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Unanswered Prayer

Dear Church Family,

As I write this email, I am hearing and reading reports of additional layoffs from Disney, which of course affects many in our community, including those in our congregation. Indeed, just in the last few days, I’ve talked to several people who have told me they lost their job. My heart breaks for each and every person who now finds themselves without work and is figuring out what to do next. Please be assured of our love, prayers, and commitment to stand beside you in this difficult journey. I am reminded of the words of the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 12, “If one part [of the body] suffers, all the parts suffer with it” (v. 26a). Though we may not be in the same position as you, your pain is real to us, and we want you to feel upheld in these difficult days. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me if I can personally be in prayer for you (cjones@communityoffaith.org).

This weekend, we continue in our 5-week series on prayer with a look at unanswered prayer – those times when we pray for God to do something (heal a loved one, for example), and we don’t get the response we are seeking. How do we make sense of unanswered prayer in view of our understanding of God as a loving God who wants to fill our lives with good things? Additionally, how do we make sense of unanswered prayer in view of the sweeping promises Jesus made about prayer?

Then Jesus told them, “I tell you the truth, if you have faith and don’t doubt . . . You can even say to this mountain, ‘May you be lifted up and thrown into the sea,’ and it will happen. You can pray for ANYTHING, and if you have faith, you will receive it.”
Matthew 21:21-22 (NLT, emphasis added)

“I also tell you this: If two of you agree here on earth concerning ANYTHING you ask, my Father in heaven will do it for you.
Matthew 18:19 (NLT, emphasis added)

I tell you, you can pray for ANYTHING, and if you believe that you’ve received it, it will be yours.
Mark 11:24 (NLT, emphasis added)

But if you remain in me and my words remain in you, you may ask for ANYTHING you want, and it will be granted!
John 15:7 (NLT, emphasis added)

Obviously, these promises don’t always materialize for us. So in this weekend’s message, we’ll explore what Jesus likely meant by these statements as well as how we can better understand unanswered prayer. I hope you will join us for online worship either on Saturday night (6:30PM EST) or Sunday morning (8:30AM, 10:30AM EST). By the way, this Sunday is All Saints’ Day, when we celebrate those saints (Christ-followers) who have gone before us in the faith and now rest from their labors with God in heaven. As you’re worshipping from home, you may want to light candles for saints whom you know who have passed away in the last year.  

I want to close this email with a bit of advice as we approach the election this Tuesday (November 3). Actually, this advice doesn’t come from me but from John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist movement. Wesley wrote these words on October 6, 1774 as he advised the early Methodists on voting.

I met those of our society who had votes in the ensuing election, and advised them

  1. To vote, without fee or reward, for the person they judged most worthy
  2. To speak no evil of the person they voted against, and
  3. To take care their spirits were not sharpened against those that voted on the other side.”

May these words become true in our own lives.

Blessings,

Chris



Sabbath Rest for Pastors & Church Leaders

Dear Church Family,

You’re receiving this email on Friday. However, it’s Saturday (6 days earlier) as I write it. Amanda and I are getting ready to spend some time together over the next week. Her mom is gracious enough to watch the twins (and dogs) for us while we do this.

While I’ll miss “seeing” you in this weekend’s services, you’re in for a real treat because you’re going to be led in worship by various members of the Florida Conference Cabinet. (For those may not be aware, the Cabinet refers to the team of people who work closely with our Bishop, who oversees our Annual Conference.) You may recall that the Cabinet led us in worship a few months back, so we’re grateful to be able to experience the gifts of these folks again. The person who is going to be delivering the message is Pastor June Edwards who mentored me while I was in college. June is a gifted preacher and teacher, and I know you’ll enjoy her message.

Some of you may be wondering about our Ruth series. No worries – we’ll come back to the series next weekend (September 26/27) with a look at Ruth Chapter 3. In the meantime, continue to read Ruth.

Thank you for allowing me this Sabbath rest. As always, I am thankful to be your pastor.

Have a great weekend!

