“And the Lord God declared, “This is what I required of them: Obey me so that I may become your God and you may become my people. Follow the path I mark out for you so that it may go well with you.” Jeremiah 7: 22-24

Dear church family and friends,

And so we have stepped on the gas pedal. speeding into summer vacations and the gatherings of friends, family, and strangers. It is almost as if the Global Pandemic never happened unless, like me, you lost friends and family members.

Moving forward is always a good thing. We can’t change our yesterdays, but we can certainly mold our tomorrows. Paul has taught us, “I forget about the things behind me and reach out for the things ahead of me. The goal I pursue is the prize of God’s upward call in Christ Jesus.”

We should learn from our past, and perhaps one lesson we can learn from the past is that our busy worlds may have lessened our pursuit of God’s upward call in Christ Jesus in those pre-pandemic days.

I frequently state we are blessed to be part of an amazing and loving church where everyone is loved and welcomed. Frankly and sadly, this is not true in all too many churches. But as we look ahead towards the next decade I have a lingering question as to whether we are going to end up with the same closed doors as the former United Methodist Churches in Billingsport, Verga, Wenonah, and other communities throughout our nation. Are we approaching the day when we only have 15 or less in worship, which is the reality in several of our United Methodist Churches here in Gloucester County?

I view Pentecost 2021 as our opportunity for renewal as a church, and frankly the energy of our worship services since that red-capped day in May has been awesome! Our Sunday School picnic had lots of kids and parents! We have stepped up for the SKI family and we have mourned together our loss of Bob and Harriet. Our mission team is ready to hit the road to Kentucky!

So what about YOU? Do you feel renewed in your faith? Are you going to invite some children to our Vacation Bible School this year? Will you be posting information about VBS on your social media as well as invitations to our worship services? Or are you embarrassed to be associated with our church? Are you going to volunteer to teach, lead, or just be there for the kids during VBS? Volunteering at church?

More importantly, with the pandemic in our rear-view mirrors, are you ready to make worship more important in your life? We can, and we SHOULD be filling our sanctuary on Sundays. If we just look at our membership list there are more than enough people to fill the pews. People of faith who could be lifting the roof with songs praising God. Yes, we will never stop streaming worship, but to worship God in person … in church … with your kids, grandchildren … are you ready for the days to come to declare first to yourself and then to the world that you are one of God’s people and that God is your God? Worship is part of that process.

Summer traditionally in churches has become the season to not go to church. People somehow believe that they need to vacation from church rather than find their rest, peace, and renewal in church while experiencing the love of God and other believers. Can we make that part of the history of the church and change the future?

Are you willing to state what you believe in writing for our church and the world? Many have already shared their “Affirmations of Faith.” Some have been long and some short. Some poetic and others straightforward. But all were clear reflections of faith. Perhaps it can be your family project and each member can write an Affirmation, or you can just have an Affirmation of Faith from your family. Please send yours to me at pdatstpauls@gmail.com.

Together, let’s join the path that God has set for us. I believe that you, along with the other people of St. Paul’s, have the potential to do great things for the Lord, to worship with love and intensity, and that you can change the world for Christ, beginning here at St. Paul’s.

I hope to see you soon!

Pastor Dave

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