Neon, Kentucky, is a town the people of the Orthodox Presbyterian Church have known for the past decade. In “The Father’s Home,” published in this magazine ten years ago, you learned of the deep economic and spiritual needs of the community.
Over the years, you have prayed and given financially as the mission work forged ahead. Many went and labored. By God’s grace, much has been accomplished. Neon (formerly Covenant) Reformed Presbyterian Church (OPC) is being established.
People have come to know the saving grace of God in Jesus Christ and have been united to the church. The Word of God is being heralded from the pulpit and from house to house. Elders have cared for Christ’s sheep.
With large doses of outside funds and the help of many workers from other congregations, Neon OPC has its own building. A dilapidated building in downtown Neon was purchased. The interior of the first floor received an extreme makeover to be used for worship, education, and fellowship.
The Rev. John Belden was a significant part of this ministry from its inception until 2010. At that time, he accepted a call to a congregation in California. God used John’s ministry in Neon in many ways.
Finding God’s man to take up this unique ministry took some time. In late 2011, the Rev. M. Jay Bennett began to fill the pulpit. Earlier this year he was called and installed as an evangelist.
Jay was a minister in the Presbyterian Church in America without call. He had graduated from Dallas Theological Seminary in 2007. He grew up in Baptist churches in Georgia.
While serving as a pastoral intern before going to seminary, he began read￼￼￼￼￼ing R.C. Sproul, James Montgomery Boice, Lorraine Boettner, and Jonathan Edwards. As he headed off to seminary, he was convinced of the basic Calvinistic doctrines of salvation, but knew little of a full-orbed Reformed theology.
At Dallas he was introduced to dispensationalism. He knew that was not what he believed, but he certainly was not able to articulate covenant theology. God led him more and more fully into an understanding of his Word. By the end of seminary, Jay realized he was Reformed and Presbyterian. Following seminary, he did an internship at Park Cities Presbyterian Church in Dallas and became part of the PCA. He went on to serve as assistant pastor of Twin Oaks Presbyterian Church in Ballwin, Missouri.
Now, as a young, solo pastor in Neon, God is continuing to stretch Jay. Preaching morning and evening every Lord’s Day is new to him, but he loves it. He finds that he is expending a great deal of energy on preaching, but God is energizing him.
Jay loves to help people. Ministering to them by household has been exciting. Every family visitation is being initiated by the session. Jay has been able to prepare one household of five for membership in the church. He has been working with another household, preparing mom and dad for marriage and the father and son for baptism.
Jay finds hunting and fishing to be enjoyable hobbies. As a husband, father, and pastor, he has little time to pursue them. He and two other elders in the presbytery are planning to fish and fellowship for a few hours each month. His wife, Andrea, homeschools their two children and enjoys cooking and crafting.
Downtown Neon is seeing some revitalization. A new bank has gone in across the street from the church building. Next door to the church, a new public library is under construction. One project that Neon OPC wants to finish is sprucing up the exterior front of its building. Funds and energy were in short supply when the first floor was rehabbed, so the exterior still looks shabby.
A second project is to refurbish the upstairs apartments. This is the manse for the Bennett family. One of the apartments is in really poor condition. The two apartments also need to be made into one unified dwelling area. Little Farms Chapel (OPC) in Michigan has sent a gift to help provide materials for this project. They may also be sending a work team in January. Would you be able to assist with these projects?
Please pray for Neon OPC and its new pastor, Jay Bennett. Ask God to keep him faithful in the proclamation of the Word. Ask God to bless the preaching to the edification and peace of believers and the salvation of the lost. Pray for wisdom and grace in reaching out to lost neigh- bors. There are still great needs in this part of Appalachia. Pray that the church will be joyful and content with who it is in Christ.
Give thanks for the commitment and faithfulness of the households in the congregation and for the families being added to the membership.