Happy November. We almost have to remind ourselves what month it is -as the virus has changed things so much. The months just keep running together and we are moving through the year so quickly. We can’t go and do what we are used to and we can’t be together the way we want to. Nothing is the way it use to be but know that it is ok because God is still with us and just as active as he has been. Yes things are different, but with change comes the ability to see God in a new way, and experience what he is doing in our lives and in the lives all around us.
God knows everything that we are going through and everything that we are experiencing and he will give us the strength and wisdom that we need to get through it. He knows us better than we know ourselves and he is walking every step of the way with us. He is working miracles and he is leading us in the direction that He wants us to go. Stay strong in your faith. Trust God and watch for his presence all around you.
Whether you are joining us in person for worship, online, or if you are not able to know that you are still part of our family and we care about you. You are not going through this alone and we care. We want to let you know we are only a phone call away if you need someone to talk to or someone to listen –Please feel free to call me anytime. I don’t want anyone to go through this alone. If you know someone who needs anything please give them my phone number, or I can call them. I want you to be able to stay in touch with your faith family. I know that things have gotten really hard on everyone. The church is here for you and it only can be because of your generosity and commitment . God wants to thank you for the way that you live out your faith.
As we enter into the holiday season please stay safe, follow the CDC guidelines and pray for one another and all those who have been affected by the virus in any way. God is going to get us through this. He is with us and is blessing us each and everyday.
In Christ’s love,
Rev. Stephen W. Barch
Another month in which we continue to shelter in place and look out for one another. Another month of social distancing and still trying to stay connected to one another. The longer the shelter in place continues, the harder it is on people who just want to be with family and friends. We were not made to social distance- and it is hard on people to be away from one another. We, as the body of Christ, have the calling to reach out to our brothers and sisters and find ways to connect and let them know that they matter. Even though we can not be together physically, we are together Spiritually and emotionally. We, as the church, are now called to find new and unique ways of connecting to one another- both those within the Church as well as those outside the Church. When we were called in our baptism, it was to live out our faith, growing each and everyday into our baptismal vows. God has given us many different ways and many different situations, and he is with us in all of them. We too often become comfortable going to church and praying with other like-minded people and calling it “living out our faith.” Jesus called us to live out our faith outside the walls of the church - reaching the least, lost, and forgotten. Church is where we are fed to have the strength for what God has called us to do.
What an opportunity we have now! We need to reach out in faith and know that God is with us. He needs our hands and our feet to do the work that He wants to accomplish. When we offer it to the Lord and work for his kingdom here on earth, we see wonderful things happening. We see God at work and we get to work with Him. What an Awesome God we have. Our have to’s become get to’s. I get to do this for the Lord. We realize what a privilege our baptismal calling is to us and the world that we are in. Yes, things around us may have changed, but our calling has not changed and we are continually growing in our faith and the opportunities that God continues to give to us daily.
If you, or anyone you know, are struggling or are lonely PLEASE give them my phone number and tell them they can call me and we can talk. There are many people who are struggling with all kinds of challenges during this time and they need someone to talk to. My phone is (309)361-0182. May we all pray for one another. May God bless our thoughts and deeds. All for the kingdom of God.
Rev Stephen W. Barch
As we continue to deal with the coronavirus and take every precaution that we can, we need to remember that God is bigger than any pandemic. God loves us and has called us to be part of his body of Christ here on earth. The Church is not the building, and it is not our gathering together on Sunday Morning. It is the way that we use the gifts that God has given us to witness to his presence in our lives. It is the way that we care for one another and treat each other as children of God. It is the way that we use our faith in our daily lives.
Faith is a verb and not a not a noun. How are we are using our faith to make a difference in our lives and in the lives around us? Jesus called his disciples to take his message into the world. He wanted us to not just go to church on Sunday, but to put our faith into action; lead others into a relationship with him; to care for their needs and to show them the power of his love~ alive and in action.
This pandemic has changed things for everyone, we can not go out and about the way we used to, nor can we get together the same way we used to. We have had to change our daily routines, but with each challenging time throughout history, there have been times of opportunities found in them as well. How are we going to step out of our comfort zone and take a risk? How can we step out in faith and show the world that “Yes” our God is alive? He is just as active today as he has been throughout all the stories of the Bible. Jesus’ disciples are ordinary people that have been sent out to carry on his mission to show the world God’s love in action. We have been called to use our talents to tell the world of the infinite love and grace in the body of Christ. May we use this opportunity to change the world, one heart at a time.
Rev. Stephen W. Barch
Isn't being a Christian Awesome? As we continue to live in such an uncertain time, we as Christians know that God is alive and he is with us and will walk with us every step of the way. Yes, we may be self quarantined and away from each other physically, but spiritually and emotionally we are connected and time and space can not separate us from the Love of God. His presence and the gift of the Holy Spirit are ours and they can not be taken away. Neither life or death neither principalities nor anything else can separate us from the love of God. He is with us in the very minute of things to the very important events of our lives. We have a God that loves and cares for us more than we love and care for ourselves- (and for some of us that is a lot).
