Inside this issue:

In Virginia’s Tidewater area, which has thousands of military personnel, New Covenant Presbyterian is committed to serving this important population.

MNA:  Reaching North America with the Gospel...
to Reach the World

Fall 2001

If you’re Interested in Chaplain Ministries

PCA chaplains serve a vital purpose in the military as well as in civilian posts, such as hospitals and prisons, by ministering to thousands of people at their point of need.

If you’d like to know more about their work and how you can help, request a brochure or a video about MNA Chaplain Ministries. Email or call MNA: 678-825-1200.


Ministering to the  Military

When Joe Mullen was a 19-year-old shipman in the US Navy, stationed in a remote port in Adak, Alaska, he was introduced to the Lord by a Navy chaplain. That life-changing experience gave Joe a deep and continuing appreciation for chaplains. Years later, it led to a continuing development in ministering to the military and a church partnership with a number of chaplains.

Today, Joe is senior pastor of New Covenant Presbyterian in Virginia Beach, Virginia, where he has served since 1984. Regular attendance now numbers about 300, 35 percent of whom are military. The congregation has always included several chaplains, representing PCA as well as other denominations.

Obviously, New Covenant is not the only church here ministering to the military — a number of PCA churches do the same — but New Covenant is an excellent example of how churches can effectively reach and serve this segment.

“As soon as we came to serve this church,” says Joe, “it was our prayer to establish a ministry to chaplains, and we feel privileged to do so.” His wife, Brenda, is the daughter of a 22-year veteran of the US Navy, which gives her a unique understanding and appreciation for the military.

Ask chaplains how they feel about New Covenant, and they’ll tell you the church’s ministry is extremely significant. According to chaplain Joseph Paul, now serving at Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth, “New Covenant understands military families and encourages them. Chaplains often serve amid unbelievers, and sometimes our ministry is not especially welcome, but thanks to New Covenant, I have been spiritually nourished, and that’s very important to my ministry.”

Chaplain Paul has taught adult Sunday School at New Covenant, preached on occasion, and taken part in growth groups (the church’s small group ministry). He and his wife, Marla, work with the teen youth group. She is nursery captain, teaches a children’s Sunday school class, and is involved with vacation Bible school, while their daughters help with the nursery.

Also active in the New Covenant congregation is chaplain Ken Counts, currently assigned to a Guided Missile Cruiser, home ported in Norfolk, Virginia. “The church has been a rock and a shelter for my family through times of separation,” Ken points out. “My wife, Gwen, attends a midweek care group and the two elders who shepherd that group have been a great encouragement to her and my son, Joel. The church has also been faithful to hold up my name and ministry in public prayer.”

Chaplain Doug Rosander and his family are now in Rota, Spain, but were leaders at New Covenant while they were stationed in the area. “There are plenty of opportunities for chaplains to be involved in ministry at NCPC,” explains Doug. “I taught adult and high school Sunday School classes, preached at times, and served on the worship committee. The church does a good job of encouraging families when military members are deployed.”

The Rosanders are also associated with Crossroads Community Church in Upper Darby, PA, where Tim Witmer is the pastor. Like New Covenant, this church lists chaplains and other military personnel in their bulletins, and asks the congregation to pray for them.

The ministries of chaplains are distinctive in that they have unique opportunities to reach men and women who might never attend church, as well as many who have not been raised in a church-going family. The majority are in their 20s and, because of loneliness and other difficulties, they’re often in search of life’s meaning. As a result, these people can be particularly receptive to the Gospel.

MNA coordinator of Chaplain Ministries Dave Peterson commends PCA churches who reach out to the military and urges other congregations to follow suit, whether or not they’re situated near a military installation. “More than half of our PCA chaplains are sponsored in prayer by one or more PCA congregations,” says Dave. “We hope to enlist congregational and individual prayer support for all our chaplains by the end of this year.”*

Chaplain Ken Counts recommends that churches treat chaplains as missionaries, such as by naming them, along with missionaries, in newsletters and other literature, and thus connect them with missions-related programs. He suggests they invite a chaplain to churches’ missions events and allow them to talk about the acts of God they’ve observed that have led to saved lives.


Thousands of military personnel are stationed aboard ships and on bases throughout Virginia’s Tidewater area. There are four military installations, including Norfolk Naval Base, the largest in the world.

Joe Mullen, senior pastor of New Covenant, is considered by chaplains to be “a true chaplain’s pastor.” Up to eleven chaplains have sat in his congregation at one time, and they commend him for his ease with ministry and with preaching.

PCA chaplain Joe Paul (left), based at Norfolk Naval Shipyard in Portsmouth, says, “New Covenant understands military families and encourages them. When we go to sea or are transferred out of the area, we can stay connected with the church through email and the church’s Web site.”

