Vanguard Presbytery’s New Mission Church in Clarksville, TN

            It is my intention next week to write an article on what true gospel preaching is as a follow-up to my articles on Redemptive-Historical preaching, but this week I want to send out a report that was written by one of the ministers in Vanguard Presbytery, Joshua Light, about Vanguard’s newest mission in Clarksville, TN—Reformed Faith Presbyterian (Mission) which meets at 303 Fairview Lane in Clarksville. That mission started with one couple, Rick and Gwendolyn Rodriguez. Gwendolyn called me last September when I was driving to Atlanta on behalf of Vanguard. We probably talked for over an hour and it was apparent to me that she had done a lot of research on what is happening with denominations today as they accommodate the values of the world. That phone conversation was followed up by a visit by Al Baker in October. Before Al’s meeting with the Clarksville group, there was a lot of prayer by Rick and Gwendolyn that the Lord would bring others into the group and He did. This work was received as a mission of Vanguard Presbytery at our presbytery meeting on January 29, 2021. They have just begun having worship services twice a month and they are being/will be supplied by Joshua Light and Jim Thornton at present. The importance of prayer cannot be overestimated. I would encourage everyone on this email list who is wanting a Vanguard church in your area to seek the face of the Lord in prayer. Perhaps the Lord is going to do some great thing with you and where you are. Also, if any of you can send us contacts in the Clarksville area for this new mission work, that will be greatly appreciated. You can reply to this email if you want us to contact anyone there. With that being said, here is the report of Joshua Light:

            “There are so many blessings the preacher and teacher of the Word of God is privileged to take part in. When I was asked to fill the pulpit for a church plant in Clarksville, TN, I had no idea of the blessings that awaited. For those of you who are not blessed to live in Tennessee like I and a few others are, Clarksville is about 340 miles from Bristol. This is the same distance from Bristol to Birmingham, AL where I attended Birmingham Theological Seminary for my Master of Divinity and where I am currently attending, aiming to complete a Doctor of Ministry before the 1000 years is completed. In other words, Clarksville ‘ain’t just a hop, skip, and a jump away.’

            “Like many who do this as part of their ministry career, we really do not have any idea what to expect when we (I coin this phrase – ‘floating’ Teaching Elders – without a specific call from a church), go to one of these locations to fill the pulpit for any given Sunday. Their past, their current situation(s) or their future plans are all completely reliant normally on a select few who are involved in the initial communication of logistics. Items such as who pulled whose hair out, who made someone real mad so that they are “good and ‘tore up,’” who stepped on so-and-so’s toe: you get the idea. Heaven forbid you speak about sacred cows too because you’ll be shot in some places. In short, men like me who do this for our living really do not have a clue what to expect.

            “From the initial conversation until now, I have been so impressed with this church plant. Within, you have a couple of families who have left other churches and are wanting to come into Vanguard simply because of their love for the Lord and their desire to grow firstly as Christians in their faith and second to that, they want to see the Lord increase their number. As a TE within Vanguard, a denomination that is just beginning, it was so encouraging to worship with these dear Christians. Folks, 20% of the congregation was under the age of 15. Think about this. Do you want encouragement to see that the Lord will use his churches? Over lunch, we had the brief discussion of what the Lord would be doing there in 50 years. I told them, ‘You’ll remember these days for as long as you are a church. Cherish them. Write them down if you have to. These are special days.’ Their joy and gladness is contagious!  They want to see the Lord work within them. They desire to see their plant grow and reach their community with ‘thus saith the Lord.’ This is the beginning of Vanguard. It is a bright future filled with hope that the Lord will continue to preserve His church and raise up his workers to serve Him. I look forward to being with them again February 28. They have become dear brothers and sisters in our Lord. And for this balding, middle aged fat guy, they know how to cook which is always a bonus! 🙂

            “I wanted to share this with you, Vanguard, because I know that although we can get tied up in how rough it has been where we have come from, we can look forward to a bright future of growth, but more so, we turn to Jesus, ‘the author and perfecter of our faith,’ to show us what the future holds within Vanguard to train and raise the next generation of those who would serve Him in our churches. Doctrine is important, but let us simultaneously remember to joyfully ‘live, and move and have our being.’

            “In closing, I’m reminded of the Charles Wesley quote, ‘God buries his workmen, but carries on His work.’ Yes, our theology may differ. God will raise up the next generation of those who would serve Him. At Westminster Abbey in London, the Wesley brothers have a memorial that reads, ‘The best of all is, God is with us.’ Amen.”

Leaning On The Everlasting Arms,

Rev. Joshua L. Light, (D.Min. Candidate)

TE Vanguard Presbytery

            In coming months, I am sure Vanguard Presbytery will be helping this new mission work in many ways—in prayers, with supply pastors, with advice, and with financial support. Your support of Vanguard Presbytery enables us to support new missions. There are many places where people would like to see Vanguard churches started and that is the primary way we intend to build this new denomination. If existing congregations want to join with us, we will be happy to receive them in accordance with our standards and the officer vows we have adopted. But… our primary goal is to start new churches. There are several things in the work at present, but we do not announce any church or mission until after we have officially received them.

            From the very beginning, New Testament churches have been composed primarily of spiritual refugees. The work of the gospel is generally not carried on from one generation to another by established churches which accommodate the world, but by those congregations, ministers, and members who are persecuted for the faith and are forced to flee from them. That was the case with the early church (Acts 8); with the new churches started by Paul; with the Protestant Reformers; with the Puritans and Separatists; with the New Side or New Light Presbyterians in the eighteenth century; and, with the various reformed denominations that were begun in the 20th century. Vanguard is no different than those groups.    

Dewey Roberts, Pastor of Cornerstone Presbyterian Church in Destin, FL and Moderator of Vanguard Presbytery

P. S. Contributions to Vanguard Presbytery may be mailed to: PO Box 1862, Destin, FL 32540

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