Dear Congregational Family,
1. Book of Acts Sermon Series: This fall, we are engaged in a 12 week preaching series through the latter portion of the book of Acts as we discover how God both formed and called the Church for the Mission of sharing the Good News throughout the world. Some scholars have regarded Acts as the most pivotal book of the New Testament. Ajith Fernando, famous Bible expositor, writes “Any Christian wanting to know how to be a disciple of Christ in this world should turn to Acts to know how the first Christians lived. . . . [as it] describes its [the Church’s] message and ministry, and its life – including its triumphs and trials, the passions that drove it, and the source of power energized it.” To further enrich your experience during this season, I encourage you to read through the book of Acts on your own.
2. Church in Communist China: Today there are estimated to be 70 million Christians in China. There is significant evidence that the number might actually be far greater. However, the Communist government has recently been increasing its crackdown on Christians. In Jiangxi province, authorities have forced at least 40 churches to display banners forbidding anyone under 18 years of age from attending. Crosses are to be burned and Communist flags flown in churches in their place. Pictures of Christ are to be removed and pictures of President Xi Jinping are to be put in their place instead. The government is forcing churches to install numerous cameras within the buildings so the government can monitor the services and observe who attends. Christianity Today just published an article regarding this and also highlighting the growing boldness of church leaders, even in the face of severe persecution, which they liken to the times of the early Church in the book of Acts.
“In the spirit of Peter and John, a group of at least 250 Chinese pastors has publicly signed a joint statement opposing the new regulations. In the statement they declare that Jesus is Lord of all, offering eternal life to anyone who will repent and believe in Him. But they also say, in a challenge to the Chinese communists, “God hates all attempts to suppress human souls and all acts of persecution against the Christian church, and He will condemn and judge them with righteous judgment.”
Then, like Peter and John, they pledge obedience not to the earthly authorities but to King Jesus, no matter what. “We declare that in matters of external conduct, churches are willing to accept lawful oversight by civil administration or other government departments as other social organizations do. But under no circumstances will we lead our churches to join a religious organization controlled by the government, to register with the religious administration department, or to accept any kind of affiliation.”
They close their incredible joint statement with the bracing yet sobering words, “For the sake of the gospel, we are prepared to bear all losses—even the loss of our freedom and our lives.”
3. Prayer for our Nation: This week, again the Senate Judiciary Committee hearings continue to lurch forward, surrounded in chaos and vitriolic outbursts. It is distressing to see and hear what pours forth. Regardless of your political affiliation, let us pray for our nation that we would be civil in our discourse, and exercise justice in our processes as the Justice vacancy on the Supreme Court is filled. When we are tempted to “throw up our hands” in despair; let us hold them up in prayer to God!
4. Fall Family Fellowship Brunch: Last Sunday we enjoyed a wonderful time together as a Church family at our Fellowship Brunch! Thank you to Bev Rowan and many others for putting this together! (See pictures below.)
5. Men’s Dinner: Men, we are in for an incredible evening together this Thursday with Rev. Dr. Ed Glover, founder of Urban Impact and Man Up in Pittsburgh! Our Steak/Chicken Dinner is at 7:00pm in the Fellowship Hall
God bless you as we continue,
“Growing Together in our Faith as the Family of God.”