Archives For Congregational Letters

My April 2014 Congregational Letter is now live on the St. Andrew’s website.  I’d welcome you to click though and read it.

One of the oft-overlooked gems at St. Andrew’s is our bookstore, Common Grounds. If you’ve stopped in you know that there is quite a nice and wide-ranging selection of books, Bibles and Bible resources.

A few weeks ago I reviewed the list of books that I’ve read over the past few months and I selected the ones I thought best. I have listed them below and happily they are all now stocked in Common Grounds.

Of particular interest may be the following five books which are good books to give to those who are not Christians.

The Searchers: A Quest for Faith in the Valley of Doubt by Joseph Loconte
The Little Way of Ruthie Leming: A Southern Girl, a Small Town, and the Secret of a Good Life by Rod Dreher
Angry Conversations with God: A Snarky but Authentic Spiritual Memoir by Susan Isaacs
Wherever I Wind Up: My Quest for Truth, Authenticity, and the Perfect Knuckleball by R.A. Dickey
The Devil’s Delusion: Atheism and Its Scientific Pretensions by David Berlinski

Otherwise, enjoy the list below. You will see that it is somewhat varied.

An Infinite Journey by Andrew M Davis
The World is Not Ours to Save by Tyler Wigg-Stevenson
Silence by Diarmaid MacCalloch
What Every Man Wishes His Father Would Have Told Him by Byron Yawn
What Every Woman Wishes Her Father Would Have Told Her by Byron Yawn
Fierce Women by Kimberly Wagner
God’s Big Picture: Tracing the Storyline of the Bible by Vaughan Roberts
Authentic Church: True Spirituality in a Culture of Counterfeits by Vaughan Roberts
Life’s Big Questions: Six Major Themes Traced Through the Bible by Vaughan Roberts
Found in Him: The Joy of the Incarnation and Our Union with Christ by Elyse Fitzpatrick
Accidental Pharisees by Larry Osborne
Jesus on Every Page by David Murray
Five Points by John Piper
What is the Meaning of Sex by Denny Burk
Comfortable Words: Essays in Honor of Paul F.M. Zahl edited by John Koch
Real Identity: Where Bible and Life Meet by Thaddeus Barnum
Contentment by Richard Swenson

You may also enjoy the books I’ve previously listed here.

And finally, a few months ago I put together a list of some of my favorite contemporary authors and speakers. You may find that list here.

Happy reading.

In the family,

+Steve

“You stiff-necked people, with uncircumcised hearts and ears! You are just like your fathers: You always resist the Holy Spirit!”  So wrote the first martyr of the church, Stephen, in Acts 7.

Have you thought about the manner in which you resist the Holy Spirit?

Sadly, all too many Christians create a false dichotomy pitting the Persons of the Trinity against one another: “Oh, we just need Jesus.” Yes, we need Jesus. But who do you think it is that both reveals Jesus to us and then takes up residence within us, thus making Jesus known to us? The Holy Spirit (also referred to as the Counselor, the Comforter, the One who comes along side us). Jesus had much to say about the person of the Holy Spirit and our relationship and response to Him. A sampling from the Gospel of John:

“If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever— the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. [jumping to v. 26] But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you.” John 14.15ff.

“Now I am going to him who sent me, yet none of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ Because I have said these things, you are filled with grief. But I tell you the truth: It is for your good that I am going away. Unless I go away, the Counselor will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you. When he comes, he will convict the world of guilt in regard to sin and righteousness and judgment: in regard to sin, because men do not believe in me; in regard to righteousness, because I am going to the Father, where you can see me no longer; and in regard to judgment, because the prince of this world now stands condemned. “I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. He will bring glory to me by taking from what is mine and making it known to you. All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will take from what is mine and make it known to you.” John 16.5ff:

Think on this comment from Jesus in Mark (3:29), “But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit will never be forgiven; he is guilty of an eternal sin.” The Book of Acts and the writings of Paul capture and continue the instruction to be continually filled with the presence of the Person of the Holy Spirit.

