Susquehanna Valley

September meeting

Susquehanna Valley Presbytery met for a stated meeting at Hope Reformed Presbyterian Church, Shippensburg, Pennsylvania, on September 18, 1999. The Rev. John MacRae preached from Zephaniah 1-3.

It was reported that 20 to 25 people are regularly worshipping in the mission work in Palmyra. Presbytery approved a commission report which gives Tom Becker approval to begin the necessary work to establish a Reformed University Ministries (RUM) in the Lancaster area (Franklin and Marshall University and/or Millersville University). He has been authorized to raise his support, up to $66,500, with $55,150 of that being compensation.

The Presbytery received a letter from Reformed University Fellowship students at The Pennsylvania State University, asking that the court reconsider its decision in February 1999 which disallowed the Rev. Carl Derk from being connected with that group. A separate letter from Mr. Derk apologized for the way he interfaced with the Presbytery and the Church Planting and Outreach Committee Chairman, and asked that a "new relationship" be considered. The Presbytery responded by adopting a letter to the student officers in State College, stating that Mr. Derk's resignation in February severed him from his advisory capacity to the group. "The presbytery accepted his resignation in February, but we asked Carl to continue advising you through the end of May 1999. We intended this continuation to aid you in the transition from Carl's leadership to a provisional leadership. However, in this new school year, we have asked Carl to remove himself from any advisory or leadership capacity with RUM/PSU." [Mr. Derk served for three years (1996-1999) as the Northeast coordinator for RUM, and for two years as campus minister for RUM at Penn State (1997-1999); he is now laboring "out of bounds" as a campus minister for the Coalition for Campus Outreach.-Ed.] The Presbytery also thanked Mr. Derk for his past service to the students at Penn State through RUM, and expressed gratitude to God for his letter of apology. The court stated: "We value Carl and are grateful for God's grace in his life. We reaffirm our love for Carl and our desire to fellowship with him for the glory of God and the advancement of the Kingdom of Christ. We look forward to further conversation on these matters."

Mr. David Henry was examined and approved for licensure. He took one exception to the Westminster Standards, with respect to the keeping of the Sabbath.

Mr. John McCullough was taken under as a ministerial candidate.

Presbytery approved a cooperative agreement for Candidate David Thomas between Susquehanna Valley and Missouri Presbyteries.

Jeffrey Trimbath, who has joined an Evangelical Free Church, was removed from the roll of candidates.

Because of a delay in the processing of loan applications (such as the Lamb Fund), the Presbytery authorized the Stated Clerk to sign and process loan application requests without delay providing that the candidate's local session and the Candidates, Interns and Examinations Chairman have concurred.

November meeting

Providence Presbyterian Church, York, Pennsylvania, hosted a stated meeting of Susquehanna Valley Presbytery on November 20, 1999. The Rev. Michael Rogers preached from I Peter a sermon entitled, "Practical Holiness for Elders 101."

The treasurer's report stated that there was $29,233.22 in the General Fund and $8,785.59 in the Investment Fund as of this date. The Moderator honored the outgoing treasurer, Mr. Willard Lutz, with a certificate of appreciation for his many years of service to the Presbytery. The court adopted a budget for the year 2000, of $63,720.

In light of the progress being made by the Rev. Drew Derreth, the Presbytery extended permission to him to function as the church planter at Hanover Valley Presbyterian Mission, under the oversight of Valley Presbyterian Church, until February 19, 2000. Presbytery appointed a commission to organize Christ Community Church, Williamsport, Pennsylvania, on December 5, 1999.

The Presbytery voted to prioritize the Lampeter/Strasburg area and Reading for research with regard to future church planting. The Clerk is to communicate with the appropriate Orthodox Presbyterian Church Presbytery of the desire to plant PCA churches in these areas.

Presbytery dissolved the pastoral relationship between Westminster Presbyterian Church and the Rev. Steve Wilson, per their mutual request. Presbytery approved the call from Carlisle (Pa.) Reformed Presbyterian Church to the Rev. John Gallagher to be Associate Pastor; and the call from Covenant Christian Academy to the Rev. Chris Perrin to be Headmaster.

Presbytery instructed one of its ministers that "it is not appropriate for him to forbid his wife and children from attending the worship services of the Carlisle Reformed Presbyterian Church unless he is presenting charges against the session of that church. If Christians either individually or as a church court act in a grievous manner which would break our fellowship, we are responsible to confront them with their sin. If they will not repent this should be brought to the attention of the appropriate church court. It is not right to hold an offense against brothers. We must either cover our brothers' weaknesses and sins with love or else work through the procedures Christ has given us to bring them to repentance." The Presbytery instructed the man "that he ought to worship almighty God in the worship services of the Carlisle Reformed Presbyterian Church. This church is a member in good standing of our Presbytery. It is fully accountable to Christ and to our Presbytery. [The man's wife] is a member of this church and desires to worship there. She believes that it is in her best interest, the best interest of their children, and of [her husband's] best interest, to worship in this congregation. The session of this church is ready to welcome [him] and his family back into their fellowship and to seek to minister God's grace to everyone in the . . . family. We believe that it is inappropriate for any PCA teaching elder to fail to worship in a PCA church for a long duration. We believe that [this minister] needs to be in one." [The minister had been assistant pastor at Carlisle Reformed Presbyterian Church from 1997 to 1998, and has been without charge since then.-Ed.]

The Moderator, the Rev. Bruce MacRae, introduced the subject of worship and indicated that there would be further discussion on this topic at the February 2000 stated meeting. Presbytery gave a round of thanks to the Moderator "for the excellent way in which he guided us through our work during 1999."