Posts Tagged 'Synod'

Growing Up into Christ: Synod 2014


On the evening of Sunday, June 1, I was landing in San Francisco on the way home from a three-week choir tour in southeast Asia.  Less than a day later and only a few hundred miles away, pastors and elders from each congregation in the United Reformed Churches in North America would be gathering at Trinity URC in Visalia, CA, for the federation’s ninth synod meeting.

If it weren’t for the jetlag and the pressing need to spend some quality time with my family after a year away at college, I would have loved to hitch a ride down to Visalia and be a fly on the wall at the meeting.  Although Synod 2014 adjourned a day ahead of schedule, it included many significant—even historic—decisions by our federation of churches.  Under the adage “Better late than never,” I’ll attempt to summarize here some of the synod’s most important decisions.

Our first Director of Missions

The URCNA entered a new stage in its growth with the hiring of Rev. Richard Bout as the federation’s Director of Missions on June 5.  Not only is this a huge step in solidifying our mission efforts, but Rev. Bout will be the first full-time employee of our federation.  A former missionary to Mexico, Rev. Bout will probably carry out his new job from his home in southern Ontario.

Looking ahead to retirement

Synod 2014 moved forward in ensuring that retiring ministers are adequately provided for by the churches that hold their credentials.  Action was taken to remind the congregations of the URCNA of their duty to provide for the needs of retired pastors who have spent a lifetime in Christ’s service.  This, too, shows that the URCNA’s long-term outlook is broadening.

Careful steps toward unity

Talks about the United Reformed Churches in North America merging with the Canadian and American Reformed Churches (CanRC) have been going on since 2001, and although prospects still remain promising, Synod 2014 tabled (postponed indefinitely) a motion for the merger process to begin in 2016.  Most URCNA members seem to favor taking at least a little more time to work out remaining kinks in doctrine and practice between the two groups of churches.

On another front, the URCNA’s fellowship with the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC) is growing ever closer.  The OPC is one of only five denominations with which the URCNA maintains “Phase Two” ecumenical relations, signifying that we consider them a true and faithful branch of Christ’s church and desire to pursue further unity with them.  In fact, Synod 2014 extended an invitation to the OPC to hold our next synod in 2016 concurrently with their General Assembly.  This serves many purposes, but one of the main reasons for a joint ecclesiastical assembly brings us to the topic most closely connected to this blog . . .

The new Psalter Hymnal

At Synod 2014 the URCNA unanimously (and the OPC later overwhelmingly) approved the psalm section of the proposed Psalter Hymnal on which our two denominations are collaborating.  The vote to move forward shows a recognition of the quantity and the quality of the work that has already been done on the new Psalter Hymnal, and perhaps too a realization that the time has come to finish this project.  The committees report that they expect to have a new and revised Hymn Proposal ready for the churches’ review in the spring of 2015, and that the finished collection will be presented to the joint Synod and General Assembly in 2016.  Lord willing, the new Psalter Hymnal of the URCNA and OPC could be in our hands by as early as 2017!

Another remarkable feature of Synod 2014: The devotions at the beginning of each session included singing from the Psalm Proposal by all the delegates.  Here is a video taken by Rev. Zac Wyse of Westside Reformed Church in Cincinnati of the delegates singing Psalm 1 as it appears in the proposal:


More resources for news and information on Synod 2014:

  • Press releases summarizing each day’s decisions and deliberations (Day 1, Day 2, Day 3) are available at
  • Christian Renewal’s June 25 issue contains a wealth of reports and commentary on this synod meeting.  Their Facebook page also includes some pictures of the gathering.
  • The collection of songs approved to form the URCNA/OPC Psalm Proposal is available at

May God continue to bless the United Reformed Churches in North America as we “grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ” (Ephesians 4:15 ESV).


January’s Psalmody News

News Headlines January

As I browse Facebook, YouTube, blogs, and various other corners of the world-wide web, I occasionally stumble upon particularly interesting and relevant bits of news and information.  Probably I could create an entire blog post focusing on each of these items, but such a task would be far greater than I could handle.  A better approach, I think, is to pause here at the end of the month and simply summarize some of January’s “top stories” related to psalmody and the church.  Clicking the links will direct you to webpages which contain more information about each topic.  May you be edified and encouraged by these news highlights!

