October 2021 Meeting of Evangel Presbytery

Evangel Presbytery met on Friday, October 8th, 2021 at Trinity Reformed Church in Bloomington, Indiana. Our meeting started at 9 am with worship and prayer, followed by a sermon from Pastor Joseph Bayly. Pastor Bayly preached from 1 Kings 1:1-10 and warned us of the sins of pride and ambition. If we are to be wise, we must not only be able to see these sins in ourselves and others, but we must kill them. This was a needed exhortation as all men are prone to such errors. 

Changes to our BCO were discussed and voted on, followed by two written reports from men laboring out-of-bounds, Brian Bunn and Jürgen von Hagen.

Two overtures (petitions from churches to the presbytery) were then presented, both regarding major issues that all Christians must face: 

  1. Pastor Joseph Spurgeon proposed that a committee be formed to study abortion with the purpose of drafting and adopting a statement about it. 
  2. Pastor Lucas Weeks presented a statement that had been adopted by Trinity Reformed Church on September 19, 2021 titled Conscience and Covid-19 Vaccine Mandates: In Defense of Sphere Authority. The statement was adopted by Evangel Presbytery and can be read here. We encourage you to do so!

Following a budget proposal, we heard updates from our churches and mission churches. Even though these updates often include struggles and disappointments, it is always an encouraging portion of the meeting, for we see God’s kindness and mercy to his people. It is a truly sweet time to hear from our pastors. 

During this time, we had an exciting announcement: Christ Church Cincinnati asked to be particularized! Here is a brief history of Christ Church from Pr. Alex McNeilly: 

The church was planted under the leadership of pastors Joseph Bayly (senior) and Paul Belcher (assistant) in 2015, along with the help of several others. Alex McNeilly joined as an assistant pastor in September 2019. On September 12, 2021, the congregation elected two elders (Ken Patrick and Tom Thistleton) and two deacons (Rob Bedinghaus and Scott Hillger), called Joseph Bayly to serve as their senior pastor, and signed a petition to Evangel Presbytery to be organized as a particular church. The newly elected officers will be ordained and installed at an organization service on Sunday, October 31. For several years, the church met in an elementary school in Milford, Ohio, a suburb on the east side of Cincinnati. The church now meets for worship in the gym at Mars Hill Academy in Mason, Ohio, a suburb northeast of Cincinnati. The congregation has steadily grown over the past six years so that it now comprises roughly sixteen households, including families with (many) children as well as single adults.

We praise God for his kindness to us in this!

Following this announcement, we had a great lunch and time of fellowship at the church before reconvening. 

After lunch, the Candidates and Credentials committee brought some recent exceptions to the Westminster Confession of Faith to the floor of presbytery for discussion.

After hearing from our Sessional Records Committee our meeting ended (earlier than expected, which is always nice as there is more time for fellowship!). 

This meeting was preceded by our annual Shepherd’s Conference. The theme was The Good Soldier. The sessions were full of exhortation and encouragement, with much needed fellowship (and food) in between! 

Our next stated meeting will be on Friday, February 18th, 2022 at Clearnote Church in Indianapolis. We look forward to seeing you there!

Sovereign King Church is Particularized in Evangel Presbytery

Sovereign King Church began in 2016 as a church plant meeting in the basement of a home in Southern Indiana. It was around that time that I had met a few men and their families doing evangelism work at the abortion mill in Louisville, Kentucky. With a mutual love for Christ, reformed theology, preaching the gospel in the open air, and speaking up for the preborn, we saw a need for a reformed church in Southern Indiana. The church initially started with an affiliation with another church in the area, but two problems became apparent. First, there was not much of an appetite for reformed preaching with application to the real sins of the people in the congregation. Second, we realized that the church did not have a good way of dealing with conflict among their elders. We had a sense that churches should be interconnected and have accountability outside of the local congregation, and so we began to consider a presbyterian style of government. We came to the conviction that presbyterianism provides protection for both the sheep and the shepherds of those sheep.

Having already established relationships with some of the men who would eventually make up Evangel Presbytery, we were able to seek shelter and care with accountability as we planted Sovereign King Church. I was accepted as an ordained church planter by Evangel Presbytery in 2019 when it was founded. With the help of a provisional elder board made up of pastors and elders from the Presbytery, the work of planting continued.

