The 89th General Assembly of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church is meeting from June 7–13, 2023, at Trinity Christian College, Palos Heights, Illinois. This running daily report was written by Robert Van Kooten and edited by Linda Foh. Questions or comments may be addressed to Hank Belfield, stated clerk. Go to Thursday; Friday; Saturday; Sunday; Monday; Sunday; Monday; Tuesday.
Trinity Christian College is located in Palos Heights, Illinois, near Chicago. This is where the 89th General Assembly of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church is meeting to conduct the business of our Church.
As is the usual custom, the Assembly began with a worship service, which was held at Ozinga Chapel. The Session of First OPC, South Holland, IL, had oversight of this service. The moderator of last year’s Assembly, Elder David P. Nakhla (Glenside, PA), convened this year’s Assembly and exhorted from Matthew 25:31–46. Mr. Nakhla reminded the commissioners from the passage that only sheep can show the mercy of Christ. He then showed from the passage how it’s a fact that the mercy of Christ flows from the Shepherd through the sheep to others, how it’s a challenge for the sheep to show Christ’s mercy, and how when the sheep show Christ’s mercy it’s a blessing to both the sheep who show it and to the ones receiving it. Rev. Daniel Svendsen (South Holland, IL) and the First OPC Session administered the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. The offering collected was designated for the Committee on Ministerial Care.
Following a brief recess, the Assembly reconvened at the gymnasium, which will be the primary meeting place as we conduct the business of the Church. Mr. Nakhla opened in prayer. The president of Trinity Christian College, Dr. Aaron Keiker, welcomed the Assembly to the Trinity Campus. The roll call was taken by the stated clerk, Rev. Hank Belfield (Providence OPC, Chilhowie, VA). Members of the Assembly’s committees who are not commissioners were seated as corresponding members. Corresponding members were granted the privilege of the floor, which means they can speak on matters, but they are not allowed to make motions or vote.
Elder David Mahaffy (Oak Harbor, WA) gave a preliminary report for the Committee on Arrangements, noting key information regarding the campus of Trinity Christian College. At this point the Assembly tested the voting devices with three statistical questions. The first one was “Is this your first General Assembly?” There are 33 first timers and 109 seasoned veterans. The second one was “Did you grow up in the OPC?” 18 commissioners were born in the OPC, and the third one asked for the decade of ordination: 18 in the 2020s; 41 in the 2010s; 34 in the 2000s; 25 in the 1990s; 13 in the 1980s; 6 in the 1970s; and 2 in the 1960s, who were asked to stand.
On behalf of the Committee on Ecumenicity and Interchurch Relations, Mr. Mark Bube (Glenside, PA) introduced the fraternal delegates, and these delegates were also seated as corresponding members.
The stated clerk presented the minutes of the 88th General Assembly. He noted that the hard copies of the minutes were mailed to ministers and presbyteries of the OPC, as well as a list of select denominations and seminaries, on September 19, 2022.
The next item of business for the evening was to elect a new moderator for this year’s Assembly. Rev. Bruce Prentice (Mandan, ND), Elder Bruce Stahl (Wentzville, MO) and Rev. John Shaw (general secretary of OPC Home Missions) were nominated. After a vote Mr. Shaw was declared elected. Rev. Danny Olinger (general secretary of OPC Christian Education), who had nominated Mr. Shaw, led in prayer for the newly elected moderator.
The docket was adopted, and subsequently the clerk proposed the assignment of the matters of business to the various advisory and temporary committees, which were adopted by the Assembly. Mr. Winslow closed the Wednesday evening session with prayer.
The first full day of the Assembly’s work began following breakfast. However, rather than begin the day as a whole, the commissioners meet in their respective advisory committees at various locations on campus.
What exactly is an advisory committee? All members of the assembly, except the moderator, clerks, and commissioners who give presentations in advisory committees, are assigned to an advisory committee. Advisory committees and temporary committees help the assembly with its work. They are tasked with meeting with representatives of the various program committees of the General Assembly (Committee on Christian Education, Committee on Home Missions and Church Extension, and Committee on Foreign Missions) to review those committees’ reports and recommendations. When an advisory committee reports that it is “silent” regarding the work of a committee under its review, this silence is understood to convey approval of the committee’s work and concurrence with its report and/or recommendations. However, an advisory committee may bring recommendations to the assembly that might differ from a committee’s report or recommendations under its review. But they may not do so without conferring with at least one member of that committee present at the assembly.
Each day the commissioners and corresponding members receive breakfast, lunch, and supper at the dining commons. There are two twenty-minute breaks with coffee and refreshments each day, at 10:00 a.m. and 3:15 p.m. The Assembly pauses its work each morning at 11:40 for a daily devotional with the exception of the Lord’s Day, when commissioners will have the opportunity to worship at nearby OPC congregations.
At 11:40, the commissioners reconvened at the gymnasium and sang from the Trinity Psalter Hymnal #73C, “In Sweet Communion, Lord, with Thee,” and Rev. Warren Bennett III (Covenant OPC, Natchitoches, LA) led a devotional on Psalm 73:25–26. He noted that the Psalmist looks at his life in the world and comes to realize that he needs God, and that he must want God and to be with God in Heaven more than anything else in the world. The Psalmist then comes to realize, as God’s people should, that the way to obtain that is through the faithful worship of the Lord. The Assembly recessed for lunch and afterward the commissioners returned to their advisory committees to finish their remaining work. Elder John Terpstra (Austin, TX) led in prayer.
The Assembly reconvened at 4:15 p.m. and sang from Trinity Psalter Hymnal #524, “Guide me, O Thou Great Jehovah,” followed by prayer led by the moderator.
Mr. Belfield presented the report of the stated clerk. Mr. Belfield serves in this capacity on a part-time basis while also serving in full-time ministry. Mr. Belfield noted that fifteen of seventeen presbyteries had approved the amendment to Form of Government XV.3, which was proposed at the 88th General Assembly, and so the amendment was adopted. He also noted the amendment to the Directory of Public Worship III.B.2, which was proposed at the 88th General Assembly, failed to be adopted, as it was approved by eight presbyteries and denied by nine presbyteries. He expressed gratefulness for the help from the clerk’s staff: Mrs. Charlene Tipton, Mrs. Linda Foh, and Mrs. Judith Dinsmore. He also thanked Rev. John Mahaffy (Trinity OPC, Newberg, OR) for serving as the GA assistant clerk for 24 consecutive years along with Elder Mike Shields (Mt Airy, NC) for his work as clerk observer but who now serves more as an assistant. Rev. Donald Duff (retired minister from Beaver Falls, PA and a previous stated clerk) on behalf of the Advisory Committee prayed for Mr. Belfield and his work as stated clerk.
Rev. Stephen Phillips (retired minister, Quarryville, PA), on behalf of the OPC Board of Trustees, presented the report of the trustees. The trustees expressed thanks to Mr. Belfield for his work as stated clerk of the General Assembly. Two men were reelected to serve for another term on the Board of Trustees: Mr. Phillips and Elder Mr. Kelvin Monteith (Gastonia, NC). Mr. Duff prayed for work of the trustees.
Rev. Archibald A. Allison (Fort Collins, CO) presented the report of the statistician on behalf of the statistician, Mr. Luke Brown, who could not be present at the assembly. During 2022 the number of local churches grew by five to 301. The number of mission works declined by seven to 31.
