Thursday, January 7, 2010

Good Shepherd Update Thursday January 7th, 2010

Dear Good Shepherd,

Good Afternoon, there are a number of important items in this week's update so please read carefully.

Epiphany: The season of Christmas lasts 12 days followed by Epiphany--January 6. The word "epiphany" means appearing or revealing...God the Son "appeared" was made manifest at his birth. The good news that God has come to save his people was proclaimed first by angels to shepherds. But God also revealed it in the heavens through the great light or the star that drew the magi from the east to worship Jesus.

Epiphany is traditionally the day set aside to remember the coming of the magi. Through their visit, God made his Son known not just as the Savior of the Jewish people, but as the Savior and Lord of all the earth and of all the peoples of the earth.

The color for Epiphany is white on the first Sunday of Epiphany, to mark the feast, and then green--I'm not sure why--and it lasts until Lent which begins on February 17, Ash Wednesday.

Potluck and Undecorating:
There will be a potluck lunch after the 10:30am service this Sunday so bring a plate of something to pass around and a good appetite. Also, since its Epiphany--and Christmas is over, we'll be taking down the Christmas decorations so, once you've had your fill of food, you can work off all those calories by climbing up and down ladders to take down the greens. If you're not good on a ladder there are plenty of other jobs.

Kris Kindle: Traditionally the members of Good Shepherd have exchanged names in Advent and spent the Holy Season of Christmas praying for one another and exchanging small gifts on the Feast of Epiphany (the Sunday after January 6). This year, with the current rate of growth and the upheaval of moving, we determined not to exchange names. If anyone would like to make a small donation to add to the money being sent to the Anglican Church in Kewinda in honor of this fine tradition, it would be much appreciated.

The Purpose of Suffering:
Matt Chandler is in his 30's. He is married and has three young children. He's pastor of "The Village" church in North Texas, one of the fastest growing churches in the country. He is, in my opinion, one of the best young preachers of the day. On Thanksgiving Day he suffered a seizure and collapsed. He was diagnosed with a malignant, slow growing, brain tumor. His surgeons removed a good deal of it but they could not remove all of it. The prognosis, should God decide not to intervene, is not good.  John Piper was asked to come speak to Matt's congregation two Sunday's ago. The sermon he preached (listen here) is one of the best on the purpose of human suffering I have heard. It is long, 54 minutes, but it is worth it not only to listen but to pull out your bibles and follow him along.

Shepherd's Bowl: Shepherd's Bowl is carrying on as usual tonight at 5:30. Everyone is welcome to the Bible Study after at 6:30

Men's Bible Study and Breakfast:  Joe Barham is cooking.

Womens' Bible Study
There will be Women's Bible Study this Saturday at 10:00am led by Carmen.

ACW Meeting at 11am Saturday: From Pat Chaney: All women of the Church are invited. We need to make some decisions about
1. Clam Chowder/ Bake Sale around Easter
2. What outreach?  Keep for ACK or...?  I think it would be good to continue to help ACK!  
3. Last year, we had a No-Bake Sale and we did raise about $300.  That would be the easiest!  
Finally, 4.  if someone would like to volunteer to learn how to prepare the media/ads from Cookie, then we could make the decisions Jan?Feb!

Phone at the church: The phone number for the church 773-4810 has also been, up until now, the phone number for the rectory. That is changing. From now on my personal number will not be 773-4810. As soon as I get the new number I'll let you know.

Systematic Theology: starts up again this Saturday at 3:30am for the new year. We'll be discussing the following attributes: God's love, mercy, grace, and patience.

Annual Meeting and Vestry Elections
: The annual meeting will take place on Sunday January 17th. So far we have 2 new candidates for vestry. Eligible candidates will conform to the standards articulated in Titus 1:5-8, assent by signature to the principles articulated in Good Shepherd's summary of faith and the Jerusalem Declaration, be regular attenders and members (attending every Sunday you are in town), participants in at least one bible study or class per week, committed to one ministry or service in the church, and tithing or working toward a tithe. We'll post profiles of candidates in this week's bulletin (hopefully)

THIS SUNDAY: According to our constitution, any amendment resolutions must be announced in advance. So between services this Sunday, I'll be introducing the three resolutions we'll be voting on this coming Sunday. The first will increase the number of people on vestry from 6 to 8. The second will change the membership expectations for voting members of the church and the third will, if approved, restore the voting rights I used to have on vestry under our old constitution (we didn't notice they were not given in the present one). In any, case I will not spend the entire time, but I will take some time during adult ed to introduce these resolutions, so please be there to hear about them.

