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Wow! Six months flies by quickly. But that's what it's been. December 31st marked the end of my first six months at Holy Cross and January will mark seven! And what an amazing six months it's been. The love, support and kindness you all have shown to me, and my family has been overwhelmingly positive and has brought us great joy! A big "Thank You" to the Call Committee and Boards for a smooth transition. A big "Thank You" for all your generous Christmas gifts during the holiday season. A big "Thank You" for accepting and loving us! Darcy and I love the Holy Cross family and can't wait to see what Jesus has in store going forward.

This newsletter, or blog as some call it, is intended to help keep the lines of communication open as best possible so that you can be up to date with what's going on at Holy Cross. As a pastor, I want you to know, I have 3 main jobs from Scripture. First, is to preach the Word of God in its entirety and administer Jesus' Sacraments (Baptism and the Lord's Supper) according to His institution. This means I can't shy away from difficult topics but, prayerfully, dig into them with love and grace. Secondly, it's a pastor's job to help lead Jesus' church. This happens according to Scripture, of course, but also how our Constitution and Bylaws are set up. I have the honor and pleasure of walking alongside your elected Board of Directors, Board of Elders and fantastic staff. Finally, a pastor's job is to equip you for the work of the ministry. The fancy Bible word we use for this is "discipleship" and it comes from Jesus commission to "make disciples of all nations." And I take discipleship very seriously. So much so, it includes helping set a simple and clear vision for the church and developing ministries that help us grow as disciples who make more disciples, as Jesus commands.

To begin our journey in a healthy way, I wanted to start year one together by simply building relationships and developing the resources necessary for a strong and healthy foundation with a new pastor. This includes resources like an updated website, a policy-based governance manual for the Board of Directors, added communications like e-news and text messaging, leadership training, and the like. The Board was already working on a new database when I arrived and implemented some updates to our Welcome Team as well.

Please know, this is a marathon not a sprint. Most of the time, Jesus grows His church over time and never in a straight line. In fact, statistics tend to bear out that it takes a new pastor and the people of his church, a minimum of five to seven years just to build the trust and relationships necessary for a movement to begin. So, let's take it one day at a time, but let's take it together, as a family.

A few notes of interest for you as we move forward into the next six months of my time with you. First, the Board of Directors is finalizing the work necessary to install the new digital marquee along the very busy West Arkansas Lane. With this new marquee, we hope to be able to communicate who we are and what we do, for our fellow Arlington drivers. We don't have an install date yet, it takes time to build the sign, but we do have the plans and approval. The next steps are to simply let the marquee company do all their work. The generosity you offered in helping fund the marquee over the last number of years, along with the great work of the marquee committee and Board of Directors, is GREATLY appreciated! The poeple of Holy Cross made that happen. And it's going to look amazing. If you would like to see a rendering of what the new marquee will look like, plese click this link.

Second, the Board of Directors was discussing plans to update the Worship Center before I accepted the call to be your pastor. They were kind enough to wait on those decisions so that I could have some input as well. The primary reasons for the updates are to extend and complete the remodel work already done to the rest of the building after the ice storm 3 years ago, to increase emergency exits for safety and so that our facilities are in alignment with and communicate clearly, what we claim we believe about God.

Please know, I understand how difficult changes to a worship facility can be. Followers of Jesus should take worship very seriously. With that often comes a deep seeded set of preferences for what the worship space should or should not be like as well.  I would like to encourage you however, to consider the collective good of the whole, over and above any personal preferences. Why may you ask? Well, first and foremost, personal preferences are not driven by unity, Scripture, or vision. And frankly, there are always so many personal preferences to go around, churches are unable to cater to every one of them that comes along and are an unhealthy place from which to make decisions.

For the Board of Directors, and as noted above, the unifying factor is that our worship facilities are in alignment with and communicate clearly what we claim we believe about God. That is, we want our worship facilities to communicate to our guests, and members too, that God is sovereign and worthy of honor. It may surprise you to know, that church guests, especially those who are on the fence about religion, are skeptical of churches who claim God is worthy of honor, but their last facility update was fifty years ago. Churches claim to be welcoming, but their facilities can, at times, suggest we don’t care. At Holy Cross, we want to avoid that and communicate to all who worship with us that we value their presence by offering to them fresh, up to date, and safe, facilities for worship and discipleship.

Don't get me wrong. This is not about care and maintenance. I can see all the extra hard work the members of Holy Cross have put in over the years to keep the facilities clean and in great working order. There is no question about that. Holy Cross is in great shape and the Holy Cross family should be proud of their hard work over the years. But for those who worship with us, with a special eye on our guests, it is now time for the worship facilities to catch up with the new designs and safety measures. Not only that, but it's good stewardship to keep our facilities up to date. While our goal should never be to chase the latest annual decorating fad, and we should always want to budget any updates within the financial means God has provided, keeping our facilities up to date ultimately, communicates to all who worship with us that we believe their presence with us is worth the added effort of keeping ourselves current to this decade.

One of the first updates you will see is a plan to shift the furniture in the direction the building was designed to face. If you look at the ceiling, and those majestic beams, they all increase in height toward the East wall. Our first work will be to shift our seating toward that east wall so the furniture fits in the building as it was originally designed, with a center aisle in the middle of the seating. Moving the furniture first, before any remodel work, will also give us a chance to test the new arrangement out and see how it benefits us during worship. The rest of the plans are still in process. But we appreciate your prayers and support.

Lastly, please check out our new website. If you are reading this, you're on the new site. But if you click up on the logo at the top of the page, it will take you to the homepage and give you an opportunity to explore the updates. Church websites are a tool to help us advertise to our community. So much of the information you see will be geared toward gusts who are wanting to know more about us. We hope the new design is helpful and appealing.

There will be more updates to come, be sure of that, but I hope this letter finds you well and blessed by Jesus.

In Him,

Pastor Luke