Wednesday, September 12, 2018

12 September 2018




“But if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned; if the sword come, and take any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at the watchman’s hand.” [Ezekiel 33:6]

“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” [Ephesians 6:12]


Presbyterians Week Headlines




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A year ago, after conversations with President Rob Gustafson and others to whom I turn for counsel, I put ARPTalk into hibernation. The new administration at Erskine needed the time and an opportunity to put together a plan. Indeed, with the hiring of Dr. Rob Gustafson as President, Dr. John Basie as Provost of the college, and Dr. Leslie Holmes as Provost of the seminary, a new day was upon us — or so we hoped. With hope abounding, many of us asked, “After so many years of missional betrayal, theological deviation, internecine conflict with the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, squandering of a lauded academic reputation, and mishandling of financial resources, are we witnessing the rising of the Erskine Phoenix from the ashes of disappointment?” Alas! No! The Phoenix story is a cruel delusion!

Football Ain’t Jesus!

When the Erskine board met in Due West on Thursday, August 23, board members were greeted with a dark cloud of disheartening news. (1) Provost John Basie resigned after a short tenure and returned to his job and home in Georgia. (2) Former board member (and former Vice Moderator and former Moderator of General Synod) Steve Maye, who was re-elected to the board this past June at Synod (but after meeting with President Gustafson and others), resigned before the August meeting of the board, conceding Erskine is a hopeless cause. (3) Dr. Ashley Woodiwiss resigned from the college faculty in order to take a position at Lander University, thus dismantling the political science program and finally nailing shut the casket on the hoped-for Drummond Center. (4) A financial hurricane is rapidly closing on Due West and has grown from a category bad to a category awful.
In recent memory, Dr. Randy Ruble is the first Erskine president to broach the idea of resurrecting football at Erskine. Why did he do that? Simple! The recruiting of more students! Potential students were not buying what Erskine was selling academically and Christianly! Money to pay salaries and other expenses was need. Revenue from football players was the way of financial salvation.

Ruble’s idea was castigated as ludicrous — an abomination to Erskine’s mission as a Christian liberal arts college. The response was, “For a mess of athletic and financial pottage, Ruble is prepared to abandon both Erskine’s storied academic reputation as a liberal arts college and her cherished heritage as a Christian college. If Ruble leads the board to do football, Scienta cum Moribus Conjuncta (“Knowledge joined with Morals”) is lost forever. Football will lead Erskine into the abyss of academic insignificance, athletic ineptitude, and religious irrelevance.”

Under President David Norman football was a taboo subject. While there were other issues, football was the undoing of both Acting President Brad Christie and President Paul Kooistra. This was the attitude: “We will not go there! We will not abandon Erskine as a Christian liberal arts college. Football is not a savior but a devil. Before we do football, we will shutdown Erskine!” Right now, Christie and Kooistra must be laughing themselves silly! I would be!

Well, if football were not a good idea for the administrations of Ruble, Norman, Christie, and Kooistra, why is it now a good idea for the administration of Rob Gustafson? Indeed, I asked this question of various individuals. I asked, “What has changed? How has football now become the the athletic-Jesus who will save Erskine from all her financial sins?”
Here is a collage of the answers I received: “Well, Chuck, you just don’t understand. We trust Rob Gustafson. He’s truly a good man. Unlike Ruble, Norman, Christie, and Kooistra, we can trust him to do the right thing. He will use football to get us financially stable, then we can return Erskine to her roots Christianly and academically. We can also use football as an evangelistic tool. Yes, let us all rise and cheer: FOOTBALL FOR JESUS! Besides, we are out of options. We don’t know what to do. We are a failure as a Christian liberal arts college and are unable to sell our present product. There is noting left to do but close if football can’t save us. May the football-Jesus save us!”

Well, these people to whom I have spoken are right that Erskine is a failure as a Christian liberal art college. They are also right that they cannot sell Erskine academically (for they can only recruit about 40 to 60 non-athletes a year). Now, all their former tough-talk about how they had rather close Erskine before embracing football is meaningless bluster and all the pitiful “Jesus-Jesus” talk about evangelism-through-football is nonsensical blithering.

What is the present condition of Erskine? Well, Erskine is like a man in the Intensive Care Unit of a hospital who is on life-support and the family is unwilling to pull-the-plug. The signs of impending death cover him. He is jaundice because his liver has failed; his neural oscillations (brainwaves) are flat; his skin is covered with necrotizing lesions; his heart relies on a LAVD; he breathes on a ventilator; and he has black patches of uremic frost because of kidney failure. Whatever the heroic measures taken, this man cannot be saved from death. He is dead! The only things left to do are pull-the-plug and give the corpse a decent burial. In spite of all the arguments otherwise, the Erskine patient is dead! The heroic measure of football is no savior!
No question, President Gustafson is a good man. I like him. I respect how he stood up to Paul Kooistra and told him football and the sports model would not save Erskine. However, he has been given an impossible hand to play. Even now, he agrees that football is no savior — a pathetic “Hail Mary pass” in the last two seconds of a lost game. So, why is he turning to football? The answer: DESPERATION! Desperation drives men to do desperate things. Money is needed to pay salaries and other expenses. Erskine is broke! It is so hard to pull-the plug on a dream when it dies! And who wants to be the president who closes Erskine?

Yippie Ki-Yay, Buckaroos!

Presently, Erskine College is a failure. In spite of President Gustafson’s longings for something different, Erskine is nothing more than a very expensive Sports Camp, providing a 13th year of high school sports (and nothing else) for a few naive athletes who have limited athletic ability and meager understanding of what the burden of $20,000 in tuition debt will do to their future; a debt which (as many of you are aware) will haunt a person to the grave. And, sadly, these young people will walk away from Due West with nothing to show for their Erskine experience but debt.

