Sustaining Our Mission

 
Servants of Christ Anglican Church is an amazing community—full of kind, caring, faithful people who see a need and jump right into action. Fr. Alex and the other clergy are exemplars of servant-leadership who inspire, instruct, and model authentic lives full of grace and truth. I often describe this church as: “we see a need, and we meet it.” This is a high praise for the character of Servants! We love because God first loved us. Fr. Alex leads us so well to serve Christ and reach others through prayer, praise, service, and community. I was thrilled to be invited by Fr. Alex to explore and recommend options for how Servants of Christ can improve internal systems for fulfilling, expanding, and sustaining our mission together.
We already know “what to do,” but as we grow, we need to become more intentional about “HOW we do what we do”; what are the criteria by which we make decisions? What are the essential values that guide our decision-making? How do we maintain focused and healthy ministry? How do we communicate well between various areas of the church? And importantly, how do we as clergy and staff—equip, train, support, and resource lay leadership in ways that help you accomplish the tasks, for which God has called you? My calling for the past four decades has been in non-profit organizational leadership and strategic, missional thinking, I have learned over the years that Christ calls us to build both impactful AND sustainable ministry in a hurting world. This requires not only “doing ministry” but developing structures for “HOW we best can sustain ministry.” Good structures allow for growth with integrity. Good systems helps us maintain who and whose we are. We are part of the Body of Christ, called to worship and serve, in this place… at this time… and in ways that allow us to grow and thrive. Paul reminds us in Colossians 1:18a that “Christ is also the head of the church, which is his body.” In Romans, Paul expands upon the importance of each member of the body being able to express the gifts provided by the Holy Spirit, for the unity and mission of the church: "Just as our bodies have many parts and each part has a special function, so it is with Christ’s body. We are many parts of one body, and we all belong to each other. In his grace, God has given us different gifts for doing certain things well. So if God has given you the ability to prophesy, speak out with as much faith as God has given you. If your gift is serving others, serve them well. If you are a teacher, teach well. If your gift is to encourage others, be encouraging. If it is giving, give generously. If God has given you leadership ability, take the responsibility seriously. And if you have a gift for showing kindness to others, do it gladly." Romans 12:4-8 So for a body to function, it requires several internal systems to work well, especially during times of growth or rigorous exercise. At Servants, God has given us a new building and instilled in us a continuing commitment of “making disciples, learning to do all that Jesus said.” During this time of transition, I have been able to communicate with several people in our fellowship to learn more about structure and individual roles (remember, Kathy and I are still relatively new). Fr. Alex has tracked my progress closely and we meet weekly to process any suggestions. Our intention is to have new organizational processes in place by the annual meeting in January. We will continue to prayerfully improve upon these structures over time and modify them as needed. This brings us back to our opening scripture from Proverbs: "We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps." We are trusting God to determine our steps that allows us to grow and reach many new people who are currently without a church home—while carefully maintaining a healthy community of believers who love each other and the mission before us. Pray for Godly wisdom in each step as we make our plans. God is working… in our church, and through our members, for the sake of others. What an exciting time to be part of Servants of Christ Anglican Church! Dcn Bob Ayres   A lover of great coffee, Bob especially enjoys sharing a cup with his wife, Kathy. They have been married over forty years and have five grown children and ten amazing grandchildren. Bob and Kathy are the founders of Deaf Teen Quest, a national ministry of Youth for Christ USA where Bob is still on staff. Bob has a Doctorate of Ministry and two masters degrees and was recently ordained to the diaconate in the Anglican Church. His undergraduate degree is in education from the University of Florida. But most importantly, Bob loves Jesus because Jesus loved him first.


Intro to Advent

 
On Sunday, December 2, 2018, we will enter the first season of the liturgical year, Advent. For many, there may be three phrases or words that may be unfamiliar or strange in that introductory sentence. The first is “the first season,” next is “the liturgical year,” and last is, “Advent.”
 
