To the congregation of Friendship Church,
I hope everyone is having a good summer. Kay and I enjoyed our family in Texas and then in the greater Philadelphia area. I also am glad to be back with you. I always say that that we have two families—one in the States and one here.
You need to be updated on a number of things. Let me summarize them under three headings: (1) Our plans for the future; (2) Recommendation of new elders; (3) Lead pastor search.
Our plans for the future
Back in January, we announced that we would continue till the end of 2016. We also appointed a search team to look for a new lead pastor. The search team to this point has not been able to recommend a viable candidate. Because of the needs of the church, as well as some personal needs, we have offered to continue our service for six months beyond our contractual time till the end of June, 2017. At the congregational meeting on Sunday, August 28 following worship, one of the items the congregation will be asked to approve is the extension of my contract for that period of time. The meeting will take place at 1:00 pm in the Roosevelt Rd Location. The address is Roosevelt Rd., Sec 3, #261 6F. As you come out of the church head towards Roosevelt road and turn right. We will also be providing a buffet lunch.
Recommendation of new elders
On Sunday, August 28, we are recommending two new elders to be elected to serve the church. They are David MacRaild and Alan Fiol. Both of them are well known in the congregation. David has served as a deacon for several years, leads a small group, and is a wonderful, devoted husband to his wife Yining. David has a servant and pastoral heart which many of you can attest. He grew up in an evangelical, and Presbyterian reformed home in Scotland. After wandering from the faith, he had a dramatic conversion. He came to the church shortly after his conversion and his story was a powerful reminder of God’s grace. We have watched him grow in Christ and serve us in a myriad of ways.
Alan has served as a missionary with MTW (Mission to the World), the PCA mission’s arm of the church. He also served at Christ College. In recent years, he taught at Morrison Academy at the Bethany Campus near the church. He is married to his wife Chinglien and their daughters Tevah and Rinah. He is a mature man of God, and has worked with Yufen Yang to improve the quality of our musical ministry for the Sunday School. A vote will be taken by members who will be asked to affirm the call of each candidate to their office. Non-members of the church are invited to attend, but will be unable to vote.
We will also be asking David and Alan to share their testimony of faith with you in two worship services in August prior to the congregational meeting.
Here are their short Bio’s:
Alan grew up in a south Asian country where his parents served as missionaries. After graduating from Covenant College, Tennessee, he joined Mission to the World (MTW) to serve in Taiwan in short-term ministry. He taught at Christ’s College in Guandu for two years. Then, believing the Lord was calling him back to Asia for full-time ministry, he returned to the States for seminary. He completed his Master of Divinity (M.Div.) studies at Covenant Seminary in 1996 and the same year enrolled in Columbia International University (CIU) for additional graduate work in preparation for long-term ministry in Taiwan. At CIU he met his wife, Chinglien, who is from Taiwan. In 1999 they moved to Taiwan where they did campus ministry at Christ’s College for ten years with MTW. Following this, Alan did graduate work in music, and has been teaching music in Taipei. He aims to bring the love of Christ to children and adults through his teaching, composing and in other ways. Alan and Chinglien have two daughters, Tevah and Rinah.
David MacRaild originates from Scotland and has lived with his wife, Yining, in Taipei for over six years and has attended FPC for this same duration. He has served with the church as a deacon for 2 years and also , at the moment, is involved in leading bible studies for newcomers. David studied sculpture in art school and since graduation has worked as an art technician.
Lead Pastor Search
As a congregation we are in the midst of a time of transition. Historically, finding qualified pastors has been an arduous process. Finding men who fit our congregation who are willing to move with their family to Taiwan has always been a challenge. The government also has restrictive visa policies that complicate the process. Moreover, the financial challenges are difficult for prospective pastors and the congregation. Pray for the search team as they continue the process. The members of the committee are Jonathan Shumate, Kalan Spencer, David Ludwig, Sohee Chu, John Huang, Monica Hsiao, and myself. You are welcome to visit with any of them on any question you might have. Also pray for the Shumate family who are in the States now on missionary furlough.
Also pray for pastoral staffing in general. Each week there are between 225 and 300 people. The only paid staff members are myself and Anna Furness. There is great need for more help in the areas of training small group leaders, supervising the small groups, following up with new people, conducting training weekends, providing pre-marital counseling for couples, conducting new members classes, and providing the kind of coordination of ministries that is needed to have excellence in both outreach and discipleship. Ever since Jason Truell’s departure, we have not had an assistant pastor. We greatly need to add another staff person to be able to move forward as a congregation.
Come and talk to us about any of these questions. Along with the congregational meeting on Sunday, August 28, we will endeavor to incorporate time for any questions you might have as well as prayer together. Maybe our greatest need is prayer. We don’t do that nearly enough as a congregation. So we are also inviting you to join us for a special congregational prayer meeting on Sunday, August 21 from 1:15 to 2:30 at Roosevelt Rd., Sec 3, #261 6F. Bring your lunch and we will eat and pray together.
The Lord has blessed our church greatly and met all of our needs. We believe this same Lord has a good plan for our future. I love you a lot. More, the Lord loves you. May the grace of the Lord Jesus and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be upon you all.
For the peace and blessing of the church,
Pastor Dennis Brown