Image: Psalm singing during one of our early gatherings in January 2010
at the North Garden Fire House
I am glad to report that by week’s end we will have received at least 23 applications for membership to CRBC (our average Lord’s Day attendance in August was 47 with high attendance of 57). I believe that all the applications received thus far reveal a clear understanding of the gospel and a credible testimony of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. Furthermore, none of the applications received thus far indicate reservation or further need for pastoral counsel with regard to our proposed Covenant, Confession of Faith (Second London Baptist Confession of 1689), and Constitution. I have recently written a brief article titled “How and When Should a Church Particularize?” and posted it on my blog. The article surveys the practice of the constitution of Baptist churches in three time periods and cultures. Guided by many of these insights, I propose that we proceed with our plan to particularize (constitute) as a distinct local church in a Covenant Service on Sunday, September 26, 2010 at 2:00 pm (note the later time).
I was greatly encouraged as I read through the various membership applications and believe it would be helpful to share those in the body. I propose, therefore, that on September 26th we gather around the tables after lunch (c. 1:00 pm), distribute the applications to those who wrote them, and give each the opportunity, as he desires, to read or share his understanding of the gospel and his testimony.
Following this time, I suggest that we gather at 2:00 pm for a solemn Covenant Worship Service. In that service, I propose that those who have made application for membership affirm our constituting resolution. We will then read and affirm the Membership Covenant and sign it as a witness to our commitment. We will also invite several observers from other churches to join us in the service.
Following this service we will be constituted as Christ Reformed Baptist Church. There will be further steps in our transition. After constituting, I propose that we receive nominations for the offices of Ruling Elder and Deacon on Sunday, October 31, 2010 and that we hold our first Annual Membership Meeting on Wednesday, January 5, 2011 in which we will appoint further officers and adopt our 2011 budget. We also realize that even after we have constituted we will still exist as a developing mission church striving toward full self-sufficiency.
Let me also address those who have been regular attendees, but who have not yet applied for membership. First, if you would desire to submit an application in view of participating in the Covenant Service on the 26th your application must be received by this Sunday, September 19th. Second, some of you (particularly those who are newer to our fellowship) may need more time prayerfully and thoughtfully to consider whether or not you should petition for membership. As I stated last Sunday, we do not desire to place undue pressure upon you or to force anyone to go against his conscience. If you decide not to petition at this time, we would be happy to have you continue to attend our public meetings (including the Covenant Service) as you discern whether or not the Lord would have you join us at CRBC.
This is, indeed, a very glad time in the life of our church plant. With thanksgiving, we look backward at what God has already done, present at what he is doing, and forward to what he will choose to accomplish through this body.
Grace and peace, Pastor Jeffrey T. Riddle
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