Just as our secular calendar has seasons - winter, spring, summer, fall - so too does our Christian calendar. However, instead of four seasons, the Christian calendar or, “liturgical year,” has six. The seasons of our “liturgical year,” begin with Advent (the "first season" and continue through Christmas, Epiphany, Lent, Easter, and Pentecost. In each of these seasons our worship has its focus on the different aspects of our walk with Jesus, our risen Lord and Messiah.
 
Advent" is the beginning of our liturgical year and carries with it a dual meaning.  As you may read in the article below, the word Advent comes from the Latin, adventum, which means “to come.” So, in this season we are looking forward to what is to come. We are looking forward to the coming of our Lord as the Baby Jesus, AND we are looking forward to the coming of our Lord Jesus when He returns to take His Church to reign with Him in His heavenly Kingdom.
 
-Fr. Michael La Cagnina
 
 
 
 
The following article was originally published at anglicanpastor.com on November 18, 2018 by Joshua Steele.
 
 

What is Advent?

Advent is the first season of the Church year. It lasts for four weeks leading up to Christmas Day on December 25: (To learn more about what the Church year is and how it’s different than the civil calendar, click here.)

Why is it called “Advent”?

“Advent” comes from the Latin adventus, meaning “coming or arrival.” Used by the Church, the word refers to:
  1. The “arrival” of Jesus Christ when he was born on the original Christmas Day
  2. The upcoming “arrival” of Jesus Christ when, as Christians believe, he will return to judge the living and the dead.
So, the season of Advent is a season of preparation and waiting:
  1. first for Christ’s second coming to judge the living and the dead (2 Pet 3:11-14; 1 John 3:2-3), but also
  2. to celebrate Christ’s first arrival at Christmas.
Just as the Israelites awaited a Messiah to fulfill God’s promises from Genesis 3:15 to Jeremiah 31:31-34 and beyond, so Christians await the return of Jesus the Messiah make all things new (Revelation 21).

What are some common practices during Advent?

What’s the difference between Advent music and Christmas music?

Perhaps the classic piece of Advent music is “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel,” because it reflects Advent’s emphasis on waiting and expectation. Christmas music, on the other hand, emphasizes the joyful celebration of Christ’s arrival at the Incarnation. “Joy to the World” comes to mind, but if you read the lyrics to that song closely, you’ll notice that they’re actually about the second coming of Jesus, not his birth. So, maybe think of “Hark, the Herald Angels Sing” as a paradigmatic Christmas song.

Songs for Advent

Here are some of the better-known songs from the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship’s helpful list of Songs for Advent:
  • Come, Thou Long-Expected Jesus – Charles Wesley
  • Hark, the Glad Sound! The Savior Comes – Philip Doddridge
  • Imagine – Keith and Kristyn Getty
  • Let All Mortal Flesh Keep Silence – Gerard Moultrie
  • Love Divine, All Loves Excelling – Charles Wesley
  • My Soul Cries Out with a Joyful Shout – Rory Cooney
  • O Come, O Come, Emmanuel – ancient hymn
  • Of the Father’s Love Begotten – Aurelius Clemens Prudentius
  • Savior of the Nations, Come – Ambrose, 4th century; Martin Luther
  • Soon and Very Soon – Andraé Crouch
Check out the Calvin Institute of Christian Worship’s list of Songs for Christmas as well. I also highly recommend the following:

Advent Collects and Collect Reflections

In the Anglican tradition, each week of the Church year has a special prayer, called a “collect,” used during Sunday worship and then for the following week. Here are the collects for Advent. If you click on the titles, it will take you to the Anglican Pastor Collect Reflection for that week—a short blog post to help you reflect on the collect!

The First Sunday in Advent

Almighty God, give us grace to cast away the works of darkness, and put on the armor of light, now in the time of this mortal life in which your Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the living and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal; through him who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Second Sunday of Advent

Blessed Lord, who caused all holy Scriptures to be written for our learning: Grant us so to hear them, read, mark, learn, and inwardly digest them, that by patience and the comfort of your holy Word we may embrace and ever hold fast the blessed hope of everlasting life, which you have given us in our Savior Jesus Christ; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Third Sunday of Advent

O Lord Jesus Christ, you sent your messengers the prophets to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation: Grant that the ministers and stewards of your mysteries may likewise make ready your way, by turning the hearts of the disobedient toward the wisdom of the just, that at your second coming to judge the world, we may be found a people acceptable in your sight; for with the Father and the Holy Spirit you live and reign, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

Fourth Sunday of Advent; Annunciation

Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come among us; and as we are sorely hindered by our sins from running the race that is set before us, let your bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen.

