Sunday we enjoyed a service and fellowship that I could not have forsaw just a few months ago. When we began this year we were a church plant meeting in the Holiday Inn. And to be honest, at that time, I did not see anything changing anytime soon. But oh how they have. And this past Sunday we enjoyed a Sunday morning record attendance followed by a BBQ on the church grounds under the covered pavilion behind our main building. We fired up a concrete and brick BBQ pit that probably hasn't had any heat in it for over 10 years. Praise the Lord, it worked! We enjoyed some really good burgers and dogs. But the real highlight of the day for me was the fellowship. Not just the fellowship that I enjoyed with each and every one of our members and guests, but the fellowship that everyone enjoyed with one another. It was a blessing to see people getting to know one another and to connect with one another.
Last week Thursday I had a great lunch with the local Assembly of God pastor. He gave me some pictures of what our building looked like through the years, long before we began meeting in it. The building, pavilion, and BBQ pit were built in 1955. Here is a picture of what the building looked like when it was first built:
In 1985 the building was remodeled to look more like it does today.
I am humbled at the thought that many years ago there was a group of people from another denomination who began in a then remote location, worshiped in a tent, and through many years of labor and faithfulness built and then maintained the buildings that we enjoy today. It is because of their labor, vision, and faithfulness that we are able to serve the Lord, see people saved, and enjoy the blessings of God here today.
Next Sunday, we will observe the Lord's Supper for the first time in the building. We voted two weeks ago to observe the Lord's Supper on the first Sunday of every month. So I am spending this week preparing for and looking forward to our celebration at the Lord's Table. A celebration that I trust will be the first of many!
On June 23rd we will be blessed to host an old-fashioned Southern Gospel Quartet Singing with the Village View Southern Gospel Quartet. I am looking forward to it and telling everyone about it that I can.
Every day I see our Lord at work in His church here at Village of Grace. I know that it is Him. Because the things He is doing through us and for us are things that we could not do by ourselves. To Him be all glory in His church!
Today was a busy day. The congregation of New Creation Worship Center moved the last of their things over to their new building in Wildwood today and we began to move in. The chairs were delivered this afternoon and we were able to move the pulpit, hymnals, piano, and all of our other items from their storage room at the Holiday Inn over to the building early this evening.
Tomorrow the carpets will be cleaned and the last of New Creation's signage should be removed from the property tomorrow. Our new sign has been ordered and prayerfully will be installed on Saturday. But whether it goes up on Saturday or not, we'll be having breakfast fellowship in the new building at 10 am this Sunday morning. Service will follow at 11 am.
Pray for us and for God's continued blessing upon our church as we enter into this new chapter in our congregational history. And pray for Pastor Zef and the congregation of New Creation as they begin meeting this Sunday in their new building in Wildwood.
I also want to express my appreciation for Pastor Victor and the congregation at Iglesia El Faro. Their friendship and investment into our church has touched my heart deeply. They are great brothers in the Lord to whom I will always be grateful!
See Ya Sunday!
Photograph taken on 4-3-2013 @ about 6 PM.
As I've said so many times before, we are blessed to live in a town with such a great hometown newspaper. I liked today's paper so much that I bought FOUR copies. Patricia Steele wrote a great feature article on our church's 1-year anniversary that appeared on the front of the Lifestyle section. For those of you who do not live in The Villages and therefore are unable to pick up a copy at your local news stand I am posting a copy below:
I'm looking forward to our celebration service in the morning.
As I'm typing, one of our ladies has come over to the office. Guess what? We're gonna have a BIG birthday cake in the morning.
I can't wait to eat some of it!
I've purchased 30 copies of Max Lucado's new book to give away after the morning's service. They will be my Anniversary gift to those of you (members and visitors) who join us for what I am praying will be the first of many celebrations.
