PECP continues to be proactive in monitoring the impact of COVID-19 and has adjusted our services in collaboration with state and health recommendations. Check back frequently on our website or the PEPC App for the latest information and communications. Service details and links as well as weekly updates from Pastor Doug are posted below.
Recently, I read these words from Colossians 3:12-14,“Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you must also forgive. And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony.” We are living in a very unique, complex, and difficult time. The enemy is hard at work seeking to steal, kill, and destroy. We see his handiwork all around us. Pandemics. Shutdowns. Racial injustice. Riots. These things threaten our life together not only as a nation but also as a church family. All of us come from different backgrounds and life experiences. We are made up of different races, different cultures, different tax brackets, and different generations. We spend money differently. We vote differently. We think differently. We feel differently. We are all at a different place in our own personal journey with Jesus. The only thing powerful enough to bind us together is the love of Christ.
When we gather this Sunday, I expect the bonds of our fellowship to be stretched a bit. All of us are making different decisions when it comes to COVID-19. As restrictions relax, some will choose to wear masks, others will not. Some will choose to socially distance, others will not. Some will choose to attend worship on the hillside, others will not. We want to assure you that we trust you to make the decision that is best for you and your family. No guilt. No shame. No judgment. We know you will prayerfully consider your options and we look forward to having you join us either physically or virtually. We also want you to know we are doing all we can to align with the guidelines from Tri-County health so we keep our church family as safe as possible. (Please refer to Monday’s email for more information and details on what this will look like so you come prepared. Make sure to remember to bring canopies if you have them or large umbrellas so we can have as much shade as possible.)
I also know the recent events surrounding the murder of George Floyd have sparked a lot of conversations online and in person. I know every one of us is brokenhearted for his family. Outraged at the injustice. Thankful for the peaceful protests and demonstration. Angry at the riots and looting. I imagine we’re feeling “all the feelings” right now. Psalm 89:14 says, “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of God’s throne, steadfast love and faithfulness go before Him.” We live in an unjust world filled with unjust people. We live in an unrighteous world filled with unrighteous people. All of us have sinned and fallen short of God’s glory. All of the systems we’ve created are fallen and corrupt on some level. Does that mean we should simply accept the status quo? Absolutely not! God has put His “chosen ones, holy and beloved” into the world to model His righteousness and His justice. To quote St. Francis of Assisi, “Lord, make me an instrument of Thy peace; where there is hatred, let me sow love; where there is injury, pardon; where there is error, the truth; where there is doubt, faith; where there is despair, hope; where there is darkness, light; and where there is sadness, joy. O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled, as to console; to be understood, as to understand; to be loved as to love.” This, friends, is our calling in this cultural moment and to this end I am working to create a series of videos for you to view individually, as a family, or as a small group. They are a series of interviews/hard conversations with people from different walks of life. Perhaps the most trans-formative thing we can do is listen to each other’s stories. Get to know each other’s names. Seek to understand the challenges we each face as we walk this road together. We hope to have those ready for you in the coming weeks.
Email 6-1-20 (includes hillside worship guidelines)
With all that’s going wrong in the world, it’s nice to get some good news for a change! This Sunday at 10AM we will begin gathering for worship on the hillside at PEPC! If you’re like me, you can’t wait! The last several weeks have felt like years to me and I am sure many of you feel the same way. I continue to be thankful for our public health officials and governor who have encouraged us to gather as safely and meaningfully as possible. To that end, I want to send out the following guidance to help you as you prepare…
- The most important thing we can do as God’s people is prepare our hearts. Let me encourage you to spend some time this week asking God to open your heart to the movement of His Spirit as He speaks to us through His Word. In addition, ask Him to protect our gathering from COVID as well as any divisions in our church family that may have formed in the current political/social climate. Pray for the peace of Christ to cover our gathering together.
- Pray for those who will not be able to gather with us. Many will make the decision to remain home out of an abundance of caution because of their age or health issues or comfort level. Pray for the livestream to work just as beautifully on the hillside as it has in our worship center. Pray for the tech team who will be managing those details and if you have an interest in helping us on the tech side let us know! (Wdt@pepc.org) We will be holding training sessions in the near future!
- Pray for grace as we gather. We need to maintain social distancing. Tri-County Health strongly recommends wearing masks. Perhaps most tragically, there will be no donuts or coffee available! 😉 In all seriousness, we will be setting up the hillside with socially distanced groupings of chairs and we encourage you to bring your own as well. We will set up several canopies for shade but again encourage you to bring your own and feel free to use umbrellas as well. We are asking everyone who can to wear a mask until you are seated at which point you are free to remove it as you participate in worship. Our mantra over the next several weeks will be “encouragement not enforcement” as we seek to follow the guidelines that have been set while extending freedom to everyone to make their own choices.
- We will be celebrating Communion together and will have individually wrapped, hermetically sealed elements available on Sunday morning. We will also have them available for pickup at the church office throughout the week for those who will worship with us at home and we can deliver them to cars or to homes if necessary. Please let us know if you need the gluten-free option. The church office is open during business hours each day.
- Worship aids like the bulletin and song sheets will be sent out digitally. There will be no public wi-fi access on the hill so you may need to download them to your device before you come. They will be sent out on Friday of each week.
- Offerings will be received before and after the service in designated locations. We encourage you to bring your gifts to the Lord and place them in the baskets provided. We also continue to encourage online giving options as well.
- There will be no children’s programming initially though Pam and her team will provide activities for the children to use during the service. Worship services will be 45-60 minutes in length and the worship order a bit different due to the setting. Singing is encouraged as always as is fellowship but again, we ask you to maintain social distancing and huddle in groups for long periods of time.
- Logistically speaking, we will ask you to maintain social distance as we enter and exit. We will have masks available for those who need them. We will provide sanitizing stations on the hill. Our life safety team will be available at a first aid station on the hill and our deacons will be present to assist you in any way and answer your questions as you arrive. Special parking will be set aside for those who may need it and a golf cart to get you up and down the hill.
- In case of inclement weather, we will send out a message via email, social media, and our website by 8AM Sunday morning cancelling in-person worship as we move into the worship center to provide our livestream.
It promises to be a beautiful morning, friends! Make sure to join us this week and invite your family, friends, and neighbors. Make sure to keep “sharing” the livestream on your social media feeds. In the midst of all the chaos and heartbreak of our world, people are desperate for hope. I love how Paul concludes his letter to the Corinthians, “Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.” Come and celebrate with us the steadfast, faithful, enduring, life-transforming love of God! See you Sunday!
I don’t how many of you have joined the global movement of prayer during these ten days between Ascension Day (when Jesus ascended into heaven) and Pentecost (when the Holy Spirit was poured out on God’s people) but the videos and Scripture passages and prayer resources in the daily “Thy Kingdom Come” devotional app have been profound. Today’s video told the story of adoption through the eyes of a father. This particular father had adopted a young boy who’d experienced quite a bit of trauma and abuse. The boy had one possession he treasured above all others. A little matchbox car. As he played with it, it became broken. Rather than throw it away, the father would fix it. Over and over again. It became the connection between them. The adopted child continually offering up to his father what was broken. The same is true for us. I love how the father puts it in the video, “When we pray – Thy Kingdom Come – we are offering up our broken world for our Father in heaven to fix.” (You can catch the video here…)
Our world is undeniably broken. The recent murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor bring us face to face with the deadly sin of racism. The “Due Date Too Late” petition drive brings us face to face with the tragedy of late-term abortion. The political discourse and media spin bring us face to face with deceit, fake news, and conspiracy theories. The suffering of the most vulnerable in the pandemic brings us face to face with the structural weaknesses in our society. The growing concerns around the world regarding the unintended consequences of the lock downs such as famine, starvation, and the millions thrown into life-threatening poverty bring us face to face with the unequal distribution of resources.Yes, our world is full of sin at a personal, structural, and systemic level. It’s the rotten fruit of original sin. We cannot escape it.
So what can we do? First and foremost, we proclaim the gospel. It is the only truly good news in a world full of violence, suffering, and pain! Second, we live as gospel people. Doing what Jesus did. Laying down our lives for the sake of others. The world is not ours to save, friends. It is God’s. Our role is simply to “do all the good we can, by all the means we can, in all the ways we can, in all the places we can, at all the times we can, to all the people we can, for as long as we can.” (John Wesley) Third, we remind ourselves constantly that our battle is not against “flesh and blood but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.” (Eph. 6:12) Only God can bring an end to sin. Only God can bring light into our darkness. Only God can wipe away every tear and heal every pain. And thankfully, that’s exactly what He’s done in Jesus Christ! Jesus is the light of the world that the darkness cannot overcome! Jesus defeated the powers of sin and death on the Cross! And it is this same Jesus who lives and reigns and rules in the heart of everyone who calls God, “Father.”
