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Denominational Updates from First Presbyterian Church of Dunellen | Denomination Updates from First Presbyterian Church of Dunellen

Forum on the Trinity

On February 5, the session held our second Congregational Forum on Denominational Issues. The subject was “The Trinity.” Pastor Jeff began with a quick review on the inspiration and authority of the Bible, then compared and contrasted our congregation’s beliefs and those of the Presbyterian Church (USA).

You can listen to or download an audio or video recording of the forum at http://dunellenpres.org/media.php?pageID=49

HANDOUTS (all in Pdf format):

Trinity Forum handout background information

Trinity Forum FPCD Slides

Trinity in the Bible Handout

 

A Scientific Review on the Causes & Effects of Sexual Orientation

Many would have you believe that one’s sexual orientation is established at birth, and cannot be changed. In fact, you’ve probably heard, any attempt to redirect a person’s sexual orientation is cruel. Science, they say, proves that homosexuality is healthy and normal.

On the other hand, you’ve probably also heard some say that homosexuality is a choice, and that anyone can change their sexual orientation if they try hard enough.

This article takes a look at decades of scientific and social research and clarifies what we know, and don’t know, about sexual orientation. It’s quite detailed, but well worth reading.

http://www.firstthings.com/article/2012/01/same-sex-science

 

John Ortberg: A Vision for Ministry & Introducing ECO

John Ortberg opened the Fellowship of Presbyterians Covenanting Conference with this sermon. It is one of the most uplifting, inspiring, and challenging messages I’ve heard in a long time. Enjoy!

John Ortberg: A Vision for Ministry & Introducing ECO from Fellowship of Presbyterians on Vimeo.

John Ortberg: A Vision for Ministry & Introducing ECO

 

 

FAQ on Orlando Conference

I’m still processing my experiences at the Fellowship of Presbyterians Covenanting Conference in Orlando, so look for several more posts over the next few days. Today I’d like to answer a couple of the questions I was asked most frequently at church this morning.

1) What is the relationship between ECO (The Evangelical Covenant Order of Presbyterians – a new denomination), the Fellowship of Presbyterians, and the Presbyterian Church (USA)?

 

The Fellowship of Presbyterians is a group of pastors, elders, and churches who are in a covenantal relationship with one another for accountability and encouragement in ministry. The Fellowship is both evangelical and reformed. Membership is available to anyone in any denomination that share its core beliefs and purpose.

ECO is a new denomination that was officially launched on January 19 in Orlando. It was born out of The Fellowship of Presbyterians, and has a symbiotic relationship with The Fellowship. In other words, all churches and individuals who are part of ECO are part of The Fellowship. But, The Fellowship also includes churches and individuals who are part of the PC(USA) but not a part of ECO.

 

2) What positions do ECO and The Fellowship take on abortion and the ordination of self-avowed practicing homosexuals? 

The Fellowship (and ECO) are very clear that they uphold the sanctity of life, and the sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman. They are also very clear that while these are very important issue, they are not the basis for these new ministries. They are Presbyterians working together to nurture a new way of doing church. They exist to make disciples of Jesus Christ.

 

3) What relationship does First Presbyterian Church have with either the Fellowship or ECO?

At this time, our church has no formal relationship with either group, but we are trying to be as well informed as possible as we seek our way forward. On the other hand, I have indicated my personal commitment to  The Fellowship of Presbyterians by signing The Fellowship Covenant, which you can read here: http://www.fellowship-pres.org/wp-content/uploads/Fellowship-Covenant.pdf.

Please feel free to post your questions in the Comments section, and I’ll do my best to put more information here as time allows. The best way to learn about The Fellowship and ECO is to go to their website: http://www.fellowship-pres.org/

-Jeff Wildrick

The Inspiration & Authority of Scripture

Today we held the first of four congregational forums to learn about some of the key areas of controversy in the Presbyterian Church (USA). Today’s forum was on the Inspiration and Authority of Scripture. Future forums will focus on the Trinity, Church discipline, and current events.

You can download PDF files of the slides and handouts from the presentation here.