Total membership increased by 368 persons to 32,720 members. Morning worship in-person attendance increased by 1,396 persons (6.78 percent) to 24,176 as measured in November 2022. Sunday school attendance increased by 1,396 persons (29.2 percent) to 10,976 in November as congregations continue to bounce back from the period of COVID-19 restrictions.
Total giving grew by 4.86 percent over the previous year to $78.8 million. In addition, there was a robust 3.79-percent increase in average giving per communicant member, which reached $3,273.
The church welcomed 23 new ministers last year. Eighteen were ordained as ministers, and five were received into the OPC from other churches. Fifteen ministers were removed from the rolls of presbyteries among them; two ministers were dismissed to other churches, seven by reason of death, two who demitted the ministry, two who were deposed, and two who were erased. This brings the total number of ministers to 584.
At a later time Mr. Brown was re-elected as statistician. Rev. Allison prayed for the statistician and gave thanks for his faithful service.
The Assembly recessed for dinner at 5:15 p.m., following prayer by the Rev. Jeremy A. Brandenburg (Redeemer OPC, Carlisle, PA).
The Assembly reconvened at 6:45 p.m. with the singing of hymn #492, “How Sweet the Name of Jesus Sounds.” Rev. Johnathan E. Hutchinson (Reformation OPC, Morgantown, WV) led in prayer.
Elder Michael Cloy (Marion, NC), a member of the Committee on Chaplains and Military Personnel, presented the committee’s report. He introduced Rev. Richard M. Dickinson, committee secretary, and Mr. Donald Sampson, Associate Endorser, Military Chaplains, from the Presbyterian and Reformed Commission on Chaplains and Military Personnel (PRCC). Mr. Cloy reported that the OPC currently has fifteen chaplains, six serving on active duty, seven serving in the Reserves or National Guard (two of whom also serve as civilian chaplains), two serving as civilian chaplains, and two serving as chaplain candidates. In addition, the OPC has thirteen retired military chaplains and one retired civilian chaplain. During the report the committee representatives showed pictures of our military chaplains faithfully serving on the field and described some of the sacrifices they and their families have made. We must remember to pray for these men.
Rev. John A. Carter (retired chaplain) and Rev. Patrick Morgan (professor, Heidelberg Seminary) were elected to the committee’s class of 2026, and Mr. Jeremy Brandenburg and Elder Jeffrey W. Dronenburg were elected to the class of 2025. Elder Mark Stumpff (Mifflinburg, PA) prayed for the committee.
Rev. Mark Sallade (Calvary OPC, Glenside, PA), vice president of the Committee on Home Missions and Church Extension, began the report of the committee. He introduced general secretary Rev. John Shaw and associate general secretary Rev. Al Tricarico.
Mr. Shaw reported that in 2022 eight new church plants rejoiced in the arrival of new organizing pastors and the start of denominational aid. During the report he introduced one of the church planters, Rev. Christopher Drew (Faith OPC, Grand Forks, ND) who reported on his church planting efforts there. Mr. Tricarico then reported that as of the start of this assembly there are currently ten Regional Home Missionaries (RHMs) that are serving the presbyteries. He introduced one of the Regional Home Missionaries, Rev. David Chilton (Presbytery of the South), who spoke about new mission works in the Tampa Bay, FL and New Orleans, LA.
Mr. Shaw spoke to the commissioners about the Neilands Fund, which is now the Seed and Sowers Fund. The purpose of this fund is for church planting that follows a mother-daughter church planting model; there are six currently in the OPC.
He then introduced Rev. Steven McDaniel (Calvary OPC, Glenside, PA) who presented a brief report on a new church plant in King of Prussia, PA. This congregation was the daughter church of Calvary, Glenside, which guided them every step of the way and now church planter Rev. Nate Jeffries is on the field. He spoke of the blessing of the Seed and Sowers Fund, which gave the church plant a boost from the very beginning.
Mr. Shaw also noted that the committee has been working on a revitalization program to help struggling OPC congregations and has men available to give help and advice to congregations that need help with revitalization.
Mr. Sallade then announced that after serving ten years as General Secretary, Mr. Shaw has expressed a desire to return to pastoral ministry. The following resolution was read and will be included in the minutes of the assembly:
Resolution of Thanks. The Committee on Home Missions and Church Extension of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church expresses its deep gratitude to you, John S. Shaw, for your ten years of faithful service as its general secretary.
You were raised in the OPC and participated from your earliest years in church planting efforts with your godly parents, Bill and Mary Shaw. The experiences and memories of your upbringing enriched your service to the Lord as a church planter, then as a member of CHMCE, and until now as the Committee’s general secretary.
The Committee notes with gladness that you labored faithfully in St. Paul, Minnesota, as the church planter and pastor of Mission OPC in that city for seven years. During your time in St. Paul you were elected to CHMCE and served on the Committee for five years. In recognition of your value as a committee member, CHMCE called you to serve as its general secretary in 2013—a position you held for ten years.
During your tenure as general secretary you made many positive contributions to the cause of home missions. Your practice of patient leadership and open-hearted consideration of the contributions of committee members provided a context for unique fruitfulness for the Kingdom of God. Among the things you initiated and/or developed are these:
- Thorough initial and ongoing evaluation of mission works
- A robust program of support for church planters and their families
- Conferences designed to deepen the quality of OPC engagement in home missions
- Generous and creative funding programs that better position presbyteries to resource their home missions efforts
- A new and growing mentoring program purposed to help congregations grow in spiritual health
The Committee also wants to recognize your wife, Anne, for the support she showed during the years you served as general secretary. Her willingness to sacrificially serve in your absence during times when you travelled—sometimes for extended periods—is evidence of her love for the Kingdom of Christ. As we thank you, we thank her.
John, CHMCE will miss your service and your regular company, but will continue to enjoy your friendship and partnership in the gospel. You leave this call to serve under another with CHMCE’s thankfulness for your fellowship and labors, along with its prayers that you will enjoy every spiritual blessing in Christ as you continue to serve the church for the glory of God.
Mr. Sallade then announced that Rev. Jeremiah W. Montgomery (Covenant OPC, Dayton-North, OH) has accepted the call to serve as the next General Secretary of Home Missions and had him stand and introduced him to the Assembly.
For the election to the Committee’s class of 2026, the Assembly needed to elect three ministers and two ruling elders. Rev. Christopher D. Hartshorn (RHM, Presbytery of Southern California), Mr. McDaniel and Mr. Sallade, and Elders Keith A. LeMahieu (Oosburg, WI) and Jeremy R. Geaslen (Vandalia, OH) were elected. And then to fill a vacancy to the class of 2024, Elder J. Kevin Baldwin (Grace, Hanover Park, IL) was elected.
Rev. M. (missionary to Asia) prayed for Messrs. Shaw and Montgomery and the work of the committee.
Rev. Paul N. Browne, vice-president of the Committee on Foreign Missions, introduced the report of the committee and he introduced Rev. Douglas B. Clawson, the general secretary for the committee.
Rev. Clawson began his report noting that the OPC has currently a great need for multiple Foreign missionaries, but right now the committee has zero applicants. He then read from Isaiah 6:1–9 concerning the prophet Isaiah’s commission (“Here I am, send me!”) and made a passionate plea to commissioners to consider whether the Lord may be calling them to the foreign mission field. He then provided updates on OPC missionary work being done in parts of Asia, and Uganda. The report will continue on Friday morning.
The Assembly recessed at 8:30 following prayer by Rev. W. Vernon Picknally (Bethel OPC, Fremont, MI).
