administrative fees.
2) We will provide a list of donors (unless anonymous) and the gift amounts so your church can issue receipts through your regular accounting system.
3) The ARP Foundation will process gifts of marketable stocks or securities; our broker will sell them and send 100% of the proceeds to your church at no charge. The Foundation will issue a gift acknowledgement to the donor and inform your church treasurer of the gift amount and donor (unless anonymous) for a soft credit to you books.
Here’s How to participate:
1.Complete the online request form and submit it to us.
2.We will respond with a link to a custom webpage for your church that you can post on your website with a message to encourage them to do the following:
- Click on the link “Give online” to make a cash gift, or make a gift of marketable stocks.
- The Church header will include: To transfer securities to make a gift of stocks, contact Steve Nichols directly at the ARP Foundation Snichols@arpsynod.org for instructions.
- Select: one time, or recurring gift option.
- Select: Use a credit/debit card (subject to about a 3% charged by the card merchant), or
- Use your Bank account (like paying any online bill, usually with no charge as a bank service).
Click here to request a form.
Steve Nichols- Director of Gift Planning
To All Sessions, Pastors, and other leaders in the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church:
After consultation with the Moderator-elect, medical experts, and members of Synod’s Executive Board and in consideration of the coronavirus pandemic, in keeping with our Form of Government 12.9, which reads,
The meeting of the General Synod shall be held at the time and place designated at the preceding meeting. The moderator shall designate an alternate time and/or place of meeting in the event that such a change should be necessary. Notice of any change shall be given to each Session not less than thirty days in advance of the meeting.
The Moderator has changed the meeting date for our 2020 to August 17 through August 20, at Bonclarken. These dates are in keeping with the current Bonclarken calendar. They are, of course, subject to the lifting of all current coronavirus restrictions and recommendations. The agenda for Synod, including registration and all meetings and reports, remains as it would have been for our June meeting.
If you had already made reservations with Bonclarken for this year’s Synod meeting your reservations will now be “rolled over” to the new dates. There is no need for you to call Bonclarken to make any changes.
My Dear Friends,
Your response to the coronavirus pandemic inspires me in new ways each day as I hear of how our pastors and congregations are maximizing electronic and other means that make it possible for their people to worship and be served in many other ways. With the apostle, I can honestly say, “I thank my God every time I remember you.” (Philippians 1:3). I am more convinced with each passing day that God, who has all this under His ultimate control, will turn this time into something good for Himself and for His church. Time will tell us what that will be, but I am convinced that Romans 8:28 holds true for each of us in such a time as this.
Each passing day brings news of the growing seriousness of this global viral crisis. For that reason, I write to you now asking that you join me in a season of prayer that God will quickly bring a positive end to this worldwide pandemic. As your Moderator, I am asking that we each would stop whatever we may be doing at 10 o’clock Eastern time each morning and pause in united prayer not only for an end to the pandemic but for a time of national and international revival. We are assured by God’s word that, “If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14). Let us claim this promise now!
Being conscious that many of you deal daily with health issues that make fasting medically inadvisable, I will not ask all of you to fast with me. However, where you are able and feel so inclined, perhaps you would join me in a time of fasting for a worldwide revival.
Pastors, by means of this letter, I am asking you to call your people to join us in prayer at 10 o’clock each morning. Please also call your non-ARP pastor friends and invite them and their congregations to join us also. Let’s get God’s people praying!
As always, you will be in my prayers each day. Keep up the good work for Jesus’ sake.
Yours for building healthy churches and birthing healthy Christians,
Word has been received of the sudden passing yesterday of Col. Oliver Johnson, a member and former Clerk of Session at Bethel ARP Church in Winnsboro, SC. Oliver served as the Chairman of the Old Brick Church Commission. Many improvements at the OBC have been accomplished under his leadership. Please pray for the Johnson family at this time of their loss. No details have been finalized.
Online Worship Services
If you find yourself at home Sunday morning due to illness or cancellation of worship services, I encourage you to join one of these live-streaming services. If your church has a service online please email me so I can add it to the list. You can find the updated list on arpchurch.org.
Romans 12:12 “Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.”
First Presbyterian Church Columbia has a daily video devotional from Dr. Derek Thomas. Click here for the link. This would be a great devotional to distribute to your church or to model for your own devotions. If your churches have online services, please contact Susan Tanner, firstname.lastname@example.org so she can keep the list updated on arpchurch.org.
Online Worship Services
I am hearing of several churches cancelling services for a week to two weeks. If you find yourself at home Sunday morning due to illness or cancellation of services, I encourage you to join one of these live-streaming services. If your church has a service online please email me so I can add it to the list. You can find the updated list on arpchurch.org.
First ARP Lancaster
First Presbyterian Church Columbia
Due West ARP Church
Highlands ARP Church
Trinity Chapel Charlotte
Brighton Presbyterian Church
Crossings Community Church
Trinity Reformed Presbyterian Church
Hopewell ARP Church in Culleoka, TN
Christ Reformed Church
Centennial ARP Church
Middle School Retreat Cancelled
Dear Brothers and Sisters in the Lord Jesus Christ,
As many of you have been made aware, in our highly globalized and fast moving world, we are in the throes of what the World Health Organization has officially deemed a “pandemic”. While we trust the Lord in these times, clinging to His promises and seeking ways to serve our neighbors during this season, we also seek to use as much caution and care in such instances.
As a result, the Christian Education Committees of First, Second, and Grace Presbyteries have decided that, out of concern for the health and well being of all attendees of the seasonal retreats, it would be best to cancel the Middle School retreat that is scheduled for March 20-22nd, 2020. We understand that this news will be disappointing to many people, as it was a hard decision to reach. We do not view this as succumbing to fear, rather we wish to serve our churches and communities best by adhering to the guidelines of the Center for Disease and Control whereas groups of 50 or more are discouraged from gathering together.
We ask that you continue to pray for this situation, as you already have, and that by God’s mercy this situation would enable us as God’s people to present the Good News of Jesus Christ. Churches who have already made a deposit will receive a full reimbursement. We thank you for your understanding in this manner and look forward to serving you and your church in the near future,
The Middle School Retreat Planning Committee
Rev. Matt Mantooth