by: Steve Rushing
by: Steve Rushing
by: Derek McCollum
The basic idea (of this book) is that those who help best are the ones who both need help and give help. A healthy community is dependent on all of us being both. So the book is divided into two parts. The first part guides you in sharing your burdens; the second part guides you in bearing the burdens of others… (God’s formula) is the perfect system. If God only used experts and people of renown, some could boast in their own wisdom, but God’s way on doing things is not the same as our way. We ordinary people have been given power and wisdom through the Holy Spirit and are called to love others (John 13: 24). From this beginning, we are compelled to move toward others rather than stay away…
by: Meagan Greene
“For where two or three are gathered in my name, there I am among them.” Matthew 18: 20
by: Gerrit Dawson
"Yes!” said a great voice behind their backs. “It is more magic.” They looked round. There, shining in the sunrise, larger than they had seen him before, shaking his mane stood Aslan [the great Lion] himself.
“Aren’t you dead then, dear Aslan?” asked Lucy.
“Not now,” said Aslan.
“But what does it all mean?” asked Susan.
“It means,” said Aslan, “That though the Witch knew the Deep Magic, there is a magic deeper still which she did not know. Her knowledge goes back only to the dawn of Time. But if she could have looked a little further back….she would have known that when a willing victim who had committed no treachery was killed in a traitor’s stead, the Table would crack and Death itself would start working backwards.”
by: Elizabeth Parker
by: Nancy Spiller
by: Gerrit Dawson
Palm Sunday Celebration
Service of Shadows
Easter Services: 6.30, 9 and 11
The Power of Narnia!
by: Gerrit Dawson
Lift up your hearts! I love to hear those words in communion! They call us to look up from our lives to see the Jesus who is giving himself to us by the power of his Holy Spirit.
“Lift Up Your Hearts: Questing for Christ” is our theme for Lent this year, which begins February 10. We’re going to answer the “upward call” of God in our lives.
On Sunday, February 14, every person will be given a 42-day guide for reading and prayer. (You can also sign up to receive the daily readings by email.) We’ll start our seven week sermon series and all will be invited to be part of a small group studying the daily readings together.
As usual, each day will contain three sets of readings. The first will be a story or teaching from Scripture about how God calls us upward to meet him. The first week we look at the mountains of God in the Old Testament. The second week we look at the mountains of Jesus (you’ll be amazed by how important mountains were in the story of Jesus!). Then we’ll consider how Jesus ascended to heaven and the way he enables us to be spiritually united to him now.
The second reading every day will be a psalm that connects us in prayer to the day’s theme. Not surprisingly, we’ll read all 15 of the psalms of ascent, those prayers the pilgrims made while journeying up the hill to Jerusalem.
The third reading will be a quote from some great writings, prayers or hymns from throughout church history, taking us deeper into the theme.
Every week, pieces of great art will enable us to consider our themes through the eyes of Christ’s artists through the centuries.
The day’s work can be done in 20 minutes and I’m encouraging everyone to commit now to take a journey upward toward Jesus this Lent. For 42 days, let’s seek him by lifting up our hearts together!
I’m looking forward to taking my place with our other great small group leaders in meeting with you each week for discussion and prayer. You can sign up for both the readings and the groups today.
I love that we get to go on a quest for Christ every year in preparation for Easter, because as ever, I love being your pastor.
This past Christmas, you gave more than $48,000 in our special offering! That’s astounding. Brian Sleeth of the Christian Outreach Center and Nancy Zito from Gardere Community Christian School both report how overwhelmed with gratitude they feel toward our church.
Meanwhile, the session has approved a balanced budget for 2016 of approximately $3.5 million, built upon your regular, sacrificial tithes and offerings. The finances undergirding our ministry will be presented at the annual meeting of the congregation on Sunday, February 28 at 10.15 am in the Sanctuary.
by: Dick Gates
This is a final opportunity to share a few things with you as I will retire January 31, 2016. Judie and I are moving to New River, AZ, to be near our two sons and granddaughter’s families. We will move sometime after the middle of February. We have had a house built and have our house here on the market.
When we moved here in May of 2005, we knew the reputation of FPC but not the depth of love and fellowship that has made this church the most wonderful ministry opportunity of all the six churches I have pastored the last 41 years through seminary and beyond! Judie and I have experienced much love and joy serving you all. It has truly been a labor of love for us both. We are very excited about being with our family but the sadness of leaving a large part of our hearts here is painful. You have been gracious to us and I believe Gerrit Dawson is the best Senior Pastor in the EPC! I won’t even miss his awesome sermons because I can watch him on streaming video in AZ!!! Our staff also is and the best days for Global Missions are just ahead with Dr. Whitney Alexander and the Global Missions Committee.
