Thursday, August 17, 2017

16 August 2017





“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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New Christian Observer articles for August 2017 include:

-- God Is – by Christian Observer Contributing Editor David Brand – “To say that “God is” represents a far more foundational category of expression than to say that “God is love.””;

-- Educational Diversity Can Easily Turn to Perversity - by Christian Observer Contributing Editor Dr. Joe Renfro – “Diversity is neither good or bad in itself, but can become perversity when many of our colleges and universities are so committed to social engineering that promotes racial, sexual, religious, socio-economic focuses, or whatever it might be instead of true education.”;

Plus, links to ReVision devotionals on the Fellowship of Ailbe website by Christian Observer Contributing Editor T.M. Moore.





The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) , who claims to be “…dedicated to fighting hate and bigotry and to seeking justice for the most vulnerable members of our society” includes D. James Kennedy Ministries of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida in the SPLC’s map of 917 “hate groups” operating in the U.S. due to the ministry’s biblical stance on sex being legitimate only between a married man and woman.

Additionally included in the list of “hate groups” for their “anti-LBGT” views are Liberty Counsel of Orlando, Florida, American College of Pediatricians of Gainesville, Florida, and the American Family Association of Tupelo, Mississippi.


+ D. James Kennedy Ministries, Post Office Box 11184, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida  33339, 866-534-1294, letters@djameskennedy.org

+ Southern Poverty Law Center, 400 Washington Avenue, Montgomery, Alabama 36104, 334-956-8200, Contact Page

+ Liberty Counsel, Post Office Box 540774, Orlando, Florida 32854, 800-671-1776, Liberty@LC.org

+ American College of Pediatricians, Post Office Box 357190, Gainesville, Florida 32635, 352-376-1877, Fax: 352-415-0922,

+ American Family Association, Post Office Drawer 2440, Tupelo, Mississippi 38803, 662-844-5036, Contact Page


Wednesday, July 19, 2017

19 July 2017



“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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Wes Bredenhof, Pastor of the Free Reformed Church, Launceston, Tasmania, Australia, in his Yinkahdinay Blog and Resource Page, on 18 July 2017 in his article “RCN Suspended from ICRC” reports that in its 2017 meeting, The International Conference of Reformed Churches (ICRC) ousted the Reformed Churches in the Netherlands (RCN) because in their June 2017 meeting, the RCN opened all church offices to women.

The RCN has four years to repent of their June 2017 decision before being finally ousted from the ICRC.


+ Reformed Churches in the Netherlands, Bureau / Office BBK, Postadres Postbus 499, 8000 AL Zwolle, Netherlands, info@bbk.nl

+ The International Conference of Reformed Churches, c/o The Rev. Dr. James Visscher, 5734 - 191A Street, Surrey, British Colombia V3S 7M8, Canada, visscher.james5@gmail.com



A 14 July 2017 WFTS-TV/ABC Action News article by Brendaliss Gonzalez titled “Former Church Worship Director Arrested on Several Sex Charges” reports that Chad Robison, the former music director of Seven Rivers Presbyterian Church (Presbyterian Church in America) in Lecanto, Florida, has been arrested for sex crimes involving underage girls.

Robison was fired from the church when pornographic material was found on his computer. A subsequent law enforcement investigation found recorded videos from a video chat website of Robison engaged in inappropriate acts with young girls, including one who said she was fourteen years old.

+ WFTS-TV/ABC Action News, 4045 N. Himes Avenue, Tampa, Florida 33607, 813-354-2828, Fax: 813-878-2828, newstips@wfts.com

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



Wednesday, July 12, 2017

12 July 2017



“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 4 July 2017 Vatican Radio article titled “Catholic and Reformed Churches Mark Ecumenical "Milestone"” reports that on 5 July 2017 in Wittenburg, Germany, the World Communion of Reformed Churches (WCRC) signed onto the Joint Declaration on the Doctrine of Justification, the 1999 Catholic-Lutheran agreement on how Christians might be worthy of salvation in the eyes of God.

WCRC represents 80 million members of Congregational, Presbyterian, Reformed, United, Uniting, and Waldensian churches.


