The news has just reached me that the search for a new pastor has come to an end at Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. Last year’s loss of Dr. D. James Kennedy has certainly brought much change and transition to the local congregation. It certainly came immediately to the Coral Ridge Hour television show. The formerly hour-long program was immediately reduced to a half hour, cutting out my favorite part of the program, the music. From the exhilerating one verse processional, during which the choir and pastor enter the sanctuary and take their places to open the service, to the choir specials and classical solo features, it was part of my weekly preparation for worship at my own church. As a concession, I noticed that they began to squeeze in the song that is sung after the sermon, for which I was grateful, but it certainly was not the same.
But I digress. The Session (or, board of Ruling Elders) of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church, whose concern is to shepherd a large, influential church without a Teaching Elder (Pastor), has recently called a young minister of some noteriety who is building a church which has yet to obtain its own building. In this way, its quite an interesting match–a church without a pastor offers its building to a church with a pastor but not a building. That’s right, they’re not just calling the pastor, they’re negotiating a merger. The name of said minister of note, who has received a call to pastor Coral Ridge, is Tullian Tchividjian (the last name rhymes with “religion”). Rev. Tchividjian is an up-and-coming pastor in the Evangelical Presbyterian Church, (Coral Ridge is in the Presbyterian Church in America) who happens to be the grandson of “America’s Pastor,” Evangelist Billy Graham. But many Reformed believers may know him better as the guy featured in the promotional videos that recently introduced the Bible reading public to the new ESV Study Bible (which study Bible I highly recommend).
You can read the SunSentinel.com report on Rev. Tchividjian’s call and the subsequent merger negotiations here, and you can also keep up with the ongoing process at his New City Presbyterian Church blog (here, here, here, for starters). While this is an interesting event, I must say that in the inevitable changes that will come to the church, especially grievous to me personally will be any metamorphosis of Coral Ridge’s amazing music ministry, which, while it was technically “blended” (combining the singing of traditional hymns with contemporary music), it was effectively presented in a manner that majored on the classical, “traditional,” even the liturgical. One Reformed blog, Green Baggins, expresses concerns (read it here) similar to mine. I share some of this blogger’s concerns, especially about the implications of contemporary worship music, and the possibility of a “seeker sensitive” approach to the church’s ministry, although some of the comments on his post help alleviate my concerns.
Be that as it may, I’m glad to see that a changing of the guard is in the works, and I wish both churches (Coral Ridge and Tchividjian’s New City Pres.) the reformation and revival for which both are praying and working. May the Lord grant it to the advancement of his Kingdom throughout Florida, and, through their various TV and radio ministries, America and the world.