Good Growth Is
A New Members' Class will take place on January 23rd from 9:00 AM to 2:00 PM.
Cru Winter Conference, February 5-6
Vision Trips, March 7-11
Editorial Staff Letter, p. 1
Brining in the Barnes, p. 2
Reaching Out to Our Community, p. 3-4
Church Work Day, p. 3
Our Retreat, p. 4
Learning About Urban Faith Mission, p. 5
Family Game Night, p. 6
The Pratt Appreciation, p. 6
Aspire Christmas Tree Lighting, p. 7
Letter from Pastor Rod, p. 9-13
Media You Can Use, p. 14
A Year of Unexpected Blessings
A Recap of 2020
Letter from the Editorial Staff
The strange year of 2020 has nearly come to a close, and the fresh start of 2021 is upon us. Though many would like to forget 2020 ever happened, to simply press forward without reflecting on the problems and blessings of this past year would be doing ourselves a disservice. In some ways, this year was stressful, confusing, and irritating. (...In some ways...)
Thankfully, we have a God who brings about lasting growth in the midst of stressful, confusing, and irritating situations. Was the growth you experienced this year worth all of the inconvenience and discomfort? Jesus is worth thanking for the unexpected blessings (in every form) that He brought about over the past 12 months.
This newsletter is an attempt to do just that thing. We will share with you all a summary of what has happened at Communion Chapel in 2020 so that you can marvel at the goodness of God along with us. And, I would recommend that you also take time to reflect on your personal 2020 experience sometime over the next few days!!
For His glory,
Welcoming Roderick and Darlene Barnes
Roderick Barnes came on staff as our lead pastor in January, 2020, with his wife, Darlene. We were very excited to have them on staff. Roderick has been focused on team building, outreach, and promoting discipleship at the church. We are all challenged by doing these things during COVID; but God has graciously worked in our midst to make them happen. Mike Pratt became our new Equipping Pastor when Roderick stepped into the Lead Pastor role.
Calypso Outreach Begins
We first met the wonderful residents of the Calypso apartment complex through a Valentine's Day outreach this past February. Pastor Pratt and Pastor Rod were able to meet Joel Ramirez, Sam Owens, and some of the youth. On that day, we handed out Valentine magnets that were created by staff (e.g., Brianne) and volunteers (e.g., Allie and Josh). We have seen those magnets on the refrigerators of people we are now in fellowship with. Looking back we can see that February was the start of some sweet friendships!
June & July
Calypso Feed and Read
Beginning in June and lasting throughout the summertime, we hosted a Feed and Read Program with a handful of Calypso families. The manager of the Calypso property was Angelinda Medina; she listened and made suggestions on how we could work together to serve the community. When the time for the Feed and Read was close she made sure fliers were put on every door. Every weekday, we would deliver meals to the families and read through the Gospel of Mark over Zoom with the kids. Their reading comprehension improved as a result. We gave the kids tablets to borrow for the reading time, and when they finished the program, they were presented the tablets to keep as their own at the graduation ceremony we hosted. The pictures are from the graduation ceremony.
In August, we began hosting meetings on both Sunday afternoons and Wednesday evenings to read through the gospel of Matthew. The primary attenders of these meetings were our new Calypso friends. These meetings are similar to normal church services, but they happen over a meal and they are set up so that discussion throughout the meeting is welcome and encouraged.
Friendship with Aspire Management
We also began meeting up with the management team of the Aspire apartment complex at this time. This lovely group of women was excited to partner with us to start up an Aspire Feed and Read for the fall, and they have continued to brainstorm with us about the best way to cultivate community life at Aspire. We are very grateful to have their support as well as their friendship!! Remember the earlier mention of Angelinda Medina? Well she was at Calypso. But, thank God, she was moved to Aspire. Through her we had gained a friend with the staff and an advocate for doin things that would benefit the community. Like what? Like a Christmas Tree Lighting.
Church Work Day
We had a much-needed church workday this past August 29th. The church building was cleaned and maintained in a way that it had not been in several months since COVID-19 caused shutdowns. The patio awning, with an effort led by Robert Belz, was also put back up. The following pictures are from this event.
Thanks to everyone who came and helped out!!
Aspire Feed and Read
After hosting a luncheon for the Aspire residents in order to spread the news about the Feed and Read, we had a handful of families who said that they were interested. There was only one family, though, who participated in the reading program the entire time and was able to keep their tablet. There were many residents whom we were able to bless with weekly meals, however. So this time, we were able to cultivate relationships more through the "Feed" part of the program than the "Read" part. We are glad to have our Aspire friends!! The flyer on the top right of this page is what we handed out to the families to spread the word about the Feed and Read. The picture immediately below is from when we were handing these flyers out at Aspire.
