At the Spring Meeting of Great Lakes-Gulf Presbytery held March 3-5, 2016 at the Bloomington (Indiana) Reformed Presbyterian church, the Atlanta Commission’s report on Atlanta Presbyterian Fellowship was presented and approved.
In it, the difficulties of being a somewhat distant outpost of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America (RPCNA) were highlighted, the main one being that there are no other churches in the denomination within easy reach, with men available to give advice and encouragement. However, given the unusual nature of the ministry, and the lack of other Reformed works in the area, a number of men from sister denominations such as the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA) and the Orthodox Presbyterian Church (OPC) who are in the area and interested in urban ministry, have become invaluable workers and advisors. The Commission reported that it had established a Board of Advisors comprising local men, to be available to the pastor for advice, including with regard to diaconal matters. The group has already met twice and has set up a monthly meeting schedule.
It was reported that, in addition to the normal Sabbath school classes and worship services, a communicants class with several youth has begun meeting midweek, usually on alternate Wednesdays. Pastor Smith also began a men’s leadership training class, including teens as well as adults, studying the Westminster Confession of Faith. In addition to the three Sabbath school classes for children already in existence, an adult class has also begun. (Penny’s note: We do not have a regular teacher for the adult class but Pastor Smith and three other mature Reformed and Presbyterian men have been taking it in turns to lead it. All of these men have really enjoyed the experience, and have been surprised at the extent of the participation by those who are attending. Evidently, some of these people have considerable Bible knowledge, but are only now coming to understand how to apply it to their lives.)
The report noted that Atlanta Presbyterian Fellowship is financially supported entirely through outside giving, both from individuals and families as well as many churches, and that the ministry ended the year in the black.
Among the challenges faced by Atlanta Presbyterian Fellowship, however, the report noted that “Muslim missionary efforts have begun to move into the Bluff, fixing up houses, renovating the neighborhoods, and preaching a false gospel of peace, with some of the local churches supporting them!” As related in the most recent issue of Penny’s Pen, these men are not from the traditional Muslim sects but are members of the radical “Nation of Islam” group, which is a militant “black superiority” movement.
The report did note that “The APF has a good reputation in the community. The neighborhood seems to appreciate the time and energy the Smiths and others have spent in the Bluff. Dr. Smith has the ability to go into dangerous areas with a relative ease and communicate the Gospel to people who need to be set free by Christ from sin and misery. Frank also meets with the local ministerial association serving as a bridge to community interest.”
Having been given up to seven minutes to make a presentation to the presbytery, Pastor Frank thanked those of the assembled men and their congregations who had given financially to the ministry over the preceding twelve months. He also expressed gratitude for those who had been of encouragement by visiting us in Atlanta. Finally he mentioned by name some of the individuals to whom we minister, both young people and adults, sharing something of their backgrounds and the spiritual growth that we have seen in them.
As was averred in the Atlanta Commission’s report to Presbytery, “The[se] challenges represent the very need for the Gospel to be proclaimed in the Bluff and for Christ’s Church to be gathered there.
Spring is here!
This is the first spring that we have experienced in our new location, and we were very excited to discover this fragrant wisteria bush growing on our property.