Other Advent posts at Anglican Pastor

If you’d like to learn more about Advent, check out the following posts at Anglican Pastor:

Other Advent resources

Check out the following resources to learn more about Advent and how to celebrate it:
 
 
 
 
Fr. Michael is an assistant clergy at Servants. He is a retired rector of a congregation in High Springs, FL and still lives there with his wife, Joyce. You can most often find Fr. Michael volunteering to help when he is able and offering solutions for various conundrums that arise in ministry work. 


Assisting the Cities of Bay County, Florida

 
And the King will answer them, 'Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’
Matthew 25:40
 
For those in church Sunday the 21st, I promised you information on how you can help the victims of Hurricane Michael particularly in Bay County (Panama City). I have spoken with Father John Wallace twice and can update you on the need in the area. Fr. John is the rector of Apostles By-the-Sea, a parish in our own Gulf Atlantic Diocese, located in Bay County’s Rosemary Beach. His parish was west of most of the devastation but is working with those in the county most affected. Below, taken from their website, is a list of the items they are looking for to provide to the residents.
 
The congregation is working out of Parker United Methodist Church to provide needed items for residents primarily in the communities of Parker and Callaway. These two Bay County communities were economically challenged prior to the hurricane and now Fr. John tells me, “many residents are living in homes without roofs and in some cases even walls.” Food and water are plentiful but other items such as tarps, baby wipes, adult size diapers, sleeping bags, blankets, larger size tents (6-8 persons) and other household items are simply not available and desperately needed. Many stores have been closed and so even if residents can afford items there is nowhere to purchase them.
 
I am seeking to collect supplies to be carried over to Bay County in the next week if possible. Again, please see the list below to find out what is needed. I am looking for volunteers to collect and transport collected supplies to Panama City. If you are interested in making this trip or helping to organize supplies, please contact the Church Office at (352) 271-1188 or admin@servantsanglican.org. You may drop off collected goods to the church at any time; they can be left outside by the glass doors.
 
Please consider purchasing supplies and assisting these fellow Floridians in their time of need. Donating money is not helpful because the supplies are simply not available in Bay County. In addition, please keep residents of Parker and Callaway in your prayers as Tyndall Air Force Base, the largest employer in the area, is slated to be closed in 1-2 years due to hurricane damage. This means people who worked at Tyndall or who worked for contractors working with Tyndall will no longer have jobs. Many will have to leave the area to find new employment.
 
I will keep you updated as to when our delivery will be made and to additional ways we can support this relief effort.
 
 
 


The Future of Our Churches

 
At the beginning of this month I was blessed to attend the Young Anglican Project and Rooted Conferences in Nashville, Tennessee. The Young Anglican Project is a group designed to help Anglican Youth Programs throughout the United States. The first day of the gathering we were fortunate enough to spend the day with Archbishop Foley Beach. Foley Beach++ spoke to us about the future of the ACNA. He said that future is our students. His desire is that the local Anglican Church will long for the youth of today. He told us to get out there and build relationships. Programming will only get you so far. You have to know your students. His exact words were, “Students spell love: T-I-M-E.” Listening to him speak about his childhood and getting to know him on a more personal level, reminded me why I love youth ministry. Our students just want someone to be real with them, and for us to know who they truly are. I don’t have to pull a rabbit out of my hat and entertain them. I just have to listen.
 
Later that day Foley Beach++ asked us what struggles we have in our ministries. Some spoke of parent involvement, community involvement, how do we instill a life of prayer in our students, and the fact that we have a small number of students in our youth groups. Others spoke of suicide, depression, gender confusion, and same-sex attraction. These are all problems that we are facing in some shape or form within our own groups. We also brought up areas where we were seeing success. Some of those areas where: students leading small groups, students having a heart for missions, and multi-generational relationships.
 
