Email From the Pastor

Hello Brothers & Sisters,

The new year is off to a great start! I’m encouraged by what I’m already seeing in the life of our congregation.

I hope that you’re benefiting from our Inherent Worth series. If you missed the first two messages, you can listen to God’s Plan for Social Justice (1 of 4) and The Imago Dei in Everyone (2 of 4) at our website or on our podcast via iTunes. In the latest installment, I shared a foundational message for the series on what it means that men and women are created in God’s image. I gave special attention to women being created as man’s equal and counterpart, according to a responsible reading of the Genesis account. I think you will find that helpful for the next two messages in this series.

If you’ve not read our denomination’s statement on women in leadership, you can read that at the BIC US website. You can also read the Q&A with Alan Robinson in response to some feedback on the statement. In addition, you can read an issue of the BIC History & Life journal dedicated to women in ministry. 

So far, we have looked at the evils of human trafficking and misogyny. This coming Sunday we will be addressing the problem of domestic violenceEric Seibert, a professor at Messiah College and a member of Grantham Church, will be speaking in the worship service on the topic. Remember that we will have a combined Learning Community at 9:00 a.m. in C8-12 with Elisa Seibert and Roger Sider leading the class. Please join us as we talk about an issue that we’re deeply concerned about at Grantham. As usual, there will be a time of discussion following the presentation of the speakers.

Also, I wanted to let you know that we will soon be releasing a Spring 2018 Ministries brochure containing information about our Lent to Easter series, topics for Learning Communities, and other pertinent details regarding ministry opportunities. This will include information about a fresh launch of our small groups ministry.

Over the coming weeks, we will be forming and reforming our sermon-based small groups for the spring semester. Small groups are our primary “personal space” vehicle for building community and making disciples at Grantham Church. I see this opportunity as a central part of our life together. It means so much to us that all of our pastoral staff are plugged in to a small group. If you’re not a part of one already, I want to encourage you to try one out this spring. If you have questions or you’re interested in joining a group, please email Ron Burwell at rburwell@messiah.edu or the church office at office@granthamchurch.org.

I look forward to seeing you this Sunday in worship. Until then, let us continue to pursue Christ, the visible image of the invisible God.

Grace & Peace,

Pastor David

* This post was first sent as an email to all church members. If you would like to receive the weekly email from the pastor, please let us know at office@granthamchurch.org

Email From the Pastor

Hello Brothers & Sisters,

I hope everyone is staying warm and free from sickness! Thankfully, it looks like we will see some warmer temperatures as the week unfolds.

This past Sunday we began our January series, Inherent Worth: Rediscovering the Image of God in Everyone. Remember that in this series we are addressing various issues related to abuse and exploitation of people made in God’s image. Originally, we wanted to begin the series with the message I’ll be preaching this Sunday; a message that is foundational to our understanding of men and women being made in God’s image. However, Becky McDonald, our guest speaker, could only come last Sunday. So, we made a slight adjustment to accommodate her being with us.

If you missed Becky’s message on human trafficking, you can now listen to her message God’s Plan for Social Justice at our website. I know what Becky shared in Learning Community and in the service was at times tough to hear, but I trust that the Spirit used her in some way to speak to our hearts. As I said in my introduction, our aim with a series like this is to raise awareness and encourage local action. If you’d like some help with how to respond to Becky’s message, you will find some ways to do that at her website for Women At Risk International. Also, if you’re a parent, this video (at 5:50) will give you some guidance with your children.

While I do plan to include ways to respond each week in the Pastor’s Email, and we have some helpful books and resources on the bookshelf in the lobby, please stay tuned for the next Peace Matters newsletter that will likely come out later next month. Our Peace & Social Justice Commission will follow-up the series with reflections and other ways for us to respond to what we’ve heard this month. How do we respond as individuals? How do we respond as a church? The gospel of Jesus calls us to action. Pray for each other as the Spirit guides us.

The series continues this Sunday as we look at the basic biblical teaching that men and women were created equal in God’s image (Gen 1:27). Join us for the combined Learning Community at 9:00 a.m. in C8-12 where we will hear Alan Robinson (National Director of BIC US) talk about our denomination’s view of men and women in leadership. Also, Lynda Gephart (Pastor of Congregational Life at Harrisburg BIC) will share about her journey as a female pastor serving the church over many years. The class was full last week, but we’re doing our best this Sunday to make sure there is space for everyone in a setting conducive to conversation.

Finally, I want to express my thanks for our Peace & Social Justice Commission and the work they’ve done to plan a month-long peace focus, leading up to Peace Sunday on January 28. These are heavy concerns to be sure, but I know God will give us the grace and the wisdom to process and respond in love with the light that drives out the darkness. Thank you for being the sort of church that is willing to walk the Jesus road and confront evil with the light of the gospel. I believe the Lord will surprise us with hope as we listen, reflect, and respond to the brokenness around us.

