Friday, July 01, 2005


Here is my assignment from the Session: to present a process that does a better job of promoting church stewardship (i.e. giving to the church) than our present commitment card system. Send me your thoughts.

Weekend Excitement

What a weekend coming up! Hundreds of thousands of people crowding into the city and on the parkway. I live across the street from the Art Museum on the 8th floor. Can't wait. We are actually attending a birthday celebration for Cora in Baltimore, so will miss most of the festivities. But I'm sure we will get a taste of the crowds. Will be around for the 4th of July.

We walked around the museum last night, watching the prepartations going on. Then watched the lighting of Boathouse Row. Neat! The new lights can switch to several colors and we were given a show of the variety of lighting effects they are capable of. I love living in the city and being able to walk to these events.

Thursday, June 30, 2005

GA Sermons

Phil mentioned on Sunday the excellent sermons preached at General Assembly, noting that Sinclair Ferguson's sermon was perhaps the best he had ever heard. You can hear these sermons by clicking this site: Thanks to Fred Hill for this info. You will find them under the evening worship services. Here is the schedule: Tuesday Night: Ligon Duncan, Wednesday Night: Sinclair Ferguson,
Thursday Night: John Piper

Room Needed

Robert Polen, who will be attending Westminster Seminary in the fall and serving at a Tenth intern, sent this inquiry: "I was just wondering if there were any single guys, even in the college group, in the church who were looking for a roommate, or any family in the church who had an upstairs apartment they were willing to rent. I am really not that particular, although it would be helpful if the room was furnished. I will be calling around some other places I found out about when I visited the seminary." I'll pass word on to him, if you can help.

Pastoral Care

I just got off the phone with a church member expressing appreciation for visiting a family member in the hospital. I always like being thanked, but she expressed a sentiment that seems to be common - a surprise that we ministers/elders would take the time to provide such pastoral care. So I will use this platform to make clear to all a fundamental principle that guides the ministry of the ministers and elders: pastoring our people is what we do. Yes, at times we may be busy and it may be difficult to rearrange schedules to visit you or meet with you. But you are our flock and we will do what we can to be there for you. I will be leaving the church early today to make a hospital visit. I may get there before the elder who will visit when he gets off work. Such visits can be "inconvenient" taking us away from other work or from family. But inconvenience does not matter; pastoring our people when they need us matters. I use to think that when someone "apologized" for taking up my time to visit them, that I should protest that there was no inconvenience, that I was free anyhow, that it was easy to do. But what I really want you to understand is that to pastor you is the ministry that I and the other ministers and elders gladly do for the glory of God and for the love of you whom God has given us.

Session Agenda

Thought you might find of interest the typical agenda format of the monthly Session meetings (every 4th Tuesday of the month):

1. Call to Order
2. Reading of Scripture by the Moderator
3. Prayer by elders and deacons/esses (The Session and Diaconate meet together the first 20 minutes for the above and sharing of news.)
4. Hearing of persons scheduled to appear before Session (This month Paul Jones met to give a report on music ministry.)
5. Time of instruction (going through the Westminster of Confession; elders take turns teaching)
6. Priority business
7. Approval of minutes from pervious meetings
8. Trustees report, including Building and Personnel Committees
9. Clerk's report (Sam Hsu is the present Clerk of Session)
10. Ministerial Reports (from each minister; Phil also presents reports from David Apple and Cora Hogue)
11. Commission Reports (Church Planting, Family Life, Growth and Maturity, Missions)
12. Permanent Committee Reports (Nominating Officers, Music)
13. Ministry Reports (Medical Campus Outreach, Tenth College Union
14. Parish Reports
15. Special Committee Reports
16. Old Business
17. New Business
18. Presbytery Report
19. Prayer and adjournment

The meetings begin at 6:30 and end usually between 9 & 9:30.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Phil's Session Readings

At Session meeting last night, Phil handed out an essay by Covenant Seminary president, Bryan Chapell. He commends it as an excellent presentation in lay language of the New Perspectives on Paul that has gained a measure of influence in some PCA circles. You can access the essay at this site: Covenant Seminary.

Phil also passed out information about MNA: Mission to North America. This is the PCA's agency for planting and revitalizing churches. Take a look sometime at its website, which you can access on the righthand column of links labeled: Presbyterian Church in America. You will probably be noting greater effort in the coming year to inform the congregation of the ministries of the PCA.