As of the August board meeting, here are the board-approved athletic offerings: baseball, softbalL, basketball for men and women, E-Sports, golf for men and women, CROSS COUNTRY for women, soccer for men and women, tennis for men and women, track and field for men and women, LACROSSE for women, volleyball for men and women, acrobatics for women, football, and RODEO.

As of this writing, according to the Erskine directory, the number of academic faculty (both full-time and adjuncts) is forty-nine. The number of athletic staff is nineteen, but this number does not include the coaches needed for football and the other programs added (nor does it include part-time athletic staff). At this writing, the ratio of athletic staff to academic faculty is twenty-nine percent, and, of course, this does not take into account athletic staff to be hired for new sports programs (and with an anticipated 150 football players, as a friend and former football coach says, “It will take at least five grown men just to keep them from killing and pillaging!”). With new coaches for football and other new sports programs (acrobatics, E-Sports, lacrosse, track and field, and rodeo), the ratio of coaches to academic faculty will be much higher. Indeed, the academic nature of Erskine is fading faster than Alice’s Cheshire Cat. Indeed, Erskine is a Sports Camp with a want-to-be college! By the way, if it helps in finding a head football coach, I understand Urban Meyer may be available.

In more than one way, Erskine has become a rodeo, even with clowns. It is amazing the dumb things people say when they are desperate. According to Athletic Director Mark Peeler,

. . . The critical next step is to identify a head coach who will be thoroughly committed to our mission.

We will not compromise the college’s mission or ‘The Fleet Way’ with the addition of football. We will integrate all aspects of this program with our core values—first and foremost we are Christ-centered. . .  (https://erskinesports.com/news/2018/8/24/general-erskine-bringing-back-football-for-2020-season.aspx)

Unfortunately, there is not enough sugar and mayonnaise in South Carolina to turn Peeler’s words into chicken salad. Well, Athletic Director Peeler, let me ask you a question: is that what Erskine is doing now with the athletic programs you oversee? Do not bother to reply. No! is the answer. Your pronouncement is clown-like. Yippie Ki-yay! Go Fleet!

Well, what can we expect for this year’s Freshman class? As usual! This year’s class will be about 200 students (or 203 as reported on Facebook by a board member). The class is very athletes-heavy. I understand the number of non-athletes is about fifty. From multiple sources, I also understand at least forty percent of the class was accepted probationally. That is, forth percent of the class is academically-at-risk, so do not expect to see them long. As usual, expect the retention rate from Freshman to Sophomore to be terrible at sixty percent or less — and look for less. Historically, from Freshman to graduation in four years, the retention rate is less than fifty percent, and I predict this class will not improve the percentage. This is easy to find; all one needs to do is look at the Freshman class size and compare it to the number of students who graduate four years later. Well, what do you expect when coaches do the recruiting? Besides, Erskine College has nothing to offer Christian students who are looking for a Christian liberal arts educational experience at a distinctively Christian college.

Now, with regard to the “Fleet Way” and the “college mission,” Coach Peeler, what percentage of students fit the college’s mission? Do you have any idea? Is it sixty percent, fifty percent, forty percent, or lower? As an outsider looking in (but also as a former board member and one who knows a great deal about things-Erskine), I would say lower. Let us do a survey and see what we get! As you know, mission-fit students in Due West are as rare as a Wooly Mammoth. Indeed, this athletic recruiting emphasis is succeeding in driving away non-athletes and students who fit the mission.
In conversations with a number of former board members, when I informed them of football and rodeo, they said, “Chuck Wilson, you’re making this up!” One even accused me of lying! When I assured them I was telling the truth, they said, “This is crazy! Why did we waste our time? Our dream of Erskine being the premier Christian liberal arts college in the southeast is gone! Erskine is dead! Our dream is dead!”

What Happened?

I think a sign needs to be erected outside of Due West, reading Dante-like, “Abandon all hope, ye who enter here!” It is amazing how Erskine sucks all reason and good sense out of people.

I know Bobby McDonald. We have been partners in a number of conventicles regarding Erskine where we dreamed the dream of Erskine being the premier Christian liberal arts college in the southeast. In my presence, he has ridiculed the idea of football at Erskine as destructive to Erskine’s mission as a Christian liberal arts college. So, how did McDonald come to make the motion for football and the other new sports programs? It is easy. Desperation seduced his reason and principles and extinguished the fire of courage. He became Mr. Faintheart.

We often hear of the “Erskine way” in Due West. I suppose the most painful thing for me to learn was the plan for football was formulated in secret and not distributed to the members of the board prior to the meeting. And this to the glory of God??

I call this the politics of disingenuousness. It is the good ol’ Erskine way!

Yes, business as usual!

Football, rodeo, and the other sports programs were not on the agenda. A large and complicated document was dropped on the trustees unexpectedly. Then Mr. McDonald said, “Here’s the plan, let’s adopt it!” When some board members complained they needed time to read a long and complicated document and asked for the vote to be postponed until the October meeting of the board, their concerns were brushed aside. Mr. Faintheart, the Nancy Polosi of Due West, responded that the board members should adopt the plan and read it when they got home! There is no excuse for such a maneuver! I have called Mr. McDonald. He did not answer. Well, at this point, I would not answer a phone call from Chuck Wilson, either.