Remember that deeply moving post-resurrection appearance by our Lord when He walked with those two disciples on the road to Emmaus, opening the Scriptures to them, causing their hearts to “burn” within them – the revealing and convicting work of the Word and Spirit.

Can you say that your heart burns within you – in love for God, with greater desire for His presence, in the pursuit of holiness, in hatred of the sins that cripple and maim you and those around you? When was the last time your heart was set aflame for God and for the spread of his Kingdom?

The opposite of the burning heart is, of course, the comfortable heart, the indifferent heart, the apathetic heart, the heart that isn’t moved, isn’t alive, and isn’t passionate. The comfortable, indifferent, apathetic heart experiences God the way one experiences television or political gossip – just another diversion that leaves us cold and unaffected.

In 1746, Jonathan Edwards wrote one of the most important books in the history of Christianity titled Religious Affections. In it, Edwards describes the affections as “the vigorous or intense inclination of our hearts toward or away from something.” Edwards was keen to show that the fruit of true Christianity had an intensity about it. We are urged by the apostle Paul “to be fervent in spirit, serving the Lord.” (Romans 12:11) According to Edwards, true faith is exactly opposite the “typical weak, dull and lifeless wishes” which characterize most indifferent churchgoers. Without a person’s affections being touched and ignited by the Holy Spirit, there is no salvation, nor is there any real desire to move away from sin and toward the pursuit of God. By the affections, Edwards refers to the fear of the Lord, hatred of sin, hunger and thirst after righteousness, holy joy, godly sorrow, heart-felt pity, true thankfulness, zeal for God and love.

What is your heart condition as you begin this New Year? Are you spiritually alive? Full of passion for the things of God? Eager and excited about your relationship with Jesus? Or do you feel cold, lifeless, critical, unmotivated – a person with notions of God, but with little real spirituality.

The Apostle John wrote to a church – to a people – whose hearts had grown cold, whose love for Christ had waned. His remedy to their problem? “Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first” (Revelation 2.5) What “things” did you do at first? What was the desire of your heart?  When I first met Christ, and found Him desirous, I found some things came easy and were a delight. Things like:

Prayer: Your first duty to God, yourself, and to the world around you each day is to pray. Turn your eyes to your Heavenly Father. Lift to Him your cares and the need of the world around you. Listen to Him speak to you through His Word by His Spirit.

Praise: Sing to the Lord! Privately, and publicly, praise the Lord. Lift your voice to Him exclaiming His goodness. God is pleased to ignite the hearts of those who worship him.

Asking: Ask, and keep asking, the Father to give you an increasing measure of the Holy Spirit. Be encouraged by our Lord Himself who said in Luke 11.13, “how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!”

Meditation – Focus your mind upon deep spiritual truths. Think upon the cross, the wounds of Christ, and the empty tomb. Hide Scripture in your heart.

Reading: Read the Bible of course, but also read the great classics of the faith – books like Religious Affections and A Faithful Narrative of the Surprising Work of God both by Jonathan Edwards (don’t hesitate to ask me about other books) – books that have stood the test of time.

Serving: Praying, praising, asking, mediating, reading – all good things. Participating in Bible studies – great. Courses – often very helpful. But if all this does not produce gratitude in your heart that leads you into service of those both within and without the Body of Christ (i.e., produces fruit in keeping with repentance) you are missing the point – and living a self-centered life – which will always leave you cold and empty. In her visit with us a few years ago, Jackie Pullinger said that God means for us to have soft hearts and hard feet.  Unfortunately, most of us have hard hearts and soft feet.  Jesus told us that “the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve” (Matthew 20.28). Demonstrating His meaning, Jesus picked up a towel and washed the dirty, grimy, feet of His disciples and said, “I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. I tell you the truth, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them” (John 13.15-17).

Would you join me and pray that the Lord set our hearts on fire – again – this year.

