Synod is the highest court of the IPC that meets annually, it is comprised of all the voting elders of the English Presbytery, the European Proto Presbytery, The Korean speaking Presbytery in England and the South Korean Presbytery, altogether there are 91 voting elders spread across the world!!
For the first time we met on the continent in the OM Zav Centre in Belgium. The morning was taken up with a lecture from Jose Sagovia on the Reformation in Europe. Jose encouraged us not to think of the Reformation as a finished project in which we just take books off the shelves and study what the Reformers said. He closed with 4 applications
1. We need to rediscover the human problem of sin and be willing to address it.
2. The roots of the Reformation were in Revelation
3. Our strength has become our weakness – to give testimony should be to speak about Christ and not our own experience. He had a lovely line about ‘we speak the truth realising we are part of the problem’ he then riffed on Martin Luther and Woody Allen
4. We must be more dependent on prayer
It was a real shame the address was not recorded, Jose is a great gift to the church he is fresh in his thinking and speaking.
The business part of Synod began in the afternoon and there was slight confusion over whether we were actually quorate. Initially we thought we weren’t but then somehow we were!! It’s going to be an ongoing issue for us as the South Korean Presbytery were only able to send one delegate of their 29 members. We debated it for quite a bit of the afternoon and I think it’s fair to say we’re not of one mind!!
We did decide to take church relations more seriously which I think that will be a good thing moving forward. The standing committee of Synod will take responsibility for this. I hope that will mean that we join the ICRC at some point in the future. It was a joy to have delegates from the GKV – Gereformeerde Kerken. in the Netherlands who were asked for their wisdom a few times. Reports were given from each of the Presbyteries……….
Korean speaking Presbytery in England – Puk Kyong Kim has retired as Moderator and thanks were expressed for his pioneer work over the years. There is a new church plant in New Malden.
English Presbytery – 2 new church plants – Brentford, Ilford, Leeds. A number of churches looking for buildings. An encouraging number of elders being trained across the denomination as well as the men under care of Presbytery. There have been discouragements too resignations and retirements to ill health this past year.
European Proto Presbytery – Welcomed a new church in Prague with 3 elders, aiming for 5 churches with a growing number of relationships with churches and church plants across the denomination. In December had a Presbytery retreat where wives were invited along and had sessions on the implications of Covenant Theology – it was a great time for deepening relationships.
Korean Presbytery – 5 churches and other churches exploring joining. There are around about 20 elders going through the process of Ordination.
Synod also approved the new book of liturgy that should be published in the next few months which is a very helpful document. Thanks were also given to Ranald Macauley who has written a history from his perspective over the early years of IPC. It’s a fascinating document and should be on the website shortly
We’ll next meet in the Kingston Korean Church next March.
The following day we were back for Presbytery which began with Ranald Macauley who is in his 61st year as a converted atheist preached movingly to us from Psalm 1 & 2. He began by recounting how in 1955 he had walked out of a church in South Africa muttering under his breath “I do not believe in the Father, I do not believe in the Son, I do not believe in the Holy Spirit” after a year of living in the horror of a natural universe he came to Christ in Cambridge. Ranald spoke of the joy of being discovered by the Psalter in these 61 years, pointing us to the juxtaposition of Psalm 1 & 2 the micro “blessed is the man” and macro “The nations”, how we are immediately projected into a situation of intense struggle and of an entire globe. It is the Word of God we must focus on. The laughing of God in Psalm 2 is the laughter of incredulity “you must be crazy”. The central issue today is that of a creator and creation on this we must be clear. It was warm hearted encouraging stuff.
The business part of Presbytery was brief and we dealt with church reports, Finance committee, Church Planting, Candidates and Credentials. It was a joy to welcome Peter Leach who has come ‘under care’ with a view to entering the ministry. He has been working in Trinity, York for a year and will do another one before moving on to the next stage of training. We now have 8 men under care which is the most we’ve ever had……
Stephen Moore – working on a Phd in Leiden
Will Allen – Oak Hill
Adam Wilson – Westminster Seminary, Philadelphia
Gethin Jones – Westminster, Philadelphia
Chris Roberts – London Seminary
Sean Clokey – Edinburgh Theological Seminary
Steve Clark – at Immanuel Brentford looking to start theological education.
We had a discussion on how we move forward on the Synod question with various ideas proposed, we probably generated more heat than light and it may well be we just need to be patient. We’ve experienced growth over the last number of years and that brings its own issues.
There are two events happening over the coming months…
Catalyst 13-15 June in Ealing
Keystone Conference for those Aged 18-28 in York on 22/23 Sept
We meet next for Presbytery Fri 16/ Sat 17 June in Ealing