Help with Children During the Annual Meeting: Anne is looking for creative and willing adults to help supervise children during the annual meeting. In the past the children have all played in the nursery and basically kept quiet. This year the nursery is too small and there are too many children. If someone has some suitable movies or games and the means to set them up, please let Anne know.

Tim Wetherbee:
will start as Music Director on Sunday the 17th of January. We're so thankful to God for bringing Tim here. He will be contacting members of the choir and will start up practices sometime after his first day.

Welcome Back International Potluck
: On Sunday January 31st, we will all enjoy a international potluck  feast. This will take place immediately following the 10:30 service. We would like to have many cuisines represented so please sign up to prepare your favorite international dish. (Sign up sheet and suggestions are downstairs in the Parish Hall.)

Ballad of Matthew's Begats CD:
Great job learning that difficult song! Please return borrowed CDs to Carmen so that we have them for next year.

Three notes from Cookie:
Pledge Envelopes: There are several books of envelopes left to be picked up. I would like to remind everyone to look for one with their name on it and put it to good use.

Financial giving reports for tax filing: All financial reports or "Statements of Contributions" for Income Tax purposes are at the church ready to be picked up. Please find yours in the front of the church on the table.

Duty Rosters: Also on the table near the Altar is the new Duty Roster for January and February. There is one there with your name on it. Please remember that if you are unable to fulfill your obligation to serve, it is your responsibility to find someone who can fill in for you.

Mission (I am reprinting this because I want as many people to read it as possible): We do not plan to sit about on our laurels this year. God did not put us here and give us all this stuff so that we could be comfy and cozy. There is a lot to do...lost people and people in great need around us. I will be appointing a Community outreach team to help us plan and direct our mission and ministry in this neighborhood. I have emailed a number of people and will continue to do so until the team is assembled. You'll hear more about this.

With that in mind, don't forget that Good Shepherd also has been working through some Yearly resolutions--goals that we articulated in the Fall. Many of them have already been met, but here they are:

One year goals:

1. Attendance of 200 by next Pentecost: We're getting about 115-120 regularly (which is a huge blessing considering that we were at 80-90 this time last year) but if everyone who comes to GS on a regular basis were to attend all at the same time, we'd have about 130-135. This is great, and we are still growing, but by God's grace we can do better. God uses his Church to bring people to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ, just inviting a non-believing friend is an act of evangelism. But beyond that we are not just called to trust in Jesus, but to live lives that are shaped by him--to be his disciples. God not only uses the church to give sinners new birth, he also uses it to train them, to make them like himself. So just being in church, hearing the word of God read and preached, receiving the nourishment that comes through Communion and fellowship is an indispensable part of being a follower of Jesus Christ which is why we are commanded in Hebrews 10:32 not to neglect the gathering of believers.

2. 30 New believers by Pentecost: This is, of course, dependent upon God's grace--he alone makes the seeds of faith grow...but we are called to plant the seeds (1 Cor 3). We're not quite where we need to be on this score...there have been conversions and most likely some that we do not know about but not 30. It could be that we have not been as faithful in evangelism as we ought. We will need to redouble our efforts this Spring. Goals 1 and 2 both seek the same end...bringing people to faith in Jesus Christ and making disciples.

3. Shepherd's Bowl at Good Shepherd and Conklin Avenue: This is a met goal. Thanks be to God,  we've finally succeeded in reopening the Shepherd's Bowl at Good Shepherd. Think about it. A year ago, the Shepherd's Bowl was completely shut down due to our loss in the lawsuit. This year, the program has doubled to include not only a soup kitchen that runs out of our church, but also one that runs on Monday's out of Conklin Avenue Baptist. And instead of four teams of volunteers rotating each week, we now have five teams. Thanks be to God.