The Assembly reconvened at 8:30 a.m. and sang #277, “Before the Throne of God Above.” Rev. W. Reid Hankins (Trinity OPC, Petaluma, CA) led in prayer.
Mr. Bube introduced Rev. Andrew Young, the fraternal delegate from the Evangelical Presbyterian Church of England and Wales. Mr. Young noted his denomination has twenty-four churches and ten church plants with membership about one thousand. The church has a great need for more ministers and ruling elders. The church was also hit hard during Covid, as many churches were not able to meet for worship and they continue to have challenges both internal and external following the pandemic. But they take great comfort in the knowledge that the Lord reigns! Dr. Chad Van Dixhoorn (professor, Westminster Seminary, Philadelphia) prayed for the Evangelical Presbyterian Church of England and Wales.
The Assembly returned to the report of the Committee on Foreign Missions.
Rev. Heero E.C. Hacquebord, missionary to Ukraine, spoke to the body about the cost of the war in Ukraine and the great suffering of the nation and the church, especially in the eastern part of the country. He expressed thanks that in the west where he serves in the city of L’viv, the church has not been in danger from the war. But the church has been overwhelmed helping those that have fled from other parts of the country. He thanked the OPC Committee on Diaconal Ministries (CDM) and the many OPC churches that have participated in the “Crates for Ukraine” ministry, showing the mercy of Christ to so many who are suffering from the war.
Rev. M., missionary to Asia, spoke to the commissioners on the work there. He reminded the commissioners that in 1 Peter 4:12 the apostle Peter tells the church to not be surprised by suffering. He then shared with the body ways that despite suffering, the Lord’s work continues in Asia.
Rev. Charles L. Jackson, missionary to Uganda, spoke to the commissioners. He spoke of his work at Knox School of Theology and noted that the college is now accredited with the National Counsel of Higher Education (NCHE) to offer bachelor’s and diploma decrees. He showed pictures of the completed building projects that took place at the school during the last few years, especially the newly built Juba house, a new boarding house for international students. Mr. Jackson indicated that the field needs more missionaries and encouraged the body to pray that more workers be sent, particularly for each commissioner to examine whether God might be calling him to serve.
Rev. Jerome A. Farnik, affiliated missionary to Czech Republic, briefly spoke to the commissioners on his work there. He expressed thanks for the opportunity to preach the Gospel in that nation and gave thanks for the short term OPC ministry teams that come to minister there each year. He asked for prayer for the saints in Czech Republic and shared that now is the time to point people to Christ and the Gospel.
For the election to the Committee’s class of 2026, the Assembly needed to elect three ministers and two ruling elders. Revs. Jeremy C. Jones (Covenant OPC, Grove City, PA), John W. Mahaffy (Trinity OPC, Newberg, OR), and Zecharias A. Weldeyesus (Redeemer OPC, Doraville, GA), and Elders David J. Gregg (Middletown, PA) and Fredrick Lo (Ringoes, NJ) were elected. Due to a vacancy, Rev. David M. Cornette (Cedar Grove, WI) was elected to the class of 2024.
Rev. John Ferguson (Covenant OPC, London, ON) prayed for the Committee on Foreign Missions.
After a recess at 10:00, the Assembly reconvened at 10:20 and sang hymn #264, “None Other Lamb.” Rev. Michael F. Grasso (New Covenant OPC, South San Francisco) led in prayer.
Elder Brad Isbell, the fraternal delegate from the Presbyterian Church of America (PCA), addressed the Assembly. He reflected on the history of the OPC’s relationship with the PCA and spoke of the influence of Dr. Machen on himself and the PCA. Mr. Isbell noted the PCUSA has lost the equivalent of the entire membership of the PCA in the last five years. He then asked for prayer for their own upcoming General Assembly, noting the controversies surrounding those who identify as same-sex attracted, particularly ministers. He indicated the PCA continues to pray for God’s blessing on the OPC. Mr. Wallace B. King (Marietta, GA) prayed for the Presbyterian Church in America.
Rev. A. Craig Troxel, president of the Christian Education Committee, introduced the work of the committee. He introduced general secretary Rev. Danny Olinger, who expressed his thanks for serving with this committee. Mr. Olinger reported that because of rising costs for churches to have pastoral interns, the committee has raised the financial support it gives to churches that have interns. He noted that this past year there were more church intern requests than interns available. Rev. David B. Carnes (Covenant Reformed Presbyterian OPC, Fort Pierce, FL) reported on how attending an OPC Timothy Conference influenced his decision to become an OPC minister. Mr. Olinger then indicated that about 17–18 men attending this year’s assembly had attended the Timothy Conference in years past. Mr. Mike Shields reported on the OPC Elders Podcast he helps produce, that is meant to teach and encourage ruling elders.
Dr. Alan Strange as president of the Great Commission Publication Trustees for the OPC, reported about Rev. Mark Lowrey, a ministerial member of the PCA who serves as the interim executive director of Great Commission Publications and is about to retire. He then read the following resolution:
Whereas the Reverend Mark L. Lowrey Jr. has served faithfully as Director of Publications, Associate Executive Director, and Executive Director of Great Commission Publications for twenty–seven years (1996–2023), and whereas he has announced his intention to retire by the end of the calendar year,
Therefore, be it resolved, that the 89th General Assembly offer thanksgiving and praise to Almighty God for the gift of Mr. Lowrey, who with faith, wisdom, humility, patience, dedication, and tireless zeal for God’s glory has served the Committee on Christian Education, Great Commission Publications, and the Orthodox Presbyterian Church in seeking to show forth Jesus from the Bible in the Sunday School materials published by Great Commission Publications.
The Assembly elected Dr. A. Craig Troxel and Dr. John Currie to the CCE’s Subcommittee on Ministerial Training, class of 2026. Dr. Gregory E. Reynolds, was elected to the committee class of 2026. Mr. Wallace King and Mr. Sanjay Patel were elected to 2026.
Rev. Zachary Keele (Escondido OPC, Escondido, CA) prayed for Committee.
Rev. Matthew Holst (Shiloh Presbyterian OPC, Raleigh, NC) led the morning devotional, and his text was Acts 12:20–24. He reminded the body that while the church lives in the shadow of the world, the church also dwells in the shadow of the Almighty. He noted that King Herod in verses 20–23 represented the voice of man and put on a show of self-promotion to demonstrate his power, yet he suffered the Lord’s wrath and judgment. And yet in the midst of Herod’s domination and power, the word of God increased greatly (vs. 24). This is a reminder to our missionaries and to our entire denomination that as the church faces the threats of the worldly powers, like King Herod, we must trust that the Lord Jesus reigns in heaven and leave the results to him.
The Assembly sang #404, “The Church’s One Foundation” and recessed for lunch at 12:00 p.m. with Rev. David G. Graves, (Covenant OPC, Coeur d'Alene, ID) leading in prayer.
The Assembly reconvened at 1:15 p.m. with the singing of hymn #103C, “Come, My Soul, and Bless the Lord.” Mr. T. Andrew Demana (Dayton, OH) led in prayer.
Mr. Curto introduced Dr. Davi Charles Gomes, the fraternal delegate from the Presbyterian Church of Brazil. Mr. Gomes expressed appreciation for the relationship with the OPC. He noted his denomination has 700,000 members, 5,000 pastors, and 6,500 churches. He noted a few years ago the denomination started to drift away from the truth, but the church took charge of the seminaries and changed course. He asked for prayer because religious freedom is becoming an issue for the church in Brazil. Mr. Nakhla prayed for the Independent Presbyterian Church of Brazil.
