It’s happening again, just like it was happening a few years ago. The moving vans are rolling again throughout North America, carrying new church planters and their families to their ministries at a rate of more than one per month. That wasn’t happening for a while. The “church-planting engine” of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church was quiet for more than a year. In 2008, God enabled the presbyteries of the OPC to start twenty new mission works. But in 2009 only eight new church planters began their labors. And in 2010 just four new churches were begun. However, since the beginning of this year, our church-planting engine seems to be humming again! Things have happened so quickly over the past few months that the pages of New Horizons have not been able to keep up with all the developments, and you may not know what wonderful things God is doing to expand his kingdom among Orthodox Presbyterians.
What you probably already know
If you have been reading these pages in our church magazine over the past several months, you have probably already learned of the restarting of our engine, as you have been introduced to two wonderful young church planters in Arizona and a veteran pastor now laboring in the Canadian province of Alberta. You may remember the April 2011 story of Brian and Sarah Chang and how they have labored with a committed core group of believers to establish Verde Valley Reformed Chapel in Cottonwood, Arizona. You may recall being introduced a few months later to Brian’s friend and fellow classmate at Westminster Seminary California (and at Northern Arizona University), Christopher Chelpka, and his story about the improbability of a cactus growing on a roof or the founding of Covenant OPC in Tucson, Arizona. Then last month you learned of the wonderful things God is doing in the town of Airdrie to the north of Calgary, Alberta, where seasoned pastor and churchman Larry Wilson and his wife Holly now labor. Those three were the beginning of what has turned out to be a very productive year in God’s harvest field—the proof that the church-planting engine of the OPC is running again.
Then in mid-summer we briefly introduced you to two more new works, though without many pictures or much fanfare. You may recall learning that there is a new OP mission work in the Quad Cities area on the upper Mississippi River in Moline, Illinois, where Ken and Cressid Golden now labor. And we mentioned that Second Parish OPC in Portland, Maine, has helped to start Pleasant Mountain OPC forty miles away in Bridgton, where Tim and Joanne Beauchamp (pronounced beach-um) now serve.
What we haven’t told you yet
But news of the establishment of new churches often travels slowly. It’s important for us to wait on those announcements until presbyteries have approved and authorized them. And then there is the lag time between when we can make the announcement and when you read it— almost two months. What you are reading in November was written in September. So settle back and enjoy this trip around the United States, as we introduce you in alphabetical order to nine more new Orthodox Presbyterian churches or church planters we haven’t had the opportunity to tell you about yet.
Crystal Lake, Illinois, is a small town about an hour northwest of Chicago. With the help of their mother congregation, Hope Presbyterian Church in Grayslake, Illinois, a group of believers began meeting several years ago and this past summer extended a call to Brandon Wilkins to become the organizing pastor there. Brandon and his wife Laurie began their labors there in July.
The town of Doniphan, Missouri, is 175 miles south of St. Louis and just north of the Arkansas state line. Two years ago a group of believers along with their pastor began to discover the Reformed faith. Their pilgrimage has been a difficult one, but now Sovereign Grace Reformed Church is part of the Presbytery of the Midwest and Pastor Kent Harding and his wife Laurie labor there.
At Holy Trinity Presbyterian Church in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, retired Knox Theological Seminary professor Robert L. Reymond has served energetically as organizing pastor for several years. But a recent decline in health made it necessary for Bob and his wife Shirley to step away from their responsibilities there. In August, the yearlong intern at Trinity OPC in Hatboro, Pennsylvania, Chad Mullinex, was called as the congregation’s new organizing pastor.
Fremont OPC in Fremont, Michigan, about an hour north of Grand Rapids, was started in 2008 from a Bible study of interested Reformed believers, led by retired OP pastor Norman De Jong. In 2009, Norm and his wife Wilma were persuaded to come out of retirement to serve the new church there. But earlier this year they felt it was important to retire—again—and asked the church to search for a permanent, full-time pastor. In September, Vern and Olena Picknally arrived in Fremont from Carson, North Dakota, where Vern had been the pastor of Bethel OPC.
Long Island is a vast, sprawling expanse of mostly urban suburbs connected to each other and to the city of New York by a web of highways and mass transit. In the town of Huntington, twenty miles to the north and east of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church in Franklin Square, a new daughter congregation is rapidly developing. After sending more than a third of their congregation, along with associate pastor Ben Miller, the Franklin Square congregation is rejoicing over the recent news that ninety-five people attended the first worship service of the new Trinity Church there in late September.
In the close-in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, suburb of Wilkinsburg, there was once a thriving congregation of the OPC. But it is there that the Presbytery of Ohio has sent evangelist Tom Albaugh and his wife Martha to work with a small but committed group of families to raise up a new OP congregation.
Reading, Pennsylvania, has a large concentration of Chinese immigrants to which Covenant OPC began reaching out. Soon a group of Chinese Christians was gathered in their building, and an evangelist was called to help with the work. But when his ministry did not work out, they turned to seasoned OP pastor Jonathan Peters, who happened to be living in their area in semiretirement. Although he does not speak Mandarin, his winsome ways and genuine concern have made him a fit for this unique outreach.
State College, Pennsylvania, is the home of Penn State University. It is now also the home of Resurrection OPC. Initially an outreach ministry of Westminster OPC in Hollidaysburg, that congregation sent their yearlong intern, Jeremiah Montgomery, to be the mission work’s organizing pastor in October.
And finally, in Williamsport, Pennsylvania, where New Life OPC already has a thriving ministry, that congregation has decided to reach out to their town in a different way. So they sent their yearlong intern, Drew Adcock, along with ten of their families, to plant Omega OPC on the other side of the city.
You will be hearing much more about these exciting new works in the coming months.
Jesus tells us in Matthew 9:37–38 that the harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few, and so we should pray to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers. So when he answers our prayers with fourteen new laborers so far in a year fraught with natural disasters, political turmoil, and economic difficulties, this should be a time of thanksgiving for us.