On November 14-17, I made my annual visit to St. Andrews Presbytery of Argentina. The good news is that St. Andrews is growing. New, younger leadership is moving into existing churches and newly formed mission churches. There are now more mission churches (eight) than particular churches (seven). The future is bright for St. Andrews!
“Next Generation” pastors fueling presbytery growth: In 2013, St. Andrews had 14 in the candidate process. This year there are nine, as candidates have been ordained and placed. ITSA (Theological Institute of St. Andrews), under the leadership of Douglas Robertson (photo right and Ruling Elder at Olivos Church) is doing an outstanding job of preparing candidates for ordination. Douglas gives a lot of credit to the candidate’s questions that were sent from Mid-Atlantic and Central South presbyteries in 2011. These newly ordained pastors are coming in as: 1) assistant pastors at existing churches and 2) pastors of the new mission churches. These mission churches are in neighborhoods close to existing St. Andrews churches and in the neighborhoods of former Church of Scotland churches. All of these new, younger pastors are bi-vocational and are Spanish-speakers only.
A Challenge: St. Andrews leaders would like their presbytery meetings to focus “less on organization and more on ministry and mission.” They were very interested in how we have been re-organizing the way we docket time at our meetings to free up more time for “ministry and mission.”
We have enjoyed a relationship with St. Andrews, Argentina since 1988. In that year, the Church of Scotland severed its ties to these churches. The St. Andrews churches approached us and we welcomed them as a presbytery of the EPC. In 2004, we dismissed them as a national church and established a five-year fraternal agreement with them. In 2009, a second five-year agreement was implemented. My annual visit is part of our agreement as I meet with (and hopefully help) Presbytery leadership. Among those with whom I met were Catherine Ogden (Moderator, she addressed our 2013 General Assembly), Guille MacKenzie (Stated Clerk – photo left) and Marcelo Robles (Pastor of La Mission – photo right). I also met with the Missions Committee and addressed the November 16 meeting of the presbytery.
One way to support the continued growth of St. Andrews is through the “Argentina: Church Planting and Revitalization [WO-426]” Partnership Opportunity. This benevolence helps fund the planting of new churches and the redevelopment of existing St. Andrews churches.