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

+ World Communion of Reformed Churches, 150 route de Ferney, Post Office Box 2100, 1211 Geneva 2, Switzerland, 41-22-791-6240, Fax: 41-22-791-6505, info@reformedchurches.org

+ Religion News Service, 1930 18th Street Northwest, Suite B2, Washington DC 20009, 202-463-8777, Fax: 202-463-0033, info@religionnews.com




As a Christian physician, I have not only marveled at the spiritual ramifications of Christ’s death, but also the physical and physiological aspects. To present this, I have compiled a succinct overview of Jesus’ death from a physical and medical perspective that I hope both lay and medical people can appreciate and understand. — Mark A. Marinella, M.D., F.A.C.P.


The most forthright and engaging presentation of the Biblical view of animals in print. J. Y. Jones, long an accomplished physician, scholar, writer, outdoorsman, hunter, and man of God, is uniquely qualified to offer his cutting-edge treatment of this controversial topic. Don’t let the down-to-earth, diverting and friendly style fool you. Just as America’s wise Founding Fathers discovered latent tyranny in a penny tea tax, Dr. Jones powerfully exposes the radical political agenda of the contemporary animal rights movement. With careful argument, he reveals the animal rights movement as a potentially significant menace to liberty and even to Christianity itself. Adding Dr. Jones’s able apologetic for the Christian faith in reasoned and transparently personal terms, one should prepare for a rich, compelling, and enjoyable read.


In this era of ever-growing, more distant, unresponsive government—and politicians of both parties who do not walk their talk—retired California state senator H. L. (Bill) Richardson’s book is a strong tonic.

He warns, however, his words are not for the faint of heart: as Finley Peter Dunne once said, “Politics ain’t beanbag.”

He spells out in a series of lessons how his often hard-pressed conservative minority was able to win victory after victory on issues like the death penalty, gun control, and removing liberal judges. “The central theme of this book is the methodology both sides use. Being ‘right’ is not enough,” he cautions.


+ Nordskog Publishing, 4562 Westinghouse Street, Suite E, Ventura, California 93003, 805-642-2070, Fax: 805-642-1862, Contact Page




Confessing the Faith Study Guide is a resource that aims to make group study easy. The questions stick closely to the text of Chad Van Dixhoorn’s Confessing the Faith and follow the chapter subheadings that you will find there. Some questions cover essential doctrines; others explore scriptural passages; still others promote personal application. Each chapter ends with a consideration for prayer.


In Particular Redemption, taking up these words of Titus 2:14, John Hurrion expounds the doctrine of redemption, focusing attention especially on the end and design, extent and importance of the death of Christ. There is a peculiar importance attached to a man’s last words. That is especially true of John Hurrion. As his life was ebbing away, his mind was flooded with thoughts about his Saviour, Jesus Christ, as he prepared the four addresses found in this book for the press. ‘The delight he took in his subject’, his editor wrote, ‘carried him above his great pain and weakness’, and in dying he confessed: ‘The death of Christ being the fountain of our life, there is nothing more necessary, pleasant, or useful to the Christian, than a right apprehension and remembrance of it.’



Wednesday, July 5, 2017

5 July 2017



“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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New Christian Observer articles for July 2017 include:

-- The Head of the Church? – by Christian Observer Contributing Editor David Brand – Matthew 16:18, the apostle Peter, and the head of the church;

-- The Snowflake Identity Crisis in Education – by Christian Observer Contributing Editor Dr. Joe Renfro – Progressive Snowflakes asserting “rights” vs. the righteousness of Christ;

Plus, links to ReVision devotionals on the Fellowship of Ailbe website by Christian Observer Contributing Editor T.M. Moore.





The proportion of people in Scotland who describe themselves as having no religion at all has reached its highest ever level, according to ScotCen’s latest Scottish Social Attitudes survey.

The new findings from Scotland’s most authoritative survey of public attitudes show that nearly six in ten (fifty-eight percent) now say that they have no religion, up eighteen points on 1999 when the figure stood at four in ten (forty percent).

Young Least Religious

Young people are least likely to be religious; three quarters of young people (seventy-four percent of 18-34s) say they have no religion compared with thirty-four percent of those over 65.

There has been a fall in religious identity across all age groups, however it has been slowest among those over 65. There has been an eleven percentage point increase in the proportion of over 65s who say they have no religion between 1999 and 2016 (from twenty-three percent to thirty-four percent) but in comparison the increase among those aged 50-64 has been twenty-four percentage points (from thirty-three percent to fifty-seven percent).

Church of Scotland Losing Faithful

Most of the decline in religious affiliation over this seventeen year period has been felt by the Church of Scotland. Around half as many people (eighteen percent) now say they belong to the Church of Scotland as did in 1999 (thirty-five percent).

