Dear Congregational Family,

1. Fellowship Breakfast: On Sunday we had a wonderful, inaugural congregational breakfast and fellowship time! Around 160 people came for the breakfast! Thank you, Melissa and fellowship committee, for all of your diligent work in planning, cooking, and serving for this event! The proof is in the pictures!

2. Evening JTTW/Kids’ Time: Tomorrow will be the final day for JTTW (evening only) and Kids’ Time for the academic year. Next week will be our “bye week,” as the following Wednesday will be Ash Wednesday and the beginning of the Lenten Season.

3. Lenten Season: Lent begins on February 22nd with Ash Wednesday. We will be having our worship services at 2:00 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. We will also be having our Lenten Soup and Sandwich Suppers again! This Lenten Season we will be preaching on the Psalms from the Sunday worship service readings. Come and have your soul refreshed in these Songs of our Savior!

4. Deaths of Despair: Carey Nieuwhof recently shared on his podcast the connection between a decrease in church involvement, and an increase in “deaths of despair.” Nieuwhof wrote,
“So-called ‘deaths of despair’ such as from suicide or alcohol abuse have been skyrocketing for middle-aged white Americans. It’s been blamed on various phenomena, including opioid abuse. But a new research paper finds a different culprit — declining religious practice. The working paper, from Tyler Giles of Wellesley College, Daniel Hungerman of the University of Notre Dame, and Tamar Oostrom of The Ohio State University, looked at the relationship between religiosity and mortality from deaths of despair. The paper was circulated by the National Bureau of Economic Research.

States that experienced larger declines in religious participation in the last 15 years of the 20th century saw larger increases in deaths of despair. The researchers looked at the repeal of blue laws in particular. Blue laws limited commerce, typically on Sunday mornings. ‘These laws have been shown to be strongly related to religious practice, creating discrete changes in incentives to attend religious services that are plausibly unrelated to other drivers of religiosity,’ they said. The repeal of blue laws had a 5- to 10-percentage-point impact on weekly attendance of religious services, and increased the rate of deaths of despair by 2 deaths per 100,000 people, they found — accounting for a ‘reasonably large share of the initial rise in the deaths of despair.’

What’s also interesting is that the impact seems to be driven by actual formal religious participation, rather than belief or personal activities like prayer. ‘These results underscore the importance of cultural institutions such as religious establishments in promoting well-being,’ they said.”

“I was glad when they said unto me, let us go to the house of the Lord.” – Psalm 122:1
It just might save your life!!!!

5. Sermon: Title: “Counter-Cultural Living in the Love of Christ”
Text: Matthew 5:21-48

God bless you as we continue,
“Growing Together in our Faith as the Family of God.”

Pastor Carlson