GS 2019 art 61

GS 2019 Article 61 – ARPC (Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church)

1.   Material

  • 1.1    Report of the Committee for Contact with Churches in North America (CCCNA) regarding the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (ARPC) (

2.   Observations

  • 2.1    GS 2016 (Art. 49) decided to mandate the CCCNA:
    • [4.1.2] To investigate diligently all the requests received for entering into EF in North America;
    • [4.1.3] To respond, if possible and feasible, to specific requests to attend assemblies, synods, or meetings of other churches in North America;
    • [4.1.4] To report on its findings with suitable recommendations to the next general synod and to present to the churches a report of its work six months prior to the convening of next general synod.
  • 2.2    The CanRC does not have EF with the ARPC but is a member of NAPARC together with the ARPC. Their delegate to GS 2019 mentioned that the ARPC is also a member of the ICRC.
  • 2.3    The committee received invitations from the ARPC Inter-church Relations Committee (IRC) to their 2017 and 2018 General Synods in which the CCCNA sent observers. They also had an informal bi-lateral meeting with the ARPC delegates to NAPARC in November of 2017 and 2018.
  • 2.4    The ARPC has a very long history that dates back to the 18th century. As a result of this lengthy history, they often have many small congregations within a relatively limited geographical region. Though the ARPC has congregations as far north as in Canada and as far west as California, they are a deeply southern denomination.
  • 2.5    Historically, the ARPC’s closest ecclesiastical relationships have been with the RPCNA. They have met jointly in Synod with RPCNA in 2015 and plan to meet jointly again in the year 2019. The biggest difference between the ARPC and the RPCNA is that the RPCNA adheres to exclusive psalmody. The ARPC also has “fraternal relationships” with the PCA and OPC.
  • 2.6    Of late, most ARPC churches have a single service on Sundays. Most congregations also have Sunday school prior to the worship service. Catechism instruction and preaching are not part of their history or current practice, although a significant number of congregations are making an effort to introduce catechetical instruction to the whole congregation.
  • 2.7    A particular high point of the ARPC Synod in 2018 involved the “return to the fold” of Erskine College and Theological Seminary. Those institutions had been in the grip of liberalism for some time, but a successful, concentrated effort was made to bring them under more direct Synodical control and therefore return to conservative, biblical orientation.
  • 2.8    Like their “cousins” in the RPCNA, the ARPC allows women to serve in the office of deacon. Again, as with the RPCNA, they understand the diaconate as a service, rather than an authoritative office within the church.
  • 2.9    There have been various interactions between the ARPC and members of the CanRC federation:
    • Several churches within the Canadian Presbytery have established Gillespie Academy in Woodstock, Ontario. Gillespie Academy offers a one-year post-secondary program designed to prepare students for university, future employment, or the building of a Christian home. The number of students enrolling at Gillespie Academy has grown steadily over the past several years. Their numbers have included young people from CanRCs.
    • In October 2017, Dr. T.G. Van Raalte attended a meeting of Catawba Presbytery in South Carolina. A student from CRTS was being taken on as a student-under-care by that Presbytery.
    • The Chatham CanRC has established a close relationship with Rev. Henry Bartsch who pastors the ARPC congregation in Chatham. Rev. Bartsch has helped to support this congregation during the time of their vacancy.

3.   Considerations

  • 3.1    The committee has been diligent in completing their mandate.
  • 3.2    The committee gives an informative report about the ARPC.
  • 3.3    There has been an increase in contact that merits investigating the possibility of closer contact between the ARPC and the CanRC.

4.   Recommendations

 That Synod mandate the Committee for Contact with Churches in North America (CCCNA):

  • 4.1    To engage in continued dialogue and contact with the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (ARPC).
  • 4.2    To submit its report to the churches 5 months prior to the convening of the next general synod.