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Oaxaca Update - December 2017

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For over a year we have partnered with Forward Edge International to help support Trigo y Miel, a program based in Oaxaca, Mexico that provides meals, tutoring, encouragement, the love of Jesus, and more to local children of all ages. Back in October, we sent a team to help with a home build made from earth blocks, the first of its kind in the community. The home was being built for a family participating in the Trigo y Miel program.

We are excited to announce that the home has been completed - Silvia and Felipe and their family have moved in! We are thrilled to have been a part of this project. Check out photos of the family and their new home below!

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Happy 45th Anniversary, Richards!

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Gary and Shirley recently celebrated 45 years of marriage and we are so excited for them! They represent how the Lord works through the commitment and hard work of two individuals willing to put Him and their spouse first. God bless you, Gary and Shirley!

This last month also marks Gary’s transition away from leading the bus ministry and fleet maintenance at Elevate. Gary has stepped down for health reasons, so while we’re disappointed to loose his involvement, we’re confident in his decision and are so thankful for his faithful, diligent service. Gary’s attention to detail and commitment to a job well done are second to none and we want to express to him a huge, “Thank you!"

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Volunteer MVPs - Mike & Anna Atchison

Congratulations to our November Volunteer MVPs, Mike and Anna Atchison! Mike and Anna have served at Elevate in multiple capacities ranging from helping on the Mobility Team to leading a Connect Group. They have also enjoyed traveling with teams to Panama and Oaxaca, Mexico for Missional work.

Thank you, Atchisons, for your hard work and willingness to serve and to lead!

(Interested in joining a team? Visit our volunteer webpage for a list of available opportunities and sign up for one today!)

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The WHY's Of Worship: #10 Why We Worship Privately

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By Steve Parrish, Jr, Worship Leader

Have you ever been in a corporate worship setting and just felt the presence of God? It is an indescribable feeling. There is nothing quite like worship with other brothers and sister in God’s family. The atmosphere is incredible.

Now, what if I told you the same experience is attainable by yourself? It’s true; God is with you every moment of every day. The issue is that we don’t always access his presence on a consistent basis. On a personal level, maybe it’s a lack of time, or perhaps it’s something that is honestly uncomfortable, or maybe we just don’t know it’s something God wants us to do.

Worshiping God in private is, in my experience, a completely different battle than that of a corporate setting. There’s no one around to synergize with in pushing into God’s presence. It relies on my willingness and desire to push through. The reward for engaging is an even more intimate worship experience you won’t find anywhere else.

 

Behind Closed Doors

The religious leaders of Jesus’ time took pride in loud, demonstrative prayer. They wanted to be noticed by all. To them, praying and worshiping louder than everyone else equated them to being more holy, or so they wanted people to think. It was a practice that Jesus ridiculed and emphasized the exact opposite behavior in Matthew 6:5-6:

“5When you pray, do not be like those who only pretend to be holy.
    They love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners.
    They want to be seen by others. What I'm about to tell you is true.
    They have received their complete reward.
  6When you pray, go into your room. Close the door and pray to
    your Father, who can't be seen. He will reward you.
    Your Father sees what is done secretly.”

Here we can see that Jesus drove home the point of prayer, and also worship (as we have previously established), behind closed doors and away from prying eyes. Now, the promise of God rewarding us for our actions is not the reason to engage in private worship. Rewards should never be our motivation for engaging with God. To do so would implant the perspective that we can, or have to, earn God’s favor, when there are dozens upon dozens of verses in the Bible that state the exact opposite. So that brings up the question: why should I worship privately?

 

One-On-One

I have been married to my best friend and most loyal person I have ever known for about a year-and-a-half: my wife, Mary. She is truly proof that there is a good God. Now, a year-and-a-half is not a very long time in terms of life commitment. While it is a short time, I have learned a thing or two along the way about marriage’s dynamics and in getting to know my wife, I have learned one of the things she values over all: intimacy.

