The video above is the announcement Mark Mitchell shared with the congregation on Sunday about recent staff layoffs due to budget constraints, followed by remarks from Joshua Harris. Below is the text of Mark’s remarks.
Two days ago I sent a letter to the church as a follow up on our budget situation and the need to layoff two pastors. I indicated in the letter that with great sadness, the two pastors who have been laid off are Joe Lee and Isaac Hydoski.
It’s very possible that some of you are hearing this for the first time. If so, I regret that this has to be the case this morning. I know how difficult it has been for many to receive this news before now so I can only imagine the challenge if you’re hearing this for the first time.
This is sad news for all of us. These men are beloved pastors, friends, and co-laborers who have served this church faithfully for over a decade. We’re very saddened to see them go. When Josh and I met with each of them to give them the news, it was by far the hardest thing I’ve had to prepare for and do since becoming the Executive Pastor.
Their last day on staff will be January 15. Because Isaac and Joe have served for 12 years, they will each receive 12 weeks of severance pay according to our policy. In the meantime, we’re discussing as pastors how to best redistribute their responsibilities among the remaining staff.
These are godly men and as such they’ve received this news with faith in the Lord, but there is also an understandable measure of sadness because they love this church so much and have loved serving as pastors. Please pray for them, their wives, and their children during this difficult time. Pray that the Lord would comfort and strengthen them and make clear what their next steps should be. And as you see them, please don’t hesitate to encourage them and express your love.
Some of you have written me directly to tell me how difficult this is for you. I’m especially sympathetic for those in our singles ministry who just recently had to say goodbye to Braden and now are faced with Isaac’s departure as well. I know this has to be particularly painful for you. There is a ONE meeting already on the schedule for Saturday, Dec 13th. We’ll take time during this meeting to talk with you and hear from you about these decisions.
We love these men and their families and want to do our very best to show that during their remaining time on staff here. And we love you and understand how difficult this is for you as well. I want to encourage us with these words from Lamentations 3:
my soul is bereft of peace;
I have forgotten what happiness is;
so I say, “My endurance has perished;
so has my hope from the LORD.”
Remember my affliction and my wanderings,
the wormwood and the gall!
My soul continually remembers it
and is bowed down within me.
But this I call to mind,
and therefore I have hope:
The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
“The LORD is my portion,” says my soul,
“therefore I will hope in him.”
The LORD is good to those who wait for him,
to the soul who seeks him.
It is good that one should wait quietly
for the salvation of the LORD.
It is good for a man that he bear
the yoke in his youth.
… the Lord will not
cast off forever,
but, though he cause grief, he will have compassion
according to the abundance of his steadfast love;
for he does not afflict from his heart
or grieve the children of men.
Please join me as I take a moment now to pray.
(Mark prayed for Joe, Isaac and their families, for all those saddened by the news, and for clear guidance and strength from the Lord as Joe and Isaac make plans for the future.)
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November 24 2014 at 4:07 pm 0 Comments
This month we’ve sought to grow in our understanding of the priority of the church and the foundational values of loving, serving and giving as we live together in Christian community.
Take time to re-listen or listen for the first time if you missed a message:
Also, don’t forget the Life Together Devotional Guide full of ideas to help you draw out the meaning of the biblical text, spark application and discussion, and provide ways to talk about these truths with children at home.
We hope you enjoy the above photos submitted by some of our care groups. If you haven’t captured your “care group selfie” yet, it’s not too late! We’ll be continuing to post photos in The Weekly and elsewhere as we receive them.
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October 13 2014 at 9:58 am 0 Comments
All are invited to join us Sunday, October 26 at 10 a.m. to hear guest speaker Léonce Crump, lead pastor of Renovation Church in Atlanta, Ga., speak on the role and importance of diversity in the kingdom of God.