Coming Up In the New Year
Please plan to attend the Decision America Prayer Rally 2016 with Franklin Graham on January 13 at noon on the corner of North Blvd. and 3rd Street (Town Square) to pray for America please. We continue to meet every Sunday in the Sanctuary from 5 to 6 pm to pray for our country and the Church.
My final Global Missions responsibility will be our Mission Conference January 30-31, with Rev. Dr. Sameh Hanna Sr., Associate Pastor of Kasr El Dobra Evangelical Church in Cairo, Egypt. This event promises to be very insightful on what is happening in the Middle East and how the Gospel is at work by the Holy Spirit there. Please invite your friends because what Sameh will share you will not hear on the evening news! Thank you for praying for these opportunities to go Deeper in Christ and Further into the World with the Gospel.
I am in your debt for the privilege of serving you as one of your pastors these last short ten and a half years. I/we love you deeply.
- Dick and Judie Gates
by: Gerrit Dawson
An era ends. I can’t believe it’s been a decade. Dick Gates is retiring January 31 and he and Judie are moving to Arizona to be near their family.
Now the rest of us pastors are going to have to work for a living!
Dick has been a visiting, praying, mission promoting machine. His absence will be felt. His shoes are impossible to fill.
In fact, it’s nearly impossible to overstate the impact he has had on our church.
A decade ago, tensions between our services were real. They’re pretty much nonexistent now. Loving care of each and every member who is ill, grieving or in crisis goes a long way in creating unity.
A decade ago, we made some hard decisions about day care, denominations, service time changes, and a commitment to renovate our buildings. In a time when questions got asked, attendance dipped and my leadership could have been questioned, it wasn’t. A committed session joined a loyal pastoral staff. And none more loyal than Dick Gates. He has always, always, always had my back. He never hesitated to tell me directly if he saw me making an errant turn. He never hesitated to follow decisions I made, even dumb ones, and no one could get him to utter a negative word. We got through that season and entered a time of great advancement. Dick’s passionate loyalty was key in that.
Under Dick’s leadership, global mission got re-energized even as it got more personalized. It takes a globe-trotting pastor to keep the ties tight between a church and its missions around the world. Dick had the vision to invite Sameh Maurice here, and that ignited our partnership with Kasr El Dobara Church in Cairo, allowing us to see a dynamic influence for Christ through these partners. And that inspired new full time missionaries from our church to hit the field. Our mission conferences still grow in both excitement and attendance. Dick’s leadership has raised our profile in the world community of evangelical churches.
And he has taught us to love prayer. Every week, between the 9 and 11 services, Dick and a team pray for people with particular needs. Every week, he leads prayer for our nation and community. Every week, he visits dozens of people, with his faithful beloved beside him, to pray for those facing surgeries, funerals or crises.
Talk to him ten minutes, and he will get you promising to pray for suffering Christians in the Middle East. Ten more minutes and you will be on a plane to do a mission trip!
Dick works with the joy of the Lord. His whistling and his laugh are heartiest in the early morning, and he refuses to let us be grumpy in the office. We could never get him to give up the Buckeyes as his favorite football team, but we did teach him how to shoot pistols!
Soon, a search committee will seek an Associate Pastor for Pastoral Care, Prayer and Spiritual Growth. Whitney, who shares Dick’s vibrant passion for global as well as local mission, will add world mission to his full pastoral plate. Whitney will also help coordinate pastoral care until the new associate arrives. The church will go on, far better for this decade of wonderful, consecrated service. But oh, how we will miss Dick and Judie!
Dinner to Honor the Gates
The church will host a ticketed, catered dinner Sunday, January 17 at 5PM to honor (and maybe roast a wee bit) Dick and Judie. Tickets are $15 and limited to 300 people. Child care and children’s choir will be provided concurrently. Email Gerrit if you would like one of a limited number of complementary seats.
Global Mission Conference
Dick’s final weekend includes his favorite event: the annual missions conference. Pastor Sameh Hannah from Cairo will be our speaker during Saturday morning sessions, Sunday services and a special Sunday evening prayer event. I can’t think of a better way to encourage Dick than to swell the house for this conference, especially for the prayer focus Sunday night. It means so much to him: we can bless him on his way by supporting this great event