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Sisters and Brothers,

When folks are asked to name one word that describes our congregation, the most common responses are family, community, fellowship, and love. That’s what my family experienced when we first visited FPC, a little over nine years ago, as new residents of the area. It is, without a doubt, the hallmark of our church.

That’s good news! It means that we have the foundation necessary to live out the teachings of Christ. Because, they all revolve around life in community. Jesus teaches us that love is really the only thing that matters (Matthew 5:43-45, Matthew 22:37-39, Mark 12:30-31, John 13:34-35). And the Apostle Paul, in his first letter to the Corinthian Church (chapter 13), reminds us that, without love, even the most magnificent things we might do are meaningless.

The love we share is not an emotion. It is not just a warm, fuzzy feeling. That feeling is fickle. Rather, our love is a decision; a commitment (specifically, a covenant) to share our lives – good, bad, and ugly. We are an extremely diverse community of faith. Yet, we work and play well together, precisely because of this love we share.

Several months ago the Session and Diaconate worked together to develop a new system of connections within our congregation. We wanted to create groups of people around interests. This would allow people to develop deeper connections among us, select their groups, and freely explore other groups through activities. The LifeCircle system was the fruit of this work.

LifeCircles do more than just provide recreational or social opportunities. They strengthen our connections (and, thereby, our congregation). They also provide the framework for pastoral care, support, and information sharing. Each LifeCircle has at least one assigned Deacon and Elder. However, they may not be the “leader” of the circle. Each LifeCircle develops its own system to communicate and support its members.

The response to this new approach has been very good. The LifeCircles are established and functioning better than we could have imagined. However, there are still a few folks who have not signed up. This makes it difficult to ensure everyone has the support they need.

Remember that the choice of a LifeCircle does not mean that you cannot participate in the activities of other groups. But, it is important that we have a mechanism for providing “first response” pastoral care and open communication channels with church leadership.

I hope that you will make sure that you have chosen a LifeCircle and communicated your choice to the Church Office. If you have any questions or concerns, please contact me or any member of the Session. Eventually, anyone who has not selected a LifeCircle will need to be randomly assigned to one. But, I hope we will be able to hear from everyone and get them connected.

I feel extremely encouraged about the bright future of FPC. And, I am honored to serve with you!

¬†In Christ’s Peace,

 Pastor Darren