As we continue to deal with the loneliness and the issues within our own families, our communities, our state and with the pandemic that is world wide, we really do have a lot going on and a lot to get us down. God knows and understands everything we are going through and everything that we are thinking and feeling. He wants us to know that his love and strength is stronger and bigger than anything that the world has to offer. To be loved that much is mind blowing, but we have it and we get to live in that love every minute of everyday. Not only do we get to live in it but we have been called to experience it so that we can pass it on to others who do not or have not experienced it in their lives. We are God’s vessels of love and grace to those who he has put into our lives. We have opportunity after opportunity to live into our calling. To grow in our relationship with Jesus Christ and as I have said “Jesus will meet us wherever we are and he will constantly make us more like Jesus.”
The body of Christ has been called and ordained to stand up when things are rough and to live the faith that we profess with our heart and soul. Jesus is alive and with us. He is our lord and Savior and he will give us the strength and the wisdom to journey to our promised land. As we continue in the midst of everything we have going on to worship and praise his almighty wisdom and strength. Yes, it is a wonderful time to be a Christian, just like all those faithful Christians, who have gone before us, we will endure to the end, because we know that God is alive and well. He is faithful to his promises and he has called us to be faithful to our promises . May God be blessed in our thoughts, words, and deeds this day and everyday.
May God bless us,
I wanted to write and let you know that we are planning on returning to in-person church services on July 5th, with precautions. Your safety is our highest concern. That being said, we are going to offer three different options of going to church:
Safety Precautions We will have some expectations of you as we return.
May God bless us,
In a TEDx video called “The Transformative Power of Classical Music,” Zander says the job of a conductor is not to talk a lot, but to awaken possibility within the players on an orchestra. He adds, “If their eyes are shining, you know you’re doing it.” (I encourage you to watch the full clip, but this part is at the 16-minute mark if you want to jump ahead.)
In these days of wearing masks and full PPE, our eyes are still there for our family, coworkers, neighbors, and others to see. Our smiles are covered, but our eyes are not. Shining eyes may be one of the most encouraging non-verbal messages we can send to each other. While we are dealing with physical distancing from family and friends, as well as navigating continual change and complex challenges at home and at work, it can be challenging to keep our spirits up. Still, I believe little moments of “shining eyes” are a great gift to ourselves and to each other—even during this global pandemic.
It happens when we exchange words of encouragement with each other after a tough day. It happens when we ask for help, and our leaders and mentors are there for us. And it happens when we reconnect to the passion and purpose we feel when caring for one another and members of our community. That’s how we awaken our own possibilities during times of change as we show people how much they matter, and that God loves them.
As always, thank you for everything you do on behalf of your faith and for the body of Jesus Christ here on earth. Stay strong and know that God’s eyes are smiling on you. You are being smiled upon from me each and everyday. I give thanks to God for you and your beautiful “smiling eyes.”
Please continue your regular tithing. You can send it to the church office or Mary Anderson’s
As I sit down to write this article I am amazed at all the wonderful things that are going on around us. We have some pretty amazing people in our families, our Church, Our Community, and our nation. Yes the virus has changed our routine, but it has also brought out some really genius community connectedness. God is alive and he is working in and around us. My beautiful wife Lisa gave me a text that said –
The devil is speaking to God and he said that he was going to send a virus that was going to change everything about daily life and it would wreak havoc on all aspects of life. It would shut down things and would disrupt even church services. God said “that is ok I will use it to rebuild the family, make people talk to one another and reconnect in ways that they never thought possible. I will show them my love in new ways and will allow my church to worship and serve in new and exciting ways. My love will grow and continue to unite people together. You will see the gates of hell will not prevail– My Love is stronger.”
What an awesome God we have. He will take whatever we have and use it for good. We will get through this. It will not be easy, and it will definitely change us, but it will change us for the better. God always works good out of any situation. He is alive and with us every day of our lives and he is always watching over us. God promises to be with us and give us strength, peace and guidance but he never promised to make it easy or quick. The Israelites went on a forty day Journey to find the promised land and it took them 40 years to find it. (they should of stopped and asked for directions).
Or when Jesus let us think that sin had won and He died on the cross only to be raised from the dead and show us that nothing is stronger than his love. That he will and does bring good out of the things that we have messed up. That he is with us every moment of every day of every year. That he is always protecting us like a loving shepherd who protects his sheep.
As we read the Bible stories and we know “the rest of the story “ as Paul Harvey use to say, it is easy to see what God was doing and how God was leading his people through tough situations. We think that they should have seen God and realized what he was doing, Well as we continue to deal with the virus we need to remind ourselves that God’s got this, he will work good out of it and he is with us. He asks that we pray, share his Love and look out for one another.
Don’t ever doubt God’s love for you, his presence in your daily life, and his gift of the Holy Spirit which is inside of you, calling forth your best and your trust in his goodness. Watch what he will do—He always amazes us. God is so abundantly generous with his Love and Grace.
May God be blessed….always and forevermore.