Originally from Louisiana and raised Catholic, Léonce began following Jesus at age 16. Always an athlete and a talker, Léonce outran his first mall security guard (and pregnant mother) at age 3, and spent most of his grade school years talking with his principals on the subject of public speaking during class. He has been in ordained ministry for nine years, is a graduate of the University of Oklahoma and holds Masters degrees in Criminal Justice, with a focus on Case Law, Missional Leadership, and is currently finishing his Masters of Divinity at Reformed Theological Seminary.
At Oklahoma he was an All-American wrestler and played defensive end on the Sooner football team. After college he competed to make the world team in wrestling, played professional football for the New Orleans Saints and coached collegiate wrestling. He experienced an extended time of rebellion and running from God during college, but after 22 months of living as though he were not a Christian he surrendered to Jesus and ultimately to God’s calling into ministry.
Léonce pastored in three other churches prior to coming to Renovation Church, and started and led three college and young adult ministries. In 2006 he felt called to plant a church and through prayerful seeking of direction settled on the under-served area of downtown Atlanta. In early 2008 he and his wife moved to Atlanta from Tennessee to begin the process of planting Renovation Church. In 2009 Léonce was assessed and approved as a member of the Acts 29 church planting network and began a partnership with Perimeter Church in Atlanta in their commitment to local church planting.
Léonce and his wife Breanna have two daughters and have lived in the Grant Park community of Atlanta for over four years.
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September 29 2014 at 6:20 pm 0 Comments
Video above, and text below of Mark Mitchell’s prayer yesterday morning in church:
“Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases.” [Psalm 115:3]
Lord we acknowledge your universal sovereignty and your inexhaustible wisdom as God. You do according to your will among the host of heaven and among all the inhabitants of earth. No one can keep you from accomplishing your purposes and no one can question your wisdom or timing in when you choose to act. The counsel, purposes and plans of your heart stand forever and cannot be thwarted by any human or spiritual activity.
Lord, your Word makes clear that the heart of the king, and by implication every human authority, is under your sovereign direction, and like streams of water in your hand, you turn it wherever you wish.
Father, in all things, good and bad, pleasant and difficult, in blessing and in trial, you act according to your good and holy purposes and for the glory of your name.
So we worship you and honor you and declare that you are worthy of our complete and unwavering trust.
Father, thank you for bringing the civil lawsuit to an end. Thank you for showing us mercy in the outcome. Thank you for sustaining us as a congregation throughout the last two years and for helping us to trust in you as we’ve waited for this moment.
We acknowledge that this result doesn’t end the difficulty of those who have been affected by the civil lawsuit or the pain of those who have suffered because of sinful and criminal actions against them.
• We pray for those who have suffered physical or sexual abuse. We are grieved by these horrific sins and pray for a deep and powerful working of your Spirit in the lives of these victims and their families. We ask you to bring comfort and peace into their lives. Father, we pray that you would please do for them what no doctor, health professional, counselor or pastor can do. Bring a deep and abiding healing to their souls and fill them with hope for a life of peace through relationship with Christ. Please do this for these dear men, women and children who are precious in your sight.
• We pray for any and all who have been falsely accused in this lawsuit. We ask you to strengthen their faith, act on their behalf, and restore their reputation. We pray that you would keep them from the evil one who may tempt them to anger or bitterness and we pray instead that you would fill them with mercy, compassion, and forgiveness toward those who have sinned against them. We pray that you would enable us to love and support them as a church family.
• We pray for the plaintiffs and their families. We don’t know the totality of what they’ve experienced. We simply ask you to have mercy on them. We pray that you would bless them and do good to them. We pray that in every way they would know and embrace the loving kindness of Jesus Christ. You tell us in your Word that as far as it depends on us, live in peace with all men. We pray that to the extent that peace and reconciliation is possible, that you would bring that about according to your wisdom and power.
• Finally, I pray for this dear congregation. I thank you for each and every one. They are your people, your saints, your loved ones. I bless them and thank you for them. Thank you for their patience and forbearance. Thank you for the support, encouragement, and prayers they’ve extended to us as pastors. These last 2-3 years have burdened and tested us as a congregation. Strengthen us by your Spirit and may Jesus Christ dwell in our hearts through faith and fill our gaze as we behold him in your Word.
