Presbytery? Blueberry? Purgatory? What?

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This week our church hosted presbytery. In the midst of the preparations, I realized most of us had no idea what we were preparing for. So here is a primer for those new to Presbyterianism.

The presbytery consists of all the churches and pastors in a geographic region. River Oaks belongs to the North Texas Presbytery, which includes north Texas and Oklahoma. We meet regularly for encouragement, accountability, cooperation and to preserve the core beliefs of our denomination.

First, we encourage each other. We worship together, take communion together, eat together, and pray for each other. At times the ministry can be a lonely job, and we need reminding that we have brothers working with us. Ministers are also guilty of spending so much time preparing sermons and lessons that we forget to feast on the gospel for ourselves. Therefore, we always begin our times with a worship service.

Second, we hold each other accountable. Sin grows best when kept secret. A pastor who sins alone often irreparably damages his family and the church he loves. The presbytery gives us a brotherhood where we can share our struggles and minister to those who are falling. When a pastor begins to head down a destructive path, we try to step in and restore him by grace before he goes too far. Occasionally we suspend someone from the ministry, assign him counselors and, after some time, restore him to the ministry more equipped with grace than he had been before.

Third, we work together establish and maintain ministries beyond the scope of our local churches. The presbytery works to support RUF on the campuses of TU, OSU, OU, TTU, SMU, UT Tyler and Baylor. We also have planted over twenty churches throughout our region. Obviously we could never have such an outreach on our own.

Finally, we work to preserve the purity and unity of our denomination by protecting our distinctive beliefs. Every pastor in the presbytery has been examined for his personal testimony, spiritual life, biblical knowledge and theological views. We believe that serving as a pastor in Christ’s church is a special honor, and we strive to ensure that only those whom God has truly called serve.

So now you know what presbytery is and what it does. I am thankful for the work we accomplish together through our presbytery, and I am thankful to have you as part of it.

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I was in Dallas this past weekend and visited Park Cities Presbyterian Church. They appointed a new Missions and Church Planting Director, and in explaining the function of the position, the pastor talked about North Texas Presbytery and the most recent Presbytery meeting at River Oaks. He specifically talked about the work God is doing through the NTP in Tulsa through its church plants by explaining River Oaks and Ethos. It was so encouraging to see the work, resources, and prayer that so many have put into the livelihood of our beloved churches here in Tulsa!

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