A Financial Crisis Waiting

The “Trump Run” in the stock market has been good for Erskine. The Erskine Endowment stands at $41 million-plus. The problem is Erskine also has a debt-load of about $16 million-plus. That means the debt-to-cash ratio is about a whopping forty percent and growing. And what I pen is actually a sanguine assessment! If I held the paper on Erskine’s debt, I would be nervous and formulating a plan to recall the loan. Also, this means the actual monies Erskine has available is about $25 million. Now, $25 million is not a small sum, but now comes the pressure of football and other new sports programs (and let us not forget rodeo). And, yes, unexpected expenses will arise, and they will not be small. The kicker with the $25 million is that much of it is restricted monies. Here is the question: what is actually available for use? Three or four million dollars?

The financial news gets worse. From those who know, there is a $200,000-plus loan coming due this fall. I understand the “get-out-jail-free” cards whereby payment can be postponed have been used! Do the members of the board understand the seriousness of this? If the folks in the administration are unable to get refinancing (and that is adding more interest debt on interest debt), the board meeting in October will be a doozy. So, whose worried about the salaries of a of a bushel basket of new coaches? By the way, the salary of a good high school head coach is about $100,000, and are the assistant coaches going to be paid? By the way, at the high school where my son coaches, there are thirteen football coaches (and they do not deal with 150 players).

And the news gets worse. Do you remember when Erskine was put on probation by SACS? One of the concerns of the SACS auditors was the long-term practice of large draws on the Endowment. The SACS auditors cautioned draws of no more than five percent, and the board concurred. Then how is it that the last draw was seven percent? And I predict the draw this year will be ten percent or higher. Alas! where else can the administration find a money tree apart from the Endowment? Good heavens, what is going to happen when the SACS-man cometh for an audit?

I asked an old friend to read my assessment of Erskine’s financial plight. Like me, he is a former board member, and, like me, he was a member of the board’s finance committee. He said, “Chuck, it is far worse than what you write! You have painted a rosy picture!” Well, I suppose I have grown soft! This is the most emotionally draining ARPTalk I have written. Perhaps I am mellowing in my dotage. This is for certain, I take no joy in these words.

Something Positive

Well, do I have something positive to say? Well, yes, I do.
Provost of the Seminary Leslie Holmes distributed a book of sermons by the seminary’s faculty, entitled, Celebration. The first chapter is by Dr. Holmes and is a defense of Six Day Creation. I did not think I would live long enough to see someone write a defense of Six Day Creation at Erskine Seminary or College.

A Proposal for a New Day

I cannot take claim for the following proposal as mine. In a conversation with an old friend, he reminded me of something I had forgotten. He is the inspiration for what follows.

When I found my way into the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in 1972, the Dunlap Orphanage was still active. At the time, Dunlap was the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in ministry to orphans and other special children.

A few years later we found it necessary to close Dunlap in 1978. The closure of Dunlap, however, did not mean the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church had abandoned this ministry of mercy. The method of ministry changed.

Assets were turned over to General Synod and invested in order to provide for a new manner of ministry. Today, Dunlap “provide[s] care, support, maintenance, and education of orphaned, or fatherless or helpless, or needy children, and to support projects related to such children” (Dunlap, bylaws).
As I remember, many of us were disillusioned when we closed Dunlap as an active orphanage. However, the ministry of Dunlap evolved, continues, and is now greater and farther reaching than imagined. Last year, Dunlap distributed nearly $166,000 to nine ministries: three in MS, four in SC, one in Ethiopia, and one in Pakistan. Dunlap went from a small parochial ministry in Tennessee to an international ministry; from a failed ministry to an expanding ministry. Dunlap went from helping forty or fifty children to helping hundreds — or even thousands. In my opinion, Dunlap is a noble and most effective ministry, far exceeding what was originally envisioned.

What is my plan?

I advocate the closing of Erskine in Due West and the selling of the properties before all resources are expended, attempting to resuscitate that which is failed and dead. Indeed, when a Christian liberal arts college is turned into a sports camp, it is dead!

However, I am not advocating for the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church to give up on education; rather, I am proposing a Dunlap-like solution.

The buildings and land are worth something to someone. After all debts are settled, a sum of $25 million remains. After an equitable settlement with the seminary, a sum in excess of $20 million would probably remain. Turn the assets over to General Synod for investment and the establishing of an Erskine Scholarship Fund for Associate Reformed Presbyterian students seeking to attend a Christian liberal arts college. At present there about forty Associate Reformed Presbyterian students at Erskine. An Erskine Scholarship Fund has the potential of helping far more Associate Reformed Presbyterian students and without pilling up a huge load of loan debt on a student.



+ Erskine College and Theological Seminary, 2 Washington Street, Due West, South Carolina 29639, 864-379-2131, Fax: 864-379-2167, jguyette@erskine.edu






Rare Relics of Christ's Passion to be Presented in Lake Charles

Contact: Denise Murphy, 860-496-0648

TORRINGTON, Conn., Sept. 4, 2018 /Christian Newswire/ -- Eight rare Relics of the Passion, with a unique musical and meditative program focused on the Passion of Christ, will be presented at multiple churches in Louisiana from September 12th through September 19th.

The program, entitled "Call from the Crucified Heart," is a unique one-hour presentation of The Passion that couples holy relics with supporting meditations and musical pieces that serve as a guide to help you accompany Jesus through His suffering during the Passion. The program ends with an opportunity for personal veneration of the relics.

The Apostolate for Holy Relics, guardians for these relics, has toured across the United States throughout 2016, 2017 and 2018. Having the opportunity to join in this program while they are here in the Diocese of Lake Charles in Louisiana is sure to be an experience that will help you connect with the very roots of your faith.

It's very rare to see a group of related holy relics all in one place as is presented in this program. Collections such as this are generally seen only in Rome or the Holy Land and is something that most people only get to see once in a lifetime. What's significant about this collection is that these relics are brought into a single venue with a unique narration that brings the story of the Passion to life.

Documents for these relics have been reviewed and authenticated prior to the commencement of the first tour in 2007 and have been venerated in events throughout the world.