Rev. Benjamin Snodgrass (Falls OPC, Menomonee Falls, WI), chairman of the Committee on Coordination, presented the committee’s report. The report contains the following purpose statement for this committee: “The purposes of the Committee on Coordination are to recommend to the General Assembly a combined budget for the three Program Committees of Christian Education, Foreign Missions, and Home Missions and Church Extension for the succeeding year. The Committee seeks to help the Church maximize the use of its resources for the fulfillment of its tasks, to support the ministry of the pastors and sessions in their responsibility to teach and encourage the practice of Biblical stewardship in the Church, and to help coordinate the promotion of the work of the three Program Committees in the development of support for their work.”
Mr. Snodgrass introduced the controller, Mrs. Melisa E. McGinnis, and reported that the committee hired Ms. Jamie Dean as communication coordinator to help with communication throughout the denomination. He also reported that OPC finances for 2022 were strong and that the committee is striving to serve the program committees of the OPC in the best way possible. Mr. Keith A. LeMahieu (Oostburg, WI) reported on how the committee recognized the need for denominational planned giving expertise and found help through the Barnabas Foundation. The proposed 2024 budget represents a 4.88% increase over last year, as income projections have been very good. The Assembly adopted the proposed Worldwide Outreach program budget for 2024.
The Assembly needed to elect one minister and one ruling elder to the committee’s class of 2025. Rev. Warren R. Bennett III (Covenant OPC, Natchitoches, LA) and Elder David S. Veldkamp (Oviedo, FL) were elected.
Rev. Larry Westerveld (Trinity OPC, Hatboro, PA) led in prayer for the committee.
The report of the Committee to Update Doctrinal Standards: The 85th General Assembly elected a Special Committee in 2018 and gave it a mandate: “to propose specific linguistic changes to the doctrinal standards of the OPC (The Confession of Faith and Catechisms). The committee was authorized to propose only such changes as do not change the doctrine or meaning of the standards. The kinds of changes that the Assembly authorizes the special committee to consider were limited to the following: 1) Morphological changes, such as “executeth” to “executes” and “hath” to “has”; 2) Replacing archaic pronouns, e.g., “thou” to “you”; 3) Replacing obsolete and/or archaic words, e.g., “stews” in LC 139. This includes, as in the example just given, replacing words that are still current in the language but are used in obsolete or archaic senses in the standards; 4) Substituting a modern translation of the Scriptures for the text of the Ten Commandments and the Lord’s Prayer. In all cases, the committee was to strive to propose changes that preserve the cadence, memorability, and dignified style of the standards.”
Dr. David Noe (Reformation OPC, Grand Rapids, MI), the chairman of the Special Committee on Updating the Language of the Doctrinal Standards, along with Dr. James S. Gidley (Sewickley, PA), presented the committee’s report, and both men answered questions from the Assembly. Mr. Bube gave the minority report of the committee which offered fewer changes. Rev. Zachary Keele (Escondido OPC, Escondido, CA) reported for the GA advisory committee 2 and questions were asked about the report.
The Assembly recessed at 3:15 for a break and reconvened at 3:35 and sang hymn #103C verses 5-8, “Come My Soul, and Bless the Lord.” Mr. Charles T. De Boer (Easton, PA) led in prayer.
Rev. Curto introduced Alex Hagg, the fraternal delegate from the Free Reformed Churches of Australia. Mr. Hagg noted his denomination has 17 churches and about 300 members most of them third and fourth generation believers. He expressed great appreciation for the relationship with the OPC. Mr. Terpstra prayed for the Free Reformed Churches of Australia.
The Assembly resumed asking questions of the committee report and began to debate the recommendations of the Special Committee on Updating the Language of the Doctrinal Standards until the order of the day. The Assembly recessed at 5:15 for dinner with Mr. Tarence R. Dickerson (St. Augustine, FL) closing in prayer.
After dinner, the group picture of the Assembly was scheduled to be taken before the Assembly reconvened to resume business. Most of the commissioners were already in position for the picture when it was realized that some commissioners were late coming back from a seminary dinner. The commissioners in position had light-hearted, brotherly fun by showering the late comers with boos as they walked up!
After the picture the Assembly reconvened at 6:53 and sang hymn #159, “Abide With Me.” Rev. Michael J. Kearney (Covenant OPC, Cedar Falls, IA) led in prayer.
Rev. Curto introduced Rev. Heon Soo Kim, fraternal delegate from the Independent Reformed church in Korea. Mr. Kim expressed appreciation for the OPC delegates who attend their assembly and addressed them as “Fathers and Brothers.” This was a term they had never heard before. He noted his denomination has four churches and about 430 members. They have been through many troubles and hardships, but he is thankful that the Word continues to be faithfully preached. Mr. Holst prayed for the Independent Reformed Church of Korea.
Mr. Olinger, president of the committee for the Historian, along with the church Historian, Rev. Camden Bucey (Hope OPC, Grays Lake, IL), presented the committee report. The report began with a video tribute to Fathers and Brothers in the OPC who went to be with the Lord in the last year. The Historian presented his report and spoke of the one-hundredth year anniversary of Machen’s book, Christianity and Liberalism. It was noted that the committee is planning to organize a collection of essays on OPC history in celebration of the ninetieth anniversary of the OPC in 2026.
Mr. Olinger and Mr. John Muether (Oviedo, FL) were elected to the committee’s class of 2026. Mr. Allison prayed for the Historian and the Committee for the Historian.
Rev. Richard M. Dickinson, president of the Committee on Diaconal Ministries introduced the committee report. Mr. Nakhla, who serves as the administrator of the committee, presented the report which summarized the committee’s work in 2022 ministering to the needs of those in the OPC as well as other domestic and international needs. He shared that over one million dollars were given last year to OPC disaster relief which was used in Ukraine and Neon, Kentucky. He then showed a video of the relief work that took place to rebuild the church facility in Neon, Kentucky, and the assembly heard a report from the coordinator of that relief work, Mr. Michael C. Cloy (Marion, NC) of the Presbytery of the Southeast. He reported that the flood of the church took place on July 27-28 and 115 days later, on November 22, the church met for worship in their building again. Mr. Nakhla then showed a video of the 2022 OPC National Diaconal Summit and encouraged commissioners to send their deacons to the next summit. He also encouraged the commissioners to have their deacons listen to the new podcast from the committee, The Reformed Deacon.
The Assembly recessed for the evening at 8:30 p.m. with prayer led by Rev. Jim G. Stevenson (Providence OPC, Tulsa, OK).
The Assembly reconvened at 8:30 a.m. and sang hymn #512, “Jesus Lives, and so Shall I” followed by prayer by Rev. Hankins.
Mr. Curto introduced the fraternal delegate from the Reformed Church in the United States (RCUS), Rev. Travis Grassmid, who addressed the Assembly. The RCUS is the oldest Reformed denomination in the United States and was founded in 1725. The church is getting ready to celebrate their 300th year anniversary in 2025. He noted the church has more pulpits than ministers to fill them. He asked for our prayers that the Lord would raise up more faithful ministers to serve. Rev. Robert E. Tarullo (Westminster OPC, Countryside, IL) prayed for the Reformed Church in the United States.
The Assembly returned to debating the recommendations of the Special Committee on Updating the Language of the Doctrinal Standards.
The Assembly recessed at 10:00 for a short break and reconvened at 10:20 with the singing of hymn #353, “Lamb, Precious Lamb” followed by prayer by Mr. Eric F. Kooi (Long Beach, CA).
