Staying Connected During the Summer

Summer is here and vacations are in full swing!

While we and our families are heading to the beach, the boardwalk, and other great destinations, there’s a lot happening at Grace Point this summer. With VBS quickly approaching and Greg Shelton (our new Youth Pastor) and his family soon to arrive, you won’t want to miss a thing!

Here are a few ways that you can stay connected:

  1. Subscribe to our GP News List – This is the primary way that we send out announcements and other key news items. You can sign-up for GP News or any of our other email lists using this form.
  2. Listen Online – Each week (typically on Mondays) we post the messages
    Watching Jesus in His every day life helps us find Him in ours.

    from our Sunday morning services on our website. You can stay current with our current series, Every Day Jesus, and listen while your cycling down the boardwalk, sunbathing, or watching the kiddos in the pool!

  3. Follow us on Facebook – On our Facebook page, we’ll often post updates, events, pictures, and other encouraging posts to help you along the way in becoming more following Jesus.
  4. Follow our Blog – You’re here already! Great!
  5. We’re also on InstagramFollow us on Instagram for updates and pictures of encouragement and events.

Know that our staff are praying for you and your families this summer! Have a great week!

GP Kids – Important Tel Hai Camp Info

Dear Families and Friends of Grace Point,i-bdvmq8z-l

I am writing today to share with you about Tel Hai Adventure Camp week.  Over the past 11+ years that I have been at Grace Point, Tel Hai has been a highlight of ministry for GP Kids.  This away-camp week for students 8-11 years old began as a thriving opportunity for our families to send their children to a Christian camp.

Similar to many ministry endeavors, the week has had high points and low points throughout the time Grace Point has led it.  At its start, about 14 years ago, we had nearly 50 kids from Grace Point and our local area that would attend.  The week served not only our students, but local children from Honey Brooke who wished to attend, so it became an outreach opportunity as well.  Over the years, while I have led the camp, I have taken time each year to pray over and evaluate the program.  This year, when our Tel Hai leadership team (comprised of both Grace Point and Crossing Community Church leaders) evaluated the program, it became clear that God was indeed directing us to reconsider leading this program.  After much prayer, I brought these considerations to both the staff and elders and decided, with their feedback, that we would not move forward with offering and leading Tel Hai Adventure Camp as a Grace Point sponsored ministry.

i-cgp8m3b-lHere are some factors that brought us to this decision. Of the 130 kids who attended Tel Hai Adventure Camp week this year, only 8 of them were from Grace Point.  Another few students were from Crossing Community Church, but the majority of the children were from the local area of Honey Brooke, PA.  While I loved the opportunity to outreach to the Honey Brooke area, it became clear to me that continuing relationships with those students we did reach was difficult due to our removed location in Newtown, PA.  And despite our efforts over a number of years, we have not seen the number of GP children increase. In a nutshell,  the amount of time, energy, effort and finances it takes to make this one week happen were a cost outweighing the gain.

I realize this ministry has become very dear to the heart of the many leaders and students who have been a part of it, and I assure you much prayer and deliberation has gone into this decision.  I, myself, am sad to close this door.  However, I am, at the same time, excited at what we will see God do in children’s ministry at Grace Point with more time and energy to invest here.

You may be asking yourself, what’s next then?  What could we offer by way of the camp experience some students will miss?  These are important questions I want to answer for you.  Our efforts will be poured back into the overall ministry of GP Kids at Grace Point.  It is my prayer to see the freed up time, leadership and finances used to further the ministry within our program here where the impact can be greater and lasting. Beyond that, I have begun researching other camp experiences that Grace Point would recommend for families.  We will not look to lead a week of camp as we did with Tel Hai, but we do want to offer options and opportunities that may serve you well.  To check out some camp opportunities and further updates, please use this link: https://gracepointonline.files.wordpress.com/2017/01/elementary-and-family-camp-ideas.pdf.

I care deeply about your family and any questions you might have.  Please email me questions at cdewitt@gracepointpa.org.

In love and prayer, Cassandra DeWitt

Fall Ministry Update!

Dear Grace Point family,

It’s hard to believe, but summer is nearly gone, school starts in a few weeks, and fall is upon us! Though we often hate to bring the vacation season to a close, the good news is that there is a lot going on at Grace Point this fall to help you become a more fully committed follower of Jesus Christ. I am excited to share the following update to inform your prayers and scheduling.