The proportion of Roman Catholics (ten percent), other Christian affiliations (eleven percent) and non-Christian religious people (two percent) in the Scottish population has remained relatively stable over the same period.

Ian Montagu, Researcher at ScotCen said “The decline in religious identity in Scotland has been most keenly felt by the Kirk as fewer and fewer people choose to describe themselves as Church of Scotland by default. As each generation coming through is consistently less religious than the last, it is hard to imagine this trend coming to a halt in the near future. However, if the Kirk is able to push through liberalising measures such as allowing ministers to oversee same-sex marriage ceremonies, it is possible that its appeal may broaden somewhat to younger, more socially liberal Scots.”


+ ScotCen, 6 Scotiabank House, South Charlotte Street, Edinburgh EH2 4AW, Scotland, 0131-240-0210, info@scotcen.org.uk

+ Church of Scotland, 121 George Street, Edinburgh EH2 4YN, Scotland, 0131-225-5722



Discovering the Joy of a Clear Conscience
Ash, Christopher
US$4.99

Conscience is a neglected word that not many of us take seriously. But have you ever considered examining your conscience as part of daily life? What if doing this were the only way to know the joy of feeling clean inside?
Is such joy possible without self- righteousness or even self-deception? Christopher Ash argues that it is, wonderfully possible, through the good news of Jesus Christ. Here is an invitation to rediscover your conscience and what the Bible has to say about it. Ash examines what the conscience is, what a guilty conscience tells us, the choice our conscience presents us, and the conscience's role as a guide, to offer us the pure joy of a clear conscience day after day.

"How refreshing to see a thoughtful and richly biblical book on the conscience. Christopher Ash performs a vital service for the church by opening up God’s truth about this neglected and, therefore, misunderstood area of biblical truth. The conscience shines light into the darkest corners of the heart thus facilitating God’s people to "guard the heart with diligence.'" (Proverbs 4:23)

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You Can Pray
Finding Grace to Pray Every Day
Chester, Tim
US$4.99

“This book is not about the steps you can take to become a great pray-er. The message of this book is that you already are a great pray-er in Christ. Through Christ, you can pray.”

Tim Chester shows us how we become great pray-ers who pray great prayers simply through knowing three foundational truths about God:
God the Father loves to hear us pray God the Son makes every prayer pleasing God the Holy Spirit helps us as we pray When these truths are in place, we discover why prayer is easy, why prayer is difficult, and the arguments and priorities of prayer.

Prayer is like a child’s asking her father for help—and that’s not beyond any of us. Here you will find the grace and encouragement to talk with your heavenly Father every day.

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Intimate Marriage
Gift Edition
Sproul, R.C.
US$5.99

From communication to sex, from divorce to the sanctity of marriage, Sproul leads you past potential problems into joyous communion with your spouse in Christ. This attractive hardcover edition of Sproul's work on marriage is great as a gift to newlyweds, on anniversaries, or anytime someone wants to improve their marriage.


+ Cumberland Valley Bible Book Service, 133 North Hanover Street,
Carlisle, Pennsylvania 17013, 717-249-0231, cvbbs@cvbbs.com




Wednesday, June 28, 2017

28 June 2017



“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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+ Evangelical Presbyterian Church, 17197 North Laurel Park Drive Suite 567, Livonia, Michigan 48152, 734-742-2020, Fax: 734-742-2033, webmaster@epc.org





+ Ligonier Ministries, 400 Technology Park, Lake Mary, Florida 32746, 407-333-4244, Fax: 407-333-4233





+ Puritan Reformed Theological Seminary, 2965 Leonard Street Northeast, Grand Rapids, Michigan 49525, 616-977-0599, Fax: 616-285-3246, info@puritanseminary.org






+ The Aquila Report, c/o Reformed Churchmen Publications, Inc., Post Office Box 1164, Erie, Colorado 80516, daquila@theaquilareport.com

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




Wednesday, June 7, 2017

7 June 2017




“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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New Christian Observer articles for June 2017 include:

-- From the Ground Up – by Christian Observer Contributing Editor David Brand - “Faithfulness springs up from the ground, and righteousness looks down from the sky.” - Psalm 85:1;

-- Student Loans and the Dependent Mentality – by Christian Observer Contributing Editor Dr. Joe Renfro – “The dependent mentality in America, it can be argued, can be a form of slavery…”;

Plus, links to ReVision devotionals on the Fellowship of Ailbe website by Christian Observer Contributing Editor T.M. Moore.





