A Time to Pray

Dear Church Family,

In July, I wrote to you about how Elder Greg and Rachel Berkhouse will be relocating to the Dallas area, beginning this transition in the early part of 2019. Recently, Elder Reed Gilmore has also communicated to the session that he and LuAnn are making preparations to eventually move to Boerne, Texas; he plans to step down from the Session sometime during the first quarter of 2019. In losing two of the three elders and their families in the coming months, suffice it to say, we are entering into a major transitional season in the leadership and government of our church.

Last month, we began an officer training class which will conclude in February 2019. Presently, there are six men in attendance. We have a need for new deacons, but an especially acute need for new elders. From the earliest days of the New Testament church, after preaching the gospel and making disciples, the apostles appointed elders in every church that they had planted (Acts 14:21-23); the purpose for which the Apostle Paul left Titus on Crete was so that he “would set in order what remains and appoint elders in very city” (Titus 1:5). The elders of the church are a crucial and essential part of how the Lord grows His kingdom in this world.

So, please pray for the men in the officer training class that this would a be fruitful time of learning and discerning the Lord’s calling. Pray for our soon to depart elders and their families. Pray for your session as we prepare to make these transitions and select men to nominate to the congregation for office in the church sometime in the first part of next year. Finally, please pray for our church that the Lord would continue to bless us such that we might be “steadfast, immoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58) as we are about our mission of gathering and perfecting the saints (WCF 25.3).

The Lord be with you!
- Pastor Peter M. Dietsch

Discipleship Opportunities

Dear Church Family,

As the summer has come to a close, there are many discipleship opportunities at PPC that are resuming. Below are the details concerning Sunday school, the Men’s Discipleship Group, Women’s Bible Study, Christian Service Brigade, and the Officer Training Class. I hope you will avail yourself of these opportunities to participate in the corporate life of the church, as we endeavor to grow in Christ together.

 

SUNDAY SCHOOL

Sunday school classes for all ages resume this coming Sunday, September 9, 2018 (9:30-10:30 am).

Adult Class
Teacher: Pastor Dietsch
Topic: “The Apostles’ Creed” – our plan is to spend half our time viewing a video series from Third Millennium Ministries (http://thirdmill.org/seminary/course.asp/vs/apc) and the other half of our time discussing what we learn.

High School Class
Teachers: Elder Paul Wheeler, Stephen Stroope
Topic: The Book of Proverbs

Elementary II Class
Teachers: Arlyn & Tammy Henken, Ray Jones
Topic: God’s Servants: Studies of the little-known people in the Bible

Elementary I Class
Teacher: Kathryn Wheeler
Topic: Pleasing God: The Ten Commandments & Growth in Christian Character

PreK/Kindergarten Class
Teacher: Clay Finley (Helper: Mia Capo)
Topic: Serving the Savior: Learning to Trust and Obey Jesus through New Testament Lessons

 

MEN’S DISCIPLESHIP GROUP

The Men’s Discipleship Group will resume on Tuesday morning, September 11, 2018 (6:30-7:30 am) in the fellowship hall. All men (ages 15 and up) are invited. Breakfast is provided. We will be picking up our study of the Book of Proverbs in chapter 11 of the book A Father’s Gift: Lessons from Proverbs by Kenneth B. Wingate.

 

WOMEN’S BIBLE STUDY

The Women’s Bible will begin meeting on Friday, September 21, 2018 (10:00-11:30 am) in the fellowship hall. Studying In His Image: 10 Ways God Calls Us to Reflect His Character by Jen Wilkin. Contact Stephanie Jones: 432-770-9890.

 

CHRISTIAN SERVICE BRIGADE

This ministry for young men - Stockade (ages 8-11) and Battalion (ages 12-18) - resumes on Wednesday, September 12th (7:00-8:30 pm) in the fellowship hall. Even you know of any young men who might be interested (especially those who are not members of PPC), please invite them to attend or contact Pastor Dietsch to learn more.

 

OFFICER TRAINING CLASS

Begins on Sunday, September 16th (5:00-7:00 pm) in the classroom next to the kitchen. Over the course of sixteen sessions, participants will study an overview of the Bible, the Westminster Standards, our denomination’s Book of Church Order, and other topics in preparation to be an elder or deacon in the church. If you were not nominated for the office of elder or deacon, you are welcome to attend and participate in the class. Contact Pastor Dietsch for more information.

 

Conclusion

If you have any questions about any of these discipleship opportunities, please let me know. Shoot me an email or give me a call!

The Lord be with you!
- Pastor Peter M. Dietsch

2018 Officer Nominations and Training

Dear Church Family,

At the July session meeting last week, Elder Greg Berkhouse informed the session that he will be resigning from the session at the end of 2018. After many years of faithful service at Providence Presbyterian Church (PPC) here in Midland, he and Rachel have decided to relocate to the Dallas area. This transition will take a year or more, during which time they will continue to live here in Midland; however, because they will necessarily be splitting their time between locations and then eventually fully transitioning to Dallas, Greg felt that he would not be able properly to fulfill his role as an elder in the church after the end of 2018.

Officer Nominations

Due to Greg Berkhouse’s departure – as well as our continued need of officers who will serve and lead Christ’s church – the session has decided to open nominations for the office of elder and deacon beginning this coming Sunday. The process for the election of church officers will be as follows:

Nominations (July 22 – August 19): communing members may complete the nomination form (which will be made available on Sunday) and put it in the box in the narthex of the church.

Officer Training (September 2018 – February 2019): those who have been nominated will be invited to participate in an officer training class which will run for five or six months.

Examination (Spring 2019): those who have been nominated, have participated in the training, and are willing and able to serve will be examined by the Session of the church.

Election: upon examination by the Session, those eligible candidates for the office of elder or deacon will be presented to the congregation for election at a congregational meeting.

