A Pastor’s Note to Grace Covenant – August 7, 2020

Parkway Bridge

Dear Grace Covenant family,

I suspect more traditional American Evangelicals have at least one verse in Jeremiah 29 highlighted than in almost any other chapter in their bibles. (Obvious exceptions might be John 3 or Romans 8).  Jeremiah 29.11 has long been a favorite of those who memorize scripture, in particular those who memorize God’s promises. Understandably so. It is a beautiful promise that God spoke to his people living in Exile about a day to come when they would be in exile no more.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

But what is often overlooked is the context in which the people were living when God gave them this promise.

Jeremiah 29.11 is a promise of their future. It is a vision; a peeking ahead to the end of the chapter in their story. It is pointing to the day when they would delivered from their exile. It is a reminder that despite living in a culture that does not operate with their set of values, and that does not value them as God’s people, that God had not forsaken them. It is designed to give them hope; and in that hope to have the assurance to be fortified to faithfully endure. But they were still in exile. They still lived in a culture that felt oddly, at the same time, both familiar and foreign (- not unlike Christians today living in a post-Christian society).

What is too often overlooked is what God says to his People about how they are to live in the context of their present circumstances, in which they are essentially “Resident Aliens”. That instruction is summarized in Jeremiah 29.7:

“Seek the peace and prosperity of the city to which I have carried you into exile. Pray to the Lord for it, because if it prospers, you too will prosper.”

While frustration and fear may incline us to remove ourselves, as much as possible, from environments in which Christians may feel unappreciated, undervalued, and at times perhaps even despised, God’s intent is for his People – His Church – to live in, to engage, and to bless the communities in which we live. And if we read verses 4-6, which lead up to the summary instruction of verse 7, we see that God’s design is not only to be “spiritual blessing” to our community, but to be a blessing – to be of benefit, seeking the peace and prosperity of the community – in ordinary, even mundane, things.

One of my fervent prayers for Grace Covenant is that we will be such a blessing/benefit to Williamsburg and the Historic Triangle, and even to the whole of the Peninsula, as far as God enables us to be of influence. To be such vessels as God intends requires us, both as individuals and collectively, to be connected to God, to be growing in grace and faith, and to engage in areas where we have opportunity and interest.  This is really just a more detailed illustration and expression of Jesus’ command that we love God and love our neighbors.  (Mark 12.28-31)

Though we continue to be scattered due to COVID-19, we still have a variety of opportunities to engage and bless our neighbors.

1) As I mentioned in a note a few weeks ago, we will have an opportunity to participate in a Faith Build with Habitat for Humanity here in Williamsburg. A few of us from Grace Covenant – Jennifer Allen, Mark Begly, Heather Hicks, and I – had the privilege to participate in the Ground Breaking a couple weeks ago.  In the coming weeks we will be giving more details about how you might be involved, should you be inclined to serve in this way. (If you have questions, please contact Jennifer Allen).

2) A second way to seek the welfare of our community is to be praying: Praying for our community. Praying for our Nation. Praying for the Nations.  While there are many ways we can pray for our Nation, I learned this week that The Colson Center is hosting a weekly prayer time each Wednesday morning, beginning next Wednesday, August 12, thru November 4 (the day after the Election). For information, to sign up, or to participate, click: Colson Center National Prayer. (I will also look for other resources to assist us in praying for our country.)  To encourage praying for the Nations, I’d like to share two apps I use regularly: Operation World and Joshua Project‘s Unreached Peoples of the Day. (I use these apps on my phone, but they are also available for laptops & pads.)

3) There is a third way I’d like to encourage we “seek the peace and prosperity” of our community. We received an email this week from James City County asking us to invite our church members to participate in the county’s upcoming engagement event, Exploring Our Future Alternatives, as part of the county’s Engage 2045  comprehensive plan. While this may not be of interest to everyone, it is a great opportunity for those who live in James City County to help shape the future of our community. (This seems the very essence of God’s instruction in Jeremiah 29.)

