Thursday, November 8, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving from GPTS!

Be thankful unto him and bless his name, for the LORD is good and his love endures forever; his faithfulness continues through all generations. — Psalm 100:4-5

'Steady' Wins the Race

By Garry J. Moes
Director of Development 

"Slow and steady wins the race," according to the "moral" of Aesop's famed fable of "The Tortoise and the Hare."

The story you are now reading is not in praise of "slow," but it is in praise of "steady."

As some within our constituency know, Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, unlike many other such institutions, depends heavily on gifts for its financial foundation. This comes from an early commitment by our founders and trustees to keep tuition low, a policy based on their belief that a man called to the Gospel ministry should not be shouldered with a burden of debt in order to answer that call. We therefore depend for more than 70 percent of our budget on the voluntary gifts of Christians and their churches who believe as firmly as we do about the mission to which this seminary has been called.

By God's grace, this policy has provided the resources we have needed for more than a quarter of a century; but, by its nature, it has frequently pushed us to a troublesome financial brink. Dependence on voluntary gifts subjects us to the natural vagaries of charitable giving: circumstances in the personal lives of our supporters can change; churches, from time to time, face new challenges within their own ministries; the economic climate of the country may give rise to many uncertainties.

Yet, we are called upon daily, weekly, monthly and yearly to meet our divinely ordained mission to teach students called to preach and shepherd or to serve the Lord in other ministry capacities. Meeting the regular obligations of this mission demands a steady flow of income.

For this reason, the governors and administration of Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary wish to highlight the great need we have for a steady, reliable cash flow. This comes from donors who commit to a schedule of regular, perhaps automatic, contributions each month. Many of our supporters send checks, one by one, every month. Others have set up mechanisms through their banks' "bill pay" systems or other electronic payment options. Donors making these monthly commitments currently provide us with an average of about $11,550 per month. We need approximately $22,000 per month, almost double the current level, to supplement the more sporadic gifts (one-time, quarterly or annual) that we receive to meet our current monthly budget of approximately $75,000 in contribution income to our General Fund.

Here's the bottom line: We urgently need many more supporters to prayerfully consider making a commitment to give each month as they are able and as the Lord blesses.

To illustrate the benefits of such giving, we ask you to review the following table showing monthly giving by steady donors for the 12-month period ending in October 2012. As you can see, having a cadre of regular givers assures us of a relatively reliable stream of income each month. We just need to at least double the level of this stream.

Month No. of Donors Total Given Avg. Amt./Gift
November 89 $12,822.76 $133.57
December 92 $15,804.52 $146.34
January 84 $10,612.86 $120.60
February 84 $5,948.33 $70.81
March 92 $11,406.48 $111.83
April 93 $11,499.81 $112.74
May 92 $13,046.89 $131.79
June 87 $13,517.62 $139.36
July 88 $8,839.66 $96.08
August 87 $11,575.33 $128.61
September 93 $11,275.79 $112.76
October 91 $12,493.70 $137.29
Total 12-mo. period
$138,418.05 $124.03
Sporadic giving is traditionally highest in December and May/June when we conduct our annual year-end appeals at the close of the calendar year and our fiscal year. Giving also goes up when we issue "emergency appeals" in times of cash-flow crises; we are always amazed at how God's people respond with generous outpourings of support in particular times of need. All of our income, of course, does not come from gifts. Tuition, for example, plays a role; but this is also a highly seasonal source of income, with spikes at the start of each semester and troughs at other times. It is these fluctuations that we hope to level through steady giving by more and more supporters. The following chart shows total General Fund income from all sources for 2011 and so far in 2012.

The chart below shows all donations to our General Fund for last year and thus far in 2012. These figures include one-time extraordinary gifts and results of emergency appeals.

When extraordinary gifts are removed from the equation, regular giving is shown in the following chart.

