The purpose of the Atlanta Fund is to support the establishment of congregations of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America (RPCNA) in and around Atlanta. The initial effort of the Fund is in inner-city Atlanta, particularly the English Avenue community.
Our mission is centered on Christ, and focused on the church, which He has instituted for the proclamation of the gospel and the conversion of the world. This is not a social service enterprise as such. Rather, our primary concern is spiritual in nature, as we call men, women, and children to faith in Jesus Christ.
In April 2010, Northminster Reformed Presbyterian Church, located to the north of Atlanta in Forsyth County, began ministering in the English Avenue community – an area also known as “The Bluff”. Initially, these efforts consisted of a Sunday afternoon Bible study conducted on the steps of a derelict church building – St. Mark’s – which is in the heart of the Bluff at the corner of James P. Brawley Drive and Cameron M. Alexander Blvd. after two and a half years of ministry there, it was decided to transition to worship services. Starting in December 2012, this ministry, known as Atlanta Presbyterian Fellowship, met for worship at a corner grocery store every Lord’s day afternoon at 5 o’clock. Then from July to November 2013, we gathered at Faith, Hope and Deliverance Temple, located on the edge of the English Avenue district. On December 1st we moved into the Faithful Friend Baptist Church at 225 Walnut Street, Atlanta. Sunday School starts at 4:45 and the service at 5:30 pm.
We desire to see the transforming of individuals, families, institutions, and societies under the Lordship of Jesus Christ and for his glory. Our particular focus in Atlanta at this time is the English Avenue neighborhood – one of the roughest in the country, known for its heroin dealing and prostitution. Out of compassion for people living there, and motivated by love for our Savior, we minister with the goal of seeing a Bible-believing witness raised up there – one which fully embraces the teachings of the Protestant Reformation.
This vision is in accord with the historic testimony of the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America (RPCNA), a branch of the church which has had a continual existence in this country since 1798. Reformed Presbyterians trace their heritage to Scotland and the courageous testimony of many men, women, and children against governmental tyranny in the seventeenth century. These “Covenanters” affirmed the historic Scottish covenants and their commitment to the crown rights of King Jesus.
Today we follow in the footsteps of our Covenanter forebears by proclaiming that the Lord Jesus is the sovereign ruler of the world. Our ministry in a poor and drug-infested and crime-ridden area is so that His gospel might take root in the hearts of the residents with a view toward the total transformation of the community. By God’s grace, we aim, through this ministry in a notorious area, to call attention to the power of the gospel and thereby to turn the city of Atlanta upside down.
The English Avenue area has long been depressed. However, given its close proximity to midtown Atlanta and to numerous landmarks, it has great potential. Where we minister is about a mile from the Georgia Dome and Georgia World Congress Center; just over a mile and a quarter from the Georgia Aquarium and the World of Coca Cola; about a mile and a half from Philips Arena and the CNN Center and the Centennial Olympic Park. It is about a mile from Georgia Tech; and less than two miles from historic black colleges. In many ways, this area, with what are million dollar views of the Midtown skyline, is prime real estate – or certainly could become such very quickly. This is especially the case because of the proposed projects, such a a new Georgia Dome, a new intermodal transportation center, a new civil rights museum, and the College Football Hall of Fame, along with the revitalization of Northside Drive, which runs along the eastern edge of the English Avenue neighborhood.
Already, the English Avenue area is changing economically. Full-blown gentrification is likely soon to follow. When it occurs, gentrification will carry its own set of challenges. One of them has to do with whether the low-income folk to whom we are presently ministering will be forced out. We do not believe that that necessarily will happen. The city’s plan for the neighborhood is not for high-priced housing, but for modestly-priced housing. What we envision happening is more along the lines of a largely black, middle-class community, with lower to lower-middle class housing still existing. In any event, our intention is to minister in that neighborhood – an area which is very close to the heart of a vibrant, world-class city – and it therefore makes sense to be in on the ground floor, so to speak.
We have a dream. It is that of people of all backgrounds and ethnicities coming together and offering up praise and worship in accordance with the Word of God. It is that of blacks and whites and Hispanics jointly rejoicing in the freedom of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is that of the establishment of a community of faith, in the shadow of Atlanta’s skyscrapers, that reflects the doctrine and practice of the Reformation.
So that this dream become a reality, we want to see a Reformed Presbyterian congregation occupying its own building in the heart of this community. Whatever location that may be, we believe that it is important to have a substantial physical presence in the English Avenue area.
We also dream not only about the church, but also about the broader kingdom coming to expression in the English Avenue area. We envision auxiliary institutions, such a parochial school, taking place there.
About Pastor Smith
Born in Atlanta, Frank J. Smith grew up in the South. After college, he moved with his family to Westchester County, New York, where his father was planting a congregation for the Presbyterian Church in America (PCA).
Following graduation from seminary, Frank J. Smith did a year’s internship in northern New Jersey, before returning home to assist his father. Thus began a father-son ministerial team that lasted for thirteen years, until the elder pastor passed away.
Besides ministry in New York, Frank J. Smith has pastored in the coal-mining area of southwestern Virginia, and in rural Wisconsin. He and his wife moved to the Atlanta area to pastor the Northminster Church which is part of theReformed Presbyterian Church of North America (RPCNA) in Alpharetta.
Pastor Smith graduated from Covenant College, Lookout Mountain, Georgia. He earned his M.Div. and Th.M. from Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia. His Ph.D. is from the Graduate Center at City University of New York. In 2005, he was awarded an honorary doctorate (D.D.) from the Methodist Episcopal Church in the USA in conjunction with the National Clergy Council, for his work in ecclesiastical journalism and interchurch relations.
Among his books are The History of the Presbyterian Church in America: The Silver Anniversary Edition; Worship in the Presence of God (co-editor and contributor); andTales from the City: Real Stories of Urban Christian Ministry (editor), which detailed the ministry of an interdenominational, multi-ethnic group in Atlanta. His recent articles have focused on the history of science and the doctrine of worship.
Dr. Smith is the Founding Editor of Presbyterian International News Service (PINS). He served two terms as President of the Coeburn (Va.) Ministerial Association; is on the Board of Advisors for the Cornwall Alliance for the Stewardship of Creation; and is a Contributing Editor for The Confessional Presbyterian, a scholarly journal.
He is married to the former Penelope A. Wild, a British lady with a distinguished career in the Royal Air Force. Their son, daughter-in-law, and five grandchildren live in Gwinnett County.
He has coached basketball, has had bit parts in movies, and enjoys reading and playing chess. And oh yes, he is a railroad fanatic.
Our Children’s Coordinator
We have been blessed to have several people to labor with us in this venture. Among them is Miss Amy Work, who faithfully teaches a Sunday School class for the children who attend. Amy graduated from Covenant College with a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education. She currently teaches fourth grade at a Christian school.