Marriage doesn’t work without it. There is nothing in the world like connecting to someone on more than just a surface level. I do enjoy spending time with friends and talking about life events, hobbies, and what football team will win it all this year, but all of that is so shallow compared to walking step-by-step with someone through the triumphs, the failures, the hard times, and the times of bliss. A marriage without intimacy is just an acquaintance-like relationship with a binding legal document.

Our walk with God is no different. Without engaging in intimate worship with God, our relationship is surface level. When times get hard, that bond is easily broken and there is little to no faith that God will come through for us, even though He does time and time again. We only want to be with God when it pleases us and gives us benefit but the moment the iron of life comes to sharpen and strengthen the iron of our relationship with God, we become brittle and break.

Engaging in intimate worship with Him strengthens our bond just as a husband and wife continue to grow closer together through intimacy. It allows us to walk step-by-step with God. As a result of us doing so, God promises to reward our actions. Even though rewards are not the cause of what I do, I will gladly let the reward of becoming closer to God be the reason I engage in private worship, because that is what I truly want.

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Water Baptism Congratulations

Water baptism is the symbolic act of publicly declaring your decision to follow Jesus. Through baptism, new and returning believers communicate their old life ending and their new life with Christ beginning.

This past Sunday during our main gathering, we took time to celebrate with those wanting to take this next step in their relationship with Jesus. Three of our children decided to publicly proclaim their relationship with Him through water baptism. Congratulations to those who were baptized: Elle, Rayne, and Isreael!

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Labor Day 2017

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Every year we gather as a family to celebrate Labor Day weekend, coming together during a weekend gathering and enjoying a family meal. This time together is filled with worship, fellowship, and our annual Chili, Pie, and Jr. Cupcake Competition where cooks of all ages enter to compete for the title of best chili, best pie, and best cupcakes. While all of year's entries were unbelievable, the title can only belong to one - congratulations to our Cook-Off grand prize winners Tyra Willett, Annie Jones, and Andrew Jones!

Each year seams better than the last, and this year was no exception! New to this year's tradition was a highly anticipated Tug-Of-War competition. Connect Groups faced off against each other to pull their teams towards victory. Each team showed great strength, but in the end is was a surprise and sweeping victory by the Burgess Connect Group! Congrats to the Burgess Connect Group on your victory.

We'd also like to thank all of our volunteers who made this event possible! Thank you to Tiffany Geehan and her team for coordinating the Cook-Off & Tug-Of-War competitions and food. Thank you to FUEL for hosting our eKIDS bounce houses and game stations. And thank you to Josh & Tiffany Nielson for organizing our eKIDS activities.

What an exiting day!

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Volunteer MVP - Scott & Valerie Mercer

This month we're honoring two incredibly valuable Volunteer MVPs, Scott and Valerie Mercer! Scott and Valerie serve together at our Visitor Center, warmly welcoming our visiting families and helping them to feel at home. Thank you, Scott & Valerie, for being such great team players and awesome volunteers!

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The WHY's Of Worship #9: Why We Worship With Music

BY JON MOODY, WORSHIP DIRECTOR

I love music and I’ve loved it ever since I was a kid. When I was younger it was probably because of the musical melody and drum beat (rather than the synthesized beats since this was the 90’s - a musical period I really hope we never return to as a society.) As I got older, I appreciated more the lyrical side of a song and the story that it would tell. Music has connected people and societies throughout all recorded human history and I believe that music is something that is very dear to God as well as a great gift from Him.

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The first recorded mention of music in the Bible comes from Genesis 4:21:

“His brother’s name was Jubal; he was the father of all those who play the lyre and pipe.” 

As most may know, Genesis 4 is about Cain and Abel. Jubal was a descendant of Cain, and scripture points out that he was essentially the forefather of musicians. We also see the use of music in Exodus 15:20 when the Israelites are crossing the Red Sea. During Moses’ song we read:

“Miriam the prophetess, Aaron’s sister, took the timbrel in her hand, and all the women went out after her with timbrels and with dancing.”

If you take a look at the Psalms you will see that there are SEVERAL instances of music and musical instruments being used in connection with declaring how good the Lord is. My favorite verse of music in the Psalms is Psalms 33:3:

“Sing to Him a new song; Play skillfully with a shout of joy.” 

