Dear members and friends of Valley Park,
It has been the focus of my thoughts in 2021 to imagine ministry into the future as a result of the church’s shut down, the pandemic, political climate, changes in American disposition toward Christian values, hate and fear that has plagued our country the last few years. I am convinced that we are doing much better than those who were Christians in the first century who faced Rome’s dominance, anti-Christian disposition, unreasonable taxation and Jewish opposition to Jesus Christ. The first-century Christians grew the church in spite of their obstacles and maintained a focus upon their priority of making disciples and promoting hope in the world despite all of the circumstances making it difficult. We can learn from them in what they wrote to encourage us. I have been moved toward two differing priorities.
1) prioritizing building of the church as the people of God on earth and
2) loving those outside the church through possible new commitments involving healing through the church focused on righteousness and justice.
The priorities of Jesus for the church as the family of God have led me to diminishing my focus on political stuff in the church that does not prioritize the building of God’s church on earth. Such verses as presented in The Great Commission where Jesus commands us to “Go, make disciples, baptizing them… teaching them to obey everything I commanded…” (Matthew 28:18-20) and Paul’s exhortation guide me.
“As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.”Ephesians 4:1-6
I have come to realize, that part of our efforts to build the church, is to build a stronger media ministry. I believe there is a growing conviction among pastoral leaders that up to 50% of sincerely committed Christians will maintain a strong connection with churches into the future through the internet. This is not something I believe is the healthiest approach to church life, but I do believe we need to prioritize it for building every connection possible with people into the future. So, we are working on improvements to our live-streaming, a YouTube channel, church Instagram, improved Facebook content, etc. I hope this will be a significant contribution to an extended church family as we move forward.
We are presently filming content for the multiple things we are going to do when we start up our YouTube channel and Valley Park Instagram. I am being helped by two young men, Dushaun Thompson and Isaac Thompson, who encouraged us and sang for us during our worship service on December 27th. This recorded service is still available on Facebook if you want to go back and see what they did. You will meet them when we start gathering again. We expect to be live soon!
There is another priority I am considering in the light of things that have happened in the past years. I believe we need to improve our voice as a church in things that involve helping and healing people just as Jesus did wherever he went.
I consider this priority to involve concern for righteousness and justice in environments outside of our church. While I have grown disillusioned by the ineffectiveness of politics in Washington in promoting the corporate good of our country, I believe we can make a difference where politics may not. I am pleased with our food pantry, but I believe we can add to our efforts to help those without hope or resources. We should consider expanding support of organizations and ministries that serve in places where we do not live. I would like to brainstorm with you ways we can prioritize being committed to healing people and communities apart from Valley Park.
Like Jesus, who did not have a goal to change politics, we can, like Jesus, be agents of healing. This commitment of healing is what makes the church a brighter “light” in the world. I love how God stresses his prioritization of righteousness and justice in Amos 5:21-24:
“I hate, I despise your religious festivals;Amos 5:21-24
your assemblies are a stench to me.
Even though you bring me burnt offerings and grain offerings,
I will not accept them.
Though you bring choice fellowship offerings,
I will have no regard for them.
Away with the noise of your songs!
I will not listen to the music of your harps.
But let justice roll on like a river,
righteousness like a never-failing stream!
Righteousness is getting involved in lives of people who need love and help. Justice is a representation of our righteous intentions on a judicial level through organizations that help people in need of justice. I believe we need to explore ways to help those not empowered to help themselves whether it is hands-on or financial. I have several ideas and I invite you to share any ideas you have with me. Together we may come up with a couple of specific ideas we can bring before the Missions Committee and church.
This Voice article is my effort to keep you informed about things I am doing and thinking about. Please feel free to discuss with our members and with me what you are thinking we need to be prioritizing as a church. I would enjoy the dialogue. It may give direction to Valley Park.
Connecting with Each Other
Remember the present threat to the lives of many we know because of “isolation.” We have church family, personal family, and friends who are hurting and depressed. Some have experienced the assault of COVID and lost dear friends and family as a result.
Communication is our healthiest response. Being loved is an essential. Continue to prioritize keeping in touch with a few people so that they are mindful of VP’s commitment to them.
· Attend a Wednesday Night Bible Study at 7 p.m. via ZOOM. You can download ZOOM at https://zoom.us/download. If you need help, contact me.
· Join us at the church for our Senior Fellowship on Thursdays at 10 a.m. in the Church courtyard.
· Come down to the church on Saturdays for our Men’s Group on at 9 a.m. in the Church courtyard.
· Remember, we do gather on Sundays for our “live-streaming” of the service. Plenty of social distancing in the sanctuary is possible. And we do enjoy fellowship in the courtyard after the service.
Let’s prioritize some time together in some of the things we are doing. I would like to see you participate.
Sincerely in Christ,
See Valley Park Birthdays and Financial Summary BELOW
Valley Park February Birthdays
02 – David Robinson (child)
03 – Tammy Eacker
06 – Tom Johnson
07 – Madison Capehart (youth)
08 – Amy Lutzker
12 – Luis Smith
15 – Angel Junior (youth)
16 – Sandra Navarro
20 – Mercedes Palabrica
21 – Christine Bedolla
21 – Earl Nason
26 – Miguel Martinez
29 – Latasha Green