THE HASTINGS RIVER CONGREGATION OF THE PCEA INVITES YOU TO ATTEND
THE CENTENARY OF THE DAVIS MEMORIAL CHURCH
The annual Synod of the PCEA is about to take place, hosted by the Manning Congregation from the 1st to 3rd of May. We are set to discuss many important issues, meet with like-minded brethren from sister denominations and hear about the wider mission of the Lord's church. We hope taht the time will be used wisely to build up Christ's church in our corner of His Vineyard. Please pray for the deliberations and outcomes of Synod 2018.
Information is regurlarly being added to the online Archive of church magazines and periodicals. The materials are being supplied by our Synod Archivist, Rev. Dr Rowland Ward, and scanning work is being tirelessly done by Mr Robert Hingston. The Archive is a treasure trove of information about Australian history and the life and response of the church to society from 1846 onwards. The latest item to be uploaded is The Free Church Monthly from 1924-1928. Have a look and get engrosed in the history of the PCEA.
You can't help but notice if you've come this far that the website has changed. At the moment there are only a few cosmetic differences, but we hope to adapt and streamline various areas of the site in coming days. Don't be alarmed though, most of the content will still be available for you to read and enjoy, and the PCEA Community is still running. Watch this space.
We are now just two weeks away from the PCEA Youth Camp, 2017. Bookings are already coming in and we should have a good group, plus possible day visitors attending as well. We ask that everyone in their congregations make this Camp a matter for prayer - that it would be a blessing to those attending and a time of learning, reflection, conviction and growth.
There is still time to get your booking in if you are thinking of coming, but we ask that you do it soon. You can book here online.
The government of our church is determined by certain documents called "subordinate standards". These standards are subordinate to the ultimate authority of Scripture, the "supreme standard" of church polity. The other subordinate standards that we have, all in agreement with the Confession, are:Regarding Church Government
Second Book of Discipline 1578Westminster Form of Presbyterial Government 1645
Westminster Directory for Public Worship 1645Westminster Directory for Family Worship 1647
The term “elder” (Hebrew zaqen) first appears in Exodus 3:16 where the Lord tells Moses to go and gather together the elders of Israel to proclaim that God will deliver them from slavery.16 Go and agather the elders of Israel together, and say to them, ‘The Lord God of your fathers, the God of Abraham, of Isaac, and of Jacob, appeared to me, saying, b“I have surely visited you and seen what is done to you in Egypt; 17 and I have said cI will bring you up out of the affliction of Egypt to the land of the Canaanites and the Hittites and the Amorites and the Perizzites and the Hivites and the Jebusites, to a land flowing with milk and honey.”
The word translated means those who are “old men” but the following “of Israel” adds the sense that these are men who have both age and reputation, a standing within the broader community, even the whole nation. The fact that the Lord continues to instruct Moses to take these elders with him into the presence of Pharaoh as a delegation representing the Hebrews reinforces this idea (Ex. 3:18). Moses then goes with Aaron to Egypt and to the Elders first to establish contact with the people (Ex. 4:29).
The role of these elders in the society of the Hebrews at this time is understood to be as leaders of clan groups, by which the whole nation was organised. This clan organisation may very well have been extant during the time of slavery. Certainly, elders are mentioned amongst the Egyptians in Genesis 50:7, and they first appear in Hebrew society 400 years alter in Moses time. But that is not to say that the Hebrews copied the Egyptian form of social organisation since most societies, (except perhaps our own in more recent years) has respected and revered the position, accumulated wisdom and dignity of the aged (Lev. 19:32).
So it was natural that all the directives and rules that God gave to Moses, he would then deliver to the people through the Elders. The best example of this is on the eve of the Passover, when having received instruction from the Lord on what to do, Moses then goes to the Elders and tells them in turn to instruct the families of their clans on how to observe the feast (Ex. 12:21). And the effect is that through their representative leaders, they observe the command of the Lord from Moses (Ex. 12:27-28).
The Elders are the ones whom God uses to support Moses authority before the people. The Lord gives Moses instructions to take with him some of the Elders
The “Elder” has been defined in the past sections of this Manual as the leader whose office begins to be evident under Moses’ authority in the wilderness, with the elders acting as judges and clan leaders, as supports (and sometimes hinderances) to Moses’ leadership.
We have seen that Paul in the New Testament stipulated the presence of Elders in the church and defined the role for the church in ages to come, particularly in the instructions he gives Timothy and Titus in the Pastoral Epistles.
But we have to take notice that the office of Elder has not always been, and still is not, recognised in the majority of the Christian Church in the way that we hold to it within Presbyterianism. How is it then, that the “Elder” as we have defined it from Biblical evidences is an accepted and revered office fundamental to the government of our Church? What happened to the Eldership in the years following New Testament times, and why do we claim it to be vital to the proper rule of government in the church?
The term “Bishop”, which we equate with the term “Elder”, comes from Old English and Wycliffe’s translation (1382) of the Greek word episkepos (“overseer”, “watcher”) throughout his New Testament, particularly in Acts 20:28 where Paul addresses the Ephesian Elders. Whilst Wycliffe, as a proto-Reformer, was ardently against the power and position of the papacy, opposed the abuses of the prelates (Cardinals, Archbishops and Bishops, etc) and their meddling in secular affairs and neglect of their spiritual duties, he accepted the understanding of the time that Bishops were first among equals and were given oversight of other presbyters (priests).
