The Free Presbyterian Church of North America started in Toronto on July 4, 1976. As other congregations were formed they joined to make the North American presbytery. Then in the mid-eighties, a bi-annual Ministers’ Week of Prayer was initiated. Ministers and elders would meet in May and October in one of the churches – the morning sessions being given over to prayer and the afternoon sessions to attend to the business of a growing denomination.
This year, with the disruption of the Covid pandemic, travel has been limited and movement between the churches was pretty well impossible. But we got around the difficulty by holding virtual meetings on zoom. Toronto elder, Jonathan McAnally, looked after the technical end of Zoom.
Over 40 ministers, elders and students attended. One benefit of virtual meetings is that brethren can attend where normally finance would prevent travel, for example, our ministers like Milos Solc from the Czech Republic and Dave Dicanio from Liberia.
The outgoing moderator, Rev Ian Goligher, who did an excellent job of guiding the brethren through what can be complicated decisions, led the business sessions.
This week of prayer started off on a sad note as we were missing two of our key men. Tribute was paid to Dr. Alan Cairns, Minister Emeritus of Faith FPC, Greenville S.C. who passed away on November 5, 2020, and Dr. Mark Allison, who died on April 28, 2021. He was the President of the Geneva Reformed Seminary. Both of these men are greatly missed.
NEW PRESBYTERY OFFICERS
A function of the May presbytery is the election of officers. The Moderator (Chairman) for the next two years is Rev. Geoff Banister of Indianapolis FPC, and the Deputy Moderator is Dr. Larry Saunders of Toronto. The new Clerk of Presbytery is Dr. Stephen Pollock, pastor of Malvern FPC in Pennsylvania. Many of the ministers paid tribute to the work of the Rev. David Mook, who has served as Clerk of Presbytery for many years. He is retiring next month. His absence, and that of the outgoing moderator Ian Goligher, leaves a big gap in the Presbytery and a big hole for the incoming Clerk and Moderator to fill.
Those who knew them have been saddened by the death of Lynn O’Neill. Her husband Russ did some excellent children’s work for the Toronto Sunday school some years ago. He also spent some weeks working with our Jamaican mission in Little London. We lost touch with the O’Neills when Russ moved to a pastorate in another part of the country.
We were unhappy to hear that they both contracted the coronavirus, although Lynn was the most serious. Russ has made steady headway in his recovery while sadly, his beloved wife did not make it and passed into the presence of her Saviour. Our prayers and sympathy go out to Russ and his two sons. On earth, these things are hard to understand, but, as the hymn says, “Some day we’ll understand.” Lynn understands. She has seen the Lord.
We are also sorry to report the death of Chris Baker from Covid. Chris was 47 and a parent at Whitefield. Our deepest sympathy goes out to his wife Cindy and daughter Josee, a grade 8 student at Whitefield, and the other family members. Chris took ill in March, and a barrage of prayer went up from the school, church and many friends, but God in his wisdom said Chris, “Come up higher.” May the Lord comfort the grieving family.
THE GARDEN OF THE LORD
This is a beautiful time of year. The frost and snow are gone. The grass is growing, and the trees are budding; the flowers are beginning to bloom. The gardeners are tidying up their gardens and getting rid of winter’s detritus.
The Song of Solomon speaks of the Lord’s garden, a picture of the church. [Song. 4:12]. “A garden enclosed is my sister.”
Just as our gardens contain a variety, so does the Lord’s Garden. There are the dahlias and peonies – gaudy and showy but with little fragrance. Just like some Christians. The primrose and violet, humble, but with a sweet smell. The fragrance of Christ is about them. Houseplants – need continual care and cannot flourish in the cold. Roses are sweetest after a shower of rain. It often takes affliction to bring out the best. Lavender’s fragrance is not valued until after death. What sort of flower am I in the Lord’s Garden?