In the Family,

Steve

“And their eyes were opened, and they recognized Jesus.” – Luke 24:31

The Emmaus CourseLuke 24:13-35 tells the remarkable story of two disciples who walked with Jesus after His resurrection, yet did not recognize Him in their midst. However, through conversation, the explanation of Scripture and the breaking of bread together, their eyes were opened and they declared, “Did not our hearts burn within us while he talked to us on the road?”

These verses are the inspiration behind St. Andrew’s new Christian formation course, developed and led by Todd Simonis, called “The Emmaus Course.”   While this course includes a weekly teaching component, the goal of Emmaus is not simply to inform you of facts concerning the Christian faith.  Rather, the goal is formation. And that is an important distinction.

Too often we, in church leadership, assume falsely that Christians are actually disciples. And, it has been both my observation and experience that consequence of this false assumption is that the Church tends to inform rather than form (we pour new wine into old wineskins). It is my desire – it is our desire – to create, to form, disciples of Jesus Christ.  With the launch of The Emmaus Course we complete a formal process of Christian formation that began with Alpha and continues with the Ridley offerings (Alpha -> Emmaus –>Ridley) .

In The Emmaus Course we will engage topics like:

  • Kingdom: What Am I About?
  • Covenant: Whose Am I?
  • Church: What is the Body of Christ and how do I fit in?
  • Life as a Disciple: What Does It Look Like?
  • Being Sent: What Does It Mean?

Who is Emmaus for? It is for you.

If you are a follower of Jesus and you wish to move beyond simply information about the Christian faith, if you wish to see your faith integrated in the manner in which you live your life, then Emmaus is perfect for you. The course is open to individuals of any age, couples or entire LifeGroups (or post-Alpha groups) that would like to participate together.

Emmaus will meet on Tuesday evenings, 6:00-9:30pm at St. Andrew’s. Like both Alpha and Ridley, the evening will begin with a dinner and it will incorporate both teaching and discussion. The course begins January 21 and meets each week through April 8.  Space will be limited for this Spring course, so please register soon (registration is now open). When you register, you can request to be in a discussion group with a friend or your LifeGroup.

For more details, to download the complete schedule, or to register, visit our website.  If you have questions please contact Todd Simonis: TSimonis@WeAreStAndrews.com 843.284.4331

In the family,

+Steve

October Congregational Letter

September 24, 2013

Dear Friends,

As has been our custom since the beginning of my tenure as Rector, this fall we will again preach through a book of the Bible to begin our ministry year. This fall we will look at Jonah as a foundational text for SAMP’s theme/emphasis for the year, which I will speak about on Vision Sunday (29 September), “Love Your Neighbor.”

Below is a schedule for the sermon series. As you know, the Sunday sermons are the “central teaching” for the week at SAMP around which we develop our common life. As such, both the audio and video are online along with the sermon outlines, Scripture references and suggested LifeGroup discussion questions.

JonahOne additional aspect of this study will be to help our members engage the Old Testament. In my years of pastoring I have found that many Christians are confused with regard to the Old Testament – even Christians who have walked with Christ for many years. Jesus, speaking of the Old Testament (or Hebrew Scriptures) told the Pharisees in John 5.39, “You search the Scriptures because you think they give you eternal life. But the Scriptures (again, Jesus is talking about the Old Testament here) point to me.” In fact, Jesus would throughout His ministry demonstrate that the Old Testament was about Him. The New Testament Scholar R.T. France writing on Jesus’ use of the Old Testament had this helpful comment, “Jesus understood the Old Testament Christologically: in its essential principles, and even in its details, it foreshadows the Messiah whom it promises. The whole theological system of the Old Testament points forward to His work, and in His coming the whole Old Testament economy finds its perfection and fulfillment.” (R.T. France, Jesus and the Old Testament: His Application of Old Testament Passages to Himself and His Mission, p.8) And so, we will want to promote a Christ-centered reading of the Old Testament.

