April 12 : Two Churches Merge Two Traditions

This Day in Presbyterian History:

Two Churches Merge into One Church

On April 12, 2009, two Presbyterian churches became one in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.  One of the two was the historic Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, which had been meeting and ministering in and to that area for sixty years under the dynamic leadership of Dr. D. James Kennedy.  The other was no small congregation, but a newer one, to be sure, which had as their meeting place a theater under the ministerial leadership of the Rev. Tullian Tchividjian, a grandson of evangelist Billy Graham.  One church belonged to the Presbyterian Church in America.  The other church was connected with the Evangelical Presbyterian Church.  One church was set in the traditional worship style, with a second service being contemporary in style of worship.  The other church was set in the contemporary style of worship.

Both of them had to vote in the affirmative for this union to take place.  And they did vote that way.  The second church  by their affirmative, voted to leave the Evangelical Presbyterian Church and join the Presbyterian Church in America.   After the vote to merge, the call then went to Tullian Tchividjian to become the senior pastor of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church.  He was installed on May 10, 2009.

Rev. Tchividjian is a testament to God’s sovereign and saving grace himself.  Despite being the grandson of the most famous evangelist in twentieth century America, he grew up a rebel.  Thrown out of his home and dropping out of high school when he was sixteen, he, by his own admission, gave himself over to a life of debauchery.  Five years in the drug culture of South Florida, he  began to see that there was more to life than the one he was living.  When the woman who later became his wife began to show an interest in spiritual things, he began to see the change in  his own life as well.  As he put it in the World Magazine July 16, 2011 issue, “the things I used to hate I started to love, and the things I used to love I started to hate.”  Returning to the education field, he received a degree in philosophy from college, and went to Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando, Florida.  Graduating from there, he went into the Lord’s work, planting a new church a few miles north of Coral Ridge Presbyterian.  It was this church which merged into the Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church.

Words to Live By:  God sovereign grace never lets go of His elect, even when we try to leave the God of the Bible behind in our rush to get what the world has to offer.  The sooner we realize that truth, the better off we will be in  our lives.

Through the Scriptures: Psalms 4 – 6

Through the Standards:  Proof texts of Free Will:

Deuteronomy 30:19

“I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse.  So choose live in order that you may live, you and your descendants.” (NASV)

Ecclesiastes 7:29

“Behold, I have found only this, that God made men upright, but they have sought out many devices.” (NASV)

Ephesians 2:1 – 3

“And you were dead in your trespasses and sins, in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience.  Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest.”  (NASV)

 Colossians 1:13

 “For He delivered us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son.” (NASV)

1 John 3:2

“Beloved, now we are the children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we shall be.  We know that, if He should appear, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is.” (NASV)

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