By: Rev. Phillip Mayberry
On June 26, with a double-parked lot and a full sanctuary, Covenant ARPC in Jefferson, NC, reached a landmark that, naturally speaking, would never have happened. Ten years ago, a few families and individuals planted Covenant out of the conviction that the Word of God in its entirety must be preached and taught. For the last decade, we have labored to establish this congregation as an ordinary means of grace church, refraining from gimmicks and compromise, and focusing on Christ Jesus as the all-sufficient Savior.
It has been very hard work. Our mountain culture has lots of strengths, but the people are also very headstrong and independent, even when it comes to Christianity (which, of course, runs contrary to everything the Bible says concerning the Body of Christ). For most of our short history, the only connectional churches within a 45-minute drive of our congregation were liberal churches. I can’t even calculate how many times my heart has been utterly devastated by the remnants and expressions of this individualism that demands to have Christ on the terms of the individual… which is no Christ at all.
There have been many times over the years when we were on the brink of collapse due to attacks from the evil one… but in those times, Christ, through our Presbytery and denomination saved the day. We have benefited from the kind-hearted ministry of both, and I’ve been able to teach Presbyterianism with real examples of how the wider church helps bear the burdens of the local church.
The results have been nothing less than heavenly, as anyone who has visited our congregation can testify! The genuine love, true fellowship, hunger for the Word and Sacrament, and real life that we live together without pretense is something that I could only have dreamed imaginable. Conversions, children being discipled and taught the Word and Catechism, unchurched and de-churched being reclaimed for Christ, the consistent, albeit difficult exercising of church discipline, and true congregational satisfaction with the things of God has made us into a family. We are probably the strictest church in the community (we even sing Psalms and Hymns- gasp!), but we’re told by almost every visitor that we are the friendliest church in the community as well. That’s right- friendly Calvinists!
I am so thankful to God, to our congregation, to First Presbytery, and to the ARPC as a whole. God has brought us safely thus far through many dangers… and He will continue to lead us by the hand. Thank you for reading this and for allowing me to share the joy of what HE is doing in Ashe County.