A Word from Pastor Linda
“We must always give thanks to God for you, brothers and sisters,* as is right, because your faith is growing abundantly, and the love of every one of you for one another is increasing. 4Therefore, we ourselves boast of you among the churches of God for your steadfastness and faith during all your persecutions and the afflictions that you are enduring.”
2 Thessalonians 1:3-4
We spent most of our recent western vacation hiking in National Parks. During those hikes, I found myself remembering a newsletter column I had written for the congregation where I previously served after a summer vacation in Acadia National Park in Maine. Back then, my younger children were the ones who had trouble keeping up on the hikes, but this summer I was the one often lagging behind! My thoughts then still seem relevant as we begin another program year and embark on our Vision 2020 journey.
Here’s what I said back in 2008: As we trekked up and down mountains and took in the beautiful scenery, I spent some time reflecting on church and the nature of Christian community. The more I thought about it, I realized that our journeying together as a family through Acadia was a lot like the ways we journey together as a church community. So, I offer some reflections from our travels. Perhaps you will recognize these experiences from your own family vacations and ponder how they might apply to our life together as a congregation.
- No pain, no gain.
- Sometimes before you can move forward, you need to stop and look back and see how far you’ve come.
- Not everyone travels at the same pace.
- Sometimes you need to slow down and wait for those who’ve fallen behind.
- Prodding and harassment are not the best methods for getting the reluctant to move forward. Patience is better.
- There are great views all the way along, not just at the mountaintop.
- If you don’t periodically stop and check the map, you’ll lose your direction.
- Sometimes you end up where you’re supposed to be, even though you didn’t go the way you intended.
- Don’t stop the momentum when you’re heading uphill.
- Periodic nourishment makes for happier campers.
- Overcoming adversity is good for building community.
We have already begun our new program year here at Christus Victor with our Kickoff Sunday on August 20. There is lots of energy and excitement as we begin a wide variety of educational programs, musical opportunities, fellowship events, and service projects. While this is wonderful, some of us may be overwhelmed by changes and all that is going on, or simply wonder if we are trying to go in too many directions at once.
At the same time, however, we are also beginning another round of long term planning and visioning with our Vision 2020 Team leading the way. In the weeks to come, you may hear more about this and about opportunities to share your thoughts about where God is calling Christus Victor.
As we do move forward, let us remember that we do so together as a community of followers of Jesus, committed to sharing the good news of the gospel and Making Christ Known.
The Story Leadership Recognition
Over the course of 2016-2017, our whole congregation journeyed through the Bible as we read and discussed The Story in our worship, Christian Education, and small groups. Throughout this year, the Holy Spirit has blessed us through this journey in ways those of us who planned it never even imagined. Whether you read the whole book from cover to cover or only participated by coming to worship, I hope that this journey has enhanced your understanding of who God is and how God worked in the Bible, so you can better see what God is up to in your own life and in our congregation, community, and world.
This program was made possible by a whole bunch of people that we recognized at worship on June 10 and 11.
Thanks to the Mission Appeal Team for the financial support that allowed us to provide materials for The Story free of charge. We distributed over 200 copies of the adult book and lost track of the number of children and youth books and Readers’ Guides that we gave away. Many of you generously made donations to offset the course materials, and that, plus the generosity of the Mission Appeal Team, meant that everyone who wanted one got a book or a Readers’ Guide, and we even gave them away at the Farmer’s Market and folks got them for friends or grandchildren so that the impact of this journey has been felt in places we don’t even know.
The Story Leadership Team was a remarkable group of folks who met every other week through all of last summer to plan and launch this program. They designed and produced all the publicity, ordered and distributed all the materials, and organized our small groups.
We used The Story not only in our worship and preaching, but also as our Sunday School curriculum. I am grateful to our Sunday School Staff for embracing this program and for all our teachers of children and youth for bringing their enthusiasm and experience to this last year.
Finally, I want to thank our adult small group leaders. I am grateful to those who led established groups who were willing to go out on a limb and try out this congregation-wide journey, although they may have had other ideas and plans of their own. We were also blessed by leaders who were willing to start new groups and some of those new groups are planning to continue on, even though our journey through The Story has come to an end.
On a personal note, it has been a joy for me to see an idea in my head bear so much fruit, and it has been a wonderful learning and growing experience for me – both working with the Leadership Team and having the opportunity to work with and lead a number of the small groups. Thank you for all of your support and kind words throughout this journey.
The Story Leadership Team
Deacon Patrick Briggs, MiMi Cheatham, Pastor Stefan Potuznik, Gena Price, Jerry Price, Kasandra Pruyn, Deacon Jan Spees, Deborah Swinford, Mike Szydlowski, Pastor Linda Thurston, Melanie Tomaso
Sunday School and Youth Leaders and Teachers
Melanie Tomaso (Sunday School Director), Sonya Mortell (Asst. Sunday School Director), Laura Vitols, Roger Bise, Diane Connery, Damien Braude, Karen Vuchichevich, Paul Fredericks, Kelly DeStefano, Gail Ihnen, Lisa Peters, Chrissy Miller, Serena Briggs, Angela Yamashita
Adult Small Group Leaders
Deacon Patrick Briggs, Pastor Stefan Potuznik, Vivian Chandler, Don Schlenbecker, MiMi Cheatham, Deacon Jan Spees, Sandy Janusz, Mary Jane Lind, Nell McGarry, Mike Szydlowski, Carol Maxwell, Laura Vitols, Renee Weiland, Babette Zimmerman