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Newsletter - February 2015

The Gatekeeper, February 2015

News Stories


Eastgate to Celebrate the

 Lessons of Lincoln on

 Sunday, February 15

Eastgate will again celebrate Lincoln Sunday on February 15 during worship.  Rev. Joshua Patty is preparing a special sermon, coinciding with the 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s death, entitled “To Lay Down One’s Life: The Martyrdom of Abraham Lincoln.”

Once a common tradition, especially in American Protestant congregations in the first half of the 20th Century, Lincoln Sunday celebrates the legacy of the 16th President.  In addition to the Lincoln sermon, Eastgate’s worship that day will feature hymns of the period and readings from the King James Version of the Bible, which Lincoln read and often quoted.

The sermon will explore the issue of finding transcendent meaning in sacrifice.  It will consider the meaning of the assassination of Abraham Lincoln in the final days of the American Civil War.  The sermon will compare Lincoln’s untimely death with Jesus’ teaching in John 15 on the nature of love, which Jesus perfectly embodied through his own life and death.

The traditional prominence of Lincoln Sunday was described by Edgar DeWitt Jones, an ordained Disciples pastor and a recognized expert on Lincoln, in his 1948 book Lincoln and the Preachers:

“The tributes of the pulpits to the memory of Abraham Lincoln continue unabated and seem in truth to gather momentum with the flight of the years.  Every anniversary of the Emancipator’s birth, memorial sermons are announced and delivered by the thousands.   One has but to read the church page in his newspaper to be reminded how Lincoln conscious is the American pulpit.  It is not unreasonable to put the number of sermons and addresses given annually by Christian preachers and Jewish rabbis at five to ten thousand, and the estimate is likely to prove conservative.  Practically one minister and rabbi out of three has prepared at least one sermon or address on Lincoln; some of them half a dozen.”

Rev. Joshua Patty has been studying the life and legacy of Lincoln for over 25 years and is the author of the Lincoln-related blog Lincolniana, where he shares insights into exhibits, books, and artifacts related to the 16th President.  In previous years he has preached Lincoln sermons on such topics as the Lincoln birthplace cabin, Lincoln’s developing years in New Salem, and the meaning of the Gettysburg Address.  This year’s Lincoln Sermon will be his twelfth.

 “Circle of 120” Praying for Eastgate

What would happen if numerous people prayed daily for Eastgate’s ministry?  Would our understanding of God’s purposes for us become clearer?  Would our faith grow?  Would anything change?

In the days after Jesus’ resurrection and ascension to Heaven, the disciples struggled to comprehend what had happened and what they were supposed to do next.  According to Acts 1, several of the disciples “were constantly devoting themselves to prayer.”  All told, these men and women numbered 120.

Following days of prayer, these followers of Jesus gathered together on Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit powerfully appeared in their midst and they boldly shared the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Peter preached, but it seems the rest of the disciples helped baptize those who were transformed by Peter’s sermon – an amazing 3000 people that day.

The results are not always immediate and dramatic, but one thing is clear.  Prayer changes things.  A number of people praying together can change situations and can transform lives.  Together they prepare themselves to recognize the presence and purpose of the Holy Spirit in their midst.

You are invited to become part of the Circle of 120 at Eastgate during these weeks of Lent and Easter.  By Pentecost, we would like to have 120 people commit to pray for Eastgate Christian Church and its ministry every day.  By “constantly devoting themselves to prayer,” this Circle of 120 can prepare Eastgate by “Rekindle the Flame” of the Holy Spirit – to envision God’s particular dreams for Eastgate now and in the coming years and to better understand how to make those dreams realities.

You can be a part of this special group in the coming weeks.  All it takes is a commitment to pray for Eastgate Christian Church and its ministry every day in the coming weeks.  In February, there will be an informative brochure, which will include a simple sign-up form.  In the coming weeks, there will be reminders and suggestions of things to include in your prayers.   Periodically, you will be asked how many days you have prayed.

This Circle of 120 expands beyond just Eastgate members and attenders.  The ministry of Eastgate Christian Church can have a positive impact on our friends and families, our neighborhood, and the wider community.  We invite the prayers of these people too.

