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Blog Archives: January 2013 — December 2013

Fasting and its Role in the Christian Life

December 30, 2013
Don Ward
January 10-12 is a Weekend of Fasting and Prayer at GCC, and there are many opportunities for you to participate! We will meet for prayer at 7:00pm Friday night and 10:00am Saturday morning.  A 12-hour prayer chain will start at noon on Saturday.  Adult Foundations on Sunday at 9:15am will include a lesson on prayer and a time of prayer together.  A suggested fasting schedule is to refrain from eating from after dinner on Friday to breakfast on Sunday, but feel free to adapt that as needed. Why are we fasting and praying now?  It hopefully ...

Making the Most of the Bible in the Year to Come

December 26, 2013
Don Ward
By the time you read this, Christmas day will have passed!  2014 is fast approaching and it is a great time to consider planning to enhance some aspect of your spiritual life in this year.  We won’t call it a New Year’s resolution, since we often fail at those.  Consider making one or two objectives for your personal spiritual growth in the year ahead.  Something is always better than nothing.  Having family devotions three times a week consistently is better than attempting to do so seven days a week and never getting it done at all.  A ...

Giving to Our Mercy Fund

December 18, 2013
Don Ward
This week I want to bring you up to speed on one of the great things at GCC that is quiet and nearly invisible, but still a meaningful ministry.  On Christmas Eve, GCC takes up an offering for something we call the “mercy fund”.  You may have seen the yellow cards in your bulletin throughout this month about this fund. What is this special fund and how is it used?  Why is it a worthwhile thing to support? This fund is administered by the deacons of our church as a part of their unique role in ministry at GCC.  If a person at GCC has a ...

A Different Kind of Consumption

December 10, 2013
Don Ward
Hello, Gracians!  It was hard to cancel church last Sunday!  I really missed seeing everyone.  My little home worship service couldn’t hold a candle to Karen Sawyer and the worship team!  Your safety is our priority, so if a snow or ice storm is forecast before, during or after Foundations or worship, we are more likely to cancel.  If we can make our space safe for you to be at, and you can get there safely, we want to have church.  Thus, we once met this year with no power! The Town Hall meeting will be THIS Sunday at 9:15am, and ...

The Most Wonderful Time of the Year

December 04, 2013
Tag Tuck
It’s the most wonderful time of the year. Do you agree with the lyrics to this popular Christmas tune? For some it truly is the most wonderful time. It is a wonderful time of family coming together. It is a wonderful time of gathering with friends to celebrate. For others, it can be the most painful time of the year. For those who have lost a loved one in the past year, it is painful. For those who are estranged from family, it is painful. For those who are full of anxiety or stress because of marriage, career, or money, this can be an ...

Words of the Season

November 26, 2013
Tag Tuck
What words do you use to talk about this time of year? There are so many words that people use to talk about what happens in our culture in December. In the church, we speak of Christmas, but this has become a loaded term in our culture. It is more popular to wish people “Happy Holidays” rather than “Merry Christmas” in order to avoid offending those who don’t share Christian faith. I’ve also seen bumper stickers that said, “Don’t take Christ out of Christmas,” as a reaction to the abbreviation “Xmas.” (Of course, I like to tell folks that ...

Ingratitude and the Good News

November 19, 2013
Don Ward
It’s nearly Thanksgiving week .  No doubt you already have made plans for some sort of outing, right?  You are either hunkering down with a few family members and friends, or hosting a huge event in your home, or hitting the road to see family.  Sunday kicks off Thanksgiving week, and it’s also the official beginning of the Christmas madness. Thanksgiving has its beginnings as a cultural event both in the stories of our Founding Fathers and in a shockingly religious document written by Abraham Lincoln.  Lincoln’s Thanksgiving proclamation ...

PCA Global Missions Conference

November 13, 2013
Don Ward
On November 8-10, a group from GCC was at the Global Missions Conference of the Presbyterian Church in America.  This conference occurs once every three years, and this year had some 2,500 or so participants.  Our group included Fleming and Peggy Straughan, Carol Hill, Kristin Eppard, Lucy Birchfield, Ariel Mellott and your correspondent, Don Ward.  It was especially exciting to have our three teenagers with us to watch them catch the fire for God’s work in the world. The rest of the team attended a pre-conference event on mercy ministry, ...

Master Planning Process Continues

November 06, 2013
Don Ward
Last Sunday morning our congregation met during the Foundations hour to hear another presentation from Bruce Wardell with an updated proposal. Because of a misunderstanding, Bruce had to shorten his presentation Sunday, and so we started the meeting with a restatement of why we are doing a master plan, and then opened it up to an energetic Q&A from the congregation. In our Q&A, we considered our commitment to make room for spiritually needy souls at GCC.  Given the current overcrowding in our Children’s Ministry, and the occasional ...

What's in Our Name?

October 30, 2013
Don Ward
Over the last few weeks, Tag and I have been writing about the name of our church, and what it means.  It seems redundant to talk about the last part of our name: “Church”.  The church used to be an honored institution in American society.  For various reasons, some well-deserved, the church as an institution is now less well-regarded.  I grew up in a world where very few people in my neighborhood weren’t members of some church.  Now, I’m pretty sure most of my neighbors don’t attend church - at least there isn’t any traffic jam on Sundays...!

