Is at Work: From
the Canopy of Space to the Plains and Cities of Texas
her third space flight last December, Nancy Currie
stowed away a Bible and, upon her return, presented it
to Jim Bland, her pastor at Bay Area Presbyterian in
Houston. The inscription read:
Bible was flown for you on the Space Shuttle Endeavour
and the International Space Station on December 4-15,
1998, in appreciation for all you have done to help me
grow deeper in faith and the understanding of His
preparation for her latest space mission, Nancy spent
two years practicing the operation of the Remote
Manipulator System, shown here, which requires
incredible precision skills.
Nancy began her flight career as an Army helicopter
pilot 18 years ago and was selected to be an astronaut mission
specialist in 1990. This year, she was appointed chief of NASA’s
Astronaut Office Robotics Branch. More important, she is one of
a growing number of people who have been influenced by God’s
work through the PCA across Texas.
Currie and husband, Dave, both work at NASA. Pictured
with daughter, Stephanie, they belong to Bay Area
Presbyterian. Situated near the Space Center, the church
was planted, in part, to reach NASA people.
Nancy and her husband, Dave, are among many NASA
people who attend Bay Area Presbyterian, located near the
Houston space center. She estimates that about one-third of the
church’s members work with NASA.
"Our involvement with Bay Area and Jim Bland’s
ministry have made such a difference in our lives," Nancy
explains. "He relates the Bible so well to daily life. I
know that God has used this church to influence many other
people, as well, and to strengthen their Christian walk."
Dave is a photo/TV instructor with NASA, and a former
Army helicopter pilot. In fact, he met Nancy when he was
assigned to teach her to fly. "I have a vicarious enjoyment
of space flight," he said, "not only through Nancy’s
accounts, but also through the photos with which I work."
Many of their NASA associates are Christians. Dave’s
boss sent Nancy a note before her last mission, asking her to
pray a prayer of thanksgiving for what God has given us on
earth. She and Dave both make a point to communicate to others
the importance of their faith.
Nancy feels that space flight has drawn her closer to
God. Among her cherished memories: reading Genesis 1 in space,
passing over the earth at night, watching an orbital sunrise.
Three other crew members on her last flight were Christians.
"We prayed together and read Scripture to each other before
launch and on orbit."
Nancy operated the shuttle’s Remote Manipulator
System (robotic arm), which demands incredible skill and
precision and required two years of training and practice for
this one mission. Her job on this particular mission was to link
a new US space station element, carried by the shuttle, with the
Russian element already orbiting in space. The procedure
involved removing the US element from the shuttle, with a cargo
bay clearance of only one inch on either side; then bringing the
Russian and US elements together — all of which had to be
accomplished while traveling at 17,500 mph and viewing the most
critical aspect of the work through TV-type monitors. "I
felt a huge sense of accomplishment," Nancy said,
"when the connections were all complete and we were able to
be the first crew to go inside the new International Space
can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your
presence? If I go up to the heavens, you are
there." Psalm 139: 7-8a
in the Heart of Houston
Meanwhile, back on earth, God is at work at Christ the
King Presbyterian. Led by Leo Schuster, this church aims to
impact people all around the city with the Gospel and is in a
position to reach major centers of influence. Meeting in the
Galleria section near downtown, the church is in the midst of
office buildings and upscale neighborhoods of homes, apartments
and condos. Nearby is one of the world’s largest, most
renowned medical centers, with some 50 hospitals.
"Besides reaching people throughout the city, we
want the Holy Spirit to work through us to impress the medical
community for Christ. A lot of medical students from Baylor and
UT already attend our services," Leo said.
the Gospel in the Suburbs
Grace Presbyterian, started by church planter David
Wilcher, is located in The Woodlands, a picturesque planned
community about 25 miles north of Houston. This summer, Jason
Walsh will join the staff as assistant pastor to lead youth and
community ministries. Over the next 18 months, the church
expects to purchase property and start building.