May God continue to bless Grantham Church as we embody Christ to our neighbors.

Grace & Peace,

Pastor David

P.S.  I wanted to make you aware of an opportunity this Wednesday at the regular Friends Over Fences (FOF) meeting that fits well with our January series. FOF has invited a guest speaker to come and share about his journey and ministry. Reese Crane is a former 35 year sex & love and porn addict. He lost his family, ministry and a number of friends because of his addiction. After breaking free, Reese decided to become trained as Christian Counselor, receiving his Bachelor's in Christian Counseling from the International Institute of Christian Counseling in Sarasota, FL. Reese lives in the Harrisburg, PA area and works with those who struggle with love, sex, and porn addiction as well as failing marriages due to the influence of pornography and sex addiction. FOF welcomes our congregation to come listen to Reese on Wednesday at 6:00 p.m. in C8-12.

* This post was first sent as an email to all church members. If you would like to receive the weekly email from the pastor, please let us know at office@granthamchurch.org

Email From the Pastor

Hello Brothers & Sisters,

I hope that you have been enjoying our Advent series, Patterns of Light

The series began by focusing on the great struggle between light and darkness in a message entitled, The Coming of Light. We looked at how the coming of Messiah is portrayed as the coming of light to drive out the darkness in the world. In the second message we looked at how this light of Christ is given to us so the Spirit might shine through the broken pieces of our lives, through our Stained Glass Souls.

Then this past Sunday we saw how the light of Christ comes not only to drive out the darkness in our souls, but also to illuminate and empower God’s gathered people, the church. I invited us to see how we’re called to be The Community of Light as faithful followers of Christ’s teachings. If you missed any of these messages, I encourage you to listen before the final message this Sunday, The End of Night.

It just so happens that the fourth Sunday of Advent falls on Christmas Eve this year. So, we will be having a robustMorning Worship Service at 10:30 a.m. and then an evening Candlelighting Service at 6:30 pm. Please bring your family and friends for a special day of worship at Grantham Church. And don’t forget that this Friday we are partnering with the Curry family to do Lessons & Carols, an Arts Hub Event beginning at 6:30 p.m. with a meal in the church lobby. The service will begin at 7:30 p.m. in the sanctuary. Yes, Christmas is upon us! Don’t miss these opportunities to enter in and celebrate the birth of Christ and the hope we have in his coming.

Also, remember that we are partnering with Friends Over Fences to host a lunch for ex-offenders and anyone who will be alone on Christmas Day. The lunch will be held in the fellowship hall on December 25 at 1:00 p.m. If you’d like to contribute, you’re invited to bring a dessert to the church kitchen this Sunday, or drop it off in the kitchen after 10:30 a.m. on Monday. If you’re able, come and give to our friends in need and express the love of Christ to those who have no place to go on Christmas Day.

If you’d like to join us, please RSVP to Steve Sands (ssands@friendsoverfences.org). If you’re interested in volunteering, please contact Dan Bisbee (dbisbee@granthamchurch.org).

Finally, I want to thank all of those who have been more intentional with their giving over the last couple months. I also want to thank those who have graciously offered end-of-year financial gifts to the church. Based on the financial information we publish in the bulletin, you may have noticed that we are on pace to finish strong in 2017. If you haven’t given and would like to contribute financially toward our ongoing ministries, I want to encourage you to do that this Sunday or the next (December 31). May God continue to bless Grantham Church as we attempt great things for him in 2018.

I look forward to seeing you this Sunday as we worship the newborn King.

Grace & Peace,

Pastor David

P.S.  We had our first meeting last night with your 2018 Church Board. It was a joy to gather with an exciting team of individuals who are honored to represent our congregation and to take on the visionary task of helping Grantham Church move forward in the new year. Our first order of business was to fill the open leadership positions. I’m happy to announce that Justin Weber is the new board chair. Art Bert is the new vice chair. And Duane Asper is the new chair of the Property & Facilities Committee (PFC), which now functions as a committee of the board. Thank you for all your prayers and support of the 2018 Church Board.

* This post was first sent as an email to all church members. If you would like to receive the weekly email from the pastor, please let us know at office@granthamchurch.org

Email From the Pastor

Hello Brothers & Sisters,

I trust that you are waiting on the Lord to shine his light out of the darkness this Advent season. That’s what we’ve been talking about in our sermon series, Patterns of Light. If you missed the sermon on Sunday, you can now listen (or watch) the second installment in the series, Stained Glass Souls. In this message, I said that God doesn’t break us, we are already broken. Therefore, it’s when we understand our need for the God who loves us, that he can put the pieces back together, and his light can shine through our stained glass souls. I hope you were encouraged and uplifted by the worship service this past Sunday.