The Lord has been kind to us in many ways, small and large. One sweet story is about how we found a new location after outgrowing the basement where we were meeting:

Every year at Christmas, the church goes caroling throughout the nearby neighborhoods. One evening we knocked on the door of a woman whose entire family was sick and feeling pretty miserable. We sang Joy to the World when she opened the door, and tears filled her eyes as she filmed us using her phone. After we left, she shared the video on Facebook saying that she had been very discouraged until we had come. A local hairdresser saw the video on Facebook and recognized one of the women of our church. The next time she went to have her hair done, she and the hairdresser talked about the video, the gospel, and about how the church had outgrown the basement. The hairdresser knew just the right place for our church and put in a good word for us. We were meeting there soon after. There are many of these little stories of God’s provision and blessing on our church as we have worked to take the gospel into the culture.

God has blessed us since with growth in numbers and in fellowship. Being a part of Evangel Presbytery has been invaluable in adding a focus on pastoral care to our heart for abortion ministry and evangelism. Evangel Presbytery is known for its unity on the issue of baptism and its strong adherence to biblical patriarchy, but it is pastoral care that holds it all together. God gave the church shepherds to care for the souls of their sheep. Pastors must speak the things fitting for sound doctrine and do so with authority. They keep sheep out of ditches, pointing sinners to Christ who is the only one who can heal them. They equip the saints for ministry, leading them out into battle against the world, the devil, and the flesh. It is a good work that must be recovered.

In 2020-21, God had us outgrow the community building and provided a larger place. Two capable men in the congregation, Mark Cox and Aaron Sabie, both completed their training to serve as elders. On April 11th, 2021, Sovereign King Church ordained these two men and formally joined Evangel Presbytery as a particularized church. We are thankful for the work of Evangel Presbytery and are looking forward to working together to proclaim the good news of our Sovereign King, Jesus.

February 2021 Meeting of Evangel Presbytery

The 5th Stated Meeting of Evangel Presbytery met at Trinity Reformed Church in Bloomington, Indiana on Friday, February 19th, 2021 at 10 am. After Moderator Andrew Dionne prayed and called us to order, Pastor Jody Killingsworth and the musicians at TRC opened our service of worship with a hymn and a psalm. Then Pastor Dionne preached to us from 1 Peter 5:1-4, and Pastor Philip Moyer led us in communion.

In his sermon, Pastor Dionne exhorted us, among other things, not to be lazy. Good thing he did, as we had a full day of business ahead of us. We took attendance and then Stated Clerk Lucas Week made a personal motion to strike the 10am start-time from our bylaws, so we could start subsequent meetings as convenient. The motion passed!

After that we discussed a variety of proposed changes to our BCO. Some changes had already been considered and were brought before the presbytery for a vote. For others, the moderator appointed committees to review the proposals and return to presbytery with recommendations.

We had a brief report from the administrative nominating committee, and then we broke for lunch.

Lunch was awesome: two lasagnas, salad, and butterscotch-chip cookies. There were many guests, and the time of fellowship with old friends and new was sweet. If you were one of the excused absences, or you just haven’t joined the Presbytery yet, you missed out.

The next part of the meeting after lunch was full of joy, as we heard from the various churches and church plants about how things were going over the last few months. The theme was: COVID was tough, but God is faithful.

Best of all, we voted to particularize Sovereign King Church in Memphis, Indiana. The particularization service which includes the ordination of two elders will take place soon. Praise the Lord, and best wishes to Pastor Joseph Spurgeon and his flock.

Later, we heard from Jake Mentzel, the Chairman of the Board of New Geneva Academy, which has cooked up a great pastors training program for this Autumn, with five men (and counting) already signed up.

We ended the day with the ordination of Jason Chen who will pastor the Chinese Reformed Church of Bloomington, Indiana. Pastor Mentzel preached:

This was a long time coming, and an occasion of happiness for all. Congratulations, Pastor Chen!

Our next stated meeting will be held on Thursday, June 3, 2021 at Holy Trinity Reformed Church in Camby, Indiana.

