ABCs of the 2022 PCA GA

ABCs of the 2022 PCA GA

Submitted by TE NJW of CPCA in Raleigh, NC

(AKA: Pastor Nate Wilks of Calvary Presbyterian Church in Raleigh, North Carolina)

PCA.  GA.  MTW.  MNA.  RUF.  TE.  RE. ECP.  If you’ve been around a member church of the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA), you know we have more initials than a closing contract for a house.  Nowhere is this more obvious than at our denomination’s annual gathering, General Assembly, aka GA, held June 21-24, 2022.  For those initially uninitiated to the world of PCA initials, I offer below both a summary and a primer on this year’s gathering, the ABCs of the 2022 PCA GA:

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Week of Prayer and Fasting – January 18-24, 2021

As we begin our sermon series on the Lord’s Prayer, “Teach Me to Pray,” the Session is calling for a week of prayer and fasting from Monday, January 18-Sunday, January 24.  As part of this week, we will gather Wednesday night, January 20 at 7pm on Zoom for an hour of prayer for our church, our city, our nation, and our world. 

We believe this is particularly important in light of the violence in our nation’s capital last Wednesday, the ongoing political and social unrest, and upcoming presidential inauguration and threats surrounding that event. 

King Jesus has called his church to pray, “Your Kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven,” so make plans to join us this week by selecting one day to which you will commit to pray and fast, laying our burdens down before the sovereign throne of God’s grace.  Our goal is that at least two people will pray and fast each day of the week.

A helpful tool for understanding the purpose of a day of prayer and fasting can be found at, written by David Mathis in an excerpt from his book Habits of Grace.

To assist you with your day of prayer and fasting, below, please find a guide you can use to lead you through each petition in the Lord’s Prayer, as well as biblical prayers for our church, city, nation and world.  Each season could correspond with a particular hour of the day, so that we might seek His face throughout the day.  For example, you could start with season 1 at 8am, followed by season 2 at 9am and so on.  If you miss an hour (i.e. 10am), you would just pick up with the next season (3) the next hour (11am). 

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10 Ways the Lord Has Fed My Soul Through Philippians

When I was a pastoral intern in my twenties, my mentor gave me the privilege of preaching my first sermon series from the book of Philippians.  I had no idea what I was doing or how the Lord might work, and frankly, I’m not convinced that what I did those 13 weeks would pass for preaching.  But what I’ve never forgotten is a comment my mentor made at the outset of the series: “By the time you’re done preaching, this letter will become yours.” 

15 years later, I’ve experienced the joy, once again, of preaching through this letter, this time in the landscape of 2020 and with a congregation I love uniquely, 7 years in to our partnership in the gospel.  Once again, the Lord has made this letter “mine,” feeding my soul and applying the truth of this letter in powerful ways. 

As we prepare for our final sermon from this letter, here are 10 ways God has fed my soul through Philippians in 2020:

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Love and Lament: Attitudes of the Heart as We Re-Gather for In-Person Worship

After 15 weeks of online-only worship, we are looking forward with great anticipation to re-gathering this Sunday, July 5 for two in-person services at 8:30 and 10:30am.  Throughout this process, my own heart has found language for my desires in Psalm 42:4, “These things I remember, as I pour out my soul: how I would go with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of God.”  How I have longed to be with you for gathered worship again!

As we prepare to gather this Sunday, and as I consider the ways in which in-person worship will be different, two words have been on my heart: Love and Lament.

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Pastoral Letter: Longing to Regather, and Our Tentative Plans

Dear Calvary Church Family,

As you know, this season has been wrought with difficulty, including the necessity of worshiping apart.  Jesus has saved us into a community and has made us for corporate worship, and our collective hearts have cried out for the community into which the Lord has placed us.

Throughout this season, Psalm 42 has been the chorus of my soul, speaking hope to my own weary heart and longing to once again be with God’s people in God’s presence, worshiping Him together.  I have been reminded often of the words of the Psalmist, whose spiritual angst seems to be a product of a time of separation from the gathered people of God.  “As a deer pants for flowing streams, so pants my soul for you, O God.  My soul pants for God, for the living God.  When shall I come and appear before God?…These things I remember, as I pour out my soul: how I would go with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of God with glad shouts of praise, a multitude keeping festival” (Psalm 42:1, 4).

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Calvary Session Letter Regarding COVID-19

Dear Calvary Church Family,

As you are likely aware, the World Health Organization, this week declared the spread of COVID-19 to be a pandemic.  In addition, Governor Cooper has declared a state of emergency in North Carolina, advising against assemblies that exceed 100 people.