To assist with this, and to encourage your engagement with Scripture, our bookstore, Common Grounds, will have copies of the book, Salvation Through Judgment and Mercy: The Gospel According to Jonah, available (they also have the ability to order additional copies). This short and accessible commentary is a part of a commentary series which is committed to the proposition that the Bible, both Old and New Testaments, is a unified revelation of God, and that its thematic unity is found in Christ. Please note, though, we will not be preaching from the commentary nor does the below sermon series outline follow the commentary. The commentary is simply intended to assist your understanding of the text and is supplemental to the sermon series

Thank you for your commitment to our common life, to the vision and values that we hold together at St. Andrew’s, and most especially for your commitment to Christ.

Soli Deo gloria,

+Steve

FALL SERMON SERIES: JONAH

Oct 6: Introduction to the Text :: The Gospel According to Jonah

Part I: The Sinner Pursued by Sovereign Grace

Oct 13: The Sending God Part I: 1.1-2
Oct 20: The Seeking God: 1.3-6
Oct 27: Nowhere to run: 1.7-13
Nov 3: Surrendering to God: 1.11-17

Part II: The Sinner Defeated by Sovereign Grace

Nov 10: The Dead Man: 1.17-2.6
Nov 17: The Raised Man: 2.7-10
Nov 24: Biblical Theology Break :: The Sign of Jonah: Resurrection: Matt 12.38-40

Part III: The Sinner Changed by Sovereign Grace

Dec 1: Changed Men Change Men: 3.1-5
Dec 8: Lost City No More: 3.6-10

Part IV: A Long Way to Go…

Dec 15: Self-Righteousness Poisons Love: 4.1-4
Dec 22: Biblical Theology Break :: A Warning to the Church: Matt 12.38-42
Dec 29: The Gospel Restores Love: 4.5-11

Dear Friends,

I am often asked which (living) authors I enjoy and whose sermons/teachings are worth giving a listen.  Good questions.

As I considered my answer I though it might be interesting to compile a list of authors and speakers that the clergy of SAMP listen to and read.  So, with the caveat that the authors and speakers ought to be living rather than the “old, dead, guys” we normally read (of those listed, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Lesslie Newbigin, John Stott, and Dallas Willard are all deceased.  However, all are more recently deceased and their works maintain contemporary application), our list follows below.

The list is in no way a complete list – we all read fairly widely and we move through a considerable number of books each year.  If your favorite author or teacher is not on our list it does not necessarily mean we do not like, read or listen to the person(s).  It just means they did not make our list.  I should add as well that I made the interesting discovery that we, the clergy, actually listen to very, very few speakers outside of the SAMP preachers.

Lastly, note that the lists below are arranged by alphabetical order – not in order of any preference.

Happy reading and listening!

In the family,
+Steve

Authors
Randy Alcorn
Don Carson
Brian Chappell
Gordon Fee
Wayne Grudem
Os Guinness
Michael Horton
Carolyn Custis James
Gerald McDermott
Alister McGrath
Esther Meek
Albert Mohler
Lesslie Newbigin
J.I. Packer
Nancy Pearcy
James KA Smith
John Stott
Dallas Willard
NT Wright

Authors & Speakers
Alister Begg
Jim Cymbala
Nancy Leigh DeMoss
Mark Dever
Elyse Fitzpatrick
J.D. Greear
Nancy Guthrie
Joshua Harris
Todd Hunter
Peter Jensen
Mary Kassian
Tim Keller
RT Kendall
Martyn Lloyd-Jones
Eric Metaxas
Derek Morphew
Amy Orr-Ewing
Vaughan Roberts
Ed Stetzer
Sam Storms
Susan Yates
Ravi Zacharias

Speakers
Thabiti Anyabwile
Voddie Baucham
Kenny Borthwick
Paige Benton Brown
Matt Chandler
Sandy Millar
Eleanor Mumford
Rich Nathan
Jenny Salt
John Yates

 

 

 As you know, one of the priorities I’ve set for our common life is the development of our ability and willingness to plant churches.  Why?  Because church planting is the best form of domestic outreach in which we can be engaged.  I regularly hear people both inside the church as well as outside the church lament the apparently deteriorating nature of our culture and country.  Friends, the problem is not Congress nor is the problem which political party occupies the White House.  It is not Wall Street or the educational system.  The problem is that the church has failed to disciple its own and we have failed to commend the faith within us to others.  Perhaps the greatest indicator of this failure is the lack of churches that populate our country.  Do you know that in 1950 we had 1 church for every 400 Americans?  Today, we have 1 church for every 2000 Americans.  We want to change that.

