Hello Church family,

I hope you’re having a good day. These past several weeks have been flying by. At the same time, it feels like they’re going so so slow. Why? Because, in our house, we are eagerly awaiting the birth of our third born child: Briggs William Terry. He can’t get here fast enough!

I know Audra is certainly done with the whole “being pregnant” thing. I’m so glad I’m a man! (hahaha) But it’s not just her. I’m ready as well. Having a baby during this season is a sobering reminder of what’s “most important” in life. It’s not the election, it’s not the debate surrounding COVID-19 and shutdowns, it’s not advancing in your career or worldly success. (even though those are all very important things!)

Outside of God himself, the most important thing in life is people. Family. Relationships. It’s the gift of human life. It’s the gift of friendship. It’s the gift of love.

This season already tends to amplify that truth. We’re coming up on Thanksgiving and Christmas in the next two months. That’s why I wanted to dedicate this week’s update to information about the upcoming Thanksgiving Meal and our church’s involvement with Operation Christmas Child.

If you prefer not to read you can watch the video below.

Pastor Wes gives a video update about the Thanksgiving Meal and Operation Christmas Child.

Operation Christmas Child

The first thing I want to mention is the November Family Mission Opportunity. This year we are going to partner with Samaritan’s Purse in their Operation Christmas Child. Basically, it’s a project where you fill up a box with love and Christmas cheer then send it to a need family around the world.

You can pick up your fnewable cardboard box and label at the church. Just go to your child’s ministry area (Preschool or Kids Wing). If you don’t have a child in those wings you can just contact Tiffany or get a box from the church office.

You don’t have to use a box from the church, you can technically use your own if you’d prefer (you’ll still need to print the label provided by Samaritan’s Purse available here.)

Once you get your box, you and your family can decide what gender and age you would like to pack a box for. Then, shop as a family for a medium to large “wow” item such as a soccer ball with pump or stuffed animal, then fill with other fun toys, hygiene items, and school supplies. 

Most importantly, we ask you to pray for the child who will receive your gift. You can also include a personal note and photo.

The boxes along with a 9 dollar donation to cover shipping and processing paid through a mailed check or online through your label QR code can be turned into the church office or your child’s ministry lead by November 16th!

For any further questions you can email Tiffany or go to Samaritan Purse website. Here’s a video of Tiffany explaining the project.

Tiffany Lohse gives an explanation of the November Family Missions Project

Before we move on to the Thanksgiving Meal and how we are going to move forward given the uptick in COVID-19. Please take note of two other events that will be happening before that.

First, we have our special prayer service for our country on Sunday night at 5:30. We will pray through 6-8 different things for our country, the upcoming election and the future of the local church in light of everything going on.

This won’t be a rigid or super structured event. My hope is that we will authentically seek after the Lord and experience his presence as we cry out to him to do what only he can do. There won’t be a sermon. There won’t be many songs. We will pray, pray, pray and pray some more. I expect it to last around 30-45 minutes.

Also, we have a ladies gathering coming up on November 6th at the South Campus Gathering Place at 6:30. I hope you’ll be able to attend, make some new friends and enjoy the fellowship.

Thanksgiving Meal

The last thing I want to mention in this week’s update is the upcoming Thanksgiving Meal. When first thinking about this meal I assumed we would just cancel it given the state of play and COVID-19. At our most recent staff meeting to discuss the night we were split about 50/50 whether or not it was a good idea. (technically it was more 70/30 but I counted my vote twice. haha)

In discussing with the Pastoral Team and Deacon body the consensus was “if we can make it happen, we should.” This meal is a special event for our church because both campus and all different service times come together for a shared worship experience. So we are going to give it a shot (even though it will be MUCH different and a way smaller crowd.)

Obviously, given the uptick in COVID-19 and the many high-risk individuals we have in our church, it’s not an easy call. We don’t want to needlessly put ANYONE at risk and COVID-19 is nothing to play around with. I know people who’ve gotten it and recovered easily. I know others who have gotten it and developed SERIOUS health problems as a result. So this was a tough decision.

The plan – for now – is to cater the meal.

Having people bring turkeys, hams, side dishes and desserts involves way too many volunteers, way too many shared contact surfaces and increases the risk of a spread. By catering the meal we can ensure only a few select people are touching the food and that proper screening and sanitization can be maintained.

We will still have turkey and dressing and green beans and mashed potatoes but it will be prepared in a way that adheres to safety guidelines. We will also have dump cake as a dessert.

Instead of standing in line and breathing all over one another, the meals will be boxed and set out at various tables that are socially distanced throughout the Education Building and Gathering Place. We will open the outside doors to create fresh air and proper ventilation.

We will have enough tables that you only have to eat with people you are comfortable being around. Househnews or social units will eat together. This will allow us to negate the spread of COVID especially to higher risk populations.

We will only allow a certain number of people to attend the meal. While I hate to have to do something like that, it’s the only way we can ensure that proper distancing is maintained. That means you’ll need to preregister for the event. This number will give us a proper count for the catering and for designing the seating set up.s

You can sign up for the meal here.

You can also just call the church office if you don’t do online sign ups. (That said, the online sign up is super easy. Just give us the number of adults, number of kids, and first/last name. That’s it.)

We will have a Thanksgiving Worship Service at 5:00PM and the meal will follow at 6:00PM. The service will have some singing and testimonies given by members of our church family. We will let people out of the service by section so that we don’t create congestion in the hallways as people grab their meal box and get seated at their table.

Since we’re not asking for food donations – any financial contribution you’re able to make will be a big help. By catering the meal, it will cost much more than the usual Thanksgiving meal. You can indicate “Thanksgiving Meal” on any donation and it’ll go to offset the cost.

Remember if you have a church wide event that needs to be communicated in the weekly update you can send me the information by responding to this email.

Ideally, a nice graphic to grab attention is nice as well.

Hope you all have a wonderful weekend!

Sunday’s coming!

Pastor Wes

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