Servant Team Retreat
Every once in a while, we host a day retreat for anyone who serves at Communion Chapel or is interested in doing so. This quarter, it was held at Roderick's and Darlene's house.
Communion Chapel Social Committee
They are quite talented. Who? Tammy, Delia, Lulu, Rosemary, and Patricia Gallegos. Only the first three are officially on the Social Committee. But they worked together to give us a great plan for much needed gathering, a push for the Christmas Eve Service, and the hands behind great dcorating.
Urban Faith Mission Food Distribution
Another outreach we did during this month was helping out with Urban Faith Mission's work in the community. Led by Scott Kiolbassa, we packed up bags of food at the church and then drove to deliver them to families in need. The families were grateful, and we enjoyed learning about Scott and Ruby Kiolbassa's ministry. (One of us even went home with a kitten!!) Looking to invest wisely? Check out Urban Faith Mission (https://urbanfaithmission.com/). It is doing great work to bring real help to the community. And where many intend to do something of substance, UFM has vision and staying power. Pray about how God would use you to help.*
*Communion Chapel is not partnered with UFM and does not imply with this artlcle that there are future collaborations planned. We are merely voicing our support of the Kiolbassas and what God is doing through them.
Family Game & Movie Night
On October 24th, Communion Chapel hosted a lovely game and movie night. The movie was called Do You Believe? , and we had special activities with the youth who were in attendance.
Towards the beginning of November, we had a celebration in honor of Mike and Rosemary Pratt. Several people spoke about their appreciation of everything the Pratts have done for the church over the years, and Josh Hurt led worship for us. There were also large amounts of delicious food that we shared together. We have a lot of excellent cooks in our congregation!!
Children's Hunger Fund Boxes
Another thing we did during the month of October was fill boxes of groceries for Children's Hunger Fund. As a church, we were able to collectively fill 20 boxes. Thank you to everyone who helped fill a box!!
Bo and Texie Bohannan presented gifts on behalf of Communion Chapel.
Alex and Julie Mandes attended the Pr att Appreciation. Dr. Alex Mandes is the planting pastor; he delivered a rousing message.
Aspire Christmas Tree Lighting
At the beginning of December we partnered with the management team at the Aspire apartment complex to host a Christmas event for the residents. We decorated a Christmas tree with the families and we had some of our Awana clubbers come and explain the Gospel in front of the residents. We also passed out cookies, hot drinks, stuffed animals, hand-painted ornaments, and little books containing the Gospel of John. The Aspire residents listened attentively to the Gospel as it was presented, and many of them were even videoing the entire thing. Though we were not initially expecting a large turnout, around 70 people were in attendance!! It was all around an incredibly enjoyable and festive time.
Rosa helps to manage facilities and on this day helped to light the tree.
Mario helps to manage facilities. Angelinda Medina leads the staff
in caring for the residents.
Christmas Eve Service
We had a lovely Christmas Eve Candlelight Service at 5 PM for those who came in person or for those who chose to stream it in their own homes.
2020 and more
Do you know what the Awana ministry is? We are part of the Awana organization that reaches out to kids from preschool through high school (where available). Each week, there is a time for games, learning about Scripture, and Scripture memory. Our kids memorize a TON of verses each year! Since Awana runs during the school calendar year, we finished the 2019-2020 year a little yearly due to COVID.
We began the 2020-2021 year on Sundays instead of Wednesdays this September. This has made us more attractive to more families. We have been able to add new families this year. Our attendance is running around 30-35 kids each week with about 10-12 adult leaders and helpers assisting. COVID-19 has caused us to make some health adjustments, and all the families are in full agreement and participating in our adjustments. We are looking forward to finishing this school year in 2021 with excitement since the level of enthusiasm is up as we come off the holidays. Please be praying for these students to finish the year with strength.
Staying Connected During the Pandemic
The year of 2020 saw many changes in the ways that we shopped, worshiped, did business, Thankfully, we have different means of communicating today through our technology. We were able to set up different Missional Communities through ZOOM to keep connected and to study God's Word together. For many people, these groups became a way to stay connected with others in the body while separated from everyone while sequestered in their homes. Through our communities, streaming, Facebook, etc., our numbers actually grew! Each groups has been encouraged to have elements of prayer, worship, service, and Scripture study. We have had studies in Ruth, Acts, a biological study of Samson, and a mini-series on "Angelic Announcements." If you have not been participating in a community but would like to do so, go to our website anc click on "Missional Communities" on the top tab. Choose the group that fits your schedule, and then contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (210) 523-5800. Our website is www.communionchapelefca.org.
