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Being Church

By Dan Baumgartner on
Dan Baumgartner
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Mar 07 in Musings
Note: Within our PCUSA denomination, Hollywood Presbyterian has belonged to The Fellowship Community (TFC) since 2012. It is a network of the evangelical churches and leaders who remain in the denomination. I serve on the Board. Pastor Joel and Elders Liz Smith and Mac Heald joined me on February 19-21 for the annual national meeting.
 
(Tulsa, OK)  Some people have said–rightly–that the name is utterly redundant: The Fellowship Community. That redundancy was on full display at the February 2019 National Gathering...in the best of ways. A family gathered, a network grew deeper and wider, a people worshipped together and friendships were formed and renewed. The theme was All-in: leading with heart, soul, mind and strength.
           
The brisk temperatures of Tulsa were more than offset by the incredibly warm hospitality of First Presbyterian Church. Co-pastors Jim Miller and Ryan Moore, church staff, worship leaders and congregation embraced fellow church leaders from all over the country for three days.
           
Spaciousness. Even with a schedule full of rich offerings, the word kept coming up. Room to meet people, to enjoy conversation, pray and pick up ideas.
           
Gatherings. Meals. Breaks. An Arts Café evening with dessert, a community art project (led by Anne Baumgartner) and live jazz music. Ministry partner exhibits. A fellowship gathering.
 
Tools. A panel on new things God is doing in 5 churches. Interactive workshops on justice (Jon Good, IJM), theology (Adam Neder, Whitworth University), #Me Too & the Church (Elizabeth Brookens-Sturman), the legacy of Eugene Peterson (Dan Baumgartner), the Holy Spirit (Susan Finck, PRMI), the road forward for the Church (Jim Goodloe, Foundation for Reformed Theology) and Multiethnic ministry (Ray Garcia).
           
Encouragement. In plenaries, retired Navy Rear Admiral Margaret Kibben prodded leaders to lead. Urban LA pastor (and good friend of FPCH) Dwight Radcliff provoked the group to follow the Holy Spirit into risky territory for Christ. Wheaton’s Ed Stetzer brought research, humor and encouragement to be a truly missional church. Rich worship times included sermons connected to the story of Joshua from Radcliff, Stetzer and National Presbyterian’s (DC) Donna Marsh. The common thread of the Holy Spirit’s presence and call to be “all-in” for faith in Jesus and ministry was unmistakable.
           
In a turbulent time in our culture and denomination, it’s good to have friends and “family” to gather with- to sharpen one another and worship together. Hebrews 10 calls us to “stir up one another to love and good deeds.” It happened in Tulsa. It happens in Hollywood, every day.
         
See you soon,
            Pastor Dan

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