The Relics of the Passion collection includes:

  • A piece of the True Cross, which was discovered by St. Helena
     
  • A piece of the Holy Table from the room where the Last Supper took place
     
  • A piece of the Column of Flagellation
     
  • A piece of The Crown of Thorns
     
  • A replica of the Holy Nail, fashioned using filings from the true nails
     
  • A relic from the head of St. Longinus, the centurion who pierced the side of Christ
     
  • A picture of (the effigy of) the Veil of Veronica touched to the original with a Vatican seal attesting to the fact.
     
  • A piece of the exterior wrapping for the Shroud of Turin

Additional information regarding the AHR and their upcoming tour with the Relics of the Passion in Louisiana, can be found at www.relictour.org


+ Christian News Wire, 2020 Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest, Washington DC 20006, 202-546-0054, newsdesk@christiannewswire.com

+ The Vatican, Città del Vaticano, Rome, Italy, 39-6-69-88-35-11, Fax: 39-6-69-88-54-47, Contact Page



[I Timothy 4:1-3 – “Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; Forbidding to marry…”]

Catholics Demand Release of Documents on Predatory Priests from Cardinal Dolan

Contact: Michael Hichborn, Lepanto Institute, 540-847-5501

NEW YORK, Sept. 4, 2018 /Christian Newswire/ -- The Lepanto Institute is continuing its radio ad campaign in the Archdiocese of New York, asking Cardinal Timothy Dolan to release all of its files on predatory priests before a formal grand jury investigation is launched by the attorney general.

The radio ad can be heard at this link: youtu.be/eORyBbreSuw

The Lepanto Institute was formed in 2014 for the purpose of investigating and exposing threats to the Catholic Church, both from without as from within. The Fulton Sheen Initiative of the Institute was created specifically for taking out radio ads addressing the current scandal of homosexual clergy within the Catholic Church.

"It's perfectly clear that a vast network of sexually deviant priests has infiltrated the Catholic Church, causing the crisis we now face," said Michael Hichborn, president of the Lepanto Institute. "If Cardinal Dolan wishes to preserve the faith and maintain the trust of the faithful, he will need to begin by clearing out all priests with a record of sexual deviancy."

Investors in the Fulton Sheen Initiative have already committed $25,000 to the radio ads, spurring on support from the faithful.

"Ever since we took out these ads, our office has been swarmed by phone calls and emails from faithful Catholics supporting our effort and asking us to keep the pressure up," said Hichborn. "The campaign has been an overwhelming success in alerting the laity to the problem and giving them a proper course of action."

The Lepanto Institute for the Restoration of All Things in Christ is a research and education organization dedicated to the defense of the Catholic Church against assaults from without as well as from within. Founded in 2014, the Lepanto Institute has exposed several instances of Catholic or Catholic-affiliated organizations being directly involved in events or other matters directly contrary to Church teaching. www.LepantoInstitute.org 


+ Christian News Wire, 2020 Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest, Washington DC 20006, 202-546-0054, newsdesk@christiannewswire.com

+ The Vatican, Città del Vaticano, Rome, Italy, 39-6-69-88-35-11, Fax: 39-6-69-88-54-47, Contact Page


Thursday, July 19, 2018

18 July 2018





“But if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned; if the sword come, and take any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at the watchman’s hand.” [Ezekiel 33:6]

“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” [Ephesians 6:12]


Presbyterians Week Headlines



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Why Hasn't NAACP Denounced Racist Comments by Planned Parenthood's Founder?

Contact: Rev. Clenard H. Childress Jr., 201-704-9325

MONTCLAIR, N.J., July 15, 2018 /Christian Newswire/ -- The NAACP religiously monitors the world for racist comments made by dignitaries, especially elected officials and organizations opposing the Democrat Party. The bias demonstrated is consistent with the decline of relevancy on issues adversely affecting the very people they were created to protect. When informed and genuine advocates of the African American community see the devastating effects of eugenic policies perpetrated upon people-of-color, then learn the origins and racist comments as well as practices of the leading abortion provider Planned Parenthood, they are left baffled at the silence of America's most prestigious defenders of civil rights. Let me enumerate some undeniable and inconvenient truths:

1.       1,786 African American children are killed each day by abortion.
2.       Abortion is systemic and deliberate and the leading provider of
abortion in America is Planned Parenthood.
3.       Fifty-Two percent of All African American pregnancies end in
abortion.

Margaret Sanger, the founder and chief facilitator of the eugenic and systemic plan of abortion. She was an avowed White Supremist and was quoted as saying, "…colored people are human weeds and need to be exterminated… reckless breeders… spawning… human beings who never should have been born…" Margaret Sanger, "Pivot of Civilization." Sanger was in her time the leading advocate of the eugenics movement, specifically of negative eugenics, which promoted the reduction of sexual reproduction and sterilization of people with undesired traits or economic conditions. She wrote, "The most merciful thing that a large family does to one of its infant members is to kill it." -- Margaret Sanger, "Women and the New Race" (Eugenics Publ. Co., 1920, 1923)

Margaret Sanger has nothing on pizza king "Papa John" The University of Louisville said it will remove the Papa John's name from its football stadium, and that it will rename the John H. Schnatter Center for Free Enterprise at its business college. Why? He used the "n" word and thus his name will be removed. Yet, Margaret Sanger's name is still heralded and her bust is still in the Smithsonian Portrait Gallery next to Martin Luther King, What's up with that! After all this is far more important than pizza.

L.E.A.R.N. the Life Education And Resource Network will peacefully protest July 16 and 17 at the NAACP Convention in San Antonia, Texas demanding a resolution form the NAACP denouncing the racist comments of Margaret Sanger and request that all awards, plazas, streets along with icons and honorable mention be removed from government buildings and the public square.