Blessings,

Chris

 



Becoming Agents of a Chess Master God

Dear Church Family,
 
As I begin this email, I first want to acknowledge the somberness of today. It’s hard to believe that 19 years have passed since our nation came under attack on September 11, 2001. Please know I am praying for all of you, but particularly those of you for whom this day is especially difficult. I hope you find inspiration in the words of the apostle Paul, “3 All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is our merciful Father and the source of all comfort” (2 Corinthians 1:3 NLT). God is, indeed, the source of all comfort. My prayer is that you come to experience the comforting embrace of God today.
 
This weekend we continue our journey through our new preaching series on the Old Testament Book of Ruth. Last week we left Ruth and Naomi in Bethlehem, where they had just come after leaving Moab. Ruth had lost her husband, Naomi had lost her husband and two sons, and neither one of them had any idea what the future held. This week we turn our attention to Ruth chapter 2, where God’s redemptive purposes begin to unfold. The title for the message is “Becoming Agents of a Chess Master God.” If you’re intrigued by the title (and I hope you are!), make sure to join us for one of our online services on Saturday night (6:30PM EST) or Sunday morning (8:30AM, 10:30AM EST). You can watch on our website (www.communityoffaith.org/livestream-services) or through Facebook (www.facebook.com/cofumc/). By the way, if you haven’t already, please read the entire Book of Ruth before the weekend (don’t worry — it’s only 4 chapters long). And make sure to watch last weekend’s message in case you missed it: https://vimeo.com/455586998.
 
A couple of days ago, you received an informational email from our Administrative Council regarding in-person worship and other gatherings at Community of Faith. I hope you’re prayerfully considering the information contained in that email, especially as you prepare to fill out the survey that we’ll be sending to your inbox on Wednesday, September 16. If you have any questions in the meantime, please don’t hesitate to let us know.
 
I imagine that many of you are probably wondering about Be, Go, Do!, our yearly day of service work, which normally happens at the end of September. For obvious reasons, we will need to postpone Be, Go, Do! until we are back in the building. In the meantime, please consider making a donation to our Voice of Hope Banner (www.communityoffaith.org/giving/). Thank you, in advance, for your thoughtful generosity.
 
Starting this Monday (September 14), Amanda and I plan to take some time off. (Her mom is gracious enough to watch the twins while we do this.) Given that we’ll be away, Morning Prayer will be suspended from September 14-18 and will resume on September 21. In place of Morning Prayer, we will post daily Scripture passages on our church’s Facebook page. Thank you for granting me space to relax, unwind, and be with my wife. I really do appreciate it!
 
Let me end by saying how thankful I am to be your pastor and to be serving the risen Jesus alongside you. I pray you have a great weekend. And I look forward to “seeing” you at one of our services for worship.
 
Blessings,
Chris


Ruth: A Story of Redemption

Dear Church Family,

During the announcements in online worship last weekend, Joe and Gillian Wolfe, our Live by Faith banner leaders, spoke about the importance of staying spiritually fit. Their words made me think of a section of Eugene Peterson’s paraphrase of Paul’s first letter to Timothy.

Exercise daily in God—no spiritual flabbiness, please! Workouts in the gymnasium are useful, but a disciplined life in God is far more so, making you fit both today and forever. You can count on this. Take it to heart. 

1 Timothy 4:7b-9 (MSG)

I hope all of us are taking time to avoid spiritual flabbiness and keep fit, especially as we head out of summer and enter the busyness of the fall season. In addition to weekend worship, there are a number of ways our staff and leadership are helping us to keep fit (even as our building remains closed).

  • Morning Prayer every Monday-Friday at 8:30AM (EST) on our Facebook page (facebook.com/cofumc).
  • Live music with Julia Nicholas every Wednesday from 7-7:30PM on our Facebook page.
  • Devotions (written or video) every Monday-Friday generally around noontime on our Facebook page.
  • Meet Me in the Lobby (Zoom call for prayer and fellowship every Sunday from 9:30-10:25AM).
  • Daily written devotions on our Live by Faith Facebook group (facebook.com/groups/598060850780315).
  • Children and youth opportunities through Zoom and Facebook (contact us for more details).