Friends, our world needs Jesus. This Sunday at 10am, we will be fully online for the final time. I hope and pray you will share our live stream with all your friends and family. We need a break from the violence. A break from the pain. A break from the rage and anger and hate. Make sure to send them our links at Facebook and/or YouTube. Invite them to join us as we worship our Heavenly Father and call on Him to make all things new! Then invite them to join us on the hillside starting June 7th at 10am as we begin gathering again for worship. (Live streaming will still be available) We literally cannot wait to welcome you back, PEPC! See you Sunday!
Like many of you, we were excited by President Trump’s announcement late last week on the essential role faith communities play in our society. Thankfully, Governor Polis and his team were already working this direction along with our local public health officials at Tri-County Health and they were quick to issue some guidance for us to follow as we make our plans to gather again for worship.
To that end, our staff is hard at work making all the necessary preparations to welcome everyone back on June 7th! We are laying cable to the hillside chapel so we can continue to live stream. We purchased a new portable sound system to enhance the outdoor experience. We are prepping and cleaning the area so families have enough room to socially distance when they arrive. We are arranging golf cart transportation up and down the hill for those who need it. We are also putting together sanitizing stations for use onsite. Following our final “online only” service this Sunday, leaders from Life Safety, Facilities, Deacons, and Worship Design will be meeting to put the final touches on all the logistics.
As we make our preparations here, we also need you to begin making preparations as well. Tri-County Health is strongly recommending the following for those who attend worship services under their new guidelines:
Those who are vulnerable due to age or health are encouraged to remain home and participate virtually as are the caregivers for those who may be vulnerable.
Those who are sick or showing any potential symptoms should also remain home.
Social distancing rules will be in effect for families. Please maintain a six-foot distance between you and those around you when finding a place to sit.
Please bring camp chairs, blankets, canopies for shade, breakfast, etc. Under the current restrictions, we cannot serve any coffee or donuts.
Please pay close attention to signage as we will be directing people to come up the hill along one path (by the farmhouse) and descend the hillside via a second path (south side of the chapel). Both will be clearly marked on Sunday mornings.
Bathrooms will be available in the Ministry Center and Farmhouse, limited to one person at a time.
Face masks are strongly encouraged especially as you arrive and depart. Once you are seated with your family for the service, you are free – should you choose – to take off your mask as you participate in worship.
All Staff and Volunteers will be masked for safety unless leading worship and/or sitting with their families.
New masks will be available and offered to those who need one.
Communion will be served on June 7th using hermetically sealed elements for safety.
Bulletins and song sheets will be distributed digitally.
Offering plates will not be passed but made available at entrances/exits.
There will be no formal Children’s Ministry but Pam and her team will make “Busy Bags” – individually prepared and available – to help keep the kids engaged.
We ask that fellowship both before and after the services remain limited and socially distanced.
As I mentioned in my email last week, this new season will feel strange and perhaps a bit awkward. Some may choose to wear masks, others may not. Some may be diligent in maintaining social distancing, some may feel more relaxed. Some may choose to stay home out of concern for their personal safety, others may be itching to get out. No matter where you land, we want to extend grace and peace to one another. We want to respect the fact that everyone may be making different choices depending on their own unique circumstances. And while we will encourage everyone to follow the guidelines set by Tri-County Health, we do not believe our role to be “enforcers” so we are counting on one another to follow the Biblical principle from Phil. 2 and put the needs of others before our own. The last thing any of us want is an outbreak of COVID-19 in our own church family so please take whatever precautions you can so we can safely and meaningfully gather.
Friends, I don’t know about you but I can’t wait for June 7th! I cannot wait to see y’all again! I can’t wait to sing together. Pray together. Learn from God’s Word together. Celebrate Communion together. It promises to be a very special Sunday as life slowly returns to normal.
What a beautiful week we’re having and it’s encouraging to see so many people taking advantage of the weather to come to the hillside chapel to pray and meet and share life together. This time has been challenging for all of us on so many levels and it is good to begin slowly moving back to some sense of normalcy.
Many of you may have seen President Trump’s press conference today where he called for the re-opening of churches. I am thankful for his commitment to the faith community and the essential role we play in the spiritual, physical, emotional and mental health of our nation. I am also thankful Governor Polis and his team were already moving in this direction. They have told us we can expect guidelines for the opening of churches by next Friday, May 29th. This will allow us to make the proper preparations to open safely and meaningfully on June 7th as we had hoped.
So what happens when we gather that first Sunday? Well, as we have communicated throughout this crisis, we will submit to whatever health guidelines Tri-County Health publishes as they are our immediate governing authority on this issue. At the same time, we recognize and honor the fact that everyone has a right to make their own choices. We do not feel called to be “enforcers” but rather “encouragers.” As such, we will ask everyone to please respect the guidelines we publish AND we will ask everyone to please go the extra mile in extending grace to those who need to make the healthiest choices for themselves and their families. Please remember while we are going through the same storm, we are not all in the same boat. Some of us have health conditions that make us vulnerable to COVID-19 and therefore will be wearing a mask. Others of us have health conditions that make mask-wearing dangerous which means we won’t be wearing a mask. Some of us are caring for loved ones who are vulnerable so we will make sure to maintain proper social distancing. Others of us long for a sense of physical touch and will want to give everyone we meet a hug. Some of us will remain home out of a sense of caution while others can’t wait to gather. No matter what choices we make, we must follow the Biblical commands to submit to our governing authorities. (Romans 13) Love each other unconditionally. (1 Corinthians 13) Consider others needs before our own. (Phil. 2) And we must not judge, blame, or shame those who may make different choices than we do. (Romans 8:1)
Times like these test the bonds of our fellowship together. We may feel pulled in different directions personally or politically. I am reminded of the little band of disciples Jesus gathered and how Simon the Zealot would have viewed Matthew the tax collector. Both coming from the extreme ends of the political spectrum of their day. Without Christ, Simon would normally have sought to murder Matthew in the street but with Christ, they are brothers. Friends, we are in Christ. We are all brothers and sisters in the Lord. All of us made one Body by one Spirit and one Baptism. As such, I hope you will join me in praying for our first Sunday on the hill in two weeks. Pray for a spirit of humility and grace, unity and love. Together, may we model for our community, our nation, and our world what it means to be united in Christ as we worship Him together!
In the meantime, we will continue gathering virtually this Sunday. As always, you can join us via Facebook Live or YouTube Live. Please be assured we will continue livestreaming from the hillside as well. Our heart and our hope is that everyone who calls PEPC home will be able to join us as we gather together to worship the Living God! Amen? See you Sunday!
I hope you were able to join us for worship yesterday as we dove deeper into the resurrection and all it means for us as Christian believers. Fundamentally, the resurrection means God is pro-life. From the womb to the tomb. God is in the business of restoring life. Renewing life. Giving the gift of new life to all who would follow Him. As such, Christians should be on the forefront of protecting life in Jesus’ name. So let me encourage you to take this season and consider what you can do to honor and protect the life God has given to every human being. Here are some ideas…
- Follow the recommendations to wear masks when in public. This is a simple way to stand in solidarity with our brothers and sisters who are vulnerable to the disease. I know it can be a pain. I know it can be frustrating. I know it’s often uncomfortable for a lot of people. But I also know it’s one way we can live out Philippians 2:3-4, “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.”
- Maintain social distancing. Again, I know it’s hard not to hug everyone’s neck. I know it’s especially hard when you see people for the first time. I know when I lead my small group of middle and high school boys that it’s almost impossible to keep them apart. However, it’s a small sacrifice to pay for what will hopefully be a short (weeks, months) period of time in the grand scheme of things (years). I love how the Apostle Paul puts it in Romans 8:18, “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”
- Refuse to engage in the shame/blame game. Recognize everyone is on their own journey. Everyone carries a burden. Everyone is going through the same storm but not everyone is in the same boat. Everyone is afraid on some level. It may be health-related. It may be business-related. It may be relationship-related. It may be finance-related. The point is you don’t know all the stress people are carrying so be as gracious as possible. Resist the urge to judge. 2 Timothy 1:7, “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”
- Keep finding ways to serve. Some of you have given generously to our healthy snack drive for Parker Adventist. Others of you have called the Parker Task Force or SECOR and given time/money. Still others of you have volunteered at the Denver Rescue Mission or Food Bank of the Rockies. And many of you have given generously to our Deacon’s Fund to help those in need in our community. Through your generosity, the gift of life has been extended to the other side of the world as well in places like Ethiopia and Rwanda. What a blessing, PEPC! You are living out Paul’s words in 2 Corinthians 9:11, “You will be enriched in every way to be generous in every way, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God.”