Then he asked, “How does your youth ministry fit into the overall ministry of the Church?” I sat with this question for a while. Then I looked at our service from the pew on a Sunday morning. I see some of our students serving in different rolls, for example music team and acolytes. Then I asked myself, is that enough? How do we instill a desire for our youth to not be an audience member, but an active participant on Sundays and beyond? The next question he asked was who are the people in your church that are being discerned to work with the youth? Who and what do these people that help us run our youth groups look like? Is our help multi-generational? What does support look like from the church? Foley Beach++ told us not to answer these questions ourselves, but to get support from our parish.
 
Youth ministry is a long road. It’s spending time in real conversation with our students. It’s meeting them where they are, not just expecting that they will always come to us. It’s answering the hard questions that we may not be ready for, but the Holy Spirit is. It’s honestly looking at how our youth ministry fits into the overall ministry of our church. It’s taking the time to show and teach them what it means to be Anglican. They are not just the kids in that other building who you see every so often. How can we achieve the goal that Foley Beach++ stated: that youth are the future of our churches? Can we have a multi-generational support system for our youth and Servants? I pray that we can. I pray we all desire to know our youth on a personal level and find them where they are.
 
 
Kim Harris
 
 
Kim has been a member of Servants for four years and is the Director for Children & Families. With her husband John she has three children: Jack, Kaycee, and Katelynne.


The Call to Engage

 
“Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. “Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed. Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. For the commandments, “You shall not commit adultery, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,” and any other commandment, are summed up in this word: “You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no wrong to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfilling of the law.”
Romans 13:1-2,7-10
 
In a strange twist, the apostle Paul begins chapter 13 of Romans talking about submitting to government authorities and then connects this Christian civil responsibility to the second portion of Jesus’ summary of the Law, namely to “love one another.” Just to remind us all, St. Paul is talking about the Roman government! Thanks be to God, we live not under Roman rule but the rule of law with the rights of a constitution which, among other things, guarantees our right to vote.
 
Even as I am writing this blog, I’m aware of my own frustration with the state of politics in our country. It is easy to ignore what is happening around us and simply go about our individual lives. Yet, if I take Paul’s admonition seriously, how I engage or refuse to engage in society is really a response to the command to love my neighbor. Furthermore, our Lord Jesus calls us to be salt and light in our city, county, and state. Part of this calling is lived out as we engage with issues that affect our community and speak out from a Christ-centered perspective.
 
You may be thinking, “Why is Alex all the sudden talking about politics?” I write this blog today in light of our upcoming general election on November 6th. You may not be aware yet, but locally “this year's November ballot will be the longest voters have seen in at least 20 years.” In addition to many state and local officials to be elected, the ballot will contain twelve proposed amendments to the Florida Constitution, two Alachua county referenda, and two city of Gainesville referenda. The Supervisor of Elections anticipates completing a ballot may take up to 30 minutes. My fear is that for some, this will become overwhelming and they will simply give up in the process. I do not believe this is an option for Christians who take seriously Paul’s words in Romans 13.
 
To this end, I would encourage each of you to seriously review the proposed amendments and referenda, along with candidates and prayerful consider how you should vote. Sample ballots are mailed out but you can also obtain one at voteAlachua.com. In addition, I am personally working through the amendments and referenda and would be willing to lead a non-partisan discussion with members of the congregation in order to seek greater clarification. Please contact me personally if you are interested.
 
I will close this with a quote by the late John Stott, “if we truly love our neighbors, and want to serve them, our service may oblige us to take (or solicit) political action on their behalf.”
 
May God guide you in all these things,


We Did It!

