Not Just Another Phone Book
Linda Porter Foh
Where is your copy of the 1998 OPC Directory? If you haven't picked one up yet, there should be copies at church (or write to the Stated Clerk at the address on the back cover of New Horizons for a copy). Take time to browse through it. This is no ordinary phone bookit's a valuable reference tool.
Use the Directory to plan your next vacation. There are many places in North America where you can find a sister congregation and hear the Word of God faithfully proclaimed on Sunday and midweek. The Directory lists about 240 congregations in thirty-eight states and one Canadian province, each with an address and phone number.
Orthodox Presbyterian churches are located near some of the finest beaches on both oceans, the Gulf of Mexico, and the Great Lakes. Pick a mountain range from the Cascades to the Appalachians and worship at an OP church on Sunday. Hike along the Appalachian Trail and pass within twenty miles of eleven OP churches; six others are a little farther away. There are OP churches near Disneyland and Disney World. If you're a city sightseer, there are OP churches in greater New York, Philadelphia, Washington, Chicago, Los Angeles, and many state capitals. The Directory conveniently groups the congregations in several large metropolitan areas. Why not attend a different family Bible Conference this summeracross the country? The contact folks listed on pages 79-80 will be happy to send you information.
When you visit, of course, sign the church's guest book and introduce yourself. A family in our congregation often camps near OP churches. Upon introducing themselves at an OP church in Florida, they were greeted with, "You're from the Pocono churchwe've prayed for you!" What an encouragement to visitor and host alike!
When relatives or friends move, check the Directory and then call or write the pastor with their names, addresses, and phone numbers, so he can contact them and extend a personal invitation to church.
If your job or schooling requires a move, check the Directory. Both colleges I attended were close to newly planted OP churches. My parents were thankful that I would be in good ecclesiastical hands while far away, and, as a young adult, I came to value the fellowship of a new church family in ways I hadn't needed as a child at home.
If you must move to an area where no OP church exists, scan the ministers at the end of the state listing for a regional or presbytery home missionary. Failing that, check the presbytery listings on pages 80-82. The stated clerk of your presbytery can refer you to its church planter. Many churches in the denomination trace their beginnings to members who moved into an area and saw the need for a Reformed witness there.
Our congregation is located in a resort area, and often we have vacationing visitors who are looking for a Reformed church near their home. The Directory and copies of the booklets What Is the OPC? and What Is the Reformed Faith? make a good visitor's packet.
Whether you visit other congregations or not, you can pray for them all. Not all OP churches appear in the New Horizons prayer calendar or are featured in articles, so you may know little about them. They are much like your congregation: we share "one Lord, one faith, one baptism." The pastor, session, and members have joys and difficulties like yours. Perhaps they have problems that your congregation hasn't faced recently. If the listing says "meeting at ...," they face the challenges of rented quarters. If no pastor is listed, the elders have extra responsibilities. Pray that God would supply a pastor soon and, in the meantime, that they will be well fed by visiting preachers.
Over the last few years, some OP churches have been in the path of floods, hurricanes, ice storms, and earthquakes; others have been near bombings and plane crashes. When we know where our brothers and sisters are, the national news becomes more personal. We can pray straightaway for any who may be touched by the crisis and then call the pastor to offer help and prayer for specific needs.
Don't skip the lists on the back pages. Our active and retired missionaries need our prayers and letters; here are their addresses. OP chaplains are stationed around the U.S. and the world, bringing the gospel of grace to our armed forces. The OPC's standing committees, Bible conferences, and affiliated ministries need your prayers, too.
There is a lot packed into those ninety-six skinny pages. Take a look. (Additional information appears on the OPC's Web site, opc.org, which includes links to several congregations' home pages.)
Mrs. Foh is a member of Pocono OPC in Stroudsburg (Tannersville), Pa., where her husband is the pastor. She invites anyone planning to hike along the Appalachian Trail to contact her for a list of the nearby OP churches; she may add other nearby Reformed churches to her list. Reprinted from New Horizons, April 1998.