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New Horizons

June, 2011: OPC 75th Anniversary

New Horizons Cover


The OPC at 75: Why We Celebrate

For the past year, New Horizons has featured historical remembrances in anticipation of the 75th anniversary of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. It has included stories about churches, presbyteries, French Creek, the Boardwalk Chapel, and individuals such as Betty Andrews, John DeWaard, and, of course, J. Gresham Machen.

Not all Presbyterians, however, believe that sustained focus on the past is really healthy for a church. In the judgment of some, celebrations like this are distractions, diverting the church from its true mission. Underscoring how God has blessed a distinctive story is to "major on minors," they say, and promoting the interests of one denomination, even at its best, borders on anti-ecumenical parochialism. Read more

Looking Back over Fifty Years

I have had the privilege of serving the Orthodox Presbyterian Church for approximately forty-five years, and I have been an active member a few more years than that. I have served three congregations as pastor. These were very different churches—one located in the suburbs, one in the inner city, and one in a small country town—and my family enjoyed living and ministering in each one.

We especially enjoyed the regular ministries of preaching, teaching, and pastoring, and our friendships within the presbyteries were rich. We enjoyed serving within the presbyteries on various committees, but we consider our work with young people some of the highlights of our lives. Our summer camp experiences in Wisconsin and Colorado stand out as times of special fun. Our experiences with camping and special family conferences with our friends in the OPC often provide us with recollections of enjoyment and laughter. Read more

A Year of Two Anniversaries

I was not born into the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. I was adopted into it. After I was converted in 1970, my first exposure to Presbyterianism was in the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod (which, in 1982, became part of the Presbyterian Church in America). Throughout my seminary days at Westminster Seminary in Philadelphia (1976–1979), I remained a member of the RPCES, although, for most of that time, I attended an Orthodox Presbyterian church and did my internship there as part of my last year of seminary training.

As I struggled with the schizophrenia of worshiping and being trained in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church and, at the same time, keeping my allegiance to the denomination in which I had been nurtured in the early years of my Christian life, the Orthodox Presbyterian pastor who mentored me as part of my internship told me one evening that I would probably be happier serving as a minister in the OPC. Read more

Seven Great Men Who Have Gone before Us

When I was first invited to submit this article, I considered what matters of praise I could lay before the Orthodox Presbyterian Church on her seventy-fifth anniversary. Instead, my mind quickly followed a familiar path to some of the external characteristics that tend to define and discredit this remarkably gifted body of believers with whom I am associated and whom I love.

Somber faces, stern visages, early twentieth-century hymns that alternate between ice and syrup, stagnant churches that justify smallness as a prerequisite to purity, a tendency to reason beyond Scripture, a hint of Protestant hagiolatry with respect to our founding fathers, a lack of self-awareness regarding our sharply divided positions on many issues—and the list goes on. As in a marriage where issues go unresolved for years, it's much easier to criticize than to commend. What keeps me going? Just as it's the people who often frustrate me, so it's the people who inspire me. The people: those who know God, who passionately love the Word, and who give their lives in service to their Savior. Read more

Born in the OPC

My parents were members of Calvary OPC in Cedar Grove, Wisconsin, where my father and grandfather were charter members. I was baptized in Calvary Church by Pastor George Willis.

To visit my grandparents in Oostburg, we would ride past First Presbyterian Church USA on Main Street, where in June 1936 Pastor John DeWaard was removed from the ministry. He left with a large number of members to form a new congregation, Calvary Church—a major event in this small town of one thousand people. Now, wouldn't you think this was something we would have been told about early on? Calvary Church could have, but she did not. She was more concerned that we knew Christ and God's Word, and that the ministry of the gospel be supported at home and abroad. Read more

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