Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church and New City Church Agree to Merger
FT. LAUDERDALE, Fla., March 16 /Christian Newswire
/ -- After an exhaustive due diligence process and with the overwhelming support of church members and governing boards, Tullian Tchividjian, 36, has accepted the call to serve as senior pastor at South Florida's Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church. In doing so, the church of 650 people which Tchividjian founded 5 ½ years ago just outside of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida will merge with the 2,200-member Coral Ridge church founded in 1960. Tchividjian is only the second pastor in Coral Ridge's history. Its founder Rev. D. James Kennedy pastored for 47 years and died in September of 2007 at the age of 76.
Photo: Tullian Tchividjian
Yesterday Tchividjian preached to a full house at a combined worship service at Coral Ridge. Following the worship service, the members of Coral Ridge gathered for a congregational meeting and voted with 91% of the congregants accepting their Pulpit Nominating Committee's invitation for Tchividjian to serve.
"I am honored and deeply humbled by the support and prayers we have received from all over the world as well as this vote and the unanimous vote of over 30 elders from both churches last week. I look forward to our future together," says Tchividjian. He adds, "I consider it a great and high honor to follow such a giant in the faith. As different as some may think Dr. Kennedy and I are, our theological commitments are the same and our hearts beat with the same driving passion. Indeed, what he came to do in the 1950s--reach the people of south Florida with the Gospel and transform the world--is exactly what I have been seeking to do ever since I moved back home to start New City in 2003."
For Tchividjian, it's "a moment filled with irony and God's unmistakable hand." Growing up in South Florida and attending Coral Ridge with his family, Tchividjian was just under two years old when his grandfather Billy Graham preached the dedication sermon for the church sanctuary in 1974. He also attended and dropped out of the church's school, Westminster Academy, at age 16, leaving school and home for the pleasure saturated streets of South Florida. After God saved him at age 21, Tchividjian graduated from college and seminary with honors. After a short two-year stint at a large Presbyterian church in Tennessee, Tchividjian moved back home to launch New City Presbyterian Church, only 12 miles away. Over the years, however, he has maintained a good relationship with Coral Ridge, hosting a weekly show on the church's radio station, WAFG-FM 90.3, and speaking at both the church from time to time and his former alma mater, Westminster Academy.
And what does his grandfather think about the news? "He's always been a huge supporter of whatever I've done, but this was especially exciting to him given the relationship he had with Dr. Kennedy over the years and his firm belief that Coral Ridge remains a beacon of light for the Gospel in South Florida and beyond. He couldn't be more excited."
In the coming months, Tchividjian's focus will be on getting to know new people and working on making the transition as smooth as possible for everyone. "As we continue to move in this direction, I am exhorting members of both churches to ask God even now to be preparing you for one another. As elders, we all talked about the coming together of these two churches as being a marriage. One is not acquiring the other. And one of the elders from Coral Ridge said (and it was very well received) that the unity candle in a marriage ceremony is a great picture of what God seems to be doing here. No more us and them; them and us. Rather, two becoming one."
The merged churches will operate under Coral Ridge's existing name and in its current church facility at 5555 N. Federal Hwy, Ft. Lauderdale. "We're planning for Easter Sunday to be the first Sunday that the one new church is worshipping together," says Tchividjian. For now, details will be posted on both the Coral Ridge and New City websites (www.newcityfl.org
The merger will also result in a change of denomination. New City Church, which was a part of the Evangelical Presbyterian Church (EPC), will now become part of Presbyterian Church of America (PCA). "The denominations are both theologically conservative and have maintained a good working relationship over the years," according to Tchividjian.
Tchividjian has degrees in philosophy from Columbia International University in South Carolina, and in divinity at Reformed Theological Seminary in Orlando.
He has written two books published by Multnomah Books in Colorado Springs, a division of Random House: Do I Know God? Finding Certainty in Life's Most Important Relationship, and Unfashionable: Making a Difference in the World by Being Different, due out April 21.
He and his wife, Kim, have three children--Gabe, Nate, and Genna.