This Sunday we will move beyond light coming to us as individuals and look at how the light comes to empower God’s gathered people, the church. I’ll invite us to consider how Jesus envisioned his church as the community of light, and how local churches, including Grantham Church, is called to be a home and a beacon for the dawning of the light. Please join us as we continue to trek through this series on our way to the joy of Christmas.

As 2017 is nearing its end, I wanted to let you know a few things that are fast approaching. Please be aware of the following:

Friday, December 22 – Lessons & Carols with Friends (Arts Hub Event) at 6:30 pm.
Sunday, December 24 – Morning Worship Service at 10:30 am and Christmas Eve Candlighting Service at 6:30 pm.
Monday, December 25 – Friends Over Fences Christmas Meal & Gift Exchange at 1:00 pm.
Sunday, December 31 – Worship at 10:30 am | John Yeatts (Congregational Care Pastor) preaching “Years Crowned with Goodness”

I invited Pastor John to preach in my absence on Sunday, December 31. If you’re in town, please come worship with the family and hear his reflections on this past year at Grantham. My family will fly to Texas on Dec 27 and return on Jan 3. Thank you for your prayers as we travel to see family and enjoy the holidays with our loved ones down south.

Also, I wanted to go ahead and give you a look into our January sermon series. You may recall that last January we used the entire month to focus on a specific topic related to peace, leading up to our Peace Sunday at the end of the month. We also held a combined learning community on Sunday mornings at 9:00 am, giving attention to racial reconciliation. We are doing that again in 2018, except this year’s focus is called, Inherent Worth: Rediscovering the Image of God in Everyone.

Our Christian faith tells us that every person on the planet has inherent worth because they are made in the image of God. Yet, as we look around the world today, we see that many people, particularly the most vulnerable among us, are being abused and exploited. We’ve talked as a church about the problem of racism, but what about other evils like human trafficking, pornography, domestic violence, and treating women as second-class citizens? These are serious issues and we want to learn about what our congregation can do to address these concerns at a local level.

Therefore, each Sunday we will address these concerns leading up to Peace Sunday on January 28. I hope that you will join us for our January peace series as we ask, “What difference can we make in helping our church and community rediscover the image of God in everyone?” Please stay tuned for more information and details as we get closer.

Finally, be sure to check out the bookshelf in the lobby this Sunday, as we will be previewing the series with suggested reading and resources related to the issues. And if you have a church mailbox, you will find a newsletter from the Peace & Social Justice Commission that includes book reviews from the previous peace series, as well as more information about the Inherent Worth series next month.

Keep walking in the light, dear saints. And may God continue to bless Grantham Church in the days ahead.

Grace & Peace,

Pastor David

* This post was first sent as an email to all church members. If you would like to receive the weekly email from the pastor, please let us know at office@granthamchurch.org

Email From the Pastor

Hello Brothers & Sisters,

It’s beginning to feel a lot like Advent. Thank you for being a part of our first Advent service this past Sunday. As you know by now, our Advent 2017 series is called Patterns of Light. Our approach to Advent this year is to think about the imagery of light coming into the world through Jesus the Messiah. The first sermon, The Coming of Light (1 of 4), is now available at our website and at our podcast via iTunes.

Normally, I create a sermon series focus and then I work with Geoff Isley and/or a team to design artwork for the series. For this Advent series, we did it the other way around. I wanted to let the stained glass project inspire the sermon series. Thanks again to Geoff Isley, Art Bert, and all those involved in putting together the beautiful stage display. The project itself is a testimony to who we are as a church. I don’t think I’ve said this before, but at Grantham Church we want to embrace art and icons as a part of the liturgy and the worship focus, allowing them to enhance our congregational worship. Therefore, it is deeply spiritual in that it helps us enter into worship together. I hope that was and will be your experience throughout this series. May God inspire us all as we gaze upon the stained glass in our worship services.

Also, I want to thank all of you who attended our annual Congregational Council on Sunday night. I was encouraged by your attendance and participation in an important function of our church life. If you weren’t in attendance, I’m glad to share the results of the election we held to fill six open spots for the 2018 Church Board. The names in bold are the newly elected members of the board:

  1. Justin Weber
  2. Joe Rudy (church treasurer)
  3. Devin Manzullo-Thomas
  4. Joanna Barnhouse (church secretary)
  5. Neil Weaver
  6. Duane Asper
  7. Patti Hess
  8. Art Bert
  9. Roger Sider

Once again, I want to thank Dave Warren, our out-going board chair, for his faithful service over the past 5 years. Dave and the current 2017 board were instrumental in guiding the church through difficult times. I am personally thankful for Dave’s leadership and for the support given by the rest of the board during my arrival and transition as the Senior Pastor of Grantham Church. Their service to the church will not be forgotten. Stay tuned for updates pertaining to the 2018 board. We meet for the first time on Monday evening December 18, which will include the appointment of a new board chair. Thank you for your prayers through this process.

