Yesterday was a day of joy over in Cincinnati as we celebrated God’s work there the past six years planting Christ Church. In Presbyterian government, the work of planting ends officially with a worship service in which the church is “particularized” or “organized.” This is the formal beginning of the new church in which the church’s officers are ordained and/or installed, including elders, deacons, and pastor.
Reformation Sunday was a fitting day for Christ Church to be organized, and we did begin the singing with Luther’s A Mighty Fortress. Provisional elder, Dan George (of Clearnote Church, Indianapolis), read our Scripture lesson, Ephesians 4. Our sermon text was 1Timothy 3:14-15 and the title was “The Church of the Living God.” The worship and music were led by Christ Church pastors Paul Belcher and Alex McNeilly who, with Joseph Bayly, serve the congregation.
For the past six years during which the church was being planted, a provisional session (elders board) appointed by Evangel Presbytery served the congregation, so yesterday was a day of thanksgiving expressed to these three men from other Evangel churches: Pastor Dave (“Max”) Curell of Trinity Reformed Church, Bloomington, IN; Elder Dan George of Clearnote Church, Indianapolis; and Elder Tim Wegener, also of Trinity Reformed Church. During the meal following worship, there was a time of thanksgiving expressed by the congregation to these men for their six years of monthly service.
Here are the men installed yesterday as officers of Christ Church:
Tom Thistleton, elder
Ken Patrick, elder
Rob Bedinghaus, deacon
Scott Hillger, deacon
Joseph Bayly, pastor
We all praise God for His care for us as we seek to plant reformed churches that are faithful to the Westminster Standards, accountable to each other for our doctrine and morals, united in loving Christian fellowship, and whose practices in doctrine, worship, the sacraments, and church order are boringly normal across five centuries of Protestant history.
Evangel Presbytery has no higher aspiration.
One final big thing. The meal was excellent and the table settings and decorations were notable for their beauty, which is no small work. Specifically, of the ten or so tables set with tablecloths and place settings, each one had two or three vases filled with flowers and one beautiful pink (I think, but I’m color blind) rose. And it was the last day of October!
The church presently meets in the gym of Mars Hill Academy, a classical Christian school that Tom and Linda Thistleton have served faithfully for many years. I encourage those of you looking for the marks of a true church in the Cincy area to make Christ Church your home. It’s cornerstone is officers committed to pastoral care for the fathers, mothers, singles, and children of this household of faith.
Again, we praise God for this fruit His Holy Spirit has given us. Christ Church has been planted for His Own glory, and the building up and protection of His sheep.
Christ Church allowed me the privilege of charging the congregation and its newly installed pastor concerning their new commitment to one another. For this charge, I used the charge given May 4, 1860, to the congregation of First Presbyterian Church, Columbia, SC. The occasion was the installation of her two “co-pastors,” the Revs. James Henley Thornwell and Francis Patrick Mullally. Here is an excerpt:
You perceive, therefore, Brethren [of this congregation], that the solemnities of this occasion involve you not less than those who are set over you in the Lord. For weal or for woe you are now joined together. The relations and the responsibilities are mutual.
You must be helpers or hinderers of each other’s prosperity and progress. Like priest like people, is not more true than like people like priest. It is in the power of any people to paralyze or to put life and energy into their pastor, and to make him not only a lovely song and as one that playeth well on an instrument, but the power of God and the wisdom of God, to the salvation of souls. And for all that they might do, and ought to do, they must give account when they shall stand confronted at the bar of Him who judgeth righteous judgment.
May you so live and labour together as that this account shall be given with joy, and not with grief.