I’m a church planter, working to establish a new Evangelical Presbyterian congregation in Lorton, Virginia. We call ourselves the Church of the Occoquan Valley, and we are currently meeting for worship at 10:30 am at Yarbrough Park Business Center, 1549 Old Bridge Road, Suite 105 in Woodbridge.

I grew up in New Jersey, the grandson of Polish and Lithuanian Jewish immigrants, and became a Christian during my first year in college. Soon thereafter I discerned a call to the preaching of the gospel.

My passion is the Word of God and the truth of the gospel. I seek to communicate the revelation of salvation that was given through Israel and in Jesus Christ to all who will hear. I do so in preaching and teaching that lays open the Scripture in a way that even children understand. I’m what’s commonly called an expository preacher, meaning I prefer to follow in the footsteps of Calvin, Chrysostom, and other great preachers in going verse-by-verse, passage-by-passage through books of the Bible (I’m currently preaching from Acts).

I’m a graduate of Rutgers University with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, and of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary with a Master of Divinity degree. I’m currently enrolled as a student in the Doctor of Ministry degree program at Trinity School for Ministry near Pittsburgh, where I’m planning on writing a thesis on expository preaching in church planting.

Among my interests and hobbies are chess (I was the 1993 United States Class B Champion), music (I play the autoharp in our praise band each Sunday), astronomy and cosmology, science fiction, and baseball, about which I know more than is probably healthy.

52 Responses to “About”

  1. Larry Rued Says:

    Dear David,
    Good to learn that you have joined the EPC. I still miss Ecumenical Insanity. Now that I know a bit more about your background, I understand why you were so up-to-date on the various shenanigans happening in the mainline protestant churches.
    Larry


  2. Thank you very much, Larry. While I’ll be looking to change the tone here somewhat, I hope to still cover many of the same subjects with the same incisive analysis. :-)

  3. Judith L Says:

    I have enjoyed reading your comments on the blogs, Pastor Fischler. (I don’t know by what title you wish to be called.) I look forward to reading your blog.


  4. Thank you, Judith. In my congregation I go by “Pastor David” or just David. For this setting, I’m sure the latter will be just fine.

  5. cavman Says:

    Your blog certainly seem to be a good source of info for what is going on w/the EPC and the churches fleeing the PC(USA).


  6. Thanks much, cavman. I’ll be checking you out, too, and thanks for the place in your blogroll.

  7. mrsfalstaff Says:

    Thanks for adding me to your blogroll. I only just noticed your comment because I didn’t realize that I had a spamcatcher, and it caught your comment. Now, I just have to figure out how to make the comments actually *show*…

    Mrs. Falstaff


  8. You’re very welcome, Mrs. F. I just checked them, and they show up just fine!

  9. Sherri Says:

    Dear David,
    Just wanted to say that I have enjoyed reading your blog tonight and will be back. Some of my immediate family are Presbyterians, very concerned about the state of the national church. It’s good to find out more about what is going on. Good luck to you in your church planting!


  10. Thanks very much, Sherri. Come back any time.

  11. Luanne Coats Says:

    Pastor David-
    Have enjoyed reading about the PC(USA)/EPC problems, as my pastor is Bill Vogler, now the new moderator of the EPC.
    God could not have put a better man for the task than “our” Bill. He loves the Lord, glorifies Him in his exegetical preaching through the Bible, Quotes the “old dead guys”, jokingly calls the 17th century, his “comfort century”, and also would list baseball as one of his favorite interests.
    Please pray for him in this almost overwhelming task ahead.
    I thank you for your blog and will pray for your new church plant.
    Luanne


  12. I do not know why I missed this earlier but I notice you are Church planting in Woodbridge. I was stationed at Quantico while in the Marines and know the area quite well. The EPC Church I attended was also a Church Plant (that evidently failed) called Grace Presbyterian Church in Fredricksburg, VA. The Pastor’s name was I think Don Neighbors. Good Luck!!!


  13. Thanks, Benjamin. I’ve heard a fair bit about the one in Fredericksburg. It did fail, for a number of reasons, but Don gave it a good try. Once Redeemer has become a particular church, we’ll be the southernmost in the Presbytery of the East. Then we’ll plant one in Fredericksburg and pass the honor along. :-)

    Oh, and Luanne, I meant to reply to you last week. Thanks for the encouragement. I was very impressed with the job Bill did in leading the GA. And I have been and will be praying for him in the coming year.