Father, you have loved us and called us to be your own from before the foundation of the world. Lord Jesus, you are the Good Shepherd, the Friend of Sinners, and the Head of the Church. We thank you for redeeming us from our sins through your death and resurrection. Holy Spirit, you are our ever-present Helper. You are with us, you strengthen us, and you will never leave us.
Triune God, we bless you, and it is through the strong and compassionate name of Jesus Christ we pray. Amen.
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September 17 2014 at 11:52 am 0 Comments
We built one another up as a community.
We greeted one another, welcomed guests, gave offerings to further the kingdom. We heard announcements about our life together, including upcoming classes and events.
We were sent into the world.
Mark Mitchell shared a few words to help us personally apply the sermon, and we closed with a doxology from Ephesians 3:20-21.
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August 19 2014 at 8:59 am 0 Comments
Jesus had a busy, difficult life.
From the moment he was baptized and stepped into the public eye, the Messiah rarely had any time alone. If he wasn’t teaching huge crowds or performing amazing miracles, he was spending time with his disciples or dealing with constant attacks from Israel’s hateful, faithless religious leaders.
But Jesus always made time for children. Consider the accounts of Matthew 19 and Mark 10. In the latter stages of his earthly ministry, Jesus left his home area of Galilee, traveled south into Judea and crossed the Jordan River. Large crowds followed him, wanting to hear his powerful words and see his remarkable healings.
Then the Pharisees showed up. These hypocritical leaders and Old Testament law experts were always trying to trap Jesus in his words. On this day, they tested him with a random question about the lawfulness of divorce.
After a lengthy, contentious conversation—and then a follow-up discussion with his slow-to-understand disciples—it would’ve been perfectly understandable for Jesus to want some time alone. But then people began bringing little children and infants to Jesus so he could bless them. Jesus’ disciples tried to shoo the children away. They considered the kids a nuisance.
But Jesus rebuked his disciples and then spoke some of the most beautiful words in Scripture: “Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven” (Matt. 19:14). Then he gently laid his hands on them and blessed them.
Jesus clearly loves children and places a high value on them. His heart toward children reflects the intimate care God the Father shows for each individual life (Ps. 139:13-16). He used children as an example of the simple faith and humility that Christians are to emulate. And he issued a stern warning to anyone who would harm a child (Matt. 18:6).
Jesus’ joy around little ones is instructive. If the eternal, all-powerful Son of God has a tender heart for children, we should, too. As a member of Covenant Life, one of the greatest ways you can mirror the Savior’s love for children is by serving in Discovery Land. Jesus didn’t let busyness and other responsibilities keep him from loving the next generation, and neither should we!
No matter what your spiritual gifts are, there’s likely a place for you in Discovery Land. Visit the website for a list of available positions. We still have a great need for volunteers in most of our departments.
There is great joy in caring for little ones and teaching them about the Savior! But don’t just take our word for it. Here are a few testimonials from some current volunteers:
“I appreciate serving on the Safety-Security team for the joy it brings, to know you are serving the children, the church and the Lord in a practical way. It seems to be comforting to the parents to know we are there to help protect the children, to give directions or be helpful in other ways as needed.” —Scott Bates, Safety-Security
“Serving in Discovery Land worship is awesome! When the kids first come in at age 2, it’s just blank stares (and some crying), but by the end of the year, many of the kids sing along and with enthusiasm. It’s been a blessing to watch these kids grow and develop a joy for praising God!” —Paul Kim, Traveling Worshipper in Discover (ages 2-3)
“Serving in Discovery Land has strengthened my faith to overcome my weaknesses. I have learned how to humble myself (e.g. listen more than speak), be patient and show compassion towards the little ones in different situations. Serving with kids is a wonderful experience!” —Kartika Dougherty, Adventure (1st-5th grade)
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