Kay Wrigley (left), wife of Navy chaplain Paul Wrigley, with Brenda Mullen, wife of Joe Mullen. Kay finds it "comforting that the church prays for us and our ministry while we're away." The Wrigleys are now serving duty in Okinawa.

Chaplain Ken Counts (left), now stationed in Norfolk, says, “The church faithfully prays for me — it has been a rock and a shelter for my family through times of separation.” Ken participates in a New Covenant growth group with Cynde and Dennis Morgan (right).

CDR Kurt Nelson (left) with his wife, Joanne, and Bruce Anderson, a chaplain of the Christian Reformed denomination, are active in one of New Covenant’s weekly growth groups.

Turnover is a fact of life with the military. And so it is with New Covenant. While turnover presents challenges, it also continually brings new faces into the community and new opportunities for outreach. Another advantage — military people know how to get involved and form friendships on short notice.

How Churches can Minister to the Military

  • Identify US Armed Forces personnel within the congregation so that church leaders can invite them and their families into their homes; also plan church-wide events for the military.

  • Provide specific resources for military families (for example, to assist them with separation, financial problems, etc.).

  • List names of chaplains and other military in church publications and ask the congregation to lift them in prayer.

  • Identify veterans within the congregation so that church leaders can ask their advice about ministering to the military.

  • Encourage veterans and other members to correspond with military personnel.

  • Pray regularly from the pulpit for the nation and the military; highlight annual observances such as Memorial Day, Veteran’s Day, etc.


What Presbyteries can do

Presbyteries also can take an active role in ministering to chaplains and military personnel by doing many of the things stated above. In addition:

  • Include Chaplain Ministry updates with missions reporting (information can be furnished by the MNA presbytery chairmen).

  • Invite a chaplain to make a brief presentation at a presbytery meeting.

  • Encourage congregations to include Chaplain Ministries in annual missions conferences.

  • Include Chaplain Ministries in the annual budget.

  • Sponsor a chaplain.*


*Churches or individuals interested in sponsoring a chaplain may contact Mr. Climie Hewitson at or call (612) 703-3995 for details.

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A Military Leader Focused on Christ

Born into a pastor’s family, Bentley Rayburn can never recall a time when he didn’t know Christ as his Lord and Savior. His father, Robert G. Rayburn, was founder of Covenant College and Seminary in St. Louis and its first president. Two of Bentley’s children are currently enrolled at Covenant College, now located atop Lookout Mountain near Chattanooga, Tennessee.

Bentley’s attraction to the military took shape as he saw his dad participate in the Army Reserves. The senior Rayburn had served as an active duty chaplain during World War II and in Korea, before moving to Pasadena, California, to become president of Highland College in the early 50s. Out of high school Bentley chose the Air Force Academy because he wanted to fly. Even today, his favorite assignments are those that give him the opportunity to fly jet fighter aircraft — the last was in 1997-98 when he served as commander of the 4404th Wing at Prince Sultan Air Base in Saudi Arabia.

Throughout his exemplary military career, Bentley has been clearly focused on his Christian walk.

“Providentially,” he says, “at nearly every location, we have been close to PCA churches and /or PCA chaplains. I know firsthand how much it means for the church to reach out to the military.”

Stressing the importance of evangelical chaplains, he says, “Over the years, I have become increasingly more impressed with the tremendous influence they have with service men and women. Our military is a cross-section of society. We have thousands of young people who were raised in our post-Christian culture and who do not know the Lord. It is a wonderful place to minister. Though military chaplains have demanding careers, they have access to a wonderful mission field — and the government picks up the tab.”

Bentley served as a ruling elder at Westminster Presbyterian in Alamogordo, New Mexico, and at Spring Meadows Presbyterian in Las Vegas, Nevada. He is a commission member of the Presbyterian and Reformed Joint Commission on Chaplain and Military Personnel — the endorsing body for PCA and Reformed chaplains. He and his family attend Calvary Reformed Presbyterian in Hampton, VA.


Major General Bentley Rayburn, a 26-year veteran of the Air Force, shows how non-chaplain, committed Christians can complement the efforts of evangelical chaplains and local churches to create a strong Christian presence among the military. Director of plans and programs for Headquarters Air Combat Command (ACC), Langley Air Force Base, VA, Bentley is responsible for plans, programs, and manpower for the command’s 600 ACC and ACC-gained units at 275 locations, involving more than 165,000 people and a budget of nearly $20 billion.

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Church Vitality


At Kirk of the Hills Presbyterian, St. Louis, a Kingdom Campaign conference led to the formation of a number of “fire teams” among the church’s 1500 members, who committed to pray daily for church staff and elders. Jonathan Taylor, minister of congregational outreach, said, “The conference was tremendous, and our congregation fully embraced the campaign’s principles and practices. We’ve seen strong results from our congregation’s prayers — the Lord is really  blessing us.” 