Finally, I’m looking forward to the service this Sunday. We will be having a child dedication ceremony, dedicating three children to the Lord. We will continue to focus on the coming of the light in our worship together. The message this Sunday is called, Stained Glass Souls (2 of 4). Please join us as we consider how the light of Christ comes to shine in us and through us, putting on display his redemptive work of new creation. And then join us again in the afternoon for our annual Children’s Clubs Christmas program, A Star is Born, starting at 3:30 p.m.

May God give you his peace this holiday season.

Grace & Peace,

Pastor David

P.S.  We were saddened to learn of the passing of Dorothy Schrag this past week. Dorothy was a member of Grantham Church for 67 years, and she played the organ for 16 years. She had been receiving care at Messiah Village for the last few years. Lisa (her daughter) and Ken Sechrist want to extend an invitation to her memorial service this coming Saturday at 11:00 a.m. here at Grantham Church. Thank you for showing them your love and support.

* This post was first sent as an email to all church members. If you would like to receive the weekly email from the pastor, please let us know at office@granthamchurch.org

Email From the Pastor

Hello Brothers & Sisters,

I hope you all had a meaningful Thanksgiving with family and friends. It was a joy to have Lanna’s parents come up from Texas and spend several days with us. They were also with us in the worship service on Sunday. When we got home they kept talking about how warm and friendly you are as a congregation. It blesses me to know that this is a common experience visitors have at Grantham Church. Thank you!

If you were out of town and missed the sermon on Sunday, I preached a message entitled, It’s a Woman’s World Too: A Christ-Centered Case for Women in Ministry. As I said in the sermon, there is a lot to say on this topic, so I tried to put together a message that presented the best evidence for women in ministry. Furthermore, I wanted to help us see the trajectory of freedom and equality in the New Testament. When we’re able to better understand the situation and context of the NT, we can gain quite a bit of clarity on issues and acquire a greater appreciation for the Holy Scriptures. I hope that was something you gleaned from the message.

As always, you can listen online at our website or through our podcast via iTunes. Want to talk about it? I encourage you to go deeper in personal space with your sermon-based small group. Discussion questions are available to guide your group in further study, reflection, and conversation. 

Also, you may want to check out some books in our church library. If you’d like some substantive reading on this topic, here is a suggested reading list:

  • Emboldened: A Vision for Empowering Women in Ministry by Tara Beth Leach
  • Why Not Women? A Fresh Look at Scripture on Women in Missions, Ministry, and Leadership by Loren Cunningham, David Joel Hamilton, with Janice Rogers
  • Paul, Women & Wives: Marriage and Women’s Ministry in the Letters of Paul by Craig Keener
  • What’s with Paul & Women: Unlocking the Cultural Background to 1 Timothy 2 by Jon Zens

We are entering that time of year when we’re tempted to be pulled away from Christ and lured in to consumerism and frantic living. I want to encourage you to resist the cultural forces that seek to bombard us this holiday season. Thankfully, the church has an excellent way of being intentional with our spiritual formation in the face of these competing forces. What is it? It’s the church calendar.

I was probably in college when I first heard the word “Advent” because the church I grew up in didn’t recognize most of the church calendar or historic liturgy. In my opinion, this has not helped the vast majority of Protestant churches. When we give up life-forming practices in the church and our Christian homes, we make it easier for the world to do the forming of our hearts and minds. The empire then shapes us with its own liturgy, habits, and expectations as citizens. Is it any wonder that we often feel helpless in navigating all the world throws at us? I want to submit to you that there are things we can do to help us keep our focus this holiday season.

I invite you to enter in to the Advent season where we reflect deeply upon the coming of Christ into the world, and not just his arrival in a manger, but also his promise to return and set the world right. How do we do that? You might be able to think of more than these, but here are several things I think we can do: (1) be fully present in congregational worship over the next 4 weeks; (2) fast and/or pray through Advent using something like this or this; (3) use an Advent calendar with your kids; (4) read a good devotional or a book that walks through Advent; (5) listen/sing Advent songs and reflect on his coming, e.g. O Come, O Come, Emmanuel or God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen;  (6) practice generous giving to friends and strangers with no strings attached; and (7) intentionally resist the commercialism of Christmas.

What is the Spirit leading you to do this Advent? How is he calling you to take charge of your own spiritual formation?

Please join us this Sunday as we kick off our Advent 2017 series, Patterns of Light. This Advent we will be looking at the biblical motif of Christ and the good news portrayed as light coming into the world. I look forward to worshipping with you. We will be taking communion at the end of the service, as we shift our thoughts to the coming Messiah and God’s promises to renew all things.  See you there!

Grace & Peace,

Pastor David

* This post was first sent as an email to all church members. If you would like to receive the weekly email from the pastor, please let us know at office@granthamchurch.org