See Ya in the morning,
Someone has brought it to my attention that I have not posted to the blog since December. The truth is that I think of stuff to post here three or four times a week but I am never at a computer when I have these thoughts. By the time I am at the computer I have either shared the thoughts with folks through other methods or I have forgotten them. The last blog was written before Christmas. Since then, we have had a great Christmas program. We literally packed out the conference room at the Holiday Inn the night we did Noel. There are a few minutes of video from the musical posted to the video page. We also had a great Christmas Eve service. It truly was the great way to nearly end the year. Snowbirds have come and with them, a boost in attendance. Soon, the snow birds will leave. And when they do, we are planning to increase our efforts to reach out to the year-round residents of The Villages and surrounding areas. It was now nearly 1 year ago that we held our first Sunday service. We've not missed a Sunday since. On Easter Sunday we will celebrate our 1-year anniversary as a church. We are inviting anyone who has ever visited Village of Grace to join us for this celebration. It will be held at 11 am on Easter Sunday Morning. Lord willing, the Easter service will also be our last one in the hotel conference room. We are in the process of finalizing details to move into a "church building" of our very own and hope to have everything ready to hold our first service in the building on April 7th.
More details on this will be posted soon. Our ladies group is going well. They are now meeting on Thursdays at 5 PM in a private room off The Square at Spanish Springs. Contact the church office if you would like more information on this fellowship and Bible study group. Each week I visit about 25 folks or so throughout the community. If you would like a visit let me know. Contact the church office
and we'll set up a time for a visit. We're gearing up for Easter - come join us!Pastor Ed
For everyone who has asked for a copy of the article that appeared in The Daily Sun back on November 17th - here it is. We are blessed to live in a community with such a first-class hometown newspaper!
We really enjoyed working with Lindsey, the feature writer who interviewed us and who did the follow-ups to make this story the successful feature that it was.
To everyone who eMailed after reading it - and to those who visited one of our recent services - we are so happy to have made new friends in Columbia and here at home.
We will continue to pray for and support the folks in Columbia and know that they would covet your prayers as well.
The last year has given us much for which to be thankful here at Village of Grace. But I just want to hit the highlights of the last 6 weeks.
The end of October was marked with a trip to Columbia, South America. When we returned, the Daily Sun did a two-page feature story on the trip.
We've had visitors in every service for the last 6 weeks with 4 families visiting our Thanksgiving service.
And wasn't the music great yesterday! I believe that yesterday's service may be the best one we've ever had here at Village of Grace.
We were able to use yesterday's musical to fine-tune the set up a bit so that Christmas will really be a concert to look forward to. Everyone is invited to attend our upcoming Christmas services:
As part of our ministry, I make my best effort to visit several “shut-ins” each week. These are people who are some members of our church and some not but who cannot leave their homes to attend church services. Another ministry, is weekly visitation as chaplain at Freedom Pointe.
This week, one of our shut-ins, Mrs. Mary, passed away. Mrs. Mary had joined Village of Grace right before our first Sunday service. She had supported the church through offerings. But she has been unable to attend services. So every week, we would bring the services to her home. Her passing has come as a surprise.
Also, this week, Mrs. Helen has passed. Her passing was not a surprise as she has been under hospice care for awhile now.
When Mrs. Helen passed she became the 10th person to have died since we began having Sunday services back in April. It seems that the Lord has given to our church, and to this pastor, an unusual ministry of being able to lead people to the Lord and then minister to their families at the time of their death.
Its always heartbreaking, even when I know that those we are losing are now with the Lord.
So I was a little “down” this past Sunday when I was standing in the lobby of the Holiday Inn greeting our members and visitors. It was at this time that a gentleman walked in who has been visiting for the last few weeks now. Pastor Kevin and I had knocked on his door a few weeks ago and he and his wife have been coming ever since. I will not give his name here but I must say I was a bit concerned when I saw him walk into the lobby because he did not look good. I walked up to him and he said that he was on his way to the hospital but wanted to stop by first to tell me that he was sorry he was missing service and that I’d see him next week.
Such faithfulness, even when he had to miss a service, was very encouraging.
Ultimately, this past week, and especially this past Sunday, have been reminders that it’s the Lord’s church – I just have the privilege of pastoring it.
I’m looking forward to seeing what the Lord will do in the remaining weeks of 2012.
This afternoon I enjoyed having lunch with a couple who had visited our services several weeks ago. In many ways they are typical Villagers, and also very typical of those who have visited our services in that they had lived their pre-retirement lives in a northern State where they had been faithful in a church for several years. Now, having moved to Florida, they are searching for a new church home. In the weeks since they visited our service at Village of Grace they have made a trip back up north and they have also visited other churches just outside of The Villages. They are still undecided about where their next church home will be. While I hope that they will one day settle into the Village of Grace
church family they do not need to do so in order for us to be a blessing to them. Even though I had not seen them for several weeks it was a pleasure to get to join them for lunch today and to get to know them a little better. I believe that we have established what will be the beginning of a long relationship.