These charts show substantial fluctuations from month to month and highlight the need for a stream of income from reliable monthly commitments. We have created two ways to set up automatic monthly contributions.
  • Donating monthly via automatic Electronic Funds Transfer (EFT). If you would like to begin giving to the seminary in this way, please click here to download a Monthly Debit Authorization Form. Fill out the form and mail it to the seminary with a deposit slip or voided check. For more details and options on this method, visit our web site by clicking here.
  • Setting up a recurring gift schedule through PayPal. A mechanism for doing this is found on this page of our web site. Click on one of the green Donate Online buttons to set up an automatic payment of one of the indicated amounts. This method is quicker and easier than option 1 above, but, because of small PayPal processing fees, we do not receive the full amount given. It is a convenient option for many, including international supporters.
In our December E-newsletter, we will be sharing information about our annual year-end financial campaign. Our goal this year is to raise $170,000 by the end of 2012.

Thank you for considering our need for a more reliable monthly flow of income, and may you reap ten-, fifty- or a hundredfold in harvest blessings from whatever you sow.

Life, Death and the Doctrine of Man

The 2013 Spring Theology Conference

If, as Scripture reveals in a variety of ways and places, man was created with life, so also was the rest of animate creation that stands in union with him; and death was not present anywhere before the Fall of Man.

That argument will be presented by Pastor Matt Holst, one of the speakers slated to present lectures during the 2013 Greenville Seminary Spring Theology Conference on "The Doctrine of Man." The conference will be held March 12-14 at Woodruff Road Presbyterian Church in Simpsonville, S.C.

"Man is the federal representative of all creation; thus, in principle, man's experience (blessing/cursing, etc.) is also reflected upon the rest of creation," argues Mr. Holst, a graduate of GPTS and pastor of Geneva Orthodox Presbyterian Church on Woodstock, Ga.

Life is an attribute of God which He communicated to the animate creation through the means of "the Breath of Life," "life that is in the blood," the creation of "flesh," and the implantation of "the image of God," Mr. Holst will argue.

The impossibility of death before the Fall can be derived from the doctrine of "covenantal unity of creation," which consists of unity of substance, unity of blessing, unity of cursing, unity of redemption, notwithstanding "disparity of position" within creation, according to Mr. Holst, who will also address issues related to theistic evolution, "scientism," "scientific realism," and materialistic explanations for the nature of creation.

The roster of speakers and their topics is as follows:
  • Dr. Richard Belcher — "The Supernatural Creation of Man" (including examination of modern theories of theistic evolution)
  • Dr. Guy Waters — "The Covenant of Works"
  • Dr. Joel Beeke — "Temptation and Fall" (free Tuesday evening service)
  • Mr. Matthew Holst — "Red in Tooth and Claw? An Exegetical Evaluation of the Doctrine of Death Before The Fall"
  • Dr. Bill Vandoodewaard — "Thomas Boston and the Four-fold State"
  • Dr. Nelson Kloosterman — "Imago Dei – Man, the Image of God"
  • Dr. Joseph Pipa — "Original Sin" (free Wednesday evening service)
  • Dr. Nelson Kloosterman — "The Cultural Mandate and the Great Commission – An Integrationist Model"
  • Mr. Gabriel Fluhrer — "Beware Lest Any Man Spoil You: Questioning the Philosophy of Science Used to Question the Bible's Doctrine of Man"
We see the Doctrine of Man as an increasingly important topic at this time as the biblical understanding of man's origins, nature and purposes is under concerted attack. It is critical for all believers and especially leaders in the church to examine these issues thoughtfully. We hope to see many turn out for this conference and ask that you please encourage your pastors and elders to consider attending. Registration will be available on our website beginning November 15th.

Jeff Kingswood Named New Board Chairman

At its November meeting, the Greenville Seminary Board of Trustees accepted the resignation of Dr. George W. Knight III as its chairman. Dr. Knight requested to be relieved of his chairmanship for health reasons. He will remain a member of the board.