- Pray for our leaders. One of America’s greatest sins is division. Political polarization. The extreme hate and anger we hold towards those who do not agree with us. It drives us to bear false witness. It drives us to character assassination. It drives us to impugn motives, assume the worst rather than the best, and see our fellow citizens (even fellow brothers and sisters in Christ) as enemies. Jesus warns us that carrying anger in our hearts is the same as murder so confess. Repent. Humble yourself before the Lord and pray for those in positions of power that God might soften your heart towards them. Psalm 133:1, 3 – “Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers and sisters dwell in unity! There the Lord has commanded the blessing, life forevermore.”
Friends, you will always find God on the side of life. Not just eternal life but life in this world as well. God cares deeply about the viral pandemic and even now is inspiring scientists the world over as they seek a vaccine. God cares deeply about violence and war and even now is bringing about lasting peace to deeply conflicted regions around the globe. God cares deeply about poverty and the least resourced in any society and even now is bringing about social change to provide a secure safety net. God cares deeply for those facing end of life decisions and is at work even now providing discernment to families and physicians as they make the most heartbreaking of decisions. God cares deeply about the unborn and is at work even now in the crafting of legislation to protect the most vulnerable among us. (By the way, it’s not too late to sign the petitiion to put a law in place restricting partial-birth abortion in Colorado.)
The point I want to make is this…if you want to find God during this season, you will find Him on the side of life. You will meet Him in fellowship with others who are seeking to create life. Nurture life. Protect life. In all its forms. Our world is moving through a season of death. A season of suffering. A season of pain. And we Christians have the good news! In Christ, God has defeated the power of death! In Christ, God has destroyed the fear of death! In Christ, God has won the victory over death! So let’s do all we can to promote life! God’s life! Eternal life! Amen? See you Sunday!
I know all of us are following the news these days as we think about what life will look like this summer. Schools are officially finishing up their first attempt at distance learning. Families are learning new routines as they adjust. Businesses are relocating. Some in our community are having to relocate as well. This is a time of uncertainty and upheaval and I know we are all feeling the strain. I continue to pray for our government leaders at the local, state, and federal levels. The challenges they face and the balancing act they have to strike is real. There are deadly consequences to every choice they make. There is no win. Only the mitigation of as much loss as possible. And to that end, I’ve been thankful our governor recognizes and acknowledges the key role faith communities like our own play in helping stem the tide of this crisis.
As such, we have put together a multi-phased approach consistent with Tri-County Health guidelines that will help us as we move into a new normal this summer. Currently, we are in phase one of that approach which means our church offices have re-opened. Staff is working onsite with masks and appropriate social distancing. Wellness checks are performed daily before staff come into work to make sure no one has a fever or is showing symptoms. Daily cleaning is being performed in all areas of our facility that are being used. Small groups less than 10 people are being encouraged to meet, especially outside. We have resumed one on one contact work and are taking great advantage of our hillside chapel and property. Worship and Youth Group are still being live-streamed. Children’s Ministry remains virtual. Our Early Learning Center remains in summer camp mode. And pastoral care is being conducted either in-person or via teleconference.
Both Tri-County Health and our governor are cautiously optimistic that things will continue to open up as we head towards the end of May and into early June. As such, we are tentatively planning our first outdoor in-person worship service for June 7th on the hillside at 10AM. All safety protocols will need to be followed. (Face masks, social distancing between family groups, etc.) We will continue to live stream – hopefully from the hillside! – and are working hard to get the infrastructure in place to make that happen. More than anything else, we are super excited to gather in person again! Amen?! You will note I have attached our “Phase Two” plan to this email for your information. You can also check out a video update Will Freyschlag and I put together on our Facebook page or YouTube channel. And the full, four-part phased approach will be posted on our website as of Monday. As always, any questions, comments, or concerns are welcome! I’d love to hear from you so feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call my cell at 720-202-0965.
One of the hardest parts about this experience is we don’t know when it will come to an end. In a recent book I’ve been reading, Holocaust survivor and eminent psychiatrist, Viktor Frankl, talks about the challenge of a “provisional existence.” When human beings are put in a “provisional” situation with no end in sight, it is easy to lose all hope. Frankl, of course, saw this firsthand in the concentration camps. However, he also found that if human beings can keep their eyes on a fixed horizon, they can maintain their hope no matter how great the suffering they may endure. I’ve been thinking a lot about that idea as I prepare for the sermon this week. In 1 Corinthians 15:12-34, the Apostle Paul makes it clear that the physical resurrection of Jesus Christ IS the fixed horizon for the Christian. It is the immovable, unshakable reality that gives us hope no matter what we may experience in this life.
Friends, I know this time is hard. I know there are real fears and anxieties about health, marriages, jobs, and the future. And yes, I know there are so many others around the world who may be much worse off than we are here in Douglas County. Here’s the good news I shared with my kids the other night. There’s plenty of God to go around! 😉 He is not limited. He does not have to ration His mercy and grace. He is here for you just as He is here for me or here for someone on the other side of the world. Not only that but He is able! He is able to do more than you can ever ask for or imagine! So share your concerns with Him. Cast all your anxieties on Him. Invite Him into your life and your circumstances and let Him carry the load. Can’t wait to worship with you Sunday, PEPC! See you soon!
Email from Doug on 05-08-20
This morning I read Psalm 51 which is the Psalm King David wrote after being confronted by Nathan over his crimes surrounding his affair with Bathsheba. The words are raw. The emotions real. The shame David expresses is overwhelming and rightfully so. David humbly recognizes the error of his ways and the selfishness of his sins. He asks God to “purge him with hyssop” so he can be clean. He asks God to “wash him and make him whiter than snow.” He begs God for forgiveness and acknowledges his utter brokenness before the Lord. It is a beautiful picture of true repentance and godly humility. David understands that unless he is humble before God, he can never teach others God’s ways. Unless he himself practices repentance, he can never lead others to a deeper life with God. He recognizes he first must check his own heart and attitude before he calls others to account.
These words take on deeper meaning for me as we start to move towards re-opening as a society. Rather than pull together, it seems like our nation is only pulling apart. Battle lines are being drawn. Accusations are being thrown carelessly about. Conspiracy theorists are having a field day. The media continues to push whatever narrative gets them the highest ratings. The dumpster fire that is social media is raging. Now, more than ever, Christians need to be the calm in the midst of the storm. Now, more than ever, Christians need to be the peace of Christ in our communities. Now, more than ever, Christians must demonstrate their trust in the sovereign God who holds all things in His hands. Friends, we must resist the temptation to add fuel to the fire. We must resist the temptation to attack those on different sides of the political aisle. We must continue to follow the biblical commands to practice personal repentance. Godly humility. We must check our own motives and emotions before we dare to speak for God.
These are confusing days. Our political leaders still don’t have all the information they need to make the decisions they are being asked to make. They are human which means they are struggling with all kinds of fear and anxiety. They are reacting in all sorts of ways as they struggle under the burdens they carry. They know every decision they make will result in real lives being threatened. Real consequences being suffered. Real pain and heartache and suffering being experienced. This continues to be a “no-win” scenario. So lets continue to pray they will be brought to their knees before the Lord. Let’s set the example by falling to our own knees in prayer as well. Let’s place our ultimate trust not in human wisdom or human plans but in God Himself. I love these words from 1 Peter…
“Finally, all of you, have unity of mind, sympathy, brotherly love, a tender heart, and a humble mind. Do not repay evil for evil or reviling for reviling, but on the contrary, bless, for to this you were called, that you may obtain a blessing. For whoever desires to love life and see good days, let him keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit; let him turn away from evil and do good; let him seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer. But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil. Now who is there to harm you if you are zealous for what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.” (1 Peter 3:8-17)
Of course, there is only one thing that makes such a life possible. The gospel. And this Sunday we’ll dive into 1 Corinthians 15:1-11 and explore what it means to receive the gospel. Stand on the gospel. And be saved by the gospel. So make sure to invite your unchurched friends and neighbors and loved ones to join you on Facebook or YouTube. Make sure to share our service across your social media platforms as we seek to be the light of the world and the salt of the earth. This is a great opportunity share the gospel with those you know who don’t have the hope of Christ to hold onto during this difficult season! See you Sunday!
