January 2021 Elders Report

I hope everyone has had a chance to quietly reflect on God’s eternal gift this Christmas season. Amid the chaos that seems to be the norm now, God’s gift is still available, wise men and women still are still seeking Him and His plans and purposes are still advancing. The virus was no surprise to Him nor was the unrest that our county is experiencing. It has been unsettling to say the least for believers, but I cannot imagine how it has been for those who are not. We have that rock, that shelter, that fortress to run to; they do not. In a time when some would like His Church to be silenced, let us scream the Good News all the louder. When we were reminded to turn our clocks back this past October a coworker jokingly refused, saying she could not stand the thought of making 2020 an hour longer. I guess
it was that kind of year. But for all we experienced this year that make it a forgettable one in most people’s minds, there were blessings that we as the elder board will never forget.

Your faithfulness.
When we couldn’t gather in person we did it virtually and you were watching. When we could gather outside we did so in strong numbers and those that couldn’t were still watching virtually and continue to do so. When we made the budget for the
new year with additional staff, we took a leap of faith and expected to have to dip into reserves for a time, never imagining what was going to happen with the virus. Our giving remained strong. By comparison I am hearing that some churches may not even survive this year. You are faithful people and a great blessing to us.

Our pastors.
Pastor Greg has delivered sermons every Friday and Sunday in every way imaginable. He has done one message virtually and then delivered a condensed message in person outside and now inside for months. That is a lot more preparation. He has provided the leadership we desperately needed. When the elder board has expressed concern about the increased preparation time in addition to all his other responsibilities he just dismisses it and says this is what he loves to do. Pastor Blake has been everything we hoped and prayed for. He has done a wonderful job working with our youth. He has delivered sermons to our kids
(and adults), contributed to multiple ministries, and connected so well with our church body. We are thrilled to have Blake and Kayleen here.

Our staff.
Lisa and all who volunteer with our Children’s ministry found innovative ways to teach the kids even when we could not meet. There was some serious video production work going on and I am sure Hollywood would be interested! When we met outside, she and her faithful volunteers found a way to have a time for them apart from the rest of the service. While working with a new knee! It is so good to see the kids toddling off to their time again.

A special thanks to Frank and Kayde for giving us the technical expertise to enable us to have the outdoor and virtual services. Behind the scenes stuff that is deeply appreciated.

We were blessed having Mary on staff. She has meant so much to us for so many years working in the office, leading Bible studies, and being a wonderful friend. Now, it appears we have struck gold again! Ruth has been a tremendous blessing since she has taken over after her big sister retired. Another wonderful gift from God.

Our worship teams continued to bless us in whatever ways they could. Ken and Nichole have given us wonderful songs for our virtual services and have created a library of worship songs. We have had Paul and Rob lead live service worship– so thankful for their efforts. Thanks to Jaclyn, Bethel, Jen, Marv, Rick, and everybody else who has also been part of our worship teams this year. I am probably forgetting someone and I apologize.

Our volunteers.
Awana has found a way to persevere virtually and we thank Pam and all the fantastic volunteers that pour their hearts into that ministry. We all look forward to them meeting again in person. The youth have been meeting throughout and I think of
the Matts (you know who you are!), Katrina, and Ramsey and the time they have invested in the kids. Thanks to Jeff Davis and the security team who have quietly developed a system to ensure that ACEFC is a safe place to gather.

I know I have forgotten many of you and the things you do and I apologize as I could go on and on. But we are so grateful and want to recognize the blessings that you are to this body of believers. We certainly live in a world that seems to match the
description found in 2Timothy 3:1-4. I am sure you know those verses describing people who are self-seeking, treacherous, and without love. But in contrast, you heed the advice of Paul in 2Timothy 4:5. “But you, keep your head in all situations, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, and discharge all the duties of your ministry”. And we are grateful.
Ted Parish

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