GraceConnect E-News, No. 27, Week of December 23, 2013

Communication-Conversation-Conservation

The eNewsletter for the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches

Merry Christmas!

Christmas has to be my favorite time of the year! I love seeing how God's people creatively celebrate the birth of Jesus. Brightly-lit trees, ribbon-festooned garland, and simple manger scenes are frequent reminders of the season. Top that with the beautiful performances filled with wiggly kids, sincere soloists, and choreographed steps. God has to be smiling.

Perhaps that is why I was so taken with Sam Mylin's story at Grace Church in Willow Valley near Lancaster, Pa. When I met Sam at Momentum Youth Conference last summer, I was impressed with his commitment to use his artistic talent for his Savior. "Art is a reflection of the Creator," he told me. Learn more about Sam and his unique Christmas gift to Jesus in this week's eNews.

Elsewhere in the eNews, take a moment to recognize Officer Ken Lawson for his work in combating human trafficking by voting for him in the Ohio Liberator Awards. Check out From Around the Web links that bring you news of ministries in Grace Brethren congregations.

This week's featured book, God of Hope, is a great follow-up to a blessed Christmas season. If you are interested, a study guide is available to facilitate use with your small group Bible study or Adult Bible Fellowship. -- Liz Cutler Gates, editor

Christmas Gift

“I felt like the little drummer boy with ‘no gifts to bring.’” Sam Mylin remembered attending the 1999 Christmas Eve observance at Grace Church in Willow Valley in Lancaster, Pa. (John Smith, pastor), with his wife, Kate.

“That service was so ‘visual’ with the church family presenting their gifts before our Lord,” he added. “Some sang. Others used drama, while some even danced before the Lord.”

An artist who leads children’s workshops at the Lancaster County Art Association, at the Delaware Art Museum in Wilmington, Del., and in local churches in eastern Pennsylvania, Mylin felt led to present his own unique gift. He’d create a painting.

Moved by the story of the Christmas song, The Twelve Days of Christmas, he thought he might interpret the images in one painting.

“It was used as a catechism for the church to teach children the basics of the Christian faith,” he noted. As he began to pray and talk with others about the project, he felt like God was telling him to paint one [verse] at a time.

The first, A Partridge in a Pear Tree, was completed for December 24, 2002. As he revealed it to the few in attendance that evening, a small voice whispered in his ear: “Give it away to a loved one.” Bob Kern, a Grace Brethren pastor who served on staff at the church for ten years until his death in 2011, and his wife, Dorothy, received the painting.

It began a 12-year tradition of exhibiting the paintings in the days before Christmas, then unveiling the new work of art in the foyer of the church following the service.

“The clock began ticking each year as I completed another painting,” Mylin said. As paintings were distributed to “loved ones,” they were presented on the condition they be returned for the Christmas Eve unveiling. This year, the exhibit has been on display through Advent.

This Christmas Eve, with the unveiling of Twelve Drummers Drumming, the series is complete and it will be the last time the series will be exhibited together.

Click here to read the rest of the story.
 

Lawson Nominated for Award

Ken Lawson, a member of Grace Polaris, a Grace Brethren church in Columbus, Ohio (Mike Yoder, pastor) and a Columbus police officer, has been nominated for an Ohio Liberator Award for his efforts to combat human trafficking. Individuals are encouraged to vote for the recipient on Survey Monkey between Dec 20, 2013 and Jan 10, 2014. 

The Ohio Liberator Awards were created by TraffickFREE-S.O.A.P. to highlight and celebrate the hard work of individuals whom have helped to make great strides in the state of Ohio in eradicating modern day slavery. In 1835, Abolitionist William Lloyd Garrison called for the 'immediate eradication of slavery and for equal rights to blacks and women.' He was considered a "Radical Abolitionist" due to his beliefs and published "The Liberator" to educate Americans on these important human rights issues.

Finalists will be revealed on National Human Trafficking Awareness Day, January 11, at www.traffickfree.comWinners will be announced at the 2nd Annual Ohio Liberator Award Ceremony on Monday, January 20.

Vote at http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/liberatorawards. Lawson's nomination is under #4 listing law enforcement officials.

From Around the Web

Here are a few links from Grace Brethren churches that you might find of interest...
 

Local Churches

Modern Family: a series of talks on marriage
Sermon videos from Awaken Church, Virginia Beach, Va. (Mike Pumphrey, pastor)
 

Church Planting

Empty Hands Bible Church, a new Grace Brethren congregation in Winona Lake, Ind., released a video of Pastor Aaron Scantlen's performance of "Born on Christmas Day," an original song written to accompany his sermon

Integrated Ministries

A team from Grace Church, Wooster, Ohio (Bob Fetterhoff, pastor) is taking Christmas to more than 100 orphans and at-risk children in Thailand and Cambodia through Grace Place Homes and G.R.O.W. Home.  They return on January 1, 2014. Follow their blog here.
God of Hope
This week's featured book
 

God of Hope

by J. Davis Illingworth

Through the first-person testimonies of the disciple Thomas, the prophet Moses, the apostle Paul, and the disciple John, God of Hope brings to life the energy, passion, and brilliance of God's mysterious plan for the universe and humanity as it unfolds in history.

These stirring accounts will inspire Christians to greater courage and trust in God, and can also lead nonbelievers to faith by introducing them to the hope available from the one true God. This overview of God’s plan, as well as the author’s compelling presentation of his own story, will invite readers to consider the story of their own lives and to reflect on how that fits into God’s plan for humanity.

This three-hour read encourages all to get to know or know better the one true God of the universe.

Regularly $14.95, now available for GraceConnect eNews subscribers ONLY at 50% off!

Simply enter the code "hope" in your shopping cart at bmhbooks.com. (Price is good only until midnight, December 31, 2013.)

Events in the FGBC

January 1, 2014 â€“ Global Prayer Walk Begins (EWP)
January 27-29, 2014 â€“ Southwest Focus Retreat, Oaks Conference Center (FGBC)
January 24-25, 2014 â€“ Biblical Foundations of Leadership, Long Beach, Calif. (WGUSA)
January 29-31, 2014 â€“ Fellowship Council Meeting, Seal Beach, Calif. (FGBC)
March 16, 2014 â€“ Prayer Sprint Begins (EWP)
March 17-19, 2014 â€“ South Focus Retreat, location to be announced, (FGBC)
April 25-26, 2014 â€“ Women's Leadership Studies: Equipping Others (WGUSA)
May 19-21, 2014 – Northwest Focus Retreat, Camp Clear Lake, Wash. (FGBC)
June 27-July 3, 2014 – Encounter ATL (EWP)
July 17-21, 2014 â€“ Vision2020 DC (FGBC)
July 22-27, 2014 â€“ Momentum Youth Conference (CEN)
October 28-November 9, 2014 â€“ Cambodia GO Team (WGUSA)

CEN – CE National
EWP – Encompass World Partners
FGBC â€“ Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches
WGUSA â€“ Women of Grace USA
____
Send events for the calendar to lcgates@bmhbooks.com.
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