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! 

Bringing Balance to Last Week’s Article

Grace Point Family,

Last Friday we forwarded to our church family an article written by Converge President, Scott Ridout, condemning the violence and riots that occurred at the Capitol on January 6, 2021.

Since last Friday, several people in our Grace Point family courageously reached out to me to express their concerns that the Converge article could be perceived as partisan, and I am glad that I have had the opportunity to ask these individuals to “help me understand your concerns.” Through these conversations, I heard a primary concern that this article did not represent the balance for which Grace Point is typically known in its communication on current events, and so I offer these thoughts to bring balance to this conversation.

Let me first share with you the two reasons we forwarded the article:

  1. We felt Converge had made an important statement distinguishing our Christian community from those who, while carrying symbols sacred to our faith, attacked the Capitol building and endangered the lives of others. While it is not for me to judge the hearts of these individuals, I do believe it is important to call out their actions as inconsistent with the teachings of Christ. He called us to respect the property and wellbeing of our neighbors – even those with whom we disagree. (This condemnation is equally applicable to the many riots sparked by racial tensions in 2020.) It is important for the unbelieving world to know that believers, in general, and Grace Point, in particular, in no way endorse or identify with those who perpetrate hatred or violence.
  2. We also feel it’s important from time to time to remind our church family that we are part of an association of churches called Converge, which exists to start and strengthen churches worldwide. Forwarding articles from the president helps us stay connected with our larger network, and to understand the perspectives that are shared on a national level.

It was neither my intent nor desire to make a partisan statement with this article. Rather, the motivation was to uphold the name and mission of Christ in the eyes of those who do not yet know Him. Some of you will remember a message we studied last July:

When Joshua was by Jericho, he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man was standing before him with his drawn sword in his hand. And Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you for us, or for our adversaries?” And he said, “No; but I am the commander of the army of the LORD.”  Joshua 5:13-14 (emphasis added)

Here is one of many cases when God is not interested in taking sides as people divide into “us vs. them,” but is solely focused on making the name of Christ known so that Christ may draw all people to Himself. Grace Point has not been and under my watch will not be a church that promotes political sides. We are to promote the Great Commission of Christ as members of the army of the LORD, fighting together the darkness brought on by our spiritual enemy. The purpose of last week’s article was not to promote a political side, but to promote the purity of the cause of Christ.

Having said that, I understand that last week’s article calls out one political side without calling out the other. Because the article specifically called out our now former president, I would like to balance what was said there by stating that I have serious concerns about several policies our new president has vowed to pursue, and the impact they may have on our religious freedom. As well, I have concerns with the stance of the new administration on several social issues including abortion, which I believe to run counter to my understanding of Scripture. 

In all honesty, I feel there is a lot of material to work with in calling both the Democratic and Republican platforms to account from a Scriptural standpoint. I have always made an effort to “offend everyone equally,” so to speak (when it comes to politics at least!) and I apologize that last week’s email was not balanced in that way. 

In light of this incident, I commit to two practices going forward:

  • I will renew my vigilance to present any political views in a balanced manner, as we have done to this point.
  • When addressing sensitive topics like politics, when there is high potential for offense or misunderstanding, I will make sure that you hear from me or another trusted member of our own Grace Point staff rather than forwarding the thoughts of someone with whom you have little connection. You need to be able to follow up a Grace Point communication by approaching a leader you know and trust with the conversation, “help me understand.”

And there is something I hope YOU will take away from this. In the polarized culture in which we find ourselves, I want to call you to trade a posture of accusation for a posture of teachability. Resist the natural bent to judge the motives of those with whom you disagree, and instead follow the example of those brave individuals who reached out to our leadership this past week with a humble spirit of curiosity in saying, “help me understand.”

I believe strongly in the vision and mission of Converge, and I trust Scott Ridout’s desire to follow Christ and make Him known. We will continue to cultivate our relationship with Converge and share Scott’s thoughts with you again in the future. As well, we will by God’s grace communicate in such way that we do not lose the opportunity to impact our community for the Gospel by taking political stances.

I am grateful for the diversity of Grace Point – ethnically, socially, politically. As we are called by Christ to unity, let us remember that unity is not the same as uniformity. And let us embrace the fact that unity is not easy – sometimes it takes hard work. Let’s continue to do that work together, as we fix our eyes on the Author and Perfector of our faith.

