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Vol. 3: Issue 2
July 1, 2015


Not Just a Soup Kitchen

Review by David Nakhla

In his book "Not Just a Soup Kitchen - How Mercy Ministry in the Local Church Transforms Us All," author Dr. David S. Apple, Director of Mercy Ministries, Tenth Presbyterian Church (PCA), Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, challenges his readers to go beyond their comfort level when reaching out to the needy.

Apple recounts the conversion he experienced - first in his own life and then in the life of Tenth Church - as, through God's transforming power, they were awakened to the diaconal needs among the urban poor in their community.  Those who were once considered "inanimate objects" and kept at a safe distance were brought near as fellow image-bearers of God .  The church was reminded of the ways in which deeds of mercy serve as bridges to bring people to Christ.  The learning process was not an easy one, but through it, "hostility turned into hospitality," and "strangers became guests."  This evangelistic outreach in word and deed resulted in Tenth Church becoming known as a refuge of hospitality and care for anyone in need.

Now Apple seeks to inspire other churches to benefit from the lessons learned by Tenth Church, to look for the opportunities for mercy ministry that surround them, whether urban or suburban, and to develop these  ministries .  

The best thing about the book is that it is eminently practical.  For example:

  • Would you like to have a set of precautions and principles for working with those who come to you for help?  Check out Chapter 8.  
  • How about some advice on ministering to a church member who is blind or wheelchair-bound?  See Chapter 10.  
  • Wouldn't it be great to have a template for carrying out a talent survey in your congregation to discover the gifts and talents hidden there?  Appendix C provides that.  
  • Could you use some practical guidelines on what to do, read, or say when making a hospital visit to an ailing church member?  That is included in Appendix D, along with many other useful resources.

This book is a welcome addition to the diaconal ministry literature, which is limited in books written from a reformed, Christ-centered standpoint.  


Suggestions for Assisting
the Deaf in Worship?


We recently received the following inquiry from one of our diaconates:

"God has blessed our small congregation with two individuals who are deaf . . . . We are curious to know if the Committee on Diaconal Ministries has dealt with directly, or heard of Deacons locally coming up with unique ways to help their deaf members be included in the congregational service?"

We were able to pass on to them some ideas that have been incorporated by another congregation with a deaf member, but we are seeking additional contacts and suggestions, if possible!

Deacons with experience or resources to share are encouraged to contact David Nakhla at


Presbytery of Ohio
Announces Two Diaconal Conferences:
October 24 and November 7


Bob Keys, Moderator of the Presbytery Diaconal Committee of the Presbytery of Ohio (POH), recently announced that two regional diaconal conferences are being planned for this fall!

Western Pennsylvania region:
October 24, 2015
Site in western PA to be announced in July
10:00 AM to 3:30 PM

Ohio and Indiana region:
November 7, 2015
Grace OPC in Columbus, OH
10:00 AM to 3:30 PM

The goals of the conferences will be to:

  1. Encourage local deacons and the diaconates of the churches within the boundaries of the POH
  2. Equip deacons with a renewed vision for mercy ministries of Christ's Church
  3. Educate deacons in the Diaconal Ministries of the OPC at both the POH and Denominational Levels
  4. Connect deacons throughout the POH by providing this opportunity for fellowship and networking

The themes for the conference are:    

  • Revitalizing the Diaconate Today Under Challenging and Difficult Times
  • Diaconal Presbyterianism: Working Together for the Sake of the Kingdom

For more information on the POH conferences, contact Bob Keys at

For help organizing a conference like this in your presbytery, contact David Nakhla at


Presbytery of the Southeast
Diaconal Conference
November 6-7, 2015


"Serving Christ's Church as Christ Did" is the theme of the two-day diaconal conference that will be hosted by the Presbytery Diaconal Committee of the Presbytery of the Southeast (PSE) this fall!

November 6-7, 2015
Matthews OPC, Matthews NC
FRIDAY 6:00 - 8:00 PM (followed by fellowship time)
SATURDAY 8:30 AM - 2:15 PM

Topics covered will include:

  • Christ Our Great Deacon
  • What Does a Local Diaconal Ministry Look Like?
  • Round Table: How to Improve Diaconal Ministries

For more information on the PSE conference, contact Rev. Matthew Holst at

For help organizing a conference like this in your presbytery, contact David Nakhla at


Minutemen Needed to Serve
Part-Time in Haiti


While having a full-time missionary deacon in Haiti is a long-term goal for the mission, in the interim the OPC Haiti Mission hopes to manage its urgent needs with the assistance of a corps of Minutemen who would be available to serve for a week or so on an as-needed basis.  