Another new option that’s coming up is a study based on Pastor Adam Hamilton’s The Walk: Five Essential Practices of the Christian Life. Joe and Gillian spoke about this study in the announcements last weekend. However, since then, we’ve decided to revise (just a bit) how we are approaching it. Gillian will continue to lead a study (via GoToMeeting) on this book on Tuesday mornings. Then, similar to our 2020 studies on Philippians, Revelation, and James, I plan to lead a live study on Hamilton’s text every Thursday at 6:30PM from Facebook (beginning September 24). If you’ve been a part of any of the past studies I just mentioned, there’s no need to sign up for this one (since I already have you on my email list for the handout). However, if you haven’t been and would like to be involved, please drop me a note (cjones@communityoffaith.org). By the way, there’s no need to purchase the book in this new format (though you are certainly welcome to if that’s your preference). And there’s also going to be a chance for us to discuss our learnings on a special Facebook page!  

I hope all the above makes sense. If it doesn’t, please don’t hesitate to reach out to Joe and Gillian (livebyfaith@communityoffaith.org) or me for clarity!

I would be remiss if I didn’t mention two more things before closing out this note. First, a big THANK YOU to all of you who gave to our love offering for Trace Rudolph. I know these funds will help Trace out tremendously as he begins seminary this fall. Second, we are starting a brand-new series of messages this weekend based on the Old Testament book of Ruth. We’re calling the series “Ruth: A Story of Redemption.” Some variation of the word “redemption” shows up at least 23 times in Ruth. As we’re going to see, this story is all about redemption.

I look forward to “seeing” you online at some point this weekend for worship (and maybe for Meet Me in the Lobby,” too)! Until then, I hope you take care.  

Blessings,
Chris


Confidence & Connection

Dear Church Family,

When I look back on my life so far, I realize that I owe much of who I am today to people who came alongside, encouraged and supported me, and saw gifts in me that quite frankly I didn’t see in myself. This is especially true when it comes to who I am as a pastor. I think about Christ Church United Methodist in Fort Lauderdale, the congregation in which I grew up, where I said “yes” to God’s love, and where I first experienced my call to the ministry. I also fondly recall First United Methodist Church in Lakeland, FL, where I interned in college, and Elevation United Methodist Church in Benson, NC, where I interned in seminary. These congregations patiently sat through first attempts at sermons and Bible studies and still responded as if I were Billy Graham. I am thankful for them!

I am also thankful that Community of Faith has played that same of kind of role for a few of our congregants, including Frank Adams (now serving New Horizon United Methodist Church in Haines City, FL), Mary Downey (now leading the Community Hope Center in Kissimmee, FL), Chris Agoranos (now serving Elizabeth Street United Methodist Church in Durham, NC), and others over the years. Further, we should be proud that we now have two other persons to add to this list! The first is Alejandra Salemi, who on Monday night appeared (via the Internet) before the members of our Staff Parish Relations Committee (SPRC). During that meeting, Alejandra (who recently began seminary at Harvard Divinity School) received the full support of the SPRC. Her next step is to appear before our Charge Conference in October, which you will you hear more information about soon. The second is Trace Rudolph, who received the support of SPRC and Charge Conference earlier this year and is now beginning seminary at Candler School of Theology in Atlanta, GA.

Speaking of Trace, he’s going to be delivering the message this weekend. His message is entitled “Confidence & Connection.” Trace will be preaching from Exodus 3, which contains the story of God’s calling to Moses at the burning bush. Trace will expand on Moses’ calling and how this calling relates to his own. Please don’t miss this important message!

Additionally, as I mentioned last weekend and you’ll hear me say again this weekend, we have an opportunity to support Trace financially through a love offering that we’ll take up. To give to this offering, you can do so online (go to www.communityoffaith.org/giving and then select the “Trace Rudolph donations” tab) or by mailing in your donation (9120 Teacher Lane Davenport, FL 33897). If you mail in your donation, please remember to make your check payable to Community of Faith and then write “Trace Rudolph” in the memo line. Thank you for your generosity toward Trace, which will help him with seminary expenses. We’ll have a similar opportunity to be generous with Alejandra later this year.