Named to chair the board was member Rev. Jeffrey Kingswood, pastor of Grace Presbyterian Church (ARP) in Woodstock, Ontario, Canada. He is the moderator-elect of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian denomination for the year starting in July 2013.

Rev. Kingswood received his B.A. from the University of Guelph, and his M.Div. from Knox College, University of Toronto. He was ordained in 1988. Rev. Kingswood has authored many articles, edited denominational periodicals, and is the author of From the Lips of Little Ones, published by Crown and Covenant Publications. Rev. Kingswood is married, and he and his wife Joan have 6 children, three of whom are married. They have been blessed with five grandchildren.

The board, administration and seminary community express their high gratitude and appreciation to Dr. Knight for his years of outstanding service to the seminary.

Dr. Knight has served as board chairman since 2005. He is also a member of the adjunct teaching faculty at GPTS. Dr. Knight has served as associate pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in Charlotte, N. C. since 2006. He received his B.D. and Th.M. from Westminster Theological Seminary and Th.D. from the Free University of Amsterdam in 1968. In recent years, he has been undergoing treatment for prostate cancer.

Confessing Our Hope

Listen to the GPTS Web-based radio broadcasts, with new interviews weekly! Several new programs are now available for listening or download. Among them:

#27 - The Timeless Nature of the Bible's Social Mandates. Dr. Joseph Pipa was our guest as we discussed social issues such as homosexuality, women's ordination, head coverings and other  such issues in light of properly understood biblical hermeneutics. This was a very informative and practical discussion. Dr. Pipa is the president of Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. Listen here.

Our new GPTS "app" for smartphones and tablets provides a new avenue to access our podcast on the go. Get the app here or go to the iPhone App Store or Google Play from your device (not compatible with Amazon Kindle devices).
Visit Host William Hill's Confessing Our Hope Blog for news and information about the broadcast as well as access to all program recordings. Podcasts can also be accessed through our mobile web site.

What the Rest of the Bible Says About Genesis

Are Evangelical and Reformed churches plunging headlong into heresies and error that only a short time ago were unthinkable as interpretations of the Biblical account of Creation?

In a recent lecture before the Greenville/Anderson area Creation Study Group, GPTS President Dr. Joseph A. Pipa, Jr. addressed this question in a groundbreaking analysis of what the Bible in its entirety says about this foundational doctrine. Dr. Pipa tackled and undercut the aberrant creation hypotheses of the so-called "day-age," "framework" and "theistic evolution" constructs for interpreting Genesis by positing a comprehensive biblical interpretive scheme which makes these views impossible and unacceptable.

Using the historic hermeneutical approach of "allowing the Bible to interpret the Bible," Dr. Pipa demonstrated how accurate exegesis of all biblical references to creation leads inescapably to a literal, historical view of Genesis 1.

Hear this important lecture on by clicking here.

Greenville Seminary remains in the vanguard of the fight for the historical view of Genesis 1. The official Faculty Statement on this subject can be read here. We believe this statement is unique as an official declaration by a seminary faculty. Students and supporters of Greenville Seminary can be assured of its uncompromising commitment to this view, making GPTS the seminary of choice for those holding to the truth that "Six Days are Six Days."

Financial Report for October 2012

The tables below show our financial condition as of the end of October 2012. For the month of October, contributions from churches and individuals were $35,124 below what was budgeted. Expenses were $9,300 below budget, leaving a net budget shortfall of $25,824.
Please prayerfully consider how you might help provide the seminary with a solid financial foundation for this final quarter of 2012 (2nd quarter of our fiscal year). We encourage you to read the lead article of this month's GPTS Online newsletter and consider becoming a regular monthly patron of this seminary.