There are just so many verses that touch on this topic!

And did you know that listening or playing music actually has physical effects on your body, most notably your brain? Many scientific studies have been done on the effects of music on your brain and health. Studies have shown that of the several effects it has on the human body, most notably music can help alleviate pain by releasing dopamine in your brain. Have you ever listened to a song and it reminded you of something that happened earlier in your life? Well, there is a specific part of your brain that engages when you hear a song that connects music with memories and emotions. If you are interested in reading some of the other effects music has on us, visit this website. It is some really interesting stuff!

So given all that, why is it that we use music in our times of worship?

 

IMITATING A CREATIVE GOD

Well, we serve a creative God to start. Genesis 1 is the account of how God created everything in the heavens and on the earth. There is so much beauty on the earth, from the incredible landscapes we get to enjoy here in the Northwest to the immensely vast oceans that make up most of our world. Many of the creatures that God created are beautiful and pleasing to look at (insects, not so much…). Let’s be honest, it had to take a very creative God to make all of it that we see on earth! 

In Ephesians 5, the header of the chapter is “Be Imitators of God.” This encompasses everything from imitating His character, His love and even includes His creative nature. Verse 19 says:

“speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord;” 

What does music consist of? It consists of melodic notes that create a song in a key which is often accompanied by lyrics sung in a melody. Followers of Jesus who create music are doing what Paul encouraged them to do, being an imitator of the creative God that they serve. And we use those songs in our gatherings because of the gift that music is and it’s a gift that God gave to us. A gift that is mentally, physically and spiritually beneficial!

Song and music have gone hand in hand ever since the early days of human existence as shown in Genesis 4. Great men and women of God have used instruments to support the songs God has given them, from Moses and Miriam to King David and even the disciples.  God designed song and music to live in harmony together, to support one another. I think songs are better when it has music to go with it. But maybe that’s just a biased musician talking. :)

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Volunteer MVP - Stephen Burgess

A special shoutout to our August Volunteer MVP, Stephen Burgess!

Stephen is a hardworking and faithful volunteer. When he arrives to serve on a Sunday morning, he comes with a Can-Do attitude and has fun working alongside his team members. He has served on various teams within our church family, including Multi-Media, Visitor Center, and on our Mobility Team. Stephen and his wife also serve as Connect Group Leaders and meet with their group in the Salmon Creek area.

Thank you Stephen for all of your hard work!

Want to join a team? Visit our Volunteer webpage and sign up today.

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The WHY's Of Worship #8: Why We Worship Corporately

By Steve Parrish, Jr., Worship Leader

Weekly worship with my church family is something I look forward to every week. When leading the congregation on Sundays, I get chills as I hear the body of Christ singing praises to the Lord. Worshiping together takes up a very large portion of our typical Sunday morning service, so it begs the question: why do we worship corporately?

To those raised in the church, corporate worship has been engrained into our DNA. If asked “why corporate worship?”, a response you might here is, “It’s just something we do.” Yet to others adopted into God’s family, it can be one of the most uncomfortable 20-30 minutes of their week. Singing around people maybe is not in their wheelhouse. The Bible, however, has one key passage of scripture that illustrates the importance of worshiping in community: Matthew 18:19-20.

“19Again, here is what I tell you. Suppose two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for. My Father in heaven will do it for you. 20Where two or three people
meet together in my name, I am there with them."

Now before you start to say, “Hey, wait. This verse doesn’t say worship…” take a step back and think about worship for a moment. At its core, worship is prayer; it just has a neat beat and spiffy melody slapped on it. This verse emphasizes the importance and power that standing together with another believer has. Now, let’s dive a little deeper.

 

Rhythmic Prayer

Believers will ask others to pray for them, and with them, on a regular basis. If a fellow believer walked up to you and asked you to pray for them, I doubt you would say no. It’s part of our culture as followers of Christ. Not to mention, it really works when more than just one person prays in agreement for a situation. You could find hundreds and hundreds of stories about how a person in the church approached their small group, close group of church friends, or various leaders in the church, asked for prayer, then surprise their prayer was answered.

