This Sunday, July 31, we will have an open meeting at 4:00 p.m. to listen and discuss how we can best live out our church mission in the area that was presented in that message.  We currently work with people and organizations dedicated to adoption, fostering, and helping single mothers, but there are more ways to get involved and live our mission.

And this Sunday is a 5th Sunday and our collection will be dedicated to financially assisting ministries in that area.  You can give in the contribution plates in the foyer or you can GIVE HERE.

To watch the special message presented by Walt last Sunday morning, July 24, you can CLICK HERE .  Here are links to some of the items he shared with us:
Message from Rubel Shelley:

I have had people asking me about my reaction to last week’s Supreme Court ruling about abortion. As someone who opposes on-demand access to abortion as a means to birth control, sex selection, or simple convenience, of course I am pleased at the prospect of fewer abortions – if, in fact, that proves to be the case. In an ideal world, there would be none at all.

But my fuller answer to those who have asked is this: I’m praying!
I’m praying for our social fabric not to fray even more because of the supercharged

political atmosphere within which the decision was made.

I’m praying for women who are struggling with unplanned or unwanted pregnancies to trust us to help them, not demean or humiliate them.

I’m praying for churches and their leaders to avoid chest-thumping and celebratory “victory laps” over a legal decision that may make some people even more hostile to Christians.

I’m praying for those same churches to be humble enough to receive, love, and serve those women with support and resources that will allow them to protect, nourish, and make the best possible decisions for their babies.

I’m praying for social workers, government agencies, non-profits, school teachers, and others who try to guard children from being abused by parents who didn’t plan for them or welcome their birth – or who simply don’t have enough money to provide what they need.

I’m praying for boys and girls who otherwise might not have been born to be welcomed into our midst as the innocents they are and to have a chance to flourish, know Jesus, and be his followers.

I’m praying to live in a world where abortion is inconceivable rather than simply illegal.

I’m not high-fiving, mocking, or taunting. I’m praying a humble prayer that God would allow me to communicate his love to some women who are afraid of church because of the way they have seen some church people behave toward strugglers, marginal people, pregnant teenagers, alcohol and drug abusers, LGBTQ persons, the physically and mentally handicapped, and others who have been pushed to the side of the road and mistreated.

Do you remember how Jesus would seek out the left-out people of his time and place? Invite them to sit at his table? Eat with him? Come to know his Father?

I’m praying for us to cultivate that image as a church – so we can be a Christ-formed community of acceptance, accountability, and nurture where continuous transformation by the Holy Spirit takes place to the glory of God our Father.

Questions from a member:

Many people who are Christians will look at this week’s headlines and feel a sense of victory. Some may feel that this is just the beginning of numerous victories…that the US will finally start healing as a nation and “turning back to God.”

(I would like to know exactly when the US was turned toward God in the first place, but that’s a different conversation for a different day.)

My feeling upon learning the historic news from the Supreme Court: the church isn’t ready for this.

Let me be very clear and say up front that I am not pro-abortion. I believe life begins at conception and that each and every life is precious and created by God.

But our world is messy and sinful, and because of many sad realities, abortion does exist, and for nearly 50 years this nation has been functioning with abortion as a legal right.

I believe we as a church must ask ourselves a very difficult and humbling question: are we ready to be the church in a nation where abortion is not legal? Are we as a church ready for abortion to be banned?

Are we as a church ready to love, embrace, and support expectant mothers, even those who became pregnant outside of Biblical boundaries? Are we as a church ready to have baby showers for single moms, drive teenagers to OB appointments, provide housing for pregnant women who got kicked out of their homes (either by their parents or their husbands)?

Are we as a church ready to love, embrace, and support mothers and their families once they’ve given birth…and when their children are no longer cute babies?

Are we as a church ready to love, embrace, and support babies (who will grow into children and adults) who are born with severe special and/or medical needs? Are we ready to make our buildings fully accessible and tailor our events to make them more accommodating? Are we ready to treat these babies and children as valued and needed members of our church family? Are we ready to minister to the parents of these babies and children so that coming to worship is an encouraging and edifying experience rather than just another stressful outing?

Are we as a church ready to adopt in record numbers? Are we ready to open our homes and give our hearts to children with severe special and/or medical needs, children born with drug and alcohol exposure, children who are products of rape and incest?

If not adoption, are we as a church ready to open record numbers of foster homes? Are we going to do everything we can to keep children out of dangerous and unloving situations – especially when an already struggling system may begin to take on more and more children?

Are we as a church ready to love, embrace, and support our adoptive and foster families by providing meals, respite care, and financial help?