  1. Oceanside URC offers daily devotionals based on the Psalms for 2013 (12/31/12) – Rev. Danny Hyde of Oceanside URC in California shared the devotionals created for his church.  These include a passage for daily reading (usually from the Psalms), a song of the month from the blue Psalter Hymnal, and a set of prompts for prayer specific to the needs of the URCNA.  (
  2. MIDI files for the complete blue Psalter Hymnal now available online (1/4/13) – Michael Spotts, a deacon at Oceanside URC in California, has posted a complete-with-extras set of MIDI (computerized) audio files from the blue Psalter Hymnal on  (
  3. University music professor acknowledges the profound influence of Calvinism on Western music (1/7/13) – Matthew Linder, music professor at National University and University of Phoenix, composed an article for his blog “Retuned” which quotes Abraham Kuyper on the impact of Calvinism on Western music, especially via the Genevan Psalter.  (
  4. Psalter Hymnal Committee to oversee devotions for Synod 2014 (1/9/13) – The Planning Committee of Synod 2014 sent their first communication to the churches with various details concerning the logistics of synod.  Among other items, they say the Psalter Hymnal Committee will look after the devotions during the week of synod, and utilize that time to introduce the proposed Psalter Hymnal to the delegates.  (
  5. 1912 Psalter released as Android app (1/28/13) – In an important step into new territory, the 1912 Psalter (still used today by the Protestant Reformed Churches in America) has been made available as an Android (smartphone) app.  Currently, only the texts of the psalm settings are available, but hopefully this app will soon expand to include some form of music as well.  (


Synod CDs Now Available!


Why the pompous fanfare?  Today, I’m excited to announce to you that after more than a month of preparation and collaboration, Pompton Plains Reformed Bible Church (URCNA) has begun production of audio CD recordings of the singing at Synod 2012!

The setting of this year’s synod, Nyack College’s location overlooking the Hudson River, was majestic.  The scenery was splendid.  The fellowship was glorious.  But ask any delegate who attended the URCNA’s federation-wide meeting this June, and you’ll probably be told one thing: The most beautiful part of Synod 2012 was the singing.  Moving many to tears, the music of the week left lasting impressions on each and every attendee.

But there’s another significant aspect of the music at Synod 2012: For the first time in the history of the URCNA (to my knowledge), the sound of 250 men lifting their voices in praise to God has been professionally recorded—and this recording is now available to one and all.

Over the past several weeks I’ve shared links to YouTube videos of the singing at synod.  These are the same recordings, but the CD version is both better quality and much more versatile.  Visit the ordering page here on URC Psalmody for more information on how you can obtain your own copy.

Feel free to share this information with any of your friends, family, or fellow church members.  Simply send them the following link (via email, Facebook, or any other means at your disposal):

Spread the word!


Synod Videos (6)

It’s been exactly one month since I started the project of converting the recordings of Synod 2012 into YouTube videos, and confessedly, it’s been a very tedious task.  That’s why I’m all the more excited to announce that all the recordings have now been converted into videos and are available on the urcpsalmody channel of YouTube!

If you’ve been watching the videos as I’ve been posting them over the last few weeks, you probably want to see only the newest entries.  So, as has been our custom, I’ll display the four remaining videos below.

227, “The Lord Who Has Remembered Us”

427, “I Need Thee Every Hour”

407, “Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah”

377, “We Have Heard the Joyful Sound”

I’ll stop the embedding here.  Although I’ve also uploaded nine more videos from synod’s opening prayer service, I’ll let you visit the YouTube channel to find those.  They reside at the top of the URCNA Synod 2012 playlist.

If you would like to share the recordings of synod with family or friends (and please do), it would be most convenient for you to direct them to the link below:

Thanks for reading and listening.  To God be the glory!


Synod Videos (5)

Three more videos of the singing from Synod 2012 have just been uploaded.

The first selection, “A Mighty Fortress,” was sung on Wednesday morning after Dr. Brian Lee’s opening devotions.  On Thursday afternoon, an unusual circumstance in the proceedings (I don’t remember what; possibly the need to count ballots) led to the delegates singing another song impromptu: “Hallelujah, Praise Jehovah,” from Psalm 146.  The final song, from the opening devotions on Thursday evening, is “How Vast the Benefits Divine.”

444, “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God”

301, “Hallelujah, Praise Jehovah”

386, “How Vast the Benefits Divine”

More to come!


URC Psalmody on YouTube

Geneva College Benefit Concert

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