What's in our name?

October 23, 2013
Tag Tuck
This week as we ask, “What’s in our name?” I will unpack the second word: Community. What does Community mean in the name Grace Community Church? Let me start by asking a basic question: What is our vision? Our vision, as we commonly state it, is “discipleship through relationship.” I have a simple definition of discipleship. Discipleship is the lifelong process of every human being that seeks to answer two questions: My favorite theologian puts it like this: In other words, in thinking about ourselves we can’t help but think ...

What’s in our name?

October 17, 2013
Don Ward
I want to take some time to remind us of the name of our church and its meaning: Grace Community Church. Each word describes both who we are and who we want to become as a church. We didn’t choose it just because people liked the sound of the name in 1997. The words mean something very significant. So let’s unpack the name Grace Community Church and why it still fits us today. Grace = Gospel Grace can be defined in different ways—some good, some bad.  To some it means you have to let them get away with everything. They might say, “Grace ...

Why try a small group?

October 10, 2013
Tag Tuck
The night my wife and I met as college freshmen, we didn’t share our lives at the level of depth we do now. In fact, when we first met all we did was play a board game and talk about being music students. But that light conversation led to the two of us sitting next to each other in a music theory class and studying together along with some other friends. We began to share more deeply about our passion for music. Eventually the two of us began playing together on a worship team for a ministry on our university campus. We shared not only music ...

PG-13: Three Mature Subjects

October 03, 2013
Don Ward
PG-13: Three Mature Subjects As Tag and I continue through our sermons on Paul’s magnificent letter to the Corinthians, I want to alert you to some mature subject matter coming up in our sermons.  The texts for those sermons are October 13 1 Corinthians 5:1-13 October 20 1 Corinthians 6:9-11 October 27 1 Corinthians 6:12-20 I think a gospel centered approach to these topics make them particularly useful in our generation.  There is such applicable wisdom to our sexually broken age.  The church herself today has plenty of need for the ...

Why is Corporate Public Worship So important?

September 25, 2013
Don Ward
This week we think about a common question: Why is corporate worship so important?  I’ll show you in a minute that this question is under consideration more than we might think at first glance.  At Grace we spend a great deal of effort, about 75 minutes, from 10:30-11:45 every Sunday.  Karen Sawyer and the worship team expend tremendous effort in preparation, rehearsal on Thursday night and Sunday morning, and in the worship service itself. Tag and I spend a significant portion of our week studying a text of the Bible to prepare a sermon.  I ...

GCC & the BSA

September 18, 2013
Tag Tuck
What is GCC’s relationship to Boy Scout Troop 111? This summer the Boy Scouts of America changed the language in their membership policy. As a result many churches have already discontinued their affiliation as a charter organization for a local troop though the change in policy does not take affect until January 1, 2014. What is our present relationship to Troop 111? GCC serves as the charter organization for BSA Troop 111. This means we have a church member called the charter organization representative, John Dean, who serves as the ...

Reformed and Presbyterian

September 12, 2013
Tag Tuck
Briefly, what does it mean to be Reformed and Presbyterian? Our denomination (Presbyterian Church in America) helps us think about how we go about making a big deal of Christ. In fact, it has helped form our DNA as a local body of Christ. How often do you talk about your DNA? Probably not much. You just let it work in your body. But let’s be honest. If our only creed or mission statement at GCC was “Making a Big Deal of Christ” our church would be a mess! How would we know how to govern ourselves? How would we know how to interpret the ...

More Than a Motto

September 04, 2013
Don Ward
If you’ve been around GCC long enough, you’ve heard the words “discipleship through relationship.” It’s actually a shorthand version of our mission: If you know the core values of Grace, you will recognize that Gospel-centered discipleship, witness, worship and community are woven into the statement.  We exist simply to make disciples of Jesus Christ.  Discipleship has enormous consequences for everyone who says, “I follow Jesus”.  We make disciples as a group: a Christian community called a church that is marked by love for one ...

Officer Selection Process

August 27, 2013
Don Ward
If you’ve been at GCC this summer, you’ve heard us talk about officer nominations. You also heard the 1 Timothy sermon series that covered leadership in the local church as one of its topics.  At this point, seven men have been nominated to office: three for elder, and four for deacon. The evaluation and selection of elders and deacons is one of the single most important functions of our church.  Our leadership is key to the health, maturity, and identity of GCC. You still have until August 31 (this Saturday!) to submit any other nominees ...

Worlds in Collision

August 21, 2013
Don Ward
I was born in 1959 in Newport News, Virginia.  My parents moved to Hampton when I was a toddler, and my mother lived in the same home until 1998, three years after my father’s death.  I was born in a world of two-parent families: mom and dad were both there.  There were very few single moms living around us, and not too many single men lived there, either.  I think we may have known only a few divorced people.  There were only three channels on the TV and then PBS.  We played outside often.  Someone was always getting together a football, ...

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