I look forward to seeing everyone on Sunday – or one day soon! For convenience, I am including links to both August 9 Worship outline and the LiveStream, which are both, as always, also available in Grace Notes and on the Grace Covenant home page.  I also ask you to join me in praying for Charley Bartelmay, our youth director. Charley will offer the message this Sunday. This is Charley’s first time in the pulpit, so no doubt he’s a bit nervous. No, you are not a scary congregation. Rather, as most ministers will tell you, there is something “awe-some” being behind the pulpit, and it can be quite intimidating. Charley has been working hard to prepare, but I am sure he would appreciate our prayers, as well.

Have a great weekend!

Grace & Peace,

W. Dennis Griffith, Lead Pastor

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Grace Covenant Worship: August 2, 2020

GCPC

We are making a shift this week, doing away with our digital worship bulletin, as the tools necessary to participate in our worship services are now included in our LiveStream each week.

The link to the LiveStream can be found each week on the Grace Covenant home page.  A link to the .pdf bulletin is also available on the homepage.

For convenience, the .pdf of the service for this week can be found by clicking: GCPC Worship – August 2, 2020

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A Pastor’s Note to Grace Covenant – July 31, 2020

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I find Job’s words resonating this week: “The Lord has given, and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord!”  (Job 1.21) The Lord has taken two from our Grace Covenant family in this past week, Jeanne French, on Sunday evening, and then Francis Nelson on Thursday evening. Our loss, but their gain. Please join me in praying for the families of these two godly ladies. Jeanne was mother of Paulette Murphy. Francis was mother of Valerie Brooks. So we pray for the Murphy’s and Brooks’ to have the comfort of God’s promise to enable them to grieve well. We pray they will grieve, but not as those who are without hope.  (1 Thessalonians 4.13) Pray also for those who surround these families, as both the Brooks’ and the Murphy’s are part of the same small group.

But even as we mourn with those who mourn, we also rejoice with those who rejoice. And we rejoice this week with Katie & Daniel Block on the birth of their son, Arthur Dietrich Block, on Tuesday evening, July 28. We are thankful that both Katie and Dietrich are healthy, and that all are doing well. Let’s all not only give thanks to God for his gift to the Blocks, but let’s all begin praying for Dietrich, that by God’s grace, and the power of the Holy Spirit, that he grow to be a godly man. (Incidentally, the Blocks are also part of the same small group as are the Brooks’ and the Murhpys.)

I am also thankful for our freedom and ability to continue gathering for worship.  There was some buzz this week, due to confusion regarding Governor Northam’s most recent order reducing the number of people who can gather from 250 to 50. However, that does not apply to church worship services, so those who are not in the high risk category are free to join us on Sunday morning. (Again, those in high risk category, and those who are caring for someone in high risk category, are strongly urged to exercise wisdom about when to resume in-person worship. We do not want anyone to feel compelled to get out before they are ready, and before the time is right.) But my angst about  our ability to worship together, whether in-person or online, was compounded this week by the storms that passed through on Tuesday evening.   A lightening strike wiped out Internet at the church, and damaged some of the tools we need to be able to LiveStream our services.  Fortunately the Internet was restored Thursday, and WiFi on Friday morning. Tim Nargi has just informed me that the problems have been resolved, so we can offer the services online this weekend, as usual. I may be sounding like a broken record, but please thank Tim for his labors. I also want to thank Brad Allen, who stepped in to check things out and to make sure we contacted the right folks for the necessary repairs.

