Congregational Letter: Amazing Israel, GAFCON

Dear St. Andrew’s Family,

First, thank you for your prayers these past few weeks.  Jacqui and I appreciated them as we traveled through the Holy Land.

St. Andrew's members in Israel

St. Andrew’s members in Israel (click on the picture to see a larger version)

The St. Andrew’s trip to Israel was amazing.  There were 46 of us in all. The consistent comment from almost everyone was, “why did I wait so long to come?” We were in the hands of an extraordinary tour guide, Jane Ben-Ari.  Her biblical knowledge combined with her historical/political-sociological knowledge brought an increased depth and appreciation to our trip. I’ve made preliminary arrangements for Jane to visit St. Andrew’s and talk to us about the land of our Lord in 2019. I’ve also booked a return pilgrimage to Israel for October 2020.  Much more information will follow. However, for those who’ve wanted to make this trip, now is the time to start planning. I’d be happy to answer any questions you may have.

GAFCON delegates on the steps of the Temple Mount. (click on the picture to see a larger version)

The second part of the trip to Israel included my participation in the GAFCON gathering held in Jerusalem.  GAFCON is a once-every-five-year gathering of Anglican leaders from across the Anglican Communion. The acronym stands for, “Global Anglican Future Conference.”  With almost 2000 people (965 lay-leaders, 669 clergy, and 316 bishops) from 50 countries gathering, the GAFCON gathering in Jerusalem was the largest international gathering of Anglicans in roughly the last 50 years.  As you can see from the photo our Anglican Communion is a diverse church and thriving church. The focus of our time together was global and local missions and there were multiple plenary sessions along with seminars addressing the opportunities facing the church. And, a part of this forward-looking element was the development of a statement charting our corporate course for the next five years.  You can read the statement here.

On the home front, a number of very good things have happened since we last wrote to you.  Most notably was our Fishin’ For A Mission tournament and banquet. This event continues to be one of my favorite all-church events bringing together the breadth of the St. Andrew’s world for both fellowship and to further the mission of the kingdom.  This year was especially meaningful. If you attended you know that the room was filled with joy and laughter as St. Andrew’s folks enjoyed each other’s company. We also set a fund-raising record with $129,282.48 being raised to support our global mission partners!  Incredible! I am grateful for the International Missions Team, for Anthony, and Maddy for their ongoing leadership and organizational abilities. I am also grateful for you and your continued generosity as we seek to share the good news of Jesus Christ with the world.

There are two other events to keep before you.  The first is that Kyle Holtzhower will be ordained a priest this coming Thursday, 5 July, at 11.00 am in the Historic Church.  This, of course, is an occasion of great joy for Kyle and his family and marks the completion of a long period of discernment and academic preparation.  It is also a great joy for us as his parish family as we are the recipients of his ministry. Please pray for Kyle and Kortney as this day approaches and if you are available, come join us.

Lastly, our Home Focus Team has organized our next all-church event: a groundbreaking/dedication service on Wednesday, 25 July.  We’ll be bringing in food trucks (4 food trucks and 2 dessert trucks). Following dinner, we will have Wednesday Night Worship in the parking lot.  We will sing a mix of hymns and praise music. You’ll need to bring a lawn chair. We’ve invited the Mayor, both the Police and Fire Chiefs – along with the fire crews who helped fight our fire (a firetruck will be on hand for our kids to see), and construction crews working on our site. Food service will begin in the parking lot at 5.30 pm.  Venning will be closed from 6-8 pm. Our worship service and groundbreaking will begin at 6:45 pm. I hope you’ll come along and join with your St. Andrew’s family as we give God thanks for the life we share in Christ and look ahead to all that He has for us.

With much love in Christ Jesus,
Steve & Jacqui

#BeautyFromAshes