Now, I’m willing to bet that you probably haven’t had someone in the church approach you and say, “I really need you to pray for me. Can we just sing together here and now?” Honestly, a request like that would make for some uncomfortable situations. The funny thing about that however is that worship is that exact request, just unspoken.

Matthew 18:19 shows us the power of praying with one another. If worship is prayer with melody, this verse shows us the power of worshiping together. Understanding this is ground breaking especially when we sing a song that specifically speaks to you. Sure maybe those around you don’t know your particular situation, but their worship to God still carries a spiritual punch. When we fully embrace the power of worshiping together, we step into a whole new arena of authority that God has already called us to reside in.

 

Finding God

Everyone loves a good song about the presence of God. Something about it is enticing and makes hairs stand up on the back of our necks. We sing for God to come fill us with His Spirit and it is always incredible when we feel Him. Verse 20 of Matthew 18 paints a slightly different picture though.

This is not to take away from any song that asks for God to come into our midst. A song, or a prayer, like that has the power to radically change our lives. God hears our words, for we are gathered in agreement, and responds. Verse 20 just causes us to pause and think about how God’s presence functions.

God is already with us when we gather, so why would we ask for Him to come? He’s already there! It sounds silly that we would do such a thing when you stand back and think about it. His word promises us that when we gather in His name, He is already with us there. So, maybe instead of asking for God to come, we should be asking for God to help us push past all the distractions around us and in our lives so that we can find Him there in our midst. It is a promise God has made to us; one that we should take full advantage of every opportunity we get.

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Happy 50th Anniversary, Seevaratnams!

A very special congratulations to Jeeva & Saroji on the celebration of their wedding anniversary. This past week marked 50 years since they said "I Do". What an exciting thing to be able to celebrate within our church family.

Many blessings to you, Jeeva & Saroji!

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Alderbrook Park 2017

What an awesome time we had on our Friends & Family Day at Alderbrook Park!

This past Sunday, July 9th, our entire church headed outdoors for a day packed with fun. We spent the entire day out at the park, gathering together for breakfast, worship, a communion service, volleyball, football, water games, bounce houses, pirate ship playgrounds, mini golf, lunch, races, dunk tanks, swimming, fountains of lemonade, and more!

It was exciting to see so many of our family members, and their friends, having a blast at our Friends & Family day! Want to see photos from the day? Head over to our Facebook or Instagram pages to see shots from the event. You can also search both platforms using the hashtag #ElevateatAlderbrook2017 to see photos from other families!

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The WHY's Of Worship: #7 Why We Shout

By Jon Moody, WORSHIP DIRECTOR

Have you ever been to an event like a football game or a competition of some kind where there are two opposing sides pitted against one another? We have one every year at Elevate, our Chili & Pie Cook Off. Competitors bring forth their best chili and pie recipes for our enjoyment on Labor Day weekend. It’s one of my favorite days of the year! At the end of the judges tasting each recipe, they decide on which recipe they think was best and the top three are presented with prizes while the winner is given the holy grail of the event: the apron of glory! During the announcement of each winner, you will hear two main sounds: clapping and shouting.

As humans, why do we shout at all? I see two primary reasons why we do it: in battle and in victory.

Now when I say battle, it can also be in a competition of some sort as well as a literal battle. You see it in football games, basketball games etc. where fans from both sides are cheering and shouting when great plays or horrible plays happen. I remember when I lost my voice from shouting because of the Pittsburgh Steelers' glorious victory over the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XL, I can still remember the joy I felt in that moment because of my team’s victory! The Bible shows that we shout in those two primary ways.

Did you know that the Bible mentions shouting (shout, shouts, shouted) 163 times? Many of those times it is used with the Hebrew word rûa, which means “to raise a battle cry; sound a trumpet blast; shout in triumph or exaltation.” That word contains both primary reasons people shout, in battle and in victory. So why would this pertain to our time in worship?

