Hi Chris,
   I am a pastor of a country church that is increasingly becoming filled with memorial plaques. Every time someone in the church dies (even if they don't come much) our board of deacons feel they have to go out and buy something and put a plaque on it with the person's name.  I just winked when a woman who left money to the church got a plaque on the organ that is very obvious to everyone as well as numerous vases and platters with people's names who had funeral dinners and thought they were paying for the meal, not a memorial.  But now there is this gigantic plaque on the Baptismal font that looks like a tombstone with the persons' name on it like "This is so and so's baptismal font".  At the deacons' meeting last night the head deacon wants to put a big plaque on the front door in memory of a man who did not attend church much but was a businessman who had lots of tradesmen friends who donated money in his memory.  I told the deacons that the church is starting to look like a graveyard with all the plaques and I didn't feel it appropriate to put a big plaque on the new front door.  There was silence and I realized I was treading on dangerous territory.  I just felt that the church must be forward looking rather than backward looking.  (most new people don't know who any of the people the plaques are for anyway.{  
  Can you offer any advice how I can take my foot out of my mouth or is this a hill to die on?

Liturgy and worship are to be governed by the two principles set forth in I Corinthians 14, namely, that all things must be done "decently and in good order" (v. 40), and that all things must be done "unto edifying" (v. 26). Ask them to justify how this is both decent and edifying.

The baptismal is especially worrisome. A small memorial plaque that discretely says it was donated by so-and-so is perfectly fine. But a large one - and then call it so-and-so's baptismal font - confuses the nature of the sacrament. We are baptized into Christ - not into a particular congregation, and certain not into so-and-so's name!


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Chris Larimer


Reformed / Systematic Theology, Biblical Theology, New Testament, Church History, Philosophical Theology, Apologetics, Preaching/Homiletics, Sacraments, and Liturgy are all specialties in which I have some expertise. I've been told I have a "knack" for Practical/Pastoral Theology as well.


I have been a Presbyterian church worker since 1996 and am about to be ordained as a Minister of Word and Sacrament. I served a year long internship in our denomination's Office of Theology and Worship.

Presbyterian Church (USA)

Call to Worship. ReNEWS. The Presbyterian Outlook (online edition).

Undergraduate study at King College and East Tennessee State University leading to BA in English, with minors in Sociology and in Humanities (emphasis Classical Studies). Master of Divinity, Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary. Additional study, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Awards and Honors
Patterson Scholar in Greek and Latin, LPTS (2003-2006). J. K. Patterson Graduate Fellow in Church History, LPTS. PC(USA) Ordination Exams: Bible Content 98%; Greek Exegesis 5/5; Reformed Theology 5/5.

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