Wednesday, August 14, 2013

14 August 2013

Presbyterians Week Headlines

Reformed Church in Hungary Celebrates 450th Anniversary of the Heidelberg Catechism

[2] Presbyterian Church of Ghana Affiliated Church Comes to Atlanta, Georgia

[3] PCUSA Explains Why “In Christ Alone” Was Excluded from New Hymnal

[4] Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church Calls for National Day of Prayer

[5] Editor’s Note


Reformed Church in Hungary Celebrates 450th Anniversary of the Heidelberg Catechism

A 28 June 2013 Paróokia - The Reformed Portal article by Fekete Zsuzsa titled “Közérthető keresztyén tanítás” or “Easy to Understand Christian Doctrine”, reported that, under a banner that read “Hungarian Reformed Church - Jesus Christ’s Church – 450 Years of the Heidelberg Catechism – 1563 – 2013”, a meeting of the Joint Synod of the Reformed Joint United Church in Debrecen celebrated the 450th anniversary of the completion of the Heidelberg Catechism (HC).

Charles Black, rector of Debrecen Reformed Theological University and a member of the HC translation committee explained to the Synod that the HC provides beatific knowledge urgently needed in today’s world. He said that the HC is easily understood by the new Christian as it was not written to be understood only by an elite group of theologians, but presents the basic principles of the Protestant Reformation understandable to people in all walks of life. Black stated that a man who is not his own, but is Jesus Christ’s, it is not at the mercy of the forces of the universe, nor of his own instincts that lead to a self-centered life, but instead the temporal worldview is replaced by a Christ-centered perspective on all of life.

Additionally in honor of the 450th anniversary of the HC, several years of work in revising and updating previous HC translations has culminated with 450th anniversary editions of the HC in the English, German, Hungarian, Slovak, and Romanian languages.

+ Paróokia - The Reformed Portal, Homezo u. 70, Budapest
, Hungary 1221

+ Reformed Church in Hungary, MRE Zsinata1146 Budapest, Abonyi u. 21., Hungary, 30-3361-666,

[2] Presbyterian Church of Ghana Affiliated Church Comes to Atlanta, Georgia

A 12 August 2013 GhanaWeb article titled “Presby Church of Ghana Inaugurates Branch in Atlanta” reports that on 4 August 2013, the Resurrection Congregation in Atlanta, Georgia became officially affiliated with the Presbyterian Church of Ghana (PCG).

Former PCG Clerk of the General Assembly the Rev. Rev H. A. Opong attended and spoke at the opening service on 4 August 2013 where District Pastor the Rev. Kofi Karikari’s sermon thanked the almighty Lord for bringing the church this far. He reminded members of the church of the difficult days ahead and encouraged the church members to always seek God’s guidance in all that they do as Christians.

+ GhanaWeb, Poederooienstraat 66, 1106 CK Amsterdam, Netherlands, 31-207700126, Fax: 1-815-6429100,

+ Presbyterian Church of Ghana, Post Office Box GP 1800, Accra, Ghana, 233-21-662511, Fax: 233-21-665594,

[3] PCUSA Explains Why “In Christ Alone” Was Excluded from New Hymnal

Four entities of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) responsible for publication of the new Presbyterian hymnal, “Glory to God,” have issued a statement in response to extensive media coverage of the absence of one hymn, “In Christ Alone,” from the new book.

Media outlets such as the Huffington Post, the Nashville Tennessean (whose story was picked up by Religion News Service and subsequently by Presbyterian News Service), and radio talk show host Glenn Beck have all published stories about the absence of “In Christ Alone,” from “Glory to God.”

Mary Louise Bringle, who chaired the Presbyterian Committee on Congregational Song which developed the new hymnal, recently wrote an article for The Christian Century and now the committee, the Office of Theology & Worship, the Presbyterian Association of Musicians and the Presbyterian Publishing Corporation, publisher of the new book, have issued a formal statement.

The full text of the statement, dated Aug. 9, 2013:

There has been a great deal of conversation this week about the absence of the Getty/Townend hymn “In Christ Alone” in Glory to God: The Presbyterian Hymnal.

The Presbyterian Committee on Congregational Song had hoped to include a previously published version of “In Christ Alone” that altered a line in the second stanza from “the wrath of God was satisfied” to “the love of God was magnified.”

Unfortunately, the copyright holders declined this request. After discussion and deliberation, the Committee voted and failed to reach the two-thirds majority that is the threshold for inclusion of a song in the final list of contents.

For a more detailed and nuanced account, see hymnal committee chair Mary Louise Bringle’s Christian Century article “Debating Hymns.”

Some have argued that this decision reflects a defective theology or unwillingness to reckon with the judgment of God. But the absence of one text, however popular, should not be construed as a failure to address this theological theme.

Scripture speaks in a variety of ways about what happened in Christ’s death, and a model of atonement that understands the cross as satisfying God’s wrath and saving us through the blood of Christ is already richly presented in this collection.

For instance, “Rock of Ages, Cleft for Me” and “Judge Eternal, Throned in Splendor,” beloved hymns from the 1955 Presbyterian Hymnbook, are both included in Glory to God, as is “Lamb of God” by Twila Paris from the contemporary praise and worship canon, and a praise hymn from Korea that speaks powerfully of how Jesus “with his blood has washed and healed me / paid the heavy cost.”

Other views of the atonement are represented as well. These models do not reject the reality of God’s wrath, but they do not see the cross as an expression of it.

Finally, it should be noted that Glory to God includes an entire section devoted to “Christ’s Return and Judgment.” Indeed, this hymnal adds significant entries on the theme of judgment to material brought forward from earlier Presbyterian hymnals.

We are confident that this collection of hymns and songs - shaped by the biblical story of God’s mighty acts in history - reflects the breadth and depth of Reformed theological tradition. The absence of one song, readily available through other sources, doesn’t change that. We pray that Glory to God will equip the church to sing of God’s love and justice and always and everywhere to give thanks and praise to God.

You can read the hymnal committee’s Theological Vision Statement and Statement on Language here:

Presbyterian Committee on Congregational Song
Office of Theology & Worship
Presbyterian Association of Musicians
Presbyterian Publishing Corporation

+ Presbyterian Church (PCUSA), 100 Witherspoon Street, Louisville, Kentucky 40202, 888-728-7228, Fax: 502-569-8005

[4] Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church Calls for National Day of Prayer

Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, by an action at the 2013 meeting of its General Synod, will be initiating an annual National Day of Prayer against Oppression on 11 September 2013. We invite you, your congregation, and all congregations of all denominations and faith persuasions everywhere to join us annually in this undertaking either by visiting one of our participating congregations on that day, by having a similarly designated prayer service in your own congregation and inviting other congregations to join with you or have their own service, and/or by sponsoring a similar service in a public venue.

Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church, 1 Cleveland Street Suite 110, Greenville, South Carolina, 29601, 864-232-8297, Fax: 864-271-3729

[5] Editor’s Note

D.V., the 21 August 2013 issue of Presbyterians Week will include links to other articles of interest.

+ Christian Observer, Post Office Box 1371, Lexington, Virginia 20110,