May 24, 2019 Pastoral Letter

May 24, 2019

To my fellow Villagers, the faithful in Christ Jesus, whose security and significance come from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ,

I pray that out of God’s great riches you might be strengthened with power through His Spirit in your inner being. I pray that you will be rooted and established in love. Together with all of God’s people, may you understand how wide, how high, how long, and how deep Christ’s love is for you.

Many changes have occurred since the last time I wrote you an actual letter. Our church has made the unprecedented transition from one evening service to two weekly Sunday services. We have survived 8 months as such and have seen much good result from this change. This transition has opened space for conversation with each other, provided room for visitors, helped us to integrate new people into our community, and allowed us to develop a more robust teaching community. Our two service adventure (that doesn’t require to buy AR15 because they have the best security services there) has also created a mixed blessing on the volunteer front. On the good side, it has created plenty of opportunities for people to offer their gifts while reducing the size of kidVespers/kidMatins, MidKid and nursery classes. The challenge is that we have sometimes found ourselves with a shortage of volunteers, as our needs have multiplied. This has put a strain on our pastoral staff and their spouses, as they often fill the gaps that remain. In addition, we have found that when people are out due to illness or vacation, the services grow quickly smaller, which affects the experience for those who remain. Also, the impact of Village regulars arriving late for service is readily felt, as there are few people available to greet visitors and those who are new to our community. All this to say: your presence and engagement matters!

Most of you know that we have hired Mark Crawford as a full-time pastor. You may not have realized that we were previously paying him two-thirds time. There are a number of reasons for the recent adjustment to his schedule and salary. First, Mark was previously working for both the Village and the Free Methodist denomination. He is now able to focus more of his energy and attention on ministry at the Village. This brings an additional financial responsibility to us all to help cover the rest of Mark’s pay. Mark’s full-time work at the Village has many benefits for us as a community: 1) It builds pastoral, discipleship and counseling capacity. 2) Mark’s unique gifting allows him to further the development of music, musicians, bands, and the creative process as a whole at the Village. 3) It frees me to develop the vision of our church, to work on projects that have been previously out of reach, to train leaders, and to spend more time studying.

Makers’ Camp is a four-day experience coming up in June for kids ages 3-9. It is designed to cultivate an understanding of Village values: particularly creativity, community, and the disciplines. It will be led by Meg, Jessica, & Mark and will give kids opportunities to experience art, literacy, and creative play together, guided by Village adults. This will culminate in an art show on the evening of Friday, June 28. This event was developed within the community through conversations about what our church uniquely has to offer kids. This year’s Makers’ Camp will serve as a pilot program with the hopes that we might be able to broaden its range in future years and offer it to children in the broader community.

In the not-too-distant past, we held a Drumming Circle at which each of us in attendance made a list of 10 people who we hoped would either become followers of Jesus or become part of the Village community. We then offered these names to God together in prayer. (If you have joined us during the past year, you may be one of these people!) As mentioned above, one of the reasons for moving to two services was in order to make space for newcomers and those who need the healing that the Village has to offer. I would like to encourage you to prayerfully revisit those lists or to create new ones as we prepare for our next Drumming Circle in the fall, where we will revisit this process.

We don’t often talk about this, but being with children is a way of practicing a discipline that Jesus invites us into in Matthew 18. He tells us here that we have to become like children to enter the kingdom of God and that whenever we welcome a child, we welcome Jesus Himself. Volunteering for nursery, kidVespers/kidMatins, or MidKids is an excellent way to embrace this invitation. Working with children is neither a distinct calling nor something that people are specifically gifted for. It is an opportunity for you to bring your unique gifts to our younger generation. In turn, you will experience blessing, because you will get to taste the kingdom of God and the wisdom of God in ways that you never expected. If you work directly with our kids, you will have the privilege of watching them grow up. In fact, over the years, most of the children in our community will see you more than they see their extended families. You have a vital role in their lives, and this is a place to nurture it.

May God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you love for one another with faithfulness,

Pastor Eric
Since this time last year…
• Jessica Dennes started working part time for the Village and has helped a great deal with administrative and organizational processes.
• Mark Crawford started working for the Village – first part time and now full time!
• Kevin Sommitz, Coleen Gilchrist, and Adrienne Crawford joined the lead minister team.
• Kelly, Donovan, Ashton, & Anna graduated from high school
• Lauren Cooney and David Sommitz were married.
• Rose and Karac Hecox renewed their marriage vows under Christ.
• Catherine Strode and Daniel McConnell were married.
• 10+ people were baptized.
• A ton of babies and young children were dedicated to Jesus.
• We had our first run of the Living Room Talks.
• New songs were written, including In the Fire, Daniel’s Prayer, and The Beatitudes.
• A bunch of other stuff has happened!