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I heard it through the grapevine...

At many churches summer is a downtime, when little happens and things are subdued. As you all know, Tom's Creek is not like lots of other churches. During this last year many churches had a Sunday or two with no services, but not Tom's Creek, we didn't miss a single Sunday of worship. We kept changing as the COVID situation changed. We did not stay in one place long and we kept trying to improve our time of worship together. We would find out what was working and what wasn't working and always strive to help people to be able to worship. As we finally settle back into the sanctuary, we are still assessing and changing as our needs change. Churches that don't assess and change ultimately die. And change can be hard if you are used to things a certain way. Please realize any change we make is so that Tom's Creek will be open and vibrant for generations to come. Changes are not made to upset or bring anxiety. Changes our made so that we might have engaging worship for people of all ages. Changes are made so that we are better able to minister to our community. Changes are made so that ministries will have room to grow. So before giving details for this Sunday worship I want to let you know some changes that are coming soon.


Starting NEXT Sunday July 18th we will offer livestream on YouTube and Facebook for ONLY the 8am service. In other words we will no longer be live-streaming our 10:30am service. As I stated changes are not made without lots of thinking and prayer. So here are the major reasons why we will only be streaming our 8am service:


- It is very hard to make praise music sound right through livestream. I have listened to lots of livestream praise from many churches and unless they are churches that pay for a sound technician often the praise music is hard to listen to. It has not been too hard with just Holly up there playing and singing but the praise team will be joining worship and hopefully growing. With all these knew components we don't want our livestream sound to be off-putting especially to those thinking of coming in person.


-We are not an online church. We have been offering online church as a service through the pandemic but the reason for us having online church is changing. We started online because that was the only safe way to have church but now we can gather safely. Most can now join us in the sanctuary so the reason for our online service has changed. We want people to be part of our church community and the online offering is for those times that people are away, for people whose bodies don't allow them to come to the building and have to stay home, or for those that are part of our church family but they are not local. We have found most of the people in this category prefer traditional worship. By focusing on 8am we can devote all our online time and resources into making sure that we are offering the best online experience.


There are other reasons involved but these are the main ones. Our 8am worship has over double the number of viewers every week and the engagement level for that livestream is also much higher. All of our livestream services stay online so even if you don't wake up until 10am you can still watch the service. We will still be recording the 10:30am service and if we have a song that we record that sounds super awesome we will post the clip of it on YouTube and Facebook for you to watch and share. Those clips are often easier to share with others to invite them to our church than whole services. And as always we will continue to assess the situation and if the need warrants and things change we will go back to live-streaming both.


Another change that is coming is that we will be moving the organ off the altar and moving the electronic baby grand piano to where the organ is. The electric piano gives us soooo many options and many of them we have not fully utilized yet. The electric piano actually can produce the sound of many of the best organs in the world so we would still have the option of having an organ sound fill our sanctuary. The reason for this change is we need room for our choir and our praise team that will be returning to worship. When the electric baby grand was purchased part of the plan was this would allow us at some point to remove the organ from the sanctuary because we would still be able to have the organ sound with the piano. Our altar is not that big and if we are going to have room for our choir and praise team to grow we need space. We already have 4 new people that have never been in the choir join and I think the numbers are going to grow as we move forward. I remember after a couple months of the electric piano being installed Velma Stambaugh asking me when are we going to remove that organ so there is more room on the altar. I told her to have some patience and give it some time, essentially the time was not right. Well, Velma is no longer with us but it is finally going to happen because it is time (we will be asking for help to move it this coming week).


We are in the process of obtaining a new soundboard and a better connection to our televisions in the sanctuary. We know that at times the sound has not been where we would like online or in the sanctuary. Our current soundboard was not made to do both. So sometimes in the sanctuary the piano or the singer(s) are too loud and it is because we need enough sound to be able to have our online worshippers be able to hear. There are also complications for those listening online because we adjust some sound for those in the sanctuary. We needed these changes before COVID and before adding online worship and have been working toward that but this has only proven we need to upgrade. We also know that our screens that display the words can just shut down for no reason for those in the sanctuary. We are working on improving all of these issues so as the growing choir and full praise team join us we can hear and sing along!


So you have heard it here and hopefully won't hear it through the grapevine and be shocked. I also have provided the reasons we have for making these changes. I understand that some of the changes might be upsetting to some people. Please know that there was a lot of thought and prayer that went into each decision. Our ultimate goal is to reach people with the saving word of Jesus and be able to bring people into God's family. I hope and pray you will understand that if there are changes that you don't like it was done for the purpose of better reaching more people for Jesus. AND PLEASE FEEL TO REACH OUT TO ME IF YOU ARE WANT TO TALK ABOUT THESE CHANGES OR ANYTHING ELSE!!!!


This Sunday we are continuing with our sermon series looking at how the Devil tries to keep us away from God. We will be looking at FEAR and how the Devil tries to use fear to paralyze us and ultimately stop us from doing what God would want us to do. We have seen fear filling our churches and nation this last year and much of that fear was stoked by the Devil to separate us from each other and from God. We must not let the Devil control us with fear so we will explore this in our time in worship.


Attached is the bulletin for this week. When you look at worship numbers it combines our online worship with our in sanctuary worship number for each service. We still have plenty of space in the sanctuary for people to spread out! We no longer going to require people to sign in BUT the greeters and the bulletins will continue to be in the parlor after you pass the second doorway. We are not yet passing offering plates so the wooden boxes are available to put your offering in. Of course those at home can give online, use text to give, or mail in the offering to church. In addition, we will be collecting prayers in the prayer box on the table in the parlor. Also, if you have announcement that need to be shared please write them down and give them to me before the service. This will be an ongoing practice for prayers and announcements to help ensure that they are heard and understood by all.


If people are not able to join us in the sanctuary for worship we continue to livestream both services via Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/tomscreekumc) or YouTube(https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCX6E7eCwH2ZGYspkSCF0CGw). If you join and follow our Facebook page or subscribe to our YouTube channel, they will let you know when we are live. You can always watch any videos we post later because we leave them up. Also Sunday afternoon a shortened version is available on our website and on YouTube.


I look forward to our time together in worship and hope you can journey with us.


Blessings, PH




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