Twelve men were called and sent to home missions fields as organizing pastors in 2011. The Committee on Home Missions and Church Extension seeks to help equip these men for their labors. So each January it sponsors a Church Planter Training Conference for the organizing pastors who began their labors in the previous year. A few others who are involved in the broader work of home missions are also invited to attend.
Eight men who began their ministries in 2011 and four others gathered in early January at Calvin Presbyterian Church in Phoenix, Arizona. They came from Utah, Ohio, Illinois, Florida, Pennsylvania, Iowa, Arizona, Michigan, North Carolina, Alberta, and New York. All are engaged in the work of developing a new Orthodox Presbyterian church.
CHMCE staff members Ross Graham and Dick Gerber led sessions on various topics flowing out of the manual Planting an Orthodox Presbyterian Church. David Haney presented a session on structuring the finances of a mission work and stewardship. George Knight, representing the Committee, encouraged the men in their ministries.
The men engaged in several extended periods of prayer, and had ample opportunity to build relationships with one another. The goal of seeing them build relationships with one another seemed to be met. One participant was overheard saying, “We need to plan a reunion.” Reunions may only be possible as men reconnect at general assemblies, but pray that they may be able to stay in touch by e-mail, phone, and social media to encourage one another in their ministries and to share ideas.
Opportunities to get better acquainted with the Worldwide Outreach ministry of the OPC are also built into the conference. Douglas Clawson presented the ministry of OP foreign missions; Danny Olinger reviewed Christian education; Tom Patete presented the great materials offered by Great Commission Publications; David Nakhla spoke about short-term missions opportunities.
A number of the mission works need new or better facilities. Reformation Presbyterian Church in Queens, New York City, is staring at the prospect of eviction from their public school meeting facility after February 12. This is due to a court ruling affecting over sixty congregations in New York City.
Redeemer OPC in Airdrie, Alberta, is meeting increasing resistance from the church from whom they rent space for evening worship. Redeemer meets in a different facility in the morning, and would like to find one location that could be used morning and evening and would allow for fellowship meals.
Sacha Walicord was present from Mount Vernon, Ohio. He is teaching at a university and is the teacher at Providence Presbyterian Church in Pataskala. He had been teaching a Bible study in Mount Vernon over the previous several months. The first worship service of the group was held on the Sunday prior to the conference. Sixty-one people attended. This new group is in discussions with a congregation about sharing its facilities.
Sovereign Grace OPC of Quad Cities in Moline, Illinois, is seeking to lease a vacant church building that is for sale.
Christ Covenant Presbyterian Church in Crystal Lake, Illinois, has been using a very inadequate facility. After an extended search, it seems that the congregation is seeing God’s provision on the horizon.
Redeemer OP Mission in Wilkinsburg (Pittsburgh), Pennsylvania, meets in a building that was formerly a Christian Science facility. It is being sold to the town, which wants to use the lower level as a library annex. The seller has included in the sales contract a provision for Redeemer to be allowed to use the building for at least one year after the sale. The town had not yet indicated its willingness to accept that clause.
These needs were taken to the throne of grace by the gathering.
Michael Elliott was present from Utah. He is nearing licensure by the Presbytery of the Dakotas. Michael and his family are part of Christ Presbyterian Church in Salt Lake City. He is seeking to gather a group in Provo, the home of Brigham Young University. Despite personal and ministry-related discouragements and obstacles, he presses ahead with a cheerful spirit and dependence on the Lord.
Charlie Perkins of Prescott Presbyterian Church in Prescott, Arizona, was present. The Lord used him to gather the initial group in Cottonwood, and then for an extended period of time he led worship in both communities each Sunday morning. Cottonwood and Prescott are an hour apart. With organizing pastor Brian Chang now in Cottonwood, the Lord has opened a door for Charlie to lead worship weekly for students at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Prescott. This is in addition to the regular services at Prescott Presbyterian Church.
Charlie keeps track of all the Reformed Christians he meets or hears about in Arizona. In this way, he can introduce people to one another. Recently, Chaplain Tim Power began a Bible study in Yuma. People that Charlie and others knew were informed. Ten families are now involved.
The three days together in Phoenix for the training conference were a great time for the OPC’s newest organizing pastors to interact with each other and with CHMCE staff. The men thoughtfully considered how to go about laboring to establish faithful OP churches. They learned about resources available to them and about the broader work of the OPC at home and around the world.
God is richly blessing the ministry of home missions in the Orthodox Presbyterian Church. Your prayers and gifts to Worldwide Outreach are currently helping to support forty-nine people who are laboring to plant and extend Orthodox Presbyterian congregations.