  14. Well if you see Don let him know I said Hi (if he remembers me)… The congregation seemed to be growing when I left (summer of 2001). Was back in Fredrickburg back in 0’5 and noticed it wasn’t there anymore. Shame.

  15. Monika Sawyer Says:

    Thank you so much for your kind words about Homeworth Middle Sandy Presbyterian Church doing it right with leaving our denomination in a Christ-honoring way with our presbytery. It was only through much prayer with fasting. You thought “Middle Sandy” was a cool name – let me tell you where the name comes from. It was founded 186 years ago on the middle fork of the Sandy Creek which runs through Homeworth – being so named because it was worth having a home here. Also interesting is that our pastor’s name is Tom Sawyer. He’s an “all-American”, full of adventure, a retired USAF pilot, and a man after God’s own heart. We also have George W. Bush in our congregation who appeared on the Letterman show because he was one of a very few so named in the country. So you see, we have other interesting names besided Middle Sandy. And we all thank God for His great Blessings!


  16. That’s a great story, Monika! Are you Mrs. Tom Sawyer?

  17. Monika Sawyer Says:

    Yes, David, I am Mrs. Tom Sawyer. I was born Monika Lidia Steinke from Kufstein, Austria, and became Mrs. Tom Sawyer. I got me an “all-American boy”! You almost got the prize for your guess to “What’s My Line?”. You got 99 points – with 100 points you would have won a washing machine. :)
    I really enjoy reading your viewpoints. What do you make of the speeches coming out of the Gathering in Houston? Now that I am “cured” and in EPC, I look back at this group of only 95 people and am of the opinion that they missed the boat several years ago when 1300 evangelicals in the PCUSA were ready for action and leadership, but all we got was workshops and were told that they were there “to listen”. Well, shoot, why did we spend our money, time, energy, and vacation days for something so benign? The New Wineskins heard from the Lord and obediently went into action.


  18. I agree with you whole-heartedly, Monika. I just got through reading Parker Williamson’s report on Mark Brewer’s presentation to the Gathering, where he said:

    “So, why am I a part of the PCUSA?” asked Brewer, who said that, prior to being a PCUSA minister, he had been a member of the EPC. “This denomination is a big cruise ship that is dead in the water, but on the decks there is great life that is going on. … There are lots of boats out there, but I believe Presbyterian is the best. The PCUSA has a lot of leaks, and I don’t know if it has an engine any more, but Christ is the head of it. The question is, ‘How do we float that boat?’”

    I’m not sure, but I think he just described the PCUSA as the Titanic. Not sure why anyone would want to be dancing on the deck of the ship while it sinks into the ocean, but that’s just me.

    He also said:

    “I would rather be a conservative in a liberal church than a liberal in a conservative church,” Brewer said. “I think it’s more fun.”

    All I can say is, have fun, brother. Better you than me!

    So in response to your question about what I think of what’s coming out of Houston, I’d have to say, I’m delighted you and Tom have made the jump! I’m looking forward to meeting the two of you at the next General Assembly, if not before.

  19. andrewtatum Says:

    My wife, Lydia, and I are currently divinity students in NC and are interested in pastoral ministry in the EPC. Do you know if the EPC in North Carolina accepts the ordination of women? We want to serve in pastoral ministry together and would simply like to know what’s possible in the EPC? Thanks, Andrew


  20. Andrew: Here’s the e-mail address for the Rev. John Mabray, who is the chair of the Ministerial Committee for the Mid-Atlantic Presbytery:

    john@rivermont.org

    He will be able to answer any questions you may have about service in the EPC, at least in that presbytery. By a quirk of geography, I’m in the Presbytery of the East, so I can’t tell you what their policies are down there. But drop John a line, and I’m sure he can be of assistance.

  21. kirsten Says:

    best wishes on the new church. i know how hard it can be to get the new ones up and running. I suggest much reading of C.S. Lewis.

    kirsten (found you from Rosary Army)
    P.S. don’t forget to take some time for yourself….. there are some nice conventions coming up in your area.

  22. Albert Collier Says:

    Greetings Rev. Fischler,

    I was wondering down memory lane thinking about the many good people I’ve met along the way and my thoughts turned to you. Actually, there had been a special on HBO last summer called ‘Resolved’ and that brought me back to our old high school and college debate days and times.

