Staff Transitions Update – September 2021

Our church has experienced three key staff transitions this year, and we are thankful that God has been faithful to provide for us in staffing these positions for uninterrupted and effective ministry.

Children’s Ministry. After serving as our Director of Children’s Ministry for 15 years, Cassandra Dewitt resigned on May 31 to follow the Lord in using her gifts in a new way on the next leg of her journey.

  • Donna Mulvaney is serving as our part-time Interim Director of Children’s Ministry and Ann Kovalik is serving in a part-time supportive role to Donna. Their initial focus is to offer Sunday morning classes for children birth to 5th grade.
  • Our Children’s Ministry Exploratory Team has researched and worked together to present several recommendations regarding multiple aspects of Children’s Ministry to the Elders for review. We anticipate forming a Children’s Ministry Staffing Search Team this month and prayerfully hope to have permanent staffing in place by early 2022.

Care Ministry. Chuck Arnold retired from Grace Point on June 30 as Pastor of Congregational Care, and we thank the Lord for Chuck’s time serving our church family. Grace Point will continue to respond personally and promptly to spiritual, emotional, and financial needs, and to utilize a team approach in meeting those needs. Our Care Ministries Team (led by Linda Hamilton, Marlene Bollmann and Joan Bennett) is working together effectively to continue to extend care to our church family in ways that represent Christ.

  • Pastor on Call. The pastors on staff rotate for one week at a time responding to incoming calls and email requests. The POC then works with the individual or family to determine steps forward in their care, which may include an external counseling referral, an internal referral to a Confidential Care Provider, or another specialized connection within or outside Grace Point. Chuck had been training the POCs over the last year in resources available, and he has been role playing counseling situations. POCs will provide pastoral counseling on spiritual matters (1-3 sessions max) and will refer all other cases to Christ-centered counselors in our area, while maintaining contact with the counselor for shepherding purposes.
  • Care Coordinator. Eileen Hemming was hired on June 1 as our part-time Care Coordinator, and we are excited to have her skills and experience in this vital area of ministry. The Care Coordinator is an administrative position. Eileen interfaces with the congregation, the pastors and the Care Ministries Team and care providers outside of Grace Point to assure loving and effectual care to those in need.

Connection Ministry. Jay Button was celebrated and thanked by the church family on Sunday, August 29 as he stepped away from his role as Pastor of Connection at the end of August. Jay and Kim are looking forward to seeing where the Lord has them next to continue in ministering to God’s people.

  • Small Groups Ministry will be led by a volunteer team overseen by Dave Wolf, with elders serving as coaches for our highly valued small group leaders.
  • Men’s Ministry will be led by Tom Cummings and a well-established group of volunteers under staff oversight of Jeremy Davis.
  • Discover Grace Point, Membership, and Baptism will be coordinated by Jim Weber with staff oversight by Steve Weir. The Discover Grace Point class will resume this autumn on a regular basis to offer opportunities for Grace Point attenders to learn more about the church and to become members.
  • Fellowship Fund will be administered by Jan Haas with staff oversight by Bill Wright.
  • Prime Time Ministry will be overseen by Sharon Sloan, who will work with the current Prime Time Planning Team when they are ready to resume gatherings. This important ministry provides fellowship opportunities for our attendees ages 55 and up.

Administrative Support. We are delighted to announce that we have hired Jenna Mazer as our part-time Ministry Administrative Assistant. Jenna will begin the week of September 19, 2021. She will be our receptionist and will serve Dave Wolf, Jeremy Davis and our Children’s Ministry. Look for Jenna in our front office soon, and please take a moment to welcome her!

We thank the Lord for the staff team members He has provided throughout the years and those He has planned for the future. “For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love that you have shown for His name in serving the saints, as you still do.” (Hebrews 6:10 ESV)

Please pray with the elders and staff for God’s favor as we navigate these changes and look forward to the new season of ministry in the coming months.

If you have further questions, please contact kkovalik@gracepointpa.org, dwolf@gracepointpa.org or sweir@gracepointpa.org.

A Guest Blog Post by Sheryl Vasso – Women’s Ministry Bible Study Teacher

“got fruit? got gentleness?”