For the glory of Christ,
Dave Wolf
Lead Pastor

…Walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. (Ephesians 4:1-3)

Middle East FOCUS Team Update

By Denise Nichols, Middle East FOCUS Team Leader

It seems like little has gone according to plan in 2020…at least in our minds. That certainly has been true for Grace Point’s Middle East FOCUS (our 3 to 5-year mission partnership) as well. But we have an amazing God and nothing, not even a pandemic, can thwart His plans! It is such a comfort to know that God is always in control!

A few members of the FOCUS Implementation Team were scheduled to travel to Lebanon this spring for a ministry development trip. The purpose of this trip was to explore the various ministry opportunities that might be a good fit for Grace Point and to identify one or more opportunities for our first Lebanon mission trip this summer.  We also were planning on in-depth meetings with Amchit Baptist Church, our potential church partner, to determine how we could come alongside each other in ministry and, hopefully, solidify an official partnership. We were disappointed and, quite honestly, rather discouraged that the COVID-19 travel restrictions prevented us from going on either of these trips.

God had other plans. Romans 8:28 reminds us, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to His purpose.” We knew that we could trust in God’s perfect plan, not letting discouragement win. We knew that we needed to keep the FOCUS moving forward even though it was going to look very different than we had anticipated.     

The FOCUS Implementation Team has continued to meet regularly. Relying on God’s leading and direction, we began to explore some important questions. What does an effective Lebanon mission initiative look like when we can’t travel? How do we engage the congregation? How do we stay excited ourselves, not losing our momentum?

In June we held a Taste of Lebanon drive-thru event as a way to introduce Lebanese culture and delicious Lebanese food. A total of 152 meals were ordered from King of Falafel in Newtown, and $3,000 was raised for the ministry at Amchit Baptist Church. The event was quite a success and received very positive feedback. Be on the lookout for our next event! 

In July we held our first joint prayer meeting over Zoom with a few members of our team, Dave Wolf and leaders of Amchit Baptist. It was a sweet and powerful time of unity which strengthened the connection between our two churches. We have also been able to deepen our relationship with Amchit through regular communication, sharing prayer requests and becoming more invested in each other’s lives. We were very encouraged to know that they have been attending our online Sunday morning services! That would have been something we never would have imagined, but it has been an exciting part of God’s plan. 

A joint prayer time with Amchit Baptist Church.

In August, we established the Lebanon Relief Fund because of the deepening crisis in Lebanon.  Their economy has totally collapsed, prices have skyrocketed, unemployment has soared and those fortunate to keep their jobs have found their salaries cut drastically. In a country known for its hospitality, people are struggling to feed themselves and their families, let alone celebrate and share with others. The pandemic exacerbated this crisis and the recent explosion in Beirut took it to even more desperate levels.

Our ministry partner in Lebanon, Horizons International, has a vibrant and powerful ministry network, as well as a trustworthy reputation. They have been working hard to address the needs of the people, providing humanitarian aid for churches to distribute to those in need (up to 3,000 lunches per day!) In addition, their teams have been spending their days assisting in the clean up after the explosion and taping plastic over some of the millions of blown out windows. God has opened up the door to even more service and outreach opportunities as they share the Gospel with those they are helping.

Also, the owner of King of Falafel (from our Taste of Lebanon event) wanted to raise money for Lebanon relief and asked if she could donate it through Grace Point because she knew we were a trustworthy organization. This connection with our local Middle Eastern community was beyond what we could have planned, but it was part of God’s plan.

In just two short weeks since establishing the Lebanon Relief Fund, thanks to the generosity of the Grace Point family, we have been able to send over $34,000 to assist Horizons in their work, with a portion going to meet the needs of the members of Amchit Baptist Church and their community. If you have already given to the Lebanon Relief fund, thank you! Because the needs are great and on-going, we will continue to receive and forward funds. If you would like to make a contribution, go to: http://giving.gracepointpa.org and select the “Lebanon Relief” fund. 

Ephesians 3:20 reminds us that our God is a God “who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think.” He has given us so many examples of this during these past few months, and we know that there are many more to come!  We are humbled to be part of God’s plan, serving the people of Lebanon and sharing His love.

