March Notes from Session

Dear Church of the Hills members and friends,

This is a challenging letter to write.  We, members of the Session, have been praying, individually and as a group, and we have been meeting frequently through these first months of 2017 in order to listen, understand, process and respond to all that has happened. We have been aided by the numerous comments, explanations, frustrations and “calls to action” that we and Pastor Susan have received from many of you.

It is clear that recent events have touched a majority of us in profound ways. Each of us has experienced these events and, during our time with COTH, the church culture in our own way.  There is no “one size fits all” description of what has happened nor one single solution or way to move forward.  We hope to address as many of the recent and underlying issues as possible in the weeks and months to come, and we know that we may not address every topic in the way some would choose.


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Pastoral Letter 3

 

Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

I believe that one of the most challenging parts of Christian community is how much we love one another. Something transcendent happens when we worship with one another year after year.  We come together every Sunday and lift our voices in praise to our Holy Trinity.  We confess our sins, we hear that we are forgiven, and we experience God’s love for us.  We pray together and for one another.  In our hope to honor Jesus, we work on one, two, or countless projects together.  Our church family becomes one of the most significant families in our lives.  Have you ever noticed that when you are out in the wider community and you run into someone from church that your spirits lift?  I always want to throw my arms around them because they have been to God’s mountaintop with me.  They have heard Jesus’ teaching with me.  We are a family on a spiritual journey with one another and with the Risen Christ.  Our affection for one another is formed at the foot of Jesus’ cross.  We are woven together in a sacred space and I believe that is why it is so devastating when we are in discord.  The hurt runs deep.  It wounds our soul.


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Pastoral Letter 2

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

Lent has begun and thank you Jesus!  Lent is the season that we turn back to God.  We try to discern what actions, thoughts, or decisions have become roadblocks between ourselves and our relationship with God and one another.  The greatest part of Lent is that if we approach this journey with true repentance then we can walk in a new life with the Risen Christ.

Our community is definitely on a journey.  Change in pastoral leadership always creates more than a few bumps.  I humbly ask for your prayers and patience as we work through the transition.  The Session has been diligently serving this community in love.  Think of the places that we have been!  We welcomed a new pastor in January 2016, we walked through Tom Bandy’s assessments and challenges to examine who we are and where we are called, we attended Lenten dinners, celebrated Jesus’ resurrection, attended cottage meetings, formed a new vision and direction for the church, hosted a Halloween event for the wider community, and let’s not forget, a Living Nativity!  All of these things were done out of a love for our Lord Jesus Christ and the desire to hear his voice and discern his call for his community.


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Pastoral Letter 1

To My Beloved Brothers and Sisters in Christ,

It is with tremendous humility that I accept the role of Temporary Supply Pastor of Church of the Hills. I had no idea that this was how things were going to unfold but here we stand. I would like to communicate with all of you as often as possible. In the midst of the trials, I see wounds, sorrow, hopes and possibilities.

I met with the Session on Monday February21, 2017. Before they approved my role as pastor, I laid out several priorities. The top three are as follows: Continue to worship God through excellent worship, address the process of healing, and organize immediate programmatic needs.

I, in collaboration with many of you, will strive to prepare and coordinate excellent worship. As a people of the Lord, we find meaning and purpose in God’s presence in worship. Fortunately, we are blessed with the leadership of Hanna, Stephanie, and so many others that coordinate worship.


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February Notes from Session

We are led by the Lord

In 2009 my wife Debby and I began a search for where we were going to retire.  I had promised myself I was going to work until I was 70 and retire than.  Debby had an enriching career teaching in an all-boys Catholic High School outside of Detroit. At this time she was determining when she would like to retire.  We had researched the up of Michigan and Colorado for possible places.  The lord intervened at this time and said to us through various means the timing was not right.  We could not find a place that we like in Colorado and we decided that we preferred to live in the mountains of Colorado rather than the upper Michigan.

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December Notes from Session

Moving Forward in Mission

With the New Year fast approaching the Mission Team is re-evaluating our dedicated giving for 2017. Our goal is to direct the congregations mission efforts and financial resources toward events, projects, and organizations that align with one or more of the three focus areas that the congregation selected in September; Faith Maturity, Family and Youth Ministries and Community Outreach – Local. We will also be asking the congregation to participate more fully in our mission activities.


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What Do We Learn from Mary and Joseph?

The Birth of Jesus Foretold

 (Luke 1:26-38, NRSV)

In the sixth month (of Elizabeth’s pregnancy), the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High ….”


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What Do We Learn from the Shepherds?

While (Joseph and Mary) were (in Bethlehem), the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son, and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger because there was no place for them in the inn. In that region, there were shepherds living in the fields keeping watch over their flock by night. Then an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified.But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid; for see—I am bringing you good news of great joy for all the people — to you is born this day in the city of David a Savior, who is the Messiah, the Lord. This will be a sign for you; you will find a child wrapped in bands of cloth and lying in a manger.”


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What Do We Learn from the Magi?

The Visit of the Wise Men

In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.” When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet: ‘And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah, are by no means least among the rulers of Judah; for from you shall come a ruler who is to shepherd my people Israel.’” Then Herod secretly called for the wise men and learned from them the exact time when the star had appeared. Then he sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search diligently for the child; and when you have found him, bring me word so that I may also go and pay him homage.”


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