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A Note from 30,000 Feet

By Mike Mccauley on
Mike Mccauley
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Feb 24 in Musings
The little screen on the seatback in front of me tells me we are cruising at roughly 400 miles per hour. I’m returning to LA from Lakeland, Florida (halfway between Orlando and Tampa).  Elder Mac Heald and I traveled to the National Gathering of The Fellowship Community. The first morning we were there I woke up early and went for a run around Lake Hollingsworth, one of the many nearby lakes. When Mac and I reconnected later that morning, he informed me that his brief research had identified that particular lake as the habitat of a large number of alligators.  If I would have known ahead of time, I’m sure would have run much faster!
The Fellowship Community is the group of evangelical churches who remain within the PCUSA denomination (a significant number have left), including Hollywood Presbyterian. Our church joined The Fellowship in 2012, and I am currently on the Board.  Let me remind you that I am not using “evangelical” as term for a conservative political voting bloc. Rather, it describes a particular faith tradition which espouses a high view of the authority of scripture, orthodox theology, the emphasis on the salvation offered in Jesus, and our call to extend the invitation for people everywhere to respond to Christ.  For our church, existing in a denomination which has increasingly embraced more liberal theology, participating in a larger community of like-minded brothers and sisters is very important.
The conference itself was very rich.  People flew in from all over the country. We were pleased with a good mix of pastors and elders, a significant group of younger pastors, and an invigorating panel discussion on race and justice issues. Alex Absalom spoke several times on missional ministry.  Hollywood Presbyterian’s very own Mark Roberts was the conference bible teacher, and did an outstanding job with the book of Ephesians. Craig Barnes, president of Princeton Seminary, preached at the first evening worship service.  The worship was varied in style, but consistently good and focused. The opportunities for friendship and connections were plentiful.  It was good to see staff, elders and deacons from our sister church in Atlanta, North Avenue Presbyterian, as well as a number of friends from the West Coast.  
I was reminded this week many times that following Christ is just not a solo pursuit. As individual people and as entire churches, we need friends who encourage, challenge, teach and hold us accountable.  Mac and I will be sifting through the many things we experienced, and choose some to share with Session. I’m sure you ‘ll hear from me in sermons, too. And the Fellowship Community will hold some West Coast events in 2017 which we hope to participate in.  The (overused) African proverb still holds: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go together.” We want to go far and deep on this faith it is a great blessing to have friends.
 See you soon,
          Pastor Dan

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