+ BlackGenocide.org, Post Office Box 157, Montclair, New Jersey 07042, 866-242-4997, revchildress@yahoo.com

+ Christian News Wire, 2020 Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest, Washington DC 20006, 202-546-0054, newsdesk@christiannewswire.com

+ NBC News, 30 Rockefeller Plaza, New York, New York 10112, mediainquiries@msnbc.com



The Banner of Truth Trust is selling audio of the 2018 U.S. Minister’s Conference on a USB drive for US$18 or MP3 download for US$9.99, and is selling audio of the 2013-2017 U.S. Minister’s Conferences on a USB drive for US$35.




Wednesday, July 4, 2018

4 July 2018





“But if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned; if the sword come, and take any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at the watchman’s hand.” [Ezekiel 33:6]

“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” [Ephesians 6:12]


Presbyterians Week Headlines






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At a preassembly prayer meeting held 12 June 2018 at the Presbyterian Church in America 2018 General Assembly in Atlanta, Georgia, Dr. Sean Lucas, Senior Pastor of Independent Presbyterian Church in Memphis, Tennessee, led the following “liturgy:”

PRAYER                Dr. Sean Lucas

                              Lament for how we have not loved our neighbors.

[John 17.17] Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. [18] As you sent me into the World, so I have sent them into the world. [19] And for their sake I consecrate myself, That they also may be sanctified in truth.

Lamenting Our Sins: A Litany

Leader:                O Lord, have mercy.
People:                O Christ, have mercy.
Leader:                O Lord, have mercy and hear your people.
People:                Hear us, good Lord.

Leader:                We grieve the disunity of your church. We grieve that many women in our congregations feel unvalued and unwanted, unheard and uncared for. We grieve that we have acted as though being male was more valuable than being female, theta we have communicated that only men were wanted in service and care, that only male voices could be and should be heard, that only men were valued. We grieve not loving our mothers and sisters in Christ well.

People:                Hear us, good Lord.


Leader:                We grieve that the poor, the blue collar, the working class, and the middle class find our churches uninviting and unwelcoming. We grieve that we have played favorites, seeking to reach the wealthy and powerful with the Gospel while avoiding those who could not advance our influence. We grieve that our status symbolscars, clothes, vacations, schools—have kept people away from the very place where we declare that he who was rich became poor for our sakes so that we might be rich in him.
People:               Hear us, good Lord. 

Leader:               We grieve that black and brown people have found our churches to be overwhelming and unsympathetic places, more loyal to “whiteness” than to the red blood of Jesus shed on the Cross. We grieve that our loyalties to politicians who play on racial fears have been stronger than our loyalties to our black and brown brothers and sisters in Christ. We grieve that we have wittingly and unwittingly erected once again the very wall of hostility that Christ’s cross had torn down. We grieve that those who have spoken the Gospel truth on our racial unity-in-diversity have been shouted down as “cultural Marxists” or “social justice warriors” rather than celebrated as Servants of the Gospel.
People:               Hear us, good Lord.



+ Presbyterian Church in America, 1700 North Brown Road, Suite 105, Lawrenceville, Georgia 30043, 678-825-1000, Fax: 678-825-1001, ac@pcanet.org


+ Reformed Theological Seminary - Jackson, 5422 Clinton Boulevard, Jackson, Mississippi 39209, 601-923-1600, Contact Page



William S. Young’s 1859 book The True Psalmody: or, the Bible Psalms the Church’s Only Manual of Praise is available at the Internet Archive at the following link:



+ Internet Archive, 116 Sheridan Avenue, The Presidio of San Francisco, San Francisco, California 94129, 415-561-6767
Fax: 415-840-0391, info@archive.org




Axes that were used to threaten others from entering a church, along with chains used to bar the doors, were recrafted by Pillar Church of Holland, Mich., into a baptismal font that was placed center stage on Thursday evening, 7 June 2018, in the Calvin College chapel.

It was a great symbol for the worship service held to open both the Reformed Church in America general synod and the Christian Reformed Church in North America synod.

The ax handles and chains are artifacts from an era in which the Reformed Church in America and Christian Reformed Church in North America split from one another in a dramatic and hurtful way.

Meeting in joint sessions and separately over the next several days on the campus of Calvin College in Grand Rapids, Mich., the two denominations gave evidence of the evolving connection between the CRCNA and the RCA. After more than two years in planning by representatives from each denomination, the worship services, events, and other meetings reflected a rich heritage and a sense of harmony that have been growing between the two churches since the early 2000s and especially since they met concurrently in Pella, Iowa, in 2014 and signed a joint resolution.

Another joint session took place on Friday night, a few hours after the CRC formally opened for business and elected its officers -- some of whom had experience in the roles before, and others of whom were new in helping to guide synod through its upcoming days.

During the Friday joint session, Rev. Denise Posie, the CRC’s director of leadership development for women and ethnic ministry, led delegates through some of the history of this new era of cooperation, highlighting the “Pella Accord,” the joint resolution signed in 2014.

The resolution states, among other things, that “the principle that guides us, and the intention that motivates us, is to ‘act together in all matters except those in which deep differences of conviction compel [us] to act separately’” (Acts of Synod 2014, p. 504).

Delegates heard about the increasing work being done together by ministries of both denominations: Disability Concerns ministry, Reformed Benefits Association, Reformed Leadership Initiative, Clinical Pastoral Education at Pine Rest Christian Mental Health Services, Faith Alive Christian ResourcesWorld Renew, and social justice work.