Are we as a church ready to stand with victims of sexual assault and child abuse, even when doing so may cause division and strife within the church family? Are we ready to believe victims, even when the perpetrators are people we also love…or people with money and power…or people who are leaders in the church?

Are we as a church ready to provide financial or legal support to mothers who must fight against their rapists who are suing for custody or visitation of their children?

Are we as a church ready to love, embrace, and support babies whose births resulted in their mothers’ deaths – deaths of women we love? Are we as a church ready to rally around entire families for years as they navigate life without their mothers?

Finally, are we as a church ready to love, embrace, and support EVERY life – every messy, imperfect life – because each and every life is someone made in the image of God, someone for whom Jesus died, and someone who needs salvation and the gift of eternal life?

Are we as a church ready for abortion to be banned?

“…Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But with God everything is possible.” Matthew 19:26

Living Illustration:

“You’ll say the wrong thing.” “How could you possibly know how to relate, you’ve never even been through what they have.” “You can’t make a difference, so why even try.”
“You hate depressing situations, and that’s all you’re going to find here.”

These unrelenting thoughts would always show up every time I heard of an opportunity to get involved with children facing difficult situations.
The words domestic violence, child neglect, incarcerated parents, DCS, social work-were all part of a world that I told myself I was better off not knowing anything about…the situations were just too heartbreaking and there was nothing I could do to make a difference.

So I practiced out of sight/out of mind and kept my distance.

God, however, had plans to show me something different about this world I avoided.
I knew immediately that I had found my place to plug in when Andrea Parker sent out the email for a volunteer that loved to organize and loved spreadsheets.
Though I didn’t quite understand what the words STAND ministry, FOSTER CARE, and CAREPORTAL really meant or how they were associated-I signed up anyway. We worked together on a small project to organize all of the blankets and twin sheets that our church graciously donated. And afterwards, I thought our job here was done.

But then the Careportal requests started to come through…

-Premature babies that were given up at birth, needed premature diapers and formula
-A young girl, not old enough to have a driver’s license, gave birth prematurely and needed help with rides to visit her baby in the hospital- while she herself entered into the foster care system
-A young boy with absolutely no family support, aged out of foster care and needed help with kitchen and household items for his new apartment that he worked several jobs to afford
-Mattresses were needed for children that didn’t have one
-Clothes were needed for a 12 year old that entered foster care and all of his belongings were too small
-Meals to be provided for kids in DCS custody
-A single mother that left a domestic relationship, working 2 jobs with 3 kids while trying to go to school to better her life had car issues, and needed help with bus fare

Before I knew it, the door to this world I had avoided for so long was wide open and could no longer be ignored….because how in the world COULD anyone say no?

Of course we will provide diapers and formula…of course we will buy a mattress for a child…of course we will provide clothes….

I watched members of our church involved in the Stand ministry respond to these requests without hesitation.
I watched Enoch organize a group of people together and ask all the right questions to put things in motion “What more can we do, who else can we reach out to- in order to expand our avenues of service to children in need?”
I watched Andrea Parker, a busy mother of 4, organize sign-up after sign-up for service opportunities such as meal delivery, transportation, and connecting us to resources and to people in order to help us serve these families.
I watched DCS staff meet to pick up food so that a child in DCS custody could experience what it is like to receive a homemade meal
I listened as a social worker called, choking back tears, expressing her personal gratitude for the difference that our church made in the life of a family she was working with, just by donating a small monetary need

And I watched as donations of clothes and items came flooding in for a 2 year old little girl, the most recent request that broke all of our hearts last week…….
As I started to sort through the donated items for this little girl… I picked up one of the outfits and smiled, it was so tiny and cute. For a moment, the situation of why we were even collecting these items had slipped my mind. But as I held the outfit in front of me, my smile faded and I was overcome with horror.

I slowly lowered the outfit to the ground until the bottom of the pants touched the floor. The littles girls height, according to this outfit… barley came up to my knee.
Her birth mother had passed away in their home, and this 2 year old was left for several days without food, diapers, and supervision. She barely came up to my knee…

It was in that moment, something shifted in me- I no longer wanted to avoid getting involved…I wanted to be on the front lines involved, knowing full well that our Stand ministry team would be there to provide the needs, share hope, and show the love of Jesus.

Isaiah 58:10 — New Living Translation (NLT)

10 Feed the hungry,
and help those in trouble.

Then your light will shine out from the darkness,
and the darkness around you will be as bright as noon.

“The darkness around you will be as bright as noon”… this is what God has shown me through the Stand ministry. Why be afraid of the darkness around you when God has bestowed on us the opportunity to be light?