Expenses $81,140
Donation Income $52,419
Other Income $9,296
Total Income $61,715
Net Income -$23,830

Expenses $346,746
Donation Income $183,844
Other Income $92,340
Total Income $276,184
Net Income -$70,562

Capital Campaign Goal* $3,500,000
Received $3,050,156
Long-term Pledges Outstanding $589,270
Total Received and Pledged $3,639,426
Outstanding Obligations $35,000
Monthly Note $4,264
Remaining Mortgage $889,794

*Although the formal fund-raising campaign goal has been more than realized, additional funds are needed to amortize the balance of our mortgage.

If you would like to make a convenient online donation to Greenville Seminary, click the  "Donate" button below. Whether or not you can contribute financially, here is another way you can help the seminary: Spread the Word! Do you know someone that would be interested in learning more about our organization or supporting us? If so, fill out the form here and an e-mail message with a link to our website will be sent to them. Thank you for your continued support for Greenville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. 


Sharing in the Advancement of GPTS

Visit the GPTS Development Office web site for information on ways to support and spread the word about Greenville Seminary.

Discourses of Redemption

Order this book.

New from the GPTS Presbyterian Bookshop

In 1867, Stuart Robinson placed before the American public "specimens" of his biblical expositions, which considered a logical development of the gospel as it unfolded historically. In this brief description of his book, one learns that redemption ("the gospel") was in view as it was progressively unfolded. In short, Robinson was presenting to the public the Scriptures as redemptive history, showing sensitivity to the linear-historical nature of revelation....

Robinson explained that the mode of the Bible's revelation is through a series of covenants, each one a larger development of that which precedes it. Successive covenants mark the expansion of revelation as it flows from the gracious hand of God. This idea ... guided Robinson ten years earlier when he published his work on ecclesiology. Each period of revelation is marked by a divine covenant — Adamic pre-lapsarian, Adamic post-lapsarian, Noahic, Abrahamic, Mosaic, Davidic, and Messianic (New Covenant). During each of these periods, there was a development and accumulation of revelatory data regarding what man was to believe concerning God and what God demanded of man.

These expositions were preached to growing congregations in order to display the organic unity of Holy Scriptures and the center of theology — redemption through the Seed promise. Robinson's rationalization of these expositions should excite every pastor-teacher: "Having, through a ministry of twenty years, to congregations variously composed, in four different cities, [I have] been accustomed, in pursuance of the latter theory of preaching, to appropriate one of the public services of the Sabbath to showing the people how to read the scriptures, and to follow the development of the one great central thought of the Book through the successive ears of revelation — the author can testify from practical experience that the people need no other attraction to draw them to the house of God than a simple, rational and practical exposition and illustration of the Bible. And he who may once attract them by such teaching will find no occasion for devising sermons on special subjects, or any other theatrical devices to draw men to the sanctuary," (Discourses, iv).

From the Introduction to the new edition, by C.N. Willborn

To purchase this book from the GPTS Bookshop, go here.

Reports from Churches in the Path of Hurricane Sandy

The seminary has received a number of reports from churches with which we have some connection concerning their circumstances resulting from Hurricane Sandy in the New York, Long Island and New Jersey areas.

First, there is this report from William Shishko, adjunct lecturer at GPTS and pastor of Franklin Square Orthodox Presbyterian Church on Long Island:

Dear brothers and sisters,
First, thank you for your prayers for those of us in the Northeast who recently endured the wrath of Hurricane Sandy. One feels his or her own helplessness before 70- and 80-m.p.h. gusts of wind that threaten to (and in many cases actually did) topple huge trees before your very eyes. I apologize for the delay in sending out this report and update, but we just got power back to our home in Malverne at about 9:30 this morning [Tues, Nov. 6]. It was so good to feel heat after 7½ days without power. Our experiences over years of camping as a family came in very handy as we went through days without light and heat and with increasing cold!
* * * * *
One family in Reformation Presbyterian Church (Queens) had major damage to their home in the Rockaways (which was particularly ravaged by waves, wind, and fires). Two families in the OPC in Bohemia experienced major damage to their homes. Here in Franklin Square, we have five families that have sustained moderate to severe damage to their homes. One of those families lost virtually everything in their condominium in Freeport. We have been unable to contact one of our families in a particularly hard hit area near the Rockaways (which is near JFK Airport).