Saturday morning, delegates from both denominations also met for three hours in joint sessions, marking the first time that delegates from the RCA and CRCNA were asked to be in advisory committees together. Their conversations were recorded and reported, not for action by either synod, but to give direction for the future.

Delegates divided into groups of members from each denomination to discuss proposed approaches on how the churches might move forward together in ministry in years to come.

They looked at four topics: interfaith engagement, congregational renewal, collaboration between the RCA and CRCNA, and the brainstorming of a “new creation” for the future of the two denominations.

In the afternoon on Saturday, the RCA General Synod approved Eddy Alemán by voice vote as the new general secretary of the RCA. The vote followed a presentation by Alemán and a time of questions from the floor.
The role of general secretary includes casting vision for the denomination and overseeing implementation of its mission. The general secretary also works closely with the executive director of the CRCNA.

“I am thrilled by this decision,” said Dr. Steven Timmermans, the CRC’s executive director. “Eddy is an excellent example of servant leadership who has a real heart for the church. I look forward to working alongside him in this new role.”

On Sunday, day four of the synods, delegates had the chance to worship at local churches and to spend some time in joint advisory discussions and relaxing.

Then on Sunday evening, delegates united for worship in the DeVos Center for Arts and Worship at the nearby Grand Rapids Christian High School. Participants from the RCA and the CRC helped to prepare and participate in the service that was at times exuberant, at times prayerful, and at all times driven by the conviction that the two denominations share a common mission.

On Monday morning, during their last time of joint worship, delegates from the RCA general synod and the CRCNA synod gave verbal and written reports about their joint advisory committee discussions that took place earlier.

The proposals discussed by the groups presented new ways for the two denominations to cooperate. They varied from probable, already-in-the-works ideas, to a less likely, what-if, idea for the future.

Proposals already being worked on or likely to be worked on soon are ways of further consolidating denominational services, especially in the area of congregational renewal, and a joint effort to promote and shape interfaith engagement.

Less likely at present is a proposal to join and radically reconfigure the denominations.

On Wednesday, the CRC synod agreed to form a joint committee with the RCA to help both denominations reach out to other religions.

The decision came out of recommendations from the CRC’s Ecumenical and Interfaith Relations Committee(EIRC). In the published agenda for synod, the EIRC had signaled that they were working out an arrangement with the RCA to cooperate in interreligious matters -- relationships with non-Christian faiths. By the time synod met, the EIRC had received a request from the RCA to merge the efforts of their two committees for this work.
Another important move that highlights the CRC’s desire to build bridges, not only with the RCA but with other churches, took place early in the week when CRC delegates decided to make reconciliation a key area of focus as the denomination crafts its upcoming ministry plan.

Lori Fieber of Classis B.C. North-West, said, “I’m excited about all this language towards reconciliation.” She talked about her home church striving to become a gospel-centered community that incorporates restorative practice and noted that an environment that is conducive to restoration must include willingness.

“Let’s continue to make overtures and offers of reconciliation towards those we are in conflict with, but be patient,” she said.

These events were by all means historic in the lives of two churches united in Reformed faith yet driven apart by issues and personalities that are in the past. Praying and singing and talking together were highlights of the joint gatherings. Over a few days in early June, the churches took a few more steps together toward the future.

Meanwhile, the CRC’s Synod 2018 addressed other business:


For more, visit Synod 2018.


+ Christian Reformed Church in North America, 2850 Kalamazoo Avenue Southeast, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49560, 616-241-1691, Fax: 616-224-0803 crcna@crcna.org

+ Reformed Church in America, 4500 60th Street Southeast, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49512, 800-968-6065, questions@rca.org

+ Calvin College 3201 Burton Southeast, Grand Rapids, Michigan  49546, 616-526-6000



June 18, 2018

Concerned about the policy in which the United States is separating children from their parents at the U.S. border with Mexico, the Christian Reformed Church in North America is joining with the voices of other people of faith to call for an end to this policy, which causes families to suffer and runs counter to gospel values.

World Renew has also issued a statement on the policy, citing how it conflicts with the core humanitarian standards and child-safety commitments they hold.

(Update:  On June 20, 2018 President Trump signed an executive order to allow parents who have crossed the border into the United States illegally to remain with their children while they are detained. We are grateful for this positive step. We urge CRC members to continue speaking with their elected representatives for broader immigration reform.)  

The complete CRCNA statement reads:

CRCNA Statement on Forced Separation Policy

As leaders from the Christian Reformed Church in North America, we are deeply concerned about the new “zero tolerance” policy being enforced by the United States Department of Justice and the justifications that have been used to support it. We are troubled that this policy seems to remove the government’s responsibility to ensure that asylum seekers may legally make their claim. We are also alarmed by the active separation of vulnerable children from their parents that has resulted from this policy’s implementation.

As Christians, we believe that the family is a core component to God’s structuring of society. Throughout the Bible, God’s work is told, experienced, and carried out by people in families. There are instructions for how couples should parent their children, how siblings should love each other, and how children should honor their parents. Within the very gospel story, God chose to bring his Son into the world by placing him within a family.

Acknowledging that the family is such a core building block for faith formation and kingdom work, we believe that governments should separate families only in the rarest of instances.

We acknowledge that governments have the right to uphold laws and secure their borders. However, we also believe that governments must use discretion in how they enforce those laws, and that the well-being of children as well as the upholding of human rights conventions should be key factors in making such decisions. Forcibly removing immigrant children from their parents and families can cause long-term trauma and psychological harm to both the children and their parents.

As people of faith with a call to protect the vulnerable, welcome the stranger, and love our neighbors, we urge our leaders to act with compassion for people fleeing life-threatening persecution and to keep families together.
We call on the U.S. administration to immediately end these unjust practices, and to reaffirm the U.S. commitment to the values of family unity, humane treatment, and refuge for persons being persecuted. We also call on Congress to immediately act to reform our immigration system so that there are more, not fewer, opportunities for legal status and permanent protection for vulnerable immigrants.

