DALLAS, Texas — Addressing the speculation that the newly formed Fellowship Community was merely a way to keep Presbyterians for Renewal (PFR) going, Paul Detterman said, “No, not at all.”
He was speaking at the launch of the new Fellowship Community, created from merging the Fellowship of Presbyterians and PFR.
The launch was held during the 2014 National Gathering of ECO: A Covenant Order of Evangelical Presbyterians and the FOP, August 18-19 in Dallas.
“PFR was created at a different time in a different church,” said Detterman. “PFR ran its course.”
Detterman, who was the executive director of PFR and the FOP, will also be the executive director of the Community. The PFR staff will also transition over to the new organization, which officially will begin Jan. 1, 2015. PFR will cease to exist the day before.
“We are working to build a community within a denomination,” he said, adding that the name Fellowship Community “tells you what we are striving for.”
There must be a sense of call in order to have a community, said Detterman, “because a group of people in same room do not make a community. … A community that functions the way we want must start with your sense of call of a child of Christ.”
A hand-out at the meeting said that the Fellowship Community plans to serves its members by:
- “A network of Abbots— volunteers who will serve as ‘pastors’ of pastors and other leaders, providing accountability, prayer and a relational portal into a larger community of support;
- “The 2 or 3 Network — a redesigned focus on smaller membership congregations; encouraging, connecting and developing leadership; helping them joyfully embrace the unique opportunities small congregations have for 21th century ministry;
- “Mission Affinity Groups — connecting the sessions and pastors of congregations of all sizes who affirm the Fellowship Covenant and essential tenets as they pursue their missional calling;
- “Studies, devotionals, etc. for spiritual formation, theological education, worship and missional nurture;
- “Regional events for prayer, worship and spiritual/missional growth, offered on a regular basis.”
“We are excited about this,” he said, continuing that work is still begin done to put all the pieces together.
Detterman said that as the leadership works continues to work out the details, “people are saying ‘Wow,’ can we actually live together that way in the PCUSA? We can actually stay in, not just because we are stuck?”
During the introduction of the Fellowship Community, Detterman called on the Presbyterian Church (USA)’s Mission Agency Executive Director Linda Valentine to address the group.
After she mentioned the names of several denominational staff people who were attending the gathering – Roger Dermody, Charles Wiley, Vera White, Claire Davis – Valentine said that “We are the Presbyterian Mission Agency, and we are here for you.”
She made it clear that as PCUSA staff, “We are not commissioners to the General Assembly. We are the PMA and we carry out the work of the church and serve the whole church. … We are here to represent the whole church.”
She highlighted several ministries of the PMA including Presbyterian Disaster Assistance, the Young Adult Volunteers program, 1001 Worshiping Communities and the curriculum produced by the denomination.
Detterman told those attending the meeting to “love on the Louisville staff, because they are in an incredibly difficult position … Love on the executive presbyters who are here.”
He also spoke of the Fellowship Community’s “dual focus” of staying in and reaching out, because “we feel that this is tremendously important.”
Detterman then turned his focus to funding the new organization. “We need to ask you to help us.” Stating that there wasn’t a “big church” funding this effort, he said that “we are going on faith for this movement.”
He asked those gathered to consider supporting the Fellowship Community “without subtracting from your church and other missions it is supporting …We’re not asking you to detract from anything you are doing right now, but to go one step forward.”
The Fellowship Community is seeking to raise $200,000 by the end of October, 2014, said Detterman. The projected budget for the 2015 fiscal year is $400,000-450,000.
Detterman stressed that the Community was being created “not because we want to perpetuate an organization … It isn’t because we want to perpetuate a heritage. It isn’t because anything that did or didn’t happen. We feel God is leading us to a different place.”