Requisite skills and availability are the key components sought in these men. The main areas in which help is needed is the maintenance and repair of the mission vehicles and mission homes.  On occasion, there may be opportunities for deacons to help train future deacons in the Haitian church.

At its meeting in March, the CDM approved a request that Haiti Relief Funds be used for the purpose of helping with the travel and material costs of volunteers traveling to Haiti to assist with diaconal projects.

If you would like to be added to the list of "Minutemen," please contact David Nakhla at


The Work of the CDM

The Committee on Diaconal Ministries (CDM) convened on March 27-28, 2015, at Matthews OPC in Matthews, NC.  Its work included:

  • Determining to host a 3rd Diaconal Summit for all OPC deacons in June 2017, with the goal of hosting a diaconal summit every 5 years.
  • Determining to host a D17 Summit for presbytery diaconal committee representatives in October 2016, with the goal of hosting a D17 summit every 2 years.
  • Offering to presbytery diaconal committees some financial reimbursement for the expenses associated with the hosting of their first regional diaconal conference.
  • Encouraging the Disaster Response Coordinator and the Disaster Response Subcommittee to investigate Christian organizations through whom relief for persecuted Christians might be rendered.
  • Approving the request of the OPC Haiti Mission to use Haiti Relief Funds that remain from those given for the 2010 earthquake for the purpose of helping with the travel and material costs of volunteers traveling to Haiti to assist with various diaconal components of its ministry in Haiti.
  • Approving a general distribution of gifts to the 92 retired OPC ministers and/or their widows.

The CDM will meet next on October 29-30, 2015 at the OPC Administrative Offices in Willow Grove, PA.


What Are Deacons Doing Locally?

Deacons, would you like to hear what other deacons in the OPC are doing?  Do you have a project you that you think would be helpful for other deacons to hear about?  Are there particular issues that you would like to discuss?

Please write to and we will see if we can include these ideas, questions, or suggestions in a future edition of the Mercy Minute.  We look forward to hearing from you!




Back Row (l to r): 
Al Zarek, Seth Long, Nathan Trice, Bob Wright, Jr., Chris Sudlow, Bob Keys

Front Row (l to r): 
John Voss, Jr., Lendall Smith, David Nakhla, Ron Pearce

Welcome Deacon Ron de Ru - 
elected in June 2015 to the Committee on Diaconal Ministries!
He replaces Bob Keys, whom we thank for his years of service.


  • President - Lendall Smith, retired minister from Warrenville, IL
  • Vice President - Nathan Trice, Pastor, Matthews OPC, Matthews, NC
  • Secretary - Ron Pearce, Pastor, Church of the Covenant, Hackettstown, NJ
  • Treasurer - John Voss, Jr., Deacon, Covenant OPC in Orland Park, IL


  • Bob Wright, Jr., OPC missionary deacon to Uganda
  • Ron de Ru, Deacon, Sovereign Grace OPC, Oak Harbor, WA
  • Seth Long, Elder, Neon Reformed OPC, Neon, KY
  • Chris Sudlow, Deacon, Bethel OPC, Wheaton, IL
  • Al Zarek, Elder, Orthodox Presbyterian Church of Franklin Square, Franklin Square, NY


  • David Nakhla, Administrator, Committee on Diaconal Ministries; Disaster Response Coordinator
  • Janet Birkmann, Administrative Assistant


  • Administration & Finance (Sudlow, Long, Voss)
  • Aid Request (Smith, Pearce, Trice, Voss)
  • Disaster Response (Zarek, Long, Voss)
  • Diaconal Training (Trice, Sudlow)
  • Missionary Deacon (Wright, Smith, Trice)
  • Ministers & Widows (Smith, Pearce, Zarek)

Editor: David P. Nakhla
Administrator, CDM
(562) 760-7606


The Mercy Minute is a quarterly newsletter of the Committee on Diaconal Ministries intended to keep the deacons of the OPC informed.  It could include sharing the work that one local diaconate or presbytery diaconal committee is doing, bringing awareness to a need in the OPC, or simply bringing a word of encouragement.


The Mercy Minute is being sent to all OPC officers with whom the CDM has contact with the hopes that it is forwarded on to more deacons. 

Officers who would like to be added to the distribution list are encouraged to email such a request to the Editor.