Finally, we encourage members of the CRCNA in the U.S. to keep this situation in their prayers, to educate themselves about issues facing immigrants, and to urge their lawmakers to enact laws that honor the blessings that immigrants bring to our country.


In Christ,

Steven Timmermans, Executive Director, Christian Reformed Church in North America

Colin P. Watson, Director of Ministries and Administration, Christian Reformed Church in North America

Carol Bremer-Bennett, Director, World Renew - United States, Christian Reformed Church in North America

Reginald Smith, Offices of Race Relations and Social Justice, Christian Reformed Church in North America

Kurt Selles, Director, Back to God Ministries International, Christian Reformed Church in North America

Zachary King, Director, Resonate Global Mission, Christian Reformed Church in North America

Jul Medenblik, President, Calvin Theological Seminary, Christian Reformed Church in North America


+ Christian Reformed Church in North America, 2850 Kalamazoo Avenue Southeast, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49560, 616-241-1691, Fax: 616-224-0803 crcna@crcna.org



By Stephen Walker
BBC News Northern Ireland Political Correspondent

The peer, who was a Presbyterian elder, said it is because he disagrees with a series of the Church's recent decisions.

He is particularly concerned with the Church's decision to loosen ties with the Church of Scotland due to its views on same-sex relationships.
He is also unhappy about its decision to leave the World Council of Churches.


In a statement, Reverend Trevor Gribben, clerk of the General Assembly and general secretary of the Irish Presbyterian Church, said that any resignation from the Church is to be regretted.


Now same-sex couples cannot take communion and their children cannot be baptised.



+ BBC, 201 Wood Lane, London W12 7TS, England, Fax: 020-8008-2398

+ Presbyterian Church in Ireland, Church House, Belfast BT1 6DW, Northern Ireland, 028-9032-2284, Fax: 028-9041-7301, Info@PresbyterianIreland.org





Wednesday, June 27, 2018

27 June 2018




“But if the watchman see the sword come, and blow not the trumpet, and the people be not warned; if the sword come, and take any person from among them, he is taken away in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at the watchman’s hand.” [Ezekiel 33:6]
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“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” [Ephesians 6:12]


Presbyterians Week Headlines




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WASHINGTON, June 26, 2018 /Christian Newswire/ -- Today, the U.S. Supreme Court handed the pro-life movement a victory in the case of NIFLA v. Becerra, stating that the California law, called the Reproductive Fact Act, forcing pro-life help centers to promote abortion was unduly burdensome to free speech rights and was therefore unconstitutional.

The following quote is attributable to Troy Newman, President of Operation Rescue:
 
We are grateful that the First Amendment Right to Free Speech has prevailed and that pro-life pregnancy centers will be protected from forced promotion of abortion. Those of us with deeply held beliefs that abortion is a moral injustice now cannot be forced to capitulate to an unjust government demand that we promote this human rights abuse.

We are grateful to Tom Glessner and the National Institute of Family and Life Associates (NIFLA) for bearing the burden of challenging this unconstitutional law.


+ Christian News Wire, 2020 Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest, Washington DC 20006, 202-546-0054, newsdesk@christiannewswire.com

+ Operation Rescue, Post Office Box 782888, Wichita, Kansas 67278, 800-705-1175, Fax: 916-244-2636, info@operationrescue.org




MONTGOMERY, Ala., June 26, 2018 /Christian Newswire/ -- The Foundation for Moral Law ("the Foundation"), an Alabama-based nonprofit corporation dedicated to religious liberty and the strict interpretation of the Constitution as intended by its Framers, applauded Tuesday's U.S. Supreme Court decisions in National Institute of Family and Life Advocates (NIFLA) v. Becerra and Trump v. Hawaii.

"Today is a great day for America and for the Foundation for Moral Law," said Foundation President Kayla Moore. "The Court upheld the Constitution today in two very important cases in which we had filed amicus briefs. We are pleased that the Court rebuked California for trying to force right to life advocates to speak a 'pro-abortion' message and that the Court defended the President's prerogative to keep this country safe, by certain restrictions on travel from other countries."

NIFLA v. Becerra

In NIFLA, the Court ruled in a 5-4 decision that a California law requiring pro-life crisis pregnancy centers to provide information about how to obtain state-sponsored abortions violated the First Amendment's Free Speech Clause. Justice Clarence Thomas wrote the majority opinion, holding that the law was unconstitutional because it regulated the content of the pro-lifers' speech and made them speak a message with which they disagree. Justice Thomas noted that the Court sometimes allows the government to require medical providers to disclose certain information, but that is permissible only when the information is factual and noncontroversial, which was not the case here. Justice Thomas's decision aligns with the Foundation's amicus brief, which argued that the law was a content-based restriction on free speech and also a form of compelled speech.

Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote a concurrence, joined by Chief Justice Roberts, Justice Alito, and Justice Gorsuch, expressing alarm that the California law appeared to target only the pro-life viewpoint and was therefore an attempt by the government to suppress a particular message with which the government disagreed. Justice Kennedy emphasized that "Governments must not be allowed to force persons to express a message contrary to their deepest convictions." Justice Kennedy's arguments aligned with the Foundation's argument that the law was not only a content-based regulation of speech but also targeted the speakers because of their viewpoint.

John Eidsmoe, Foundation Senior Counsel who authored the brief, said, "Of all the forms of free speech violations, forcing someone to say something controversial with which they deeply disagree is perhaps the worst. Through the course of history, people have chosen to suffer and even die rather than betray their convictions. The Supreme Court's decision today reaffirms that freedom of speech is still alive and well in the United States."