 
“But will God indeed dwell on the earth? Behold, heaven and the highest heaven cannot contain you; how much less this house that I have built! Yet have regard to the prayer of your servant and to his plea, O Lord my God, listening to the cry and to the prayer that your servant prays before you this day, that your eyes may be open night and day toward this house, the place of which you have said, My name shall be there,’ that you may listen to the prayer that your servant offers toward this place. And listen to the plea of your servant and of your people Israel, when they pray toward this place. And listen in heaven your dwelling place, and when you hear, forgive.” 
1 Kings 8:27-30
 
We did it! We consecrated our new space to the worship of God – Father, Son, and Holy Spirit – on the 22nd of September. If you missed the day, I’m so sorry because it I was glorious. Not the building or the people but the presence of the Lord as we gathered together. We do have some bulletins from the service if you would like one; especially meaningful to me were words of encouragement from our two oldest members, Ms. Jane Gresley and Dr. James Sunwall.
 
You may be wondering why I’m just now writing about the service since it happened almost two weeks ago. Simple answer: fatigue. Putting on a wedding takes a lot of effort. I fondly told people after the service, “I feel like I’ve been engaged to this new space since April and now we are married.” One purpose of a marriage ceremony is to acknowledge the covenant being made by the couple in a public way. I think a consecration service is a similar for a parish as we as a congregation make covenant with the Lord to love and serve Him through the use of this space. It is set apart for God’s purposes, which is why the Bishop took time to walk around and bless our font, instruments, lectern, pulpit, and communion table. These are not ours, they belong to the Lord and we commit ourselves and all our labor to making our new space beautiful to God’s glory.
 
The passage above is a part of Solomon’s prayer of dedication for the temple he had just finished constructing in Jerusalem. Now obviously I’m not suggesting that our worship space on 8th Avenue is comparable to the Temple dedication in 1 Kings 8, however I do believe God is honored as we dedicate our new space for worship unto the Lord. We know God is not constrained to only sacred spaces, however as Solomon says, God honors prayers offered by His people gathered in sacred spaces if His name is glorified in that place.
 
May Servants of Christ Anglican Church at 3530 NW 8th Avenue always be a place where God’s people gather in prayer, proclaim the glory of God, and demonstrate the good news that in Jesus Christ there is forgiveness for all!
 
Onward and Upward,
 


For A New Generation

 
Our “Great Treasure Hunt” has come to an end. I cannot express how grateful I am for each person who volunteered their time and energy last week to make VBS happen. We had volunteers of all ages who filled numerous roles. We had drivers who picked up families so they could attend VBS, a live band, a snack creator, group leaders, recreation leaders, and story-tellers that brought God’s Word to life. These are just some of the roles our volunteers tackled. Here at Servants of Christ you showed what a true servant of Christ looks like. For those of you who were praying from home and keeping us in your thoughts, thank you. We felt the Holy Spirit moving, and we know He was there protecting and guiding us this week. Thank you all for filling these valuable rolls so we could help the kingdom of God grow. From the bottom of my heart, thank you.
 

This week gave me a glimpse into the future of our Children’s and Youth Ministries at Servants. We are growing, by the grace of the Holy Spirit, in amazing ways. We had an average of forty children, ages 2-10 years old, attend VBS this year. We also had amazing youth volunteers. When I reflect on this, I see forty plus lives that we have the privilege to help disciple for Christ. 

The exciting news is that this school year our Club 456, that is our 4th-6th grade discipleship group, could double in size. Wednesday nights during the school year our 4th through 12th graders meet for food, fellowship, and discipleship. They learn from each other. They support one another through their words and actions. The older students mentor the younger ones. The younger students breathe new life into the ministry. Some of you have helped with meals, transportation, or volunteered on Wednesday nights. We are so grateful for all of those ministries. If you are feeling lead or hear the Holy Spirit tugging at you, we’d love your continued support.

This Sunday we need your prayers. We are going to ask our students and their parents to stand up. We’ll pray over the students for the upcoming school year. I don’t know if you know this, but being a kid is hard. There is so much pressure put on our children these days, it’s exhausting just listening to them. They can’t just run outside and play after school anymore. They can’t come back in when the street lights go on. They are startled by almost every noise and wary of everyone. They don’t know what it’s like to not have a phone to look at. Trust me, separating them from their phone is akin to separating them from their hand. I covet your prayers for them. If we make the commitment to remember our young people and their families in your prayers each day, we can start to show them what the active love of Christ looks like. We all need a little extra lift each day.