The Shepherd's Bowl is only one way that we can serve this community. With our new facilities and all the abundance that God has given us there are many many more ways...after school programs, clothing give-aways, a food pantry, financial aid programs...there are so many things we could do, so many ways that God can use us to serve this city and this neighborhood.

4. Prayer team established: we did have a prayer meeting every week but it does not seem to be taking off. Prayer is something that we really need to work on as a community...

5. Hospitality Ministry and New Member Program established: A number of people have taken on the ministry of hospitality this year. Every visitor generally (if no one falls through the cracks) receives a warm greeting, an invitation for coffee downstairs after the service, a guest bag containing various goodies, information about Jesus and about Good Shepherd, and a follow up letter during the week. The biggest concern at this point is not hospitality, but integration. We've welcomed close to 50 new people this year and with all of the confusion and chaos that comes with moving locations we've not yet had a new members class or really helped new people to become oriented to the church and the programs Good Shepherd offers...

6. Music Director hired with both skill and vision for Good Shepherd's Music ministry: Thanks be to God who through the the hard work of the worship committee, has called Tim Wetherbee to be our new Music Director. Tim will start on January 17th.

7. Youth and children Christian ed director (non-paid): We have a youth minister and lots of Sunday School teachers, but we do not have one person who's task it is to think through the children-yourh education program in a cohesive and holistic way. We do not yet have a vision for the entire program. Our goal is to find a person with just such a call.

8. Start identifying and discipling church leaders and planters: This year we've begun to give a number of young people with a call to ministry the opportunity to preach and lead in other ways at Good Shepherd. Ife Ojetayo, Katy McFadden, Matt Tuttle and others have and or will continue to test their call here.  God has trusted Good Shepherd with these young men and women and we must do our best to help them discern the direction in which God is calling them and give them the opportunity to hone and sharpen their gifts. We do this with at least a partial eye to raising up future church planters who can, in the next five years, plant another Anglican congregation in the Binghamton area.

9. Commit to help an impoverished church: this year we've raised over $1400.00--more than one year's rent--for the Anglican church in the Kwenda slum. Your support for these people has been overwhelming and generous. God protected and provided for us when we had no home. It is, I think, incumbent upon us to pass this graciousness on to other churches in need. Thank you.

10. Pay our tithe: Good Shepherd is a member church of the Anglican Church in North America and of the Missionary Diocese of New England. As a body we are called to tithe to the diocese. We have not yet done this but we are working toward it. The budget for 2010, sets aside 10 percent of our gross income for both a pledge to the diocese and mission outreach. At some point we should establish the 10% to go directly to the diocese and another percentage on top of that, at least 5%, for missionary fact, that--tithing to your local church and five percent for mission giving--is the biblical model for our personal finances as well.

Those are the goals for the year ending at you can see some of them have already been met. Others will require a great deal of work...but by God's grace we can do it.

Last Sunday's sermon:Here is the video of Sunday's sermon: Sons and Daughters of the Light. Many Christians live with a terribly false understanding of Christianity--that salvation consists in working really hard to do what Jesus says in order to make it to heaven and escape hell.

That is not the gospel.

In fact, Christ has already accomplished that work on our behalf...our call is to receive what he has done, trust him, and commit our lives to him. God has made us through trust in his Son, sons and daughters of the light. That is who we are and that identity, as divinely appointed/adopted children is the basis of our confidence--not ourselves or our work. We work because we are children of God--we do not work to earn that, we work because it has been given as a gracious gift. Here's the sermon:,
 you can watch it here.

This week's Sermon: Now that we've laid down the principle that works flow out of salvation rather than coming before it, we'll talk about the type of life that children of the Light are called to live as we wait for the coming of Jesus.

5You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. 6So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled. 7For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. 8But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. 9For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. 10He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. 11Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing. (1 Thessalonians 5:5-11)

Christian Education: Spiritual Disciplines: So how is your prayer life? What about your personal bible study? Do you feel disconnected from God? In the next Sunday morning adult education series we'll discuss practices and disciplines that will help you to develop a deeper connection with God. This week we'll start just by talking about spiritual discipline in general...what it is and how it can help.

In Christ

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