Evangel Presbytery: 1 October 2020 at Clearnote Church

Inside Clearnote Church’s sanctuary, Moderator Andrew Dionne and Clerk of Presbytery Lucas Weeks look on as Pastor Max Curell — chair of the Church Planting committee — gives a report on several news works coming into fellowship.

The 4th Stated Meeting of Evangel Presbytery met at Clearnote Church in Indianapolis, Indiana on October 1, 2020 at 10 am with prayer and a call to worship from Moderator Andrew Dionne. After raising our voices together in psalms and hymns, Pastor Alex McNeilly opened the word from Luke 9:46 – 50. Following the Lord’s Supper and benediction, business began around 11 with adoption of the docket and discussion of a modest budget for 2021.

Following the budget, everyone was ready for lunch, which was ample and delicious. Conversation was prevalent and ranged over everything from upcoming overtures to mutual interests in music. The candy bowl was a great ending to lunch and a source of constant edification throughout the afternoon, leading to the unofficial adoption of it as a standing tradition. Our future hosts at Trinity Reformed Church and Reformed Church of the Holy Trinity should take note!

Following lunch, the moderator introduced an overture from Christ Church Cinncinnati and appointed a study committee to consider it and it’s proposed clarification of means of discipline in the BCO. Following other appointments and a brief report from the Shepherding Committee, Pastor Jospeh Bayly — chair of the Candidates and Credentials Committee — took the podium to lead the ordination exam of pastoral candidates Jason Chen and Joe Helt. Questions from the chair and the floor were lively, but both men showed a firm grasp of church history and the sacraments through their responses. The assembly sustained their examinations unanimously before moving to work on calls for them both.

First Presbyterian Church in Jasper, Indiana brought an overture from the congregation to be received into Evangel, having voted to leave the PCA several weeks before. Pastoral candidate Joe Helt has been serving as their pulpit supply for the past year and the overture included a call for him to serve as their pastor. During a statement from the trustees of the church, it was very sweet to see the affection that has already developed between the Helt family and the membership of First Presbyterian.

Following the receiving of First Presbyterian, the assembly further approved the start of a new work in Bloomington, Indiana — a Chinese-speaking church to serve the city’s Chinese population. This new church will be lead by ordinate Jason Chen. Please keep Kernel of Wheat Fellowship in your prayers as their base of ministry has really struggled over the course of 2020.

The moderator wonders how many amendments to the amendment upon the amendment to the motion he’s going to have to sort through.

The moderator steered deliberations through the remaining committee reports and unfinished business efficiently, leading to an early conclusion around 4pm. Elder Brian Bailey was nominated to serve as moderator in 2021 before the assembly adjourned with prayer. Most of the commissioners then squandered their early dismissal by hanging around the sanctuary, foyer, and parking lot to visit until 5:30 – a testament to the kind hospitality of Clearnote Church.

We praise God for a good day of successful work.

Many thanks to photographer Sarah Schmidtt for capturing the events of the day.

February 2020 Presbytery Meeting

Back in February, Evangel Presbytery met in Bloomington, Indiana at Trinity Reformed Church. We had quite a full docket! Here are a few of the highlights.

The day started with a worship service, and pastor Tim Bayly preached. After hearing preaching and celebrating the Lord’s Supper, we went through the regular meeting preliminaries: roll call, introduction and seating of guests and visitors, and the adoption of our previous minutes and current docket.

After the preliminaries were over, we dove in to the substance of our agenda. As the chairman of the Bylaws Committee, pastor Andrew Dionne presented the proposed bylaws to the presbytery. After some discussion of amendments, the bylaws were approved.

The next major order of business came from the Candidates and Credentials Committee. After examination, four men came under care of presbytery, and three went on to preach and undergo licensure exams. All three were approved by the presbytery and are now licensed to preach.

Next up, the presbytery conducted a transfer exam of pastor Andy Halsey and received him into Evangel Presbytery from the Presbyterian Church in America. Rev. Halsey will serve as an Evangelist, working to start a new church in Columbus, IN.

The meeting ended with a brief report from each of our churches—things that are going well, and challenges each are facing. We also heard an update from our Cincinnati and Sellersburg church plants. Finally, we heard exciting news that a new church plant in Evansville is in the works!

Overall, we had a very productive meeting with some sweet fellowship. Praise be to God!