He also passed out three brochures that were statements of The Council on Biblical Manhood & Womanhood about gender related issues, noting that he finds the statements of this council to be well-balanced. You can accessed their site at

Finally, at each Session meeting we study a chapter of the Westminster Confession of Faith. The chapter this month was chapter 19: "Of the Law of God." To read that chapter, go to this PCA site: Confession of Faith.

Ruling Elders

Click the links site "PCA E-zing" on the right column. You will find on the front page of byFaith an article by our Clerk of Session, George McFarland, on the role of the ruling elder. Did you know this bit of news about Tenth? "For all its renown, though, the church was originally the vision of a hardware dealer. With the assistance of other elders and ministers in Philadelphia, a busy elder named Furman Leaming founded Tenth as a mission church on the outskirts of the old city."

Home Repair

Jesse and Suzanne Hubley are looking for a skilled professional to replace a door and several windows in their home. If you have recommendations, email Jesse at

Billy Graham

Here is an article on Billy Graham at his last crusade in America:
Billy Graham

Happy Birthday

Happy Birthday to my beautiful, wonderful wife Ginger who has blessed me for nearly 26 years in marriage.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Pumped Up

I received a new insulin pump yesterday, replacing my 8 year old one. It does the calculating for me as to how much insulin I need whenever I eat. I have been a Type 1 diabetic since 1979, when in seminary.

Roof and Tower

The church tower is engulfed in scaffolding as workers are pointing, painting, and repairing. They are also replacing the entire sanctuary roof.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Maranatha in Honduras

Sent Wednesday, June 22, from Carroll Wynne:

Hi all,
This is our first chance to get on line. We arrived safely and were immediately taken up to the SU camp in Siguetapeque. The arrangements for our place is wonderful!! The house we worked on four years ago is completed
(the women are staying there) and the meeting place/cafeteria has bunk rooms for the men.

Our Monday was filled with schools...two in the morning with 200 students at the first and 650 at the second. The program of songs and YWAM┬┤s Redemmer skit went well...but the craft was a bit more difficult. In the afternoon
we had two more schools each with 200 plus students. We were a bit tired for the prayer meeting in the evening.

Tuesday, after visiting two schools, we had a special opportunity. We were told to have one drama team get in the vehicles for a short the police academy where we did the Redeemer skit for 200 cadets!! Not
wanting to miss the opportunity, we asked if we could take our picture with them and so that will be an interesting picture! Wednesday was "only" three schools with 500 total. Tonight we have off.

Safety on the road is a prayer request as we are traveling up to an hour for many of the school clusters. Tomorrow we have a 2 1-2 hour drive with one school numbering 1,000. Since there are no speed limits, the highway is quite crazy with vehicles pulling out at all moments.

Everyone is quite healthy...except for a few who have had too much soda and too little sleep. Our team meeting last night was very good in Philippians 1. Pray as we are discovering the great opportunities here to simply love
children. Spanish is nearly improving...but laughter and smiles are our common language. No one is holding back, but all are entering into the fun.

Love to the church with a big "thank you" for making this trip happen for us. We are learning so much and have been told our interaction with the children and schools has been advancing the ministry of SU around the

Love to All, Chewy (for the whole team)

ESO Response

Part of our Easter Sacrificial Offering went to the Emmanuel Hospital Association (EHA) for its Shalom Delhi AIDS Center. The following is a thank you from staff Ann and Sydney Thyle.

Dear Pastor McDowell,

Thank you very much for your message and for letting us know about your generous grant. On behalf of EHA we would like to thank your congregation from the heart for your love, concern and generosity. Christian and Catholic NGOs are the major care providers for this group of people. Our little centre in Delhi (rented) has become a haven of hope for many but we really do need a more permanent structure. Your gift is greatly appreciated.

GA News

I was unable to get back to the internet after my initial posting of June 14. If you would like to review what took place at General Assembly and the impressions of other bloggers, go to

Email Overload

If you have sent recently or will send soon an email, be patient for a reply. I've come back to 160 new email messages!

Back in the Saddle

Ginger and I have returned from General Assembly and vacation. First, thanks to Paul Duggan and Joel Garver for posting the Proverbs devotionals while I was away. Hopefully, they will do more in the future. We had a restful vacation in Tybee Island, outside of Savannah. Now, it is good to be back in the great city of Philadelphia.