Letter from the church council
“Rejoice at all times. Pray without ceasing. Give thanks in every circumstance, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” 1 Thessalonians 5: 16 – 18.
These words of Paul’s were written to one of the earliest Christian communities, guiding them through difficult and dangerous times for faith communities; and are particularly significant now during a world-wide pandemic when much of what we know as ‘normal’ church life has changed. Give thanks in every circumstance. I do give thanks that even though the building is closed, the church is open, as Mark Jacobson is fond of saying. I give thanks that we encourage one another and build each other up (verse 11); that we pray for one another, and take care of one another through long-distance ways. I also give thanks that we could and continue to support our neighbor hospital; giving them the use of our church facilities. They have asked to use our church rooms until the end of July, when they will evaluate the situation again. As I write this in the middle of July, I do not yet know what ALMC will say.
Council met earlier this week and looked at the question of [a] if ALMC does not need our facilities after the end of July, would we or would we not re-open and [b] if we were to reopen, under what preventative health guidelines? The second question was actually easier to answer as there is now much more research and evidence available regarding the best ways to prevent the spread of this virus: the value of cleanliness, social distancing, use of masks; avoiding closed indoor meetings for longer lengths of time and avoiding singing.
In discussing the first question, there was a diversity of opinions and thoughts. On the one hand, there was the desire by all to meet again, even under different worship conditions; and, on the other hand, the awareness that the potential of further Covid-19 infections is still possible now and in the coming many months. We knew that whatever we decided, there would probably be a similar diversity of opinion among the congregation, and our decision would not be satisfactory to each and every one.
After prayerful consideration, we all felt it was wiser to not resume meeting again in person for the months of August and September. At our August meeting, we will discuss the possibility of reopening in October. It was not an easy decision to make, and this has not been an easy letter for me to write. I have been avoiding it for days! But in those days of avoidance, two rather unrelated thoughts have continually come to me; the meditations of Brother Lawrence and Psalm 46.
Brother Lawrence, born around 1608 in France, was a soldier turned monk who spent most of his monastic life as a kitchen cook. This humble man became the spiritual director of his superiors and many came to speak with him. His letters and these conversations were written down, and now exist as small book called The Practice of the Presence of God. Brother Lawrence learned, through practice, to feel the presence of God at all times and in all circumstances.
“The time of business does not with me differ from the time of prayer, and in the noise and clatter of my kitchen, while several persons are calling for different things, I possess God in as great tranquility as if I were upon my knees at the Blessed Sacrament (of Holy Communion)”.
and from Psalm 46: 1-3, 10a
God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in times of trouble.
Therefore we will not fear,
though the earth is transformed
and the mountains are toppled into the depths of the seas,
though their waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake in the surge.
Be still and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted over the earth.
Much can be drawn from these two short quotes. During this time when we are not meeting in person, these two thoughts bring me peace of mind and spirit:
- God is our refuge and our strength. The word “our,” not “my” is used. God provides “us‟ strength, communally and as a faith family; and not only to each one of us individually.
- God is with us all the time; whether we remember that or not. We can worship God as we wash the dishes and peel the potatoes. We are with God whether we meet as a community or not.
May the love of the Father, the tenderness of the Son, and the presence of the Spirit, gladden your heart and bring peace to your soul, this day and all days.
– Susan Simonson
Romans 8: 38-39
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation (including the coronavirus), will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
HAPPY 90th BIRTHDAY!
Turned 90-years old on Sunday, 26 July ❣
“This is the day that the Lord has made; let
us rejoice and be glad in it.”
~ Psalm 118:4
The following is a devotion from the Word for Today of 21/05/2020 and is to give us confidence despite any hardships we are facing financially, to continue to steward correctly that which we have been given by God.
“The Bible teaches that God wants you to have enough money to:
- Provide for the needs of your family and help them to succeed. “If any provide not for his own, and especially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel” (1 Timothy 5:8 KJV).
- Tithe, and finance His work. “‘Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,’ says the Lord Almighty, ‘and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that there will not be room enough to store it'” (Malachi 3:10 NIV).
- Pay your taxes and your obligations. In answer to the question “Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar, or not?” Jesus replied, “Give to Caesar what belongs to Caesar, and give to God what belongs to God” (Matthew 22:17-22 NLT).
- Send His Word to the four corners of the world. “How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher? And how shall they preach unless they are sent?” (Romans 10:14-15 NKJV).
- Help the poor and needy. “Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who delights greatly in His commandments…Wealth and riches will be in his house…He has dispersed abroad, He has given to the poor; His righteousness endures forever” (Psalm 112:1, 3, 9 NKJV). When your reason for wanting money is to fulfill God’s will and bless others, God will honor you.”
It is my hope that ACC members will be well informed of their obligations to family, the church, the government, the spreading of the gospel, and the poor & needy in our midst, that we be good stewards of what we have been given by God, for His glory. He does not ask for what we do not have 2 Cor.8:12; but encourages us to be cheerful and generous 2 Cor.9:6,7. Amen.
ACC Financial update
During the first three months of this year, our income exceeded our expenditure, which was appreciated. For April through the end of June, our income was about half of our expenditures. This is understandable given that we are not receiving offerings during Sunday services; and are thankful that people have found alternate ways of giving through MPESA and direct deposit into our bank account.
In June, Erwin Kinsey shared a devotion on stewardship for a council meeting, and as I read it, I realized how it speaks to us both as individuals and as a church. As a church we have provided for the needs of our family through paying our annual insurance; our tithes have been able to finance His work by providing financial assistance to ALMC; we continue to fulfill our financial obligations of paying salaries, and related government payments; PBC continues to receive and support requests from those most in need. Please know that your financial offerings are important, needed and appreciated.
Arusha Community Church seeks to bring Christian praise and witness to God through worship, service and study. The congregation provides opportunity for Christian fellowship, service and witness, community outreach, personal growth and family growth. Recognizing the close link between worship and culture, Arusha Community Church has an inter-denominational ministry to the international community in Arusha.
Offerings at ACC
Thank you to the many who continue to give your offerings to ACC; the offerings in May were very generous. Please know that these offerings are needed and appreciated. Just a few days ago, we were again able to help our neighbor with funds to enhance the protection of both patients and staff. Asante sana. Offerings can be given through ACC MPESA number +255 755 992 394 in the name of Nasieku Mollel (ACC Administrator’s last name). OR deposited directly into our ACC EXIM account number: 0030023252