Youth Director Search Team – As Nate Korpi concludes his tenure as Youth Director at the end of August and prepares to go to the mission field, a search team is beginning to seek God’s next leader for our Grace Point Youth Ministry. Scott Leuz will be heading the team of elder-confirmed members, who will be introduced on Sunday, August 28.

A celebration and send-off for Nate and Jendi Korpi is being planned for teens and parents in September – date and time TBA soon. We will also hold a church-wide celebration and send-off nearer the time when the Korpis leave for their missions assignment, likely in early 2017.

Youth Ministry: Our Youth Transition Team led by Bill Wright has a full fall schedule planned. Here are the highlights:

Sundays: September 11 – new Sunday morning format will kick off during second service at 10:30 am with a pancake breakfast. Beginning September 18, teens are encouraged to join adults in second service for the singing portion of worship, and then will be dismissed at sermon time to go to class, where they will discuss the same sermon topic.

Thursdays: On September 15, the GP Youth midweek program begins from 7-9 pm weekly, with a format similar to this past year: food, fun, and Bible lesson.

Retreats: four retreats are scheduled for the school year, beginning with the Fall Retreat October 28-30.

More details on youth events will follow soon, with direct communication to teens and their families.

Children’s Ministry: Cassandra DeWitt and her team are ready for a new year of ministry!

Sunday September 11 – Sunday morning fall kick off.

Wednesday September 14 – Wednesday Kids Club begins, weekly 6:30-8:00pm.

Wednesday September 28 – Block Party at 6:30 pm for all families with children through junior and senior high school. This is a great time for families who are new to Grace Point to learn more about what GP Kids Ministry is all about!

Young Adult Ministry: For high school graduates through age 29, a new weekly meeting time will be offered this fall:

Wednesdays, beginning September 21, at the home of Glenn and Lynn Ely (419 Woodhill Road, Newtown), with a light dinner at 6:30 pm, followed by Bible discussion from 7-8:30 pm. This will run for ten consecutive weeks.

Social events are also planned during the year.

8/28 – Lunch ‘n Learn: There is a place for YOU to serve and be part of what God is doing this fall at Grace Point! Sunday, August 28 following second service, join your GP staff for one hour as we enjoy lunch together and find out about volunteer serving opportunities in all ministry areas. 11:45 am in rooms A4-6.

9/4 – Bridesburg & Bolivia Missions Trip Highlights – Be encouraged as Missions and Communications Director Steve Weir calls our missions teams to share what they experienced this summer as they stepped out of their comfort zones and saw God at work. Highlights will be shared during the Sunday Service on September 4, followed by an in-depth look over lunch at 11:45 am in rooms A4-6.

9/11 – Marriage Ministry Kickoff – Learn more from Chuck Arnold, Pastor of Congregational Care, about Grace Point’s new initiative to strengthen marriages. Mark your calendars for a new marriage class that begins Sunday, October 23 at 9 am, and the Great Date Night event on Saturday, October 22 at 7 pm.

9/18 – Fall Groups Launch: Find a new group in your neighborhood. Many new groups will be “sermon-based,” that is, their discussion will follow the topics from our Sunday sermons and meet for ten consecutive weeks. The fall sermon series, also launching 9/18, will focus on foundational truths presented in Genesis 1-3.

So there you have it – something to help everyone become more fully committed followers of Jesus. Looking forward to what God has in store for us all this fall!

In Christ, Dave

Summer Playlist

One of my favorite things about warmer weather is driving with the windows down and my favorite tunes playing on the car radio (sometimes louder than it should be). Backyard BBQs and summer parties tend to be a whole lot more enjoyable with some “tunes.” I love music.

NEEDTOBREATHE - Hard Love
NEEDTOBREATHE – Hard Love

Music has always resonated with me, and helped me to come to terms with some of the darkest times of my life. The song, “In Christ Alone” has a special significance for me. Music can help us relax, process, or simply “be still” in the midst of life’s storms. That’s one of the reasons I love that we incorporate music into our worship services.

This summer, I’m spending a lot of time with NEEDTOBREATHE‘s latest album, “Hard Love.” It came out while I was away from home, and so track 8, “Be Here Long” means a lot to me. The chorus goes like this:

Close my eyes and think of you
Go to sleep and dream of you
We don’t get to be here long
I gave you the best of me
Loved you more than anything
But we don’t get to be here long

At the risk of sounding all mushy, it made me think of my wife and my boys when I was 3,000 miles away.

