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How can you personally grow in deepening your relationships with others at church. Since we do not have Community Groups as a formal ministry of the church in this season, we want to encourage each of you to take the initiative to invest in relationships outside our weekly rhythm of Celebration Gatherings on Sundays and Mid-Week Gatherings on Wednesdays.

Content of the leadership team's update on the reasoning behind the decisions to refrain from regular face to face functions of the church and direction for how we will move forward together over the next couple of weeks.

Revival. Certainty. Wisdom. Joy. Understanding. Purity. Truth. These are all things each of us would desire to experience as we head into a new year aren't they? We long for our souls to be revived, to live with certainty and wisdom and a glad heart in the midst of uncertain days. The Psalmist declares, without qualification, that all of that (and more) is to be found in the word of God, the Bible. As we "eat" it there is promise of great reward. God's word is greater than gold. God's word is sweeter than honey (IOW is more satisfying than that thing you so very much enjoy - for me...that first bite of a Godiva Chocolate cheesecake at the Cheesecake Factory). God's word warns us, it protects us, it guides us, and in keeping the word of God we have been promised great reward. That reward is both a present reward and a future reward; a present joy and renewal that is a foreshadowing of that joy and renewal that is to come. God's word is, as Moses says, "...our very life."

At all times and in all places, the gathering of the saints is a means of grace established by God for edifying his people. Christians gather to worship not because it might be helpful to us if all the stars align, not because it might be good for us if our leaders plan the service just right, not because it might be helpful if everyone smiles at us with the perfect degree of sincerity and handles the small talk seamlessly and engages us with just the right depth of conversation that's neither too personal nor too shallow.

In our world, particularly southern Ohio, we find very little literal wilderness. We are not surrounded by land that is dry, deserted, lonely, or lacking life. As I sit by the window of my home and look out I see rain, green vegetation, blooming flowers, birds, and a steady stream of cars passing by that remind me that people are never far from me. But despite the realities of life in nature, and a population of people nearby, most of us walk through the wilderness at times.

For the last number of months I've had a number of people ask how they could be praying for my family and for our church. I've told them that concerning our church they could pray for wisdom to know what to do and when to do it. Well, as I have been praying and seeking what the Lord would have for us as a church through the preaching "diet" and discipling of the saints (children's ministry, youth ministry, membership, baptism, leadership, community groups, etc...) I have increasingly been aware that prayer needs to come to the forefront of who we are as a church family and what we do as a church family.

Beginning THIS Sunday we will begin what we are calling "First Sunday." These "first Sundays" are meant to be longer than usual times of fellowship together as a church family. We'll meet for worship in song and the preached word, along with participating in communion as a church family. After the service is over everyone is welcome to join in on a "family" meal together. The one catch is that each family (or individual) should plan on bringing food for themselves (along with plates/cutlery). We encourage everyone to bring a little extra so that guests can be included in this family meal.

Sovereign Grace Church will finally have the joy of holding a baptism service on Sunday, June 1, 2014. We'll plan on enjoying our "First Sunday" church family meal (bring food for your family - drinks will be provided) after our Sunday morning meeting. We'll then head over to Mike and Linore Burkard's house for the baptism service at 2:00pm where we'll sing, hear testimonies of those being baptized, and the baptisms themselves! This promises to be a FANTASTIC day (though perhaps tiring for young families)!

Come by the Bice house to watch the Sugar Maple Festival Parade this Saturday morning (11:30). The parade will officially begin at 11:30am with the national anthem but be sure to come early (anytime after 10:30). Some spots will be saved right outside of our house on Franklin Street but if you would like to sit as close to the parade as possible we would encourage you to drop some lawn chairs off early (even tonight) so they can be used to save some good spots.