When I think of gentleness, I think of my nieces and nephews and their parenting of my great nieces and nephews. In the days before Covid, when we freely gathered together, I was fascinated by their parenting style. Whenever one of my great nieces/nephews would touch something they were not supposed to touch, or attempt to put a finger in the face of the youngest baby, or reach for a knick-knack they shouldn’t touch, I would enthusiastically (meaning not so gently) say, “No, no, no! Don’t do that!” However, by contrast, my nieces and nephews told their children, “Gentle. Be Gentle.” What a positive and effective way to course correct as opposed to my harsh admonition, “No! Don’t do that!”

22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.” (Galatians 5:22-23 emphasis added)

The eighth fruit of the Spirit is gentleness, and it is often misconceived as a weakness or passivity. However, true gentleness is just the opposite. Gentleness is the strength to be tender and it requires humility and self-control.

Many are the ways we can display gentleness towards others, however, one of the most powerful ways is with our words. There is a strong connection in the Bible between gentleness and the power of words:

1A soft answer turns away wrath,
    but a harsh word stirs up anger….
A gentle tongue is a tree of life,
    but perverseness in it breaks the spirit
.” (Proverbs 15: 1; 4)

Our soft words have the power to diffuse an angry situation. Frequently our conflicts with others have more to do with our temperaments than the issues separating us. Rather than return angry words for angry words, we would do well to respond gently. Our gentle words are like a tree which continually pours forth life through its shade and fruit. Our words have the power to do far more good than we sometimes think.

In the New Testament, Jesus comes as the perfect example of being gentle and humble of heart:

“Take my yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:29)

The Holy Spirit can produce the fruit of gentleness in our lives if we allow Him to lead us. So how are you doing? got fruit? got gentleness? – Sheryl Vasso of Words of Worth, Inc.

Join Sheryl Vasso and Sue Weber on Wednesday mornings at Grace Point (and on Zoom) for Bible Study starting Wednesday, September 15, 2021! This autumn they are teaching “What’s In A Name?” – a Bible study on the names of God. For all the details and to register, please go to our Women’s page.

A Fond Farewell to Jay & Kimi Button

On Sunday, August 29, we celebrated the years of ministry given to Grace Point by Pastor Jay Button and his wife, Kimi. The pastors and elders prayed for Jay and Kim during the morning worship services. We are sharing this prayer to the Lord to thank Him and in anticipation of His responses. Jay and Kim — we thank the Lord for you both!

Loving Father…we are extremely thankful today for Your chosen man, Jay Button, who you called decades ago into ministry—to preaching, teaching, shepherding, and caring for Your flock—to a lifetime of humble service.

Father, we are together giving You thanks for bringing our brother Jay, along with his dear wife, Kim, here to Grace Point. We hold Jay and Kim in the highest regard in love because of their service to You.

We ask You to grow and strengthen the faith that Jay and Kim have already displayed by leaving what is known and familiar, to step, in the same way that Abraham and Sarah did, toward something new that is only known (so far) by You. 

We ask You to give Jay a constant zeal for Your church, and to use Jay in a mighty way despite any personal challenges he may face.  Help Jay to live each sermon before he preaches it—to personally apply Your Word in his life so that he can be most effective in exhorting Your people to action. 

We know You don’t define greatness in the same way that we do—man looks at the outward appearance, but You, Lord God, look at the heart.  So we thank You for giving Jay a heart that follows closely after Yours, a heart that passionately pursues Your Kingdom in the midst of a broken and decaying world, a heart that clearly and lovingly shows the way to Jesus and to saving faith in Him no matter who is asking for directions, and a heart that seeks restoration for people whose lives are in pieces—as well as for those who think they have it all together.

Please give Jay the patience he will need to deal with people’s conflicts, and help him to persevere even when they don’t appreciate his pursuit of peace. Help those who Jay leads to loyally support him with wise and understanding hearts.

Dear Jesus, we praise Your name—You’re the One who saved us from eternal punishment and You’re the One who daily saves us from sin’s devastation.  We commit Jay and Kim to be Jesus to the many souls they will encounter in the future, just as they have been among us, so that others would come to know more of the best news ever—the gospel that restores the broken, heals relationships, and transforms lives.

