Mere weeks ago, South Carolina suffered from what many called a “thousand year” event. Heavy rains flooded the rivers and banks, and devastation overran much of the area leaving many with damaged homes and even more homeless. Business and government buildings were not spared either. Sadly, in our minute by minute culture the events a month ago have been long forgotten while the need ever increases. Just this past week, rains once again flooded much of the SC.
Evident Grace, like many of you, sat wondering what could be done. Thankfully, our denomination, Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), mobilized our Mission to North America Disaster Response teams, not only to send relief worker on-site but to create a flood bucket effort as well. The flood buckets are 5 gallon buckets filled with specific cleaning supplies to enable and hasten the cleaning process.
When Evident Grace heard this, we sent a call out to our folks and local churches to partner in prepping and send 50 buckets to SC. This Sunday, we sent the first 48, and next week, we should send another 10 more. Our friends at Hope Presbyterian (EPC) contributed as well.
Yesterday, in the middle of our service, we lined up our buckets at the front of our worship space, and the two churches prayed for the people on the ground serving and for the people in need of care. We also prayed that God would fan the flames of such service in our church, in our area, and in our denomination. We thanked for God for church partnerships, specifically thanking God that our partnership is even cross-denomination. We are slowly and prayerfully looking towards sending some people to SC in the New Year as the work will continue for months to come.
We are humbled and thankful to have played a small part in demonstrating the mercy of Jesus, and we pray that God gives us more opportunities in the future.
Evident Grace meets each Sunday at Courthouse Elementary at 10:30am. You can find out more about us at www.evidentgrace.com.
The flooding devastation in SC has been described as a “Once in a 1,000 year” event, and some newscasters have been so bold as to declare it as, “Biblical in scope”. The bottom line is that the cost is in the 100’s of millions, and the loss of life and effects on people’s lives will be felt for generations.
Evident Grace wants to help, and we want to invite the church and the community to partner with us. Our denomination’s disaster response branch is heading up a bucket brigade. These are 5 gallon buckets with specific supplies that are needed for cleanup. You can find those supplies listed here.
While generosity is always appreciated, the bucket’s contents are incredibly specific, so please follow their guidelines.
Evident Grace is going to be gathering these buckets with cleaning supplies over the next few weeks, and we will announce a deadline soon. Our desire is to bring them to worship one Sunday and pray for how God is going to use them for the people and the structures that have been affected by all the damage in SC. If you want to learn more about the efforts our denomination is doing, you can find that information at here.
If you want to help, email the church at [email protected] or you can call the church at 919-412-8161. If you know us, contact Gordon, Matt, or Jeremy directly.
Additionally, many of our sister churches have been affected as well. One church, www.watershedfellow.org is detailing their efforts on their Facebook page. Check them out to be encouraged by their effort for the community and the efforts in rebuilding their worship space.
This Sunday (09/20), Evident Grace Fellowship will hold our Fall Town Hall Meeting directly following the worship service. What’s a Town Hall Meeting? Let’s tell you. Our Town Hall Meetings are a time where the church interacts about all that’s happened in the past few months while dreaming about the future.
Pastor Gordon and the Elders will recount all the amazing things that God has done with us including our new space, new children’s programs, ordaining elders (and the list keeps going). They will also talk about some of the things that they hope to see happen before the end of the year, what 2016 might look like, and we will even peak into the next 4-5 years.
The highlight is your interaction. This is a time for questions and feedback. It is not merely and information meeting. Everyone is encouraged to be thankful and dream along with the leadership.
This is not just a member event. Members, regular attenders, and visitors are encouraged to attend. Even better, lunch (including drinks and desserts) will be provided. That way, everyone can just show up and enjoy the time. We plan on being done by 2:30pm at the latest.
Please note that childcare is not provided during this time. Don’t worry, we don’t mind a bit of noise. Our Town Hall Meetings are family affairs over a good meal, and all family meals have a bit of ruckus. So, please make this time a priority. Rarely do churches get to interact this openly and honestly, so come join us.