This month’s letter comes from a young church planter that St. Andrew’s – you – have been working to equip to reach the unchurched in the Summerville area.  

– Steve

 

Planting New ChurchesDear St. Andrew’s,

My family has been worshipping with you over the past month and over this past month we been have blown away by the love of God, the love of people, the proclamation of the Gospel, and the experience we have had to this point.

I am a church planter for the Diocese of the Carolinas. We will be planting in the summer, but decided to spend time at SAMP while we prepare for this journey. We came looking to be refilled after several years serving in a smaller parish. Anytime you serve in ministry, a time for refreshment is always needed. We are blessed to be able to get an extended period of refreshment time.

I first want to say thank you. Thank you for feeding my family. Thank you for providing community and worship that is life-giving. Within the first 10 minutes of being in worship at St. Andrew’s the first Sunday in March, it was apparent to my wife and I that we were right where we were supposed to be for this season of refreshment. The spirit was strong in worship, the sermon series, “The Church” is exactly what we need as we plant a new church, and the community has been loving and embracing.

Thank you for taking care of my son. On the way home from our first Sunday morning at SAMP, our son (2 years old) was singing “Jesus Loves Me” before we even got out of Mt, Pleasant. This was a life-giving moment not only for him, but for my wife and I as well.

Thank you for freedom. The worship as SAMP is very special. It provides freedom. Freedom to worship with powerful songs that are full of theology, powerful songs full of the Gospel.

Thank you for investing. Over the past 8 months I have been attending the Ridley Institute. I have had the privilege to sit under great theological teaching, eat some good food, and build some great relationships and friendships. I have seen Scripture in a new light, that has allowed me to see the story of my redemption in a way I have never seen it before and is equipping me to communicate the Gospel in a way I have not been able to communicate before.

Thank you for Easter. This was the first time in seven years, and most likely the last time for many more to not have ministerial responsibilities on Easter. I was able to show up, worship and reflect on the resurrection, and go home, not tired from serving, but refreshed from the service. We attend Boone Hall and were blown away at the experience of celebrating the biggest moment in History in one of the most beautiful places in Charleston.

I am praying for all of you everyday. It is refreshing to be a part of a life-giving church that is investing in my family. The investment you are making in us will be the biggest investment anyone can give to the new church. You are helping us become healthy ministers and helping me become a healthy pastor. My prayer is that our church can be a life-giving church like SAMP. I pray that we can make a difference in the life of Non-believers and seasoned Christians. I pray that we can be a game-changer for Summerville, as you have been a game-changer in Mt. Pleasant. But more importantly, I pray that we together can proclaim the Gospel unashamedly for years to come and that together as a body of Anglicans, a body of believers, a body of Gospel-Centered people, we will change our communities in a way that only the power of the Gospel can.

Thank you.

Grace and Peace,

Phillip Wilson
Lead Pastor
Trinity Church, Summerville

He is Risen!On Sunday, March 31, we will celebrate the most amazing event in human history: the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead!

Jesus’ resurrection is central to our faith. In 1 Corinthians 15 Paul tells us, “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in you sins . . . If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.”

The glorious reality that we celebrate is this: Christ has indeed been raised from the dead – “the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.”

The resurrection is the deal-breaker for the Christian faith. The resurrection separates Jesus from all the other religious leaders. He predicted it and He did it.