Recently, a friend of mine posted a message on Facebook that – in essence – pointed to the reality that while we are all going through the same storm, we are not all in the same boat. Everyone’s situation is a little different. Everyone’s struggle is unique to them. I thought about this recently as I went to my bank to make a wire transfer to a good friend, Bishop John Rucyahana, in Rwanda. He works with the Batwa people who are aborigines indigenous to his country who are often forgotten and overlooked by both the Hutu’s and Tutsi’s. As a result, they are among the poorest of the global poor and the nationwide lock down order in Rwanda has put them in real danger of starvation. I reflected on the differences between their situation and my own. Not to compare. Not to compete. Not to self-condemn. But simply to recognize the vast difference between our “boats.” Certainly the same holds true much closer to home. Some in our church family have gotten sick with the virus and others have not. Some are more vulnerable because of age and/or significant health issues, others are young and healthy and strong. Some are facing serious economic vulnerability due to layoffs, job loss, or salary cuts, others are working harder than ever. Some are experiencing real changes in their mental health as the social distancing measures continue, others are using this season to rest and recharge. Some are facing crises in their marriages or family, others are getting stronger as they spend more time together. The list is endless. Each situation different. Each circumstance challenging in its own right.
So here’s the good news. Our God is big enough to step into ALL our boats! Remember, He is Emmanuel! God with us! And that means God is in every hospital room. Sitting beside ever COVID patient on a ventilator. He’s in every break room, His arms around every nurse and doctor and healthcare employee. He’s celebrating with those who are healthy and strong and encouraging them to find ways to serve. He’s with every person who’s gotten a pink slip. He weeps with them as they wonder where the mortgage money will come from next month. He’s with them as they apply for bankruptcy and/or close the doors on their business for the final time. He’s with those who are working harder than ever. Strengthening them. Equipping them. Calling them to be even more generous this season. He’s with those who sit in the darkness late at night. Feeling all alone. Struggling with depression. Anxiety. Overwhelming fear. He’s prompting the call to a mental health professional. Pastor. Friend. He’s recharging those who are able to use this time for Sabbath. Giving them a much needed break from the pace they were trying to keep. He will never leave us. Never forsake us. He will never abandon ship!
And this is why we gather to worship! We gather to give God all the praise for His steadfast love and faithfulness! All the praise for walking with us through every storm! All the praise for remaining at our side in every dark valley! Friends, what a privilege it is to gather – even virtually – to sing the praises of God together. To confess our sins together. To receive the gift of God’s Word together. And to be encouraged and sent out to serve Him together. In the eye of the storm. In whatever boats we find ourselves in. When one part of the Body of Christ suffers, we all suffer together. When one part of the Body of Christ rejoices, we all rejoice together. God has so designed His Body that those who are bailing hard to keep their boats afloat cannot say to those whose boats are more secure…”I have no need of you.” Nor can those whose boats seem leak-proof say to those whose boats are sinking…”I have no need of you.” We are one Body. Given a common identity through one Baptism. All drinking from one Spirit. All serving one Lord. Can’t wait to see you on Sunday, PEPC! Make sure to invite those who are trying to go it alone through this storm to join you via Facebook and/or YouTube. Let’s lash as many boats as possible together so we can make it through! Amen?
As you’ve probably heard by now, Governor Polis is allowing his “Stay at Home” order to expire on Sunday, April 26th and has issued a “Safer at Home” order that will roll out across the state – subject to local health departments – through the month of May. As of this writing, we are not 100% sure what this means for us as Tri-County Health has not made their decision yet as to whether they will align with the governor’s order or extend the “Stay at Home” order for another 10-14 days. I know Douglas County has petitioned to open up due to the smaller number of cases in our community when compared to Arapahoe or Adams counties. As always, we remain submitted to our governing authorities per Romans 13 and continue to pray for God’s guidance for them in this difficult season.
As we transition from the “Stay at Home” phase to the “Safer at Home” phase, I wanted to give you a snapshot of the decisions we’ve made so far as well as let you know of some of the adjustments we’re planning to make in this next season. First and foremost, the governor let the faith leaders of Colorado know on a conference call held earlier this week that larger group gatherings such as Youth Group and corporate worship on Sundays will still be restricted under this new order. So we are not expecting to gather again until sometime this summer. Worship and Youth Group will remain online and live-streamed throughout the duration and we continue to encourage you to join us via Facebook and/or YouTube and invite your friends, family, and neighbors!
Second, during this “Stay at Home” phase, we have complied with the governor’s order to not gather in groups of any size. Our church staff has been working remotely. All ministry is now virtual and online. Worship is exclusively live-streamed. Our Early Learning Center suspended the school year and moved to a “camp” model in order to serve the children of essential employees. We entered into formal collaboration with the state to provide emergency childcare as needed. Our Admin team is meeting with great regularity to review the finances and prayerfully explore how we can help alleviate suffering in our community and around the globe. Our elders are meeting every Wednesday morning to pray for the concerns of our church family, community, and the world. Praise reports from the “Stay at Home” phase:
- PEPC’s staff have responded to this challenging season with creativity, innovation, flexibility, courage, and grace under pressure.
- PEPC’s leadership of elders, deacons, and other volunteers have stepped up to the challenge of loving and serving and connecting with our church family in a variety of ways.
- PEPC’s “attendance” on the live-stream is up significantly as you invite your unchurched friends, family, and neighbors to join us and as others gather with us from around the country and around the globe.
- PEPC’s generosity has been on full display as offerings both to the General Fund and Deacon’s Fund remain strong.
- PEPC is sacrificially serving our community and alleviating suffering around the world. Healthy snacks for our healthcare heroes at Parker Adventist are being dropped off almost daily. Many members of PEPC continue to serve at SECOR, Parker Task Force, Grace Baptist, Denver Rescue Mission and other food banks/homeless shelters in our area. Large gifts were given to the Petros Network and Bishop John Rucyahana to help alleviate suffering and starvation among the poorest of the poor in Ethiopia and Rwanda. Well done, good and faithful servants!
Third, as we move into the “Safer at Home” phase, we will continue to comply with Tri-County Health as directed by Governor Polis and his office. As of now, we do not have the official word as to when it will begin in our area but once it does, you can expect the following changes. One on one contact work will resume as will small groups with less than ten people. Social distancing must be maintained and face masks worn to reduce the risk of exposure. Obviously, none of these things are compulsory and we strongly encourage you to remain at home if you are sick, in the vulnerable categories, or have any doubts at all about going out. Most of our ministry will remain online and virtual so you will continue to have access to all we are doing. Staff will set the example by maintaining social distancing at all times as well as wearing masks when meeting with people. The church office will re-open and we ask that anyone who comes by abide by the same social distancing/face masking regulations. We will have hand sanitizer by the gallon available and all surfaces will be cleaned/sanitized multiple times throughout the day. The outdoor chapel on the hillside will be open as a “small group venue” as it provides an excellent resource for meeting with social distancing and we encourage you to contact the church office to schedule. Church staff will continue to work mostly remotely during this time. Our Early Learning Center will resume “normal” operations recognizing attendance, registration, etc. will remain largely fluid. Worship will continue to be live-streamed each and every Sunday. Elders will continue to meet for weekly prayer. Admin will continue to closely review our finances and we will continue to look for ways to serve our community and those in crisis.
We know these continue to be challenging times, dear friends. At the same time, we know God is at work even amidst our hardships. I’ve been thinking a lot about Hebrews 2:10 which says, “For it was fitting that God, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons and daughters to glory, should make the founder of their salvation (Jesus) perfect through suffering.” As we endure this time of suffering, I am praying for God to open hearts and bring many to saving faith in Himself! I am praying He uses this time to refine His people – all of us included – by exposing the idols of our lives and taking us deeper into Him. I am praying we come out the other side of this crisis a transformed people, having had our priorities and our loves re-ordered under His Lordship. May the Lord continue to bless and keep you! Keep us posted on any needs you may have! Let us know how we can serve you or those you’re in contact with! Together, let’s lean into Christ! Amen? See you Sunday!
As I shared yesterday in my sermon, I’ve been talking to several mental health professionals in our community over the last week or so as we continue working towards the launch of our counseling center. All of them pointed to the growing mental health crisis as people struggle to cope with the quarantine. Calls to crisis hotlines have increased dramatically as have requests for emergency tele-counseling appointments. Social distancing has the unfortunate side effect of creating social isolation which makes us more vulnerable not only to depression, anxiety, and thoughts of self-harm but also to the COVID-19 virus itself as our immune systems weaken.
