Friends of Hope,
In June of 2017, while Pastor Paul and a group of people traveled to Israel, he asked me to fill the pulpit at Hope for three weeks. Heidi and I were new to the congregation, and we felt immediately embraced. Very quickly, Hope became ‘home’ for us.
In August 2017, after Paul had been diagnosed with cancer, he and the elders asked me to come on board and assist while he went through treatment. I was honored to join the team in serving the people of Hope Covenant Church. Heidi and I love this church, and in our short time here, we have more deeply experienced what it means to be a part of the family of God.
Over the final four months of 2017, our family here at Hope has been through a lot. Creating space for Paul’s continued recovery, navigating staff changes, and discerning what God is calling us to in this next season are some of the important things we are tending to together. I am so impressed by the folks at Hope who have stepped up and worked together to continue making Hope a place where the love of God is displayed to all who come through our doors.
Imperfect People Belong
Since coming to Hope I have witnessed that the saying, “imperfect people belong,” is far more than a slogan on our street sign. Hope is truly a place where people are welcomed and embraced. The kind of genuine love on display through you – the people of Hope – is a rare and beautiful treasure. In the upcoming year, we are asking God to clearly show us the ways He is calling us to welcome people even more deeply into Christ-centered community.
A group of us have been praying for God to continue to move at Hope. It’s easy to get caught up in busy schedules and in offering many options, but we are convinced that partnering with God in the places He is already at work is the best way to do life and ministry. So as God moves, we are paying close attention to the places He invites us to engage and expand ministry.
Part of tuning our hearts into where God is moving involves cultivating a deeper life of prayer. I’ve been encouraged by the small, yet faithful, group of 15-20 people who are showing up and praying for Hope. I am convinced that some of what we are seeing in our times of worship together on Sunday mornings is impacted by those prayer times.
Part of the legacy of Hope are the stories of many lives who have been changed forever as a result of what God has done in and through them here at Hope. Our church has members of all ages and backgrounds, but we share a common story of being changed by the amazing grace and redeeming power of Christ. At Hope, we see people moving from death to life, and from despair to hope. It is a privilege to be a part of a church where we see this value of ‘Lives Change’ lived out. Being a part of this transformation process is a beautiful thing, and we do not take it for granted.
Whether someone is exploring faith, new to Christianity, or has followed Jesus for decades, we want to find ways to help each person take the next step in their walk with God. As we look to the season ahead of us, we are planning the launch groups and classes that will allow us to be a part of the transformation and discipleship process in the lives of all who God brings us at Hope.
At Hope, we believe God loved us so much, he sent Jesus to give His life for all (John 3:16). The more we learn about, experience and enter into the love of God, the more we are shaped into the people of God who He longs to partner with in impacting this broken world.
We receive His love, and we respond by giving it away to those around us. ‘Love Acts’ when we find ways to love and serve, partnering with the work of the church. But as important as that is, it is crucial for us to remember that ‘Love Acts’ when we find ways to love and serve the poor, the needy, the broken; people who can’t give anything back to us.
‘Love Acts’ when we seek to be the remedy – bringing the Kingdom of God to human need, especially among people who are poor, oppressed, and overlooked. This also has been a part of the legacy of Hope, and in this next season, we want to sharpen our focus so we can make a more significant impact both here at home, and beyond. Loving and serving our neighbors next door, but also envisioning what it will look like for us to follow Jesus in bringing that love and service to people beyond our borders: into the nations of the world.
In closing, I am honored to be serving as the associate pastor here at Hope. Thank you to Pastor Paul for his trust in me, to our elders for giving me this opportunity. Pastor Ryan is a superstar and a joy to partner with in creating our Sunday morning worship services. And thank you to the staff, leaders, and members of Hope for welcoming us and giving Heidi and I this beautiful church family. We are truly grateful for you!