Home » PCA’s 50th Anniversary Comes During a Season of Grief

PCA’s 50th Anniversary Comes During a Season of Grief

Presbyterians expect less fight and more fatigue as they gather following the Covenant shooting and the deaths of Harry Reeder and Tim Keller.

In his first sermon since the death of his daughter and five others at The Covenant School in Nashville, Chad Scruggs, senior pastor of Covenant Presbyterian Church, referenced Isaiah 40 to describe how his family is coping: “We aren’t yet soaring on wings like eagles. We aren’t yet running without being weary. We’re simply trying to walk without fainting.”

His denomination, the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), is also grieving. The PCA planned its upcoming general assembly (GA) as a celebration of its 50th anniversary, but leading up to the event, the country’s largest evangelical Presbyterian body has suffered a string of losses, including the Nashville shooting and the deaths of two prominent pastors.

At the end of March, the Covenant attack shook the denomination—no other US Christian school had ever been targeted in such a deadly crime. “In the wake of the horrid loss experienced by our friends at the Covenant School, it is right and good and even Christ-like for disorientation and grief to feel stronger and more formidable than feelings of hope,” wrote PCA pastor and author Scott Sauls in the hours after the shooting.

Six weeks later, Sauls was placed on indefinite leave from his position as pastor of Christ Presbyterian Church in Nashville after the Nashville Presbytery received complaints that Sauls had created an unhealthy work environment. Sauls admitted to the allegations and is undergoing a restoration process set out by the presbytery.

Last month, Presbyterians were shocked to lose two nationally known pastors in a span of 24 hours. On May 18, Harry Reeder, senior pastor of Briarwood Presbyterian Church in Birmingham, was killed in a car accident. The following …

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