    Needless to say, I did reach out most recently to Larry Sweet and we had a nice lunch together. I have been working for the IT consulting company Accenture since July of 2008 and had been commuting into NYC until very recently (I now commute to Princeton for our client ETS). Larry is a Sr. VP with the New York Fed reserve where he’s been since his Columbia University postgraduate studies after good old RU.

    I’ve gone thru a multitude of jobs and careers (electrical engineer, financial planner, IT consultant) and am hoping to make the most of these last 15 to 20 years before I start to slow down. I’ve been married now for 24 years and still remember the speeding ticket I got in ‘damn’ Delaware racing to your wedding (I think I gave you that in liew of a card with money,…)(LOL).

    Otherwise, my wife and I have two daughters, one a sophomore at Howard University’s School of Business and the other a junior at Piscataway High School. Larry has a son and a daughter but got a much later start than you or I. These are some trying times but I try to keep God first and do my best to support those around me.

    I’m really happy for your ministry and all. Hit me back with an email when time permits. God bless and keep you my dear old friend.
    Albert

  23. Sandra Rojas Says:

    I am a student at AIHT. I chose this program for the convinience of distance learning and because it offers non-traditional students the opportunity to explore the misteries of healing and health. I am sorry you have such a narrow view of the human heart!!! Perhaps you should be searching within your soul the truth that surpasses all understanding instead of using reason in matters that are far beyond human reach. you can only hope to be able to come close to see the light of true knowledge once you leave the critic behind.


  24. Sandra: Thanks for coming by. Nothing you’ve said does anything to address the concerns I expressed about AIHT. It is still a New Age diploma mill without academically qualified faculty. I hope you enjoy your “education.”

  25. Ann Says:

    I randomly stumbled onto this blog through a church-related google search. I notice that the last comment here, while indeed new-agey, exhorts you to “leave the critic behind.” (I don’t even know that AIHT is.) I am tired of the great lot of complaining done by Christians these days. Your posts add even more to the din. What does all of your finger-pointing have to do with following Jesus?


  26. Ann: Thanks for coming by, and for the question. The American Institute for Holistic Theology is a New Age diploma mill. Among the courses taught are EC404 (Divination Tools); EC406 (Native American Herbal Secrets); DPP301 (Astral Projection), DPP307 (Advanced Psychic Intuition), DPP308 (Channeling), and DPP311 (Atlantis: Fact or Fiction). All in all, it sounds like the kind of place where Peter Venkman (Bill Murray in Ghostbusters) got one of his degrees.

    The reason it came up was because a candidate of a bishopric in the Episcopal Church got a “Ph.D” from this alleged school. Leaving aside the dishonesty of styling oneself as having a Ph.D when the work required for the degree was far less than for a Master of Divinity, I raised the issue of whether said priest was fit to hold a position wherein she was expected to teach and defend the truth of the gospel when she had spent time and effort receiving a phony degree from a place that specializes in non-Christian lunacy.

    As to what this has to do with “following Jesus,” it is just this: we are called to walk in the footsteps of One who was Truth incarnate. For Christians, truth–and particularly the truth of the gospel–cannot be a matter of indifference. It is at the heart of who we are and what we are called to do. I believe that refusing to bring attention to a matter like this (as well as many of the others that I deal with on this blog) is an abdication of my duty as a Christian to witness to the truth of the gospel, and to my ordination vow to teach the truth and oppose falsehood wherever I see it. Do I do so as well as I could? I’m sure I don’t. Must I continue to do so? Absolutely, just as I have throughout the 26 years of my ministry, since well before the age of the Internet.

  27. Kate Says:

    26 years? Wow, David, that must make you old… ;-)


  28. Yeah, my daughter (27) says the same thing… :-)

  29. marcus dahl Says:

    we are looking forward to having you on our radio show this Saturday!

    “The Pastor’s Study”
    Hope Lutheran Church
    Minneapolis, Mn

  30. Carolyn Says:

    I am new to your blog and have found it very interesting. Please tell me the difference between EPC and PC(USA). Do they have the same Presbytery and same General Assembly or different? I am now a member of PC(USA). I was not “raised” in the church and have a hard time navigating the diffenernt doctrines and following the polity of it all. After what I’ve read on your blog I bet you can help me out! Also, are you a literalist in your reading of the Bible?
    Thanks in advance for any light you can shine!