Mr. Curto introduced the fraternal delegate from the Reformed Churches in South Africa, Rev. Malan van Rhyn, who addressed the commissioners. He reported the nation of South Africa has a communist government which has led to unemployment, violent crimes, and a poor educational system. The electric power is cut 10-12 hours per day. The result is that many church members have moved to other countries. The church has 75,000 members, 382 congregations, and 300 pastors. One major concern for the church is financial support for retired pastors as many of the wealthier members have moved to other countries. The church also has also had two congregations that have gone ahead and ordained women elders. This will be dealt with at their next Synod. His prayer is that through all the troubles the Lord would bless the fraternal relationship of both churches (the OPC and the RCSA) to the glory of our Savior. Mr. Timothy D. Krizan (Wilmington, DE) prayed for the Reformed Churches in South Africa.
The Assembly returned to debate the recommendations of the Special Committee on Updating the Language of the Doctrinal Standards. The Assembly determined not to start the process of making any specific linguistic changes to the doctrinal standards of the OPC (The Confession of Faith and Catechisms); instead, the following motion was adopted:
That the General Assembly request the Committee on Christian Education (CCE) to utilize the suggested changes contained in the report of the Special Committee on Updating the Language of the Doctrinal Standards to prepare a modern English Study version of the Confession of Faith and Catechisms of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC).
Rev. Caleb M. Smith (Thousand Oaks OPC, Thousand Oaks, CA) led the morning devotional from Psalm 146. He pointed out how the Psalm begins (vss.1-2) and ends (vs.10) with bookends of praise to God. The Psalmist then warns us not to trust in earthly princes or mortal man (vss. 3-4) but to put our trust in the covenant Lord God (vs. 5). The Psalmist then gives ten reasons to give praise to the Lord (vss. 6-10). The Psalm calls us to avoid putting trust in the world’s princes but to trust in the covenant fulfilled salvation that has come to us though the death and resurrection of our God’s Son, our Savior the Lord Jesus Christ. Let us give to him the bookends of our praise!
The Assembly sang #238, “Lord with Glowing Heart I’d Praise Thee” and then recessed for lunch at 12:00 p.m. with Rev. Christian M. McShaffrey (Five Solas OPC, Reedsburg, WI) leading in prayer.
The Assembly reconvened at 1:15 p.m. and sang hymn #417, “Jesus Shall Reign Where’re the Sun” followed by prayer by Rev. Peter J.A. Moelker (Faith OPC, Elmer, NJ)
Mr. Curto introduced the fraternal delegate from the Presbyterian Church in Uganda (PCU), Rev. David Kabaale, who addressed the commissioners. The church of Uganda has been in existence for 29 years. They have 89 congregations, 6 presbyteries, and 68 ministers and are thankful to be members along with the OPC of the International Conference of Reformed Churches (ICRC). He thanked the Lord for the relationship the church has with the OPC and quoted Galatians 6:9 “And let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we shall reap and not grow weary.” Mr. Curto then shared with the assembly what a joy it was for him to see Rev. Kabaale represent the PCU at the Assembly because he has known him since he was a very young boy. Mr. Curto prayed for the Presbyterian Church in Uganda.
The Assembly returned to the Report of the committee on Diaconal ministries.
Upon the recommendation of the CDM, the Assembly determined to request the churches of the OPC to support the work of the committee at the suggested rate of $30 per communicant member.
For the committee’s class of 2026, the Assembly needed to elect one minister, one ruling elder, and one deacon. Rev. Joseph Troutman (Mid Cities OPC, Bedford, TX), Elder Seth B. Long (Neon, KY) and Deacon John Stahl (Wilmington, DE) were elected. Rev. Adrian Crum (Harvest OPC, Grand Rapids, MI) was elected to the class of 2025. Mr. Dronenburg prayed for the work of the committee.
The Assembly recessed at 3:15 p.m. for a break and reconvened at 3:35 and sang hymn #351, “How Deep the Father’s Love for Us” followed by prayer by Rev. Charles Biggs (Regional Home Missionary, Presbytery of Mid-Atlantic).
Mr. Bube introduced the fraternal delegate from the Christian Reformed Churches of Australia, Rev. Andrew Nugteren, who addressed the commissioners. He gave thanks that our two denominations are partners–“mates”–in the Gospel. He stated the two key issues facing their churches. The first are the societal pressures of gender identity and sexual orientation. Church schools are now starting to feel pressure to hire staff members that don’t share their faith. A second issue is that because of the retirement of so many of the church ministers and elders they do not have the officers to replace them. He thanked the Lord for the relationship the church has with the OPC and quoted James 1:2-3, 5, “ Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness… If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.” Mr. Terpstra prayed for the Christian Reformed Churches of Australia.
Rev. Douglas L. Watson (Redeemer OPC, Waipahu, HI) presented the report for the Committee on Ministerial Care. He shared his great appreciation for the efforts of the men on the committee and what they have been able to accomplish. He introduced the director, Rev. John Fikkert, who reported that Wipfli Financial Advisors, which had been overseeing the OPC pension plan, has merged with Creative Planning, which now serves as the investment advisor for the plan. In this merger, the primary contacts from Wipfli Financial now serve as CMC’s primary contacts at Creative Planning. He also reported on the annual Obadiah Fund love gift that was sent to all retired ministers and their widows this past year. He reported that the committee picks out one presbytery per month and the committee members call all the pastors in the presbytery to ask how they are doing and to pray with them. In August 2022 the committee hired Mrs. Anneke Fesko as part time care coordinator for ministers’ wives. The committee works to provide a counselor for ministers and their wives and children when needed. Mr. Gregory De Jong then reported on the efforts the committee is making to provide financial planning for ministers and he showed the results of a compensation survey that the committee took from ministers in the OPC which showed that on average OPC ministers are underpaid by a significant amount. They encouraged ruling elders to go to the OPC Ministerial Care web page and to use the compensation tool to see where their pastors are in that regard.
Upon the recommendation of the committee, the Assembly authorized the committee to request each congregation to support the ministry of the CMC at $20 per communicant member, or through designated gifts.
The Assembly recessed at 5:15 p.m. for dinner with Mr. McDaniel leading in prayer. The Assembly will reconvene Monday morning. Recessing for the rest of the day allows the commissioners time to prepare for the Lord’s Day.
No business meetings or debates are on the schedule for this day as it is the Lord’s Day. After a few days of meetings, the commissioners had the opportunity to “turn it off” for a day of spiritual rest and rejuvenation. As such, nearby OPC Chicagoland congregations made themselves available not only to be a place to gather for worship, but also fellowship over a meal together. Each of these host churches provided lunch following their worship service.
On Sunday evening those attending the assembly joined the members and visitors of local OP congregations in a joint service hosted by the Presbytery of the Midwest. Various members of the presbytery took part in the service. The General Secretary of Foreign Missions, Rev. Douglas Clawson, preached an encouraging sermon from John 4:31-42 titled “The Savior of the World.” The sermon was about how Jesus’ encounter with the Samaritan woman at the well served for Jesus to show his disciples how ready and plentiful the harvest for the Gospel is, so that the time between sowing and harvesting has disappeared; it also showed that it is Jesus, the Savior of the World who first welcomed Gentiles into salvation. He concluded by pleading that sowers and harvesters need to be sent and that we should pray, “Here I am Lord, send me.”
After a day of rest and worship, the Assembly reconvened at 8:30 a.m. and sang hymn #32A, “What Blessedness Belongs to Him.” The moderator led in prayer.