Prayer is a powerful thing.  It can change situations.  It can change people.  And it can change Christ’s church.

Pastor's Note


Five Things That Can Make Us Happier & More Fulfilled

 If I were rich, I’d have the time that I lack to sit in the synagogue and pray. / And maybe have a seat by the Eastern wall.  / And I’d discuss the holy books with the learned men seven hours every day. / And that would be the sweetest thing of all.

In the well-known musical “Fiddler on the Roof,” Tevye imagines how his life would be different in the song, “If I Were a Rich Man.”  He would live in a better house and be a more respected member of the community.  His wife would be happier, married to a wealthy man.  People would seek his opinion because he would be recognized as wise.  And he would have time to practice his Jewish faith.

Most people can identify with Tevye, which is why the musical was so popular.  Almost everyone wishes they had more money because it would make life easier and more comfortable.  And most people wish they had more time they could focus on their faith.

As a pastor, I frequently hear some version of the following: “I try.  I want to pray, read the Bible, and come to church every week.  I just run out of time.”

Time is a challenge for everybody, placing limits on how much we can do in our workplaces, with our families, in our churches, and in our communities.  It limits how much we exercise, how much we keep up the house, how often we talk to friends, and how often we unwind.

Just keeping busy, though, is not the answer for a good life.  We can race through our days, constantly doing something from morning until night, and still end the day (or the week, the month, the year) feeling like we are missing out and not quite living as we should.

When we realize this, though, we usually try to fix it by adding more activities to our busy lives – read the Bible more, go to the gym more, etc.  Over the years, I’ve wondered if a better approach might be to simply make sure that we do some basic things each day.

I believe that it we do five kinds of things each day – and if we recognize that we have done them – we will be happier with our lives and more fulfilled in our faith.

Pray.  Every day we should share time with God.  Prayer reminds us to be thankful for God’s blessings in our lives.  It encourages us to remember others facing difficult times.  It can make us humble, reminding us that we are not in control of everything, and also bold, knowing that God does have purposes for our lives.

Help someone else.  Cut the grass for your elderly neighbor.  Help the kids with their homework.  Send money to help those around the world struggling against the challenges of poverty, disaster, and war.  Offer your time to a community not-for-profit.  Share some of what you have, what you know how to do, and what you are passionate about with others.

Learn something new.  If you’re not growing, you’re dying.  So keep expanding your knowledge and experience.  Read a book.  Visit a new place.  Keep up with the news.  Watch a TED Talk.  The possibilities are endless.

Share an emotional connection.  Let down your guard and share what you’re feeling with someone else.  Let down your guard and open yourself up to what someone else is feeling.  These moments of love, grief, joy, fear, or compassion deepen and enrich our relationships.  Often they are shared in person, but they can occur in a phone call or an exchange of personal notes as well.

Celebrate life.  In the course of each day, do something that you truly love to do.  God did not create us to be tired or miserable and to spend all of our hours working.  Jesus said, “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (John 10:10).

It seems to me that a faithful and well-lived life has these five things.  Surprisingly, most people of faith do all of them regularly.  If we are doing each of these five things every day, though, we don’t usually realize it.  These things get buried by all of the other things we do and the other stuff we worry about.

Perhaps we should take time near the end of each day to ask ourselves: Did I do these five things today?  Did I pray, help someone else, learn something new, share an emotional connection, and celebrate life today?

Doing this shouldn’t add more to your busy schedule, other than that this brief moment of reflection.  Most of us already do these things, just not every day.

In fact, our ministry at Eastgate points to the importance of these things.  Worship provides opportunities to pray and learn.  Our frequent service projects help others.  Game Day is an opportunity to have fun.  Through it all, we have the chance to develop close, emotional relationships.

The challenge is to do these things daily.  This is one of the goals of Godsway 66 – to encourage people to learn about God’s teaching a little every day (hopefully in an engaging way).  It is also one of the possibilities of our new Circle of 120 – to invite people to commit to praying every day.