Lunch with Lane Tow after worship on 2020.03.15. Lord, thank you for her healing.
Dear Communion Chapel Family and Friends,
It is New Years Eve and I am sitting in my office at home reflecting on 2020. I am remembering. Why? Using our memory to recall stored up Scripture helps in the pursuit of holiness (Psalm 119:11). Remembering what Christ has done for us goes a long way toward living effectively (Luke 22:19). In fact, God often tells people to call to mind His past works as an aid to present-day good decisions (Deuteronomy 5:15; 15:15; Matthew 16:9). Take a moment to remember with me.
My Fellow Elders
The elders have enjoyed some great meetings and good laughter together. With some of you I have enjoyed conversations about studying and discipleship. Together we recalled the benefit of reading Master Plan of Evangelism and aids to leading well. A few of us have dialogued about comics, science fiction, and the practical realities of upgrading our technology infrastructure. Recently we have even had some heart-to-hearts about struggles, weaknesses, and challenges on home fronts. Thank you, men!
And then there is your preaching. Brethren, it has been a pleasure to hear you explain the Scriptures and exhort the fellowship. Through your times in the pulpit I have been given (1) a respite from the pressure (and pleasure) of preaching and (2) well-prepared meals from the Scriptures.
I hope and pray that God will be at work both in and through us mentoring others toward maturity in Christ, preaching the word, and taking the gospel to the community. This will undoubtedly be met with reprisals from the enemy. But He has promised he will never leave us not forsake us. We can see that in this past year. He has helped us with elder meetings, decisions about finances, supporting one another through losses, and learning to love in crisis. Praise His name! That is what I remember.
My friends (and family) in Cru have helped to make it a great year. It was tough not knowing how to meet, how to support, and how to plan. In the end there were adjustments and more than a few students that began helping with life at Communion Chapel. You helped decorate, prepare food boxes, create ornaments and cards, and serve meals during the Feed and Read.
During the 2020 Summer your staff team worked with us on the campus preparing meals, hosting Zoom-based sessions for reading the Gospel of Mark, and helping us to understand your challenges. In the fall the students joined us in lunches where we discussed Bible study tools, Scripture, and life. Cru also became a good part of Sunday afternoon services where we ate and interactively studied together. You asked questions and participated. We loved it. Thank you, Jesus! That is what I remember.
The harvest is plentiful. Laborers, on the other hand, are few. This is not just with evangelism. Such is the case with servant leaders and the congregation. But the COVID-19 pandemic, for all the problems it has caused, provided a context for displaying your willingness to serve. A number of you stepped up to help with caring for the fellowship. Instead of everything going through the pastors and elders, a group of you began leading and supporting missional communities. When it was not possible to gather according to custom these communities served to help care for the church, do outreach, and give us more contexts for discipleship. And I remember some good Wednesday night sharing about what was happening in our small groups.
You worked through the challenges of learning to use Zoom, reading through my notes (when they were available), and checking on your people. God has used you to care for people - shepherding is what it is called. I know that some of you will likely recoil at the idea that you were shepherds or shepherd support, but the truth is that you were praying, teaching, and caring for God's people. What do you call that? Thank you, Jesus! That is what I remember.
Calypso and Aspire
There have been a great many things that I did not foresee this year. Who, besides God, knew that we would meet Chris, Sophia, Sam, Joel, Juan, Essence, Ebony, Valerie, Evan, Eric, Heidi, Alicia, James, Angelina, Jessica, Rosa, Carlos, Mario, Rodrick, and (taking a breath), Raul, Portia, Nae Nae, Kendrick, Venus, Francine, Daisy, and too many others to name. Forgive me. Through you there have been great gains for our fellowship in people, outreach practices, and partnerships. And we are meeting new people almost daily! I remember visiting with you, decorating a tree with you, and talking about Christmas with you. Thank you, Jesus! That is what I remember.
There have also been losses. We loss Lynne Tremble and Joy Postell. Those still hurt. And there have been more losses from among your own friends and family. We did not see these things coming in 2019. I am with you in remembering each of them.
Worship and AV Team
Who knew that we would get the grand assemble of worship leading that we have head. Sure, COVID-19 has made it hard to worship together. But we have also be blessed with growth and diversity in our worship times. Faith DeBow, a renown pianist on load from Three Rivers Community Church, has graced us with many hymns. Dan and Suzy continue to lead well and now are bringing it to us in recordings and in Spanish. Julius and Valerie Campbell (aka Julerie) have surprised us with choirs (of themselves), great renditions of favorites, and sometimes in Spanish. Finally, there has been a song or two from Josh Hurt and his team; he brings eye-catching t-shirts and worship that moved many during the Pratt Appreciation. We did not see these things coming in 2019. But we thank God that they did. Thank you, Jesus, for the diversity in our worship (Revelation 7:9-10). This is what I remember.
