Thursday, March 4, 2010

Thoughts on the Results of the Called Meeting of the ARP

Yesterday and the day before, the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (ARP) held a special Called Meeting of its Synod for the purpose of receiving the report and acting on the recommendations of a Moderator's Committee that had been tasked with investigating certain issues at Erskine College and Seminary. Below are some initial thoughts about the results of this meeting.

First, I believe the meeting to have been a huge success. All four recommendations of the Commission (which I will talk about individually below) were adopted, with minimal amendment. This shows that the denomination was willing to do the work that needed to be done, up to this point. I say "up to this point" because there is still more to do, and the task of overseeing our college and seminary requires constant vigilance. But, God has blessed the ARP, thus far, with willingness to do the difficult work required to reel in an institution that had begun to drift away.

The four recommendations adopted by the Synod yesterday were:

1. To reduce the size of the Board of Trustees of Erskine from its current size (30 members) to just 16 members.
2. To dissolve the current Board and install an Interim Board.
3. To revise the nominations process for Board members.
4. To revise the criteria to determine eligibility for Trustees.

Reducing the size of the Board
I don't have much to say about this recommendation besides that it is obvious that it was needed. The old Board was unable to effectively function, due to its size, which resulted in a subcommittee of the Board doing much of the work and as a result there were entanglements between the administration and the Board that should not have been happening. Reducing the size of the Board is a great move and makes sense.

Dissolve Current Board/Install Interim Board
This is the recommendation I had hoped would be coming from the Commission. Not that every Board member was performing poorly, but I think a complete starting over sends a clear message to all parties involved, that Erskine can expect something different from now on. The ARP will not be content to be uninvolved.

Revise the Nominations Process
This is the recommendation I am the most concerned about. Or, if not concerned, at least have the most questions about. Here is my concern: There will be a new committee made up of the current moderator of the ARP synod plus the four most recent past moderators. This committee will make nominations to the synod's Committee for Nominations for new Board Members, as needed. I don't like bureaucracy (committee of moderators->Committee on Nominations->Synod), and this new structure seems rather bureaucratic, to me. Yes, the current moderator is a good man, as are the four most recent moderators, but that's beside the point. I also don't like having a committee set up whose members are not elected by the Synod. Again, I am very glad for the work of the Commission, but I'm not sure about this new process for nominating Board members.

Revise the Criteria to Determine Eligibility for Trustees
It is a good thing that subscription to the ARP's definition of an "evangelical Christian" (see page 9, point 4 of this PDF) will be required of Trustees. However, why stop with this definition? Why don't we require subscription to the Standards of the ARP? There is nothing wrong in the Synod's definition of an evangelical Christian. The problem is, there are a lot of people who can subscribe to it who have no business overseeing a Reformed seminary or college. Again, I think this is a step in the right direction, but if we stop here, we leave ourselves open to future problems.

As I said at the beginning of this post, I am thankful for the work of the Commission. Overall, I think they made the right choices. My concerns are minor compared to the greater issues that it was facing and I am glad that the Synod adopted their recommendations. I look forward to the future success of Erskine College and Seminary as they, once again, embrace the doctrines and teachings of the ARP.

PS- A detailed summary of the Called Synod's proceedings can be read here.

1 comment:

  1. I definitely agree with your last point. It just makes sense for those overseeing an ARP college to either be ARP's or agree with the ARP statements.