/ Barry York

Grateful for RPIC 2024

One of the blessed traditions of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America (RPCNA) is its summer camps. Except for every fourth year, the various presbyteries of the RPCNA sponsor regional family camps within their boundaries each summer. These conferences are rich in teaching, fellowship, and recreation. However, during the summers of presidential election years and the Olympics, most of the regional presbytery camps are suspended, and the Reformed Presbyterian International Conference (RPIC) is held.

Recently, from June 25-July 1, on the campus of Indiana Wesleyan University in Marion, Indiana, over 1500 members of the RPCNA, as well as RP friends from various nations around the world, joined together for RPIC 2024. Sam and Meg Spear, along with their planning committee, did a wonderful job organizing and then executing their plans for RPIC this year. In a desire to glorify the Lord and encourage the church, I wanted to share five highlights of this time.

Excellent Plenary Messages

Pastor Warren Peel of Covenant Christian Fellowship, a Reformed Presbyterian Church of Ireland congregation located in Galway, and fellow blogger here on Gentle Reformation, gave the main addresses each morning. These morning sessions were encouraging as we sang psalms, including the theme one of Psalm 93B, and then listened to Pastor Peel. Entitled "Glorifying God in Babylon," these messages from Daniel were rich in exposition and needed application as we live in the ungodly culture of the modern Western world. Below are the links to the messages for your edification.

“Resisting the Pressure to Conform,” Daniel 1: Wednesday June 26, 2024

“Faith in the Fire,” Daniel 3: Thursday June 27, 2024

“History Is His Story,” Daniel 8: Friday June 28, 2024

“Spiritual Warfare,” Daniel 10: Saturday June 29, 2024

Wonderful Workshops and Children's Care & Programs

An army of volunteers offered themselves to serve during RPIC, resulting in an enriching time for all ages. I was amazed to see so many children, including five of my own grandchildren, loved and cared for so well in childcare and morning classes. Other fun activities during the day were provided so that families could enjoy time with their children.

Each day, the church was given a rich array of workshops, allowing the church to learn about important topics of our day and hear about the Lord's work in the church's institutions and missions. I learned of new opportunities in Asia and South America as the Lord continues to open mission fields to the RPCNA. I was also personally encouraged by the good turnout and interest in a workshop I did on pastoral calling, as the need for ministers continues to be great.

With so much going on, many of us felt the need for a Sabbath nap, as expressed below by my granddaughter, Adelaide!

Photo by Tommy Mangan

An Amazing TFY Reunion

Theological Foundations for Youth (TFY) is an RPCNA program hosted at Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary (RPTS) each summer. Over thirty students entering their senior year of high school come for three weeks to live in Rutherford Hall, attend classes taught by professors and local pastors the first and third week, and then go out and serve in local churches the middle week. All of the learning and serving is punctuated with wonderful times of fun activities and fellowship. I call TFY our "holy hurricane" as the seminary is filled with the noise, energy, and enthusiasm of the youth in the building the first week; it grows eerily quiet during the "calm" for the week they are in congregations; and then the "back wall" returns as they come for another week of learning and lectures.

This summer marks the twenty-fifth anniversary of this program and so a reunion was held on Thursday evening of RPIC. The long-term leaders of this program, Rut & Evelyn Etheridge and David & June Whitla, along with TFY Manager Kim Backensto, organized a wonderful time for the alumni of TFY to gather and recount warm memories of their time at this program while enjoying pizza. Over 600 youth have participated in TFY since it began in 1999. Remarkably, nearly 190 graduates showed up just at the conference! When you consider recent statistics show around 85% of youth leave evangelical churches after high school, it was encouraging to see just at the conference so many still serving the church. We know of many other TFY graduates (including thankfully three of my own children and spouses) who were not at RPIC and are serving Christ.

TFY 2024 descends upon RPTS over the next three weeks (July 8-26), so please pray for us!

Photo by drone courtesy of Calvin and Owen Whitla.

The Homecoming Nature of RPIC

One of the joys of the conference is reconnecting with people from all parts of the church. Whether over cafeteria meals, on the lawn during breaks, at our Airbnb, or at a local ice cream shop, Miriam and I not only had a wonderful time with our children and grandchildren, but with Warren & Ruth Peel, church planting buddies, RPTS Board members and professors, missionaries, and old friends.

Below is a picture of Ed & Nancy Blackwood, Wade & Barb Mann, and Miriam & I as we enjoyed a reunion of the RPTS Class of 1991. We rejoice that our friendship has lasted all these years, and we even have the joy of sharing married children and grandchildren [Garrett & Charity (Blackwood) Mann and Will & Lindsay (York) Mann].

Photo by Emory Mangan

The Lord's Healing We Witnessed

As chronicled here on Gentle Reformation, our family has gone through a time of trauma in seeing our son-in-law, Police Officer Tommy Mangan, shot through the throat in February of 2022 in Indianapolis while just on his third week of duty as a new officer. RPIC allowed us and everyone there to see the wonderful healing the Lord has brought to Tommy. Not only did people enjoy greeting Tommy and seeing his ever-present smile, but they also watched him play basketball and even use his new, deep bass voice to sing with family at the talent show on Saturday evening (Tommy is pictured below in the white hat). The song they sang, Known and Loved by Joel Ansett, has meant much to Tommy & Emory through this time and can be heard below.

Tommy's healing from trauma pictures another healing we saw at RPIC. Those familiar with our denomination know it has been fractured in recent years through some controversial matters that I will not recount here. However, RPIC shows that spiritual healing is taking place in the RPCNA, as we witnessed eagerness for fellowship, attempts to overcome conflict, and even people visiting RPIC who have left the denomination. Though scars remain, just like you see on Tommy's neck, healing is occurring, and for that, we can praise the Lord. May He continue to work until we see the fulness of Malachi 4:2 realized. "But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall."

Photo from screenshot by Dianne Schaefer
Barry York

Barry York

Sinner by Nature - Saved by Grace. Husband of Miriam - Grateful for Privilege. Father of Six - Blessed by God. President of RPTS - Serve with Thankfulness. Author - Hitting the Marks.

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