We did not know how we were going to get some things done. There was a need for tablets, a need for help, and a need for encouragement. The Schambergers stepped in to ensure that we have the encouragement and resources needed to study with the people in the Aspire Feed and Read. Hillside Fellowship, where my brother Dave Tooker pastors, was willing to meet with us and then step in to help with getting the things needed to reach the community. Since then we have conducted more outreaches, seen people become attached to the fellowship, and some have started interacting in discipleship relationships. Have they received Christ? Some have. Others have rededicated or have begun to ask questions about how to live effectively for Jesus. Thank you for helping us.
Also, you took a chance nd let a broken man like myself preach in your great fellowship. Thank you!
When I look back on the year I see God helping us through others who want to promote Jesus. This is what I remember.
Wednesday Night Fellowships
On Wednesday nights we have spent time in the word with people from our community. During these times Pastor Pratt and Robert Hollis have helped unpack basic doctrines of the Christian faith. These are times to ask questions, enjoy a meal, and have fun.
During these meetings we have sung, celebrated birthdays, studied what the Jesus follower believes about Christ, the Holy Spirit, sin (harmatology), and Scripture. These have been good times. Thank you, Lord! I remember these.
Who knew that Rusty Carolan could sing and play guitar? That is what he has been doing in our Monday prayer meetings. And who knew that Linda Carolan has such a passion for using every moment to promote faith in Jesus. We learn about her adventures weekly in our prayer meetings.
God has answered prayers for healing, help with small groups, the development of treatments for COVID-19, and outreach for our church. I remember sincere pleading for God to work in our nation and our fellowship. I remember singing hymns led by Rusty. I remember times learning about how Linda is using evangipacks to share Christ with others. Thank you, Jesus! This is what I remember.
The list goes on and on. What do you remember about how God moved in our midst in 2020? Most can recite the troubles that we have faced. And we do well to not forget them. As we mourn in godly ways we are made better (Ecclesiastes 7:1-4). But can you tell of His mercies in the midst of the misery, His salvation in our suffering, and His ongoing kindness and interventions of grace?
Psalm 103:1–5 (NKJV)
1 Bless the Lord, O my soul;
And all that is within me, bless His holy name!
2 Bless the Lord, O my soul,
And forget not all His benefits:
3 Who forgives all your iniquities,
Who heals all your diseases,
4 Who redeems your life from destruction,
Who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies,
5 Who satisfies your mouth with good things,
So that your youth is renewed like the eagle’s.
Remembering will help you in the call to live effectively in the service of the Lord Jesus Christ. It will help others who need to hear reminders of His love for them.
Thank you for reading this far. May God be at working helping you to both remember and count your blessings. And may He give you vision and vigor to glorify Him in 2021.
In His grip by His grace,
Roderick L. Barnes, Sr.
Dinner with the elders of Communion Chapel on 2020.09.03. Many thanks to Thomas Haines for his work with finances.
Jasmine and Vaughn Hollis worked to make the Feed and Read work. They also helped beautify our campus with a few plants. Thank you Allie for leading in this.
They are affectionately referred to as
The Wonder Twins.
In addition to helping with creating the online assessments for the Feed and REad they continue to help with AV on Sunday,
Lulu Belz helping to serve the community on 2020.10.24 using one of her superpowers.
Cru staff and students have been a welcome part of 2020. Many thanks to their team for conversations and introducing us to students.
Julius and Valerie have helped with worship, Men's Fellowship, and small group activities. Julius, in this picture, is celebrating his birthday.
Allie, Alicia, and Brianne putting together meals for the Feed and Read community. It was more than a little cool seeing them work through challenges to serve others.
Robert L. Hollis has been helping out with teaching on Wednesday nights and in our second service. He brings a passion to wanting to explain the Scriptures.
Roderick Barnes (Communion Chapel) and Dave Tooker (Hillside Fellowship) catching a bite and discussing collaboration to bring the message of Jesus to more people. Dave stuck him with the bill.
Here below are a few videos that either have been shared from our site or that have benefited our staff team. There are more to come in the way of worship videos. (Guillermo Medina has given us lyrics with the worship videos.) Look for these in weeks to come.
The Bible Project - The Book of Ruth
Videos for Our Community
Dr. Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum Video 3 of 3
(link available in digital format only)
Healing and Trust (Guillermo Medina)
Dr. Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum Video 2 of 3
(link available in digital format only)
The Heart of Worship (Dan Strader)
Dr. Arnold G. Fruchtenbaum Video 1 of 3
(link available in digital format only)