From the Desk of Pastor John

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Letter from Pastor John 2/23/18

Dear Christ Church Family,

In light of the recent school and church tragedies that have captured our attention and broken our hearts, I thought it appropriate to remind you that we take your security and safety seriously at Christ Church.  We have a highly-trained security team at Christ Church.  The team is strictly vetted and is composed of current and former law enforcement, both civilian and military, as well as other trained security and emergency professionals.  All are members of our Christ Church family.  Our security team provides ongoing training to our church staff and strategic volunteers to handle all types of emergency situations.  We also have unscheduled, monthly fire evacuation drills (held during the weekday) so that each staff person knows his/her role and responsibility.  Although you may never notice the security team or the measures that are in place to protect our church family, you may rest assured that you and your family are in a safe place at Christ Church.

Brooke Varma, the director of our Possibilities Ministry, told me a story.  In case you do not know, our Possibilities Ministry is for those who have children, youth and adults with physical, mental or emotional challenges. The little boy pictured here has a rare medical condition and the family was having a hard time finding somewhere to support him appropriately. They were really thrilled to find our Greentree School, and when they learned about our Possibilities program, which is specifically set up to offer the extra support needed, they decided to give it a try.  Brooke began to work closely with the boy’s mom and the teachers to discuss safety and supports and provided education to the staff. After a few weeks Mom was able to witness our love for her son and saw us supporting him with confidence. The lead teacher in his classroom has been an absolute blessing, which has resulted in Mom being able to have some time for herself, while this little guy THRIVES at Greentree School with his peers.


I’m not great at math, but these numbers bring me joy:
18—The number of our youth in Confirmation classes
25—The number of people who attended our first ERT (Early Response Team) training sessions last week
30—The number of young adults on retreat last weekend
60—The number of adults at Pub Theology last Tuesday evening
60—The number of fifth and sixth graders attending their “lock-in” tonight
1079—The number of us in worship last Sunday

Last but not least—Together We Rise Against Hunger
Last Sunday after worship I was sitting on the edge of the stage talking with people when one of our 8-year-old students came up to talk with me.  He said, “Pastor John, my goal for this year is to raise $1000 for Rise Against Hunger.”

 Most of you know that in 2017, the people of Christ Church, together with our friends next door at Temple B’nai Shalom, funded and packed 251,808 meals that were received by very grateful and hungry people in El Salvador.  More than 600 of you packed those meals in just three days.

 This year the people of Christ Church and Temple B’nai Shalom are going to do it again, but with a goal of 300,000 meals!  Write these dates down and clear your calendar:  Tuesday, May 30, through Saturday, June 2.  Your entire family is invited.  Each delivered meal costs 34 cents.  That means $125 will provide one, lifesaving, nutritious meal for a hungry person for an entire year!  Start thinking about what you and your family will do to Rise Against Hunger.

 I love my church family.  See you Sunday.

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Letter from Pastor John 2/16/18

Dear Christ Church Family,

After a few weeks of vacation on a cruise from Singapore to Thailand to Vietnam, I’m back in the saddle again here at Christ Church.  I’m blessed to have such an excellent team surrounding me that the church never misses a beat when I’m away.  Because of our online campus, Rosemary and I worshipped with you one Sunday from Singapore and the next Sunday from our cruise ship in the South China Sea.  Pastor Ryan’s teaching and the music led by Brian Greene and Milton Zapata were outstanding.

Speaking of our online campus, last Sunday we had 467 people worshipping with us from across the country and around the world.  Pastor Tony and his team make our online worship experience welcoming and engaging.  Frankly, there is simply no place like Christ Church!

Last Wednesday was Ash Wednesday.  We had our annual Ash Wednesday Worship that evening and the church was packed.  The Holy Spirit was clearly present as we sang, prayed, heard the Gospel story, and received ashes on our foreheads.  The ashes remind us that we are broken, sinful people who stand in need of a Savior.

Ash Wednesday is the beginning of Lent.  The season of Lent is a period of 40 days (not including Sundays) when we Christians prepare ourselves to celebrate the resurrection of Jesus on Easter.  During Lent, many Christians voluntarily give up something as an act of self-denial.  Sometimes we give up something that we feel is bad for us, and other times we give up something that we like but is not necessarily bad or unhealthy.  The purpose being that when we think about consuming or doing what we have given up, we remember and thank God for the sacrifice Jesus made for us.  Many other Christians will spend additional time in prayer and others will fast for one or two meals at least one day a week. 

This Sunday begins a new teaching series that I’m calling, “Believe.”  The first two words of the Apostles’ Creed are “I believe.”  During Lent we are going to be examining the statements of faith contained in the creed.  Although the apostles did not write the creed themselves, it is the oldest creed in the Christian church, dating to the second century.  All Christians, regardless of the denomination—Methodist, Catholic, Baptist, Presbyterian, Lutheran, Episcopalian, Pentecostal or otherwise—accept the statements in the Apostles’ Creed.  This Sunday we will explore the first line of the creed, “I believe in God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth.”  Who is this God we Christians profess to believe in?  What does it mean to believe in God in a culture where atheism is on the rise and statistically fewer Americans profess a belief in God?  I’m looking forward to talking to you about these questions and more this Sunday.  See you in worship!

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