Sunday, November 28, 2004

11/28/04, First Washington Society Letter to Elders

November 28, 2004
Session RPNA, (General Meeting)
Dear Esteemed Brethren,

We, the undersigned members of the Washington Society would like to respectfully bring to your attention a couple of items regarding the ministry of the word and church government/organization.

As regards the ministry of the word, if preaching is the chief means of grace, it is very discouraging when Pastor Price, who is the only minister in the church right now, leaves the Albany pulpit for whatever reason, and there is no corresponding offical notice by Session so we may have time to obtain/ schedule another sermon tape. Can we come up with some kind of solution to this other than learning of Pastor Price’s planned absence via third hand rumor on the various unofficial email forums?

Even further, an official library or site where we may obtain approved sermons would be very much appreciated. We have pretty much heard, if not a couple of times the sermons available at SermonAudio by Pastor Price. While we appreciate the quick response of Elder Barrow to our recent request for sermons, there are not that many covenanter sermons at the SWRB page at SermonAudio he suggested. Yet as an extension of the official preaching ministry of the church - for that is exactly what it is, is it not? - posting on the official Edmonton (and Albany) web sites of our church would be very much in order. (We assume that is what they are. There has been some extraneous advertising on the Albany page in the past.) Posting on the SWRB page was what threw us off the track in the first place trying to run down some of the Edmonton sermons. (And if SWRB is an official arm of the church, official notice of that would also be appreciated.) Again, we would hope that sermons could be put up on the Edmonton site like is done in Albany - or more on the Albany site. - For that matter, it is our understanding that the mp3 recorder we previously sent Albany is not being used and Edmonton could use it to digitize any sermons read in the future. We mention this because one: it is much easier/quicker to obtain digitized sermons on the web. Two: the quality of the digital recording is a practical issue for us now that the _______ from Vancouver visit regularly on the Lord’s Day and ____ _______ has a hearing problem. For that matter there is even the possibility that we could get some of these sermons digitized if we had a place to post them on the web.

In other words, it is our respectful but firm opinion, that time is ripe for an official decision on the matter and whatever is done, we as a society, much less all the societies, should be notified of it so to know where to go in the future for sermon tapes. Again 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. We would urge your consideration of and action on this in order that we as members of the same, don’t wither, if not die, on the vine.

Two, as regards church government and organization, we have also noticed that with the last two letters from Session, there has been a name change from the RPNA to the RPNA, (General Meeting). Can we assume that this is in accord with the practice of the Reformed Presbytery? That is, as is noted in the RP Minutes for 1888, “upon the death of one of its constituent members, Rev. David Steele,” the Reformed Presbytery reverted to the “General Meeting of the Reformed Presbyterian Church . . . which, according to the known and established usage of this Church, attends to its public interests when it is deprived of a Presbytery.” If so, will there be - as then - at least one stated public meeting of the RPNA, (GM) a year and likewise, a published/public record of that meeting, as well that the correspondence and communication with the societies will be put on a more regular footing and basis? Again, the lack of official or regular communication and prevailing disorganization can be very discouraging/confusing at times for us as a society, as we assume it also is for Session. Yet we hope something can be done about it, as was done in the past, in like circumstances by the RPNA,(GM) those whom we claim to faithfully follow and continue as a church.

To that end, a more regular schedule for pastoral visitation would also help. We believe we are about due for a visit and look forward to it, having received one last year about this time. (We were hoping to see both Pastor Price and Elder Barrow then, but only Pastor could make it.) Some kind of schedule though, would help us plan for an elder visit particularly if our taking care of finances is to be a part of the picture. We also would hope that the church is moving forward in regard to possibilities of other ministers coming on aboard, as well as other venues for ordination and ministerial supply, for in the long run, without preachers, practically/humanly speaking we will perish. The same would go for more ruling elders, we would hope.

Some kind of quarterly, if not annual financial statement, would also be appreciated so that we are kept current as to what monies are coming in and what the expenses are. Elder Dohms used to do something like this when Pastor Price was in Edmonton, but now that Session is divided between Edmonton and Albany - and Albany has no other church officers to speak of since the departure of [Elder] Hart - there is not much of anything of this sort.

In conclusion, thank you very much for your consideration and action on these items. We have no desire to unnecessarily add to the confusion and bother that accompanies a situation like we find ourselves in these days in the RPNA,GM. We also know there has been lots of change and growth in the church and the corresponding workload and questions before Session, especially since the time when Pastor Price was still in Edmonton and this letter again, would seem to add to it. Yet we would be so bold as to hope that by writing you, it might help you further clarify, prioritize and resolve some of the issues that face us as a church, much less that we as a society at least consider ourselves as obligated before the Lord to go on record about these concerns. May the Lord continue to bless your labors for his kingdom and church as the Session of the RPNA,(GM).

we are,
cordially yours,
in the Lord Jesus Christ
the Washington Society, RPNA, GM
Paul R, Bob S, Rick & Joyce T

See also:

12/10/04, Elders' Reply To The Brothers And Sisters In The Washington Society
1/16/05, Second Washington Society Letter to the Elders