As for our Sunday mornings, we are going to simplify things somewhat, as it pertains to the tools for worship – links for the bulletin and the LiveStream.  Rather than multiple emails, the links for both the bulletin (.pdf) and the LiveStream will go out in Grace Notes each Friday, and will also be able to be accessed on the Grace Covenant homepage.  We will forgo the digital bulletin beginning this week. The short of it is that you will now receive the links in advance on Fridays (Grace Notes), or on Sunday morning just go to the Grace Covenant web page. We hope the simplicity will make this easier for everyone. As for these Pastor’s Notes, beginning next week a link will (usually) be included Grace Notes on Fridays. That said, there will be times when my schedule does not allow me to write before Saturday morning. In such cases, as separate email will go out.  But for the next few weeks, the link to this note will be both in Grace Notes and sent out as a separate email. (Pastor’s Notes can also be accessed by going to the GCPC blog. Click the link and scroll down to find the most recent notes.)

Carolyn and I are out of town this weekend, so we will not see you on Sunday. But we do look forward seeing everyone, hopefully sometime soon.

Grace & Peace,

W. Dennis Griffith, Lead Pastor

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A Pastor’s Note to Grace Covenant – July 25, 2020

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It is difficult for me to believe that we are at the end of July.  While the idea of time passing quickly is a cliche, I have to admit that during this season shaped so much by the threat of COVID-19 my sense of time has been distorted. Days, as they appear in my rear view mirror, are actually further away than they appear in my mind’s eye. Perhaps one reason for this is that many of the weekly and daily rhythms that I have developed over time have been disrupted.

As I think about this, my warped sense of time, it makes me all the more thankful for the opportunity we have to gather again for worship each Lord’s Day.  God, who designed us, and knows how we function best, has declared that we to be re-calibrated each week. He created a rhythm for us, that one day of every seven, specifically the first day of each week, we are to cease from our regular labors and routines, and gather for worship in his presence, through which we can experience a renewal in his grace.  What a gift the Lord’s Day is, from God to us!

Writing this note I am mindful that while our need of the Lord’s Day is the same for all of our present experiences of the Lord’s Day are not the same for all. The continued threat of the coronavirus makes it unwise for some to risk gathering. While it is a delight to see those who are able to gather each week, I miss seeing the faces (or the top half of faces, since we are all wearing masks!) of those whom wisdom dictates you remain home on Sundays.  I’m hopeful we’ll be reunited in person sometime relatively soon.

In the mean time, while we are hindered from all being gathered, we can be thankful to God for his provision of technology. Historians tell us it has been over 100 years, longer than any of our lifetimes, since the Church in the USA has endured anything like we have been experiencing.  But this time, though providentially prohibited from congregating,  we are still able to keep connected through the gift of the Internet.  I know, not a new thought. But I have been particularly thankful recently for the gift of the Internet and the ability to LiveStream.  Why am I particularly thankful now, as compared to other times? I’m not sure. It may be because in thinking this week of the things we are addressing and improving I have been reminded of what a blessing it has been to have what we already have.

I again want to express particular thanks to Tim Nargi and Jeff Field. Tim and Jeff have spent hours considering what we need, securing the necessary tools, and then working out the kinks in our LiveStream.  Most recently Jeff has tackled some issues with the sound, so that those at home – which is the majority each week – can get as much of the sanctuary experience as possible. We also appreciate those of you who have kindly pointed out some of the areas that need improvement. No doubt we’ll still have some hiccups from time to time, but as you have opportunity please join me in giving thanks to these two men – and to the team they are developing to run the cameras and sound.

Related to our LiveStream services, we have been made aware of some confusion in securing the tools for worship, and that others have been unsure where to find the link to view the LiveStream.  Let me take a moment to try to clear up these questions. Each week a digital worship outline is posted to the Grace Covenant blog. Embedded into the digital outline is a link to the .pdf, which can be accessed and downloaded by clicking the Date at the top of the page.   The link to the LiveStream services are posted on the Grace Covenant homepage.  There is a distinct link for each of the 8:30 and 11am services. These links will go live, enabling you to see into the sanctuary, a few minutes prior to any service.  For convenience and simplification, the link to the digital worship outline will, from now on, be included on the Grace Covenant homepage, just beneath the links to the LiveStream.  These links will also be included in the Grace Notes that go out each Friday afternoon.

