OPC Committee on Diaconal Ministries

Helping to Train, Encourage &
Connect Deacons
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 

 

 
 
 
 
 
 
 

 

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Fat with Good Things

by Sarah Klazinga, Administrative Assistant for the Committee on Diaconal Ministries

“When people are captured by the whole Word of God, it’s like a gentle rain that waters the earth; over time you see fruit.” That was Pastor Justin Rosser’s comment on how the faithful ministry of the preached Word has worked itself out into Word and Deed opportunities in the congregation. As one man has put it, “Your theology always comes out your fingertips.”

Rosser is the associate pastor at Resurrection OPC, in Matthews, NC; part of the greater Charlotte area. Resurrection has had a faithful pulpit ministry since its founding in 1975, and has most recently been pastored by Nathan Trice since 1996. Trice also serves as the President of the Committee on Diaconal Ministries.

Resurrection is, by OPC standards, a large church with around 250 members and two pastors in the suburbs of a 1.5-million-person, southern city. Because of its proximity to such a large, diverse city in the Bible belt; its long-time faithfulness; and, the Lord’s abundant blessing in these circumstances, the congregation has become a lively bunch of believers seeking out opportunities to put the Gospel into action.

It’s hard to imagine a level of commitment like this, but for the last twenty-five years, members of the congregation have led a weekly Bible study at a local nursing home; gathering the residents to visit with them, and to enjoy a time of singing and Bible study together.

Members of Resurrection have been involved in a once-a-month breakfast at Charlotte’s Rescue Mission, where they serve breakfast and the Good News of Jesus to men going through an intensive program for drug and alcohol abuse.

For many years some of Resurrection’s members were involved in an inner-city outreach to refugee families. This ministry owns an apartment complex for refugee housing. Once a week The Charlotte Eagles (a Christian soccer team) come to play with the kids in the complex, inviting area churches to join them for interaction through one-on-one discipleship and group Bible study.

Brookstone School is another area ministry that Resurrection has been heavily involved in. Brookstone is an inner-city Christian school in downtown Charlotte. They offer a program where men from area churches can sign up to be a lunch-buddy with a boy at the school. For many inner-city boys this is literally being “a father to the fatherless.” Resurrection also takes a regular diaconal offering designated to Brookstone School, in addition to taking one week each summer to host VBS for them.

Project 658, a Christ-centered, holistic ministry providing services for at-risk families in Charlotte, moving them toward sustainability; with a key focus on the international and refugee communities, is another Charlotte-area ministry that members of Resurrection are heavily involved in.

The greater Charlotte area has a very strong pro-life presence and local ministries actively seek out churches to partner with them in preaching and praying outside of the local abortion clinics. Charlotte is home to the largest abortion provider in the southeast, with women driving from as far as Florida and Maryland to terminate their pregnancies. Area churches can sign up to be a gospel presence outside these abortion clinics, praying, fasting, handing out resources to the women, and sharing the freedom found only in Christ. Some of Resurrection’s members are sidewalk counselors with the local crisis pregnancy center, and are a regular, weekly presence outside the abortion clinic.

Rosser says that there are two main ways that churches seem to go about outreach ministries: either a church has “a thing” – they offer ESL classes, host a food pantry in their fellowship hall, sponsor a refugee family, etc.; or a church can attach themselves to someone else’s “thing.” There are pros and cons to both, but what Pastor Rosser has found is that being a part of ministries that are already going on allows the congregation to try things, and to invest where they feel burdened to serve. For some, that’s pro-life ministry, and they’ve been able to jump into what is already a well-established, Gospel-centered, pro-life presence in the Charlotte area. Others may feel the burden to serve refugee families, and there are several opportunities for Gospel-centered ministry already going on.

He concludes that when God’s people are “fat with good things” – full of the Word of God and the Spirit of God, it produces the works of God.

Perhaps your congregation doesn’t seem so ideally situated, with a second pastor that can devote his time to things like this, in a city full of Gospel-centered, Christ-exalting opportunities. But as the Word of God is faithfully preached in our churches, and the people of God are stirred by His Spirit, our theology will begin to flow out our fingertips, and perhaps this is an encouragement to each of you to see what’s going on in the places where you’ve been called to serve. God is at work in the places where we live. Let’s serve Him with our strength.


