My Heart is Full of Gratitude
As I write this piece, I am so grateful for so many amazing things that God is doing in our midst. In a world where we are bombarded by bad news from wildfires to political unrest and divisions, it is important for us keep our focus on the goodness of life. With so much negativity around us, it is easy to fall into the traps of cynicism, resentments, and anger. Even when it comes to faith, we may focus on all that is not working or the failures of our lives. I would like to invite you to join me in celebrating some of the incredible examples of God’s work in our midst. Let these examples encourage you when you feel discouraged or fearful.
- Youth Ministry: Partnering with other churches started as an idea shared in a meeting with parents last summer. Since then God has opened the way to a vital partnership for youth ministry with Corfu Presbyterian Church. We had a trial period of three months where we joined our youth activities of service, fun, and friendship and therefore decided in January to continue this venture together. Both of our churches are feeling energized with a larger group of youth coming together and more creativity in what we do. Another exciting addition to this ministry is the growing number of adults from both churches who are involved in this ministry. I give thanks to God daily for the ability to nurture the faith of our youth and to value their gifts and contributions.
- Children’s Ministry: On Tuesday, January 14, we had a pizza party for parents, youth and children to discuss a new direction for children’s ministry. The response was phenomenal! We had 14 parents in attendance, four team members, and 12 children. We discussed the proposed framework for children and youth (see attached) where we would have clear benchmarks to help form a partnership between church and parents to grow our children into mature disciples. I am so grateful for the team that has worked hard for several months to create this vision. I am also in awe of the desire and commitment of our church parents to help nurture the soul of their children. God is up to something great in this area!
- Contemplative Prayer: When I first started my ministry in Batavia over 12 years ago, one of my prayers was to be able to help others experience the joy and riches of contemplative prayer as a way to have a transformative relationship with God. I am so grateful to see two active groups in our church that offer contemplative prayer through chair yoga/Qi Gong and centering prayer. What is most notable for me is that the leadership of these two groups comes from you. What a joy for me to see the blossoming of leaders for this ministry.
- Governance Taskforce: On Saturday, January 11, there was a gathering of 28 leaders to discuss a proposed plan for the structure of our church to align it with our current needs and vision. The hard work of planning by many of you is giving us a way to move forward to fulfill our mission of “transforming lives by sharing the love of God in our communities.” When we attempted this task two years ago, we got stuck and couldn’t see any possibilities. By the grace of God and the hard work many of you, we are able to imagine a way to govern the church that will be more effective and less cumbersome. (Attached is a draft of the plan)
I am reminded of the words of Gandhi, “When I despair, I remember that all through history the way of truth and love have always won.” I am so very grateful to serve you and to partner with each of you sharing this journey in the loving way of Jesus. May God continue to bless and encourage each us in the days ahead!
Pastor Roula Alkhouri