Related to this, there has been some question about accessing these Pastoral Notes I began writing a number of weeks ago.  I am delighted that these seem to have been well received, and are reportedly considered beneficial to many.  While initially this was just intended for the time we were socially distanced, I will continue to make writing a regular practice.  These notes have usually been written on Saturday afternoons. During the time we were recording the messages and songs on Saturday mornings, I would sit down after recording to write out the note about the service, and about some upcoming things, etc.  For convenience of access, I will try to get this note completed more often on Friday afternoons, so that the link can go out with Grace Notes. However, please understand, there will be many weeks my schedule may not allow for me to finish before Grace Notes is sent out.  A separate email will still be necessary. But all pastoral notes can be found on the Grace Covenant blog.

That’s a lot of details. I apologize – unless you are one who is having trouble sleeping. In which case, perhaps reading all that a few times may resolve your problem. 😉

Let me touch quickly on a couple things, then wrap it up.

First, we expect to have the privilege of receiving Madeline Nimmon into church membership tomorrow (July 26).  Madeline will be interviewed for membership by two our our Elders between services and, confident of Madeline’s testimony, we plan to receive her immediately after, during the 11am service.  This is more expedient than our norm, but Madline’s parents Scott & Lindsay Nimmon, are missionaries in Africa, presently in the states for an unspecified but limited amount of time.  It is quite possible that the Nimmons, including Madeline, will need to return to Africa before next week is out (…or we may get to keep them around for a few more weeks.)  Once the Nimmons get word, they will have to depart quickly. So… we will be celebrating Madeline joining the church, and her first public profession of her own faith in Jesus Christ, as her only hope for live and for salvation.  Please join us in celebrating God’s grace to Madeline, and in praying for God to continue to be at work in this young lade.

Second, it has been said that a better measure of a church’s health than its “seating” capacity is its “sending” capacity.  That means that a church’s health should be be measured, in no small part, by the number of church members engaged in mission to the community (and to the world). In coming weeks Habitat for Humanity will begin building a new home here in Williamsburg. We will again have opportunity to participate, and in so doing an opportunity to love one of our neighbors in a very practial way. A number of Grace Covenant members have been involved in previous builds in the Grove area.  On Tuesday July 28, Habitat will celebrate the Groundbreaking of this new home. As partners of Habitat Grace Covenant has been invited to participate in the groundbreaking.  If you have participated in a past build, and you would like to be among the representatives from Grace Covenant, we’d be delighted for you to do so.  The ceremony will be at 10:30, Tuesday July 28, and last about 30 minutes. The addres of the build and ceremony is Forest Heights Road in Williamsburg (near the Outlets).  Please wear a mask and practice social distancing.  Details about the actual build will be coming in the next few weeks.

As the Apostle Paul once said (at least once said): “I thank my God when I think of you all!”

Grace & Peace,

W. Dennis Griffith, Lead Pastor

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Grace Covenant Worship – July 26, 2020

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July 26, 2020

Words of Approach

O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory. Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you. So I will bless you as long as I live; in your name I will lift up my hands. (Psalm 63:1-4)

Prayer of Approach

 

Song of Approach                                                               

Behold Our God

 

Prayer of Confession

Almighty and most merciful Father, we are thankful that your mercy is higher than the heavens, wider than our  wanderings, deeper than all our sin. 

Forgive our careless attitudes toward your purposes, our refusal to relieve the suffering of others, our envy of those who have more than we have, our obsession with creating a life of constant pleasure, our indifference to the treasures of heaven, our neglect of your wise and gracious law.

Help us to change our way of life so that we may desire what is good, love what you love, and do what you command, through Jesus Christ our Lord.  Amen.

Words of Grace 

Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.  I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.  My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.  I and the Father are one.”

