210th General Synod Opening Worship
Rev. Jeff Kingswood, Moderator of Synod, opened the 210th meeting of General Synod with a sermon from Colossians 1:15-20. “But in Christ, by the power of Christ, the church is powered as a new creation. I charge you in the week ahead to keep eyes on Jesus. Think not of reputation of agendas, goals or politics but think of the sufficiency, supremacy and the glory of the exalted Jesus,” Kingswood said.
Retiring Moderator’s Address from Jeff Kingswood
It has been a blessing to visit, speak with, and work with the support staff of our denomination and to see the “behind the scenes” labours that they offer day in and day out, in order to make our denomination and its agencies run as smoothly as they do! Include them in your prayer.
There is much to be thankful for in our denomination. We may grow discouraged in our separate corners because we lose sight of the big picture. That is what being moderator has done for me. It has helped to keep me looking to the bigger picture – it has kept me looking to the biblical picture of the Bride of Christ.
And brothers and sisters I am convinced that until the bride of Christ embraces that as her identity, her calling, and her mission in this world, we will continue to be absorbed with petty party politics, turf wars, and perpetuating lifeless institutions. And to the world we will look like orphaned children squabbling over a meaningless inheritance. But when we fix our eyes on Jesus Christ, when we use the means He has appointed in His Word for the governance of the Church and the furtherance of Her mission then we will begin to look like that glorious bride we were meant to be. Then the world will see and know that Jesus lives, reigns, rules and that the Church is not only His Bride for whom He died, but His army which He leads into battle! And then the world, the very gates of hell, will not be able to stand against her!
Moderator’s Challenge From Larry Littlejohn
My challenge for the coming year is that we develop a greater understanding of God’s imprint on us both individually and corporately as His dearly loved children. God from the beginning of time has marked His own. He will at the end of time mark them once again as His own for all eternity.
What does Scripture tell us about His imprint? The first indication in Genesis 1:26 records God’s saying, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.” God is Spirit so being made in His image must mean something more than the physical.
The basic, real, and invariable nature of God is love. The members of the godhead, perfect in their love for each other, had no need for mankind to complete them. Rather they created mankind as an expression of that love. Here was a creature made in their likeness with the capacity to know and love. Here was one who could glorify his creator and enjoy Him forever as no other.
We have all made vows that need to be paid along this path of genuine love. Let us be His hands of mercy. Let us be His word of hope. Let us be displays of true joy. Let us faithfully bear the imprint of His love as individuals, as families, and as churches. Let us faithfully make His imprint upon the world-at-large. That is my challenge.
ARP Women’s Ministries President, Sally Illman
It is a pleasure to speak to you today about ARP Women’s Ministries. As your ministry, a ministry of Synod, we are overseen by the Synod Executive Committee. We are a little different in that we are not an agency. We do have a structured board and each presbytery has a president or representative. Do you know the name of your presbytery’s president or representative? If you don’t, the next edition of the ARP Magazine will help you find her.
So, are we valuable to you and your churches? Our vision statement is simple: “ARP Women’s Ministries is an organization which encourages and equips the community of ARP women to work together for God’s glory and purpose.” That means that we exist to focus on two biblical mandates.
The first is equipping. Certainly your women get fine teaching and preaching from your church worship services and studies.
One thing we do to help you is to work with CEM to suggest Reformed, theologically sound, useful books for women to study. Are you familiar with this next year’s selections, Opening up Titus by David Campbell, which is a study of the whole book of Titus, and A Woman’s High Calling – Ten Ways to Live Out God’s Plan for Your Life, by Elizabeth George, which is a topical study of Titus 2:3-5? Would it be useful your women? What are they reading now? Make no mistake, your women, whether organized or unorganized, are reading and studying something.
The second is connecting our ARP women. We are connected in polity because we believe it is biblical. That includes the women. General Synod Committees include representatives from ARP Women’s Ministries, and the feedback I get is that they are valued highly by the Committees on which they serve.
Look, these are tough times for all churches, and that is just as true for us in the ARP. We as women are as concerned as you are. Consider your women, and their role in a connected body. Consider all they do in your churches. Consider how they, your families, and your entire church might benefit from your supporting them to be actively involved with women from other churches through ARP Women’s Ministries. We need you, and for God’s glory, we think that you need us.
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To read more about the Synod meeting, subscribe to the next issue of the ARP Magazine, www.arpmagazine.org