To gain visibility in the community, they’ve held
open forums on C.S. Lewis at the local Barnes & Noble book
store and a "Jazz on the Lake" concert last summer,
which featured a wide mix of music from classic hymns to pop.
Emphasizing small group ministries, the church has
about seven groups which meet regularly, and also a women’s
Bible study. These groups, as well as other programs in the
church, use Sonship materials. "We find them very effective
in teaching about the freedom and joy available through the
Gospel," David points out.
"Our mission is to reach The Woodlands for
Christ. We want God to use this church to bring many more people
in our community to Him. At the same time, we want to help
spread the Gospel in other places, so we support a number of
church plants in other parts of the country, as well as PCA
campus ministries in Houston."
Are you in the position where you want to make
a charitable contribution now — but decide later which
Christian ministries you wish to benefit?
Through a Mission to North America Advise and
Consult Fund agreement, you can make your gift of cash,
stocks, or other property when you want or need to —
possibly eliminating capital gains tax or reducing
income tax — then advise at a later date those
Christian ministries that you would like to see benefit
from your gift. It all adds up to sound stewardship of
ADVISE AND CONSULT FUND
Church in America Foundation, Inc.
404-320-3303 • 888-256-5571Email: PCAF@pcanet.org
The MNA Advise and Consult Fund is a component
fund of the PCA Foundation.
Enthusiasm for Embers to a Flame Conference: At the
fifth annual conference, February 4 - 7 at Christ
Covenant Presbyterian in Matthews, NC, 127 pastors and
ruling elders attended, including 27 who were alumni.
Internationals also attended, including a church leader
from New Zealand who is an MTW representative and
overseer of 300 churches in Mexico.
Harry Reeder, senior pastor of Christ
Covenant, presented the basic curriculum; Archie
Parrish, MNA coordinator of Church Vitality, taught the
strategy for mobilization in intercessory prayer. This
year, the faculty expanded: Mike Potts, senior pastor of
First Presbyterian in Coral Springs, FL, gave case
studies in church turnaround; Sanders Willson, senior
pastor of Second Presbyterian, Memphis, TN, discussed
creating an atmosphere for change; Tom Hawks, a church
planter in Charlotte, NC, outlined methods for
developing leaders. A new three-year mentoring program
was introduced, which is offered by MNA Church Vitality
to churches who have completed the first level.
"Considering the growing enthusiasm for
this conference," said Archie Parrish, "we
suggest early sign-up for next year’s February
meeting." For a brochure, contact Christ Covenant
at 704-847-3505 or Archie at email@example.com
Annual PCA Convocation on Revival and Reformation.
September 21-23, 1999 – Trinity Presbyterian Church,
Jackson, MS. As we pray for revival, join in biblical
reflection on working for reformation and renewal of
ministry in our churches. For more information: Mike
Ross – 601-362-8244.
Church Planter Summer Conferences.
Gather for fellowship, refreshment in God’s Word, and
equipping in evangelism and church planting. Naperville
Presbyterian Church, Naperville, IL – July 20-22,
1999. Simpsonwood Conference Center, Atlanta, GA –
July 19-21, 1999. For more information: Lori Helm –
404-320-3330, or e-mail LHelm@pcanet.org
a Church Multiplying Movement
Southwest Church Planting Network
There’s no question that new church plants are the
most effective means of evangelism. But what is the most
effective means of church planting? In the Southwest, the Lord
is using networking to plant strategic churches that have the
capacity to reproduce, and also establish campus ministries.
Cities Presbyterian in Dallas
to right: Jim Bland, MNA coordinator; Brad Bradley,
executive director, Southwest Church Planting Network;
and Curt Dobbs, minister of evangelism/missions, Park
Cities Presbyterian. While serving as pastor of Bay Area
Presbyterian, Jim had a pivotal role in advancing the
network. The concept was originated by Skip Ryan, pastor
of Park Cities, and has benefited churches and
presbyteries by managing many elements of church planting,
though presbyteries remain involved with planning and
The Southwest Church Planting Network was conceived by
Skip Ryan, pastor of Park Cities Presbyterian, a 5,000-member
church in Dallas. Park Cities had a heart for planting churches
and was doing just that all over Texas. But Skip had a better
idea. Why not develop a network that would involve many churches
and meet a variety of needs.
