The regional presbytery of Coral Ridge Presbyterian Church in Ft. Lauderdale has allowed the famed Florida megachurch to clear the final hurdle in its journey to install its second senior pastor in five decades.
The Presbyterian Church in America (PCA)’s Presbytery of South Florida completed its examination of the Rev. Tullian Tchividjian for his views in all areas of ministry on Tuesday, two days after Coral Ridge members voted overwhelmingly to elect the 36-year-old pastor to serve as its new senior minister.
“The Presbytery signed off on everything today,” Jane Rohman, a PR representative for Tchividjian, reported to The Christian Post on Tuesday. “All lights are green!”
All that remains now is the installation of Tchividjian at a special service, which Rohman expects to take place some time in the evening on Easter Sunday, Apr. 12.
“Rev. Tchividjian will preach the three Easter services in the morning and then have the installation service that night, most likely,” she reported. “These final details are all being worked out.”
Easter Sunday is also when the congregation of Coral Ridge and the congregation of Tchividjian’s New City Presbyterian Church in nearby Margate are expected to worship together for the first time since the two sides agreed to merge as part of a unique deal proposed earlier this year.
In January, Coral Ridge’s Pulpit Nominating Committee (PNC) had extended an invitation to Tchividjian to become the megachurch’s new senior pastor after months of combing for a pastoral candidate to recommend to the Coral Ridge congregation. Coral Ridge's founding pastor, the Rev. D. James Kennedy, had retired in August 2007 and died less than two weeks later.
Because of Tchividjian’s “unwavering commitment” to remain the pastor of the church he founded in 2003, however, the churches had to first agree to a merger. So following the PNC’s invitation on Jan. 18, leaders from the two churches met for nearly two months discussing and hammering out legal, financial, ministerial, structural and philosophical matters, among others.
“This due dilligence process is not simply a formality to ‘close a deal’ that’s already been made,” Tchividjian clarified amid the talks.
“All of us are willing to walk away at a moment’s notice if God says ‘stop!’” he stated.
The meetings eventually culminated with the vote last week “unanimously and enthusiastically” supporting and approving the merger and paved the way for Tchividjian’s acceptance of the PNC’s invitation.
On Sunday, Tchividjian was unanimously (91 percent) elected by Coral Ridge members to be their new senior minister after preaching at the church and needed only the approval of the PCA’s South Florida Presbytery to move forward with his installation.
On Wednesday, Tchividjian reiterated that “God is clearly up to something big.”
“Now that he has spoken, the work begins,” he wrote in his church blog. “We now go forward with great expectations believing that God is on the move in a big way and we have been chosen by him to go along for the ride."
“The world will never be the same (at least mine won’t),” he exclaimed.
Aside from being the founder of New City Presbyterian Church, Tchividjian is a grandson of world renowned evangelist Billy Graham, who was reportedly very excited about Sunday’s 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,” Tchividjian reported. “He couldn’t be more excited.”
Coincidentally, it was Graham who preached the dedication sermon for the then-new sanctuary of Coral Ridge on Feb. 3, 1974, when Tchividjian was just 19 months old. Coral Ridge was also the church that Tchividjian attended as a young man before straying from the path at the age of 16 and returning again at the age of 21.