A 6 June 2017 The Herald article by Brian Donnelly titled “First Gay Kirk Minister Calls for End To 'Father Giving Bride Away' Tradition” reports that the Kirk’s first openly homosexual minister the Rev. Scott Rennie has called for the tradition of the father of the bride giving his daughter away be abandoned.

Writing in advance of Scottish Episcopal Church Synod, where the assembly will vote whether or not their ministers can conduct homosexual weddings, Rennie added:

"I wish my friends well, and hope they will take a step forward in recognising the blessing of marriage in the lives of all couples, including same sex couples, by amending canon law."


+ The Herald, 200 Renfield Street, Glasgow, Scotland G2 3QB, 0141- 302-7000, Fax: 0141-302-7117, On-lineEditor@theherald.co.uk

+ Church of Scotland, 121 George Street, Edinburgh EH2 4YN, Scotland, 0131-225-5722

+ Scottish Episcopal Church, 21 Grosvenor Crescent, Edinburgh
EH12 5EE, Scotland, 0131-225-6357, Fax: 0131-346-7247, Contact Page



Recent RPCNA Synods have worked to make the business of Synod more efficient and effective, partly in the hope of requiring less time of delegates and making it feasible for more ruling elders to attend.

This is a year that will test the practicality of shorter Synods, as there is a mountain of work to handle in a three-day schedule, including some very important issues.

The list of special committee and judicial committee reports alone is daunting. When Synod convenes at 8:30 a.m. June 28, 2017 at Indiana Wesleyan University in Marion, Ind., the following reports will be among the priority items:

     -- Special Committee on Vocalized Prayer
     -- Special Committee Addressing Ruling Elder Participation at Synod

     -- Special Study Committee on Gender Identity

     -- Special Committee on the Mediatorial Kingship of Christ (interim report)

     -- Judicial Review of Communication 2016-2: complaint by members of a session and presbytery regarding the beverage used in the communion cup

     -- Judicial Review of Communication 2016-4: appeal of a presbytery’s actions by a retired RP minister

All these committees have been working for at least a year, and their reports are very thorough; so, the time needed by Synod to consider them will depend on how much further discussion and debate is required.

There are plenty of regular reports for Synod to consider as well, with some significant recommendations. The RPCNA’s work with countries beyond the U.S. and Canada continues to increase. The RP Seminary is proposing a new candidate for Professor of Biblical Counseling (to replace, next year, the retiring George Scipione). The Interchurch and Business of Synod Committees are asking Synod to meet at Geneva College in 2019 to better enable the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church to meet concurrently with the RPCNA. Also, there are at least four new “communications” coming from presbyteries for Synod action.

Synod is scheduled to adjourn at 5 p.m. on Friday, June 30.


+ Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America (RPCNA), 7408 Penn Avenue, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15208, 412-731-1177, Fax: 412-731-8861




Wednesday, May 31, 2017

31 May 2017




“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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The Moderator for the 2017 General Assembly of the Free Church of Scotland (Continuing) is to be the Rev. Robert McCurley, minister of the Free Church of Scotland (Continuing) congregation in Greenville, South Carolina, USA.

Mr. McCurley (44) was born on a U.S. Army base in the Reformation city of Augsburg, Germany, where his father was stationed for a few years as a linguist in army intelligence. His father subsequently became a minister and Rob grew up as a son of the manse. Conversion at age seventeen brought great changes and eventually led to a call to the ministry.

He studied at Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, South Carolina, USA, gaining a M.Div. and was ordained in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. His first charge was the OPC congregation in Bristol on the Tennessee/Virginia border. He entered the Free Church of Scotland (Continuing) in 2002 and served in Smiths Falls, Ontario (Canada) from 2002-2005. He later moved to the new preaching station in Greenville, South Carolina and became its minister when a year later the preaching station gained the status of a recognised congregation.

Rob has been married to Jeannette for twenty-one years. They have five children: Calvin (20), Genna (18), ,Alexander (16), Thomas (14), and Sammy (8). Calvin is studying electrical engineering at university. The other four are home-schooled. He is a widely-travelled visiting preacher, having received invitations to preach in India, Sri Lanka, Singapore, Malaysia, Russia and various places throughout the U.S.

He is currently completing a ThM degree in the field of 17th century Reformed Scholasticism.