There’s no question that God is using our Motley Crew to raise up a new generation of pastoral leaders. The future is bright. Praise be to God!

Blessings,

Chris  

p.s. Please continue to pray for all those in the path of Hurricane Laura. After the storm passes, we’ll talk about how our congregation can be supportive of the folks there.



Every and All

Dear Church Family,
 
You’re receiving this email on Friday. However, it’s about 9AM on Thursday as I am writing it. We just finished Morning Prayer on Facebook Live a few moments ago, and the hymn that we heard this morning is one of my favorites, “Come Sinners to the Gospel Feast.” Penned by Charles Wesley (who along with his older brother John founded the Methodist movement), this hymn captures the truth that, in Jesus Christ, God has indeed come for ALL of us. Absolutely no exclusions. In fact, I want you to notice how many times the word “all” or “every” appear in these lyrics in reference to human beings.
 
 Come, sinners, to the gospel feast;
let EVERY soul be Jesus’ guest.
Ye need not one be left behind,
for God hath bid ALL humankind.
 
Sent by my Lord, on you I call;
the invitation is to ALL.
Come, ALL the world! Come, sinner, thou!
All things in Christ are ready now.
 
Come, ALL ye souls by sin oppressed,
ye restless wanderers after rest;
ye poor, and maimed, and halt, and blind,
in Christ a hearty welcome find.
 
My message as from God receive;
ye ALL may come to Christ and live.
O let his love your hearts constrain,
nor suffer him to die in vain.
 
This is the time, no more delay!
This is the Lord’s accepted day.
Come thou, this moment, at his call,
and live for him who died for ALL.
 
(Charles Wesley, “Come Sinners to the Gospel Feast,” 1747, emphasis mine)
 
Charles Wesley wrote these lyrics in large part because of a theology that was prevalent in his period (and is still prevalent in some churches even now today) called Calvinism, which held that God hasn’t come for all but only a select few, a group of people whom Calvinists call “the elect.” (I won’t get into all the differences between Calvinism and Wesleyanism in this email. However, if you’d like to learn more, check out this link: http://www.crivoice.org/tulip.html.) Charles and his older brother didn’t hold back when speaking out against Calvinism. They maintained the Scriptural teaching that God hasn’t come for some or event most. Instead, God has come for ALL. Indeed, God’s heart beats for ALL human beings (John 3:16, 2 Peter 3:9).
 
So rest assured that no matter who you are or what you’ve done (or haven’t done) in life, God’s heart beats for you. In Jesus Christ, God has come for you. Yes, that includes you. You mean as much to God as the sending of his Son.
 
Blessings,
Chris
 
p.s. Please join us for online worship this weekend as we close out our series called “The Short of It: The Entire Story of the Bible from Creation to New Creation.” We’ll be talking about the return of Jesus and New Creation this weekend, so don’t miss out!
 
p.p.s., Meet Me in the Lobby, our time of virtual gathering in between Sunday services, begins this Sunday (August 16) at 9:30AM. You’ll receive an email later today and again on Sunday with instructions on how to join. Hope to “see” you then.


The Church is the bridge

Dear Church Family,
 
Last night, we concluded the last session of our James study. I am so thankful to all of you who joined me for that online Bible study. Here are the main takeaways we gleaned from James.
  • As Christians, we rejoice in trials, not because trials are fun (they’re not) or we’re suckers for suffering (we’re not), but because God uses trials to reveal and strengthen faith. Additionally, God gives us wisdom to endure trials and learn from them.
  • We shouldn’t attribute temptation to God, because God doesn’t tempt us. Indeed, God’s only desire is to fill our lives with good things. Rather, temptations come from our own desires, which, if not properly handled, can lead us to sin.
  • Properly responding to God’s word includes both listening to God’s word and doing what it says.
  • Our faith in Christ should manifest itself in concrete action. Such action will include treating everybody equally and controlling our tongue (i.e., watching what we say, particularly about other people).
  • We should be led by God’s wisdom rather than the world’s wisdom. Further, when we’re led by God’s wisdom, we’ll be people who are pure, peace-loving, gentle, full of mercy. We’ll also be people who won’t insist on our own way.
  • We should include God in every area of our lives, including our plans for the future and how we manage our finances.
 
