Each year around this time, we are invited to prayerfully consider the people God has put in our lives - our friends, family, co-workers, neighbors, and the like. We are invited to name the ones who have not yet come into a relationship with Christ, and commit to pray for them in the coming year. We do this each year on BLESS Sunday. This year, March 17 is BLESS Sunday. Let me invite you to do two things. First, begin praying now, asking God for the people you are to name and commit to pray for in light of their need for Christ. Second, please follow the link below to learn more about BLESS, what it means and how it works. It will take you less than five minutes. Thank you! To learn more about BLESS, please click HERE.
By Margaret Martin
Prayer is not just important, it is central to ECC’s ability to do the Kingdom work God has called us to as a faith community. Over the past two years, ECC has been pursuing vitality in a desire to move from a stable church to a healthy missional church. Throughout this time, a prayer team, known as the Pervasive Prayer Team, has been meeting to bathe the process in prayer. However, pervasive prayer is more than a small group of people gathering bi-weekly. Pervasive prayer is a process that the entire congregation engages in. This means you are needed for pervasive prayer to exist at ECC.
While working together, the Vitality Team began to experience the mysterious connection between prayer and our ability to understand and follow the leading of the Holy Spirit. This process of learning how God can speak to us in a small group setting and as a church has been exciting. Our faith walk has become less academic and more vibrant. No one who has experienced a meeting infused with Holy-Spirit energy could ever be content with church business as usual. We experienced firsthand a guiding principle of Congregational Vitality. “Without the movement and blessing of God, all we are doing is running in place without really getting anywhere. Fruit is human activity touched by the Holy Spirit.”
The Ministry Planning Team is now continuing the work begun by the Vitality Team, with the goal of developing an actionable ministry plan. This goal, however, does not simply involve planning. It also includes learning how to listen to and follow the Holy Spirit in the planning process. For, as Richard Foster writes, “We cannot do the work of the Spirit in the power of the flesh.”
This team is made up of about a dozen gifted people, each of whom is committed to our church and to serving God. While a stable church has a tendency to be self-sufficient in the planning process, to become a healthy missional church this team has the more challenging task of collaborating with the Holy Spirit to develop a plan that aligns our resources with God’s purposes for this church, for this time.
We recognize that there are spiritual forces of evil working against congregational vitality. We will experience opposition. Our victory is always, and only, in the powerful name of Jesus. As a congregation, we are called to cry out for God’s anointing. We are called to ask God for wisdom and guidance in discerning how He is already at work in and through His church and where He leading us. We are called to dedicate ourselves and align our resources with God and his mission. We are called to pray together as a body of believers.
The boots-on-the-ground work of this next step into congregational vitality has been entrusted to the Ministry Planning Team, but for this work to be fruitful and to move in the direction the Holy Spirit is leading, the team must be covered by prayer. They can’t do this for the church. They must do this with the church.
Even now, the Holy Spirit is stirring the hearts of people; both newcomers and long-time congregants. He is bringing together just the right mix of gifts needed for us to move forward together into the kingdom work that He has called us to, and positioned us for. Not one gift is missing. Each person is important to this task. The stage is set. The Ministry Planning Team is in place (They are: Todd Cogswell, Karen Dolk, Megan Gobrogge, Kurt Kincanon, Stacey Littlefield, Greg Louk, Margaret Martin, Jorden Meyers, Shirley Pence, Linda Reno, Ron Smith, Scott Warner, and Judy Yost).
The Pervasive Prayer team is well established and pouring prayer over the process. There is room for you to be involved. God is moving in this ECC family, and we each have a part to play.
By Pastor Jorden Meyers
It is estimated that Americans consume 400 million cups of coffee per day.
I don’t know about you, but I enjoy good coffee. Growing up my parents and grandparents drank coffee almost every day. My coffee consumption increased during my college years and then increased again during my seminary years. Studies out of Harvard show that having a moderate consumption of coffee - about three to four cups per day - will lengthen your life, and not only will your life be longer, you will also benefit from a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease, type 2 diabetes, and Parkinson's Disease.
On January 27, ECC started serving Top of the Lake coffee in the main lobby of the church. As part of the Engaging Young Adults grant, we have started a partnership with Top of the Lake coffee company. This company is not only interested in producing delicious coffee; they are also interested in making a difference in the world.
Top of the Lake is committed to building relationships with farmers who utilize best agricultural practices to produce the coffee they roast. They look for farmers and cooperatives who demonstrate a commitment to paying a sustainable wage for their workers (full time and seasonal) and who maintain a meaningful investment in their community through the economics of coffee. With each bag of coffee purchased, $1.00 is invested into their “Greater Good” initiative which endeavors to support community development in San Juan la Laguna, Guatemala and beyond.
The coffee we have selected for ECC’s consumption is called ‘La Voz’ from the Atitlan Region of Guatemala. Atitlan coffee comes from a region in the Western Highlands of Guatemala named for its picturesque volcanoes and beautiful lake. Grown in fertile volcanic soils by a small farmer cooperative rich in Indian tradition, La Voz que Clama en el Desierto (The Voice that Cries out in the Desert) has been certified organic since 1992. The Guatemalan highlands produce some of the best and most distinctively flavored coffees in the world. La Voz’s coffee arabica trees are cultivated under a rich shade tree canopy that includes many trees native to the region. This canopy provides a home to a diversity of migratory bird species. La Voz is a cooperatively managed farmer group with roughly 200 members. The associate farmers produce coffee on small plots of land (1-2 hectares each) that are individually owned and maintained. Ripened coffee is harvested by family members and other coop associates. Sacks of coffee cherries are manually carried to the communal wet processing mill where La Voz’s management oversees the depulping, fermentation and patio drying.
Through the “Greater Good” initiative, Top of the Lake has provided a low interest loan for a business start-up, bought a sewing machine for a single mom to support her young family, provided a necessary handrail for a local school to meet government compliance standards, purchased and planted trees to hold the soil in the crucial land surrounding the water source for San Juan la Laguna, and bought trees for school children and their families.
By your coffee consumption at ECC you are now supporting these efforts all the while enjoying delicious Guatemalan Coffee. If you would like to learn more about Top of the Lake coffee or if you would like to start making this coffee at home here is a link to their website. In the coming weeks, we will also have a donation box out on the coffee cart so you can contribute monetarily to this new initiative.