One of the things that Gold Avenue Church is blessed to be known for is being a close knit family. It’s something that can be felt right away when we gather and it is truly a gift from the Lord. So it’s no surprise that not being able to gather during the time of COVID-19 has been really difficult for us. As we’ve continued to seek direction from God during this time, we’ve wrestled with tough questions about what He is doing and how we can stay in step. The time was finally right to have a gathering in a park the last week of August, and it was glorious to be together again! For anyone who wasn’t able to make it or who would just like to remember that meeting, we’ve put together a recap of what we did along with some pictures which truly capture the joy of that gathering.
We began with a long time of fellowship where we were able to reconnect as a family. After many months of seeing people on screens this was a very refreshing time! We did our best to follow safe social distancing per governmental regulations, but left it up to each person to decide on their level of comfortability, so we used lanyards with colored paper to communicate that.
The children and youth also enjoyed each other’s company and enjoyed playing games during the gathering.
We then all gathered together to hear what the Lord has been doing in our midst during this time. As church leadership has been asking what God has in store for us, a new direction was presented that we are in the process of ongoing discernment, which is why we are asking for your input! See the links at the end of this post for more information and for the survey where you can share your input.
The new direction that was proposed is that we’ll be forming small groups that will meet every other week, while we’ll continue with our At Home Worship Liturgy every other week (or in person gatherings once deemed safe to do so). These groups will be coupled with a resource called the Gospel Tool that will serve to deepen each of our relationships with the Lord and equip us to share our faith with others and make disciples as Jesus commissioned us to do. For more details on this plan please see the link at the end of the post.
Lastly we gathered into small groups to discuss the plan and to seek feedback that will be helpful as we start to answer the “How” question of implementing the plan, as we continue to move together as a congregation.
We thank God for our church family at Gold Avenue Church, and for the blessing of getting together to see each other. We are also excited about the opportunities afforded with the proposal of this new direction and how the Lord will work through it.
Here is a follow up letter that answers some questions that were brought up: Follow Up letter
Here is a link to a survey that we’re asking all of our family members to complete, to help in the planning of the new framework: Survey Link
Thank you for reading and thank you for the part you play in our church family. Please continue to pray for wisdom and discernment as we continue to seek to follow the Lord together. Be blessed church family!
We are entering into a new sermon series. It is truly exciting what the Lord has for us as we seek Him in “Preparing to Build” as we study the books of Ezra and Nehemiah as a congregation!
Introduction Video to the Ezra Nehemiah Series
Please watch this introduction video to the summer sermon series as we prepare to enter into this season together.
Reading Plan Calendars
There are calendars with a reading plan that will accompany this series. Below are the first 2 calendars in this reading plan. You can save them to your desktop, camera roll, or print them out. This reading plan has a manageable weekly reading that prepares us for Sunday’s sermon. We are recommending you read the passages 1- 2 times throughout the week ahead of Sunday’s sermon. These readings will be part of the sermons so we hope you’ll be able to join us as we read through the books of Ezra and Nehemiah together!
Note: if you’d like to print the plan, click on the image, right click and save to your downloads, then open the file from there to print.
Introduction Framework to the Series
Below is a one-page introduction to the Ezra Nehemiah series. This is on the reading plan for the first week. It’ll help us all to begin with some framework as we begin this new sermon series!
Please take the time to watch this video update from Pastor Jaleesa and Brendan Stanford. Brendan is deploying with the United States Army later this week for the next year. In this short video they share some of what this next year holds and ways you can pray for them in this time. We are grateful for his service!
These days, we have an awesome opportunity to participate with the elements of a Sunday Morning within our homes by using the At Home Liturgy. There has been so many encouraging messages and connections that have been made because of this resource! At Home Children’s Worship had a kick off this week!
Pictured here: Derek Sterenberg and the Sterenberg children: Asher, Eila, and Brielle. The lesson: God gave Jonah a special message for the people of Nineveh so they could choose to trust and obey Him. When we trust and obey Jesus, we become a part of God’s family and we belong to Him too. God will always be with us. We’re His chosen children! Pictured below are some of the Asher and Eila’s creations as they reflected on being Chosen.
Gold Avenue Church is still planning to have Communion on the first Sunday of the month. With that in mind, please plan to have bread and juice at your home for the April 5 At Home Liturgy!
The Gold Avenue Church Discipleship Team would like to invite you to connect with the team (and together) as you continue in the Lent Readings that were provided at the beginning of Lent. Follow the link to the GAC Lenten Calendar 2020 and Lenten Invitation (ways to engage with the readings). A Zoom meeting will be hosted by the Discipleship Team from 10-10:45AM on Saturday morning! At meeting time, locate this blog post and click on the zoom link to join the meeting on your phone or computer.