We can’t wait to see what God has planned next!

VBS 2020 Highlights!

Over the last three weeks, families have been enjoying FOCUS VBS – REFOCUSED with YOU in mind. Each week, families were provided with a gift box with activities, games, lessons and special items to guide them through VBS-at-Home. The gift boxes have served to encourage families in their faith and bring FUN into their homes in a new way.

We’ve heard that this unique approach to VBS has been extremely positive for families to learn together! We are grateful that we could serve our families in different and meaningful ways.

Here are a few things to celebrate and praise God for!

  • We had about 43 families participating representing about 84 children! 
  • We had 11 of those families were guests of Grace Point or new to our church. We welcome them and hope that VBS-at-Home has been a special first experience for them with us. 
  • Because of your generous donations, we have been able to bless families using half of our usual VBS budget and include more gifts than we could have previously. We praise God for your generosity making this possible. Thank you!

How you can continue to pray for VBS:

  • Pray that families would continue to be encouraged to have faith-centered conversations in their homes.
  • Pray that the seeds of faith that were planted would grow and that many kids would come to know and trust Jesus.
  • Pray that our guests might seek to know more about Grace Point so they can meet Jesus and be encouraged to grow in their faith!

6/9 Business Meeting Recap!

On Sunday, June 9, 2019, Grace Point held our semi-annual business meeting for church members, with approximately 90 in attendance. Below is a summary of what we covered and the items that were up for vote.

Scott Leuz, Elder Chairman, honored Phil Anders’ 12 years of service on the Elder Board before his home-going to heaven. Scott announced that Glenn Ely will be taking a one-year sabbatical after serving over eight years on the Elder Board. Thank you, Glenn!

Scott also introduced a vote to reinstate Jack Edmond to the Elder Board, having just finished a one-year sabbatical. The subsequent vote was unanimous.

I gave an update on the FOCUS process by starting with a brief overview of the many steps involved. I shared that it is our hope and prayer that through the FOCUS process we can unite all of our mission initiatives locally, regionally and globally. I’d love to see a common thread through each area of ministry, as we consider the Acts 1:8 regions (Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the ends of the earth). Lastly, I shared that we have narrowed our potential FOCUS partnerships down to two areas of the world: Lebanon and Thailand. Each area will include potential new missions projects, short-term trips and church-wide engagement. Survey trips are currently being planned and more details can be found here.

As a side note: our 2019 Easter offering was designated to help offset the costs of our FOCUS survey trips. A total of $12,255 was given and will be a huge help in funding these trips.

Dave Wolf, Lead Pastor, reported on staffing changes and updates as follows:

JoAnn McDowell has begun her retirement! Please welcome our new Ministry Administrative Assistant Cyndi Kern and our Ministry Administrative Team Lead Sharon Sloan, who are getting up to speed and providing great support to the staff.

Our interim Student Ministry Coordinator Tony Batres has dived in and is doing a great job leading our teens. Just as Tony came on board, the Haiti missions trip had to be cancelled due to political upheaval in that country; as a result, Tony and Steve worked hard to find an alternative and have been busy planning the Navajo Nation trip for July. In addition, Tony is courageously leading a four-week teaching on dating and sex with our students, while offering a simultaneous parent session to facilitate good conversation over this vital topic.

Tony will continue as our part time coordinator into fall, as staff and elders take time to look at Student Ministry as a whole and determine if and when to search for a full-time director/pastor.

Stepping back to look at the bigger picture of our GP staffing, in February Dave Wolf began exploring the question “Are we staffed properly to achieve our Mission, our Vision and our new FOCUS?” with a group of several advisors, including an outside church consulting firm.

As a result, we will be making several changes over the coming year, including the transition of Joan Zeberlein from part-time to full-time beginning August 1. Joan has been faithful in Women’s Ministry at GP for nearly 12 years, and we are excited to have her training and equipping expertise available to impact more of our ministry areas.

As Joan transitions to full-time, she will be adding to her plate a new emphasis on our Guest Experience, looking at ways to enhance our “culture of belonging” as part of our vision of building bridges for life change through Christ. Eventually, as our new Missions FOCUS is identified, Joan will become more involved, as we are prayerfully expecting that this new FOCUS will be more than I, Steve Weir, can handle in his multi-faceted role.