Doing this won’t make your wealthy or magically create seven free hours in the day to pray or read and discuss the Bible.   However, doing these five things every day may give you a sense of fulfillment in your life and in your faith.

Blessings, Josh


Short Announcements


Office Notes

Board & Ministry Meetings Monday, February 2

The next Board and Ministry meetings of 2015 will be on Monday, February 2.  Ministries meet at 7:00 p.m., at the discretion of the respective chairs.  The Board Meeting will begin at 8:00 p.m.  If you have items for discussion, please contact Joel Griffitt.

Weather-Related Closings

If winter weather causes a worship service to be canceled, Eastgate will attempt to contact people through email and by telephone.  Also, canceled worship services will be announced through WDAF-TV (Fox 4) and KCTV (CBS 5).

During the week, Eastgate follows the example of the Independence schools; if they are closed, then so is the Eastgate office and all activities are canceled that day.  On other days with wintry weather, if you wonder if a meeting or activity is canceled, contact the organizer or leader to double-check.  If you plan on dropping by the Eastgate office during snowy and icy conditions, call first.

Our first concern is your safety.  If you don’t feel like you can safely get out of your house and come to Eastgate for worship or any other activity, please stay home.

Region Calls New Tall Oaks Director

In a special vote, the Regional Board of our Greater Kansas City region called Kenny Funk to be the new Executive Director of Tall Oaks Camp and Conference Center.  Kenny currently serves as director of John Wesley Ranch Retreat Center near Divide, Colorado and has about 20 years of experience in camp/retreat ministry.  Kenny will begin his service on March 23; current director Lyle Bracken will retire that month.

 Recycle Old TV’s

If you got a new TV for Christmas, you can take the old one, working or not, to Best Buy at Independence Commons.  Flatten the box it came in and bring to the church recycle bin.  That way it won’t tip off burglars that you have something new worth stealing.

March Newsletter Deadline Thursday, February 12

The deadline for submitting items for the March newsletter is Thursday, February 12, 2015.  Please try to turn in information to the office on time.

Sharing the Love of Christ

Game Day Get-Togethers Thursdays, February 12 and 26

You are invited to join us for a relaxing and enjoyable afternoon of games and snacks.  Game Days will be held on Thursdays, February 12 and 26 from 1:00-4:00 p.m. in the Fellowship Hall.

“Souper” Bowl Sunday February 1

Church in Society is encouraging people to think about giving while anticipating the big football game on Sunday, February 1.  They are sponsoring “Souper” Bowl Sunday, a soup drive to support Community Services League.  Please bring cans of soup and put them on the designated table that day.  Thank you.

Week of Compassion, February 15-22

1 in 5 people live in extreme poverty (according to Bread for the World).  1 in 8 people face hunger (United Nations Development Programme).  1 in 9 people don’t have access to clean drinking water (United Nations).  1 in 11 people cannot read or write, 64% of these women (UNESCO).  1 in 29 people faces a natural disaster each year (Christian Aid).

Week of Compassion is the relief, refugee, and development ministry of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), directing resources to help people in these challenging circumstances.  50% of their funding supports disaster relief and emergency response; 25% supports sustainable development programs (agriculture, water, education); 8% supports refugee ministries.  Another 8-10% supports volunteer mission activities and mission trips.  (The last 6-8% covers all administrative costs.)

Eastgate will collect a special offering to support the vital work of Week of Compassion on Sunday, February 15 and Sunday, February 22.  This is the first of six special offerings collected throughout the year which support the ministries of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).

Church in Society Collects Canned Goods

Eastgate’s pantry continues to run low.  Church in Society asks that you bring canned goods and other nonperishable items to restock the shelves.  Extra items will be shared with Community Services League. Church in Society also reminds you to bring toilet paper and paper towels for Hope House. 

Seeking God in Faith

Godsway 66 Adventure Continues

Eastgate will continue Godsway 66, a study of the 66 books of the Bible, in February.  The adventure now looks at the return of the Jews from exile in Babylon and begins the wisdom literature of the Hebrew Bible.  February sermons include: Nehemiah, February 1; Esther, February 8; and Job, February 22.

