My dear Tom's Creek family I will miss being with you and leading the services the next couple of weeks while I am on vacation. I will be heading to Vermont with my son, Jeff, and meeting my wife, Julie, at the family homestead near the Canadian border. This vacation is just being with family in the mountains of Vermont.
During COVID we implemented a lot of new things to help us to be able to continue to worship together. Many of these new changes are hard to explain to others and I have been in the background making sure things go smooth. As I prepared to make sure things go as smoothly as possible when I am gone I realized how many things I do, especially for Sunday mornings, that I have not trained others to do. I have been able to pass on many of the items I do but please be patient and kind with any hiccups the next couple of weeks. For example, since we have returned to in the sanctuary worship, I have been the one moving the slides on the screen in worship. It used to be done by the people in the tech booth but they have switched to being focused on the livestream feed and making sure it sounds and looks good! Any person filling in leading the worship is probably not going to be able to advance the slides and know the system like I do. That is just one of the many areas that have changed during COVID that makes it harder when I go away on vacation. I know you all will just go with it and allow the Holy Spirit to work in our time of worship together!
I am also the one who writes this blog. I have weekly been writing a blog and attaching the bulletin for Sunday morning. Attached to this blog is the bulletin for this Sunday but for the other Sunday's while I am away you will not get a blog. I know having the bulletin is important for our online worshippers so do not fear because Judy, our church secretary, will post it to our website here: https://www.tomscreekumc.com/bulletins.
Things change all the time so of course any plans made can always change. For example, I just received word last night that the amazing pastor that I had lined up for August 22nd, Pastor John Bragg, has had some health setbacks and will not be able to come. Finding that out the day before I start vacation would normal be anxiety inducing. But we have an amazing Director of Music Ministries, Holly Phillips, that is comfortable with leading all parts of worship. She will be coming up with a plan for that Sunday. The worship may look a little different than our normal flow on Sunday but I can assure you it will be an incredible time of worship. I might even be back to take it in BUT just in case something happens on our travel back I don't want to promise that. AND we will be blessed the next 2 week by Rev. Dr. Sarah Dorrance leading the time of worship with us once again. The point is that our focus should be on God and what God is doing in and through us in our time of worship. Don't let all the other things be a distraction and be open to the mighty things God has in store in our worship time the next couple of weeks.
This year we will probably have one of the busiest Septembers planned in many, many years. We will be having a Family Fun Night with food and activities with a double feature drive-in on September 11th. This is to try to get the word out about our improved family friendly Sunday mornings that will begin on September 19th. That Sunday, September 19th, is going to be called Round Up Sunday. We want you to round up all the people you know, and invite all the people you know, to come to worship with us. To go along with the Round Up theme, we will invite people to wear cowboy hats and other such themed apparel. We plan to offer nursery for Sunday school time and during 10:30am worship. Trudy Price will be restarting our One Room Sunday school for children. We will be implementing Children Church at the 10:30am services to help parents to have a chance to focus on the sermon and for the kids to be engaged. We will be starting a Youth Group that will meet on Sunday evenings. AND all of these ministries are going to need people willing to step up and help to make it happen. When I return from vacation I will be spurring us to step forward in bold ways as we try to reach people and families for Christ. We also will have the Hyssongs coming the evening of September 18th at the Promised Land for a scaled down dinner and Concert on the Hill. Oldies and Goodies will be starting back up again. Carol Hipp will be leading a Bible Study on the Book of Revelation. We have people involved in the Taneytown Relay for Life that will occur on the 11th, which we have supported financially. You can start to see how much will be happening.
Leading up to all this in September we need your support. Think about how you might use what God has blessed you with to help the church. Yes, we need your financial support as we continue to grow our ministries to families, and as we continue to strive to grow our music ministry. We will also need people to step up to help support leaders of these ministries to families and children. That means offering up your time to help work with the leaders of these ministries and maybe even trying something new!
For those of you that can't give in the wooden boxes we use for offering at the church you can support our ministries financially by giving online, or by using text to give (844-406-0358), or mailing offering to church. We are trying to be bold in outreach to the community and finding ways for people to be part of God's worshiping community. We want to be a beacon of hope for the many who are lost and struggling. We want people to accept and receive the greatest gift ever, that is salvation in Christ. In order to do that we need to reach beyond our current members, we need to reach out into the world.
So as you can see I need this vacation in order to be strengthened and rested for the many exciting things that are coming in the next couple of months. But it doesnt matter if I am strengthened and rested if we don't work to achieve this together. All we have planned will not work if there are not many involved in making it a reality. This will take us all supporting these ministries and being willing to use our lives to help spread the Good News into the world.
I am praying that as I am away, and as you join in powerful worship, people will start to be stirred to offer up themselves in bold ways to support the ministries of the church. So that when I return, and we start asking for help, that I will be further strengthened by seeing our church rise up to meet the challenge of our time. So while I am gone start thinking about how God is calling you to further support our church and our ministries. Ministries that we have had for years but also new ministries that are breaking forth. Our journey together has only just begun!