Calvary’s Session met Thursday night, and after prayerful consideration and because we do not exceed 100, we plan to gather for public worship this Sunday, as usual at 10:30am.  We believe that as long as we are able to gather, we need the hope that only the gospel provides in the context of corporate worship. 

However, we will also continue to monitor information coming from the CDC and NCDHHS websites for developments and current recommendations.  In light of the changing landscape, below is an updated list of precautions we plan to take, both as individuals and as a congregation:

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A Call to Prayer and Fasting – October 14-20, 2019


The Session of Calvary PCA has called for a week of prayer and fasting October 14-20, as we prepare to transition into our renovated facility on Ray Road. 

In this exciting season, we need to be reminded that while a building is a great gift, it one to be stewarded as a missionary outpost in our community.  We have been called to bring glory to God in this generation and the next by making disciples where we are and where we have been sent.  We cannot do this in our own strength, so we are asking God to empower us by His Holy Spirit for the work he has called us to do.  As the Psalmist declares, “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it, labor in vain” (Psalm 127).  Join us this week by setting aside one day for prayer and fasting, as we submit ourselves and this work to the One whose work it really is.

A helpful tool for understanding the purpose of a day of prayer and fasting can be found at, written by David Mathis in an excerpt from his book Habits of Grace.

To assist you with your day of prayer and fasting, below, please find a guide you can use to lead you into God’s Word and to His throne of grace.  We have included 10 seasons with corresponding Scriptures through which you might pray.  Each season could correspond with a particular hour of the day, so that we might seek His face throughout the day.  For example, you could start with season 1 at 8am, followed by season 2 at 9am and so on.  If you miss an hour (i.e. 10am), you would just pick up with the next season (3) the next hour (11am). 

If you would prefer a printable version, you can download the Seasons of Guided Prayer here.

May the Lord be glorified in and through His Church throughout this and every generation (Eph. 3:21), and may He give us the grace to move forward in unity (John 17:22-23).


Season 1 – Hunger and Thirst To Follow Jesus (Matthew 5:1-11)

Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down, his disciples came to him. 2 And he opened his mouth and taught them, saying: 3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4 “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted. 5 “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. 6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied. 7 “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy. 8 “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God. 9 “Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God. 10 “Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11 “Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account.

Season 2 – Glorify Jesus (John 17:1-5)

When Jesus had spoken these words, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, 2 since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. 3 And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent. 4 I glorified you on earth, having accomplished the work that you gave me to do. 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your own presence with the glory that I had with you before the world existed.

Season 3 – Give Thanks for Our Identity In Jesus (John 17:6-9)

6  “I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word. 7 Now they know that everything that you have given me is from you. 8 For I have given them the words that you gave me, and they have received them and have come to know in truth that I came from you; and they have believed that you sent me. 9 I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours.

Season 4 – Pray that We Would Experience the Joy of Jesus (John 17:10-13)

 10 All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them. 11 And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. 12 While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled. 13 But now I am coming to you, and these things I speak in the world, that they may have my joy fulfilled in themselves.

Season 5 – Pray that We Would Be Marked By the Truth of Jesus (John 17:14-19)

14 I have given them your word, and the world has hated them because they are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 15 I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. 16 They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world. 17 Sanctify them in the truth; your word is truth. 18 As you sent me into the world, so I have sent them into the world. 19 And for their sake I consecrate myself, that they also may be sanctified in truth.

Season 6 – Pray that We Would Exhibit Unity in Jesus (John 17:20-23)

20 “I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, 21 that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. 22 The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, 23 I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.

Season 7 – Pray that We Would See, Savor and Share the Glory of Jesus (John 17:24-26)

24 Father, I desire that they also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory that you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world. 25 O righteous Father, even though the world does not know you, I know you, and these know that you have sent me. 26 I made known to them your name, and I will continue to make it known, that the love with which you have loved me may be in them, and I in them.”