Christians, be assured that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate you from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

~ John 10:27-30; Romans 8:38-39

Song of Celebration                            

Redeemed, Restored, Forgiven

Reception of New Member  

Madeline Nimmon  

 (11:30 Service Only)

Recognition of High School Graduates

 

Prayer for God’s Protection, Provision, and Guidance

 

Doxology

 

Meditation on God’s Word

Scripture:       John 6:25-35          
Message:       When You Hunger for More

                             

Song of Dismissal                                

On Jordan’s Stormy Banks

 

Benediction

 

***

NOTES

 

Passage Next Week: 

       John 6:67-71

 Worship Leaders Today:

  • Piano: Isaiah Day
  • Message:  Rev. Camper Mundy, Associate Pastor
  • Congregational Prayer:  Steve Tewksbury
  • Video/Sound/Tech:  Tim Nargi & Jeff Field

 

Special Note on Supporting the Mission & Work of Grace Covenant:

Our giving is an act of worship. It is a response to who God is and to God’s grace.  Giving is a way that God invites us to participate in His work.  During these extraordinary times, the life and ministry of our church will continue – even when we are not all able to meet together for worship.  We humbly but boldly ask the people of Grace Covenant to continue to give generously for the benefit of God’s kingdom here in Williamsburg and beyond.

You can make your gifts in any of three ways:

  1. Online at www.gracecovpca.org/resources/giving
  2. Sending your check to the church offices at 1677 Jamestown Road, Williamsburg, VA  23185
  3. Bringing your gifts with you to worship.  We will not be passing an offering plate in our service for the foreseeable future, but an offering box is available for you to place your gift before or after each service.

If you would like to make a special gift to help those from our church and community who are in need, please write “Mercy Ministries” on the memo line of your check or select that fund when making a gift online.

Other News & Notes:

Even during this time when many are still scattered and social distancing, the ministry of Grace Covenant continues.  News and notes about events and activities of Grace Covenant are all included in our weekly Grace Notes e-bulletin.  If you are not receiving Grace Notes, but you would like to, please contact the church office to provide us with the e-mail to which you would like Grace Notes to be delivered:  kathy@gracecovpca.org or 757-220-0147.

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A Pastor’s Note to Grace Covenant: July 18, 2020

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Well, back in the saddle again after a week-long getaway to Hilton Head Island.  With the pace of life still slowed by COVID, it was easy enough to pick up again, a little more refreshed. Thanks to all of you who prayed for our time away, and for those who stepped up and stepped in to assume some of my usual duties. Chiefly I want to thank Kathy Buhl, who always carries a yeomans weight of the work around here; and special thanks to Mark Begly and Kelly Moore for filling the pulpit these past few weeks.

While this week was in many ways mercifully slow, allowing me to resume ministry, and catch up on things I missed, it also brought it’s sadness.  This week Grace Covenant lost a beloved church member, Janette Barr, who has gone home to be with our Lord. While this is wonderful for Jannette, it is a great loss to all who knew Janette. Her wit, her wisdom, and her encouraging words will all be missed.  Please pray for Gene Barr, as he grieves the loss of his wife. May he be comforted by the promises and the presence of our Lord.  A very small graveside service will be held early in the coming week. A future memorial service is being planned. When details of that service are finalized we will make them known to all.

While we mourn the loss of one whom we love, we also get to celebrate with others. Our lives go on. In particular this week we get to celebrate with the VanWingerden family, as tomorrow, during our 11am service, we will be baptizing their young twins, Thomas & Ruthie.  Baptism is such a wonderful celebration, reminding us of God’s Covenant promises, and his presence with his people.

On Sunday we will also resume our series Questions Jesus Asked, considering what is perhaps the most personal and most pivotal of questions Jesus ever asked: “Who Do You Say I Am?”.  For the order of worship for Sunday, click GCPC July 19 Worship. This link will take you to the digital worship outline. A link to the .pdf worship bulletin is found at the top of the digital page; just click the date beneath the GCPC logo.