  31. Luis Iza Says:

    Best wishes.
    We are in the planning stages of a ministry to new immigrants to our country in Hudson County, New Jersey. They’re mostly from Latin America.
    We need advise on bible study that addresses depression, low self esteem, loneliness, anxiety, and financial stress. I would be grateful for any leads. God bless, Luis Iza

  32. Lyndon Unger Says:

    Greetings David. Good to hear that there’s still some theologically and exegetically minded expositors left in the Presbyterian world. Sadly, I was born and raised in Mennoknight circles in Canada, so the whole Presbyterian world was a mystery to me for many years. Gladyly, I’ve met and made a few Presbyterian friends now and realize you don’t all live in Philadelphia!

    Either way, that AIHT school sounds great! I’m glad to have found out about it from your blog! I’ve done enough “real” school for so long, I’m about ready to get a diploma mill degree and take classes like DPP311 (Atlantis: Fact or Fiction). I wonder if watching Stargate: Atlantis would be considered for earning extra credit? I ALWAYS thought that show was a documentary!

    And Sandra, if the truth within my soul surpasses all understanding, why would I bother searching for it? In fact, if it surpasses all understanding, how in the world do you even know it’s there?

    When you come to an understanding of how you understand what you claim is beyond understanding, give me a shout. I’d love to understand that.


  33. LOL! Thanks, Lyndon, I needed that!

  34. Bob Says:

    Lyndon, you don’t need no stinkin’ PhD, that takes too long, even mail order. Here’s what Oral Roberts would tell you, “Now my friends, put your hands on the radio and let’s pray together!”

    Therein begins the understanding of “truth within my soul surpassing all understanding.” Of course, you had to seal the deal with a little check to Oral Roberts as a mark of faith :-)

    And if you think that doesn’t work, just look what Robert’s did with all those ‘little checks’ he conjured up, sight unseen.

    Back to you David, nice page you’re running here.

    Regards,
    Bob

  35. Olga Says:

    Hello Mr.Fischler,

    my name is olga and i´m searching for my relationship. The name of my uncle is Tom Sawyer. He is a pastor. The name of his wife is Monica.
    I have found the conversation from you and my aunt on 17.08.2007. That is all i know. Please help me if you can! If you culd not help me please let me know.

    Thanks in advance, olga

  36. peter Says:

    Praise The Lord Pastor, your physical and spiritual Family, Brethrens and all that labor with you in the ministry. I am absolutely happy to send you my heartfelt greetings praying that all is fine with you and that the Lord is in control. All word we dry up, and all spirit we blow up, spirit and word together we grow Amen! . I feel as if my feet are not touching the ground because of what I have received from you and to crown it all the wonderful beautiful and uplifting conversion in the word of your website. I was so touched and I really embrace your life changing website I have read it and it has indeed convicted my heart and a burden has been laid in me until I have been forced through the grace of the Lord to write to you, thank and encourage you for what the Lord is using you for. I will never cease to pray for you and I wish you were here to help us grow to the stature of our Lord Jesus Christ .We are on our knees praying for you so that you may
    assist us to know more about the riches of Christ in Heaven. You are needed brothers and sisters. You really have what we need for our spiritual growth. Share our love with the brethren there in the ministry. We love each of you and we hold you dearly in our hearts .we plead the blessings of the Lord upon youas we will continue to pray for you that God may grant you insight and above all discernment. Our congregation group here is very happy in the Lord through your teachings from the website that I usually use to teach them and that they desire more spiritual teachings from you please for we are called to open our arms to the world and bring the unchurched to Christ, God is also calling us to grow in faith and grow in numbers as we serve all of God’s people in Jesus’s name. Till I hear from you may peace of the Lord be with you.

    Peace and blessings

    Yours Co-laborer in Christ,

    BISHOP PETER AYUMA CHOTI

    CALL PHONE NO. +254733699607

    P.O. BOX 3 , OGEMBO-40204

    KENYA-EAST

  37. Elisabeth Says:

    Monika Sawyer,
    I was one of your third grade students, Libby Sheys. I am thrilled to find you on here! I am going to write you a letter if you do not respond. What is your e-mail address? Please e-mail me!


