Thank you for turning out to the Annual Congregational Meeting on January 27, 2013. I’ve heard many say that they have never seen so many members at an Annual Meeting!
You can view the slides from the presentation here:
During my own report, I highlighted the big events of 2012. We expanded our outreach with March Into Mission, celebrated our 40th Anniversary with style, and welcomed a church-wide rebranding with a new logo and website!
The big challenge for the coming year is the session’s recommendation that we depart the PCUSA and link arms with our Presbyterian brothers and sisters in ECO (The Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians). My leadership in this has been a delicate balance of teacher, pastor, and moderator. I have not led the way into this decision. But I did decide to say a few things at the meeting.
During the American Revolution, we were 26% Presbyterian in the colonies. For over 150 years, America was in a period of what historians call the “Evangelical/Protestant Consensus.” If you were a citizen, you were most likely Congregational, Methodist, Episcopalian, or Presbyterian by faith. In 1905-1915, the Presbyterian Church was fastest growing church in America! Something went off track. America today is 2% Presbyterian, and dropping. The last membership growth year for Presbyterians was 1965. Not that it’s all about making Presbyterians, but what that means is that we Presbyterians are failing at making Christians. Recent surveys (2006 and 2008) of our ministers revealed: When asked “is it necessary to follow Jesus to be saved?” 2/3rds said no; Less than half read the Bible on their own weekly except to prepare a sermon; More than half do not pray daily; More than half have never prayed with a non-believer helping them begin a saving relationship with Jesus Christ. (Presbyterian Panel Surveys of 2006 and 2008). The recent high-profile issues around ordination are only symptoms of a deep illness and serious difference on key aspects of the Christian faith and life.
There is a group of leaders, and I count myself among them, who believe that the Presbyterian Church can be regained. We can regain an urgency for the Gospel, a sense of purpose, a clear mission, thoughtful theological clarity in our proclamation, engaged care for our communities, and really begin reaching people for Christ once again. What has become clear is that the core effort of this reclamation of Presbyterian heritage and mission is not going to emerge within the PCUSA. But it can emerge through the ECO and the Fellowship of Presbyterians.
This is a little bit of what I am excited about in the year to come as we seek the Lord in faithfulness and follow where He leads us!
(You might want to push play, and then pause to allow the video to download)