How should Christians respond? First and foremost, we claim the promise from passages like Psalm 34:17-19 which says, “When the righteous cry for help, the Lord hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the Lord delivers him out of them all.” These are precious, tender words meant to assure us of God’s abiding and faithful presence even in the darkest of times. But it does beg the question…what does God’s deliverance look like? How and when will it come?
May I suggest that God’s deliverance is often a process? God walks with us through the valley of the shadow of death, He doesn’t always lift us out of it. So if you are struggling to cope – and I imagine we all are on some level – I want to encourage you to give yourself a lot of grace. We are experiencing a collective sense of grief and there are stages to this process. These feelings are real. They are not right or wrong. They simply exist and the goal isn’t so much to get rid of them or move past them or deny them as much as it is to lift them up to the Lord.
- Denial – Marked by feelings of shock, fear, confusion, and avoidance.
- Anger – Marked by feelings of frustration, anxiety, and irritation.
- Depression – Marked by feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, and being overwhelmed which triggers our “fight or flight” response.
- Bargaining – Marked by a struggle to find meaning and purpose and a willingness to do anything to find relief from our pain, including making deals with God. It’s the last line of defense against grief.
- Acceptance – Marked by an embrace of grief, an exploration of new ways of living in light of grief’s reality, and a sense of moving on.
Each stage is important. Each stage is vital to engage rather than avoid. Each stage represents an opportunity to meet God anew and afresh. God is present in each stage. God holds our hand through each stage. God is not afraid of the raw emotions that get expressed in each stage. No matter where you find yourself today, know that God is drawing near to meet with you. He is not afraid of pain. He embraced it in all its fullness on the cross and is able therefore to identify with us in our suffering. May you sense His abiding presence wherever life finds you today! Love you, PEPC!
In Christ, Doug
p.s. Please keep the Carpenter family in your prayers. Craig was rushed to the hospital this weekend with a heart attack, suffered a stroke, and is currently on life support. Because of the COVID restrictions, Joy is unable to be with her beloved and is not allowed into the hospital. Thankfully, Joy’s sister was able to come Into town to be with her. Please be praying for God’s miraculous intervention and healing!
Tomorrow morning we are diving back into our series in 1 Corinthians titled, Beautiful Mess, and we’ll be talking specifically about what it means to be the Body of Christ. I cannot imagine a more important or more relevant message for our time! As nations just like our own around the globe continue their fight against the coronavirus, social distancing has become the preferred weapon. And without a doubt it is highly effective. However, it has many hidden side effects as well. One of those is a deep and growing sense of isolation. This past week, I had several conversations with mental health professionals in our area as we continue to work towards the launch of our counseling center and all of them told me they are experiencing incredibly high volume and expect it to increase this summer once things begin to open back up. People are struggling. Depression rates are rising. Calls to suicide hotlines are spiking. So you are not alone if you are feeling more anxious this season.
Human beings are social creatures. Introverted or extroverted, we all crave community. We all need physical touch. We all suffer without it. This is where the Apostle Paul’s words to the Corinthians come in. We are living temples. Filled with God’s Spirit. Set apart as saints in this world. Sadly, we’ve too often interpreted these truths in a highly personal and individual way to the exclusion of others. But Paul is clear! When we are saved, we are baptized into one body. We are made to drink of one Spirit. And this connects us deeply, even mystically, to one another. As such, we are now part of a much larger community brought together by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. We are part of a much larger family beloved by our Father in heaven. We are part of a much larger church filled with the same Holy Spirit. Friends, what this means is we are never, ever alone! Amen?
So tomorrow we’ll gather again at 10AM. We’ll gather online as a community to worship God even in the midst of our fear and anxiety. Our pain and suffering. Our loneliness and isolation. We will gather to praise. Gather to confess. Gather to pray. Gather to connect. Gather to receive the gift of God’s Word and find our deepest connection together in Him. Join us on Facebook or YouTube for our livestream. Make sure to invite your unchurched friends, family, and neighbors. Spread the word so that those who feel so isolated and alone during this time might find hope and help in Christ! See you tomorrow!
In Christ, Doug
p.s. Many thanks to Pastor Matt and Billy Cole as they continue to put hours and hours into upgrading our technology in the worship center. Many of you have noted how the picture and sound quality improves each week and, as of Easter, we are now able to project the lyrics and liturgical prayers right onto your screens at home. As such, we will no longer be sending out a printable song sheet though you will continue to receive the bulletin each week in my Friday email blast. So grateful for the hard work of our great team!
Many of you may remember the hit series, Game of Thrones, from a few years ago. While I didn’t watch the actual show – too much gratuitous sex and violence to be edifying – I did read the books. If you’re familiar with the story, you know there is a desperate, almost primordial fear that spans all the novels. It’s whispered by people in every land. “Winter is coming.” The reality of a new ice-age spawned by nightmarish creatures whose only goal is to bring suffering and death to as many people as possible.
As I continue to think and pray over our response to the pandemic, I’ve been informed by a brilliant theologian and cultural commentator named Andy Crouch. He wrote a great article recently titled, Leading Beyond the Blizzard: Why Every Organization is now a Startup. There is a lot in there to digest. Some of which I agree with. Some of which I don’t. But what I do appreciate is how Andy and his team challenge Christians to think about this crisis in three stages. First, there is the blizzard. The world caught by surprise by a virus that is both highly infectious and highly lethal. It spread around the globe almost before we knew it and many countries have struggled to contain it. However, recent indicators do seem to suggest the blizzard is beginning to pass as social distancing measures find success and our healthcare heroes turn the tide of battle. However, that doesn’t mean we should all relax. Instead, Andy argues we should be preparing for a “winter” season where gathering in groups continues to be limited. Social distancing remains in place. Non-essential travel is restricted. And large-scale events like sports, concerts, etc. remain beyond our reach. This season could last months. It could involve new blizzards if predictions of a second wave of infection in the fall come true. While life will begin to take on some sense of normalcy as the economy opens back up a bit, it will still be challenging. Finally, the winter season may give way to a mini ice-age of sorts that will last 12-18 months while we search for a vaccine. As many have suggested, it is hard to imagine stadiums full of tens of thousands of people without some kind of effective treatment for this disease. Certainly, there are treatments in the works that could be game-changers and I am praying daily for the scientists, pharmaceutical labs, and other medical professionals who are working round the clock in their search for a cure. May God give them the grace to succeed and soon! In the meantime, if what Andy suggests is even remotely true, how should a Christian respond?
This Sunday, we are diving back into our series in 1 Corinthians. As we do, we humbly acknowledge we are a mess. If your family is like mine, the quarantine has only exacerbated how much of a mess we truly are! 😉 The reality is we are social and relational creatures so times like this test us. Take us to the end of our strength. We simply were not built for a “winter” of social isolation. Thankfully, God is at work in our mess! Making something beautiful out of us! He has made us Living Temples. Filled us with His Holy Spirit. And set us apart as saints in this world. As such, Christians have access to resources – spiritually, emotionally, communally – that many people in our world do not. We are part of “one body” according to Scripture. Connected to one another on a deep level by the Spirit of God and our common faith in Christ. All of us need each other. Not one of us is more or less important than the other. When one part of our body suffers – whether here at home or abroad – we all suffer. When one part of our body rejoices, we all rejoice. No matter how isolated social distancing may make you feel these days, you are never alone. God is with you and your church family is with you! Friends, this is good news! Especially as the days seem to only get longer. The reality is we can survive and even thrive during this “winter season” as long as we lean into Christ and each other. Amen?
I hope you’ll invite your unchurched friends and neighbors to join us this weekend! Make sure to “share” our Facebook invite with your social media networks. If you haven’t already, hit the “like” button on our Facebook page or “subscribe” to our YouTube channel so you don’t miss out on important updates. Make sure to gather for worship at 10 AM on Sunday morning via Facebook Live or YouTube. Host a virtual watch party with your family and friends. Feel free to share any prayer requests or praises in the comments section of our live-feed. Look forward to “seeing” you there!
I’ve found myself thinking a lot about sandcastles the last few days. Maybe because it’s snowing outside. More likely, it’s because we are spending a lot of time reminiscing as a family. As many of you know, my children spent their early years in Mobile, AL. One of our favorite activities was to head down to Dauphin Island to play in the Gulf. We would swim. We would eat lunch. We’d build castles in the sand. The first few times we did, my children would get upset every time a wave came in and wiped out what we were building. As time went on, they began to see that as part of the challenge. How to build a castle that can withstand the wind and the waves?