Please take the time to get to know our students. They are quite amazing. They have been blessed with so many different skills and talents. They love serving in different roles, but they are young. Did you know that several of our youth were not raised in church and have no spiritual guidance at home. These youth don’t have parents who are connected to Servants or any other church body. They desperately need spiritual mentors. All of our young people need mature Christians who will speak God’s truth into their lives. I know that loving them can sometimes require a large amount of grace, but we’ve been entrusted with a remarkable opportunity to grow the kingdom. How can you get to know them? Just come up and start a conversation.

Last but certainly not least, you can join us. Join us on Sunday mornings in Children’s Church. Come to our family events and hang out with our young families. Come fellowship on Wednesday nights with the youth. The last Wednesday of every month is game night. This is where you see them in their element. Join the transportation team, and help give the students who want to be there a ride. There are so many ways you can serve.

As verse 4 says in Psalm 78, “We will not hide them from their children, but tell to the coming generation the glorious deeds of the LORD, and his might, and the wonders that he has done.” That generation is among us. The time is now. Let them know all the wondrous things God has done in your life.



Toward Common Prayer

 
Greetings from the Mountains of Virginia. After completing my second Doctorate of Ministry class at Trinity School for Ministry in Ambridge, Pennsylvania last week, I’m off on the Appalachian Trail for a few days of vacation. Many of you know that I try to walk the trail for a short section with my brother Zack. This year we move into southern Virginia. My mind is full of new ideas and spiritual insights from the class, and I’m sure by the time I see you June 24th, there will be much to share. I hope you too will be enjoying some Sabbath rest this summer.
 
I write to you today, to let you know that on July 1 we will be making a few small changes to our Sunday liturgy. I want you to know that I don’t take these changes lightly and I’m aware that the idea of liturgy is that you will know the service and allow it to flow from your heart as a habit of spiritual formation. Liturgy reminds us that we are a part of something that is much bigger than us. I’m of course referring to the Church, the Body of Christ in the world.
 
So why are we making changes to our liturgy? Short answer: to be in step with our communion, the Anglican Church in North America. As some of you know, our province has been working on an approved liturgy for North America and these few changes are the last adjustments before the new prayer book is ready for publishing some time in 2019. This is very exciting as we’ve been without a printed prayer book now for 13 years. If we don’t adopt these changes will be out of step with our sister Anglican churches, and that is not the idea of common prayer.
 
There is one bit of news that I hope you will find exciting in these changes. The new prayer book allows for the response to “The Lord be with you,” to return to the familiar “And also with you.” This is actually just an option, but as we are currently the only ACNA church I am aware of that uses, “And with your Spirit,” we will take the option and return to those familiar words. I think most of you will be pleased. The reason we are making the small changes to the liturgy is the same reason we are returning to “And also with you,” namely, so that we can pray in union with our sister ACNA churches.
 
I will see you this Sunday and we will continue to journey together in God’s mission in Gainesville. In the meantime, please pray for me on the trail and all of those Anglican leaders gathered in Jerusalem for the Global Anglican Future Conference.
 
May the Shalom of God rest upon your hearts,


With Thankfulness to God

 
And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Colossians 3:15-17

 

In the passage above, the Apostle Paul wraps up his summary to the Church in Colossi with three reminders of thanksgiving. First, as Christ rules your heart producing peace, “be thankful.” This is our salvation; Christ has brought us peace. Second, as a member of the body we are to minister to one another through teaching, admonishing, and singing “with thankfulness.” And third, as we go about our lives, whatever you do, do it in obedience to Christ, “giving thanks to God the Father.” So whether it is our salvation, our life as a Church community, or our work and activity individually - Paul says it is to be smothered in thanksgiving.
 