Ordination: those elected by the congregation by a majority vote will be ordained during a Sunday morning worship service of the church.

Qualifications for Office

In deciding whether or not to nominate a man for church office, it is helpful to review and consider what the Bible says about the qualifications of elders and deacons. Those who are leaders in the church are given the charge to keep watch over the souls in their care. And, the people of God should be willing to submit joyfully to them. This will benefit both the leader and those who are led, “Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they keep watch over your souls as those who will give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with grief, for this would be unprofitable for you.” (Hebrews 13:17

When considering men for the office of elder or deacon in a church, there are two main passages in the New Testament which speak specifically to the required qualifications (1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1).

1 Timothy 3:1-13 (elders and deacons)

The office of ‘overseer’ or ‘elder’ is a fine work (literally, a good work), which requires certain qualifications:

It is a trustworthy statement: if any man aspires to the office of overseer, it is a fine work he desires to do. An overseer, then, must be above reproach, the husband of one wife, temperate, prudent, respectable, hospitable, able to teach, not addicted to wine or pugnacious, but gentle, peaceable, free from the love of money. He must be one who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all dignity (but if a man does not know how to manage his own household, how will he take care of the church of God?), and not a new convert, so that he will not become conceited and fall into the condemnation incurred by the devil. And he must have a good reputation with those outside the church, so that he will not fall into reproach and the snare of the devil. (1 Timothy 3:1-7)

 

Similarly, the office of deacon, though one of service and not rule, requires certain qualifications, as well:

Deacons likewise must be men of dignity, not double-tongued, or addicted to much wine or fond of sordid gain, but holding to the mystery of the faith with a clear conscience. These men must also first be tested; then let them serve as deacons if they are beyond reproach. Women must likewise be dignified, not malicious gossips, but temperate, faithful in all things. Deacons must be husbands of only one wife, and good managers of their children and their own households. For those who have served well as deacons obtain for themselves a high standing and great confidence in the faith that is in Christ Jesus. (1 Timothy 3:8-13)

 

Officers’ Wives

In the midst of these instructions about deacons, in verse 11, Paul inserts a comment about how “women must likewise be dignified, not malicious gossips, but temperate, faithful in all things.” This verse has been variously interpreted as referring to: deaconesses (female deacons), women in the church who assist the deacons or serve in a similar non-ordained role, the wives of deacons, or the wives of both elders and deacons.

Based on the context, the overall teaching of Scripture, and the fact that the Greek word for “women” may also be translated as “wives” (as it is in verses 2 and 12 of this same chapter), I believe it is best to understand 1 Timothy 3:11 as referring to the wives of both elders and deacons. This is John Calvin’s interpretation: “He means the wives both of deacons and of bishops [overseers], for they must be aids to their husbands in their office; which cannot be, unless their behaviour excel that of others.” (John Calvin, Commentary on 1 Timothy 3:11) What this means, then, is that in considering men for office – if they are married, the church should also consider the character of their wives.

Titus 1:5-9 (elders)

In our denomination, we emphasize a potential elder’s doctrinal fitness, his knowledge of Scripture and theology. And, rightly so. At the same time, Paul’s exhortation to Titus instructs us to consider the sum of a man’s life. Paul left Titus on the island of Crete for a reason: to set in order what remains by appointing elders in every city (Titus 1:5). So, Paul goes on to give Titus direction as to what to look for in an overseer or elder. These qualifications may be grouped into three categories.

[1] Family – The elder must be “above reproach, the husband of one wife, having children who believe, not accused of dissipation or rebellion.” (Titus 1:6)

[2] Life – He “must be above reproach as God's steward, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not addicted to wine, not pugnacious, not fond of sordid gain, but hospitable, loving what is good, sensible, just, devout, self-controlled.” (Titus 1:7-8)

[3] Doctrine – He must be a man who is “holding fast the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict” (Titus 1:9)

Of course, these are all things to which every believer ought to aspire, but elders are specially called to be examples to the flock in these areas.

For Those Nominated

At the close of nominations, those who have been nominated will be contacted and told of the nominations that they received. When seeking to discern a call to church office, there are three basic things to consider:

[1] Personal Desire – The Holy Spirit must be giving a man the desire to serve as an officer in Christ’s church for it is a fine work (1 Timothy 3:1).

[2] Qualification – A man must be qualified according to the gifting and standards that are laid out in Scripture (1 Timothy 3:1-13; Titus 1:6-9).

[3] Approved by the Church – Others in the church have encouraged a man in this decision, as well as officially endorsed and ordained him to the office (Acts 6:1-6; 14:23).

Those who are nominated are encouraged to speak to the pastor, elders, or deacons of the church as you consider the high calling to office in the church.

Conclusion

Please, prayerfully consider those whom you would nominate for church office and then pray for them, this very important undertaking in the life of our church, and for the present leadership of the church.

If you have any questions, please contact the pastor or one of the elders.

The Lord be with you!
- Pastor Peter M. Dietsch

Worshiping with Calvin Podcast

Dear Church Family,

My family and I recently returned from our denomination’s General Assembly in Atlanta, GA. In addition to conducting the work of the church, one of the things that I enjoyed most was the opportunity to attend several seminar presentations. One that I attended was taught by Pastor Richard Phillips of Second Presbyterian Church in Greenville, SC. The seminar was entitled, “Reformed Worship: Eurocentric or Word-centered?”

Upon returning from General Assembly, I listened to a podcast from the Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals that touched on several of the same themes. In the podcast, the hosts interview Pastor Terry Johnson of Independent Presbyterian Church in Savannah, GA. The podcast is entitled, “Worshiping with Calvin.” You may listen online here. I commend it to you.

The Lord be with you!
- Pastor Peter M. Dietsch