I’ve studied world religions for many years and I’ve never encountered a man like Jesus Christ. And while we may find commonality amongst the world relgions with regard to values and morality, a chasm exists between the self-revelation of God in Christ and the religions that spring from the heart of humanity.

Every time I examine the religious systems of the world they always bottom out with one word: “works.” You must earn your salvation. You must work to be closer to God – through reincarnation, by fasting for 30 days, by making a hajj, by observing the law, or whatever it might be. It all comes down to W-O-R-K-S. All attempts by human beings to put themselves in right standing with God.

Jesus puts Christianity in a completely other category. The Christian story is about what God has done from His side. It’s about God’s search and rescue mission. It’s about God’s restoration of our broken relationship. Jesus Christ claimed to be God and in His face, in His life, we see the kindness of God reaching out to us – before it ever occurs to us to reach out to Him – Jesus is God’s action to find, save and restore us.

This truth is too good to keep to ourselves.

It was this truth the compelled those early disciples – and every true disciple since – to go to every corner of the earth with the Gospel.

Friends, our corner of the earth is Mt. Pleasant, West Ashley, North Charleston, James Island, Charleston County, Berkley County . . . it’s wherever you live. Easter at Boone Hall Plantation is an amazing celebration. The service is from beginning to end a celebration of Jesus’ resurrection. We will rejoice, we will honor, we will worship The One who conquered death.

Easter at Boone Hall is also a time of outreach into the community.

Who will you be inviting?

There will be about 4000 people attending the Easter Service at Boone Hall this year. Who will welcome them? Who will extend to them the hospitality of our Lord? Who will help care for their children? Who will ready the tent for the celebration? Nearly 600 people are needed to help with our service at Boone Hall.

If we say we love Jesus but our lives don’t demonstrate the reality of this love our faith isn’t worth a thing. Jesus lived and died for others. Yes, we celebrate Easter and Boone Hall is a wonderful celebration. But we already know Christ. Easter at Boone Hall is also for those who don’t yet know Him.

St. Augustine once wrote: “Without God we can not, without us He will not.” Will you pray for Jesus to be glorified in Mt. Pleasant that day? Will you ask the Lord whom He wants you to invite – and then do it? Will you help set up, greet, minister to the children and take care of our guests? Will His heart beat in your chest? Will His hands reach out through yours? Will you see one another through His eyes?

I hope you’ll say “yes.”

To send an evite to your friends click here.

To volunteer to serve click here.

In the family,
Steve

Dear Friends,

Five years ago this January I went to Lambeth Palace, at the invitation of The Archbishop of Canterbury and Holy Trinity Brompton, to begin a conversation about restoring theology to the heart of the church.

From ideas and dreams born that week we launched the School of Theology in the Fall of 2008 – a step toward fulfilling our vision to equip each member of SAMP for mission and ministry.

Due to the growth and positive reception of this School of Theology we brought The Rev’d Rob Sturdy on board in January 2012 with the specific aim to develop our offerings at a more substantial level.  Specifically, we have three aims:

1.  We aim to develop men and women in the Christian faith so that they might live distinctively Christian lives in the home, marketplace and social networks of their lives.

2.  We aim to develop, equip and send out church planters for the purpose of re-evangelizing our society and transforming our culture with the gospel message.

3.  Finally, we have an aim to offer degreed course work so that men and women seeking full-time Christian ministry might be effectively formed by the doctrines of grace and released into ministry.

How have we done?  Amazingly!  On January 22nd we began an “Introduction to Christian Spirituality” at the Ridley Institute, our school of theology here at St. Andrew’s.  The class was limited to 160 participants.  Unfortunately, due to space restrictions, over thirty individuals were turned down at the door.  In fact, in each of the three semesters of the Ridley Institute offered under Rob’s direction we have maxed out registration.  And, sadly, over the past year we have had to turn away 90+ people due to space limitation imposed by our building facilities. Clearly there is a hunger for adult theological education at St. Andrews.