In his free time, he enjoys reading and time with the family.





The Board of Trustees of Erskine College and Theological Seminary has announced the appointment of Interim President Dr. Robert E. Gustafson, Jr. as 17th president of the institution.

“The Presidential Search Committee is convinced, after observing Dr. Gustafson’s seven months as interim president, that his gifts and abilities perfectly fit Erskine’s current needs,” Board Chairman Sam James said. “Our committee unanimously presented him to the Board of Trustees for approval.”

Gustafson began his work as interim president Nov. 1 upon the retirement of Dr. Paul Kooistra, Erskine’s 16th president.

Interviewed during the first few weeks of his tenure as interim president, Gustafson noted “the resonance of my leadership experiences in secondary education with the college environment,” saying, “Although I worked with students preparing for the college and university world, the daily routines, challenges, and issues of a head of school at that level are strikingly similar to my task at Erskine.”

As head of school at the Stony Brook School, Stony Brook, New York, for fifteen years, Gustafson was responsible for oversight of a $9 million annual operating budget and more than 100 faculty and staff members. He also served for five years as head of school at Jackson Preparatory School, Jackson, Mississippi.

“Rob Gustafson is a visionary leader with a history of effectiveness in Christian education,” Board Vice Chairman Tom Hellams said. Hellams, who headed the Presidential Search Committee, called Gustafson “a dedicated Christian with a pastor’s heart, a deep thinker, and a lifelong learner, ready to address the challenges of Erskine College and Theological Seminary.”

Erskine’s newly appointed president was educated at the University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Va., where he received the bachelor of arts degree in religious studies; Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, South Hamilton, Mass., where he was awarded the master of theological studies degree; Columbia University Teachers College, New York, N.Y., where he was the recipient of a Klingenstein Fellowship Grant and earned a master of arts degree in educational administration; and Erskine Theological Seminary, where he received a doctor of ministry degree.

Gustafson and his wife, Marjorie Graham Gustafson, are the parents of two children.

Plans for Gustafson’s inauguration as president will be announced at a later date.


+ Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, 918 South Pleasantburg Drive Suite 127, Greenville, South Carolina 29607, 864-232-8297, Fax: 864-271-3729

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



Meeting last Thursday and Friday (May 25 and 26, 2017), the May meeting of the Erskine board was eventful, exciting, and promising. I pray it portends a bright future for Erskine. Certainly, the hearts of many board members were cheered by the events. As some described it: “It was the best board meeting I have attended — ever!”; “It is the first time I didn’t drive away from Due West frustrated and fearful for Erskine’s future;” and “I felt so good I stayed for lunch on Friday and didn’t get sick.” Well, it is a new day in Due West, and it is a good day for singing a song.

President Robert (Rob) E. Gustafson

Dr. Rob Gustafson, who was confirmed as Interim President at the March meeting of the board, was elected Erskine’s seventeenth President. President Gustafson’s credentials as an evangelical Christian are impeccable. The only criticism I have heard is from a couple of cranky students who were in a lather of emotional dyspepsia: Dr. Gustafson forgot their names! Imagine the indignity!!! Well, many of us suffer from the malady of name-forgetfulness!

As I survey the landscape in Due West, my heart sings, and let me tell you why. First stanza of my song: President Gustafson is an evangelical Christian who embraces our Philosophy of Christian Higher Education, is a member of an Associate Reformed Presbyterian congregation, and is unashamedly an inerrantist when it comes to the authority of the Bible. Second stanza: Dr. Leslie Holmes, the Provost of the Seminary, is an Associate Reformed Presbyterian minister who whole-heartedly espouses the theological commitments of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, and has dedicated his life to an evangelical renewal of Erskine Seminary which sees the General Synod reaffirming the seminary as “our seminary.” Third stanza: Dr. R.J. Gore, the Dean of the Seminary, is an Associate Reformed Presbyterian minister who has soldiered faithfully and suffered much for an evangelical and orthodox renewal of both the college and seminary. Fourth stanza: Dr. John Basie, the Provost of the College, embraces our Philosophy of Christian Higher Education, knows the evangelical community well, (formerly an Associate Reformed Presbyterian) is planning to reunite with an Associate Reformed Presbyterian congregation as soon as he and his family settle, and can be expected to rebuild the college faculty to reflect clearly and embrace our Philosophy of Christian Higher Education. Fifth stanza: Mr. Sam James, the Chairman of the Erskine Board of Trustees, is a member of an Associate Reformed Presbyterian congregation and a solid evangelical who desires to see Erskine return to the mission the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church set for her (http://arpchurch.org/philosophy-of-christian-higher-education/).