Mr. Bube introduced the fraternal delegate from the Free Church of Scotland (FCS), Rev. Malcolm Macleod, who greeted the commissioners on behalf of his denomination and read from Philippians 1:2-5, “I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel.” He described the close relationship between the OPC and the FCS as having the same heartbeat and yet at times speaking the truth in love to one another (Eph. 4:25). He shared that in 2020 the FCS set an ambitious goal to plant thirty churches by 2030 and so far, there are fourteen. The church is also going to need seventy new pastors by 2030, and they are working on a program for church revitalization for struggling churches. He asked for prayer for the Christian schools as the public schools are making an effort to indoctrinate children in things that are contrary to the word of God. His prayer is for God’s continued blessing on the FCS and the OPC. Mr. James A. Wright (Petaluma, CA) prayed for the Free Church of Scotland.
The Assembly returned the report on the Committee on Ministerial Care and approved motions on investment options and gave approval for the Committee to establish a possible group insurance plan for OPC ministers and employees.
For elections to the committee’s class of 2026, the Assembly needed to elect three men consisting of at least one minister and one ruling: Rev. Douglas Watson, Elder Greg S. De Jong, and Rev. Richard N. Ellis were elected.
Mr. Krizan led in prayer for the work of the committee.
Mr. Curto, Chairman of the Committee, introduced the report on Ecumenicity and Interchurch Relations, by reminding the Assembly that the Great Commission is not the OPC’s alone, but it is also about what God is doing to grow his church around the world. He then introduced Mr. Bube who gave a brief explanation of how to best to read the report noting the variety of way the OPC has relationships with other Reformed churches throughout the world.
Upon the recommendation of the committee, the Assembly approved the following motion and it was noted without dissent:
That the 89th (2023) General Assembly, with much grief and sadness—having pled with the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands (RCN) to turn back from the course upon which the RCN embarked with its decision in Synod Meppel 2017 to open the special offices of minister and/or ruling elder to persons who are biblically disqualified from such offices (cf. Minutes of the 86th  General Assembly, Articles 76 and 79, pages 20–28), which decision was reaffirmed by Synod Goes 2020—terminate the relationship of Corresponding Relations with the RCN upon the close of this Assembly; and further, that the Assembly, in spite of the seeming finality of the RCN decision, plead with the RCN to set aside the actions of Synod Meppel 2017 and Synod Goes 2020, which are contrary to the rule prescribed in Scripture, and return to a closer fellowship with their brothers and sisters in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church.
The Assembly elected Mr. David P. Nakhla, John H. Terpstra and Rev. Chad B. Van Dixhoorn to the committee’s class of 2026.
Mr. Timothy D. Krizan (Wilmington, DE) led in prayer for the work of the committee.
Rev. John Mallin, chairman of the committee, introduced the report of the Committee on Appeals and Complaints. The Assembly will be hearing an appeal of a complaint from the Presbytery of the Mid Atlantic. The committee is also proposing two amendments to the Book of Discipline.
The Assembly recessed at 10:00 a.m. and reconvened at 10:20 a.m. and sang #429, “Come Thou Found of Every Blessing.” The Rev. Elijah K. DeJong (Concho Valley OPC, Concho AZ) led in prayer.
Mr. Bube introduced the fraternal delegate from the Evangelical Reformed Church Westminster Confession (ERKWB), Rev. Kurt Vetterli, who greeted the commissioners on behalf of his denomination. The ERKWB is made up of six churches in Austria, Switzerland, and Germany, and they have five hundred members. They need more pastors to faithfully preach the word, but with all the well-known secular movements present in those countries, the soil is hard and the fruit will come slowly. But the churches are growing and he expressed deep appreciation for the relationship the ERKWB has with the OPC.
Rev. Curto led in pray for the Evangelical Reformed Church Westminster Confession.
The Assembly turned to Complaint on Appeal 1 from the Presbytery of the Mid-Atlantic.
Again, to quote the Book of Discipline (IX.1), “A complaint is a written representation, other than an appeal or a protest, charging a judicatory with delinquency or error. It may be brought by an officer or other member of the church against the session or the presbytery to which he is subject, by one session against another session, by a session against the presbytery which has jurisdiction over it, or by one presbytery against another presbytery.”
The Synopsis of the complaint from the appeals and complaints report is as follows, “a charge was filed against a minister in the Presbytery of the Mid-Atlantic (PMA) and, at the conclusion of a lengthy process over multiple meetings, the presbytery determined not to prosecute the case. In the progression of previous meetings, however, the PMA had determined to proceed to a trial. Given that prior determination, the complaint alleges that the presbytery erred when it subsequently found “the charge not readily prosecutable or profitable to the best interests of the church.” The complaint asserts that the word “shall” (“…it shall fix the time, date, and place for the trial of the case…” BD III, 7.d) requires the presbytery to proceed to the prosecution of the case irrevocably. The complaint is very simple – what is the force of the word “shall” in III, 7.d?”
The Assembly heard from the appellants (those bringing their complaint on appeal) and subsequently from representatives of the presbytery.>/p>
At 11:40 a.m. the Rev. Harry J. Monroe, Jr. (Providence OPC, Byron-College Station, TX) delivered the morning devotional on Ephesians 4:7-13. He first noted the Triumph of the Savior, and that Jesus is the gift giver that gives gifts to his people (vs.7). Second, he pointed out how the quote from Psalm 68:18 is a picture of how our ascended Lord leads his captive servants and gives them gifts to do his work. And third he reminded the body how God’s gifts to the church are pastors and elders who humbly serve him and do his work. The Assembly sang hymn, #380, “Crown him with Many Crowns” and then recessed for lunch at noon following prayer led by Rev. Everette A. Henes (Hillsdale OPC, Hillsdale, MI).
The Assembly reconvened at 1:15 and sang hymn #16B, “Preserve Me. O God” followed by prayer by Mr. Mark J. Williams (Bellmawr, NJ).
Mr. Bube introduced the fraternal delegate from the United Reformed Churches of North America (URCNA), Rev. Casey Frenswick, who greeted the commissioners on behalf of his denomination. He quoted 2 John 1:12, "Though I have much to write to you, I would rather not use paper and ink. Instead, I hope to come to you and talk face to face, so that our joy may be complete." He expressed what a joy it was to be at the Assembly and characterized the relationship between the URC and the OPC as very close. Our pastors share seminary professors, we both sing from the Trinity Psalter Hymnal and our denominations shared a joint GA/Synod in 2018. Most recently the URCNA has been studying the OPC model for Foreign Missions. He reported with thanks that their church attendance has remained strong after Covid. He gave thanks for God’s continued blessing on our two churches. Mr. Olinger prayed for the URCNA.
The Assembly returned to the Report of the Committee and Appeals and entered into debate concerning the complaint. The moderator put the question “Shall the complaint on appeal be sustained?” The Assembly voted against sustaining the complaint.
Rev. Lowell Ivey (Reformation OPC, Virginia Beach VA) led in prayer.
The Appeals and Complaints committee also proposed two amendments to the Book of Discipline:
No charge shall be admitted by the judicatory if it is filed more than two years after the commission of the alleged offense, unless it appears that circumstances have prevented an earlier filing of the charge. Such circumstances may include, but are not limited to, a recent discovery by a competent responsible party of an alleged offense committed more than two years ago, or the need of more time than two years for the offended party to report the alleged offense due to difficulty or inability because of age, disability, the nature of the offense, or other limiting factors. Furthermore, any alleged offense, or specification thereof, that may have a clear ongoing character or be part of a demonstrable pattern may be admitted more than two years after the beginning of the offense. A charge shall be considered filed when it has been delivered to the clerk or the moderator of the judicatory.