Keeping this note short, I want to again thank everyone in the Grace Covenant family for your faithfulness and your generosity. As always, your gifts, tithes, and offerings are tremendously appreciated. This is perhaps especially so during the Summer months, when most churches, Grace Covenant included, tend to experience a bit of a lull in in giving. So I want to thank you for your continued support of this church and the ministries of this church.  Ministry continues, even if socially distanced. Bible studies are taking place, times of prayer, counseling, and even some Youth gatherings.  And in the coming weeks we’ll be providing some details about an opportunity to serve our neighbors through partnering with Habitat for Humanity. Check out Grace Notes, or contact the church office, if you would like information about getting involved.

Grace & Peace,

W. Dennis Griffith, Lead Pastor

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Grace Covenant Worship – July 19, 2020

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July 19, 2020

Words of Approach

What is your only comfort in life and in death?

My only comfort is that I am not my own, but belong – body and soul, in life and in death – to my faithful Savior, Jesus Christ. He has fully paid for all my sins with his precious blood, and has set me free from the tyranny of the enemy. He also watches over me in such a way that not even a hair can fall from my head without the will of my Father in heaven; in fact, all things must work together for my salvation. Because I belong to him, Christ, by his Holy Spirit, assures me of eternal life and makes me wholeheartedly willing and ready from now on to live for him.

 ~ Heidelberg Catechism, Question 1

Prayer of Approach

 

Songs of Approach          

Come People of the Risen King

Celebration of Baptism  

(11:00 Service Only)

 

  • Thomas Harold VanWingerden
  • Ruth Elizabeth VanWingerden

Baptism Questions

For the Parents:

    1. Do you acknowledge your children’s need of the cleansing blood of Jesus Christ, and the renewing grace of the Holy Spirit?
    2. Do you claim God’s covenant promises in his/her behalf, and do you look in faith to the Lord Jesus Christ for their salvation, as you do for your own?
    3. Do you now unreservedly dedicate your children to God, and promise, in humble reliance upon divine grace, that you will endeavor to set before them a godly example, that you will pray with and for them, that you will teach them the doctrines of our Faith, and that you will strive, by all the means of God’s appointment, to bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord?

For the Church:

    1. Do you as a congregation undertake the responsibility of assisting these parents in the Christian nurture of this child?

 

Invitation to Confession

(8:30 Service Only)

If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:

Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

 BOLD = Congregation Response

 

 – Silent Confession of Personal Sin & Brokenness –

Words of Grace   

(8:30 Service Only)            

Remember that you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in this world. But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far away have been brought near through the blood of Christ. Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household.  (Ephesians 2.12-13, 19)

Song of Celebration  

His Mercy Is More

 

Prayer for God’s Protection, Provision, and Guidance

 

Doxology

 

Meditation on God’s Word

  • Scripture:       Mark 8.27-29             
  • Message:       Who Do You Say I Am?

 

Song of Dismissal    

Jesus I My Cross Have Taken

 

Benediction

 

***

 

NOTES

 

Passage Next Week: 

       John 6.22-40 

Worship Leaders Today:

  • Musicians: Isaiah Day, Timothy Seaman
  • Vocals: Candy Cleary
  • Liturgy: Rev. Camper Mundy, Associate Pastor
  • Message:  Rev. W. Dennis Griffith, Lead Pastor
  • Congregational Prayer:  Kathy Buhl (8:30); Isaiah Day (11am)
  • Video/Sound/Tech:  Tim Nargi & Jeff Field

Special Note on Supporting the Mission & Work of Grace Covenant:

Our giving is an act of worship. It is a response to who God is and to God’s grace.  Giving is a way that God invites us to participate in His work.  During these extraordinary times, the life and ministry of our church will continue – even when we are not all able to meet together for worship.  We humbly but boldly ask the people of Grace Covenant to continue to give generously for the benefit of God’s kingdom here in Williamsburg and beyond.

