To: GP, GB, LD
Cc: [Wash. Society]
Subject: RE: Reply To The Brothers And Sisters In The Washington Society
Date: Sun, 16 Jan 2005 17:09:28 -0800
To the Elders of the RPNA, GM
Dear Esteemed and Beloved Brethren,
Thank you very much for your letter of Dec. 10th. While we certainly appreciate your timely response and apologize for not getting back to you sooner, we would respectfully request clarification on a couple of points.
Your letter states under #2:
"Elder Barrow sent 27 taped sermons by mail and there are many online sermons (both read and preached) available at Sermon Audio (http://www.sermonaudio.com/search.asp) . . . . Still + Waters + Revival + Books . . . We suggest these options be used when Pastor Price is not in the
Yet #3 says:
"Since Still Waters Revival Books is not an official ministry of the RPNA, decisions that relate to posting sermons on that website do not involve the officers of the RPNA. However, these suggestions may be directed to Still Waters Revival Books."
While the one recommends that we turn to this site, along with Albany, to obtain approved sermons, the other says SWRB is not an official ministry of the church. Can you appreciate our confusion over this, brethren? If it is not an official ministry of the church, why is it recommended? This, not to mention, as in our first letter to you: "there are not that many covenanter sermons at the SWRB page at SermonAudio" which Elder Barrow first suggested to us to begin with and which your most recent also does.
More importantly, as again, our first letter to you, what we would really like to know is if Session considers making recorded sermons available, "an extension of the official preaching ministry of the church"? If so, we would respectfully suggest for your consideration that posting sermons on the official websites of Edmonton and/or Albany would be the most efficient and economical way to fulfill the apostolic charge to feed the flock with the Word of God, rather than mailing out tapes, (much more the tape sound quality leaves much to be desired in our particular circumstances as well the question whether we are supposed to reimburse SWRB for postage of the same recently sent to us?) Again, as we said before: "we consider this issue, the ministry of the Word, to be of primary practical Protestant importance to our survival as a church of Jesus Christ, even more as gathered in reformed presbyterian society meetings."
While we recognize that as you state, "It is also possible for one of the members of the Washington Society to read a sermon on any Lord's Day that Pastor Price has not preached," we would like to stay away from this option, if at all possible. Granted, we have private meetings rather than a public worship service, but historically as well as confessionally, much of what we already take upon us to do, has been restricted to at least an elder, if not a minister, i.e. reading scripture and prayer in public worship, which we model our meetings after, though they are not again, public worship services.
Which leads to our next question? While we are happy to hear that efforts continue to see Elder Barrow ordained by a faithful presbytery, much less that Pastor Simbajon is studying to the end of joining the RPNA, GM, there is no mention in your letter to ours regarding ruling elders. What is Session's vision and policy in this regard? We have no desire to run ahead of the Lord in insisting on having what the Lord has not given us, but we are not only destitute of ministers, we are destitute of ruling elders. We would be interested in your comments on this concern.
We are also still respectfully interested in why Session saw need for a name change to the RPNA,GM and its signifigance. While as your letter said, the RP,GM may largely have consisted in "business meetings with very little recorded by way of substantial information regarding decisions etc." and the "preponderance of information recorded usually revolved around Causes Of Fasting and Causes Of Thanksgiving," have we no need of fasting and/or thanksgiving today? Yet as our first letter mentions, there was at least "one stated public meeting of the RPNA, GM a year and likewise, a published/public record of that meeting." Our letter also asks whether "the correspondence and communication with the societies will be put on a more regular footing and basis," as opposed to the ad hoc and informal way things seem to be done now? In other words, is the name change only nominal - and if so, why the bother - or will we begin to implement more of the policy and practice of the RP,GM than we do now?
Which leads to the next question. While we are very glad to hear that both Pastor Price and Elder Barrow are scheduled to visit Jan. 21-24 DV, is there any possibility of Session coming up with a "more regular schedule for pastoral visitation" as per our first inquiry? We realize regular pastoral/elder visitation is out of the question, but in that it is the elders' duty to look after the flock - even searching them out, whether or not they stop by or call in and of themselves - at least one annual visit, if financially feasible on the society's part, would seem to be very much in order.
It is also appreciated that, as you mention, "any Society or member thereof may receive a quarterly financial report from either Elder Dohms or Eric Lauderdale whenever desired." Yet we respectfully suggest that an annual financial report should be automatic practice in the church of Christ. Again, respectfully, we see this as yet one more example of the disorganized state we find ourselves in these days in the RPNA,GM which however minute, combined with other instances, provoked us to write Session the first time.
In conclusion, we again appreciate Session's letter to the Washington Society. We are thankful you saw fit to respond and desired to help answer the questions/concerns the Wash. Soc. submitted to Session. Yet while we have no problems with conference calls per se which Session recommends if any concerns remained from our first letter, it is precisely the informal and ad hoc way business seems to be conducted that has driven us to resort to paper in the first place. Again, we have no quarrel with conference/phone calls. We also enjoy and appreciate very much our contacts with Session, whether in person in the past, this summer in Prince George, much less the upcoming visit, or those by way of phone or email. On the contrary, it is precisely because - bear with us please, brethren - from our perspective it appears that the informal predominates in the RPNA,GM, that we have chosen to write you in the first place, much less request a written response.
For that matter, in the past, the disorganization and lasseiz faire program, particularly as regards the ministry of the word, has been extremely irksome. While we rejoice that things have improved in this area, that you have not heard from us sooner, is only because we had and still have no desire to be any more intemperate in addressing Session than we already might demonstrate in this letter or the previous.
Thank you very much.
Yet may the Lord bless and keep you all in the knowledge, wisdom and love of Christ,
The Washington Society,
Paul R, Bob S, Rick T