Pastor Frank and I had been ministering in an impoverished area of Atlanta since April 11, 2010, starting with a sidewalk Bible study on one of the most dangerous intersections in the country. Now, almost ten years later, here we were, with a core group of faithful attenders, baptizing adults and children, and preparing for communion the following week.
As already reported, in March 2019, Great Lakes-Gulf Presbytery had voted to promote Atlanta Presbyterian Fellowship, as we were previously known, from a preaching station to a mission church. This meant that we would be able to offer church membership and administer the sacraments. Pastor Frank and members of the TGB (temporary governing body, acting as a session) took their time in preparation in order to make sure that these new privileges were undertaken decently and in order.
Preparation for a New Phase
Pastor Frank started preaching a sermon series on baptism and the Lord’s Supper, so that everyone would understand the biblical basis for, and the important ramifications of, these precious sacraments.
Anyone in our congregation who was interested in becoming a member was invited to attend mid-week evening classes on not only the rights and privileges of membership but also the duties. They needed to understand what they would be doing if and when they took membership vows.
Pastor Frank held eight sessions, the first one being an introduction and overview, and then seven sessions, each one covering one particular vow. The participants had “homework” to be completed during the week, answering questions which he had written on the meaning of the vows.
A Blessed Day
On February 9th, we witnessed the baptism of two adults and five children. Pastor Frank officiated, assisted by Pastor Steven Work (TGB Moderator) and Elder T.J. Pattillo.
These two adults along with three people who had been baptized in the past took communicant membership vows, with the children becoming baptized members.
One other person, Andrew Jubera, had been scheduled for baptism but had been involved in a serious bicycle accident nine days prior to the date, had been hospitalized for several days, and was not able to be there. However, he was present the following week, the day of our first celebration of the Lord’s Supper, at which he took membership vows, was baptized, and partook of communion all in the same service!
This update was written by Mrs Penny Smith, author of Penny’s Pen and wife of Rev Dr. Frank J Smith (Pastor at Atlanta RPC)