Vanguard Presbytery: Whither Vanguard Presbytery?
Last week, there were almost 100 people registered for the Convocation of Vanguard Presbytery to be held at the Stephens Valley Church in Nashville on Thursday, July 30, 2020 from 9:00 AM to 6:00 PM. In these days of reduced attendance at all churches, I think that is excellent. I know there are many more people who would like to be there, but are prevented from doing so for various reasons.
There have been some questions about wearing masks at the Convocation that have been sent my way. Here is the policy of the church. Face masks will be provided and are encouraged to be worn, but they will not be mandated.
Vanguard Presbytery will provide a light continental breakfast (for those who do not eat before they arrive) and a catered box lunch for everyone in attendance. We are prepared to pay all the costs of the Convocation at no charge to any of the attendees, but there will be an opportunity to contribute to Vanguard Presbytery. From February of this year until today, there have been gifts totaling $22,589 (according to my records) and expenditures of $3,383.50 for a balance of $19,205.50. Now, our treasurer, John Avery, might have slightly different figures, but they will not vary much from what I am reporting to you. The expenditures have gone to cover travel expenses to visit churches interested in Vanguard and to set up a web site and design a logo. Future travel expenses to visit churches or to visit people wanting to start Vanguard type congregations will also be covered out of these funds. Al Baker and I both have trips planned over the next month.
When we started Vanguard Presbytery, my initial thought was that there would be a large number of existing congregations that would transfer into Vanguard. Some congregations have already done so, others are voting to do so in the near future. There are a good number of other congregations in various places which I am hopeful will join with us over the coming months. But here is where the real movement is taking place. Every week if not every day, I receive new contacts from people who have had it with the social justice warriors that occupy the pulpits of most churches today. These people are sometimes ruling elders, other times humble members of the congregation. They are frustrated with what they hear from the pulpit. They turn on Fox News at night and hear Tucker Carlson rightly excoriate the cultural Marxists and social justice warriors who are everywhere in society. Then, they go to church on Sunday morning and their pastors are actually promoting Black Lives Matter, cultural Marxism, and the social justice warrior agenda. Not only is the church being conformed to the world, but it is being conformed to the worst elements of society. Marxism has proved throughout history to be the persecutor of the Church, but almost every Christian denomination in America is embracing that heresy with open arms. That is the reason these people who contact me are motivated to flee their city of destruction, like Christian in Pilgrim’s Progress.
From the emails and telephone conversations I have had with this large number of people, I have learned what has attracted them to Vanguard Presbytery. They commonly tell me that Vanguard’s positions about the ministry of the Holy Spirit and about evangelists/evangelism is what attracts them to us. It is not common for Presbyterians to speak about the Holy Spirit. It is not common for Presbyterians to be intentionally evangelistic. I have had people ask me if I have a charismatic or Pentecostal background because I mention the Holy Spirit so often. I remind them that John Calvin is known as the theologian of the Holy Spirit. We have dealt with the matter of evangelism in great detail recently, so I will say no more at present. What I can tell you is that there is a deep hunger among many reformed people to be a part of a denomination that gives Scriptural emphasis to both the Holy Spirit and evangelism. And a number of them are reaching out to Vanguard Presbytery. I do not know how they find me, but they do. They are people that I knew nothing about before they contacted us.
So, here is what is happening. There are a number of large and medium size cities in the US where people are eager to start Vanguard Presbytery congregations. We are going to look into each situation and start new congregations wherever feasible. There are some exciting opportunities. In fact, Vanguard Presbytery will consider every place where there is not a Vanguard Presbytery congregation to be a mission field for this new denomination. Vanguard Presbytery is going to follow the missionary methods of the apostle Paul and start churches in the major cities and let the denomination expand out from those places. We are going to use the principles developed by Al Baker which he calls “Apostolic Church Planting Methods.” We will use Scriptural methods, not sociological ideas. The churches that will be started through these contacts probably would not be started if all our established churches simply transferred into another existing denomination. Since I expect new congregations to be the largest part of Vanguard Presbytery within a short period of time, it would be a great loss not to have them. That is how revival works—by starting something new. That is how it has happened in the past and will continue to happen in the future.
In the 1740’s and 1750’s, the New Light Presbyterians grew in this same way. There were a few congregations that left the Synod of Philadelphia when the Old Lights kicked the supporters of the Great Awakening out of the denomination. At the same time, there were many, many common church members who left their local congregations because the message of the pulpit was compromised. The idea at that time was that it was not necessary for a minister to be converted to do some good to the people. The mantra was:
A converted minister is best, but an unconverted minister can do some good.
That has been subtly changed and rearranged in our day as follows:
A gospel minister is best, but a social justice warrior, cultural Marxist, and Critical Race Theorist can still do some good.
The New Light Presbyterians rejected the first of those statements and Vanguard Presbytery rejects the latter. Let me make it clear for everyone. We in Vanguard Presbytery do not believe that a social justice warrior can do some good. We do not believe that it is okay to stay in a denomination that is controlled from the top down by such social justice warriors. The message of the gospel is one. It is not multiple. Social justice warriors, cultural Marxists, and Critical Race Theorists have thrown the true gospel out in the streets and replaced it with a message devised by Karl Marx. We cannot ignore that or equivocate about it. We believe the only message of the true Church is the eternal gospel of Christ.
Every Monday evening, the Credentials Committee of Vanguard meets by zoom to examine pastors who desire to transfer into this new denomination. There are 2-3 ministers who apply to transfer their credentials almost every week. Those members of the Credentials Committee have been kept very busy. I am having a difficult time keeping up with all that is happening in that respect. Rev. Joshua Light told me last week that every minister who has transferred into Vanguard has expressed how exciting it is to them to be part of a denomination like Vanguard is going to be. I share their sentiments. I am more excited about the future of Vanguard and this new denomination than I could ever be about transferring into an existing denomination. If you are interested in being part of a new church start in your city, please email me and I will pass those emails along to Al Baker. Some of you have emailed me in the past, but if it was more than a month ago please refresh my memory. Many thanks.
Donations to Vanguard Presbytery may be sent to:
Vanguard Presbytery, PO Box 1862, Destin, FL 32540
Dewey Roberts, Pastor at Cornerstone Presbyterian Church in Destin, FL