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Inside this issue:

God Is at Work
The Vital Church
The Southwest Network
Campus Ministries
Evangelism Convocation

How the Lord is Touching Lives at the NASA Space Center and Other Strategic Texas Locations through PCA churches, a Church Planting Network, and Dedicated People.

MNA and you:  Reaching North America for Christ
Summer 1999


God Is at Work: From the Canopy of Space to the Plains and Cities of Texas
Space Station.jpg (24557 bytes) On 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:

"This 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 Word."    Nancy Currie

In 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.

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Nancy 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 Station."

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"Where 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

Deep 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.


Spreading 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."

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Grace Presbyterian, led by David Wilcher (center with wife, Vicki, at left) began in late 1996 and now has 120 to 150 at Sunday worship. It became a particular church last fall.
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Leo Schuster, with daughter, Margaret, pastors Christ the King near downtown. "We want to reach people across the city and in the extensive medical community nearby." Leo said.   "A lot of medical students from Baylor and UT already attend." The church will be the principal support for the RUF scheduled to begin this fall at Rice (campus at left), which is near the church.

 

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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 God’s property.

MNA ADVISE AND CONSULT FUND
c/o Presbyterian 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.

 

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THE VITAL CHURCH

 
Growing 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 aparrish@pcanet.org

2nd 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.

MNA 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

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Building a Church Multiplying Movement
The 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.

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Park Cities Presbyterian in Dallas
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Left 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 approvals.

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 project.

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 Kingdom."

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 multicultural churches.

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.


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Networking Expands Campus Ministries

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Dustyn 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.

rum texas.jpg (17958 bytes) Left 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.  Design: Studio Supplee. Copy Editor/Writer: Joan Quillen. Material in Multiply may be reproduced with permission.