After a time of questions to the Committee on Appeals and Complaints, the Assembly entered into debate on the first amendment. The moderator put the question “Shall the amendment be adopted?” The Assembly voted to adopt the amendment.
The Assembly recessed at 3:15 p.m. for a break and reconvened at 3:35 and sang hymn #256, “God Moves in a Mysterious ways” followed by prayer by Mr. Chilton.
Mr. Bube introduced the fraternal delegate from the Bible Presbyterian Church (BPC), Rev. Kevin Backus, who greeted the commissioners on behalf of his denomination. Rev. Backus shared with the body he has now attended twenty-seven meetings of OPC General Assembly, and the relationship between the two denominations continues to be warm and cordial. He shared the Bible Presbyterian Church has 40 congregations and about 3,500 members and they are in need of some new ministers. He gave thanks to God for the relationship between the BPC and the OPC and his prayer is that with God’s blessing, the relationship would the two churches would continue to grow stronger.
Mr. Bube prayed for the Bible Presbyterian Church.
Mr. Troxel presented a resolution on behalf of the Committee on Christian Education, which was adopted by general consent of the Assembly.
Resolution of Gratitude for the Service of David Winslow Jr. on the Christian Education Committee of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church
The 89th General Assembly hereby notes with thanksgiving to God for labors which David Winslow Jr. rendered to the Orthodox Presbyterian Church as a member of the Committee on Christian Education. His thirty-four years of service, which extended over the tenures of three General Secretaries, witnessed the vast expansion of the ministry of the Committee, including initiatives such as OPC.ORG, the Ministerial Training Institute of the OPC, the Timothy Conference, and publications such as Ordained Servant and the Trinity Psalter Hymnal, all of which involved the faithful labors of Mr. Winslow. In addition, he took leadership roles on several subcommittees, including the Subcommittee on Ministerial Training, the Board of Trustees of Great Commission Publications, and the Finance Subcommittee.
With humility, humor, and wisdom he encouraged his colleagues in their committee deliberations, and he represented its ministry faithfully to the General Assembly. Time and again, he enabled the CCE to do the right thing in the proper way. As Mr. Winslow concludes his service on the Committee on Christian Education, it is our hope and prayer that he will continue to bear fruit in his service to the Orthodox Presbyterian Church.
The Assembly gave Mr. Winslow a standing ovation.
The Assembly returned to the Appeals and Complains committee. Rev. Strange then presented, as part of the committee’s report, the second proposed amendment to the Book of Discipline.
The proposed amendment is to Book of Discipline IX.1 (proposed change in bold): “A complaint is a written representation, other than an appeal or a protest, charging a judicatory with delinquency or error. It may be brought by an officer or other member of the church against the session or the presbytery to which he is subject, by one session against another session in the same presbytery, by a session against the presbytery which has jurisdiction over it, or by one presbytery against another presbytery.”
After a time of questions to the Committee on Appeals and Complaints. The Assembly entered into debate on the second proposed amendment. The moderator put the question “Shall the amendment be adopted?” The proposed amendment was not adopted.
Next came elections for the Committee on Appeals and Complaints to the class 2026. Two men and an alternate needed to be elected. Rev. David G. Graves (Covenant OPC, Coeur d’Alene, ID), Rev. Andrew Miller (Bethel Reformed Presbyterian, Fredericksburg, VA) were elected, and Rev. S. Scott Willet (Covenant Reformed Presbyterian, Mount Airy NC) was elected as the alternate.
Re. Bradley M. Peppo (RHM, Miami Valley, Presbytery of Ohio) led in prayer for the committee on Appeals and Complaints.
The Assembly recessed at 5:15 with prayer led by Rev. Micah M. Bickford (Grace Reformed OPC, Farmington, LA).
The Assembly reconvened at 6:45 p.m. and sang hymn #502, “Come to the Waters” followed by prayer by Mr. Bruce Stahl.
The Assembly received the report of the Committee to Examine Presbyterial Records, which reviews the minutes of the presbyteries. Recommendations were made and adopted. Next the Assembly received the Committee to Examine Standing Committee Records, which reviews the minutes of Standing Committee Records. Recommendations were made and adopted. Mr. Phillips prayed for the work of the presbyteries and the standing committees.
Rev. Roger Wagner (Bayview OPC, Chula Vista, CA), chairman of the Special Committee to Visit the Presbytery of the Dakotas, introduced the report and reminded the assembly of its purpose: “The 86th General Assembly (2019) granted Overture 3 from the Presbytery of the Dakotas (POD) requesting the appointment of a committee to help it “work through the serious division that is affecting our functioning as a Church of Christ.” Mr. Wagner reported the committee had made multiple visits and offered much counsel to the POD and that much progress has been made and that the committee believes its work is complete. The committee was dissolved with thanks from the Assembly.
OPC HISTORICAL MOMENT: Mr. Olinger, chairman of the Committee for the Historian, expressed thanks for Rev. Roger Wagner for his 50 years of OPC pastoral service prior to his retirement. The Assembly gave him a standing ovation. Later, he thanked the Assembly and gave special thanks for the faithful support of his wife Sherry.
Mr. M., missionary to Asia, prayed for the committee and gave thanks to the Lord for the ministry of Rev. Wagner.
Rev. Daniel F. Patterson (Second Parish OPC, Portland ME), chairman of the Special Committee to Help Equip Church Officers to Protect the Flock, introduced the report and reminded the Assembly of its purpose:
In response to an overture from the Presbytery of Ohio, the 88th General Assembly (2022) approved the following:
That the Assembly form a special committee of six, consisting of three ministers, two ruling elders, and one deacon, appointed by the Moderator, to the do following:
- Collect, study, and develop resources to equip officers of the church to protect her members from sexual predators and domestic violence
- Report to the 89th General Assembly
Mr. Patterson reported on the committee’s work accomplished thus far and its planned work for the next year. He indicated the committee intends to send out a survey to the churches concerning abuse. The Assembly continued the committee and asked that it report back to the 90th General Assembly (2024).
Mr. Stumpff (Mifflinburg, PA) led in prayer for the special committee.
Elder David Mahaffy (Oak Harbor, WA), chairman of the Committee on Arrangements, introduced the report. He reported that the General Assembly last met on the West Coast in 2013 (at St. Mary’s College in the San Francisco area) and most recently in the Pacific Northwest in 2008 (at Pacific Lutheran University in Tacoma, WA). The Assembly adopted the committee’s recommendation that the 90th (2024) General Assembly be held at Seattle Pacific University, Seattle, Washington, starting at 7 p.m. on June 19 and ending no later than 10 a.m. on June 25, 2024.
For elections to the committee’s class of 2026, the Assembly elected Mr. David Mahaffy and Rev. Joseph L. Troutman (Mid Cities OPC, Bedford, TX).
The Assembly recessed at 8:38 p.m. with Rev. Joel D. Fick (Redemption OPC, Gainesville, FL) leading in prayer.
The Assembly reconvened at 8:30 a.m. and sang hymn #425, “How Sweet and Awesome is the Place,” followed by prayer led by Rev. Joel M. Ellis, Jr. (Reformation OPC, Apache Junction, AZ).
