From the Pastor’s Desk
Dear Members of Grace,
Greetings on the ninth day of Christmas!
I hope you were blessed by at least one of the Christmas celebrations at Grace Church – all three services were full of folks coming from near and far to celebrate the birth of Jesus long ago, a celebration of God’s power to continue to renew lives and communities by that “good news of great joy for all the nations.” God’s power is ever new to redeem us and renew us by the speaking of that promise. I also hope that you enjoyed at least a bit of time with family and friends, those relationships by which God blesses us in so many ways. We enjoyed having all five kids home together, with Andrew in for a week from Salt Lake City, and Clay home until next week, when he reports to his first assignment for the Marine Corps as a logistics officer in San Diego. Renovations – we took a break for the past few weeks to get ready and enjoy the Christmas Holy Days!
For many reasons, it is important to press on to resolve the main question before our congregation early in this new year. We have a firm bid for construction costs of $1,746,000. We have had a productive meeting with the architects and contractors before Christmas at which we identified additional savings of $60-80,000. We have a loan application to the Mission Investment Fund of the ELCA which should be resolved over the next week. We have consulted with several experienced church fundraisers about the best way to approach this challenge. And we continue to confront the challenges of growth through the great work of our R3 (ReForm, ReNew, ReVision) Team, and the many avenues of outreach through our ministries of learning and serving!
With all this in mind, our Council has called an open meeting set for January 9th, 7pm in the Parlor, to discuss this new information. The Renovation Team continues to recommend proceeding with the renovation as soon as possible, to avoid rising costs and interest rates in the future. The Finance Team continues to express concerns about funding a project of this size. After weighing the pros and cons, and listening to as many voices as possible, the council will decide on Jan. 9 whether a congregational meeting should be held to approve a recommendation. This meeting is tentatively scheduled now for February 10 during the education hour, 9am in Fellowship Hall. But please put both dates on your calendar for now!
I am refraining from using this space to “weigh in” for now, except to ask for your prayers and participation in this major decision, so that whatever decision we make will seem “good to the Holy Spirit and us” (Acts 15:28 – read it!). May God bless you all and keep you in health and strength in this new year of our Lord, 2019!
Peace, Pastor Verkouw
Holy Land with Good Shepherd Travel, June 10-19, 2019
Friends, I am hosting a 10 Day, Life-Changing tour of the Holy Land with Good Shepherd Travel, June 10-19, 2019. Flying out of Washington, DC. Space is limited. Registration is open. $3,290.00 per person includes airfare, all accommodations, all meals, eight days of touring. Highlights include Sea of Galilee, Nazareth, Jerusalem, Mount of Olives, Bethlehem, the Dead Sea. We will have daily devotions and worship in Galilee. Excellent, licensed Christian tour guides will lead us. I will host two informational gatherings to learn more: Wednesdays, January 16th and 30th at 6:30 pm at Zion Lutheran, 435 Main St., Akron. And one on Sunday, January 20th at 11 am. To learn more, check out: https://www.tourtheholylands.com/
Rev. Matt Lenahan
Deborah Elizabeth Circle
The Deborah/Elizabeth Circle will meet on Tuesday, January 15th at 10:30 AM in the Round in the Muhlenberg Building on the Luther Acres campus in Lititz to begin a four session Bible study by the Rev. Julie A. Kanarr based on John’s Gospel. It is entitled “Meeting with Jesus”. The author looks at the uniqueness of the Gospel of John and raises the question of what John is saying as he tells the story in a different way than the other three Gospels. Please join us for a time of reflection and conversation. At about 11:30 we will conclude with lunch together. For further information please contact Joyce Saeger or Carol Main.
Jan. 6, 2019(Epiphany of Our Lord, Year C
Matthew 2:11–On entering the house, the Magi saw the child with Mary his mother; and they knelt down and paid him homage. Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. After traveling far to visit Jesus, the Wise Men made an offering of precious gifts. Today we respond to Jesus’ love by giving our hearts and minds to him, but also offerings from our own treasure chests.
God’s Global Barnyard!
Congratulations to the Sunday School Children! They raised almost $300.00 to purchase animals for a deserving family.
Sunday, Jan. 6, 2019 – Sunday Fellowship following the late service. Chili will be served! Sign up in the Narthex!
Upcoming Sunday School
Final Conversation on Controversial Topics Jan. 6 at 9:00 a.m.
Let’s Talk – Conversations on Controversial Topics
Lead by the High School Sunday School
Please join the Sr. High Sunday School on Sunday, January 6, 2019 in the Fellowship Hall for the last installment of Controversial Topics. Our high school students will be leading a discussion on LGBTQ* equality. We hope you will join us!