Dear Friend of RPTS,
Greetings in our Lord Jesus Christ! At the beginning of a new school year, it is a joy to see both new and continuing students on campus worshiping with one another in the chapel, reuniting with the faculty after summers filled with studying and teaching, and watching the RPTS staff work tirelessly to serve us all. Please read further as I “eagerly utter the memory of (the Lord’s) abundant goodness” (Ps. 145:7).
Reformed Presbyterian Graduates Called to Serve
In our May graduation ceremony, we “only” had three Reformed Presbyterian men graduate. Yet considering the relative smallness of our denomination and the fact that at our previous graduation in May 2022 we had ten RP graduates, we are grateful for these quality men! Each one has received a call to serve the church. Keith Dewell recently informed me that the Washington (Iowa) RPC called him, and he has indicated his desire to accept. Martin Monteith is now serving as the pastor-elect in the Fulton (NY) RPC and is scheduled for ordination and installation on October 9th. Jon Sturm was ordained and installed on June 23rd as the Associate Pastor of the Lafayette (IN) RPC to serve alongside Pastor Adam Niess. We thank the Lord for providing these men to His church even as we pray for more laborers.
Sending Even When It Hurts
This summer, the Springs (CO) RPC called a man who is not one of our recent graduates but rather a 1991 graduate – RPTS Director of Admissions and Student Services Ed Blackwood. Following Ed’s acceptance of this call, the elders and congregation of Springs RPC have been kind to offer ways to make the transition as smooth as possible both for the Blackwoods and RPTS. In response, I recently wrote to them saying, “I will admit the loss of this key staff person, close brother, and great friend was personally difficult to accept. Yet seeing the joy in Ed as he returns to pastoral ministry, along with knowing you all will have a caring shepherd and his wife in your midst, has turned my tears into joy for you all.” Though we will miss Ed, sending people we have grown to love into pastoral ministry is the nature of our work. In order to follow our Board’s directives in putting more emphasis on admissions and adding more hands to help with the work here when possible, recently I hired Brian Panichelle as our full-time Director of Admissions, Alex Wang as part-time Director of Student Services, and Tori Sturm as part-time Registrar.
Though they may not have had their regular students in the classroom, our professors were busy in other ways over the summer. Dr. David Whitla, along with his wife June and Rut & Evelyn Etheridge, helped lead Theological Foundations for Youth again in July for 36 students. In addition, David spoke at the Golden Bell Conference for the Midwest Presbytery and taught a Doctor of Ministry course on Scottish Reformation history. Though on a study break to complete his PhD dissertation work, Professor Keith Evans taught a one-week intensive counseling course at Puritan Seminary in Grand Rapids. Dr. C.J. Williams continues his excellent work as Director of our Doctor of Ministry program and spends considerable time during the summer working with students and guiding them through their studies and projects. Dr. Rick Gamble and his wife Janice are moving to Texas to be near one of their daughters. He spent this summer preparing for this transition and readying to teach in a hybrid fashion we call RPTS Live!, which involves intensive hours on campus each quarter combined with live remote teaching. Yours truly greatly enjoyed teaching a one-week intensive course on church planting the week before the school year began and I am amazed that the number of international students in the class was greater than American ones. As Dr. Jeff Stivason’s dear wife, Tab, is battling breast cancer, Jeff has taken some time to walk with her through this valley. The RPTS community especially asks you to pray for them at this time.
The professors also spent some of their summertime preparing their messages for this year’s Westminster Conference which was held this month. The 2023 theme was “The Westminster Standards and the Means of Grace: Prayer – One Special Part of Religious Worship.” Many were blessed and challenged by this conference, and you can be too. A link to listen to these messages will be available soon.
From Dungeon to Lower Deck
Previously, I referred to our basement area where our kitchen and dining room are found as “the dungeon.” Though those of us who consider Rutherford Hall a second home were used to its appearance, the stained carpet, broken ceiling tiles, and decades-old kitchen made the place somewhat embarrassing to host guests and potential students for a meal. Thanks to the donations of generous friends of RPTS, along with the hard work of staff, volunteers, and some hired labor where necessary, this area has been transformed into a beautiful kitchen, serving area, dining rooms, and a new student lounge. We will call this newly renovated area “The Lower Deck” as we trust students will enjoy camaraderie and fellowship around meals, discussions, and study there.
100 Years in Rutherford Hall & Strike the Match
During 2023-2024, you may hear RPTS speaking about our 100 Years in Rutherford Hall campaign. Given that our Synod purchased our current campus home in 1923 from the Durbin Horne Family, with RPTS classes beginning here the following year, we are taking this opportunity to celebrate the Lord’s goodness to us in providing a permanent home this past century. You may receive information regarding special events or giving opportunities this calendar year or next as we both rejoice in what God has given to us and seek to restore, renew, and beautify this wonderful home in which RPTS is housed. If the Lord has blessed you with extra resources, please consider helping us with this restoration project.
However, we still have our annual operational needs. Each year in October we hold our biggest fundraising event of the year called Strike the Match to help us meet our operational expenses. As a seminary that seeks to make our training of students as affordable as possible by having frozen our tuition for the past six years, we rely heavily on the donations of friends like you to provide our quality education. During Strike the Match, any donation given to RPTS will receive a 50% match because of generous friends. This matching donation means every $100 given to us becomes $150! Our financial goal this year is $275,000 and our participant goal is 450 people. Please partner with us in our work here at any amount by sending a gift by check, calling us at (412) 731-6000 to use a credit card, or using our website at rpts.edu/give.
Thank you for partnering with us at RPTS!
In Christ’s Service,
Barry J. York