Primary Sources for the Presbyterian Masses

Recent Accessions : The OPC’s 75th Anniversary

In Uncategorized on 21/06/2011 at 20:45

Two good friends have this week blessed the PCA Historical Center’s collections with their donations of materials from the OPC’s 75th Anniversary celebration.

Mr. Andrew McGinnis, a graduate of Covenant Theological Seminary and current Ph.D. candidate at Calvin Theological Seminary, has sent along several copies of the order of service bulletin from the Saturday evening 75th Anniversary Banquet and a few other items from the occasion. However, Andrew was not able to secure any copies of the Sunday morning worship service bulletin, since he was attending a friend’s church that morning.

And John Muether, who serves as Historian for the OPC and who would be my approximate counterpart in that denomination, has very graciously sent along three new volumes issued in conjunction with their 75th Anniversary. The first of these is Confident of Better Things: Essays Commemorating Seventy-Five Years of The Orthodox Presbyterian Church, edited by John R. Muether and Danny E. Olinger. You can review the table of contents for this volume here.  I hope to write a review of this work in the coming months.

The second volume was written for this Anniversary by D.G. Hart, and it is titled Between the Times: The Orthodox Presbyterian Church in Transition, 1945-1990. The concept for this volume is a bit unusual–this is not a general history of the OPC; rather, it is a specific history, covering as it were the middle years of the denomination’s life thus far. For now and prior to my own reading, the book’s description from the OPC web site offers some better insight into what Hart seeks to accomplish with this work:

Hart’s Between the Times explores the history of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church between its founding and contemporary periods. It attempts to examine in greater detail than any existing account the representative events, decisions, and efforts of the OPC from the rise of neo-evangelicalism during the 1940s down to the debates over and repercussions from Joining and Receiving in the 1980s. The book is not comprehensive in the sense that it encyclopedically covers the OPC during these years. But a sense of the OPC’s development, mission, and character does clearly emerge from the activities, debates, and planning that absorbed the attention of commissioners to the Assembly and that writers for the Presbyterian Guardian and New Horizons communicated to those magazine’s readers.

Both of these volumes are smyth-sewn hardbacks and the OPC has taken obvious care in the production values for these two books, while at the same time keeping the cost quite low. While not identical in their binding, they are clearly complementary, both bound in dark blue cloth with gold titling and bearing the 75th Anniversary logo.

Lastly, the OPC has also taken this 75th Anniversary occasion to release an update of their Ministerial Register. The update covers the years 1936-2011 and builds from the prior compilation by James T. Dennison, Jr. that was issued in 2001. That earlier (fourth) edition was 261 pages in length and also included a register of OPC congregations, where this new (fifth) edition is limited to presenting ministerial data. The work of updating and revising the information for this new edition was carefully and meticulously accomplished by Linda Porter Foh. I can testify to her diligence in the work, as I was called upon to provide search out some details on a few men who had their credentials at one time or another with the PCA.

All of the above volumes can be found available for purchase over at the OPC web site, at http://www.opc.org/publications.html
[though you’ll have to scroll to near the end of that page to locate these volumes. Given the occasion, they really should move these books to the top of that page, even if only for a while.]

Now why, you might ask, is the PCA archivist spending time on his blog talking about the OPC and their new books? Well, for one, these are important works on the history of that denomination, a sister denomination with whom we share a great deal of history.  And while the OPC has their own archives, I do try to track some aspects of the history of each of the conservative Presbyterian denominations here in the PCA Historical Center. The breadth of our core collections really demands that sort of attention. We don’t merely have the records of the PCA here, but we also have the records of the Reformed Presbyterian Church, Evangelical Synod [1965-1982]; the Bible Presbyterian Church, Columbus Synod [1956-1961 and later renamed the Evangelical Presbyterian Church from 1961-1965]; the Bible Presbyterian Church [1938-1955]; and the Reformed Presbyterian Church, General Synod [1833-1965]. The Historical Center also holds the Minutes of the Covenant Presbytery, a breakaway group from the Bible Presbyterian Church, General Synod [1971-1984]. In short, the Historical Center’s collections cover a wide portion of the conservative Presbyterian movement in the 20th century. It makes sense then to also document the published portion of the history of these other denominations.

The OPC has their own archives, as does the RPCNA. As I said above, John Muether is my counterpart in the OPC. More accurately, John is the Historian for the OPC, while I am the archivist for the PCA. Archivists gather documentary materials, then preserve and make them accessible. Historians take those materials and sift them in order to tell a story–in order to answer future questions about past events. Each of us is appropriately titled–I am an archivist and he is an historian. Put another way, I don’t think John is paid for his work as the OPC Historian, but he has a nice budget to accomplish some very nice work, as evidenced by these new latest books. I on the other hand, am a salaried employee of the PCA Stated Clerk’s Office who works with a shoe-string budget to accomplish the work I do here in the Historical Center.

Over at the RPCNA, Tom Reid has been my counterpart there. His primary duties have been as Librarian at the Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary. Tom is now being joined in the archival work for the RPCNA by Tony Gazo. To my knowledge, none of the other NAPARC denominations currently has in place any sort of consistent archival effort. Hopefully these other groups can be encouraged to begin that work soon, before much of their own history is lost.

Hart’s Between the Times explores the history of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church between its founding and contemporary periods. It attempts to examine in greater detail than any existing account the representative events, decisions, and efforts of the OPC from the rise of neo-evangelicalism during the 1940s down to the debates over and repercussions from Joining and Receiving in the 1980s. The book is not comprehensive in the sense that it encyclopedically covers the OPC during these years. But a sense of the OPC’s development, mission, and character does clearly emerge from the activities, debates, and planning that absorbed the attention of commissioners to the Assembly and that writers for the Presbyterian Guardian and New Horizons communicated to those magazine’s readers.

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