Dear Third Family,
As I sit here writing my first letter to you as your new Lead Pastor, I am reflecting back on the story of Third in years past. How we began as a mission to dock workers on the James River. How we worshipped and labored for many years as a congregation in Church Hill, in the old building on East Broad Street I pass almost every day. How we moved to Forest Avenue in the 1950s and began a new chapter of ministry. How God brought revival to our community through pastoral leaders like Alan Meenan, Richard Haney, and Bill Long. How God used Steve Hartman to expand our reach through mission and church planting around the city and world. How God brought us back into Church Hill through East End Fellowship, and now has brought a piece of EEF back to Forest Avenue! It is truly amazing to remember all that God has done.
And yet the story is unfinished. We enter into a completely new and exciting chapter of our story, even as we are in continuity with all that has come before. We are in a new denomination, one that is eager to empower congregations for creative works of mission. We are in a metropolitan city that is growing and changing in dynamic ways, and one in which God is clearly at work to advance his Kingdom and to bring healing and reconciliation. We are in a cultural moment in which growing secularity is requiring the North American church to restore its original identity as a missionary community. Who knows what the next chapter will hold?
There is One who does. As we dream and envision what lies ahead together, we take our cues from the One who reigns and writes the story of history. We want to follow Him and His ways, not our own creative ideas.
For that reason we’ll be spending the first five weeks of the year studying some key passages together in the book of Acts. The book of Acts is not just an interesting narrative on the ancient church – it is our story, the story that we are a part of and that the Spirit of God continues to write for us today. We listen deeply to the story of the church so we know how to live as faithful followers of Jesus in this new time and place.
I am so grateful to be among you in such a time as this. We are together in the greatest story imaginable, the story of God’s renewing and redeeming all things for His glory. May the Lord give us courage and love!
Much love to you,
UPCOMING SERMON TEXTS AND TITLES
Check the THIS SUNDAY page each week to prepare for worship with specific meditations on the scripture passages, notes on worship elements, and reflections on the sermon.
January 18: Acts 2:42-47. The New Community
January 25: Acts 6:1-7. Grace in Conflict
February 1: Acts 8:1-8. The Church for the Joy of the City