Matthew Clark, the Foundation attorney who submitted the Foundation's amicus brief, added, "The Court's decision not only upheld the right to free speech, but it also indirectly upheld the religious rights of many of these pro-life advocates who do their work because they believe life is a gift from God. The Foundation believes that also, and we are pleased that the Court's decision today will help save innocent lives."

Trump v. Hawaii

In Trump, the Court upheld in a 5-4 decision a proclamation by President Trump restricting travel to and from countries that pose a national security risk to the United States. Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the majority opinion, rejecting the argument that President Trump's proclamation was really a "Muslim ban" and reaffirming that the Court must grant great deference to the President's decisions on national security matters.

Chief Justice Roberts's decision reflected the Foundation's argument that the President's travel ban was not an Establishment Clause violation. Foundation Senior Counsel John Eidsmoe said, "The original purpose of the Establishment Clause was to prevent the government from coercing people to violate their religious beliefs. That wasn't the purpose of the President's proclamation. As we established in our brief, the ban applied only to certain nations that were centers for terrorism and failed to 'vet' terrorists.  Most Muslim nations and 86% of the world's Muslim population are not affected by the ban, which also included two non-Muslim nations (Venezuela and North Korea). This really was a national security case, not an Establishment Clause case. We are pleased that the Court agreed."

In a concurring opinion, Justice Clarence Thomas addressed the fact that the Hawaii district court issued a nation-wide injunction in this case, arguing that the constitutionality of nation-wide injunctions is "dubious." Justice Thomas argued that judicial power is the power to settle disputes between the parties to the case, which is different than giving orders that bind the entire nation. The Foundation raised the same point in its amicus brief.

Explaining that point, Foundation attorney Matthew Clark said, "If an unelected and unaccountable federal district judge can issue an order that binds not just the parties to the case but everyone in the country, including those who live outside the district court's jurisdiction and who have no opportunity to be heard in the case, then we no longer have a constitutional republic but a dictatorship. The Supreme Court needs to address whether nation-wide injunctions are unconstitutional, and we are glad that Justice Thomas is calling the Court's attention to the problem."


+ Christian News Wire, 2020 Pennsylvania Avenue Northwest, Washington DC 20006, 202-546-0054, newsdesk@christiannewswire.com

+ Foundation for Moral Law, Post Office Box 4086, Montgomery, Alabama 36103, 334-262-1245, Fax: 334-262-1708, Info@morallaw.org



By Emmanuel Ogebe, Special to ASSIST News Service

NIGERIA (ANS – June 25, 2018) -- In a 60-hour killing spree that began last weekend about 200 Christians were slaughtered in Plateau State even as the US Ambassador At Large for IRF was departing Nigeria.

Ambassador Sam Brownback’s one-week visit was pockmarked with 6 suicide bombings by Boko Haram in one day (the largest single day detonations), deadly Shiite clashes with the police, altercations between local Muslims and a community and continuing killings by Muslim Fulani Herdsmen.

The grand finale of this perfect storm of violence was the triple digit massacre in Plateau State. https://viewpointnigeria.com/despair-as-death-toll-of-barkin-ladi-killings-reaches-106/?_e_pi_=7%2CPAGE_ID10%2C7541351262

Overnight, I have been inundated with photos too gruesome to share here of horribly mutilated bodies of children brutally macheted to death and macheted still after death for maximal horror effect, charred corpses and bodies stacked in mass graves.

Already the Fulani have justified this heinous crime against humanity http://scannewsnigeria.com/news/plateau-killings-are-retaliatory-says-miyetti-allah/

The sad thing is this is not the first time nor the last. In 2012 when Fulani’s massacred over 60 Christian villagers in Plateau State, an executive of the same cattle rearers group said the same thing. I wrote to the Attorney General and asked, “This man has admitted the crime. Why hasn’t he been picked up?” He is still free till today. After the New Year Massacre in Benue State, again they admitted it. No one has been arrested.

Worse still, some of the communities attacked this weekend were attacked previously. In fact one of them was part of the notorious 2010 Dogo Na Hawa Massacre in which 500 Christians were killed. That massacre 8 years ago spurred me to launch the Justice For Jos project and that has evolved to covering Boko Haram atrocities. Ironically the Herdsmen atrocities have continued unabated while Boko Haram hogged the spotlight.

Sadly all of this occurred while Nigeria’s President Buhari was busy holding a party convention in his bid for re-election. Early last week I got distress messages from of our local workers that he was trapped outside the orphanage because of an ongoing Herdsmen attack. However President Buhari deployed over 5000 policemen for his security at the party convention and the killings built up until the massacre despite the early warnings.

We hear reports that mass burials are being ordered by the authorities to hide the true casualties.

At this point the Plateau massacre this weekend looks likely to be the third worst in the 8 years in which I have tracked Herdsmen attacks.

1.     Dogo Nahawa 500 killed March 2010 Plateau State
2.     Agatu 300 killed February 2016 Benue State
3.     Barkin Ladi about 200 Plateau State June 2018


It is disconcerting that a small Muslim minority can so terrorize Christian majorities in Benue and Plateau state because of their monopoly of violence. The great danger is if Christians choose not to take it anymore. Friends and family have been appealing for evacuation since last night as Muslims are amassing. However, Plateau is where most Christians from the far north flee for safety so where does everyone one now go?

One of my learned colleagues informs me that Rocket Propelled Grenades were used in these attacks. I am waiting on the evidence but if true, this is not the first time either.

I will keep you updated while I ask your prayers for this unraveling situation.


+ Assist USA, Post Office Box 609, Lake Forest, California 92609, 949-380-1558, danjuma1@aol.com