He enlisted Brad Bradley, a member of Park Cities and
an independent business consultant, inviting him to an MNA
networking conference where Brad caught the vision for the
With God’s guidance, they gained the interest of
churches and presbyteries, and formed the network, which
officially came into being last February. Brad was named
executive director and offices were set up in Dallas. "It’s
a privilege," Brad said, "to work with dedicated men
who have a heart for planting churches and building the
A subcommittee of the presbyteries and MNA committees,
the network is focused on serving Christ by identifying and
training leaders, planting churches and campus ministries, and
nurturing new plants until they reach maturity. It is committed
to planting strategic churches that can grow and reproduce.
Targeted locations are the state capitals of Texas, New Mexico
and Arizona, other large metropolitan areas, and the sites of
major colleges and universities. It will also plant ethnic and
God has blessed the network’s efforts in a number of
ways. It has gained the commitment of 23 churches and three
presbyteries, including South Texas, North Texas and Southwest
(which encompasses New Mexico and Arizona). Supported by these
presbyteries and churches, it has a committed budget of $350,000
for 1999. So far, the network has planted one church in Waco
(Redeemer), and laid the groundwork for three more, plus two
campus ministries. Currently, core groups are regularly meeting
in El Paso and Katy, TX. A church in Scottsdale will be next,
along with an RUF at Rice University, and possibly at the
University of Arizona as well.
Expands Campus Ministries
Eudaly with his wife, Julie (far left), has been SMU
interim campus minister, but is leaving to begin
seminary. David Rea will take over this fall.
"We’ve seen the Holy Spirit work in many
students who have come to understand what it means
to live by grace," said Dustyn.
The first campus ministry on the agenda this year for
the Southwest Church Planting Network is Rice University in
Houston, which will begin this fall with Pat Roach as minister.
Christ the King Presbyterian, situated near Rice, has been
heavily involved in its formation and will be the principal
church. The church’s pastor, Leo Schuster, was a campus
minister at SMU in Dallas and is excited about the prospects.
"We planted this church with a vision of starting an RUF,
and our congregation is really interested in it."
Leo started the RUF at SMU and served there for four
years. After he left, Dustyn Eudaly stepped in two-and-a-half
years ago to become interim campus minister. Park Cities, only a
few miles from campus, established the RUF at SMU and has close
ties with the ministry. When Dustyn goes on to seminary this
fall, David Rea will become campus minister.
The church plant/campus plant combination in Houston
demonstrates a strategy that the PCA in the Southwest has found
effective. It was applied with Redeemer Presbyterian in Austin,
which was instrumental in establishing an RUF at the University
of Texas. The same approach will be employed in Tucson, AZ, when
the Catalina Foothills Church leads in establishing an RUF at
the University of Arizona.
Reformed University Ministries is now represented on
five campuses in Texas: In addition to SMU, these are Texas A
& M (the first RUF in the state) at College Station, led by
Steve Marusich; Baylor University in Waco with Tom Gibbs; Texas
Christian in Fort Worth with Dustin Salter; and the University
of Texas in Austin with Bill Boyd.
to right: Steve Marusich, Texas A&M; Dustin Salter,
Texas Christian; Dustyn Eudaly, SMU; Bill Boyd, UT; Tom
Gibbs, Baylor. This fall, John Ferguson will become
campus minister at Texas A&M, and Pat Roach will
start the new RUF at Rice University. When Dustyn goes
on to seminary this fall, David Rea will become campus
minister at SMU.
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Address comments to Fred Marsh, Managing Editor /
Photographer. Assistant Editor: Allen Lincoln.
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