This is a reminder as I write this article, which is once again filled with my own thanksgiving. Paul would say, “and so it should!” So much is in transition with our new buildings, and I continue to give thanks for how the Lord calls His people to labor for the common effort to ready a place for worship and ministry. Last Sunday, I failed to mention that thirty people came out to clean, paint, repair, trim, pressure wash, organize, and improve our facilities. Thanks to all who showed up. If you couldn’t make last Saturday, consider coming out for gutter cleaning at Littlewood this weekend. Then last Tuesday a team of seven women and men arrived to tear into what was the Theater room, working tirelessly to remove the choir steps so that this multi-purpose room can better serve our children, youth, and adults. When you’re by the church next, peek in to see how much floor space was created by our demolition team! Well done.
 
I also need to thank some folks from outside our church who blessed us this week. First, Amanda Allen, a local photographer, who blessed us with the pictures from our Pentecost service. The photos will be incorporated into our website and available to view there and on social media shortly. Amanda has graciously given us these photos for free. Bless you, Amanda, for capturing our Grand Opening and also allowing us to visually show the community of SOC to all those who visit us online. Then, second, I must acknowledge Jason Stefansen (brother of our prayer intercessor Scott Stefansen), who on his vacation from work as lighting expert, volunteered to come down to Gainesville to work on our spotlights in the Sanctuary. Jason got two spotlights working for this Sunday, which means you will actually be able to see the faces of our clergy and servers, plus it brings more light into the Sanctuary as a whole. Jason has already promised to come back and do some more work with our lighting and electrical system. Thank you, Jason. Third, Jason’s work could not have been accomplished without the loan of a lift from Westwood Hills Church of God. How generous this church has been to us in loaning their lift. Also, special thanks to our own Bill McCrea, who is the keeper of the lift while it’s in our possession. Yes ladies, that’s the large piece of equipment you see on the way to the women’s bathroom on Sundays. (Just temporary, I promise).
 
Lastly, I want to end this article by acknowledging Mrs. Susan Staley. For the past two and a half years, Susan has been an amazing administrative asset to SOC. First volunteering one day a week, then two days, finally becoming our office administrator last year, Susan has brought organization to the office and has given care for the details of running a church office a new level of excellence. Some of you may know that Susan has learned to play the dulcimer over the last few years and so now has felt a calling to leave her administration ministry for a music ministry to the sick and dying. If you visit a hospital or hospice care, you may hear or see Susan ministering to the care givers or patients there. Susan will be greatly missed in the office but we are grateful for these years of ministry and bless her in her calling to music ministry. Susan, we are so thankful for your willingness to use your gifts for the building up of our congregation.
 
So you see, fellow servants, there is just a lot to be thankful for in this season of our life together. Please continue to pray for safety for our volunteer workers and contractors, and also for those in the body traveling during the summer. While you are away, don’t forget that you can view our services live on Facebook each Sunday and, of course, give financially online. Our giving to the Lord is one of the tangible expressions of our thanksgiving for all the Lord is doing in our lives.
 
 
Onward and Upward,
 


It’s All About Timing

 
Our church took an important step as a parish when we purchased our own space April 5th. The first fruit of that step was evident in the worship we experienced in our first two services in our new sanctuary. Not unlike the purchase of a first home, there is a level of maturity that comes for a congregation that moves into its own space. Now as I repeatedly tell the story of our new church home to different people outside the congregation, I can see God’s provision and timing even more clearly. I firmly believe this was the right decision and the right time to buy a building.
 
What about you? No, I’m not asking you whether you think it was the right timing, but I am asking is this the right time for you to take the next step in your own commitment to this body and our ministries in and out of our church walls. I like to think our relationship with God is like riding a bike. A bike has two pedals; the Christian life also has two pedals. For followers of Christ, one pedal is our faith in God; the other pedal is our response in obedient action. And like riding a bike, it’s much easier and enjoyable when you are moving forward!
 
Is the Lord calling you to join Servants officially? Are you ready to take a place on a ministry team? Is there a burning passion to serve in a particular place that you’ve been reluctant to mention? Already our church is experiencing growth in attendance just over these first two weeks (even though I asked folks to wait until May 20th, haha). If you have been around SOC for a while, you will likely be asked to consider a place of service or ministry. Could this be your own moment to step up?

 

Onward & upward,
Alex +