The schedule for Sunday will be:
K – 5th grade Sunday School: 9:15pm – 10:00pm
Worship: 10:30am – 12:00pm
Tear Down and Set Up: 12:00pm – 12:30pm
Town Hall Meeting: 12:30pm – 2:00pm
Evident Grace Fellowship is excited to announce a fall membership class on September 19th at 9am. Among the topics covered will be:
- How EG came to be (How and why did EG start?)
- How we do life at EG (What’s our mission? Who is in charge here?)
- How you can get connected at EG (Do we have small groups? Men’s and Women’s Groups?)
- How you can serve at EG (Where do the church’s needs meet my gifts?)
We will kick off at 9 am at 6311 Prospect St Fredericksburg, VA and end somewhere around noon. Coffee, fruit, and some carbs will be provided, but the goal is to end by lunchtime. Nursing babies are welcome.
If you can’t make this membership class, there will be a repeat in a few weeks on a different day other than a Saturday to help folks with conflicting schedules.
If you are planning on attending, please RSVP to Amy Duncan at [email protected]. Be prepared to learn, laugh, and ask lots of questions. If you have ever wondered about why you should consider joining a church, read a post we wrote that addresses that very question.
See you then.
Evident Grace Fellowship (PCA) is excited to announce that national speaker and author, Randy Nabors, will be speaking at their particularization service on August 2nd. A particularization service is when a new church recognizes and ordains its first elders.
Nabors is pastor emeritus of New City Fellowship in Chattanooga, Tennessee. He presently serves as Urban and Mercy Ministries Coordinator for Mission to North America for the Presbyterian Church in America. A graduate of Covenant College and Covenant Theological Seminary, he has more than 40 years of experience in ministry to people in need and is the recent author of the book “Merciful: The Opportunity and Challenge of Discipling the Poor Out of Poverty”.
The particularization service will be held at Hope Presbyterian Church (EPC) on11121 Leavells Rd. Fredericksburg, VA 22407 at 6:00pm, and a reception will be held onsite afterward.
Pastor Gordon Duncan says, “A particularization service is a milestone for every young church. We began with the gracious help of New Life in Christ and Hope of Christ Church along with the support of over a dozen other churches. This is the moment where we celebrate so many changes. We are no longer a church plant, and I am no longer the church planter. We are a church that has its own in-house leadership, and I am their pastor. But we know this is not the moment to exhale and relax. This is the moment when we launch into the area with energy to demonstrate what our community, worship, and service look like. Please come join us.”
This service coincides with another milestone in the life of Evident Grace. August 2nd is also the day that they have their first worship service at Courthouse Road Elementary School. They will meet there each Sunday morning for worship at 10:30am.
Not only will Evident Grace Fellowship have their first worship service at Courthouse Road Elementary on August 2nd, we will also have our particularization service at Hope Presbyterian (EPC) that evening.
What in the world is a particularization service?
By definition, particularization is the process of recognizing something as individual. Here is what that means for us. EG was started by New Life in Christ Church, PCA (NLIC) and Hope of Christ Church, PCA (HoC) with the support of a dozen other churches in our area. With this massive effort, the goal was that we would eventually have our own church leadership and function autonomously, but in partnership, with all of those churches. So, Sunday evening, the 2nd, we will ordain our first elders and become a particular church.
One of the exciting aspects of this moment of growth is the number of churches that are celebrating with us. In addition to members of NLIC, HoC, and Hope Presbyterian, churches from all of our area and churches from other states will be there as well. Our desire is that as many people as possible would come and celebrate this momentous day with us. Partnering with Hope Pres (EPC) was a purposeful choice of venue as it demonstrates our desire to work cross denominationally to proclaim Jesus in our area.
So, this is what Sunday, August 2nd, looks like:
10:30 am – First service at Courthouse Road Elementary
6:00 pm – Particularization service at Hope Presbyterian
7:30 pm – Reception at Hope Presbyterian
Of course, going forward, we will continue to meet each Sunday at Courthouse Road Elementary, so if you can’t make any of these services, come join us one Sunday as it would be our honor for you to worship with us.