Not only is there a hunger but there is also a need.  In 2010 the Pew Forum released the results of a religious literacy survey.  The tragically embarrassing results were that atheists scored higher in religious literacy than evangelical Protestants (to see how you measure up you can take an abbreviated survey by clicking this link).  Through a series of surveys as well as recent books (i.e. Michael Horton Christless Christianity, Stephen Prothero Religious Literacy, Ross Douthat Bad Religion) it has become inescapably clear that American Christians don’t even know the basics of their own faith.

While the overwhelming majority of our students are members of St. Andrew’s, we do have students that drive from as far away as Columbia and Beaufort to participate in our school as well as a host of local churches that send their staff and clergy to be trained at our school of theology.  In addition to this, we have churches throughout the Carolinas and even as far away as California asking how they can participate in this theological training.  God has clearly given us something that has been a blessing to St. Andrew’s with the potential to be a blessing well beyond the walls of St. Andrew’s. 

Perhaps you’ll notice that our school of theology was recently named The Ridley Institute.  Nicholas Ridley was a Bishop in the Church of England who was martyred for his Christian faith under the reign of “Bloody Mary” during the English Reformation.  While Ridley was being burnt alive for his faith, his closest friend, Hugh Latimer encouraged him with the following words:

“Be of good comfort, Master Ridley, and play the man.  We shall this day light such a candle by God’s grace, in England, as I trust shall never be put out.”

Latimer’s words proved true.  The Gospel convictions of men like Ridley spread throughout England, crossed the Atlantic, and extended throughout Africa, the Middle East and Asia.  Our school of theology, The Ridley Institute seeks to instill in the members of our congregation and our students the same passion for the Gospel and Biblical truth that light the fire for the glory of God in Ridley’s heart.  

You can participate in the Ridley Institute in one of three ways:

1.  Learner’s Track: Twice a year the Ridley Institute will offer 8-week introductory courses in Theology aimed at the man or woman in the pew.  Folks in this track will, over 2-years, participate in our core courses: Biblical Theology, Systematic Theology, Worldview, and the Christian Life.  Each evening includes lecture, small group time and a follow-up question and answer time with the lecturer.

2.  Take a Certificate Course:  Our certificate course in Christian Leadership for the Marketplace is an intellectually and spiritually rigorous nine-month course aimed at equipping Marketplace leaders to succeed in business and influence the city with the Gospel.  The Certificate for Christian Leadership in the Marketplace takes place over two semesters and will require five hours of on site participation per week. The Certificate in Christina Leadership in the Marketplace consists of:

Four Core Courses: Biblical Theology, Systematic Theology, Worldview, Spirituality.

Leadership Training: Intro to Christian Leadership, Leading for Influence in the Marketplace

Ministry Experience: Participants will receive real world ministry experience by participating in evangelistic and prayer initiatives of St. Andrew’s.

Learning Huddle: Each participant will be expected to participate in a Learning Huddle for theological reflection and prayer.

3. Become a Ridley Fellow: Ridley Fellows receive monthly training in theology, Christian spirituality, and small group leadership dynamics. Ridley Fellows assist Institute faculty in administering the core courses offered by the Ridley Institute.

I hope you share my excitement over the rich and robust development of our adult equipping opportunities offered through The Ridley Institute.  More importantly, in the months and years ahead I hope that you will participate in the course offerings so that you might grow wise and deep in your faith.

For His glory,

Steve

Dear Friends,

It’s been a whirlwind these past 6 weeks.  Everything from my consecration as bishop to trips to Ohio to close out my mom’s affairs and an ordination in Kentucky.  Through it all this parish – you – have been wonderful.  Thank you for your many kindnesses, for your prayers, and for checking in to see how the Wood’s were doing.  All were appreciated and all remain appreciated.

Quite a bit has taken place around St. Andrew’s recently and I want to update you.