Rev. Stephen W. Barch
As we continue to navigate our way through the uncharted territory of being confined to our homes and social distancing ourselves away from one another– It is really a time for the church to shine and stay strong. Everyone is getting really anxious and filled with fear and uncertainty. Rightly so, as we have never gone through something like this. It will cause even believing Christians to be scared and worried. Know that God understands. He is with you every step of the way. We listen to story after story on Sunday about people who have gone before us who were scared and going through uncertain times –their faith also was shaken and they were scared. It really brings their story alive for us. It has been easy to listen to the gospel stories and because we know the way they turn out to say that they should have believed more in God and He would have gotten them through the crisis.
Now is our time to put our faith into action. The world is going to be looking at the church to see if we really believe what we preach. Yes, we do believe and know that God is alive and He is with us throughout this whole thing. Yes -the virus is going to affect people that we know and love and it may not be easy to get through this, but know that we stand together and God is amongst us calling us to Pray for his healing Grace. Pray for his presence, Pray for his Love, Pray for an outpouring of his Holy Spirit. Know that God is bigger than the corona virus and He is with us throughout this Pandemic. He wants us to rely on his Saving Grace. The same grace that has gotten us through every other crisis in our life.
It is when we stand together that we see the body of Christ, so I am asking you to call one another and really look out for one another. If you know someone who needs prayer or someone to talk to PLEASE let me know or give them my cell phone number (309) 361-0182.
The virus is one of the problems, but being shut in causes depression, anxiety, and anger issues and so we need to really be there for one another at this time. Believing in the God who loves us and wants us to depend on his Goodness, love and Power.
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Philippians 4:6
With that being said I want to let you know that I am here for you—I may not be in the office, but I am available. If you or someone you know needs anything please call me. Faith and Church are really important at a time like this, so we need to be church for one another.
We are still trying to do our worship service and taping it and getting it posted by Friday for the coming week. I am also trying to post a message on Wednesday as well. These will be on our Facebook page for the church. Please check them out and let me know what you think or things that would make it better. If you do not have Facebook please let us know and we will try to get it to you another way.
Holy Week and Easter Sunday will be here soon, and we are looking into what our options are and we will let you know what we come up with. Please know that you are in my thoughts and prayers. May God bless you with an out pouring of his Holy Spirit and love.
In Christ Love,
Rev. Stephen W. Barch
As we begin our Lenten journey I read an interesting article entitled ~ “Survey says 24 percent of Americans observe Lent”
It got me wondering why we have lost our observance of Lent? Does it not matter in our faith life? What is Lent all about? Why do we need to prepare for the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ?
Lent is a solemn religious observance in the liturgical calendar that begins on Ash Wednesday and ends roughly, six weeks later on Holy Saturday ( it excludes Sundays). The purpose of Lent is the preparation of the believer through prayer, doing penance, repentance of sins, alms giving , atonement, and self—denial—all things that Jesus did for us.
In Lent many Christians commit to fasting or giving up certain types of luxuries as a form of penance. Many Christians also add a Lenten spiritual discipline, such as reading a daily devotional or reading the Bible. All Lenten practices are done to bring the believer in touch with the sacrifice that Jesus Christ made to take away our sins. It is to change our focus from being satisfied in this life so that we can focus on the life that we are all created for and are citizens of by our very baptisms. Our observance of lent then should be done with the intention of focusing on those things that are going to bring us closer to our calling--becoming more Christ-like. (Yes -these are the very things that we are called to do all year long) but Lent is a season that we come away with Jesus to his desert experience to better focus our calling. Our observance of Lent does make a difference and directly influences our celebration of Easter. I pray that each of you will have a holy Lent.
May we grow together in our Spirituality as we journey through our Lenten
season together. May we all be seriously committed to become like Christ.
In Christ’s love - Rev. Steve
As I start this letter, it is a good time to look at what we are accomplishing as a church body. It is so wonderful being part of such a spirit-filled congregation.
Remembering that we are called to be the body of Christ, it is what we should measure all of our activities against. How are we being the body of Christ to one another and the community that we have been called to serve—Brimfield, Illinois.
We have been given a special gift from God and He needs us to use those gifts to build up the body of Christ on Earth. So yes, our faith is our calling to grow closer to Jesus Christ in the way that we think, act and believe. It starts with a healthy and united congregation. We should be able to agree and disagree respectfully and always be striving to work together to minister to each other and the community around us. People are watching us to see that we believe in the way that we act. Christ is present with us and He wants us to bring our challenges to Him and ask for His help. May we stay connected to one another and realize just how blessed we are.
As you know our congregational meeting has been changed, so our year is getting a late start, but we have some wonderful things planned for this year, and they can only happen when everyone is doing their part and helping out where and when they can. I am asking that if you have time to offer, please see Ginny or myself or the person in charge of the committee that you want to be involved. I really want to get this year off to a good start and continue to grow together physically, spiritually and emotionally. That being said—I am always here if you ever need or want to talk about things going on or things that we can be doing. Please never hesitate to call me anytime or come into the office on a Tuesday afternoon to see me. You are all my extended family and I love you and want to grow together. Thank you for your example of Faith, hope, and Love.
May God bless you.
Rev. Stephen W. Barch