The vote for the President was eighteen FOR, NONE against, and five abstaining. I mention this because of the furor of indignation which erupted on the secular alums’ FACEBOOK site when a communiqué from Erskine resulted in the ARP News reporting, “The vote of the trustees was unanimous” (https://arpnews.org/author/arpmagazine/). I suppose the communiqué should have read, “The vote of the trustees was unopposed.” According to Cliff Smith, the article has been corrected; however, I wonder how this got past his attention. Is he not in charge of communications coming out of Erskine?

For understandable reasons, three members of the board were unable to attend. The five members abstaining were Angie Grooms (the alumni representative), Jim Augustine, Chris Bethea, Rex Casterline, and Ann Marie Tribble. Good grief!! Why be a lampoon-like of Willy Wonka who agrees to serve on the Erskine board and then abstains from the vote for the President? There is no item of business more important than the vote for the President. One can only assume the abstainers OPPOSE President Gustafson, for they did not articulate their reasons for abstaining. If these people cannot support President Gustafson, they should resign from the board and not lurk in the dark like some kind of vampire-creature waiting to pounce. Their behavior is irresponsible. The only thing they can bring to the table now is a toxic attitude toward President Gustafson and his administration. As a former board member is fond of saying, “There is a special place in hell for board members who vote ‘I abstain.’” Indeed, a board member who does not know whether to vote YES or NO on the election of the President needs to go home!

From an Athletic to an Academic Focus

Since the time of former President Randy Ruble, at the end of the academic year, if recruitment goals were not met, coaches were sent forth to find warm bodies to fill dorm beds. This practice is how it came to pass the baseball team has a roster of 100 or more players. It is the policy of “Any dude’ll do! Don’t worry about the student-athlete’s chances of academic success!” This partially explains Erskine’s severe retention problems the last ten years.

According to President Gustafson, this policy is no longer tolerated. If the Freshman class is smaller, it will be smaller. Academic standards will no longer be sacrificed for a larger headcount. Perhaps, there is hope for Erskine College living up to her proud academic heritage. I hope so! The path will be challenging and treacherous. Hard days lie ahead for Erskine College. In order for Erskine to get healthier and regain her reputation for Christian Liberal Arts and academic excellence, she will get smaller before she grows.

Financial Considerations

The financial outlook for Erskine is not as bleak as many prophesied for 2016/17. A $100,000 deficit is expected. As I understand it, Erskine has a line of credit to cover this. The difference this year which is heartening is Chairman Sam James is dedicated to repaying loans. Well, time will tell!

The Annual Fund is down, but overall giving is up. Thanks to the “Trump Rally,” returns on the Endowment are strong. I hear the yield (excluding fees) is expected to be around ten percent.

Erskine Seminary Recovering

Provost of the Seminary Leslie Holmes is an Irishman who is a first cousin to the Energizer Bunny. A conversation with him is exhausting, and one is left wondering, “Does he sleep?” Below is some of what he reported to the board.

One, this time last year the seminary had twenty-five new students. This year the seminary has sixty-seven new students (and four are currently in the pipeline). Dr. Holmes’ goal is seventy-five new students by the time the Fall semester begins.

Two, the Rev. Matt Miller, former Pastor of Greenville Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, has been hired to establish the seminary’s presence in Greenville. Mr. Miller has extensive personal, business, ecclesiastical, and political contacts in Greenville. He is not lazy or lacking in the energy and resources needed to accomplish his tasks. Personally, I expect to see good things come out of Mr. Miller’s efforts.

Three, Provost Holmes announced a new scholarship in memory of Dr. James (“Jim”) T. Corbitt who died May 1. He was a church planter, Moderator of General Synod, and Outreach North America director for ten years. This scholarship is intended to assist Associate Reformed Presbyterian students at Erskine Seminary pursuing church planting. Monies are being sought for this project, and I encourage the reader to consider donating to it.

Four, during former President Paul Kooistra’s time, he slashed the salaries of seminary professors by thirty-five percent and more in some cases. Dr. Holmes reported to the board he is attempting to raise $70,000 for salary relief for FY2017/18. This means a one-time bonus of $10,000 for each of the seven full-time professors. He reported he has already raised pledges or donations of $50,000. May I encourage you to participate in Dr. Holmes’ effort?