 

We Shout In Battle

Pastor Steve has been teaching us these past several weeks that we are to become anti-fragile against the tactics of the enemy. God’s intent for us is that as we follow Jesus, we are to become strong men and women of God. Just as a baby grows, they become stronger and their capabilities increase because of that developed strength. We can use a shout of praise as a strength and weapon against the enemy. 2 Chronicles 13 shows how God can use our shout to turn the tide in our favor:

“13 But Jeroboam had set an ambush to come from the rear, so that Israel
      was in front of Judah and the ambush was behind them.
14 When Judah turned around, behold, they were attacked both front and rear;
      so they cried to the Lord, and the priests blew the trumpets.
15 Then the men of Judah raised a war cry, and when the men of
     Judah raised the war cry, then it was that God
     routed Jeroboam and all Israel before Abijah and Judah.
16 When the sons of Israel fled before Judah, God gave them into their hand.”

Things looked bleak for Judah at this point in the battle with Israel in their civil war. Jeroboam had them pinned on both ends. But when the men of Judah raised a battle cry to God, a rûa, God turned the tides for Judah. When we worship and we feel like we are in a spiritual battle with the enemy, we can raise a shout of praise to the Lord and that shout can start the shift of us having victory.

 

We Shout In Victory

That same shout is also a shout of victory. Not just your victory over the enemy, but the victory Christ won on our behalf. Rev. 5:11-14:

“11 Then I looked, and I heard the voice of many angels around the
     throne and the living creatures and the elders; and the number
     of them was myriads of myriads, and thousands of thousands,
12 saying with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and
    riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing.”
13 And every created thing which is in heaven and on the earth and
     under the earth and on the sea, and all things in them, I heard saying,
    “To Him who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb, be blessing and
     honor and glory and dominion forever and ever.”
14 And the four living creatures kept saying, “Amen.”
    And the elders fell down and worshiped.”

That is why we shout. We shout because it is one way of how we empower ourselves against the enemy and how we can turn the tides on the enemy. We shout for the victory God has given us over the enemy, over death, and over sin. And most importantly, we should shout because of the victory Jesus won on our behalf on the cross over 2000 years ago and the final victory when He comes again.

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Welcome To The Family!

Congratulations to our newest family members.

Having recently attended Our House Your House, these three families have made the decision to call Elevate their home church. This past weekend we celebrated their decision and welcomed them into our family through prayer.

Marcus, Kel, Ek, and Taylor - welcome to the family!

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Workday 2017

On Saturday, June 24th, our team of volunteers gathered together and completed a series of building projects at our Fairgrounds property. Teams worked to install new doors and windows for our office space, organized a new storage space on-site, created spaces for playing volleyball and horseshoes, built a new fire pit, and tackled landscaping all across the property. What an amazing thing to witness so many of our Elevate family members - of all ages - coming together to invest in our future home. We can't wait to see how God continues to bless us and provide as our building project progresses.

To see more footage of our Workday, watch our highlights video here, or scroll through our photo gallery below.

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Volunteer MVP - Josh Humphrey

Congrats to our June Volunteer MVP: Josh Humphrey!

Josh leads ones of our Mobility Teams in addition to towing our church truck and trailer. He is hardworking, always has a great attitude, engages his team and creates a fun atmosphere, and he involves others in the problem-solving process as they work to tackle issues that arise as they set up for our Sunday Morning gatherings.

Thank you for all that you do, Josh!

There is a place for everyone to serve where they can fit in and engage in the strengths and gifts that God has given them. Visit our Volunteer webpage to see a full list of serving positions at Elevate and sign up to join a team!

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The WHY's of Worship: #6 Why We Bow/Kneel

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By Steve Parrish, Jr., Worship Leader

Bowing before authority has been an integral part of mankind since the concept of rulers came about. The act of kneeling was a sign of submission that signified to the other party that they were the dominant and they were above the one kneeling. This practice continued into the age of kings, when subjects kneeled before their rulers in submission and acknowledgement of authority.
It’s hard for us to understand what bowing before God really means because in our culture bowing is nearly non-existent. “It was a different time then,” some may say in regards to kneeling before our King. Kneeling, however, is a sign of submission and acknowledgement of God’s authority in and around our lives. Just like those in the time of kings wouldn’t dare to not bow before their king. Why would we make exceptions for ourselves just because of the era we are in? Sure culture may have changed, but God hasn’t. His authority is unrivaled and commands the attention of all.