What songs have meaning for you? What are you listening to this summer?

Adventures at Adventure Camp

This is a special week for many of our kids at Grace Point. There are 130 kids ages 8-11 having a great time at Adventure Camp at Camp Tel Hai. Cassandra DeWitt, our Children’s Director, Liz Coffman, our Nursery Coordinator, and 50 other leaders are leading the charge to “Walk this Way” – which is this year’s theme.

From archery to crafts, from riding horses to sitting ’round the campfire, Tel Hai is always a life-changing week for these kids. Below is a portion from earlier this week on the Adventure Camp blogCheck out the blog for a daily video!

One of our favorite meals today was tacos for TACO TUESDAY of course! To top that, as if you could, we had a treat of terrific apple crisp today too!

An even more fun treat, was our evening special where the kids got to rotate between an evening swim, hayride and mini-golf under the lights! This is a favorite night for many of the campers getting to swim under the lights, and also, having the hayride back was a special treat. You could [hear] the kids singing tunes from miles away I am sure!

Bolivia: Not What I Was Expecting

Let me be candid: my trip to Bolivia was not what I was expecting.

Don’t get me wrong – I was expecting to learn. But most of the things I learned were not what I had in mind ahead of time.

I did not expect to learn that joy really is possible in the midst of seemingly hopeless circumstances. We met friends who have so very little in the way of material possessions, yet their faces beam a joy that can only come from the Lord.

I was not looking for evidence to prove the old cliché, “If you can make a difference for only one, it still matters to that one.” Turns out that “cliché” is really a profound truth, and is happening over and over again, one child at a time.

I did not know I would witness a drive to spread the gospel that often gets lost in the busyness of our first world pursuits of “success.” That drive is alive and well in Bolivia and people are being rescued every day from a Christ-less eternity. (May it be so in Bucks County!)

I did not expect the clarity that ministry is about people and not programs. If at the heart of ministry we are not about loving and serving others, we have missed it completely.

I did not know my daughter could instantly have such love for a little boy from another continent who speaks a different language, yet who in three days came to call her “Tia” – aunt. I am thankful that we can stay connected through letters and pictures – they mean the world to sponsored children. Here are some great ideas to write a letter to your child right now.

I did not expect to become so attached to people I knew for only a week. But the truth is, I’ve left a piece of my heart behind on a dusty hill outside Cochabamba.

Our team had an amazing time and look forward to sharing more in the weeks to come.  Thanks to our great God and to all who made this trip possible.

Beach Vacation With Our Toddler – What Were We Thinking?!

As I’m packing up our car for our family beach vacation, tucking items in every little corner, under each seat and in the roof cargo carrier, I ask myself the question most parents with small children ask: How much stuff does this kid need?!

Of course, the reality is that she doesn’t “need” most of it but rather it’s our attempt as parents to our almost two-year daughter to be prepared for any possible scenario…..and provide opportunities to create fun, meaningful, “perfect” memories that we will cherish forever.

Then hits the reality of the endless chasing, sand eating, can’t sit still, temper tantrum and downright tiring days. My wife and I will look at each other with those eyes that say, “What were we thinking?  This is exhausting!”  But we also know that there will be many laughs, hugs, pictures and all around sweet moments together.  The combination of these not-so-perfect moments with the unplanned amazing moments, will not only strengthen our bond as a family, but turn into some of the best memories of our trip together.

Too often we consume ourselves with planning the perfect occasion or vacation and get upset when things don’t go as planned.  We say things we don’t mean or act in anger when we know we are better. We forget that these imperfect moments are what may become some of our fondest memories of our time together as family or friends.  Some of my greatest childhood memories with my dad involve trips where the boat sank, the tent blew away and the raccoons stole our food at the campsite.  In the moment, we weren’t very happy about what was happening, but now they are the fun memories I still talk about today.

What are your plans for the rest of this summer?   Whether it’s a family vacation, BBQ with friends, or a day trip to a park, I hope that the greatest memories are made not just because everything was planned and went perfectly, but that you and your loved ones are able to stop and laugh at the not-so-perfect moments.

So when you are in that situation where you ask yourself, “What was I thinking?” shake it off and just roll with it.  Life can be messy.  Have fun with it!

Geocaching: Take Your Tech Fun Outdoors

Several years ago our family discovered geocaching. Geocaching is like a high-tech treasure hunt game using an app on your phone to locate hidden containers, called geocaches. We have found geocaches in coffee cans in the woods, buried under a fence in a local park, and wedged into an old stone bridge.