Father, we know that this couple can mentor others well!  Please enable Jay and Kim to mentor with spiritual sensitivity, by listening for Your still, small voice, by patterning their lives after Jesus’ life, and by continuing to bear the fruit of Your Spirit.  We ask You to protect Jay and Kim from the focused attacks of Satan, and that You would enable them to both finish well, staying far from sin, and walking closely in obedience to Your Word. 

Gracious Spirit, we surrender Jay and Kim into Your hands, asking for supernatural guidance for this faithful pair. Wherever You may lead Jay and Kim, please continue to work through them for Your Kingdom purposes. May they be able to humbly and joyfully laugh at themselves, and to please You by steady obedience, in the same way that we have seen them consistently live for You while they were with us at Grace Point.  May the Buttons continue to be filled with your grace and truth, and to clearly display the gospel by their attitudes, actions, and words.

And we ask that in this day of celebration and farewells, …and in all the days for the rest of their lives, Jay and Kim may have rich and lasting joy in their journey with You!

We ask all of this, in the holy name of Jesus–AMEN

GP Groups: Know. Care. Encourage.

A new ministry year is beginning this month, and that means our Groups and Bible Studies are starting back up! We are very excited, and we hope you are, too! On Sundays, September 12, 19 and 26, Group leaders will be available before and after morning services to provide information, answer any questions you have and help you find a Group.  

At Grace Point, our Groups exist to create places of authentic community where people can grow spiritually and KNOW, CARE and ENCOURAGE each other. Groups are the primary place where the people of Grace Point are discipled. Groups are often where friendships are created and nurtured.  

Groups participants meet regularly to build intentional relationships and biblical community. We have a variety of Groups meeting on different days at varying times. We offer Groups for couples, families, men, women, young adults, new believers, those who are divorced or separated, those who are new to Grace Point and more!  

We invite you to take a look at our Groups and Bible Studies and see which one fits best for you! If you would like to connect with someone for more information, please email us at groups@gracepointpa.org. We are looking forward to getting to know, care for and encourage you! 

FOCUS Update – Humanitarian Aid Distribution in Lebanon

Over the last several months, our Middle East FOCUS partners in Lebanon have been working diligently to meet the immense needs of the Lebanese people. While the situation continues to deteriorate, Horizons International has been able to provide much needed food portions through their network of churches, across the country.

Below are some testimonies and pictures from area pastors who helped with the food distribution.

May God bless Horizons so much and give them double what they offer. You cannot imagine how much these food portions … are [especially] during these difficult times for people, to present the word of the Gospel and also to see and fulfill the urgent needs of people is total priority. Indeed, words of thanks are not enough, but I trust that the Lord will bless the service of Horizons more and more.

Rev. Najib Khoury
Marjeyoun Baptist Church

Thank you, Horizons, for your tremendous efforts, especially in the difficult days we are going through. We can say that Horizons always stands with the local church in various circumstances.

Rev. Rabih Taleb
Alma Shaab Presbyterian Church

Thank you, Horizons. Your offerings always come at the right time, and we desperately need them. May the Lord bless you and increase you many times over. Your ministry gives glory to God, and we are pleased to cooperate together.

Rev. Maroun Chammas
Deir Memas Baptist Church

Your constant and uninterrupted communication with us as churches is very wonderful and very appreciated. May the Lord bless you very much in the name of Christ.

Rev. Fouad Antoun
Marjeyoun Presbyterian Church

Brother Wissam Haddad from Cold Cup of Water ministry shared with me that because of food portions donated by Horizons to him last month God opened many doors and two people accepted the Lord Jesus and two got healed from the visits that happened because of the food portions. Through his ministry he is going to many Lebanese towns and presenting sandwiches and water and Bibles for free with a message of love. These pictures are in Makse, a Sunni town in West Bekaa, for providing food portions. The Lord used this offering and opened many doors for ministry. We pray that the Lord blesses and glorifies more and more through this special initiative and partnership.

Brother Tony Shalash
C&MA Rmeich

Thank you for your generosity in helping to make this possible and thank you for your continued prayers for the people of Lebanon. Please pray for our Middle East partners at Horizons International and Amchit Baptist Church, as they continue to rely on the Lord during these difficult and desperate days.