We are living in the midst of a terrible storm. Lives are being lost. Health is being compromised. People are losing jobs. Businesses are closing. Stress levels are rising. And the waves only seem to be getting stronger and stronger. How can we endure? Listen to the words of Jesus…“Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.” (Matthew 7:24-27) I don’t know about you but seasons like the one we are in have a way of exposing my foundations. Where am I building on the rock that is Christ? Where am I building on sand in my own strength? What areas of my life have I turned over to Christ? What areas of my life am I still trying to claim as my own? Where have I truly surrendered to Christ and where am I still living in opposition to Him?
Friends, I do not know how long this season will last. I do not know how difficult the road may become. What I do know is I can never go back. I can only go forward. I am not praying for life to return to “normal” because “normal” was frankly killing us, albeit more slowly. The pre-COVID world was full of anxiety, depression, self-harm, and suicide. We were too busy. Too active. Life was red-lined on so many levels.The results were tragic. Broken homes. Broken relationships. Broken marriages. Broken lives. The honest truth is too many of us were building our castles on sand.
Jesus wants us to build on the rock. Jesus wants to give us a sure foundation. The pandemic has cleared the decks. For the first time in a long time, many of us actually have white-space in our schedules or at least the opportunity to create white-space. We can pull back on all the activity. We can pause and take a breath. We can use this time to rest. To relax. To take a much needed break. We can use this time to Sabbath. To seek the will of God. Spend time in prayer and in God’s Word. We can use this time to re-think and re-order our priorities. Go on walks. Eat meals together. We can use this time to rebuild relationships we’ve neglected. Call those we haven’t spoken to in a long time. We can use this time re-think how we spend our time and money. Put together a savings plan. Develop a budget. Get out of debt. We can work out a daily schedule. Develop a new routine. One that gives life rather than exhausts us. The main point here is do what Jesus tells us to do. Give God control of our days and weeks. Give God control of our wealth and resources. Give God control of our thoughts and attitudes. Give God control of all we say and do. Do these things, Jesus says, and your house won’t fall no matter how fierce the storm.
Yesterday, we celebrated the hope of Easter. God’s life breaking into our lives. God’s world breaking into our world. God’s power defeating sin and death and setting us free. Easter hope is not simply inspirational. It is not built on wishful thinking. It is no castle in the sand. It is built on the rock that is the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ! And it is available to all those who seek to follow Him! Love you, PEPC! Can’t wait to worship with you again on Sunday!
Pastor Doug Resler
Holy Week and Easter Information:
At 7:00pm, in an unprecedented act of unity and solidarity, we will be live-streaming a Good Friday worship service from Greenwood Community Church in collaboration with the Pastors and Worship Pastors from four sister EPC churches. Pastor Doug and Pastor Matt will be representing PEPC as we reflect and wonder at the cross. The song lyrics will be visible on the live stream.
Easter Sunday Devotional
At 7:00am you can take part in a sunrise devotional previously recorded by Pastor Dan.
10:00am Live Stream
More than ever, we look forward to sharing the most significant day in human history with all of you! With all the fear and anxiety in our world today, people are searching for hope. My prayer is you will hit the “share” button on our social media ads and invite everyone you know in your network to join us! There has never been an easier way to share the message of the love of Christ!
All live stream services are done via YouTube or Facebook.
Update 4-10-20 (Good Friday)
Good Friday is only good because of what Jesus accomplished for us. It is good because the work of salvation is brought to completion by the saving death of the Son of God. It is good because the cross perfectly satisfies God’s justice, turns away His righteous wrath, and paves the way for forgiveness and grace. Friends, it is Friday and we are all feeling the weight of fear and anxiety. Stress and suffering. Pain and heartbreak. It’s Friday and we are lamenting our lack of physical connection. We are grieving over the loss of intimacy. And we are hurting over the isolation we all feel. It’s Friday…but Sunday’s a comin’!
Despite what you may have heard, Easter is NOT cancelled this year! Easter has NOT been called off! As priest and author, Tish Warren Harrison, so rightly points out in her recent article in Christianity Today, “Christians do not make Easter…Jesus rose from the dead, and even if it were never acknowledged en masse, it would remain the fixed point around which time itself turns…the empty tomb is evidence that God’s love triumphs over death and that truth endures with or without us.” What a glorious statement! The absolute fact of the empty tomb and Jesus’ post-resurrection appearances to His followers and all it signifies for us eternally in NO WAY depends on our worship celebrations! So despite the very real sense of loss we will experience this year by not gathering, we can be sure of this certain hope…yes, it’s Friday. But Sunday’s a comin’! Jesus has risen! He has risen indeed!
A couple of programming notes for this weekend…
- Join us tonight at 7PM for our joint Good Friday service with Greenwood Community Church, Cherry Creek Presbyterian Church, The Neighborhood Church, and Littleton Christian Church. This year affords us a special opportunity to come together as a sign of our unity in Christ. Make sure to share the live stream with your unchurched friends and neighbors and invite them to join you!
- Tomorrow’s weather looks great to come up to the hillside chapel (above the farm house) and spend some time reflecting on Holy Saturday on your relationship with Christ. We encourage you to bring your families and participate in the devotional readings that will be available. (Please practice social distancing if you are there with other families.)
- Easter Sunday kicks off with a beautiful devotional at sunrise with Dan Lynch at 7AM and then we will gather virtually for our Easter live stream at 10AM. With all the fear and anxiety in our world today, people are searching for hope. My prayer is you will hit the “share” button on our social media ads and invite everyone you know in your network to join us! There has never been an easier way to share the message of the love of Christ!
Also, a couple of ways you can continue to serve…
- Pray. The most important and most effective work we can be engaged in right now is intercessory prayer. Pray for those who are sick. Pray for those working so hard to fight the disease. Pray for our political, business, social, and church leaders. Pray for the world. Pray for a cure. Pray for God to make Himself known even in the midst of this crisis and bring many lost souls to salvation!
- Connect. Our deacons and elders and other volunteers will continue to reach out to our church family. No agenda other than to check in, get to know one another better during this time, and share prayer requests. Please let us know as needs arise and we will do our best to meet them!
- Healthy snacks. We are continuing to collect healthy snacks for the healthcare workers at Parker Adventist Hospital. Many thanks for the generous donations already given! They are much appreciated!
- Early Learning Center. Through your generous giving, PEPC is able to offer free and reduced childcare in partnership with the Colorado Emergency Child Care Collaborative and full scholarships to those families in need of assistance. Praise God!
- Petros Network. In addition to the local work we are doing, we were able to give $5,000 to the Petros Network this week which will provide healthy meals for 355 widows and orphans in Ethiopia for the next two months. Many of these widows are participants in our micro-lending program and have done incredible work starting thriving businesses. Unfortunately, social distancing and quarantine measures in Ethiopia have shut down their businesses making them vulnerable to starvation. It’s convicting and humbling to be reminded that most of the rest of the world will have to make the incredibly difficult choice between starvation or getting the virus. Please keep them in prayer!
The Parker Task Force, Parker SECOR all stand firm; committed to serving men, women and families who are being greatly impacted by this crisis. Each organization has experienced a large surge in demand, and that demand will only become greater as more people lose their jobs. Here is information for those wanting to volunteer, donate or those personally needing resources during this time.
- Parker Task Force – Need monetary & other donations. Currently they have enough volunteers. Go to parkertaskforce.org to see their limited hours of operation for deliveries.
- Parker SECOR – Needs volunteers and other donations. Go to www.secorcares.com
Parker Adventist Hospital is seeking healthy snacks for their staff during their shifts. If you are able to pick up a box or two of healthy snacks, feel free to drop them off here at PEPC. There is donation bin located outside on the east side of the building.
Friends, this week is Palm Sunday. It’s a week where Christians gather around the world to celebrate the Triumphal Entry of Jesus into Jerusalem. It’s a week where believers from around the world join their voices together to sing “Hosanna” which is literally a cry for help. A cry for salvation. A cry for Messiah to come and deliver His people. I can think of nothing more relevant for our time than to hear again the good news that Jesus came to save!
So let me encourage you to join us for worship on Sunday on Facebook Live or on our YouTube channel. Make sure to “like” or “subscribe” and then share the invitation with your friends across your social media networks. I’d encourage you to host a virtual “watch party” if you are using Facebook as it can help you feel connected to friends and family and neighbors even in this time of social distancing. You can also find other videos to share like our series on prayer with Lisa Freyschlag from this past week on our YouTube page. In short, let’s take advantage of this time by making sure we spread the good news of the gospel as far and as wide as possible! All it takes is one click and hundreds, perhaps even thousands of people will have a chance to hear about Jesus. Amazing! See you Sunday!
