December 21, 2012 Newsletter
New Beginnings at New Hope
The Early Church

In his book, The Purpose Driven Life, Rick Warren talks about the importance of the church. Jesus said, "I will build my church, and all the powers of hell will not conquer it." Matthew 16:18. The church is so significant that Jesus died on the cross for it. "Christ loved the church and gave his life for it." Ephesians 5:25 The early Christians knew that biblical fellowship was being committed to each other. We all know John 3:16 by heart, but what about 1 John 3:16? "This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters." And many of the disciples and apostles did just that.

Would any of us make the ultimate sacrifice? Perhaps we can't know until we're are faced with it. Amidst all the grieving and mourning from the Connecticut tragedy, there are stories or heroism and sacrifice. One is of Victoria Soto, a first grade teacher, who rushed her young pupils into closets and cabinets when she heard gunfire, and when confronted by the shooter, told him that her class had gone to the gym. The gunman killed Soto as she protected the children before eventually taking his own life.
Last Meeting

A meeting was held on Thursday, December 20, with four members in attendance. Discussion on the following matters took place:
  • the recreation hall facility condition was observed for the Bible School this summer. Furniture needs to be moved out of several rooms and a general cleanup is needed but otherwise the building is satisfactory.
  • the humidifier in the church is not designed to empty outside the building as was intended. It may become necessary to exchange it at Lowe's for a different model.
  • Curtis is planning to have joint services for all three churches at New Hope during the coming year. These would feature special music and possibly be followed by a social afterward.
  • Frederick Yebuah, District Superintendent will contact musical groups from Claflin and SC State after they return to school, about the possibility of providing programs for us.
  • James Davis of Orangeburg will sing at church this Sunday, December 23.
We Struggle for Answers

What made Victoria Soto risk her life or what gives a person the impulse to rescue someone from a burning building? Dr. Timothy Johnson in his book, Finding God in the Questions, suggests this is a kind of morality that can't be explained by other rules of society. It is more than just right or wrong. This Moral Law comes from God. Christians believe that we are created in God's image, and that includes everyone. Scripture tells us that God is love, not that He promotes love as a nice thing, but that He is love. Therefore, He gave us something so that we could join with Him in this loving relationship. That something is our soul.

He also gave us free will so we can join His family or decline the invitation. In the coming weeks, we will hear calls for gun control, security and counseling, all of which may be necessary given our current culture. But we won't hear much about God's plan for our lives or His solution, except maybe from the pulpit. We live in a violent nation in the midst of a cultural meltdown. We need God everyday, not just to help us mourn innocent children who never got a chance in life.
PPRC Meeting

A PPRC (Pastor Parish Relations Committee) meeting was held at the church on Sunday, December 16. It was preceded by an inspection of the parsonage and a report of the findings. The purpose of the PPRC meeting was to consider the reappointment of the pastor and make a recommendation to the June 2013 Annual Conference. The recommendation to reappoint Curtis was approved. There were no dissenting votes from Bethel or Cattle Creek. New Hope abstained as there was no one present in an official capacity.

Curtis discussed activities that he was planning for the coming year.

  • Sunday School. None of the three churches currently have Sunday School.
  • Bible Study. This would be for the three churches together and would rotate among them.
  • Changes in order of worship including special music.
  • Visitations by teams to be conducted through the week.
Upcoming Meetings

New Beginnings: Thursday, January 3, 2 p.m., at the church.

Jim Adair Follow Up: Tuesday, January 8, 2013, 2 p.m., at the church.