This last week I had the privilege of heading up to Bonclarken for our denomination’s 213th meeting of General Synod. If you don’t know where Bonclarken is, it’s in the mountains near Flat Rock, NC, which—if you’re wondering—is much cooler than Columbia, SC! Also, Synod is the largest body in our denomination (consisting of all the churches in the ARPC). I am glad to come back with a good report! I won’t bog y’all down in the nitty gritty of all the business, but here are some highlights from the week.
Moderator’s Emphasis: Every year, the Moderator of Synod emphasizes a specific theme of Scripture for the denomination to focus on in the year to come. This year’s emphasis came from the first part of Zechariah 4:10, “For whoever has despised the day of small things shall rejoice.” He went on to encourage us not to despise the small things but to wait and watch for God’s workings. Yes, we are a little denomination. Yes, we have smaller congregations. And yes, God is working in us even now. Don’t despise the small things! Be encouraged by God’s faithfulness to His people!
Private and Family Worship: A special committee has been formed to begin to craft a document to aid persons and families as they seek to worship God outside of Sunday morning. This is a really big deal, and it will be very helpful to have this important practice of private and family devotion explained deeply in our denominational Constitution. Scripture has much to say regarding private (individual) devotion. Likewise, the same is true for family devotion. And if y'all are like me, any help will be useful as we try to work out lasting devotional habits as persons and families.
Church Planting and Missions: Another emphasis from this past week was on church planting and missions work. Our denomination’s agency for domestic (that is, within the bounds of the USA) seeks to glorify God through proclaiming the Gospel to those who haven’t had the chance to hear it yet. This is especially relevant to us at Centennial considering we have a church plant right down the street inArsenal Hill ARP, who went into church mission status not too long ago! God is setting up Arsenal Hill in a wonderful way to glorify Himself. My prayer is that we will be able to show them support through prayer, service, and connection in the coming months and years.
Likewise, our international mission work is blessed by God. With missionaries all over the world, several updated us at the meeting. These included the hospital in Pakistan, workers with refugees streaming into western Europe, and updates from a few individual missionaries. Y’all will be glad to know that Dariusz Brycko’s work in Poland continues to be blessed by God. I was able to see him (and I even got a hug). He is a missionary we support, so it is imperative that we continue to pray for the work God is doing there. A church has formally been planted with the reception of more than ten members into fellowship! Alongside this, the Tolle Lege Institute continues to provide Dariusz with a platform to share the Good News of Jesus Christ. Praise God!
Inter-Church Relations: It is always one of my favorite parts of our General Synod meetings to see and hear updates from our sister denominations. As we heard from several denominations, it is becoming more and more apparent that Bible-believing denominations will need to grow bonds of fellowship in this growing culture of disbelief around us. May God bless the fellowship of likeminded believers seeking to glorify Him and proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ!
Of course, there was so much more that happened last week. Our own Dan Felker has helped to update our Book of Discipline into a usable and necessary tool, Erskine College and Seminary updated the Synod on how the institution will be moving forward in the coming years, men and women continue to step up to serve on all the different committees, and on and on! God is working in the ARPC, and I returned blessed by God’s faithfulness to us. Praise God!