What makes it challenging is that your phone’s GPS will only get you within 10-15 feet, so you have some work to do from there. Often you need to patiently scour the area, and occasionally get help from a cleverly-worded hint.

Some geocaches contain a small treasure like a coin or small toy, which you may take with you, but then you must leave something of equal or greater value. Other geocaches hold nothing more than a paper log where you can write your personal geocache ID and the date you found it. The real treasure is the success of the find!

We have found this a great family activity that gets us out, active, and enjoying some fresh air any time of year. To top it off, the app is free! For more info, search “Geocaching” where you find your apps, or check out my favorite geocaching website.

Guten Tag!

Several months ago, I was asked by Cairn University to teach a course at their Germany campus – which is held at Black Forest Academy, in Kandern. Little did I know that my students would teach me far more than I could ever teach them.

Black Forest Academy
Black Forest Academy, Kandern, Germany
A technology class for teachers – that’s what I was sent to teach. Instead, I learned about life as a Christian and a follower of Jesus in another culture – particularly in a culture from the “___stan” countries. I met two incredible teachers, “Susan” and “Alice” (not their real names) each from a different “___stan” country learned about their stories. I met “Claire” (also not her real name) from Central Africa. “Peter” who is serving in Hungary. “Jason” who is serving in South America. And others.

DSC_4881They taught me about serving Christ in difficult times and places. Places where a misunderstood Facebook post could land you in jail for life. Places where the Koran is taught in public school. Places where the sound of mortars and bombs is commonplace. Places where God is working and bringing people to Himself. The gospel is spreading.

My trip to Germany comes to an end. In just less than 12 hours from now (the time of this post), I’ll be heading to the airport in Basel – beginning my journey home. From learning to shop in a German grocery store, to ordering gelato at local Eiscafe (run by an Italian and his wife from the DR), this week has been one of firsts. While there were challenges, the true blessing was hearing how God is at work around the world. His grace, His love, and His church, surpass borders and boundaries.

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you.” Matthew 28:19-20 (emphasis added)

10 Years in the Making

This is a monumental year for our Urban Mission Project.  Ten years ago this summer we took our first group down to the Bridesburg section of Philadelphia to partner with ReaLife/Soma Church.  This project consists of various work projects during the day and a Kids Club program in the evenings.

Throughout the years our teams have had a major impact on the kids and the community.  This partnership has also had a profound impact on one particular student who ten years ago attended his first missions project with Grace Point.  The impact has been so great that the student eventually completed his student teaching in the local elementary school and now currently lives next to the church in Bridesburg.  Mike Nichols fell in love with this community and its people during his first visit to the community.  Ten years later it is a privilege see Mike lead this Grace Point team in continuing efforts to impact the community on so many different levels.

Photo Jul 10, 10 02 23 PM (1)

Every year we spend a portion of our time serving the Recreation Center in Bridesburg.  This past Monday, as I and other students were weeding the sidewalks and playgrounds, a small car radically pulled up next to a section we were working on.  She rolled down her window and motioned me to come closer.  Very cautiously I approached the vehicle and smiled hoping that what was about to happen would be positive.  To my delight the woman in the car talked about how much she and her family appreciated what our group did every year.  She proceeded to tell us how much better the Recreation Center and community is because of our work.  She said that her daughter went to Kids Club as a teenager and now brings her child to the program every night.  She bragged on how the community Facebook page had various people anticipating our teams’ arrival and the Kids Club program.

Photo Jul 10, 7 06 02 PM

In the moments of pulling weeds, singing songs, and playing games the work we do seems so minute and unimportant.  But it is moments like the interaction with the woman in the car that give us hope and restore confidence in that no small act of service goes unappreciated by someone, somewhere.

I have been on this project for six of the ten years and it has been a privilege to see this partnership grow to the tremendous impact that it has on the community.  Not only are the people of Bridesburg impacted but our students come away personally challenged and stretched as well.

What small acts of service are you engaged in this summer?  Who are you personally impacting? How have you been challenged to invest into someone else’s life?

Things to pray for as the team comes home Saturday:

  • Many team members are sick. Pray for their health and rest so that the team finishes strong.
  • Pray for more moments of encouragement as our team serves the community.
  • Our goal is to help Bridesburg families connect with ReaLife Ministries through Kids Club. Pray that many connections will be established and that others will be strengthened.