From the Pastor – July 2023

It’s one of the most beloved stories in the Old Testament.  With it comes jealousy, suspense, temptation, and reconciliation.  Filled with highs and lows, the experiences of Jacob’s favored son Joseph are relatable to us.  Who hasn’t had dreams and ambitions turn into nightmares?  Who hasn’t felt betrayed by friends and, yes, family?  Who hasn’t wondered about God’s presence in the difficult places?  The story of Joseph has much to offer us as it traces a young man’s journey from a pit to a prison and finally to a palace.  Even as challenges mounted against Joseph, we discover one who matured in faith, integrity, and resilience.  His dreams did eventually come to fruition, but probably not in the way Joseph had imagined.  It took time, perseverance, and even healing in order for Joseph to move beyond anger, bitterness, and resentment and to a place of forgiveness at the story’s conclusion.  Joseph’s story will be our focal point for the Sundays leading up to Vacation Bible School on July 16.  We will consider where he came from, how he ended up in Egypt, his promotions, and even the moment when he revealed his true identity to his brothers.  I look forward to sharing these messages with you in the coming weeks and pray that somehow they might resonate with your story: past, present, and future.

The arrival of July means our Vacation Bible School (VBS) is just around the corner.  It’s scheduled for Sunday, July 16 through Thursday, July 20 and will begin at 6:00 each evening.  There will be classes for children from preschool through fifth grade and plenty of opportunities for you to volunteer.  This year’s theme will be Egypt: Joseph’s Journey from Prison to Palace and I understand Joseph (hmmm…I wonder who will play him?) will be making an appearance all five nights.  The culmination of VBS will be the commencement program scheduled for Sunday, July 23 during the morning worship service.  Please help spread the word within our community, to family and friends, and also contact the Reverend Marci Rollins-Smart if you are willing to serve in some capacity.  If this year’s VBS is anything like last year’s, it’s going to be a week filled with faith, fellowship, and fun, and you’ll not want to miss out.  Last year’s involvement surpassed even some of our pre-COVID numbers and we’re excited about what God has in store as we journey to Egypt and learn from the life of Joseph.

The weekly “Solid Rock” Bible study group has just completed a fruitful journey through Paul’s letter to the Philippians.  While a book of only four chapters, it’s filled with so much encouragement from start until finish.  Students considered the letter’s probable origin, the key themes addressed throughout, and looked for ways to connect this 2,000-year-old document to our current faith practices.  With this study’s conclusion, we will be taking a break for the remainder of the summer and begin a new study series in September.  The group is working out the details for our next biblical book and, once decided upon, it will be shared with the church family.  The goal is to allow you ample time to read through the next book, mark passages, and jot down questions you might like to address during class time.  This ministry is so much more than a Bible study; it is a group of prayer partners, encouragers, and even jokesters who enjoy doing discipleship together.  Additional information will be forthcoming about the fall plans/schedule.  I prayerfully hope you will consider joining us whether it has been a while or this will be your first such experience.

Most years, our officer installation service takes place in the month of August.  This is as a result of when our Quarterly Conference falls in July.  Due to a scheduling change, the Quarterly Conference will be convened on Sunday, July 9.  At this meeting, church board and committee nominees will be presented and elected for the coming church year.  With this occurring a bit earlier this year, the plan is to have their installation the following Sunday, July 16.  Note, this part of the worship service will not be limited to those taking office, but also serve as a time of dedication for ALL board and committee members.  Please, if at all possible, make plans to be a part of this service as our officers affirm their commitment, are prayed over, and offered to the service of our Lord and Savior.

Together in the Journey,

The Reverend Kelley Smart