/ James Faris

A Young Man's Vision

What follows is a short excerpt from a letter written by the late Roy Blackwood to Miss Margaret Graham who would later become his wife. In this 1948 letter, the 23 year-old Roy shared his growing vision for the church with the woman with whom he wanted to share his life. The summer was winding down and so was his time as the manager for the Covi-Chords, a quartet of men representing Geneva College. In the spring, he had graduated from Geneva College, and that fall he would matriculate at Reformed Presbyterian Theological Seminary. The Covi-Chords had traveled all over the country, and he was eager to see Margie again and tell all that had happened and what the Lord was doing in his heart.

His letter conveys the seeds of his vision for the church that came from God’s word, found an anchor in the history of the church, and appreciated the work the Lord was doing in the church and her people in the present. His vision would mature over the years by the study of God’s work and by hours spent with the Lord. It would be encouraged by Margie, grounded by study at RPTS, enlarged by interaction with evangelistic leaders of his day, exercised and shaped in his first pastorate, extended by his doctoral studies, refined by reading and relationships, and bear great fruit in the congregation the Lord used him to plant in Indianapolis fifteen years later. Five decades later, he would express that vision in its maturity in this video.

Today, I’m honored to serve as a pastor in this church that still has many challenges but has the same DNA. It has a kingdom vision, a love for God and his word, appreciates its history, “desires to make its individual members personal workers for Christ,” loves people, and longs to see Jesus build his church. Roy’s boundless optimism in Jesus Christ expressed here must be remembered against the backdrop of the reality that he was part of a denomination in decline. How thankful we are that the Lord has been pleased to give the whole denomination new life through the vision of Roy and many others.

“It’s 3 P.M. and I’m due for some more shut-eye before dinner – I’ve written this while waiting for the car – grease and oil job – and the others are sleeping so I’ll have to catch up now.”  

So feature the scene in your mind: Roy sitting at a service station in Topeka, Kansas, pen in hand as he mused on the Lord’s doings past, present, and future...

.....I can’t tell you of it all but I might sum part of it up by saying that I’m more than ever glad that the Lord has called me to be a minister in the new Covenanter Church and that church is right now making itself more and more different – with respect to its desires to make its individual members personal workers for Christ. Margy, a church composed of 100% Christian workers – think what it could do for Christ’s kingdom. Our heritage doesn’t need to hold us back – it furnishes us with the orthodox fundamentals and stable background to give it all the dignity and security necessary for even the most conservative elements and yet, with the interest, and what has already started, in the way of “action,” I see an entirely new and real conception of the “purpose” for our church, beginning to dawn upon our young people. Every conference in our church has manifested this interest in their programs!  What is even more important, are inevitably the informal discussions that invariably arise indicating thought. Some conferences are obviously succeeding better than are others but all are working and if we can unify these efforts as we’re already making plans to do this winter, we should “go places” with God’s help.  One family (young couple) has already written asking for advice with the formation of a mission in their community and the possibility of securing a minister. They’ve been “out of bounds” or beyond traveling distance of a church for almost a year now but are quite sure the Lord is using them in this way to further his course. There are others.
The Lord has been very good to us. Ken [Smith] remarked just last night about none of us having any colds or ailments to even hold us up. We were stopped for 15-20 min. once with car trouble and haven’t had one scratch. We’ve been dead tired as we were last night – left after the concert in Indiana about 11 P.M., drove all night and after an hours sleep in Topeka went to Denison, Kan. to deliver our message; and did it effectively too. We’ve had our “difficulties” and headaches but always got there on time (with the exception of Portland, Ore. and we were an hour late there) and spoke well. It’s no credit to us but it does testify to God’s care and guidance and the prayers that were following us wherever we went. The Lord has been very near to us throughout the whole summer – and I know that I for one have grown much as a result of these experiences, and I believe that the others have too….
James Faris

James Faris

Child of God. Husband to Elizabeth. Father of six. Pastor of Second Reformed Presbyterian Church in Indianapolis, Indiana. Ordained as a pastor in 2003.

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