Five, Provost Holmes made it clear to the members of the board that Erskine Seminary is the seminary of the Associate Reformed Church, period! Present professors who are not Associate Reformed Presbyterians are encouraged to become Associate Reformed Presbyterians. Future professors who are not Associate Reformed Presbyterians will become Associate Reformed Presbyterians or they will not be hired. Erskine Seminary is about the mission and the theological integrity of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church and not about employment for itinerating academics. In Dr. Holmes’ words, “If you’re not Reformed in your theological perspective, if you’re not an inerrantist in your understanding of the Bible, and if you’re not pro-ARP Church, then you are not on the faculty of Erskine Seminary.” God bless you, Dr. Holmes!!!

A final word regarding the seminary: I continue advocating for the separation of the seminary from the college and the relocation of the seminary to Greenville. As long as the seminary and the college are conjoined, the seminary has no way to control its financial destiny. As long as the seminary is located in Due West, the seminary is a 1956 cover photo on the Saturday Evening Post. It is a caricature of a quaint Protestant monastery ensconced in a little, out of the way, southern town and on the way to nowhere in particular. As long as the seminary is conjoined to the college, the seminary does not have a board whose first concern is the health of the seminary. As long as the seminary and the college are one institution, the college and the seminary are in continuous conflict for the same dollar. The present relationship is not working! It will not work!

Swamp Draining Underway

Years ago, a friend who is a consultant on raising beef cattle invited me to ride with him to look at a herd in Southwest Georgia. I noticed the cattle were small. I asked, “What’s wrong here?”

“New blood!” he responded. “A new bull is needed!” he continued.

If ever there was an ingrown institution needing a new and different kind of leadership, Erskine is the institution. The attitude of Belk Hall has been, “Presidents come and go, but we remain in charge! The President serves us; we do not serve the President!” Well, those folks in Bell Hall need to go. Bring in a new new staff with no connection to “old Erskine” and loyal to the new President.

President Rob Gustafson, Provost of the Seminary Leslie Holmes, Provost of the College John Basie, and Chairman of the Board Sam James are unlike anything Erskine has experienced in my forty-five years as an Associate Reformed Presbyterian. They are “new blood.” Frankly, there is not a single Erskine employee on former President Paul Kooistra’s Leadership Team who needs to be retained.

As I hear it, a number of “old Erskine” faculty members are not returning. Others are franticly pursuing employment elsewhere.

A new CFO is needed. It is no secret Greg Haselden has lost the confidence of the majority of the board and many donors. Now, before someone accuses me of hinting at malfeasance, I am not. As I said, it is a matter of confidence. Too many conflicts have occurred. A new face is needed. A new CFO opens doors for new donors — and perhaps regaining others.

There needs to be a shakeup in the Alumni Office. It is no secret Buddy Ferguson is in the pocket of the secular alums and no longer effective. Before the meeting of the board, a number of board members reported they received phone calls from alums asking them not to vote for President Gustafson. As one Erskine insider confided to me, a phone campaign was mounted out of Belk Hall to stop the election of President Gustafson. Well, does this explain why five board members abstained in the vote for the President? Well, if a campaign was launched, it was a failed effort — the equivalent of lighting a wet firecracker. As it looks to me, the “old Erskine” folks in Belk Hall sent forth steers, saying, “Go and reproduce!”

When there is talk of change and renewal at Erskine, the first thing we hear from the secular alums is “I hope the President will be positive in what he does.” Being interpreted, this means, “The President better not implement changes which reflect the vision of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. We don’t want too much Christian faith stuff. Just give us three dollars worth of Jesus! Give us enough of Jesus so we can sound religious but not enough of Jesus to change us!”

As it is now constituted, the Alumni Association needs to be reconstituted. The secular alums have nothing to offer a faithful Erskine. If they do not get their way, they threaten to withdraw their money and support from Erskine. Well, good! It is time start over! I think there is a Biblical passage which sums up these folks: “They went out from us, but they were not of us” (1 John 2.19).

Finally, if the employees in Belk Hall are not “pro-ARP Church,” are not behind the vision of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church for Erskine, and are unwilling to support President Gustafson fully, they need to find other employment.

The Due West swamp needs draining! It looks like the draining is underway!



+ Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, 918 South Pleasantburg Drive Suite 127, Greenville, South Carolina 29607, 864-232-8297, Fax: 864-271-3729

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