What remarkable, practical words we find in James! Again, thank you to all of you who were a part of this study. We’ll likely do another church-wide Bible study at some point in the near future. However, for now, we’ll take a break and enjoy other studies offered by our Live by Faith Banner (some of which you can read about below).
 
This weekend in worship we’ll of course be inspired by great music. Additionally, we’ll continue our journey through our message series titled “The Short of It: The Entire Story of the Bible from Creation to New Creation.” In this 6-part series, we’re looking at the “BIG PICTURE” of Scripture.
 
Having talked about Creation, the Fall, Israel, and Jesus, we now come to the fifth part of this series – the Church. Next week, we’ll conclude these messages by looking at New Creation. Of course, this means the bridge between Jesus (when God came among us) and New Creation (when God comes among us again to wrap this whole thing up) is the Church. Given the importance of the Church, I hope you will join us for online worship and listen to (what I pray by God’s grace will be) a meaningful message.
 
Take care, and we’ll “see” you this weekend!   
 
Blessings,
Chris
 
p.s. Please join me in keeping the people of Beirut in our prayers this week after the devastating explosion they experienced. We lift them up as they mourn their losses following such a tragedy.


Jesus brings us home to God

Dear Church Family,
 
In 1986, five-year-old Saroo Munshi Khan and his 14-year-old brother were roaming the streets of their home city of Berhampur, India. Searching for spare change, they eventually went to a train station. Saroo’s older brother Guddu wandered beyond the station. Meanwhile Saroo fell asleep in one of the cars while waiting for his brother to return. A few hours later, Saroo woke up more than 900 miles away in Calcutta, with no way of knowing how to return to home. He survived on the streets for weeks, was taken into an orphanage, and was adopted by an Australian family and grew up in Hobart, Tasmania. More than two and a half decades later, Saroo found his way back to his hometown with the help of Google Earth.
 
An article explains Saroo’s journey back home:
 
In 2011, using vague memories and Google Earth imagery, Saroo identified his home town. Using the ruler feature in Google Earth, he mapped out a search radius by making an educated guess about how far he traveled by train. After countless hours of scouring this area of Google Earth imagery, he came upon a proverbial needle in a haystack. Saroo spotted one vague landmark that led him to the next, helping him unlock a five-year-old child’s memories. He eventually spotted a neighborhood, street, and tin roof that looked familiar.
 
In 2012, Saroo embarked on a trip from Australia back to India. Once he arrived, he shared his story with local residents, who in turn helped him find his way back to his mother and surviving brother and sister. Twenty-six years later, Saroo finally found his way home.
 
That’s a pretty cool story, isn’t it? I can only imagine the joy that was present in Saroo’s family, particularly his mother, when they finally received him. This long-lost son and brother had at last come home.
 
This weekend in worship will be a coming home of sorts. The reason is we now – in our 6-part series looking at the major movements of Scripture – turn our attention to Jesus, who came to bring all of us – each and every one of us – home with God. There is not a person for whom Jesus did not come.
 
Be sure to join us for online worship either on Saturday night (6:30PM) or Sunday morning (8:30AM, 10:30AM). My hunch is you’ll be glad you did.
 
Blessings,
Chris
 
p.s. In addition to bringing us home with God, Jesus came to bring us home with each other. I know how meaningful relationships are to us. I also know those relationships have been affected by this hard (but very necessary) time of physical distancing. This weekend in worship you’ll hear about a new opportunity we have as a church family to connect and actually share conversations. You can read some of the info in the email below, but I’ll also explain more during the announcements.


