The gospel must be our main focus The gospel is both missional and attractional....
By Rev. Susan Finck Pastor, El Calvario Presbyterian Church: There are two words for “time” in the New Testament: chronos – the time on your watch, and kairos – when God’s time intersects the regular course of events, infused with His holiness and purposes. On behalf of all of us at ECPC Waco, we are thankful that God came near in a true ‘kairos moment’ during the Presbytery of Texas meeting this past January.
This expression of God’s kairos time resulted in His kingdom’s advance in multiple ways. When the “business” of the presbytery is truly God’s business, there is structure and order but also a Spirit-led flexibility.
Our church, a small Hispanic congregation, had been raising money to purchase our property (that we had occupied since 1985 and many of the members had helped to construct), from our former (PCUSA) presbytery. Our ECO presbytery family has been supportive and loving throughout our journey, and several churches had already given or promised assistance toward our building fund.
We were unable to secure a commercial loan, despite having enough for a down payment and making substantial monthly rent payments to our former presbytery. During this season of fundraising and seeking a loan, another group (who had cash) stepped forward and our building went under contract the week prior to the presbytery meeting. I asked our clerk, Hardie Morgan, if we could have five minutes on the agenda to update everyone. He graciously agreed, and a special motion was made to amend the agenda so we could speak.
We had carefully planned our five minutes. Irma was going to share a minute about our growth and the ways we see God at work; I was going to share about the probability of losing the building. As soon as we stepped to the microphone, she began to cry. I looked at her like, “Do you want me to take over?” Her eyes signaled me to wait. After what seemed like an eternity of pregnant silence, with 100 people looking at us, a hand squeeze let me know I had to go ahead. I broke down as well. All I could think was: “Wow. This is embarrassing.” A few folks came and surrounded us and prayed. I remember John Walsh, an attorney from another church who had been helping us, was part of that spontaneous prayer team. I don’t remember who else was there. We felt embarrassed and vulnerable, but safe. Loved. Supported. God’s presence was palpable in the room. After the prayer for us, the ‘business’ continued. This was all part of the ‘business’ God desired for the Presbytery of Texas that day.
“Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” (Gal. 6:2)
After the meeting, the three of us from ECPC were approached by numerous presbyters with offers of prayer, and financial support. One person offered to loan us the balance of what we would need. The next week, we got notice that one of the smaller churches in our presbytery took up a collection and their Session matched it. They sent us more than $65,000! We have been so blessed! Although this outpouring seemed “too late” (we had to leave the building), we trust that God’s timing is perfect and He has a “plan B” for us.
During our last service before we left, we baptized one of our youth who professed her faith, and then some of our guys climbed ladders and took down the seven foot cross from the front of our sanctuary. As we sang our last hymn, they carried it out. Our text that day was “Go, make disciples of all nations.” (The video is on our Facebook page: El Calvario Presbyterian Church).
We are currently meeting two blocks away at our local elementary school, and trying to figure out how to be a portable (homeless) church. We’ve had to give up our weekly prayer group, Zumba classes, and part of our identity as a place for the community to gather. The four elders and I are tired. Our people are sad. I’m hoping this is a ‘fallow’ time prior to multiplied fruitfulness. Meanwhile, we continue to trust in God’s sovereign plan and experience His love and presence.