Elder Prayer (8/15/21)

As we go to prayer this morning, I want to read a brief passage from Psalm 32:

Therefore let all the faithful pray to You while You may be found; surely the rising of the mighty waters will not reach them. You are my hiding place; You will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance. I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.

Father, we praise you that you hear our prayers and that you want us to bring our praises and petitions to you!  We are thankful for your promises of deliverance, protection, instruction and counsel…all you ask is that we come to you!

So we come to you today, thanking you for your faithfulness and provision in our lives and the life of this church.  While we acknowledge that, we are aware that there are likely several here today who are experiencing illness, challenges, or difficulties and are perhaps not sensing your presence or your love for them.  We pray for them and healing for those who are sick and for those that are joining us today, that they will be encouraged and strengthened by worshiping together and the message from your Word as it is proclaimed.  May your Spirit be upon Pastor Dave as he shares with us today and may we be open to what you want us to learn as we apply it to our lives.

We pray for the country of Haiti which has just been through another devastating earthquake.  We pray for those who have lost love ones and for those involved with repair and recovery. Demonstrate your presence in powerful ways that those wh do not know you would come to you.

We are thankful for our Staff and many volunteers who work so diligently to serve the needs of our congregation and pray that you would encourage them in their work and protect them from the Enemy.

We pray for our upcoming Fall Ministries and for the plans surrounding them.  We know that our plans only achieve results as they are filtered through your will and direction so we pray that you would bless our efforts and that You would be glorified through the lives that will be changed.

We thank you for your financial provision for this church over the years and pray that you would continue to move in our hearts to give cheerfully to the work of our ministry and current needs as we worship you through our giving.

So we thank you for your presence with us today as we commit this worship time to you!

In the name of Jesus our Savior, Amen!

Harvey Cedars Recap by Jeremy Davis

GP Students had the opportunity to travel to Long Island, New Jersey, to spend two weeks at Harvey Cedars Bible Conference. These two weeks of ministry had been bathed in prayer for many months in advance. The preparation team endured many difficult challenges as COVID-19 regulations changed frequently. Thankfully, the Lord is greater than any difficulties we faced. 

We left for High School camp in hopes that God would do a wonderful work in our students; He did not disappoint. At the end of the week, we met at Barnegat Lighthouse to recap all the great things God accomplished. The students shared how encouraged they were in building friendships with one another, strengthening their relationships with God, and realizing how much their youth leaders love them.

Two days after returning from High School camp we loaded the vehicles up once again, this time leaving for Middle School camp. We came expectant that God would accomplish great things in the hearts of His young people. God was faithful, reminding us to have authentic faith in all we do. The students shared what a wonderful week they had with God and one another. 

Harvey Cedars is a special place, and it was a joy to see our students experience that, some for the first time! Thanks for praying for us. The Lord was kind and gracious in giving us two wonderful weeks together. We’re all looking forward to Harvey Cedars next summer!

-Jeremy Davis

Elder Prayer (7/25/21)

Jesus, we praise You for being the One who has set us free, for breaking all the chains that would otherwise hold us in bondage to sin and to the fear of death. We pray that each one in our church body would come to know You as their personal Savior, whether it be for the first time or in a new way as we spend time worshiping You, Lord. 

We pray for victory over any idols that have taken over control in our lives, and we pray for us to be free to live as a testimony of Your goodness and faithfulness in our lives. 

We pray for each family, for each marriage in our church. We pray that You would give us the strength to be sacrificial in the ways that we shower the love of Christ on one another in those families. 

We pray, Lord, for wisdom about the choices that we are making each day that determine the direction that our families and our households are going. Lord, we pray that You would also help us to be a testimony of Your provision and that we will be able to see ways to bless others in our spheres of influence. 

We pray for our church, that You would give great insight and direction to the elder team as we seek to shepherd the flock. We pray that You give us discernment as we seek to ensure that we are headed in the same direction with Converge, because our goal is that Jesus would be pre-eminent and that we would be in agreement about what the Holy Scriptures teach in advancing Your kingdom. 

Please guard and guide the staff as they work together to encourage us in our walk with You. Lord, we pray for our nation, that You would break the power of hate and despair and bring us back to unity. We pray that You would revive us as a nation and that Your Spirit would draw us to Yourself for the sake of Your name. 