There is much more to say about staffing changes and the multiple staff members who will be affected. We will offer an informational meeting in late August or early September to give more details. For now, please welcome Cyndi, Sharon, Tony and Joan to the crew!

Bill Wright, Director of Operations, provided an update on the church finances, including the many ways our church family has been generous beyond giving to the General Fund. Bill mentioned that a new restricted account was created for funds given for “Strategic Global Projects” and that significant gifts have already been received for those purposes. Lastly, copies of the proposed 2019-2020 budget were distributed, and Bill reviewed some of the changes and proposed increases. With an overwhelming majority vote, the members approved the budget as presented.

Pastor Jay Button recognized Chuck Arnold, Pastor of Congregational Care, for his five years of ministry and service to the church family. I had the opportunity to recognize Josh DeLeo, Sunday AV Coordinator, for his five years of service, and Holly Ames, Missions Assistant, for her 20 years of service.

Pastor Jay Button was delighted to welcome new members to the Grace Point family, Dave Ferri and Tom and Barb Cummings.

Finally, Scott Leuz shared the results of the votes (noted above) and closed the meeting in prayer.

We are grateful for all that God has done in our church and we look forward to a great summer of ministry at Grace Point!

Steve Weir
Pastor of Missions and Communication

Easter Greetings & Activities

Dear Grace Point Family,Easter Flowers

The world is slowly shifting once again from gray-brown to Technicolor! I love Spring! As life begins to burst around us, we are reminded of our Savior bursting free from the tomb. I hope you will join us in these opportunities to celebrate:

Pray and Invite
Pray for neighbors, friends, and co-workers you might invite to join us at Grace Point on Resurrection Day – that they will witness our worship, have ears to hear the Good News of Christ, and respond to God’s gift of forgiveness and eternal life.

Passport to the Cross: Your Guide to Understanding Good Friday
On Good Friday, April 19, beginning at 6:00 pm, we will host a new experience to help us appreciate more deeply the sacrifice of Christ on the cross. As groups we will visit three stations that remind us of key events of Passion week, culminating in a time of reflection together in the Commons. Help your children experience the meaning of Good Friday for the first time, or come for your own refresher. Childcare is available for children under four years old. Register at http://gracepointpa.org/events for this unique experience.

Celebrate Resurrection Day
On Sunday, April 21, 9:00 and 10:30 am, we will celebrate Christ’s victory over death with powerful music and a continuation of our sermon series called “Crushed for Us, Raised for Us.” If you are bringing guests on Easter, please attend the service with them and help them feel welcome. Because we expect a large crowd, we will also provide overflow rooms for both services to make room in the Commons for guests. Children’s programs (Nursery through 6th Grade) will be available in each service.

Support our FOCUS Process
This year our Easter offering will fund survey trips for our GP FOCUS Process. I am excited to see where God directs us for greater impact as we endeavor to work together on a church-wide missions project. To learn more about the FOCUS process and the survey trips, please refer to this document. Please consider contributing financially toward the trips, and continue to pray for this important decision. I encourage you to continue pursuing steady stewardship with your tithes to our General Fund, and consider this an “above and beyond” gift demonstrating gutsy generosity. (When donating online or via check, be sure to mark your gift “Easter.”)

May you be filled with hopeful expectation, as we look to Christ for new life in this special season!

Celebrating with you,

Dave Wolf
Lead Pastor

New Stewardship Class this Fall – God Owns It All

God Owns It All: Transform your fear and confusion about finances into confidence and peace.

Ever wonder about God’s view of money?

Join us for God Owns It All as we explore Biblical, financial principles that will equip you and those you love to approach money management and financial planning with increasing freedom, generosity, contentment, and confidence. With over four decades of experience in the financial-services industry, Ron Blue (via DVD) presents financial principles that are affirmed by the authority of Scripture and tested by the marketplace. He knows that God’s principles work and are needed in our finances.

Wednesdays, 6:30-7:45pm, for six weeks starting Wednesday, September 19.

Sign-ups available at our Next Steps Area after Labor Day and online registration will be coming soon. Visit gracepointpa.org/events.

Questions? Contact Keith Brown (kbrown@gracepointpa.org) or Ken Kovalik (kkovalik@gracepointpa.org).