In Christ, Doug
p.s. Please check out Pastor Matt’s email from earlier this week to find out more about our Holy Week services. Despite the restrictions, it’s going to be a very special week as we gather to walk – even virtually – in the footsteps of Jesus!
p.s.s. One other note, normally we share the Lord’s Supper together on the first Sunday of the month as well as Easter. We also have several people who were planning on getting baptized on Palm Sunday as well as join the church. We’re going to postpone these celebrations until we can all be together again. Trust me when I say it will be one heck of a party!
As such, we plan on continuing to live-stream each and every Sunday for as long as the governor’s order remains in effect. He assured us he shares President Trump’s inspirational goal of opening things back up by Easter but realistically believes we need to prepare for a longer timeline. I know this isn’t great news but we believe this is the sacrifice God is requiring from us in this cultural moment as we seek to support those healthcare workers and first responders in their fight against this deadly disease. Please keep praying for our political leaders as they guide our nation through this difficult time! Tomorrow we will gather for worship at 10AM. Pastor Dan will be preaching from 1 Corinthians 12:1-11 on the subject of spiritual gifts. As we’ve learned so far in our “Beautiful Mess” series, each of us is a living temple. Filled with God’s Spirit. Set apart as saints for His glory in this world. As such, each of us have been given gifts by God’s Spirit and each of us therefore plays an “essential” role in building up the Body of Christ and fulfilling God’s mission on the earth. I cannot wait to hear the message God has for us and I am sure it will be delivered with Pastor Dan’s characteristic passion and energy! We will also get to hear from first responder, Tyler Szabo, who is an information officer for the Aurora Fire Department who will give us a firsthand look at the challenges these heroes face. And you will hear more about what PEPC is doing to meet the challenges of the moment and care for those in our community. It’s promises to be a special morning! Attached you will find the liturgy for the day, complete with song lyrics and prayers. You can continue to find the live-stream on our Facebook page or on our YouTube channel. If you happen to arrive early, you may need to “refresh” your page right at 10AM to get the stream started. I would encourage you to “like” and “share” our Facebook invite. You can also “subscribe” to our YouTube channel. For those who are more tech-savvy, you can host a virtual watch party with your friends via Facebook. Anything we can do to help people get connected! These are extraordinary times, my friends. There is a growing openness and spiritual hunger in our community and, as we like to say at PEPC, “we’re here to help spiritually hungry people turn from their sin, become like Christ, and share God’s transforming Word with the world!” So let me encourage you to do your part by simply sharing our Facebook invite with those in your social network! Looking forward to worshiping with you! See you Sunday! _________________________________________________________________________
This Sunday at 10AM we will continue our series in 1 Corinthians looking at the “Beautiful Mess” that is the church. Pastor Dan will be bringing a message about how God has given us each spiritual gifts to meet the challenge of this cultural moment and how we can best use those gifts to spread the good news of the gospel to our neighbors. We’ll also get the chance to hear from Tyler Szabo who is the Information Officer for the Aurora Fire Department. He will give us a window into what our first responders and healthcare workers are dealing with on the front lines of this battle and give us some ideas as to how best to pray and support their families. Attached to this email you will find our bulletin which includes some great information on how and where to volunteer or help out. We will keep collating this information to get it out to you each week. 3-29-20 Bulletin 3-29-20 Live Stream ___________________________________________________________________________
Tomorrow morning we will be gathering virtually for worship at 10AM. Like last week, we will be live-streaming from our worship center. Pastor Matt and his team have been working all week to improve the quality of the experience so that everyone might fully engage. We’d love for you to join us and invite your friends, neighbors, and family from across the world to join in wherever they may be! Here are the details…
- Follow this YouTube LiveStream link or go to PEPC’s Facebook page where we will also have a live-stream available. Please make sure to hit the “subscribe” and “like” buttons respectively and then “share” them through your social media networks. We want to reach as many people as possible with the good news of the gospel!
- Please download or print the attached song sheet so you can fully participate with our worship team. For those who don’t normally sing, this is a great time to pretend you’re in the shower or maybe literally get in the shower and join in! 😉
- Please download the PEPC app and/or go to www.pepc.org/give to participate in the morning offering. Your sacrificial generosity allows us to serve our community and help those in need during this difficult time.
- Feel free to share any prayer requests throughout the service by posting in the comment section. Will Freyschlag will be moderating the live discussion as we seek to make this experience as interactive as possible.
- You should also feel free to post any comments or questions you have and we will make sure they get answered.
Sunday’s Bulletin ___________________________________________________________________________
Here at PEPC, we continue to find creative ways to serve you – our church family – and our community. By now you should have received a call from a deacon. Expect those calls to continue weekly as we check in on each other to find out how things are going. Our student ministry team is reaching out to students. Our children’s ministry team is reaching out to our young families with ideas on how to best pass the time. And most importantly, our Early Learning Center will remain open – in coordination with Tri-County Health and the Early Childhood Council of Colorado – to serve those families who have childcare needs up to 12 years of age. We will be running special camps next week and through the months of April and May. Our primary goal is to make sure those families working in critical sectors get the support they need during this critical time but we are open to everyone. Contact Jennifer or Holly at email@example.com for more information. Worship will be live streamed again this weekend at 10AM on Facebook Live and YouTube Live platforms. Last week, we had anywhere from 750-1000 people join us for worship from around Parker and even around the globe! Many of you shared the links with your friends and neighbors and on your social media networks. I want to encourage you to do so again this week! Make sure to “like” the Parker Evangelical Presbyterian Church Facebook page and “subscribe” to PEPC’s YouTube channel for the latest updates! The more tech savvy among you can even “host” a virtual watch party for your friends and neighbors through Facebook on Sunday morning! Contact Will Freyschlag at firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more! Finally, I want to thank you for the incredible generosity you continue to show as a church family even in the midst of this uncertain time. As I’ve scrolled through social media, I see so many of you sacrificially offering your time and resources to help those in need. So many of you have offered to be the hands and feet to our own church family as well which is simply awesome! Thanks so much for your heart for Jesus and for one another! Thank you as well for your faithful giving. It is deeply humbling as I know these are not easy times for anyone. Your sacrificial offerings are what allow us to keep the ELC open to serve our community. They allow us to help families in financial crisis due to the economic downturn. They allow us to care for our own employees as well. In short, you are making a HUGE difference during this difficult time! Well done! I know the Lord is pleased! For those who’ve asked, gifts can be given by check/mail, through the PEPC app, or by navigating to www.pepc.org/give. Sunday’s Bulletin Sunday’s live stream link ____________________________________________________________________________
One of the best pieces of information I’ve read so far comes from Francis Collins, Director of the National Institutes of Health. Collins is a brilliant scientist and a strong Christians and he offers a very realistic and sobering picture of the challenge we face in this cultural moment. You can read the article by clicking on this link – www.theatlantic.com/ideas/archive/2020/03/interview-francis-collins-nih/608221/. Three takeaways from the article for me as I continue to lift up our country in prayer.
- The social distancing measures being implemented in most states would succeed in slowing the spread of the virus.
- The onset of summer would cause the virus to begin to die much like influenza or other corona viral strains.
- The rapid and successful development of anti-viral treatments and, more long-term, a vaccine that will halt the spread and perhaps even cure the disease.
In the meantime, how does ministry continue to evolve here at PEPC as we seek to serve you and our community during this time?
- Pastoral Care: Times of crisis tend to exacerbate pre-existing issues in marriages, families, and those struggling with mental and spiritual health. Pastors and counselors are available to help via FaceTime, Skype, and/or Zoom video-conferencing. Please reach out to Vicki (email@example.com) or Leanza (firstname.lastname@example.org) to make an appointment. We are here for you!
- RightNow Media: Before the crisis hit, we providentially purchased a subscription to RightNow Media which has an absolute wealth of resources online for you to access at home. There are resources for personal Bible study. Activities for families and kids to do together. There are videos from major conferences and events that you can search as you seek to stay connected to Jesus and grow your faith during this time. Contact Will Freyshlag (email@example.com) for more information if you haven’t gotten signed up!
- Student Ministry: If you have a middle or high school student at home, make sure they connect with Dan (firstname.lastname@example.org) or Megan (email@example.com). They are already planning and implementing a social media blitz as well as a door dash (with proper social distancing) and will be reaching out over FaceTime or Google Duo to connect with your student. They are also available to talk to any parents about how to help their teenager navigate this time.
