This note should be somewhat shorter, or at least simpler, than the past few notes. I just want to keep folks in the loop, and offer a reminder or two of things that are going on.
This is an unusual week at Grace Covenant, at least around the office. Kathy Buhl has been on vacation all week, returning on Monday (July 6). Camper began his vacation earlier this week (returning July 15), and I begin a vacation tomorrow (returning July 12). So, for a couple days, it may appear that no one is driving the ship. But… appearances can be deceiving!
Among the most beautiful things about Presbyterianism is that we recognize Christ alone as the Head of the Church; and the local church is shepherded & governed by a team of Biblically qualified leaders, called Elders. (This is as God has prescribed. Check out Titus 1 & 1 Timothy 3.) Camper and I are both Elders, with the formal title Teaching Elder. Other Elders in the church have the formal title Ruling Elder. The two are the same office, just considered different Orders within the office of Elder. The “Teaching” aspect signifies that Camper & I (and Ben Robertson, as well,) have been examined by a “presbytery” – the regional network or consortium of churches – and endorsed to preach and teach. But both Camper and I also share in the governing of the church. The Ruling Elders were nominated and elected by the Grace Covenant church members for the purpose of leading, guiding, and shepherding the church. The term “Ruling” has more to do with the shared governance than any implied power. But one of the qualifications of an Elder – a Ruling Elder – is that the Elder be able to teach. So all of our Ruling Elders are capable of teaching – some feeling more comfortable in a classroom, lecture, or pulpit setting than others; and others feeling more comfortable teaching through counseling and conversation. But all teach. That’s Presbyterianism in a nutshell. The word “Presbyterian” simply means “governed by elders.”
- Elders = pastors
- Pastors = Elders
I give that insight primarily for two reasons:
1) Even in the temporary absence of both “pastors”, the church is in good hands. If any need should arise, you should feel free to contact any of our active Elders: Lanning Anderson, Mark Begly, Bryan Simpers, Bob Smole, Steve Tewksbury, and Jack Tuttle. (Click on their names to email. If you need to call them, their numbers are in the church directory. If you don’t have a church directory, Kathy will be back in the office on Monday, and she can provide the contact info you need.) We have a few other Elders as well, but they are presently not actively serving. Allen Slade is on Sabbatical; Dan Caprio, Dalton Hylton, and Ron Pohl are all Elders Emeritus – meaning “Retired” and “with Merit” – for their years of faithful service to Christ’s Church. But all are godly and capable men. And, if needed, you can always still feel free to call or text me.
2) The second reason I mention the meaning of Presbyterianism is because on Sunday, July 5, one of our Elders, Mark Begly, will be offering the morning message. Mark has taught and preached a number of times in the past, including a few times in the pulpit here at Grace Covenant. No doubt he will offer a sound and helpful gospel-centered message. Please join me in praying for Mark, not only with thankfulness for his willingness and ability to teach, but for him to have the joy of doing so at a time that is somewhat odd – what, with, most of the people to whom he will be speaking not actually being in the building. (Believe me, it is uncomfortable. But it is still much better than talking to just a camera!)
3) There may be a third, though unintended, benefit to my explaining the meaning and significance of Presbyterianism. That benefit would be for those of you who have trouble sleeping at night. I imagine just reading over that explanation a few times ought to help put most people to sleep in nearly no time. 😉
I’ll be returning from vacation late next Saturday evening. So I plan to be back for worship on that Sunday morning. However, preaching that morning, July 12, will be Rev. Kelly Moore. Kelly is a Colonel in the U.S. Army, and Command Chaplain @ TRADOC (Fort Eustis). Kelly & Judy have been attending Grace Covenant since last Summer. It will be Kelly’s first time in our pulpit. I am looking forward to learning from him.
Beyond this, just a couple of reminders:
We invite everyone to participate in the survey: GCPC Faith & Race Check-in. This survey is intended to help as we continue discussion of Race, Justice, and Racial Reconciliation. We hope everyone connected to Grace Covenant will take the 3-4 minutes it takes to complete this survey. Again, your answers will be completely confidential, unless you choose to provide your personal info after the completion of the survey. No one, not even Camper or I, who are administrators of the survey site, will know who answered, or how anyone answered. This survey is designed by Barna Research. All survey data is collected by Barna Group. Results of surveys completed by those connected with Grace Covenant will be complied and provided to us; all survey results from Grace Covenant will also be included in Barna’s national survey results. To partake in the survey, click GCPC Faith & Race Check-in. For those who prefer texting, Text ZARS to 90888 to start the assessment.
Another reminder, we are still in the midst of our annual Baby Bottle Drive, in support of CareNet Peninsula, and their important ministry to expectant mothers & pre-born children. We ask for families and/or individuals to take a baby bottle that we provide, and fill it with your change over the next few weeks. Change is a loose term meaning coins, bills, or even checks. Once filled, return the bottles to Grace Covenant, and we will get the gifts to CareNet Peninsula. And… maybe pick up a second bottle(?)! For those who would like a bottle, but who are not joining us in-person for worship just yet, we be happy to have a bottle delivered to you. Just contact Donna Davis or Kathy Buhl. Or, you can give directly to CareNet. Just write a check, or use their online giving link: CareNet Peninsula. Again, if you have any questions about the Baby Bottle Drive, or about CareNet, please contact Donna Davis.
Finally, please continue praying for Charley & Rachel Bartelmay, and for Charley’s family. Charley’s father is under hospice care, and in his final days. Beyond all expectations, he is still holding on, though he is not communicating or responsive. Please pray that this would be a time for Charley, and family, to grieve in a healthy way; and for God to be honored by Charley and Rachel in this difficult time.
Since I will be away, I will not be sending out a note next week. But I look forward to seeing many of you when I return; and to seeing the rest of you sometime soon!
Grace & Peace,
W. Dennis Griffith, Lead Pastor