From the Care Elders:
We want to pray for you!
You may have noticed on Facebook that Pastor Jaleesa and the Care Elder team have continued to meet weekly via Zoom in order to pray for our Gold Avenue Church family.
Throughout their times of prayer, the Lord has continued to remind them through his word of his steadfast goodness, protection, and faithfulness to us in this season.
If you have specific prayer requests, the team would love to pray for you! Make sure you add your request to the Sharing in Prayer Google doc so that we can all be in prayer for one another together!
Every Wednesday from 12-1pm, upwards of 10 Gold Avenue Church congregants and leaders join together to pray as the Lord leads for our church, neighborhood, and the world. All are welcome to join in for this Zoom call. It is a blessing to get to join in prayer together! Consider joining next week!
Have you found yourself wondering what God might be up to in this unique season? Check out these thoughts from Pastor Dave, who is safely home from his trip to Israel! Thanks be to God!
…Be strong, all you people of the land,’ declares the Lord, ‘and work. For I am with you,’ declares the Lord Almighty. Haggai 2:4
When we heard these words that Pastor Dave preached a few weeks ago, we heard that the people of Judah felt weak and had challenges coming up against them, and yet God was calling for them to take steps of faith to carry on the work of rebuilding the temple. I’m guessing most of us have felt weak as we have faced the challenges of this past week, and yet God has been with us. He has met us in our disappointments and all our concerns, and has been strengthening us to carry on in His kingdom work, often supported by the prayers of others!
Thank you Gold Avenue Church family for being faithful and strong in the face of much uncertainty and engaging the work of embodying, proclaiming and advancing God’s Kingdom these last few weeks. You are using your gifts and faithfully serving despite our facility being closed:
You are checking in on one another by phone, text, FaceTime or messaging.
You are praying more often and with more fervor for our neighborhood and the world, particularly praying for revival.
You are brave nurses and other front line services, along with Nick who remains on mission in Africa, carrying on serving others.
You are reaching out to your neighbors and sharing the hope of Jesus with strangers.
You are adapting to changed schedules and seeking to love your children and help them adjust to the many unsettling changes with school and social distancing (which can be so hard!)
A number of you are using your gifts of music, writing, and prophecy to encourage others by means of FaceBook posts.
Some have contacted us offering helpful resources to the church.
The discipleship team is creatively thinking of new ways to connect.
The Gold Rush team is preparing to resume youth group via Zoom.
The admin elders are prayerfully discerning the current situation while also considering how to love our church and neighborhood well with our facility in the future, as they consider a new ministry proposal.
The deacons continue to monitor and serve the needs of our church and community, even as they think ahead about needs that may be coming.
The care elders are doing a fantastic job of checking in with people and also praying faithfully for our congregation.
Our volunteer worship leaders are continuing to plan meaningful worship services using the new At Home Worship Liturgy, even blessing a church in the UK this past week!
There are many more stories that I could share, but I want to take a minute and ask you to thank the Lord along with me for the gift of our 3 urban missionaries: Mark, Stephanie and Pastor Jaleesa. They have put in several weeks of very long hours, using their gifts, skills and backgrounds, to help put technology and strategies in place, with help from Justin Blake, that will help our church remain a strongly connected community now, and will serve us so well long into the future. Their joyful servant leadership is a great model for us all, and so please consider how you might bless them with a word of thanks, a contribution to their fundraising efforts, and/or most certainly praying for them regularly.
In Haggai, the Lord repeatedly says “give careful thought to your ways.“ As I met online with a group of pastors this week from all around the country, we were encouraged to reflect on history. At times of great trouble and even past quarantine, God has brought forth amazing gifts-books, songs, prayers and stories of sacrificial love that have advanced God’s kingdom and served as inspiration for Christians through history (the disciples, Paul, Luther, the early church caring for the sick during the plague, Bonhoeffer, CS Lewis, Corrie tenBoom, etc…).
Church family and friends, I believe the Lord will gift you and will use us together in mighty ways if we will earnestly seek Him. This could be the church’s finest hour, if we will humble ourselves, pray, turn from any wicked ways and seek God’s face. As together we devote ourselves completely to the Lord, I believe we will see the gospel of Jesus Christ transform our lives, our neighborhood and the world. To God be the glory, now and forever, Amen!
This Coronavirus Resource Packet is a list of organizations that are finding ways to serve our community in the midst of COVID-19. If you are in need of services, please don’t hesitate to utilize these options and also to contact our Gold Avenue Church deacons to see how we can serve you well.
Coming out this week’s sermon, this list also offers us the opportunity to consider how we might be God’s practical hand of justice in our community right now! We invite and encourage you to pray for all medical personnel, first responders and others who are still faithfully working, to pray for these organizations and their volunteers, and to pray for all who stand in need of care or services.