Campus Planning
Our discernment process regarding upgraded facilities continues.  As you remember, we had a dozen or so neighborhood meetings through the spring to present to you the work of the Campus Planning Team.  This team, chaired by our Jr. Warden, Bill Maddux and comprised of parish leaders Mary Graham (our Sr. Warden), Chris Biggers and Martha Senf (both vestry members), George Brewer, Mitchell Bohannon, Blake & Laura Middleton , Steve Middour, Howard Rambo and Lewis Middleton spent the past 20 month doing an exhaustive analysis of building usage and projections of future needs.

Following those meetings the vestry prayerfully considered both the Campus Planning Team’s findings and the congregation’s feedback (overwhelmingly positive) and at our August vestry meeting voted unanimously to take the next steps.  Those steps are two-fold.  First, they voted to move forward with the good folks at Building God’s Way and have asked them develop a comprehensive master plan, including architectural drawings.  Secondly, the vestry has made plans to hear presentations from four firms specializing in capital fund raising with the goal of partnering with one of them to lead us through the next phase of our campus-planning project.

I will keep you apprised of ongoing developments.  And, of course, you are most welcome to talk with any member of the Campus Planning Team or the vestry about the matter.  Please keep all of this in your prayers.

Children’s Ministry
Under Katie Arndt our Children’s Ministry is humming along.  Several significant changes have been implemented over the past year with all of them coming together quite nicely for our fall kickoff.  The Children’s Ministry Team has adopted a new curriculum called, “Orange.”  It symbolizes the partnership between church and parents working together to raise our children in the faith.  Response from our families has been off-the-charts positive with numbers of children participating dramatically increasing.

Youth Ministry
Not unlike our Children’s Ministry, the Youth Ministry under Dave Libbon’s leadership has adopted a new format which includes a large group time on Sunday mornings, LifeGroups throughout the week and an entry path of Youth Alpha.  The consequence has been that participation has exploded.  We are literally out of space for both children’s and youth ministry.  Praise God for the challenges of life and growth!

Ridley Institute
Consistent with this fall ministry year we’ve seen quite a jump in our participation in the Ridley Institute.  Under Rob’s leadership participation the fall Systematic Theology course has hit 181 members.  Incredible.  The weekly teachings aim to connect Christian belief to life.  The teachings have been provocative and very well received.  Additionally, The Christian Leadership Certificate Course which was open to 10 people had 18 apply!  Friends, having observed and experienced the Christian Formation Process at St. Andrew’s (i.e., Alpha is our entry point.  The course offers an introduction to the basics of the Christian faith and communicates experientially the vision and values of St. Andrew’s.  Then, Alpha hands off to Year Team.  Year Team is a 9 month intensive Christian formation process which includes teaching and action/reflection experiences.  Next, we offer The Ridley Institute which grounds Christian education and theology in the local church) I am thrilled with the fruit being born.

Wednesday Night Services
I don’t know if it’s been your practice to participate in the Wednesday evening services, but if not, let me encourage you to come out on Wednesday nights.  One of the chief values of this parish is to hold together Word and Spirit.  Dwight and the worship team have put together ongoing mini-series designed to both introduce and take you deeper into the life of the Spirit.  I think you’d find the evenings inspiring and encouraging.

Your help
Lastly, I would like to put before you one more significant matter.  As delighted and thankful we are for the growth and vitality across the ministry spectrum at St. Andrew’s, growth also means we need more help.  One of the foundational values of this church is that “everybody plays.”  What that means is we – the body of St. Andrew’s – are dependent on our members to actually “do” the ministry of the church.  Right now we have a need for folks to assist in a number of ministries: the Flower ‘Guild’ (the ministry responsible for the arrangement and presentation of the flowers that adorn the services), the Altar ‘Guild’ (the ministry responsible for making sure that the Lord’s Table is prepared each week for Communion),  Scripture Readers and Communion Servers, Ushers (especially at the 9 am service in the Old Church), and Children’s Ministry workers.  If you’d like to know more about any of these ministries please contact Caitlyn Dunlap our Connection Coordinator at  843.284.4346

In the family,

Steve