Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Chilliwack & Tasmania 

I had the privilege of visiting the Heritage Reformed Congregation of Chilliwack, British Columbia December 12-26.  The Chilliwack congregation's minister retired and they asked me, among many others as well, to come and preach and visit.  It was hard to find the time and I did not want to leave my family, but Christmas time ended up working out.  

To my surprise, some of my friends in Tasmania assumed I was going there "with a view to a call."  I informed them that the Heritage Reformed do not go about calling pastors that way and that I do not understand the Biblical doctrine of calling that way.  The Chilliwack congregation was even in the process of calling another minister when I arrived, and I accepted their invitation to come because they asked, not because I was looking for a call. 

While I was in Chilliwack, I was able to visit many old friends, give pastoral counsel, and be there to encourage a family in the midst of a very bad car accident.  Thankfully, those in the car accident were spared and are recovering well.  

I found my time in Chilliwack exhausting but refreshing.  I kept a busy schedule visiting and I prepared my sermons while I was there.  I missed my family a lot and find a renewed appreciation for what an amazing gift they are from the Lord Jesus Christ.  It is always humbling, and at the same time a great blessing, to be of use to encourage God's people in the faith.  

I was greatly encouraged during my time in Chilliwack and I needed it.  We have had some very painful experiences here in Tassie, particularly this past year.  Nothing that was damaging for the church, thankfully, but some very painful things for me personally and my family.  Thankfully, Martha is not the kind of Pastor's Wife who gets bitter when she sees her husband hurt in the ministry.  She has an amazing gift of being able to support me and still be grieved and concerned for the state others are in, regardless of what they have done.  

Things have been developing here in Tassie a bit.  Attendance at our congregation in Launceston has increased and sometimes our little building is full.  We hope to ordain and install two new men into the eldership.  Both men are very gifted and, I pray, will be a blessing to our whole denomination.  A bit later in the new year, we hope to introduce a young people's meeting once a month and a fellowship meeting (a time of singing, prayer, and sermon discussion) once a month in addition to our worship services and weekly Bible study.   

We sadly decided to end the outreaches in George Town and Mt. Direction.  Neither of them was bearing any fruit.  The group attending the George Town outreach has shrunk due to health concerns and desires to move to Launceston.  The Mt. Direction outreach, which was a kind of branch of the George Town outreach, saw no increase in attendance and the family that attended in Mt. Direction lives twenty-five minutes from Launceston and used to attend regularly in Launceston.  In addition to the shrinking of the outreaches, the third service twice a month and the travel was beginning to wear heavily on me and on my family.  To continue the outreaches would have caused my family to suffer or the congregation in Launceston to suffer, or both.  In light of these reasons, the Session decided to close the outreaches.  

Our denomination, the Southern Presbyterian Church, continues growing closer to another denomination called the Australian Free Church.  Progress has been slow but steady, and we hope it can continue.  We have also had a meeting with the Evangelical Presbyterian Church (the denomination we seceded from in 1986).  It was good to speak with the delegates from the EPC and better understand where our two churches are today.  One of the encouraging fruits of the meeting was that our Presbytery decided to express their regret that the split was necessary and trust that the Lord will forgive  the sins and errors of both churches.  Hopefully the EPC will reciprocate those feelings.  We do not plan to return to the EPC, but we are hoping and praying that personal hurts and past wounds from the split, which the Lord has been healing, would continue to heal.  

Please remember before the Lord our little denomination out here in Tassie as we attempt to stand for our Lord Jesus Christ and that our Savior would send a Pastor to the Heritage Reformed Congregation in Chilliwack.  

The Lord be with you, 


Friday, January 11, 2013

Happy New Year!  (a few weeks late) 

Well, I have returned from Chilliwack, conducted my first wedding here in Tassie, and generally gotten settled into things again.  The coming year should be an important one for our congregation as well.  

But first things first: family pics!

Ezra and Julia October 2012

Julia next to Chalk Julia 

Daddy and Joby walking down to our picnic spot by Dove Lake in front of Cradle Mountain

Rebecca Bosch from the Heritage Reformed Congregation in New Jersey was studying on the mainland and came down for a visit for a week or so.  Having her with us was a real blessing.  We were refreshed with her fellowship and Julia still asks about "Miss Becca" once a week or so, wishing she could come back.  

Daddy and Ezra sharing nap time in November 2012