Please also prayerfully consider how you might partner with our church deacons and these services through prayer, donation, or whatever other means they may request.
The Discipleship Team would like to invite you to connect with us as you continue in the Lent Readings that were provided at the beginning of Lent. Here is the GAC Lenten Calendar 2020 and Lenten Invitation (ways to engage with the readings). We will be hosting a Zoom meeting on Saturday morning to connect and discuss, more info on that below!
At this time in our reading through Matthew we are over halfway through our reading of Matthew. The Bible Project is an online resource that is a helpful tool when used alongside Scripture readings. Please watch the following video on Matthew Chapters 1-13.
We would like to host some face to face time with anyone who can join us! We will meet to discuss the video and the readings that correlate on Saturday, March 28, from 10-10:45 am on a Zoom call.
Please plan to watch the video ahead of our meeting time and think through the following questions. A good discipline to engage in is journaling. Try journaling your answers as you read and watch the video. We hope to see you Saturday morning!
Think about 2 or 3 things that stuck out to you in the video.
What do you notice about humanity and God’s Kingdom?
Additional Questions to Ponder and Apply (Not required for discussion):
What are some practical ways to apply the Word of God to your life?
How did the Lent readings of these same chapters help you grow in your relationship with God?
Zoom Call information for Saturday, March 28 at 10am:
Topic: Disicpleship Connection & Discussion Time: Mar 28, 2020 10:00 AM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
This Prayer Guide Resource is a live document we would like to invite you to utilize. Anything you write is anonymous, unless you give your name. There is no prayer out of line. Shorter, longer, your choice. Share what you want to share. Gold Avenue Church Care Elders and staff are committed to praying for you! We also invite you to pray for one another. If you need someone to talk to, remember that we are available to walk together on this journey. Don’t hesitate to reach out via email or phone.
Weekly Worship From Home We’ve had lots of great feedback on the “At Home Liturgy” that went out in an email last week! If you missed it, it is still available for you to use at home with your family, housemates, etc… here is a link: 3/15/20 At Home Liturgy
Communication We are working hard to help our congregation stay connected. This week we are happy to announce:We have also added (this) blog attached to our Gold Avenue Church website! Here is the web address if you aren’t already here: http://goldavenuechurch.org/blog/! The blog will be our main, streamlined source of information, communication, and resources. Be sure to save it to your favorites in your preferred internet browser! We will link to our FB account and include pieces in our All Church Emails as well. This should help you locate any previous church communications and worship liturgies, along with many new resources that we will be adding.
We want to keep you well informed. So, each week we will plan to send out two emails. A weekly update sometime during the week and a Sunday service email with the “At Home Liturgy” for the current week. You’ll be able to access these on the blog as well.
Care and Connection A new way that we can connect is by Zoom, an online meeting space. Gold Avenue Church now has a Zoom account, so most meetings are able to continue as scheduled virtually using this technology. Staff will be scheduling these meetings and will send out the meeting links ahead of time, if you’re in a meeting, you simply click on the link and follow the prompts.
Prayer We tested meeting virtually on Wednesday with Noon Prayer and it worked out really well! Look below for the link to the Noon Prayer Zoom call and you can join us, if you’re able, from 12-1pm on Wednesday by phone or internet.
Equipping The Empowered for Witness course concluded a week ago. The many evaluation forms were overwhelmingly affirming. We had pastors and members from 48 churches from all around the area attending. We even had a gentleman drive over weekly from Wisconsin to attend. The next session of Empowered for Witness is scheduled to start with a makeup session called Foundations on 4/22 and Empowered for Witness 102, starting on 4/23, the Lord willing. Would you please be in prayer for wisdom, as we think about whether we can continue as planned or need to change to a different format? Thank you!
The Admin Elders met Wednesday night and have extended our current building closure and group gathering suspension through Tuesday, March 31st. They will reassess at that time, trying to make the most wise and loving decision for our congregation and community. If you have questions about this, please see our original post communicating why this is the direction we’ve felt the Lord leading to: Special COVID-19 Announcement
Tithes and Offering
The building may be closed but the Kingdom work continues! At this time of uncertainty, we are doing all that we can to serve, support, and assist our church family and community. One way that you can join in this is by continuing to give through your tithes and offerings.
Ways to give:
1. Text: COMING SOON! Stay tuned for more details. 2. Online via goldavenuechurch.org 3. Mailing checks payable to: Gold Avenue Church 49 Gold Avenue NW Grand Rapids, MI 49504
Be sure to keep checking back on the blog regularly as we have plans to be posting lots of encouraging stories, activities, resources and much more. Our church leadership is here to serve and we’re keeping busy trying to adapt to this situation. Stay tuned for more!