  38. Elisabeth: Monika may or may not see that comment of yours. If you’d like, I can e-mail her for you, alert her to your comment, and ask her to get in touch with you. Would that be OK with you?

  39. Elisabeth Says:

    That would be great! Thank you so much!


  40. Hey David,

    Where is the RSS subscription button on your blog?


  41. Richard: I must have deleted it the last time I cleaned up my widgets. I’ve got it back on.


  42. Great piece on “Infiltrating the Churches.”
    We are on the same team, I do believe. Even among the conservative in my denomination, there is still much confusion & knit picking debate.
    Stop by my site any time. Our focus is Biblical Authority.

  43. Glen Hallead Says:

    Greetings from the deck of the Titanic, David.

    Love your blog and read it fairly regularly. Can’t say as I have much time to dance on this Titanic, however. I’m too busy trying to get people to realize that if Jesus isn’t still present in the wheel house, there is no hope. I just haven’t heard him call to me yet to bail. Guess he’d still have me sounding the alarm. Blessings on you and all the brothers and sisters who, wherever they may people are holding the cross high. He is the Victor!

  44. Jennifer Says:

    Hi there, I am trying to get a point of view on the EPC’s thoughts on Israel. I am Episcopal and have not been impressed with the liberal leanings–to the point that I have quit going to Church. I miss it terribly, but can’t disconnect what is going on in the “real” worls and what the Church is “telling” me. I am looking for a new Church home, one the supports Israel, our Constitution, freedoms for all. Is this something the EPC is/does? I live in Richmond VA.


  45. Jennifer: The EPC has not, to my knowledge, taken an official position on Middle East events (though we are very active in evangelistic ministry to Muslims). Based on my experience, however, I think you would find most folks in the EPC to be very supportive of Israel, and generally, though not exclusively, fairly conservative with regard to political issues. The truth is that I’ve encountered few people or churches in the denomination that get into political issues at all, save those that have a specifically moral content to them (abortion, for instance). We have a church in Richmond that I would urge you to check out: Hope Church at 12445 Patterson Ave. Their web site is here.

  46. Kate Says:

    You could also look for an Anglican Church in North America parish

    http://anglicanchurch.net/?/main/locator/us


  47. I am looking for a pastor Tom Sawyer that was in 1998 in Coffeyville KS has a large scar down the left side of his face he really changed my life and want to reconnect with him please contact me @ ansulman@gmail.com Thank you and bless you.

  48. Kamau Mujimbe Says:

    Muskingham Valley Presbytery, Ohio – Evangelical Presbyterian Church as of 2007

  49. Jimmy Copens Says:

    I thought you might be interested in the new video just released for the single, I WANT MY COUNTRY BACK.

    Keep blogging!

  50. Eric Says:

    Mr. Fischler,

    I’m currently considering applying to Westminster Theological Seminary for their MDiv program. I’m hesitant to apply because I don’t know that I want to become a pastor. I deeply and truly enjoy all the topics which are covered in seminary (not sure about Hebrew and Greek yet since I’ve had no exposure to them) but I don’t know where I would end up upon graduation. I’m very interested in systematic and historical theology and especially apologetics.

    You mentioned on your blog that you were “called” to the ministry. You’re not the first I’ve heard say it. What does this mean? I’ve usually thought of it as an inner subjective desire to enter full-time ministry. Is it something else? How does one know if he’s being called to ministry? Thank you for any comments you might provide.

  51. Cheryl Says:

    David,

    It’s been a LOT of years, but we knew each other in college! Do you remember another student named Cheryl? We were pals and used to get into longggg discussions about our paths and our faith? I read through some of these posts and I wondered if it was you, but when I read the self-description above, I KNEW it was you. So you wound up becoming a minister as you’d said you wanted to. How is your daughter? How old is she now? Good to run into you again.

  52. Cheryl Says:

    OH and another thing: I have YOU to thank for getting me through that first year. I’d been having trouble writing essays, and something you said gelled it for me and made it all come together: You’d said “Just do what the old time preachers used to do: First tell the people what you’re going to say; say what you’re going to say, and then, tell the people what you just said,”

    That ONE comment got me going and I wound up with A’s in most of my writing-based classes. I even tell MY students to do that, to this day. I teach English. :D

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