Grateful for Julia and the rest of the Worship Team and COF Staff

Dear Church Family,
 
The other night, Julia Nicholas, our Director of Worship Arts, led us in a time of live worship music on our Facebook page. If you missed it, I encourage you to check out the video here:Click. I continue to be grateful for all our Community of Faith staff who have stepped up to the plate in this weird, challenging, and interesting season and found new and creative ways for us to engage with God and each other. And I know you are grateful, too!
 
This weekend we continue in our preaching series called “The Short of It: The Entire Story of the Bible from Creation to New Creation.” In the first two messages, we focused on Genesis 1-3, the opening three chapters of the Bible, in which we read about the creation of the universe – which God originally made good – and then the fall of humanity from the sin of Adam and Eve. Well, the message this weekend is going to cover a bit more content. We’re going to look at the story of Israel, which spans most of the Old Testament from Genesis 12 to Malachi 4. That’s 918 chapters by the way! Don’t worry. I won’t preach from all 918 chapters. (You can breathe a big sigh of relief!) We’re just going to look for the “big picture” of Israel’s story, which (as we’ll see in the message) mirrors our story. As always, we invite you to worship with us on Saturday night (6:30PM) or Sunday morning (8:30AM, 10:30AM). You can join us on our website (www.communityoffaith.org/livestream-services) or on our Facebook page (www.facebook.com/cofumc/).
 
Even as we deal with all our current challenges, I pray that you are still finding ways this summer to rest, relax, and spend time with God. As we say at Community of Faith, God loves you – PERIOD. May you bask in that love today as you embrace your true identity as God’s beloved child.
 
Blessings,
Chris
 


Where have you seen God moving at Community of Faith?

Dear Church Family,
 
When I was growing up, my pastor would often ask those in the church he led this question: “Where have you seen God moving at Christ Church?” I’ve always loved that question. I know, I know. Local churches get a lot of things wrong. (History shows that.) But by God’s grace, we also get a lot of things right, and for the past two thousand years, God has moved in local churches and used them as a force of good in the world. So, with that said, where have you seen God moving at Community of Faith? I’ve seen God moving in a variety of ways.
  • I’ve seen God moving in th74 KIDS we have registered this week for online Vacation Bible School. (Thanks, Kathy Beuttenmuller!)
  • I’ve seen God moving in congregants who, knowing that others wouldn’t be able to give as much money as they had planned for the year (because of being furloughed or laid off from work), INCREASED their giving to the church to make up the difference.
  • I’ve seen God moving in the countless folks who have called or emailed me to ask how to donate to our needy fund. (By the way the answer is to make a donation out to Community of Faith and then to earmark it for “Voice of Hope.”)
  • I’ve seen God moving in people who just a few months ago had never heard of Community of Faith, much less worshiped with us. However, they’ve stumbled upon our church’s online ministry and have been blessed by it.
  • I’ve seen God moving in those of you who have admitted that while you miss being in the building, you understand why our building is closed. What’s more, you are committed to doing whatever it takes to keep our community safe.
  • I’ve seen God moving in our Youth Director, David Stump, who just this last week visited the homes of our students and planted signs in their yards saying that the church misses them.
  • I’ve seen God moving in our staff and volunteers who have found new and creative ways to be the church in this weird season.
  • I’ve seen God moving in our Learning Center staff who have worked so hard to keep our Learning Center students and their families safe.
Yes, I’ve seen God moving in countless ways, only a few of which are mentioned above.
 
In Philippians 1:3, the apostle Paul writes, “Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God” (NLT). I give thanks to God for all of you and for the ways in which God continues to use you to minister to this world. You inspire me, and I’m grateful to be your pastor. My question remains, where have you seen God moving at Community of Faith?
 
Blessings,
Chris
 
p.s. Join us for online worship this weekend as we continue in our new series that we’re calling “The Short of It: The Entire Story of the Bible from Creation to New Creation.” This weekend we’ll be talking about the fall of humanity from the sin of Adam and Eve. Join us on Saturday night (6:30PM) or Sunday morning (8:30AM, 10:30AM) as we unpack this story together.


The Short of It: The Entire Story of the Bible from Creation to New Creation

Dear Church Family,
 
So far over the course of 2020 our sermon topics have been fairly diverse.
 