- Children’s Ministry: Pam, Jodi, and Becky are putting on their own social media blitz! Make sure to respond to their “dance-party challenge” on Facebook! They are also preparing weekly lessons for you as you disciple your children at home. If you are looking for more activities to do with your children, definitely reach out to them at firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, and firstname.lastname@example.org. They’d love to help out!
- Deacons: Our deacon team as well as a few other volunteers will be checking in by phone with our church family. Please let them know how we can best serve you during this time! We have lots of people standing by to help with grocery store runs or other errands. Most of all, we want to make sure NO ONE in our community feels isolated or alone.
- Worship: We will be joining together in corporate worship this Sunday at 10AM via livestream on Facebook and YouTube. Matt and his team are working hard to improve the experience from a technological standpoint. Like last week, there will be an opportunity for you to share prayer requests, messages of encouragement, or ask any questions you may have via the live chat. Will Freyschlag will continue to respond to those as they come in.
Please know I am available 24/7 if you have any questions, concerns, prayer requests, or needs. Feel free to call or text my cell phone at 720-202-0965 or shoot me an email at email@example.com. See you Sunday! In Christ, Doug ___________________________________________________________________________
Update #2 on 3/16/2020
PEPC will cancel all group functions through March 30, 2020 in response and cooperation with recent recommended governmental guidelines limiting groups to 10 people or less during this unprecedented situation. We will continue to connect and reach out to our congregation to meet the needs, care for each family, and provide worship services through live streaming our services each week. If you or someone you know, has a need or concern for care, please contact our church office 303-841-2125 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org. As we strive to partner with our authorities in the response to the Coronavirus, we engage our community in the love of Christ. _____________________________________________________________________________
Update #1 on 3/16/2020
Last night, the CDC issued a new order banning large group gatherings of over 50 people for the next eight weeks. The activities they are seeking to limit are events like concerts, weddings, and other social gatherings where people mix in close quarters. You might have seen the news this morning that Mayor Hancock has ordered the closure of bars and restaurants in Denver except for takeout and delivery. Again, the goal is to limit access to venues where people gather socially with people they do not know in close quarters. The ban does not apply to schools, businesses, grocery stores, etc. and Tri-County Health has issued an update this morning essentially affirming the CDC’s guidelines. As such, we have cancelled our large youth group activities and are implementing stricter “social distancing” for those smaller groups who do choose to gather during this time. We are still planning on opening our Early Learning Center after spring break as Tri-County Health has asked childcare centers to do their best to remain open so people can go to work. We will continue to do our best to partner with them to serve our community and are taking all the extra precautions they recommend to clean and disinfect our building. On a positive note, the response to moving our worship online was truly inspiring. Huge props again to Matt and Will and Billy who put in serious overtime to make sure we had what we needed. Facebook Live had an average of 70-77 devices on at any given time. (Be aware there was probably more than one person watching per device.) At last count, our Facebook Live video had a reach of over 2.2K with 1.7K views. This is incredible and the number keeps increasing now that it is posted on our Facebook page. YouTube Live fluctuated between 200 and 270 “screens” and has over 900 views at last count. So many of you worked hard to help us get the word out by “liking” and “sharing” the post. In so doing, you very practically helped spread the peace of Christ as people joined us from Hawaii to North Carolina and even from places as far away as Cambodia!!! We will be working hard in the coming week to improve the quality of the experience since we anticipate this being our “new normal” for some time. Our goal is to keep everyone as connected as possible during this cultural moment of crisis. We also want to give you the opportunity to share with your unchurched neighbors and friends. After all, one silver lining to all the restrictions is an increasing hunger for community as people no longer will be gathering on the sports fields, bars, concerts, or other events. A void is being created socially and relationally and it’s one I believe our church is well positioned to fill. For years, we’ve talked about the relational heart of our church. Now we get a chance to prove it. Our staff is already digging in to creatively serve you in the coming weeks. Our deacons will be contacting by phone everyone who calls PEPC home to check in. Our elders are making the appropriate decisions to pull back on all unnecessary expenses so we free up as many resources as possible to serve you and our community. Paying off our debt and wise financial management has positioned us as well as possible but we still need your gifts. Please be prayerful about how the Lord may be calling you to respond financially, socially, and relationally during this time. As always, you can give through the PEPC app, online at www.pepc.org/give, and physically by check/cash through the mail. Perhaps most of all, I want to encourage you to find ways to take advantage of the slower pace. Treasure this time with your family. Rest more. Read more. Talk more. Check in on your neighbors. Make a few phone calls to loved ones across the country. FaceTime. Skype. Do what it takes to stay connected. Limit your social media intake. In fact, limit your media intake altogether! As you build deeper relationships with those you love, make sure to also take time to build your relationship with Christ. Jump into our Bible in a Year reading. Hit up the blog each day at www.dougresler.com. Spend time in prayer. Let the Spirit of Christ fill your hearts and minds with His peace. Love you, PEPC! See you Sunday! In Christ, Doug ______________________________________________________________________________
Live-streaming Worship Service 3/15/20 Click Here ______________________________________________________________________________
Update from Pastor Doug on 3/14/20
Hopefully, you’ve received the news about the changes to our Sunday worship rhythm due to the recent ban issued by Governor Polis on large group gatherings over 250. If not, you can click on this video link to see a message from myself and Pastor Matt to get you up to speed. In essence, we will be holding one service tomorrow morning at 10AM which will be live-streamed from our worship center. Because this is our first attempt at live-streaming a service, here are some essentials you’ll need to engage fully in the worship experience.
- Follow this YouTube LiveStream link or go to PEPC’s Facebook page where there will also be a live stream available. Please hit the “like” and “share” buttons on the YouTube page so that we can reach as many people as possible and invite them to join us for worship!
- Please download or print the attached song sheet for the lyrics to the worship music so you and those you gather with can all join in.
- Please download the PEPC app and/or give online to participate in the morning offering. Now more than ever we have the opportunity to serve our community by being the hands and feet of Jesus.
- Feel free to share any prayer requests throughout the service by posting comments. We want to make this experience as interactive as possible and Will Freyschlag will be gathering these to share with the community during our prayer time.
- You should also feel free to post any comments or questions you may have throughout the service. We will collect those and answer as many as we can throughout the experience. Those we cannot get to, we will make sure to follow up later.
We are definitely entering uncharted territory for us, PEPC. As the pandemic continues to spread worldwide, we have the opportunity to spread the peace of Christ online and in person as the Lord gives us opportunity. I’ve been reminded today of the key role C.S. Lewis played in the UK during WW2 when the bombs were falling. Millions tuned in to hear him proclaim the good news of the gospel and many lives were changed for eternity as a result. I am praying for a similar revival in our community and our nation as well as many have the opportunity to hear about Jesus in this time of crisis. So again, make sure to “like” and “share” the live-stream link. Make sure to invite your friends and family and neighbors to join you for worship. Make sure to let us know what opportunities arise for us to serve. You are literally the hands and feet and voice of Jesus in this cultural moment! See you tomorrow! In Christ, Doug Click here for tomorrows song sheet ______________________________________________________________________________
Update from Pastor Doug as of 3/12/20 I just got off a state-wide conference call for faith leaders with Governor Polis regarding the ban on large group gatherings of 250 or more that was initiated earlier this morning. It was an excellent call and Governor Polis expressed his appreciation for the key role the faith community plays in helping bring calm amidst the crisis of this cultural moment. The ban will be in effect for the next 30 days with the possibility of an extension should there be a need. We will continue to monitor things closely. Despite the ban on large group gatherings, Governor Polis implored the faith community to continue to reach out to serve the most vulnerable in our communities. In effect, he was asking us to do what we were already committed to do which is be the hands and feet of Christ. To that end, he encouraged us to reach and call one another. Make trips to the grocery store for the elderly, isolated, and home-bound. Care for the widow, the orphan, and those who may not have access to the resources they need to make it through this difficult time. He encouraged us to find creative ways of gathering over technology for mutual support and encouragement. As I listened, I found myself thankful as well as burdened to continue to pray for our political leaders as they rise to meet the challenge of this unique and unprecedented situation. What about groups that are smaller than 250? Can they gather? In short, yes. We will continue to host our Bible studies as well as student ministry activities and other church groups but we will also be adjusting them as we continue to take the necessary precautions to keep everyone safe. Those measures include but are not limited to…
- Frequent and thorough hand-washing as well as other good hygiene practices.
- Encouraging the sick and those with flu-like symptoms to self-quarantine until fully recovered.
- Encouraging those in the most vulnerable populations like those over 70 years of age and the immuno-compromised to stay home until the crisis passes.
- For those groups who do gather, greeting each other with a smile rather than a handshake and giving one another more physical space will be important.