Yesterday, I had the privilege, with some of our team, to meet with Michael Alogna, the principal of Freemansburg Elementary School. Freemansburg was one of the schools that received the Thanksgiving “Blessing Bags” that you packed. Michael and his team sent a thank you video that we showed at our Thanksgiving Service. If you missed it, check it out here.
Sitting with Michael, we learned more about the school and the students. We heard about their accomplishments and their challenges. We also shared the offering you gave for those kids. On the tour of the school, we ran into two of our own GRACE members who are teachers. I am excited about the possibilities of partnering with Michael as we love Bethlehem in Jesus’ name. Stay tuned for more.
I can’t wait for this weekend. We will start with the 2nd annual Women’s Christmas Tea on Saturday morning – this year on the Mountain Campus at Lehigh. We have 210 women who will gather for tea and Christmas fellowship. I get to share the good news of Christmas with our GRACE women and the many guests who are coming. What a wonderful new tradition!
In worship, on Sunday at BECA, we will continue in our series “Christmas in Bethlehem” – this time singing the stirring carol O Come All Ye Faithful and turning our attention to the first of the faithful – Mary. A young teenager showed us the way to joyfully submit to and join in God’s plan.
Visiting her cousin, Elizabeth, after the visit from the angel, she spoke the Magnificat which begins… “My soul magnifies the Lord.” We have much to learn from Mary as we go out into our own Bethlehem to invite people to know the story that Mary lived first hand.
This coming week will be the one-year anniversary of the court ruling that let us know that our former campus was tied to our former denomination. In spite of the surprise and the heart ache of many who had treasured memories at the Center Street campus as well as the loss of 14.2 million dollars of assets, I am amazed at what has happened with our church family in the past 12 months. We are thriving and growing.
One month after the ruling, we were graciously welcomed by Bethlehem Catholic High School (BECA) and began our Sunday worship there. We started from scratch – everything from communion trays to microphones to nursery equipment and screens was purchased to make worship happen. Every week, it takes countless hours to transform the BECA auditorium and campus into GRACE Church. We have over 1800 people who are a part of the GRACE family and the number continues to grow. Each Sunday, we welcome new guests. We are experiencing parking problems as the BECA lots fill up. It would be a great help if you are able to park off the BECA campus on the many side streets in order to make room for our guests.
In April of this year, we moved into our interim midweek campus on Locust Street. It has proved to be a wise investment and is being utilized every day for discipling and doing ministry. In April, we also adopted our new name, GRACE Church.
Most important, our ministry hasn’t slowed. Our purpose is only more clear. GRACE Church is making disciples. We are baptizing babies as well as adults who are making first time professions of their faith. People are worshiping. People are growing. We had over 500 people in 40 days groups. Countless small groups continue to meet as well as Bible Studies each week.
What an exciting future we have. About 500 people also participated in the first meetings of the master planning process. We anticipate having a new pastor to lead our next generation ministries as well as a modern worship leader early in 2019. Additionally, we have exciting new ministries to equip you as a disciple and help you understand your own mission coming in the new year. We are in the planning stages for new ministries for our young adults and for those who are seekers or just starting their faith journey.
All of this happens because of your generosity and your own commitment to Jesus and to GRACE. If you have made your commitment for 2019, thank you. If you have not done that yet, please do that today and click here.
Put your seatbelt on …. As we countdown to Christmas… and as we get ready to see God at work in and through us in 2019.
Your pastor and friend,
Dr. Marnie Crumpler, Senior Pastor