We’ve explored the relationship between faith and doubt. We’ve examined the 7 “I AM” statements of Jesus in the Gospel of John (I am the bread of life, I am the light of the world, I am the good shepherd, etc.). We’ve studied the various articles of the Apostles’ Creed (I believe in God the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth. And in Jesus Christ, his only Son our Lord, etc.). And, just more recently, we’ve seen how some of our favorite Marvel superheroes mirror the truths of Scripture.
 
Well, in our next series for 2020, we’re going to focus on – wait for it – the Bible. The whole Bible. From beginning to end. We’re calling the new series “The Short of It: The Entire Story of the Bible from Creation to New Creation.”
 
My experience as a pastor has taught me that far too many of us find the Bible baffling, confusing, and intimidating. Often the reason is we pull out various passages without a larger framework in which to put these passages. For example, we wonder how the story of Israel fits with the story of Creation. Or we wonder how the story of Jesus fits with his second coming in the future. Our hope with this new series is to give us a BIG PICTURE view of the Bible, which will in turn make Scripture more accessible and easier to read.
 
Ultimately, when it comes down to it, the Bible is meant to be read. My prayer is that this series will help all of us feel comfortable with picking up and reading Scripture.
 
In addition to being pumped about our new series, I’m excited that Vacation Bible School (VBS) begins this coming Monday (July 13). I’m incredibly grateful to Kathy Beuttenmuller for all her hard work in getting us set up for virtual VBS. If you have a child or know of a child anywhere in the world who would like to attend, please reach out to Kathy and let her know (kbeuttenmuller@communityoffaith.org). And please pray for VBS, that these kids will have a fun experience, and that God will use this program to change their lives.
 
Thanks for the privilege of serving as your pastor, and I look forward to “seeing” you online for weekend worship.
 
Blessings,
Chris


4th of July weekend – SuperHero Summer concludes

Dear Church Family,
 
I want to start by thanking all of you who joined us last night for our online study of James. We had a great time exploring the background (authorship, date of composition, etc.) and the first twelve verses of this remarkable biblical letter. As a reminder, our James study will continue each and every Thursday for at least the next month and a half. (I’m seeing how much material we get through each week.) To join, simply go to www.facebook.com/cofumc/live/ every Thursday at 6:30PM (EST). My prayer is that these online Bible studies are giving you a deeper understanding of, and appreciation for, God’s Word.
 
Tomorrow (Saturday) is 4th of July! Despite the pandemic, I hope you enjoy the holiday and that your celebration is a safe and healthy one. We truly are fortunate to live in the USA. What’s more, we’re grateful to those who serve and protect our country.
 
As always, worship this weekend will include electrifying and inspiring music. In addition, we’ll conclude our “Superhero Summer” sermon series. While this has been a fun and interesting series, all good things must come to an end. The superhero we’ll be exploring is Black Panther, who was the first black superhero in mainstream American comic books. Some of you may have seen the movie Black Panther, which came out two years ago. It was the highest-grossing movie of 2018 (grossed just over 1.3 billion dollars worldwide), so clearly this superhero resonates with a number of people (if not you, then somebody you know). In the message, I’ll share at least three scriptural truths we can pull out of Black Panther’s story. I hope you’ll make weekend worship a priority, and that you’ll join us online either on Saturday night (6:30PM) or Sunday morning (8:30AM, 10:30AM).
 
I began this note with a word of thanks. Let me end it with one, too. I want to personally thank all of you (which was more than 150 of you) who gave your feedback on our congregational-wide survey. As you may remember, this survey concerned both our online ministry and our eventual return to in-person worship. Kimi Lloyd, our Known by Love Banner Leader, posted a 5-minute video on our Facebook page summarizing the results.  You can watch it here in case you missed it: Click here. Please know our Administrative Council takes your feedback seriously and will continue to prayerfully go over what you shared as we continue to lead Community of Faith through this unique season.
 
Have a great 4th of July, and I’ll “see” you online for weekend worship!
 
Blessings,
Chris