It is with great excitement that I announce that Grace Covenant’s Session (“Council of Elders” for those who don’t speak fluent presbyterian-ese) is appointing Nathan Luzwick to serve as our new Children’s Ministry Director!
Actively involved at Grace Covenant since early in 2021, including leading in worship on several occasions, Nathan brings a wealth of pastoral and ministry experience, having previously served on church staff as both a Director of Worship and a Youth Director. Nathan is a graduate of the University of Illinois (B.A.-Fine Arts), has a Masters in Teaching from Trinity International University, and he is only a few credit hours shy of completing his seminary degree from Westminster Seminary. On top of his credentials, Nathan comes with enthusiastic endorsement from those who know him best. I have great hope that Nathan will not only meet the high expectations we have for Children’s Ministry at Grace Covenant, but that he will flourish in this position, and even add a new dimension to our ministry team.
Nathan is married to Allison, who is an attorney for the U.S. Navy. Together Nathan and Allison have four children – sons John, Elijah, and Calvin, and daughter Grace – who was born early this past Summer.
We are excited about welcoming Nathan to our pastoral team! Official start date has not yet been finalized, but it is expected to be within the next couple weeks. Officially Nathan will begin as “Interim Children’s Ministry Director”, until he completes the current Discovery Class, and becomes a member of Grace Covenant later this Fall. (At that time the “Interim” tag will be dropped, and Nathan will assume the title of Director of Children’s Ministry.)
Finally, on behalf of the Elders of this church, I also want to take this opportunity to thank Rachel Bartelmay for her faithfulness and diligence while serving as our Interim Children’s Ministry Director since Easter of this year. Rachel has done a tremendous job spearheading this vital ministry through the Summer, and leading us into the new school year. As you have opportunity, please thank Rachel, as well.
Noted novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald mused: “Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the Fall.” Well, while we still have more than a week before Fall officially arrives, and more than that before the air feels crisp, and the leaves reach peak colors, a new school year has begun and Labor Day is behind us, so for many of us our thoughts turn toward Fall. And at Grace Covenant, many things do “start all over again” in the Fall.
First, we resume our study of the Book of Hebrews. We began our study of this significantly rich (though too often neglected) letter last year at the beginning of Fall. We worked our way through the first 9 chapters, taking a hiatus for the Summer. We will pick up again on Sunday with the beginning of Hebrews 10, looking this week at verses 1-18; next week verses 19-25; and finish out September looking at verses 26-39. We will have opportunity to work through Hebrews 11 and Hebrews 12 during this Fall, before taking a break for Advent, after Thanksgiving. I expect we will finish up the final chapter, Hebrews 13, in January. For those who want to make the most of this study, I recommend checking out the brief overview and a few suggested resources. Check out Stay the Course: A Study of the Book of Hebrews.
Second, our Fall Discovery Class is scheduled to begin on Sunday September 18, running for 6 weeks. Discovery Class is designed to introduce the DNA of Grace Covenant – our beliefs, our values, and pathways to connecting – to those who are interested in learning more about the church. So, whether you are interested in becoming a member of Grace Covenant, or if you are just curious and maybe trying to decide if Grace Covenant is the church you would like to call you home, we hope you will participate in this class. If you have questions, or if you would like to sign up, we invite you to contact the church office – email: firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 757-220-0147.
Other things of Note:
We invite you to pray for our middle school students, as this weekend they travel to Rockbridge (near Lexington, VA) for the annual MODGNIK retreat. Middle School and Junior High students from throughout the Commonwealth of Virginia for a time of worship, learning, and fun. For those who may be wondering, MODGNIK is the word “Kingdom” spelled backwards. It is a not-so-subtle reminder that to much of the world the Kingdom of Christ seems backwards. (Check out this decade-old article from ByFaith magazine that still paints a vivid picture of what this retreat is like: MODGNIK.)
On Saturday morning men of Grace Covenant will gather for our monthly Men’s Breakfast. The breakfast begins at 8am. Jon us if you are able. It is open to guys of all ages, meaning we’d be delighted to have guys bring their sons, whether they are teens or infants. If you are not able to make it this time, this is a monthly fellowship gathering, usually held on the second Saturday of each month.
This Sunday we will be hosting our annual College Student Lunch after the worship service. All area college students are invited to join us for a free lunch. No strings attached. Our purpose is just to get to know the students, and to let them know we are here for them, whether they are Williamsburg area natives or have come here only for school. While we wish we could invite the entire church, space requires that we limit the “non-students” to church staff, ministry leaders, church officers, and those who are part of the Grace Covenant community who teach or work at the college. But we do value prayer that Grace Covenant will be a welcoming and nurturing church home for the students during this pivotal years.
Finally, I’d like to invite anyone who is interested in working with children and/or teens at Grace Covenant to attend our next CARE Training workshop on Sunday afternoon, September 25. CARE Training is required of any and all who work with children and teens. It is designed to train all volunteers (and staff) to be aware of signs of potential abuse, and to protect the children we have as part of our church community. The children entrusted to our ministry are of utmost importance. Protecting these children is a major priority for us; it is something we take seriously. If you are interested in signing up, or if you have questions, please contact our Interim Children’s Ministry Director, Rachel Bartelmay.
That’s all for now. I look forward to seeing everyone on Sunday!
Beginning Sunday September 11 we resume our sermon series “Stay the Course: A Survey of the Book of Hebrews”. During these autumn months we anticipate digging into Hebrews 10-12 together.
Hebrews is different from other New Testament letters that we call “the epistles”. Unlike all the other letters, the author of Hebrews never identifies himself (though many theories abound), nor are we specifically told to whom the letter is written (though almost universally it is understood to be written to Jewish Believers living, most likely, in 1st Century Rome). But it is not just the absence of those common elements of a letter that makes Hebrews unusual. Even more unique is the way the letter flows. As at least one commentator notes, Hebrews is “a sermonic letter”. In other words, it reads more like a sermon than like a letter. But, through it all, there are some common threads, most notably the frequent encouragements for the readers to endure, to “run the race” of life; and to keep our eyes on Jesus “the author and perfecter of our faith”. A repeated theme throughout the letter is “Jesus is Better”. “Better than what?” one might ask. Better than everything, seems to be the answer. And my hope for us, as we continue in this series, is that we will indeed see and be reminded of how true that is. Jesus is Better – by far.
As we study the Book of Hebrews together, we want to provide some resources that should prove helpful and beneficial.
First, I want to commend to you a short video from Bible Project. This video is an 8-minute digitally animated introduction and overview of the Book of Hebrews.
Second, we have Hebrews Scripture Journals available for all who want them. These scripture journals are helpful for keeping notes, whether during the messages or from your own study throughout the week. The Hebrews Scripture Journals will be available, beginning this weekend, in the Commons. We ask a recommended donation of $3 per copy. The donations are requested only. We do not want anyone who wants a journal, but who may be short on funds, to go without one. The reason for this requested donation is simply to defray our expenses for this resource. (Scripture Journals retail for $7; we get them for just under $4/copy.)
Finally, we want to re-issue a challenge to everyone: Read through the Book of Hebrews at least once per month during the months we are studying this letter together. In other words, at least once each during September, October, and November. Take a break, if you wish, during December, when we take a break from Hebrews and shift our attention to Advent and Christmas. We’ll invite everyone to pick up the challenge again in January, when we are looking at the final verses of this important (although too often overlooked) letter. It is amazing how the Word speaks to us when we read it again and again, especially as we are gaining new insights though our times of study together.