Dr. Troxel, chairman of the Delegation to Meet with the Presbytery of the Southeast (PSE), introduced the report and reminded the Assembly of its purpose: “This committee was appointed by the moderator of the 88th General Assembly, Mr. David P. Nakhla, to carry a communication from that assembly to the Presbytery of the Southeast (PSE) and to offer assistance to the PSE.”
Dr. Troxel reported on the committee’s work and indicated that the committee believes their mandate was completed. Presbyters from the PSE expressed appreciation for the committee and its work. Upon their recommendation the Assembly dissolved the special committee. Rev. Peppo led in prayer for the committee and the PSE.
Mr. Philips presented the GA Operation Fund (GAOF) budget portion of the report of the Trustees. Both the proposed budget and the request of $20 per communicant member for GAOF were adopted. Rev. Duff led in prayer for the work of the OPC Board of Trustees.
Mr. Benjamin A. Stahl (Doraville, GA) presented the resolution of thanks:
Give to the LORD, O families of the peoples, give to the LORD glory and strength. Give to the LORD the glory due His name; Bring an offering, and come into His courts. Oh, worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness! Tremble before Him, all the earth (Psalm 96:7-9).
We, the commissioners of the 89th General Assembly of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, give thanks to the Lord Jesus Christ the Head of the Church for the many members and friends of the body of Christ that gave their time, labors, energy, and prayer this week towards the advancement of the Kingdom of Grace, while looking forward to the Kingdom of Glory.
We thank the Committee on Arrangements (David Mahaffy, Chairman; Alan Montgomery; Jesse Montgomery; John Muether; Robert Tarullo; and Joe Troutman) for their tireless labors so that the commissioners were able to meet, sleep, and enjoy their labors with greater ease.
We thank the Registrar, Mrs. Linda Jones, for her tireless labors before and during the Assembly, even while sick. May the Lord quickly heal her and return her safely in person to the 90th General Assembly.
We praise God for the abundance of volunteers who served God and our Assembly in many different ways including, but not necessarily limited to:
- Airport Greeters: Ben Townsend, Jim Veenstra, Judi Werkema, and Peter Onnink, who demonstrated the patience of God in waiting for commissioners as they arrived from various places and led them to their drivers.
- Airport Shuttle Drivers: Tom Martens, Jason Martzke, Zach Meadows, Scotty Willis, Henry Schroth, and John Stob, who demonstrated the mercy of the Lord not only in the rides they provided but also that when we were thirsty, they gave us a drink.
- On-site registration volunteers: Kathy Bube, Noel Davis, Anneke Fesko, Beth King, Melodie McKenzie, Elisabeth Troutman, and Jennifer Troutman, who demonstrated the joy of the Lord as they welcomed commissioners to Trinity College.
- Volunteers at large: Johnathan Allen, Andrew Davis, Noel Davis, Zach Johnson, Melodie McKenzie, and Jennifer Troutman. Pages: Elisabeth Biggs, Esther Biggs, Sophia Noe, Joshua Stevenson, Elisabeth Troutman, and Elizabeth Wallace, who demonstrated the kindness of the Lord in caring for a variety of tasks throughout the assembly.
- Rally car (otherwise known as golf carts) drivers: Johnathan Allen, Andrew Davis, Zach Johnson, Tricia Stevenson, Josh Stevenson, and Elizabeth Wallace, who reminded us of the power of the Lord who carries us from this life to glory.
- Musical Accompanists: Jeffrey Dronenburg, Alan Montgomery, Chuck Powers, and Matthew Holst, who reminded us of the majesty of God in the accompaniment of psalms and hymns and spiritual songs for the glory of God.
- The Ad Hoc Committee of the Presbytery of the Midwest: Daniel Schrock, Robert Tarullo, and Daniel Svendsen, who demonstrated the wisdom of God in organizing worship services for the gathered body of Christ.
- Host churches on Sunday June 11: Covenant OPC, Orland Park; First OPC, South Holland; Grace OPC, Elburn; Grace OPC Hanover Park; Bethel OPC, Wheaton; Hope OPC, Grayslake; Westminster OPC, Countryside, New Covenant Community Church, Joliet, who demonstrated the love of God in showing hospitality to so many commissioners, their wives, and children and giving us a sweet taste of the fellowship we have in Christ with the saints in the Midwest. We especially note the previous, previous, previous congregation for their demonstration of that love of God in providing meals to go for the commissioners who could not stay for the fellowship lunch. Your labors were not in vain.
- Photographers: Kerri Ann Cruse and Andrew Davis, who reminded us that while memories may fade, the Lord remembers the names of His children from this time and forevermore.
- We give thanks for the many Trinity Christian College personnel who labored to make our work successful. We give thanks for the Conferencing Office and Brooke Simkins, the Director; for the President, Dr. Aaron Keucker, and especially his patio; and the AV personnel including: Angie Fratto; Ben Fassl; and Larry Lesniak, who have been blessed with eagle eyes that can see 3 point font from 75 feet away. We further give thanks for the many who labored with the food services under the oversight of Anthony Plana. While you may have thought some food lines were a problem, the Lord used them for the good of added fellowship with brothers and sisters we may not have otherwise met with, thus demonstrating the sovereignty of God over all things for the glory of His name.
- Penultimately, we give thanks for our Clerk, Mr. Hank Belfield, our Assistant Clerk, Mr. John Mahaffy, and our Assistant to the Assistant Clerk, Mr. Mike Shields who along with our parliamentarian Mr. Archibald Allison reminded us through their hard work that God is not a God of confusion but of peace and order.
- Finally, we thank our moderator, Mr. John Shaw, for his tireless labors, patience, and timely reminders that assisted the body in conducting its business, demonstrating the great zeal of the Lord for the peace and advancement of His church for which Christ shed His own blood.
May the Lord our God remember all His servants for good in the work that took place this past week and use it for the repentance, faith, sanctification, and salvation of many sinners, thereby hastening the coming of the day of the Lord!
The Assembly adopted the resolution.
After a recess at 10:00 a.m., the Assembly reconvened at 10:20 and sang hymn #459, “My Hope is Built on Nothing Less.” Rev. Shane M. Bennett (Living Hope OPC, Gettysburg, PA) led in prayer.
Rev. Larry Westerveld (Trinity OPC, Hatboro, PA) presented the eagerly-anticipated report of the Committee on Levity. Rev. Christopher Drew (Faith OPC, Grand Forks ND) was awarded the prestigious, yet not-so-coveted Jack-in-the-Box award.
The Assembly returned to the unfinished business of the final recommendations of the General Assembly advisory committee that evaluated the work of the Special Committee on Updating the Language of the Doctrinal Standards. The motions were presented from the advisory committee:
All the motions were debated and approved. Twenty commissioners requested that their negative votes be recorded on the second recommendation. The special committee was dissolved.
Assistant Clerk Mahaffy read the remaining minutes, which were approved.
A motion to adjourn was adopted by the Assembly and Moderator Shaw made the following declaration: “By virtue of the authority delegated to me by the church, let this General Assembly be dissolved, and I do hereby dissolve it, and require another General Assembly, chosen in the same manner, to meet Seattle Pacific University, Seattle, Washington, beginning Wednesday, June 19, 2024, at 7:00 p.m.” The Moderator prayed and the Assembly sang the Doxology unaccompanied. The Moderator pronounced the Apostolic benediction and the 89th Assembly dissolved at 11:47 a.m.
This report was written by Robert Van Kooten, pastor, Sovereign Grace OPC, Oak Harbor, Washington.
© 2023 The Orthodox Presbyterian Church