“It is written: "'As surely as I live,' says the Lord, 'every knee
will bow before me; every tongue will acknowledge God.'"
- Romans 14:11

 

What Does This Have To Do With Worship?

Now, this doesn’t declare that every time we talk to God we MUST kneel or else a lightning bolt will fly from the sky and we will become smitten! Thankfully, God has this amazing thing called grace. Also, yes, times have changed. Kings are not in our every day lives anymore and we openly challenge authority almost at every chance we get; just scroll through your Facebook page and see the numerous political articles shared there. So then what does this mean as far as worship goes?

If you need a reason as to why you should bow before our God, you need look no further that Ephesians 3:

“14For this reason I bow my knees before the Father,
15from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named,
16that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be
strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being,
17so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—
that you, being rooted and grounded in love,
18may have strength to comprehend with all the saints
what is the breadth and length and height and depth,
19and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge,
that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.”

Paul expresses that the need to bow is not birthed out of fear – though yes, the fear of God is very real and something we should all strive to have – but out of a desire to understand who God is. Humbling ourselves in submission, just like bowing before a king, actually helps us to understand the love of God, and if we understand the love of God we actually begin to understand and know God.

“Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.” 
- 1 John 4:8

Humbling ourselves by kneeling before God forces us to push past our conceptions of God and forces us to stop and begin to see who God really is. When we begin to see and understand who God is, we can begin to align ourselves with him and with His desires. In doing so, our very beings begin to change to reflect who God is and we can begin to see His plans and call on our lives and begin the process of seeing the Kingdom of Heaven come into fruition here on earth.

 

Connecting the Dots

Worship is an act that brings glory to God. Kneeling is a sign of submission to authority. So in essence, we bow before Him because we recognize the power and authority of the God that we serve which in turn glorifies Him. Bowing before God should be used to align yourself with Him, for when you are kneeling in submission to the authority He has, it forces you to focus only on Him. 

Sometimes, when worshiping God, bowing is an involuntary response to encountering His presence. We see in the Old Testament that only one person was allowed into His presence in the tabernacle’s Most Holy Place because it was so strong and overwhelming that it would kill those unqualified upon entering. Thankfully, the death and resurrection of Jesus allows us to encounter God without dying on the spot, but there is something undeniable about the power of God’s presence. The Bible talks about how even the mountains can’t stand in His presence:

“3For behold, the LORD is coming out of his place,
and will come down and tread upon the high places of the earth.
4And the mountains will melt under him,
and the valleys will split open,
like wax before the fire,
like waters poured down a steep place.”
- Micah 1:3-4

Bowing down before God, glorifies who He is. It places Him above ourselves and allows us to retain a humble heart. By kneeling, we submit to the authority He has over our lives and we invite the opportunity for us to begin aligning our hearts with His, for it is His desire for everyone to know the love of God and in turn know Him.

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Welcome To The Team!

Congratulations to Greg and Alison Welter on their installment as Connect Group leaders. Greg and Alison recently completed training and have started a new Connect Group within our church family.

Thank you Welter Family for your commitment to serving our church family!

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Water Baptism Congratulations

Water baptism is the symbolic act of publicly declaring your decision to follow Jesus. Through baptism, new and returning believers communicate their old life ending and their new life with Christ beginning.

This past Sunday during our main gathering, we celebrate with those wanting to take this next step in their relationship with Jesus. Seven individuals decided to publicly proclaim their relationship with Him through water baptism. Congratulations to those who were baptized: Zack Reude, Adylyn Davenport, Andrew Jones, Brayden Willett, Abby Mowery, Caitlyn Thompson, and Jeff Thompson!

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