I praise the Lord for the quick action by both David Haney and David Nakhla of the OPC Disaster Response Team. On Friday of last week, after experiencing a couple of days in which it was almost impossible to make contact with people even by cell phones, I received a distress call from one of our widows whose basement was completely flooded. She needed a generator. By that time generators were unavailable at the stores. Literally, about one hour after praying (with a great sense of helplessness), these brothers showed up with a truck that included generators and much needed gasoline. (Gasoline lines on Long Island have been nightmares. People have been waiting in line for sometimes up to 3 hours to get gasoline). We were able to get to the widow (after taking many back streets because the major roads to her home were blocked) and provide her with a generator, gas, and some cash to help her. (Most banks were unable to open or function with the power outages). We were then able to help another elderly OPC Franklin Square couple whose basement had flooded. The sea waters had also destroyed their van and the generator they owned. We were also able to help another widow who needed gas to power her generator. It was both sobering and wonderful to see her family members and a couple from the church (that drove out from Queens) helping her with the sad task of ripping out the walls of her ruined basement.

The next day (Saturday), David Haney and Richard Dugan of the OPC Disaster Response team came with a huge truck of generators, gas, heaters, fire logs, cleaning supplies, and ice (which was in short supply, too). We spent most of Saturday getting the generators and other items to as many families as we could. What a joy it was to help one of our Long Beach families (who had to evacuate their apartment in Long Beach) who had moved in with the wife's parents here in Malverne. Both of her octogenarian parents have serious health issues, and they were without power. We were able to install a large generator with power enough to provide heating and lights for them. In all cases, we tried to give priority to the elderly, the widows, and those without power who had no other place to go to live. It was a day of experiencing the truth that it is "more blessed to give than to receive."

Praise the Lord that the power at the church building finally came on on Saturday. We were able to have worship and a combined Bible School class on Sunday. OPC Disaster Response Coordinator David Nakhla was with us and told us how to organize and work with him to provide the assistance that we need. Christopher Shishko, who is a lawyer here on Long Island, then provided very helpful information regarding how to work with insurance companies in making claims. Throughout we emphasized that disasters like this are God's scaffolding (as all of world history is) behind which the Lord is building His church. We were all challenged to show Christlike love in giving ourselves for the good of others and letting our lights so shine before others that people may see our good works and glorify our Father who is in heaven.

Yesterday our disaster relief site coordinator Al Zarek and I began to lay out our long term plans. We are in regular contact with David Nakhla, who has already arranged for an electrician who is an expert in heating systems to fly up here from Orlando, Fla. to be with us for about 10 days to help get the heating systems of our church families and others operable. We will also need teams to help with clean-up projects. Pray for our witness to others through his labors and the teams that will soon be working on the massive clean-up projects. Last night a half a dozen of our church ladies spent three hours getting clothing together to give to needy families. (I have heard the figure of 500,000 winter coats being needed. It's beginning to get cold up here!) Pray that these will be distributed faithfully.

I appreciate the many who have asked about diaconal offerings to help us. There is no doubt that we will need much financial assistance to supplement FEMA and insurance help. Please send these gifts to the OPC Diaconal Committee, designating them for Hurricane Sandy Relief. This may well be the greatest challenge to your Diaconal Committee, given the nearness of this disaster, and the number of OPC congregations involved. Also, please pray:
  1. That those still without power can get it soon; and that sanitation problems can be corrected without serious health consequences.
  2. That much needed gasoline will be provided to New Jersey, Long Island, and metropolitan NYC.
  3. That the Lord will restrain those who would use this time as an opportunity to vandalize others.…
  4. We also need an extended period of dry weather so that previously flooded basements can dry out. We cannot do rebuilding work in basements without that. 
  5. That the church families (and others) who have lost their homes would be able to have their homes restored.
  6. Above all, that the Kingdom of God will be furthered in this area through the testimony of Christians, especially our corporate OPC testimony as we work together to show the love of Christ to others.  Pray that many in this area will learn the all-important truth that a person's life most definitely does not consist in the abundance of his possessions. 