Lord, we pray for the people of Cuba as they go through great unrest. We pray that You would free them from tyranny and allow all the believers in Cuba to worship You. Lord, there are other nations in this world that are tyrannical as well, and so we pray that all the believers that are seeking to worship You, whether it be underground or in secret or openly, Lord, that You would give them all courage, that You would embolden them. 

And we ask, Father, for all of our missionaries around the world, that You would help them to, in wisdom, discern the best way to share the truth of the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ with brothers and sisters and also with those who do not yet know You. 

And we pray, Lord, that You would help us to be missionaries in our community; that You would help us to be faithful to share the love of Christ with others. Despite all that the enemy may say, Your truth is still true and Your kingdom is forever. We take joy in rejoicing in You, Father, and we praise Your holy name.  In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.

(Keith Brown, Elder)

Adult Bible Study – Sundays at 10:30 a.m.

Young Tim was reading a letter from Paul, an older friend. One paragraph may have made him pause. “But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have firmly believed, knowing from whom you learned it and how from childhood you have been acquainted with the sacred writings, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:14-17)

Years later, these words remain essential for shaping Christian thought, character and action. So each Sunday morning a group of adults meets at Grace Point for the purpose of digging into the written Word and discovering in it direction for living God’s way.

Adult Bible Study Class (ABS) has resumed and has just begun an examination of the Old Testament book of 1st Samuel which records the chaotic time of Israel’s first kings, Saul and David. Accounts of treachery, political chicanery and rebellion against God clearly parallel our own times. The eternal God revealed His works and nature in these events. That history, in turn, enables us to better understand His later self-revelation in Christ and the unchangeable principles for living in harmony with Him today.

ABS teachers are long time diggers into the written Word. They have a passion for sharing the “wondrous things” they have discovered in the Bible. They welcome questions and encourage discussion. The class has started again, meets every Sunday from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. in the Conference Room and is open to all adults. Bring a Bible and join in friendly, profitable study. We encourage you to go to the 9:00 a.m. worship service, and then come over to the Conference Room for ABS. We hope to see you!

-McGregor Scott

Elder Prayer (7/18/21)

As we go to prayer, I wonder how many of us are having these thoughts or questions as we think about our relationship with God:

          >I am overwhelmed with life right now. Is God there?

          >I’ve made too many mistakes to even be accepted by God.

          >I continue to make mistakes.

          >How can God love a person like me?

          >How can a God who is so big ever care about me?

Here is a familiar passage from Romans 8 that continues to encourage me, as it should encourage you!

Romans 8:28-39:  And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. What, then, shall we say in response to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies.  Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.  Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Let’s look to the Lord in prayer:

God, we are so thankful for Your Word that we have read that encourages us and reminds us how much You love every one of us and care about us. So much that You gave Your only Son to die in our place for all of our sins, past, present, and future!

We thank You that You are with us today and that we have the opportunity and privilege to worship You in various ways, through singing, hearing Your Word, giving, and in the building of relationships with others who are here. We thank You that your Spirit unites us and that we can join together in worshiping You.

I pray for those who are hurting physically, financially, emotionally, or in other ways, that they may find peace and comfort in Your presence and through the encouragement of Your Word and others who are here today. For those who are sick, we pray for healing as we know that You are the Great Physician!

I thank You for our Staff and our Worship Team…thanks for their sacrifice of service as they use their gifts in serving You and leading us at this church!  We thank You for the many volunteers that assist in various ministries as well. We pray for all of them as they serve that You would provide strength, stamina, wisdom, and protection from the enemy!

We also pray for those many missionary families that we support around the world. We thank You for their sacrificial service and pray for their protection and effectiveness as they work to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ in their ministry. We pray for our partners in Lebanon through our FOCUS initiative who are undergoing struggles and suffering in so many ways, in particular Pastor Joseph and those who are a part of the fellowship at Amchit Church. Be their source of strength and encouragement today and provide for their needs as only You can do.

So again, Lord, thank You for Your love for us this opportunity today to worship You.  And we love You because You first loved us!

In Jesus’ Name, amen.  

(Ken Kovalik, Elder Chair)