There were 94 people present for the Convocation with over 350 others watching the live stream. The actual numbers of how many people watched cannot be determined. One minister who was present placed the link to the Convocation on his church website. Within a day or so, 1400 people had gone to the link to watch the YouTube video. While we do not have an exact number of those who watched the Convocation, it appears that there were thousands.
In one of his writings, D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones was emphasizing the importance of Christians attending every service of their congregation that they could. His main point was that if they missed a service that might be the one in which the Holy Spirit was poured out and they would miss that blessing. I thought of those words at the conclusion of the Convocation of Vanguard Presbytery on Thursday, July 30, 2020, at Stephens Valley Church in Nashville, TN. I am unable to find that quote from Lloyd-Jones, but his statement is certainly Scriptural. Hebrews 10:25 states: “Not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some.” I believe that those who were in attendance will long remember the joy of that gathering and the great truths they heard proclaimed.
There were 94 people present for the Convocation with over 350 others watching the live stream. The actual numbers of how many people watched cannot be determined. One minister who was present placed the link to the Convocation on his church website. Within a day or so, 1400 people had gone to the link to watch the YouTube video. While we do not have an exact number of those who watched the Convocation, it appears that there were thousands. A seminary president who was at the Convocation told me that he thought the in-person attendance was “amazing” in light of the pandemic we facing at this time. People traveled from many parts of the country to be at the Convocation.
Vanguard Presbytery does and will emphasize the necessity of corporate, participatory prayer to start every meeting. Rev. Henry Johnson, pastor at Trinity Presbyterian Church in Tazewell, VA, opened the prayer time with what one person described as a “great prayer.” Henry had no advance knowledge that he would start the prayer time, but he was prepared to do so. A person who hosts a nation-wide Christian radio program was watching the proceedings and told one of the speakers that he and his staff were blessed just by the time of prayer.
The Convocation appeared to make a deep impression on everyone who was there. I have received emails and texts from people who watched the entire meeting. A minister from another denomination sent me the following text:
I have been a part of the OPC, PCA, and ARP. The meeting we had (i.e., the Convocation) was the most God-honoring, worshipful gathering I have ever attended. It seemed like a slice of heaven on earth.
Another minister who watched the live stream emailed me the following remarks:
I was one of those who watched and listened yesterday from the beginning to the end of the Convocation. . . After 44 years of ordained ministry. . . yesterday was one of the most encouraging and inspirational events I’ve experienced. From my perspective, your opening comments about the priorities of revival, the Person and work of the Holy Spirit, and evangelism as the “cutting edge” of Vanguard were particularly encouraging. Thank you and the Steering Committee for your hard work in making it a reality.
At the conclusion of the Convocation, a man talked to me with tears in his eyes. He said, “I will be talking to my church session next week about this Convocation. What do I say to them and how do I convince them that they need to join Vanguard? If someone liked the PCA in 1973, Vanguard is where they need to be in 2020 because the PCA is no longer like this.” I responded, “Tell them what you just told me. Reveal your heart to them. That is the best thing you can do.”
I could give many more examples, but that would be superfluous. The Vanguard Convocation was extraordinary because it was Scriptural. It is like the days of Eli and Samuel: “And word from the Lord was rare in those days” (1 Samuel 3:1). The Word of the Lord is rare in these days when the true gospel is being replaced by the message of Marx in both liberal and supposedly evangelical denominations, seminaries, and Christian organizations.
Dr. Henry Krabbendam spoke on evangelists. Dr. Dewey Roberts provided reasons in his comments on “Why Vanguard Presbytery?” He also preached on Isaiah 32:15—“Until the Spirit is poured out upon us from on high.” Rev. Thomas Joseph addressed the polity of Vanguard Presbytery. And Dr. Al Baker preached from Isaiah 66:24— “For their worm will not die and their fire will not be quenched.” All of the messages were well-received, and the attendees testified that the Spirit was present among us.
During the Question and Answer period, one minister asked how it would be possible to prevent the sin of partiality from entering into Vanguard Presbytery? Dewey Roberts had stated that Vanguard would be a denomination which would welcome all Christians without partiality. Roberts answered that the Scripture condemns partiality, for example James 2:1-6. If anyone tries to form a national partnership or a quarterly meeting for pastors of larger churches only or other such group, then the courts of the church need to exercise discipline starting with the censure of admonition. No denomination can remain pure if they permit such distinctions among themselves and, thereby, become judges with evil motives (James 2:4). That applies to congregations, sessions, presbyteries, or to the General Assembly. Partiality always destroys the purity of the gospel.
Go here to watch the proceedings of the Vanguard Convocation. All the proceedings were live-streamed. It may be difficult to capture the same sense or same degree of blessing at future meetings of Vanguard Presbytery, but we believe that if we follow the Scriptural pattern in all things the July 30, 2020 meeting will be more typical. We are also very aware that we all need to walk humbly before the Lord and continue to beseech His grace in all things.
To find out more about go here: Vanguard Presbytery If you would like to be kept informed about the progress of this new presbytery, email me and ask to be added to the regular email newsletter list.
Dr. Dewey Roberts is Pastor of Cornerstone Presbyterian Church in Destin, FL