Denominational Concerns Open Forum 1 slides FPCD

Denominational Concerns Open Forum 1 handout FPCD

You can listen to or download an audio recording of the forum at http://dunellenpres.org/media.php?pageID=49

It is our hope that these forums will help all of us to gain a clearer understanding of what we believe, and what it means for our church’s future.

The New Reformed Body has a Name

This morning began with a dynamic worship service. John Ortberg’s sermon raised up a vision of what God is calling the church to be based on Acts 2:42-47:

42 They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. 43 Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. 44 All the believers were together and had everything in common. 45 They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. 46 Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, 47praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.

He proclaimed “There was a time when people were so devoted to God and irrationally connected to each other in service… when they took off their masks and changed the world.”

That is the kind of church God is calling us to be today. He  challenged us to imagine a church that is Spirit led and Christ centered, devoted to teaching the nations; where the claims of Jesus are expressed in thoughtful, winsome, and compelling ways; where anyone can come, bring their hurts and doubts, and hear a clear, confident, humble expression of the gospel; where church meetings are never a waste of anyone’s time because they are focused on how to reach people, do justice, and build disciples; and where hundreds of thousands of people are being won to Jesus. “Can God not do that today?”

He then introduced the name and mission statement of the New Reformed Body:

Evangelical – Bringing the Good News (Evangel) to all people

Covenant – Expressing a commitment and accountability to God and one another

Order – Committing to a way of life together.

Playing around with the initials “ECO”, Ortberg reminded us that a healthy eco-system provides a place where a multitude of organisms can flourish and grow. An unhealthy ecosystem becomes toxic to living organisms.  ECO will exist to help congregations flourish in making disciples of Jesus Christ.

“Will you devote the rest of your life to be part of such a church?”

More in my next update on how ECO and the Fellowship of Presbyterians hope to live into that vision.

Covenanting Conference of Fellowship of Presbyterians Begins

Elder Suzanne Geiger and I are attending the “Covenanting Conference” of the Fellowship of Presbyterians in Orlando, Florida. The conference began tonight, Jan. 18 and will conclude Friday night. I’ll try to give updates several times each day.

Tonight’s gathering focused on one thing – worship. The service was in the Taizé style, with beautiful contemplative singing and prayers.

The sermon was given by the Rev. Hope Lee who gave us a tour of Nehemiah 1, with some very pointed applications for our churches and ourselves. She started by asking what difference it would make in our communities if our church disappeared tomorrow. Would anyone other than the congregation notice – or care? If so, then why are there so many empty parking places and seats in our churches on Sunday mornings, while the line at Starbucks stretches around the corner?

Pointing to Nehemiah, she challenged us to allow our hearts to be broken for our communities. Confess the many ways we have failed to actively live and speak the gospel to a lost and hurting world. Weep, rather than casting blame on the denomination, or society, for our failure to engage our neighborhoods with the gospel. Repent – which means to change our ways. Then, GET ON WITH IT!  ”Property can be repaired or replaced… But people are irreplaceable in the eyes of God.”

One scripture that was read really captured my heart.

18 “Forget the former things;
do not dwell on the past.
19 See, I am doing a new thing!
Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland.
20 The wild animals honor me,
the jackals and the owls,
because I provide water in the wilderness
and streams in the wasteland,
to give drink to my people, my chosen,
21 the people I formed for myself
that they may proclaim my praise.
Isaiah 43:18-21

Please pray for all here that we may be faithful to God as we seek a new way forward as brothers and sisters in Christ.

-Pastor Jeff Wildrick

NJ Judge Rules Christian facility cannot ban same-sex civil union ceremony on its own premises

This post doesn’t relate directly to the Presbyterian Church (USA), but it does illustrate what a perilous road we are traveling here in New Jersey. The PC(USA) has removed all statements describing homosexual practice as inherently sinful from its teachings. One might presume that this would put a congregation in the PC(USA) in even shakier ground if faced with a similar request.

http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/judge-rules-christian-facility-cannot-ban-same-sex-civil-union-ceremony-on

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