You can make your gifts in any of three ways:

  1. Online at www.gracecovpca.org/resources/giving
  2. Sending your check to the church offices at 1677 Jamestown Road, Williamsburg, VA  23185
  3. Bringing your gifts with you to worship.  We will not be passing an offering plate in our service for the foreseeable future, but an offering box is available for you to place your gift before or after each service.

If you would like to make a special gift to help those from our church and community who are in need, please write “Mercy Ministries” on the memo line of your check or select that fund when making a gift online.

Other News & Notes:

Even during this time when many are still scattered and social distancing, the ministry of Grace Covenant continues.  News and notes about events and activities of Grace Covenant are all included in our weekly Grace Notes e-bulletin.  If you are not receiving Grace Notes, but you would like to, please contact the church office to provide us with the e-mail to which you would like Grace Notes to be delivered:  kathy@gracecovpca.org or 757-220-0147.

 

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Grace Covenant Worship: July 12, 2020

GCPC

July 12, 2020

Words of Approach

~ Hebrews 12.2

Let us fix our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

Song of Approach           

 

Prayer of Approach

 

Prayer of Confession

O Father, you are our Creator, and we are the work of your hands; you are our Shepherd, we are your flock; you are our Redeemer, we are the people you have bought back; you are our God, we are your inheritance. Therefore, do not be angry against us because of our iniquity.

Recall not our sin, to punish it, but discipline us gently according to your kindness. Finish the work you have already begun in us by your grace, in order that the whole earth may recognize that You are our God and our Savior!

 BOLD = Congregation Response

 – Silent Confession of Personal Sin & Brokenness –

 

Words of Grace 

 ~ Romans 3.21-26

21 But now apart from the law the righteousness of God has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference between Jew and Gentile, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and all are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25 God presented Christ as a sacrifice of atonement, through the shedding of his blood — to be received by faith. He did this to demonstrate his righteousness, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished — 26 he did it to demonstrate his righteousness at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.

 

Song of Celebration

 

Prayer for God’s Protection, Provision, and Guidance

 

Doxology

 

Meditation on God’s Word

Scripture:       Habakkuk 1.1-11             

Message:       When Life Doesn’t Make Sense
                         Rev. Kelly Moore (Chaplain, U.S. Army)

 

Song of Dismissal    

 

Benediction

 

***

NOTES

 

Passage Next Week: 

 Mark 8.27-29

 

Worship Leaders Today:

  • Music:  Isaiah Day
  • Message:  Chaplain (Colonel) Kelly Moore (U.S. Army TRADOC)
  • Congregational Prayer:  Tim Nargi (8:30); Bryan Simpers (11am)
  • Video/Sound/Tech:  Tim Nargi & Jeff Field

 

Special Note on Supporting the Mission & Work of Grace Covenant:

Our giving is an act of worship. It is a response to who God is and to God’s grace.  Giving is a way that God invites us to participate in His work.  During these extraordinary times, the life and ministry of our church will continue – even when we are not all able to meet together for worship.  We humbly but boldly ask the people of Grace Covenant to continue to give generously for the benefit of God’s kingdom here in Williamsburg and beyond.

You can make your gifts in any of three ways:

  1. Online at www.gracecovpca.org/resources/giving
  2. Sending your check to the church offices at 1677 Jamestown Road, Williamsburg, VA  23185
  3. Bringing your gifts with you to worship.  We will not be passing an offering plate in our service for the foreseeable future, but an offering box is available for you to place your gift before or after each service.

If you would like to make a special gift to help those from our church and community who are in need, please write “Mercy Ministries” on the memo line of your check or select that fund when making a gift online.

 Other News & Notes:

Even during this time when many are still scattered and social distancing, the ministry of Grace Covenant continues.  News and notes about events and activities of Grace Covenant are all included in our weekly Grace Notes e-bulletin.  If you are not receiving Grace Notes, but you would like to, please contact the church office to provide us with the e-mail to which you would like Grace Notes to be delivered:  kathy@gracecovpca.org or 757-220-0147.