Developed by MNA Church Vitality, led by Archie Parrish, the Kingdom Campaign has been presented with effective results at several PCA churches.  For details, call MNA: 678-825-1200 or email

Embers to a Flame conferences have typically been scheduled only once a year, until this year when two additional meetings were planned specifically for minority groups: Koreans and African Americans. The Korean Embers Conference, held last March, was at Briarwood Presbyterian. It attracted not only Korean leaders of the PCA, but also leaders of other denominations. Because of good response, a second such conference is slated for February, 2002. The African-American conference will be in late November (see details below). In 2002, Embers to a Flame conferences for all church leaders will be held twice — one in Birmingham and the second in Colorado.

Convocation on Revival and Reformation

  • November 6 - 8, 2001, Trinity Presbyterian, Jackson, MS.

  • Keynote Speaker: Eric Alexander of Scotland. Pastor of the foremost church of the Church of Scotland for 20 years. Internationally known for his speaking skills and evangelical leadership.

  • Topic: a pattern for God-sent, Christ-centered, Spirit-filled revival.

  • Seminar leaders/speakers: Ligon Duncan III, Mo Leverett, Carl Kalberkamp, Jr., Michael Ross, Archie Parrish, and Harry Reeder.

  • Call for a brochure: 601-362-8244.  Register by October 15.

Embers to a Flame Conference — Focus on the African-American Church

  • November 28 - December 1, 2001, Briarwood Presbyterian, Birmingham, AL.

  • Speakers: Harry Reeder, Briarwood senior pastor, and Nathaniel (Hank) Hankerson, urban missions pastor; John Patrick, Assistant Dean of Birmingham Theological Seminary.

  • To accommodate bi-vocational pastors, sessions are evenings plus all day Saturday. 

  • Seminary credit may be earned through Birmingham Theological Seminary.

Embers to a Flame Conferences — All Church Leaders

  • January 17 - 20, 2002, Briarwood Presbyterian, Birmingham, AL.

  • September 17 - 20, 2002, Village Seven Presbyterian in Colorado Springs, CO. 

  • For information about any Embers conference, visit the Web: or contact Carolyn Phillips: 205-776-5399 or All conferences are designed to lead churches to renewed vitality and health. 


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Showing God’s Mercy


At the joint MNA/CE&P Mercy Ministry Conference last March in Atlanta, GA, over 600 people gathered to explore the theology ••and practice of mercy ministry based on the theme, “The Call of the Gospel: Sharing Christ — Showing Mercy.” Following are excerpts from messages brought by three lead speakers:

“We know what love is. Jesus showed it when He died for you and me. He didn’t have to. He was the Son of the Almighty God — He gave up Heaven and His life to die in your place. That’s the Gospel! And people desperately need to hear it. We need to understand the implication of that love from the way Jesus loved us. He laid down His life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers. Love is going to cost you something. •Love is not an idea that we just talk about. Love is a costly idea. Because when Jesus Christ comes into your life, He takes over — He possesses you — He changes you.” 

Randy Nabors, MNA Urban & Mercy movement leader and senior pastor, New City Fellowship, Chattanooga, TN

“We have homelessness today because of disconnectedness — people don’t have the family, the community, the cushion in place when trouble happens. When families broke down, when the government forgot its appropriate role, and when the church stopped being the church, we opened the door to the pathologies that we have in this country today. While it is important — even mandated by God — to meet the individual and specific needs of people in our communities, it is also important to reestablish the systems and the cushion that God ordained to be in place when trouble comes. We should encourage rebuilding of families, encourage government to take its proper role, and call the church to be the church.”

Kay Cole James, former dean of Regent University, Virginia Beach, VA

“When John the Baptist asked Jesus’ disciples how he could know that Jesus was the Messiah, Jesus sent the message back that ‘the lame walk, the dead are raised, and the poor have the good news preached to them.’ What Jesus is pointing to is that He doesn’t just preach the Gospel, but He embodies the Gospel by His deeds. His entire ministry is summed up in Luke 24:19: ‘He was mighty in word and deed.’ In the epistles, you find that the church is supposed to be like its Master — you have elders and deacons. Acts 6 tells us we have word officers and deed officers — I Peter 4 refers to word gifts and deed gifts…. I John 3 says don’t love in word only, but also in deed.”

Tim Keller, senior pastor, Redeemer Presbyterian, New York, NY

Available Resources 
(Call or email as indicated for ordering information.):

Ministries of Mercy — The Call of the Jericho Road by Tim Keller, Order Now from CE&P Bookstore



Restorers of Hope by Amy Sherman, Order Now from CE&P Bookstore



The Charitable Choice Handbook for Ministry Leaders, Sharing God’s Heart for the Poor, both by Amy Sherman: 434-293-5656 or

Urban Ministry:  The Kingdom, the City and the People of God by Harvie Conn and Manuel Ortiz, Order Now from CE&P Bookstore



MNA Urban and Mercy Directory: or 678-825-1200



Visit the MNA Web site for additional resources:


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