Season 8 – Pray that We Would Be Filled with Wisdom to Discern the Will of Jesus (Col. 1:9-14)

And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. 11 May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. 13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

Season 9 – Pray that We Would Be Rooted in the Love of Jesus (Ephesians 3:14-19)

For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith–that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Season 10 – Pray that Christ Jesus Would Be Glorified in Us in this Generation and the Next 

20 Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

Reflecting, Rejoicing and Remembering:

Reflecting, Rejoicing, and Remembering: 6 Years of Ministry Partnership

Earlier this week, Bethany and I got away for a couple of days at the lake in celebration of our 16-year-anniversary in late July.  Time spent together over meals, hiking, and kayaking gave us opportunity to reflect on how our lives have changed since the day we said, “I do” and to rejoice in the rich blessings of God through years of laughter, tears, difficulty and joy.  Two days without the pressures of daily tasks and meeting the acute needs of our children provided the space to remember both the covenant we made to one another before God and man and the calling of God on our lives as husband and wife.

When we take the time, anniversaries provide the space for reflecting, rejoicing, and remembering what God has done, and this Sunday, August 25 marks another anniversary – 6 years since my first sermon as pastor at Calvary. 

As I think about these 6-years of ministry partnership, I am reflecting on the many changes the Lord has brought our way.  Our children, who were 7, 4, and under 1 when we unpacked out belongings in the summer of 2013, will begin 8th, 5th and 1st grade respectively this Monday.  Many people who worshiped with us that first Sunday are no longer with us, as God has providentially called some away and others home to be with Him.  Many empty chairs have been filled with new friends and partners in ministry, whom we’ve had the privilege to welcome, and some with whom we’ve experienced the sadness of saying goodbye.  And the building in which we gathered that first Sunday is today just weeks from an incredible transformation.

As I reflect, I’m also rejoicing in the blessings of God throughout these years.  He has faithfully enriched our lives with deep friendships and demonstrated His love to us through the kindness of His body, the church, through both the joys and sorrows of life.  He has brought our church through times of difficulty, and enveloped us with His presence, as we’ve gathered for worship, community and service.  He has enabled this ministry to bear fruit, not because of the strength of our plans, strategies, or talents, but because His Word will not return void and His strength is made manifest in our weakness.  And He has provided us with all we need to do all He is calling us to do in this and every season of life and ministry together.

As I reflect and rejoice, I also remember the calling that God has placed on this church is the same today as it was on August 25, 2013.  We have been called to bring glory to God in this generation and the next by making disciples right here in Raleigh and wherever we have been sent.  I’m always amazed that the “multi-everything” expression of the church is God’s great idea for enacting His mission in the world, but we at Calvary have the privilege of being called into His mission together.  And the promise of Jesus given to his disciples before He ascended to His throne is as true for us today, as it was for them 2,000 years ago, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

As I reflect, rejoice and remember on this 6th anniversary at Calvary, my heart is filled with the prayer of the Apostle Paul, as he engaged a similar exercise in considering his beloved ministry partners in Philippi:

I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.  And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Christ (Phil. 1:3-4).

Happy 6th anniversary, Calvary!

With Gratitude and Love,

Pastor Nate

Opening Day and the Long Season of Life

Opening Day and the Long Season of Life

Baseball Opening day.  Few phrases produce in my heart a greater sense of longing, anticipation and excitement. 

In early spring 2001, I was a young, soon-to-be college graduate, embarking on my first career, as a play-by-play broadcaster in Minor League Baseball.  For me, opening day represented the culmination, not only of a long winter of moving; settling into a new community; learning a new job; and making new friends, but of a many years of working toward a moment I never thought would come.  Yet, on that cool spring evening in Macon, GA, with my stomach twisted in knots and a future Major League superstar on the mound, opening day finally came. 

But the truth about baseball opening day, with all its pageantry and excitement, is that it gives way to a long season, marked by hot days, long nights, unexpected thunderstorms, and hours of unnoticed, unseen work.  Periodically a walk-off homerun, a no-hitter, or a stadium packed with thousands of fans eagerly looking forward to the post-game fireworks breaks through as a reminder – this is really great!

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Standing at the Crossroads of Life’s Transitions

Standing at the Crossroads of Life’s Transitions

It was 2am.  After hours of packing and cleaning, my wife and I sat alone on the floor of our oldest daughter’s nursery, exhausted from a long day, preceded by an even longer week, and something happened that had rarely occurred in our 4-year old marriage – I began to weep.  As I sat in the house we planned and had built, the room we lovingly painted and furnished just over a year prior and considered all that had occurred in three years in our West Virginia home, the excitement of a move to St. Louis was overshadowed by the strange grief of change.  What had at one time been only an unknown future hope was now a package of past memories tenuously stored in our minds and hearts, as we set off on our next adventure.

Three states and six homes later, I’m increasingly aware of the simultaneous grief and joy that lie in the crossroads of life’s many transitions. 

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