It had been accepted, never disputed, since the time of the early church, that this term of episkepos (“overseer”) was a separate office entirely to that of the presbuteros (“presbyter”). The exact time in which a bishop went from being the equivalent of a local Elder to an overseer over a number of presbyters is not precisely known. It is the opinion of the prelatical party of Rome and England that the episcopal power of a Bishop derives from not only the tradition of the church but from Scripture, and so for Episcopalian government they claim the Divine right
Polity, as the Oxford Dictionary puts it, is “a form or process of civil government or constitution”. In relation to the Church, polity refers to the very same processes of organisation, laws and government which determine and regulate how a church functions.
But why is it necessary to establish any particular form or processes of government in the Church? All who belong to Christ’s church recognise that He is the head of the church and so can we not be lead by His Spirit, even as our direction is revealed in His Word? Can’t we all just “get along” without all sorts of rules and regulations?The Necessity of Polity
Theodore Beza, the direct successor of John Calvin, stated that good government in the church was vital in repelling Satan’s attack:
Satan “hopes that it is easier to overthrow [church government] than to overthrow the foundation which is doctrine.”
Family Camp 2017 was a great blessing to all who were able to attend. Rev. Graeme Hart from McKinnon Reformed Presbyterian Church spoke on the topics of Creation, Gender, Marriage and Covenant (The Rainbow) from Genesis chapters 1 and 2 and 9. This was a timely subject and a great help to us all as we begin to face pressures on these fundamental issues. Another highlight of the Camp was a wonderful and encouraging talk given by the returning India Mission Awareness team. It is uplifting to see such zeal and passion being ignited in the young people in the Church for the advancement of Christ's Kingdom. We pray that it will be sustained.
A full report of this wonderful time of fellowship in Christ will be available in next month's Banner, available for download from this site in February.
In the meantime, here is a gallery of photos of some of the people attending and activities that occured at Camp...
There is an appeal by the General Treasurer to help the funding of Missions Support for trevor Leggot with AIM and for the Missions General Fund. This is what appears in this month's Banner:
The main area of need is Missionary Support (TI Leggott AIM) which is currently overdrawn $25,836. Payment of annual Synod donations to missions etc. have not yet been made. This will result in the net balance of Missions (General/TIL AIM) funds being overdrawn $710 as at 30/9/16. Increased financial support for Rev TI Leggott is needed.
"Let your works of charity to men be accompanied with prayer and thanksgiving unto God. Render thanks unto God, that he has put you among the givers, and not among the receivers, it being a more blessed thing to give than to receive ."
Please consider giving directly to this need in your Congregations, or you can donate to the General Missions Fund to help the overall cause right here on the website. Just go to the Donations page and you can send funds via driect debit or instantly via Paypal.
...some conservative Christians still tend to tar all Muslims with the same brush. They tend to view Muslim statements rejecting extremism as an example of saying what others want to hear while harbouring the hope of imposing sharia as soon as they have the numbers. This is not the appropriate response.
There is a new ebook available to download on our website. It is a short introduction to Islam by Rev. Dr Rowland Ward. At only 25 pages it is an easy, concise introduction to Islam which allows us, as Christians, to begin to understand and be able to witness to those who hold to the tenets of Islam. Here is important reading for a subject that should concern us.
The ebook originally appeared in four installments in The Presbyterian Banner, September to December 2014.
From just prior to Synod 2015 we have enjoyed the company of Rev. Samit Mishra and Mr Pradeep Kumar from the PFC-CI, who visited just about every congregation. We have been blessed with having a detailed presentation on the work in India with which the PCEA has had long-esablished ties. We pray that the Lord will continue to bless the labours of these men, and all in the PFC-CI. Our continued support for their work is vital, especially for the particular projects that they highlighted.
The two men returned on Tuesday to India and Samit has just registered on the PCEA Community. Please login or register, "friend" him and encourage and keep in touch with him, and the church there.
At the end of this Indian tour of Australia both sides won!
For those who are interested, the Minutes of the 2015 PCEA Synod are now available on the website here.
Our Annual Synod has finished for 2015. Thanks be to God, we had a wonderful time due to the warm hospitality of the Congregation and the catering that provided us with a more than elegant sufficiency at every meal. All the congregation was involved in the work, but Tom Reeve deserves special mention as the organiser, as do the Tongan brothers and sisters who helped make this very special. A report will soon appear in the Banner, DV, and some photos here and there. For those who want more detail, the Synod Minutes should also be available on the site soon.
Once again, many thanks to those who made this year's Synod a wonderful time of blessing.
Mālō e ‘ofa (Thanks for your kindness)
Each year, generally three times a year, in Cardiff, Newcastle a number of people gather to practice some of the Psalm tunes that we sing regularly in our churches, as well as learn new ones. This year we hope to gather again on Saturday 9th May at 11am in the Cardiff church hall to sing Psalms and enjoy fellowship together in Christ Jesus. You are welcome to come along and listen to the singing, or even join in.
Our Annual Synod is coming around again in the first week of May (5th to 7th May). It will be a time for delegates from all the congregations to get together to discuss and deliberate on matters concerning the life of the church and the organisation and running of the denomination. This year's Synod will be held in our Mt Druitt (Sydney West) church building. Anyone is welcome to come and sit in on the open sessions of the Synod. You are particularly welcome to come along and hear speakers on our Mission night, Wednesday, 7:00pm. We look forward to hearing news from visitors from India on the work there.
Andrew Bajema has complied a great video of Family Camp this year, including interviews with those who were there. If this doesn't make you want to be at the next Family Camp, God-willing, then what will?
Photos courtesy of Andrew and Sjirk Bajema