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Meet Your Fellow Deacons: Shiloh OPC, Raleigh, NC

 

Pictured: Shiloh Deacons: Leo Barcley, Brandon Gresham, Art Allen, Tim Hopper, McRay Simmons, Pete Tola

We asked a few of the deacons at Shiloh to share their thoughts about the diaconate. Here’s what they said:

Deacon Brandon Gresham has also been serving Shiloh OPC for about a year, and says that as a new deacon, this time has been incredibly sanctifying. He has been blessed by the godly example of his fellow deacons who have been serving longer and are showing him a deep compassion for God’s people. He is married to his wife Shasta and they have three children, Judah, Josie and Olive. Brendan says he was drawn to diaconal ministry because his family had been recipients of care by their deacons and saw how it affected their view of the church. “It opened my eyes to the fact that there are many people within Christ’s body who are poor and needy that we would never know are in that state. Deacons are able to approach people and ask questions in a way others are not.” Later he shares that he’s learning that “there are far more people hurting and needy than I ever suspected. Some have financial burdens but many have spiritual, emotional, and physical burdens that could easily go unaddressed. Christ, our prototypical deacon, sought these people out specifically, as we also should.” The diaconate at Shiloh offers financial education for its members, which Brandon sees as one of their strengths, along with quickly responding to those with obvious needs and direct and persistent interaction with those receiving assistance from the church. As a diaconate they continue to grow in ministering to the needs of the Session, reaching outside of the church to the needy and the stranger in the greater Raleigh area.

Deacon Art Allen has been married to his wife for twenty-five years, and they have one grown son. He has been serving Shiloh OPC for eleven months and shares that he sees that the Lord has gifted him with many abilities that seem compatible with diaconal ministry and that he loves working with his fellow officers in the church. When asked what is one of the greatest lessons he’s been learning in his time as a deacon, he says, “I think it’s very important to know your flock. Often there is limited time to interact, especially on the Lord’s Day so I try to make the most of these brief interactions to gauge where people are and find out what they may be dealing with, in order to help, if needed.”

Deacon McRay Simmons has served as a deacon in two OP churches for a combined total of sixteen years and says that one of the greatest joys of working as a deacon is seeing families changed by God’s grace. He and his wife are empty-nesters now, but have two grown children and ten grandchildren. He speaks warmly of the closeness of the brothers on the diaconate and of their unified desire to serve one another and the families they are called to minister to, sharing personally that, “As I have worked alongside my fellow deacons in serving others, the Lord has used those opportunities to show me my own sin and need for His grace and helped me focus on being an agent of His grace to others in more meaningful ways.” He desires growth in discernment with difficult situations where the best way of helping is not always clear. He shares that one of the ways that they are growing is in recognizing that there are very capable people in the congregation who are willing to serve if given the opportunity. “An example of that is the organization of our Safety Committee that was commissioned to put together a plan for nursery safety, evacuation plans for emergencies, etc. The members serving on that committee did an excellent job!”


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Shiloh OPC Deacons

Meet Tim Hopper

Shiloh OPC Deacons
Photo: Tim (center) along with some of his Shiloh co-laborer deacons.

Back in July of this year, Tim accepted a call to serve on the OPC Committee on Diaconal Ministries. Tim now serves as a local deacon at Shiloh OPC in Raleigh, a regional deacon (Presbytery of the Southeast) and now on the denominational level. Read as Tim takes a few minutes to tell us about himself, the diaconate and his desire to serve the Lord on many diaconal levels.

By God’s grace, I was raised by faithful, believing parents and don’t remember a day I didn’t know Christ; when I was in high school, we joined a presbyterian (EPC) congregation, and I became a convicted confessional presbyterian after reading G.I. Williamson’s study guide to the Westminster Confession after my sophomore year of college. 

My first exposure to the OPC was attending Memorial OPC in Rochester, NY during a summer internship in college. After college, I joined Providence OPC in Charlottesville, VA, and in 2010, I moved to Raleigh, NC for grad school and joined Shiloh OPC.

My parents always set an example for my sisters and me by faithful serving in our churches wherever they could. I have always aspired to follow their example, and that was noticed by a brother at Shiloh who nominated me to be a deacon when I was 26. I was ordained and installed at Shiloh in February 2013, and I have served at Shiloh ever since. My wife Maggie joined me at Shiloh when we got married in 2015; we now have two little boys and a third baby on the way. 

The deacon is called to enable the church to love the Lord with heart, soul, mind, and strength as we free the Session for their ministry of word and prayer; likewise, we are called to love our neighbor (and call the congregation to love of neighbor) as we minister to the poor, sick, and lonely. In this way, the calling of the deacon is a calling of obedience to the greatest commandments, and it is a privilege for me to serve in this calling.

In 2015, I attended the first Presbytery of the Southeast diaconal conference and was invigorated at the idea of connectional diaconal ministry among our regional church. When my pastor asked if he could nominate me to serve on the presbytery diaconal committee (PDC) the next year, I jumped at the opportunity, and I have served on the committee since then. 

Over the years, the CDM has blessed and strengthened Shiloh’s diaconate through the summits in Wheaton and other training resources. On the PDC, we work closely with the CDM to meet needs in our local churches, train and equip our local diaconates, and serve the presbytery in disaster response. I thank the Lord for the Orthodox Presbyterian Church, her congregations, and her committees, and I am grateful for the opportunity to serve on the CDM. 


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