We invite you to connect with us on our Grace Covenant Facebook page. There you will see regular posts to encourage you on your faith journey, photos and updates of activities within the Grace Covenant family, and notice of events and opportunities to serve at Grace Covenant and in our broader community. Click the link above, and “Like” our page.

 

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A Pastor’s Note to Grace Covenant – July 2, 2020

IMG_0434

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-inThis  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

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Grace Covenant Worship – July 5, 2020

GCPC

July 5, 2020

 

Prayer of Approach

 

Words of Approach

~ from Psalm 67

May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face shine upon us, that your ways may be known on earth, your salvation among all Nations.

May the peoples praise you, O God; may all the peoples praise you. May the nations be glad and sing for joy, for you rule the peoples justly and guide the Nations of the earth.

May the peoples praise you, O God; may all the peoples praise you. Then the land will yield its harvest, and God, our God, will bless us.

God will bless us, and all the ends of the earth will fear him.

 BOLD = Congregation Response

Songs of Approach           

Come Thou Fount

 

Prayer of Confession

Holy God, we confess that we are often swept up in the tide of our generation. We have failed in our calling to be your distinct holy people, set apart for your divine purpose. We dream more of privilege and benefits than of service and sacrifice. We are moved more by private ambition than by justice for all. We seek more to build a name for ourselves – a legacy driven by our idols – than to be part of the legacy of the faithful in your kingdom. By your grace, in Christ, forgive us. By your Holy Spirit revive us, and reshape us in accord with your heart.

   – Silent Confession of Personal Sin & Brokenness –

 Words of Grace   

~ Hebrews 12:1-2

Let us lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

 Song of Adoration      

Yet Not I But Through Christ In Me 

 

Prayer for God’s Protection, Provision, and Guidance

 

Doxology

 

Meditation on God’s Word

Scripture:                     

Message:         Mark Begly,  Grace Covenant Elder

 

Song of Dismissal    

The Churches One Foundation

 

Benediction

 

***

 NOTES

 

Passage Next Week: 

 

Habakkuk 1.1-11

 

Worship Leaders Today:

  • Music/Liturgy:  Isaiah Day
  • Vocals: Candy Cleary
  • Cello: Ellie Kang
  • Drums: Hayden Stulen
  • Message:  Mark Begly, Elder
  • Congregational Prayer:
  • Video/Sound/Tech:  Tim Nargi & Jeff Field 

Special Note on Supporting the Mission & Work of Grace Covenant:

Our giving is an act of worship. It is a response to who God is and to God’s grace.  Giving is a way that God invites us to participate in His work.  During these extraordinary times, the life and ministry of our church will continue – even when we are not all able to meet together for worship.  We humbly but boldly ask the people of Grace Covenant to continue to give generously for the benefit of God’s kingdom here in Williamsburg and beyond.

You can make your gifts in any of three ways:

  1. Online at www.gracecovpca.org/resources/giving
  2. Sending your check to the church offices at 1677 Jamestown Road, Williamsburg, VA  23185
  3. Bringing your gifts with you to worship.  We will not be passing an offering plate in our service for the foreseeable future, but an offering box is available for you to place your gift before or after each service.

If you would like to make a special gift to help those from our church and community who are in need, please write “Mercy Ministries” on the memo line of your check or select that fund when making a gift online.

 

Other News & Notes:

During this time when many are still scattered and social distancing, the ministry of Grace Covenant continues.  News and notes about events and activities of Grace Covenant are all included in our weekly Grace Notes e-bulletin.  If you are not receiving Grace Notes, but you would like to, please contact the church office to provide us with the e-mail to which you would like Grace Notes to be delivered:  kathy@gracecovpca.org or 757-220-0147.

We invite you to connect with us on our Grace Covenant Facebook page. There you will see regular posts to encourage you on your faith journey, photos and updates of activities within the Grace Covenant family, and notice of events and opportunities to serve at Grace Covenant and in our broader community. Click the link above, and “Like” our page.

 

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