In times like this, how I ESPECIALLY rejoice that we are blessedly NOT "independent," and that we have the rich textured fellowship of individuals, families, congregations, the OPC as a whole, and other Reformed and Presbyterian churches with whom we have the ties of fellowship, love, and sacrificial commitment. Pray that this Psalm 133 testimony will, according to God's explicit promise, bring salvation to many.

Yours in the service of the Lord of the winds and the waves,
Bill Shishko, pastor, OPC, Franklin Square, N.Y.
After this report was received, the area was again hit by a severe "Nor'easter" storm which produced high winds, more flooding, and heavy snow, with more power outages and hardship.

The following report was relayed to GPTS by student Lowell Ivey, who interned last summer in New Jersey. This report concerns the Boardwalk Chapel in Wildwood, N.J.
Dear friends,
Thank you for your prayers. God in his providence chose to spare the three Wildwood properties of any major damage. Although the main threat to the Chapel was the wind, the roof was found to be secure. There were some missing shingles but that is a common occurrence when brisk winter winds sweep across the 17 year old roof. Ocean waves had minimal impact due to the annual increasing width of the beach between rising tides and the Chapel. Additionally, the Chapel is partially shielded by a sand dune
built to protect the nearby Wildwood Convention Center. The power of the storm surge was apparent in the drastic sand patterns around some of the 36 cinder block pillars holding up the Chapel. However, each pillar is secured to a concrete slab atop a 20-30 foot long piling driven into the ground (“... a wise man ... built his house on the rock.” – Matt. 7:24). A walkthrough of the Chapel interior revealed no damage other than two mattresses ruined by water leaking from a nearby window.

During the summer, the Chapel staff resides in the Dunn House dorm, lovingly named after the
late Rev. Leslie Dunn who helped the Presbytery of New Jersey start the work in 1945. It was secure in every way during the storm with no apparent leaks or broken windows. It sits in the middle of the Island between the ocean and the back bay and is not affected by storm tossed waves from the east side or high tide flooding from the west. However, water damage is a problem due to the age of the three bathrooms slated for much needed renovations. Once a volunteer team is secured and material procured the work can begin in March 2013.

The director’s residence, the Kay House, was donated to the Chapel by a Miss Mary Kay in the ‘50’s. It stood firm against Sandy’s gusty bravado — only small roof leakages in two spots. But it could not prevent the salt water intrusion from a full-moon, back-bay high tide. The 15 inches of water surrounding the house forced a rupture in the basement stairwell allowing water to flow freely into the basement beyond the capacity of a very efficient sump pump. The water heater, gas furnace, washer, and dryer were all impacted. The Chapel’s very efficient plumber promised that the heater and furnace would be up and running within 48 hours, and so they were. The 10-year-old appliances will probably be taken to the curb.
Any of a number of variations to the storm’s path could have altered this report significantly. But thanks and praise be to our God who ordains all that comes to pass. (“Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” – Mark 4:41)
In Christ, Jon W. Steveson, Director
The following report was relayed to us by student Mike Myers from Pastor James Zozzaro of Calvary OPC in Wildwood:
Please continue to pray for Redeemer OPC in Seaside. ... Seaside was hammered hard by the storm, and I fear it did a lot of damage to my mother's/sister's home as well as effecting many in the church family. Hopefully, I can get to Seaside soon. Thank you all for your prayers. Thus far the mercy of the Lord has been abundantly displayed in sparing the Calvary OPC church family. Peace to you all.