Alliance for Mission and Renewal Seeks Unity, Joy, Diversity, and Mission
By Larry Hoop
Alliance for Mission and Renewal

The Alliance for Mission and Renewal, an organization formed to promote the good health and unity of the PCA, was announced just prior to the denomination’s 50th General Assembly. The current AMR board members are David Cassidy, Christine Gordon, Alexander Jun, Mike Khandjian, David Richter, Joel St. Clair, Jenilyn Swett, and Russ Whitfield. 

The late Tim Keller, who served on the advisory board as the AMR was being developed, provided an introductory video message, which is featured on its website. In it, Keller recalls attending the PCA’s Third General Assembly following his 1975 ordination, and remembers his excitement at hearing the founders for a denomination that would combine classic, orthodox, and confessional Reformed theology with evangelistic mission. They believed this combination was unique in the Reformed world and much needed in their time. Keller hoped the AMR would “speak into the PCA” to promote a similar combination of theology and mission. 

In one of the AMR’s founding documents, board member David Cassidy, pastor of Spanish River Church in Boca Raton, Florida, notes a shift in Western society from shared core beliefs to “deep fragmentation and tribalization.” He points out that the PCA’s struggle to navigate this shift has created tensions within the denomination. 

“We firmly believe that the good stories outweigh the bad, and our greatest encouragement comes from sharing the joy of the gospel work. Unity, joy, diversity, mission, and celebration are our only agendas.” – Mike Khandijian

The AMR, Cassidy says, “is working on a way ahead for a peaceful and yet disruptive witness in our fragmenting society,” and that “the Alliance believes a crucial component in this work of renewal is a recovery of, and fresh declaration of, the original intent of the founders of the PCA.” He identifies that intent in terms used since the PCA’s founding — to be a denomination faithful to the Scriptures, true to the Reformed faith, and obedient to the Great Commission. The AMR, says Cassidy, “will seek to unify brothers and sisters in the PCA to be a denomination that is characterized by values and commitments that are in keeping with the original vision of the PCA, and are critical to its future fruitfulness.” 

To that end, Cassidy identifies the three primary purposes of the AMR: 

• To assist and encourage churches, ministries, and leaders in the work of preserving and preaching the ancient, unchanging gospel of Jesus Christ in the current culture.

• To equip God’s people for mission in daily life. 

• To seek the good health and unity of the Church in the Presbyterian Church in America and our towns, communities, and cities.

Board member Mike Khandjian, pastor of Chapelgate Presbyterian Church in Marriottsville, Maryland, says the AMR also plans to use its online presence to highlight blogs, podcasts, articles, book reviews, and news that celebrate the “beautiful manifestations of the work of the gospel” that characterize everyday life in the PCA. The site will also post “repurposed content” from other sources. 

“We firmly believe that the good stories outweigh the bad, and our greatest encouragement comes from sharing the joy of the gospel work. Unity, joy, diversity, mission and celebration are our only agendas,” Khandjian says. He points out that there have been many such stories in the PCA’s 50-year history: “Many [have come] to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, churches were planted, networks were born, students were reached. At one point, the PCA was the fastest growing conservative denomination in the world.” 

Board member Joel St. Clair, pastor of Mosaic Community Church of Silver Spring, Maryland, doesn’t believe these positive stories are receiving the exposure they should. “Right now, across the PCA there are women and men doing amazing work,”  he says. “Yet that work doesn’t always break through the noise of social media or into our institutional publications. We are forming the AMR to highlight the faithful labors and healthy work of women and men across the denomination.”

He hopes such stories will inspire other churches and their members. 

Khandjian also hopes that the AMR will serve to “[align] our often-siloed efforts to serve our God and advance His kingdom in our world.” He says AMR aspires to involve perspectives from the full spectrum of the PCA in reflecting on and wrestling with issues pertaining to the gospel in the life of the Church’s mission. 

St. Clair is persuaded that the time is right for an organization such as the AMR. The dramatic shifts in our culture, he argues, place us in a world like the one reflected in the Book of Acts: these changes and this world, he says, require a proper response. 

He believes the unchanging grace of Christ should shape how we respond to others in the changing world. “In forming AMR, we want to meet the changes happening in today’s world with unswerving endurance instead of unregulated emotion; with unified fortitude instead of unhealthy fear; with Christ-shaped presence instead of absent-minded anxiety.” 

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