A relationship that we will maintain regardless of where they ultimately place their "church membership." So to all of you out there who have previously visited one of our services and would like to build or continue the relationship (even if you've already joined another church in the area and/or if you are undecided about doing so) then I'd like to invite you to lunch. No obligation - no strings! We'll both enjoy the fellowship!Just shoot me an eMail and we'll set up a time and pick the restaurant. And as always, if I can ever do anything at all to be a help - do not hesitate to contact me!Pastor Ed
Recently, the question was asked if it is possible to have a truly traditional worship service with a casual dress code? The question itself assumes that "casual dress" is the exclusive enjoyment of those who conduct "contemporary" services. Upon concluding that it would be possible to conduct and participate in a traditional service while wearing "casual" clothing the analogy was made that it would be kind of like serving and eating a fine steak on a paper plate. Maybe, but the fact remains that a fine steak will taste just as good regardless of the plate upon which it is served. Still, maybe there is something to be said for presentation? Then again, maybe not. Tomorrow morning, we are going to find out.
The simple truth is that in the entire history of our church, there have only been three men who have attended a service wearing a suit and a tie - Pastor Richard, Pastor Kevin and myself. We've had retired pastors visit our services and to date, not a single one of them has worn a tie. When our Associational DOM has spoken in our services he has not worn a suit. Nor have the officers from the Florida Baptist Convention who have attended our services.
The typical man attending one of our services will be wearing a pair of golf shorts and/or slacks and a polo/golf shirt. Occasionally you'll see a gentleman wearing an open-collared shirt and sport coat. But the only men in "suit and tie" on the typical Sunday morning are Pastor Kevin and myself.
And with the exception of Easter Sunday, we've had very few women attending our services in dresses. Often then, they are usually "sun dresses" or more casual dresses.
This is after-all Florida. And this time of year it is VERY HOT and also humid. The Villages is primarily a resort area and a retirement community where many of us get around on golf carts. So the simple reality is that many of the men who've attended our services do not even own suits.I've had several men tell me that they had a closet full of suits when they lived up north but got rid of them when they moved to Florida. Its too hot and they are retired. Maybe they've kept one or two suits in the closet for when they need to attend a wedding or for funerals. But I've noticed at the last few weddings and funerals I have officiated that they were attended by very few in suits or elaborate dresses. It seems, at least here in Florida, that "casual dress" is par for just about every course (not just our numerous golf courses).
And meeting in a hotel, the number one excuse we've received from hotel guests as to why they wanted to but would not be able to attend one of our services is because they didn't feel that they had anything appropriate to wear.
So beginning in the morning, we are going to expirament with serving steak on a paper plate. Our worship services will still be traditional. We will sing hymns and preach a solid gospel message from the King James Bible. The substance of the meal will remain unchanged. But the presentation will change. During the week our staff and myself are usually seen wearing golf and Cubavera shirts embroidered with the church logo and on Sunday we "dress for church." Starting tomorrow morning, you'll see us in slacks and the embroidered shirts. Everyone else will keep coming to church wearing the same comfortable clothing they've always been wearing.
So if you are looking for a church where you can attend a "serious" worship service with traditional music and old-fashioned Bible preaching, in a relaxed environment, wearing comfortable clothing; if you are looking for a great steak and the convenience of a paper plate; we invite you to visit with us at Village of Grace Baptist Church.
See You in the Morning!
I just wanted to take a moment to thank everyone who has visited one of our Sunday morning services in the last three months:
Jim, Jo Anne, Gretchen, Barbara, Rosemary, Stewart, Karen, Alice, Ronnie, Don, Yvonne, Bill, Gloria, Kevin, Peg, William, Tony, Lu Juana, Harold, Doris, Richard, Anna Rose, Marian, Leslie, Rose, Ray, Bonnie, Bryant, Debbie, Dave, Mary, and James.
I am looking forward to getting to know all of you better.
And of course, feel free to call on me
at any time. May the Lord bless each of you!