A Spring Update From Pastor Gary

Greetings Dear Terrace Shores Family,

Many of you are aware that Carmen and I visited Florida for a couple weeks in late February. Beyond giving us a break from this Wisconsin winter, it also gave us some good time away as a couple. We found a great rate on Spirit Airlines, shared one suitcase to cut down on baggage costs, left our car at a hotel parking lot near the airport, and flew out of sub-zero Midwest temperatures to Ft. Lauderdale's humid temps in the 70's and 80's (Which nearly gave me heatstroke because I hadn't yet had the opportunity to take off my long underwear!). We enjoyed a great time together in Florida, and returned north to temperatures in the 40's and 50's; much better than when we left. The return flight went well, catching a ride to the hotel where our car was parked went smoothly, but when we tried to start our car, we ran into problems. Dead battery! Remember, we had left in sub-zero temps a couple weeks prior. After not being used for a couple weeks, in less-than-ideal temperatures, that battery just didn't have the energy to turn over the starter. Fortunately, I usually carry jumper cables and our kind taxi driver gave me a jump. This caused me to think about the 'jump starts' that will help us as a church family, get back to the place where we are active and all worshiping together again.

It was a year ago this week, that we had our first livestream worship service from Terrace Shores. Since then, most of you have watched one or more services, either livestreamed or recorded. Technology has been a great help for church families around the world to keep in touch and continue ministry.

We have come through this COVID winter, and the beginning of spring is just a few days away. With a vaccine helping to move us toward herd immunity, things are starting to open up more and more. Though there is still need for care, that is great news all of us appreciate.

As we begin to open up, here are a few of the changes recently at TS: We dropped the 50-person limit in our worship services, and began using every pew again (though asking families to still not crowd one another). Children's Church led by Carmen Z. and Colleen Guderski, has been available during our worship services, for children from 5th grade on down. Pickleball players led by Joe Dillie, began using the Turning Point again, three mornings of the week. We began a 'Welcome to the Family' class which is meeting during the late service on Sunday morning. Our youth groups continued to function regularly since last May, but recently, Pastor Ryan has scheduled some of the youth events which were cancelled in 2020.

Looking ahead, we are planning to have a Good Friday Worship Service with Communion at 6 pm, April 2 (This will also be livestreamed). Our Easter services on April 4 will be at the regular worship times of 8 am, and 10 am, with an Easter breakfast in the church basement from 8:30 - 10:30 am. Then hopefully by early May (completely dependent upon the ground drying up, and the weather God provides), we hope to begin outdoor services during our 10 am service once again.

This past year was difficult for everyone, but not all negative. On a positive note, the events of this past year have brought long term change in a few different areas: 1-We plan to continue the practice of doing outdoor services each week during the summer season, weather permitting. 2-We plan to continue livestreaming our early service online each week. 3-Because of your faithfulness in supporting TS ministry without a formal offering time in our service, we will likely continue just having our offering box available. 4-Undoubtedly, all of us will be more conscious of public hygiene. Yet the question remains, will everyone come back to church again? According to a pew research poll done last summer, of regular church attenders, 92% expect that when the pandemic is fully behind us, they will attend physical services at least as often as they did in the past. Time will tell the long-term effects.

In Hebrews 10, the author wrote to Christians who were well acquainted with suffering, and reminded them what an amazing gift God has given in sending Jesus as the final sacrifice for our sins! He (Jesus) has opened the way that forgiven sinners can enter the presence of a Holy God, forever. And since we have this privilege through Christ, to enter the very presence of God, the writer of Hebrews encourages us to carry out some important tasks (Heb. 10:22-25):

  1. "Let us draw near to God...." (vs22).
  2. "Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess...." (vs23).
  3. "Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds" (vs24).
  4. "Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing...." (vs25) (NIV).

Do you notice the progression here? Because Jesus has paid for our sins, and we trust Him for forgiveness, we are to draw near to the Lord, hold faithfully to the hope we have in Christ, and consider how we can encourage one another toward love and good deeds, which includes meeting together to do that. Christianity never was, nor was it meant to be, a spectator sport.

A number of you came back to church as soon as services were open last spring. Many of you have begun worshiping with us again in person, since then. Some of you will do so as the pandemic draws to a close, or once it is completed. We understand that people have different health situations, and thus different levels of comfort regarding crowds. Each needs to do as they feel God would have them. But we hope that all of our church family will eventually join us in person again, as we gather to worship God and encourage one another in love and good deeds. The outdoor services may help with that. But whatever your situation or comfort level, know that you are valued, you are appreciated, and you are missed.

May God help us each respond to Christ in ways that honor Him, individually and corporately. Thanks for reading. Have a blessed and meaningful Easter.

Grace and Peace,

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