When I look back on 2018 there are many words I could use to describe the year. 2018 was a year of BIG VISION and BIG CHANGE birthed from BIG FAITH.
We started the year on a path toward a vastly significant endeavor: the Hope Unhindered campaign. We expressed the heart of where Christ is calling us as a church in terms of ministry and in terms of facility. Let me just say this - the Hope Unhindered campaign was undoubtedly one of the most amazing experiences we have ever had as a church. YOU, the Church, said through your faith, your action and involvement, your generosity, and your willingness to be stretched that you are ALL IN. My heart burst (along with my tears) when on commitment Sunday, so many came forward to demonstrate their response to the work we have been called to. And since then? So many more of you have stepped in and said, “I’m in, too!” Thank you.
As you continue looking through this report, you will see ways in which you have demonstrated great faith AND how God has shown his great faithfulness to us time and time again.
This report is not just to provide nice memories and share inspiring information. It is to provide you with a launching pad as we take new ground and make big moves toward further ministry and greater impact in our community and region. It’s easy to forget what God has done! My prayer is that this report sparks your memory and reminds you that God WAS faithful then, and he WILL be faithful in the days to come.
My invitation to you?
As Christ continues to move in our midst and as more and more people are changed by him, the opportunity for ministry does not decrease, but instead it increases. My prayer is that as Christ shapes you and moves within you, you discover where your heart and his heart join powerfully together on this mission. You are writing a story and laying the foundation for generations to come and I hope you will be part of the journey in 2019.
Enjoy the report.
Get excited about what’s ahead.
The best is yet to come!
"My small group was a major blessing to me and not just recently but since the start. The Behm's opening their home right in the middle of a busy week was something we were all thankful for. Katie was an amazing host!! Inspiring!! I've been thinking for sometime about "paying it forward" and giving back. There are many in our small group, church and community who have poured life, love, truth and Jesus into me during the hardest times...and continue to do so actually. The fact that there are women out there who have never experienced a faith walk in community makes me sad. All these things poured together and I slowly started to warm to the idea of being a small group leader...then one day I pulled the cord, contacted Melanie, and the rest is history. I truly am excited to start this new adventure even if it's pretty outside of my traditional comfort zone."
New Small Group Leader
My Baptism by Eddie Smith
I was born into a faith-filled Christian family. The accounts of God and Jesus, told by my mother Joan, and my grandparents Ken and Myrtle Palmer, were told in loving detail; I listened and wondered of all things Heavenly. I hold them in my heart to this day. God made me. I have free will. I am not perfect. I am a sinner. God loves me unconditionally. I hold these and other truths to be self-evident. However, my faith in God was misguided and His love for me taken for granted. I believed so strongly that faith in God and His divine protection would allow me to run rip shod and consequence free through my selfish life.
I believed in God, but not Sunday school. I believed in God, but felt Church took time away from hanging out with my friends. I was a self-absorbed child and I wanted what I wanted and as my mother attested, a difficult child to reign in. All the while I was assured that no matter what, God loved me just the way I was. Cool! I'm good to go, do, and behave the way I wanted and God still loves me no matter what. Wow, that's awesome. In school I challenged authority, skipped classes and generally had a feeling of power going against the grain. “Edward Smith report to the principles office immediately,” was often heard over the high school address system. If I was even in the school when I heard the announcement, I went with a “so what” attitude and presented myself as the arrogant non-conformist I portrayed to the outside world. Inside, something was always missing. In truth, God was with me; and so were the demons of fear and self-loathing. My entire life I drank to excess, almost everyday. Today I identify as a recovering alcoholic and spend as much time as I can helping others recover from alcoholism and other addictions; it's a large part of my life's work.
This whole fear-filled,tough guy act continued until one day, a short few years ago, God sent a messenger in the form of a man walking past my porch on his way to lunch. A God-loving man with a gentle disposition and a helpful heart. A matter-of-fact man about the truth of Jesus Christ, reminding me of God, the truth, the creator of all, and the everlasting life offered by our savior Jesus Christ. My life was transformed the day I met Dan Walker. As I recall, we had several discussions, over several weeks, before I asked him where he worked. When Pastor Dan replied, “I'm the pastor at Encounter Church,” I thought to myself, and may have even said, “that makes complete sense.” We talked about life, the love of God, the Bible, the Son of Man, and the fact that I was baptized around the age of 12 without the weight of the true meaning of what baptism means. He invited me to church numerous times over several months of philosophical and theological mind primers. We talked every week for a few months (pastor Dan claims a year) before I accepted his invitation. I love Encounter Church, my fellow Christians, my small group and a special, selfless couple that are dear to my wife Debbie and I, Gene and Debbie Nestrick.
So for me, quite simply, being baptized is my public proclamation that I am Christian. That I know in my heart that Jesus Christ is our Lord and Savior, dying on the cross then three days risen from the dead, forgiving me my sins and guaranteeing a new and everlasting life. My baptism was and is a shout out to all that Jesus Christ, the son of God, is my Lord and savior.
Hope Unhindered Capital Campaign
78 families/individuals committed to Hope Unhindered
These amounts are over and above the amount given in the 2018 financials
Amount commited for the 2-year period:
Amount given to date:
More than 75 families/individuals participated in the spiritual journey and devotional