GraceConnect E-News, No. 71, Week of October 27, 2014

Communication-Conversation-Conservation

The eNewsletter for the Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches
Roy Halberg, right, performs weddings and funerals for people who don't have a regular church home, sowing seeds of the gospel in the ceremonies of life.

Sowing Seeds in the Ceremonies of Life

Roy Halberg, pastor of Grace Fellowship, a Grace Brethren congregation in Alta Loma, Calif., has performed more than 5,000 funerals and in excess of 2,000 weddings. Most of those are for people who don’t regularly attend church. Halberg sees it as an opportunity to connect with families and to share the gospel with them.
 
A pastor since 1971, Halberg was between full-time ministries in 1994 when he decided to distribute his business cards offering his services at mortuaries. It wasn’t long before he was regularly officiating at funerals for individuals who didn’t have a pastor or someone to lead the service. Eventually, he added wedding ceremonies to his repertoire.
 
At the peak, he did 275 funerals and 175 weddings in a year, enough to provide a full-time income. Today he pastors the Alta Loma church on a part-time basis while continuing to supplement his income by presiding at weddings and funerals, though at a slower pace.
 
“Most of the families that I meet have no church background,” Halberg explains. “And I have an opportunity because they need help. They need people who won't embarrass them. They need people who won't embarrass their families. And once I prove that I’m going to provide a competent service, the doors open from there.”
 
As an officiant, Halberg has traveled all over the country to perform exotic and untraditional weddings. But that’s not what he enjoys most about the job. Halberg considers it a ministry that sows seeds for the gospel.
 
“I probably have conversations with more non-Christians in the average week than most pastors have in a year,” he says. “Before I started doing this, most of my life was spent in the church office preparing sermons for church people. I wasn't out engaging people in the community, and now I'm out in the community all the time.
 
“I've had people visit my church after I've provided funeral services for their family. I think of one guy, I did the funeral service for both his mother and his father... he came and visited the church afterwards. We met for lunch several times, and I had the opportunity to share the Gospel with him over those lunches.”
 
At funerals, he strives to honor the deceased in such a way that it opens doors for spiritual conversations.
 
“I frequently am asked after services, ‘Well, how long did you know Grandma?’” It’s then he admits he never met the individual. Yet because he paid tribute to the individual in a positive way, there are occasions to open his Bible and share scripture.
 
“It's a great open door of opportunity, especially with funerals. It is a time in a family's life where they're open. It's been a great opportunity to befriend people, to love people, to influence lives for the kingdom.”

From Around the Web...

Here are a few links from Grace Brethren churches that you might find of interest…
 
Members of Los Altos Grace Brethren Church in Long Beach, Calif. (Phil Helfer, lead pastor) took a mission trip to Ensenada, Mexico, in October. Watch the recap video here.  
 
The Family at Grace Brethren Church in Waynesboro, Pa. (Tim Clothier, pastor) has been doing a series of video interviews with longtime members of their church. Watch the interview with Ralph Fitz, who has attended the church since 1946. 
 
Ron Boehm, Grace Brethren pastor and church-planter coach who serves with VisionOhio, continues to recover in a Cleveland hospital following surgery to repair a ruptured abdominal aneurysm. Updates on his condition have been published on graceconnect.us, here, here, and here. Stay tuned to graceconnect.us or facebook.com/graceconnectus for further updates and prayer requests as he recovers.
 
The Mummies of Egypt
This week's featured books

Biblical Fundamentals
By L.S. Bauman and Dr. David Plaster

This two-volume set combines BMH classic titles related to principal truths and practices in the Bible.

The Faith: Once For All Delivered Unto The Saints by L.S. Bauman outlines the principal truths and fundamental teachings of the Bible, together with the ordinances that symbolize them. This in-depth study will help the reader understand the commandments of John 14:21 with assurance that salvation cannot be gained by keeping commandments or observing ordinances.

Ordinances: What Are They? is written by the Grace Brethren pastor, professor, and historian, Dr. David Plaster, and explores the possible parameters which Biblical data and theological deduction place on the term “ordinance.” He provides an overview of the term and its history, reviews its ceremonial aspects, highlights any intended significance, and discusses what constitutes an expectation of perpetuation regarding ordinances.

Regularly priced at $13.49, now available ONLY for subscribers of GraceConnect eNews at 50% off! Simply use the code "FGBC" when you purchase the book. Click here to buy this two-volume set. Offer is only good through midnight Tuesday, November 4, 2014.

Events in the FGBC

November 11-24 – Cambodia GO Team (WGUSA)
January 16-17 WLS Class: Soul Care, Winona Lake, Ind. (WGUSA)
January 23-24
– WLS Class: Spiritual Formation, Long Beach, Calif. (WGUSA)
January 26-28 –  Southwest Focus Retreat, location to be announced (FGBC)
March 13-14 – WLS Class: Women and Scripture, Frederick, Md. (WGUSA) 
March 16-18 – South Focus Retreat, Florida FFA Training Center, Haines City, Fla. (FGBC)
April 24-25 – WLS Class: Women and Scripture, Cedar Rapids, Iowa (WGUSA) 
June 21-27, 2015  Great Canadian Adventure, Toronto, Ontario (GBC)
June 21-27, 2015 – Encounter Atlanta, Atlanta, Ga. (EWP)
July 14-19, 2015 – Momentum Youth Conference, Marion, Ind. (CEN) 
July 23-26, 2015 – Flinch Conference (national conference), Newark, N.J. (FGBC) 

CEN -- CE National
EWP -- Encompass World Partners
FGBC – Fellowship of Grace Brethren Churches
GBC – Grace Brethren Canada
WGUSA – Women of Grace USA

Send events for the calendar to lcgates@bmhbooks.com.
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