In 2023, the Presbyterian Church in America will celebrate its 50th anniversary. Years before its organization, those who would become founding members prayed individually and corporately about separating from the southern Presbyterian Church to form a new denomination. In 1973, before the Convocation of Sessions met to form the PCA, twenty-nine churches in eleven states held a two-day prayer vigil asking God for guidance.[i]
A Celebration Grounded in Prayer
With the importance of prayer in the PCA’s birth, it is only natural prayer should play a role in the 50th anniversary celebration. At the 49th General Assembly, the Anniversary Celebration Committee was introduced, from which was formed the sub-committee for prayer made up of Sue Pitzer, Susan Hunt, and Laura Dowling. These three were charged with “organizing initiatives and support materials to ground the 50th year celebration in prayer, fostering a growing culture of ongoing prayer similar to that out of which the PCA began . . . , and generating a list of stories of answered prayers and ongoing prayers to encourage the generations to come to continue to be a church ‘true to the Bible and the Reformed faith and obedient to the Great Commission of Jesus Christ.’”[ii] In other words, they were to develop the means to involve all members of the PCA in united, worshipful prayer.
As they brainstormed about member participation, they decided to create a calendar for members to use in 2023. It would incorporate the initiatives of “50 Weeks of Prayer for the PCA” and the two denomination-wide days of prayer (May 21 and December 3).
With her love for discipling children, Susan Hunt wanted to include a way for children to participate too. So, she contacted Stephen Estock (PCA’s Committee on Discipleship Ministries Coordinator) to ask for CDM’s help. He suggested the prayer committee work with Katie Flores, PCA’s Children’s Ministry Director to develop a plan for families[iii] and that I be brought in to oversee its publication.
Disclaimer: This is not a “pitch” to sell calendars, although a link is given in the endnotes if you would like one.[iv]
About the Calendar
What a privilege to work with these ladies who live out their belief in prayer and to be a part of the planning and development of the PCA’s 50th Anniversary Prayer Calendar. Whenever there was an issue or delay, there was immediate prayer. By God’s grace, what was a “fuzzy” vision at the end of June 2022 became a reality in early November.
Each month one PCA Agency/Committee is highlighted. For June and December, the General Assembly and your local church are highlighted, respectively. Each ministry has provided two praises and two prayer requests for its month (Jan.‒Nov.) plus a description of their work and a suggested memory verse. But that’s just the printed calendar. There’s more on the prayer page of the 50th Celebration website![v]
There, you’ll find stories of God’s faithfulness over the last fifty years and “fun facts” about the month’s Agency or Committee. There are also coloring sheets plus a game or activity for covenant children to help them know and remember the Agency/Committee. Suggestions for further connection include sending notes of encouragement to the month’s highlighted ministry[vi] and to visit its website to learn more about their work and how to be a part of it.
Susan Hunt summarizes the development of the calendar and website this way: “My hopes for the calendar are that the Lord will use it to unite hearts throughout the PCA as we pray together for our denomination and that it will be a discipleship tool to help people know more about the PCA.”
Here’s the “Pitch”: Please Pray!
Pray for the PCA, its members, leaders, churches, and ministries, its past, present, and future. Prayer is a vital weapon God has given us to battle Satan. Thus, Satan constructs many obstacles against it: time, exhaustion, distractions, disappointments, hurts, lack of words—the list seems endless.
But God commands, “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thess. 5:17) and “Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving” (Col. 4:2). He provides encouragement and support for our prayers through the prayers of His Spirit (Rom. 8:26) and His Son (Rom. 8:34, Heb. 7:25). When we pray with a worshipful heart, our spirits are united with His. And although there is great power in the prayer of a righteous person (James 5:16), there is even more power when God’s people pray together as He has shown us throughout Scripture and history (Acts 4:24-33). He promises to be with us (Matt. 18:20) and, if we humble ourselves before Him, to heal our land (2 Chron. 7:14)—be it our homes, cities, churches, or nation.
Our unity is so important to Him, that Christ prayed on the night before He died that we would be united together with Him as He is with the Father (John 17:21). We can unite with prayer.
As Laura Dowling writes, “I hope we will truly devote ourselves to prayer with thanksgiving . . . even as He makes us so overcome with joy at what He has done that we have to proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called us out of darkness, made us His people and the recipients of His great mercy” (1 Peter 2:9-10).
[i] See the newsclip at the bottom of each month’s page to read about the vigil. https://pca50.org/48hourprayer/
[ii] From notes of the 50th Anniversary Committee, provided by Sue Pitzer.
[iii] Read more from Katie about engaging children in the prayer initiative at https://children.pcacdm.org/engaging-our-children-in-the-pcas-50th-anniversary-celebration/
[vi] A list of the Agencies’ and Committees’ addresses can be found at https://www.pcabookstore.com/samples/15777b.pdf
Marlys Roos is the publications coordinator for CDM. She and her family are members of Perimeter Church in Atlanta.