Evident Grace is excited to announce that we will begin meeting for worship services at Courthouse Road Elementary (CRES) on August 2nd. Why the move you may ask? EG’s mission is that God’s grace made evident in our lives enables us to make God’s grace evident to the world. We do that through our community, our worship, and our service. Moving to CRES gives us a greater platform and ability to do those things.
We have loved our present (and soon to be previous) home at Liberty Lanes, but the opportunity to move to CRES can’t be passed up. We will have a bigger and brighter worship space, larger children’s teaching areas, and greater visibility in the community.
Would you like to know more about Evident Grace? Our website offers a host of information (sermons, small groups, men’s and women’s groups), and we always welcome phone calls and emails. Feel free to contact either our lead pastor, Gordon (919-412-8161) or our assistant, Jeremy (757-876-8512) with either questions or a desire to meet.
Over the next few weeks, we will be showing you glimpses of our new space in addition to sharing greater details about our move. Additionally, we will begin rolling out advertising, both physically by the school and digitally on social media. If you would like to help with either, please contact Gordon and Jeremy, but right now, join us in prayer that God’s grace would become more evident in Spotsylvania and Fredericksburg through this move. Follow and share our progress on facebook, #egcres0802
We can’t wait to see all that God does.
In our last blog post, we looked at why should Ruling and Teaching Elders leaving their churches for a week, travel hours away, and vote on motions and even obscure points of theology each year. Many of you will never attend General Assembly unless is again return to Virginia (in 2012 it was in Virginia Beach). Gordon and I don’t want what happens in our denomination to be disconnected from our local expression here in Spotsylvania, VA.
To that end we want to share some information particularly relating to our General Assembly that we recently attended.
We want to highlight three things in this post.
First, we want to provide you a link for all the video sessions including business and worship services. This includes all the business and voting that happened as well as the worship services – that is the main sessions. In addition to the main sessions there are also many seminars that happen multiple times each of the days of general assembly but these are not video recorded.
Second, below are the specific links to the three worship services for each evening at General Assembly together,
Tuesday Worship Service (http://bit.ly/1JRJRW1)
- Begins (9:25)
- Sermon – Bryan Chapel (38:30)
- Moderator of the 42nd General Assembly
- Pastor at Grace Presbyterian Church in Peoria, IL
Wednesday Worship Service (http://bit.ly/1HOFbP2)
- Begins (4:50)
- Sermon – Kevin Smith (40:45)
- Pastor at New City Fellowship in Chattanooga, TN
Thursday Worship Service (http://bit.ly/1LeaNwx)
- Begins (2:30)
- Sermon – Rankin Wilbourne (46:20)
- Pastor at Pacific Crossroads Church in Santi Monaco CA
Third, Gordon and I wanted to provide you with the personal resolution that he referred to in his sermon on June 14th concerning our denomination in promoting racism and failing to act to support the goals of the Civil Rights movement, in the past.
The text of the personal resolution can be found here, http://bit.ly/1QBgc7u.
The video that walks through the almost 2.5 hour time Thursday night session as the General Assembly discussed this personal resolution can be found here, http://bit.ly/1feTxNz. If you don’t have that kind of time to watch all of it, you can read a summation of that session here, http://bit.ly/1QEmdQU.
Why should Ruling and Teaching Elders leaving their churches for a week, travel hours away, and vote on motions and even obscure points of theology each year? When I (Gordon) became a Ruling Elder some 15 years ago, I thought that General Assembly was at best a boondoggle and at worst a boring use of time. However, my attitude soon changed.
While General Assembly does offer great opportunities for fun, and there are some tedious moments of Robert’s Rules of Order, General Assembly has become an essential for me and I hope it will also be one the guidance of our church.
