I miss so many of you. I miss the richness of our extended spiritual family. Laughing, masklessly, together. Enjoying a cup of coffee or jostling for position at the donut feeding trough. I miss placing a freshly broken-off piece of communion bread into your hands, looking you in the eyes, and calling you by name. I miss preaching to a full sanctuary, hearing your voices singing, sharing in the full experience of worship, together! In God’s timing, these will return and we should be praying, not only for patience in waiting on the Lord’s timing, but praying for Gospel opportunities because of the pandemic. (Read the latest communication regarding GRC’s response and watch how we’re working to ensure a clean and healthy in-person worship experience).
At the same time, there are rich blessings from the hand of the Lord. We’ve held in-person worship services since June 14th, with no instances of transmission of disease. Many GRCers continue to participate live-stream, and we’ve even had people participating from other countries! Many of you continue to remain engaged in rich, intentional community through a Growth Group, a Bible study or a Life Group. Celebrate Recovery has even seen a few new faces – on a screen – during the last few weeks. Our partnership with Star of Hope Ministries has become stronger than ever, as our building continues to be the base of operations for 18-wheelers delivering groceries so that over 250 different volunteers can to meet the most essential needs of our neighbors. Those volunteers have come from over a dozen area churches, but many unchurched friends and neighbors have joined in also! All of that is just a sample of how God has worked in and through GRC.
But one rich blessing predates the pandemic. Pastor Steve Sage and his family arrived in May of 2018. They were the answer to over four years of searching and praying for the right man to join our pastoral team, to immediately step in as a leader, a shepherd, a catalyst for a movement of discipleship. Throughout that years-long process, we said that it was the most strategic hire we had ever engaged in. It was so important that we were willing to wait until the Lord brought us the right man. When you interview a candidate over two weekends, you never know what you’re getting. He’s on his “best behavior”; there’s a courtship dance that ensues; and the church wrestles with first-impressions versus substance/depth to the man underneath the surface. Well, two and a half years later, we know exactly what and who we have, and we can confidently say that Steve has been a huge answer to prayer and a rich blessing to GRC and beyond!
That led the GRC Session to recommend to the members of GRC that Steve be voted upon as an Associate Pastor candidate. In mid-September, at the congregational meeting (delayed from May), members approved that recommendation. That step then required the approval of West Hudson Presbytery, our denominational regional leadership body. This Sunday morning, we’ll complete this process in a special section of our 8:30am worship service. When Steve is installed as Associate Pastor, he’ll officially become a member of Session, with spiritual authority no different than mine or any of our ruling elders. There will be no change to his duties, since this process is formalizing/recognizing the fruitful ministry work he’s been engaged in from day one.
Because this is such a unique moment in the life of GRC, we encourage you to consider joining us for the 8:30am service, either in-person or via livestream. Of course, as usual, the live-replay of that service will be streamed at 11:15am.
Maybe you’d also take a moment to drop Steve and Carissa a note of thanks and encouragement for the ways in which they’ve already deeply impacted our church body here at GRC. They have become Jerseyans, GRCers, and true spiritual family!
On behalf of the Session,
Peter Wang is the Senior Pastor.