Pastoral Post 9.7.2016

This past Sunday was a holiday Sunday. Conventional wisdom is that on such Sundays there will be low attendance. I’ve always experienced that in other churches, in fact. Labor Day, Fourth of July, Memorial Day, not to mention the Sundays after Christmas and Easter, are all low Sundays. But not here. This past Sunday, in fact, we had 571 in the three services, more than our average Sunday attendance in 2015. And, more importantly, there was great energy and participation. How exciting to be part of a church that realizes the need to worship God--even on holidays!

The Middle School After School program is off to a great start! Some 50 young people have attended at least one day, while the biggest day so far has been 39. There is great excitement among those who are coming. We expect the word to continue to spread and the numbers to grow. This was started in response to a stated need from the Middle School principal and others at a community leaders meeting we held recently, and the funding for the startup has come from proceeds from our General Endowment Fund. I’m thankful for those who had the foresight and love for their church to make a bequest to our Permanent Endowment Fund.

Next Wednesday Susan and I will hold one more informational session regarding the Holy Land trip. It’s not too late to sign up without a penalty! We currently have 13 from our church and 16 from Clemmons UMC to share a bus and tour guide. We will depart on January 11 for the 10-day trip. There is a two-day optional extension to visit Petra in Jordan, named one of the New Seven Wonders of the World in 2007.

I am told that some people would like to go but are concerned about safety. While that’s understandable, it’s important to note some facts: the airport in Tel Aviv is the most secure in the world; the guides and bus drivers constantly monitor and avoid potentially dangerous situations; while thousands visit each year, no American Christian pilgrim has been killed in Israel in the past 42 years; several people we know have visited in the past 2 years, all of which say they felt completely safe at all times.

We are leading this trip for one reason—when we led a group of church members there in 2001, many of them approached us during the trip with tears in their eyes to say, “Thank you for bringing us.” It is a transformational experience. You will never read the Bible the same again. You will never hear news from that region the same again. We will “walk where Jesus walked.” We take a boat ride on the Sea of Galilee. We will visit Bethlehem and Jerusalem, Nazareth and Jericho. We will visit the Dead Sea, and the location of the Dead Sea scrolls and Masada, the ancient fortress.

I encourage all who have any interest to join us next Wednesday, September 14, following the Land of Sky concert in the Faith Classroom (about 7:15).

This Sunday we conclude the 3-week kickoff series for the discipleship model “From Root to Fruit.” Becky Brown, who has worked with the Discipleship Team developing this, will preach and fill in any information I might have missed the past two weeks. We’ll baptize 4 children from 2 families at 8:40, always a special experience.

See you Sunday Where “The fruit we bear is Christ.”

Sandy

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