Each year, the PCA’s General Assembly takes up the issues that have arisen from individual churches, up to their sessions, to their presbyteries, and finally to the national level. The motions that are approved eventually go back to the presbyteries, and ultimately they return to the General Assembly. This back and forth provides that no one GA can makes things binding on the churches. They must follow a path of conviction that proves the issue relevant and worth the concerns of the church. Individuals and churches have a voice and hope for care and concern through this process.
In fact, last year, GA passed a bill that not only encouraged our churches to take steps to insure the safety of children in our care, the bill rebuke any churches that did not take these steps and offered a confession of sin that it has taken us this long to address the issue. This bill partnered well with Evident Grace’s desires and efforts to train our own people in caring for the children that God has entrusted to us.
Additionally, GA provides innumerable opportunities for training and partnership. Each year, pastors (especially the eager ones like EG has) search out new material for personal study, for the present needs of their churches, and future areas of training. At the same time, we get to meet and discuss the resources with the very authors and companies that write them.
Last year, we walked away ready to implement the Gospel Identity study because we had time at length with the people who shaped the curriculum. This year, we go hoping to have the same time with skilled authors and companies who have worked and trained churches in mercy ministry. Additionally, we hope to discuss internship and future partnerships with seminaries and seminary students.
So, please be in prayer as Jeremy and I will leave Sunday, June 7th and will be returning either Friday the 12 or Saturday the 13th. Our return is dependent on how swift the business is conducted on the GA floor. Pray for our families and seek them out while we are gone. Pray for how Evident Grace can grow to be more like Christ through this time, and then pray for your own heart that God will ultimately impact you in some way through all of these activities.
Biblically, a church is commanded by God to have elders, and the qualifications for such an office are outlined in 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1 This office is an overseeing and shepherding office designed to “keep watch over your souls” (Hebrews 13:17). With as much ink as the Bible gives to both examples and qualifications, it is astounding how many churches disregard the office.
Listen to a few of the dozen plus examples in scripture:
- Acts 20:28 “Pay careful attention to yourselves and to all the flock, in which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to care for the church of God, which he obtained with his own blood.”
- James 5:14 “Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.”
- 1 Peter 5:2 “Shepherd the flock of God that is among you, exercising oversight, not under compulsion, but willingly, as God would have you; not for shameful gain”
I thought we already had elders…
Evident Grace launched with me (Gordon) as your Teaching Elder (TE) and an appointed group of elders from other churches, but we are now at the stage of moving from that oversight to an oversight of me and a group of Ruling Elders (RE) coming from within our own congregation.
What can we expect from our new elders? What does it look like for elders to shepherd, oversee, and govern? While there are many resources to inform this thought, we have been following the ideas set forward in a great book called, “The Shepherd Leader”.
Prayerfully, this is what you can hope for…
Knowing, Feeding, Leading, and Protecting
An elder will know the church, specifically the members of which he is called to care. No one, including myself, can know every person at the church intimately, but an elder should make every effort to know as many people as possible. Additionally, as each elder is seeking to care for a smaller, more specific, part of the church, he should know them, their families, and their needs very well. Caring for them should be based on personal interactions with them throughout the month.
An elder will feed the church, specifically in teaching. EG will now have multiple, faithful teachers who have endured faithful, grueling challenges to be proven faithful teachers. You can look forward to their teaching in both public arenas like our worship service and in smaller arenas like our (eg)Groups.
An elder will lead the church, specifically in the area of leading the vision of Community, Worship, and Service. They will co-create plans and programs that will lead you in that direction through all that we do.
An elder will protect the church, specifically in the areas of identifying and teaching the church against cultural wolves and protecting the church in church discipline. Each elder will work to be aware of what is going on in our local community and even the larger world scale. They will also work to protect our members from areas of sin and work to protect the church when they do.
This listing and description is daunting and impossible apart from the grace of God. But we are gifted with a few men who are willing to undertake this calling under the power of the Gospel. With Christ as our Chief Elder, you can expect this level of care, and these men can expect to lead you with your full hope and partnership.
Pray for our men as they go through their testing and preparation for ordination. We will keep you updated as they make their progress.