There are daily scripture readings and other resources for each book online at www.godsway66.com and on the Godsway 66 Facebook page www.facebook.com/godsway66.  Audio recordings of previous sermons are also available.  There also will be some extra readings during the rest stop on Godsway 66.

The February daily readings for Godsway 66 are:

· Nehemiah: Jan. 26 – Nehemiah 1:1-2:20; Jan. 27 – Nehemiah 4:1-5:19; Jan. 28 – Nehemiah 6:1-7:4, 7:73-8:18; Jan. 29 – Nehemiah 9:1-10:39; Jan. 30 – Nehemiah 12:44-13:31.

· Esther: Feb. 2 – Esther 1:1-2:23; Feb. 3 – Esther 3:1-4:17; Feb. 4 – Esther 5:1-6:14; Feb. 5 – Esther 7:1-8:17; Feb. 6 – Esther 9:1-10:3.

· Bonus Readings: Feb. 9 – Psalm 119:1-32; Feb. 10 – Psalm 119:33-72; Feb. 11 – Psalm 119:73-104; Feb. 12 – Psalm 119:105-144; Feb. 13 – Psalm 119:145-176.

· Job: Feb. 16 – Job 1:1-2:13; Feb. 17 – Job 3:1-26, 4:1-21; Feb. 18 – Job 19:1-29, 21:1-34; Feb. 19 – Job 33:1-33, 38:1-30; Feb. 20 – Job 40:1-9, 42:1-17.

· Psalms: Feb. 23 – Psalm 15, Psalm 23; Feb. 24 – Psalm 27, Psalm 34; Feb. 25 – Psalm 58, Psalm 84; Feb. 26 – Psalm 103, Psalm 122; Feb. 27 – Psalm 137, Psalm 146.

Boy Scout Sunday, February 8

Eastgate will celebrate Boy Scout Sunday during Worship on February 8.  Members of Eastgate’s Cub Pack #483 will open the service with the presentation of colors and share some of their current activities.

Prayer Partner Breakfast Saturday, February 7

The Prayer Partner Breakfast will be Saturday, February 7 in the Fellowship Hall at 9:00 a.m.  Peggy Gray will have the devotional, and Rev. Patty will host the breakfast.

You are invited to join the group for a monthly time of devotion and prayer or to submit prayer requests to the Prayer Partners in the basket on the back table in the sanctuary.  If you have questions, contact Pastor Josh.

Adult Sunday School Classes

There are two adult Sunday School classes that meet each Sunday.  Both gather together in the sanctuary for a time of music and prayer at 9:15 a.m. and then have class sessions.

Beginning in February the Pairs and Spares class will center on “Stewardship for Life.”  These sessions from Matthew, Luke, and Ephesians are concerned with fasting, serving others, and reasons for good stewardship in relationships with others. 

The Seekers class will continue study on the book of Jeremiah.

You are invited...you are welcome to either class.

Ash Wednesday Service, February 18

Eastgate will mark the beginning of the Lenten season with a special Ash Wednesday service on Wednesday, February 18 at 6:30 p.m.  The service will include the imposition of ashes, special music, and the Lord’s Supper.  Rev. Joshua Patty will begin our Lenten focus on “The Nature of Love” with a special meditation, “Love is Patient.”

Dessert, Coffee & Prayer on Wednesdays in Lent

Eastgate will offer midweek prayer services on Wednesday evenings during Lent from February 25 through March 25.  Each service will begin at 6:30 p.m. and will explore the Lenten theme, “The Nature of Love.”  There will be scripture readings, a time of communal sharing and prayer – including prayers for Eastgate as part of the “Circle of 120,” and Communion.  Also, dessert and coffee will be served before each prayer service at 6:00 p.m.

Lenten Devotionals Available

The weeks leading up to Easter are a good time to reflect and to deepen one’s faith.  Eastgate’s Worship Ministry has purchased Lenten devotionals to help you in this season of preparation.  This Love Changes Everything is a prayer journal that offers daily scripture readings, prayer starters, and a question for you to reflect on each day during Lent.  You can pick up your copy of This Love Changes Everything from Jean Ebert beginning on Sunday, February 15. 

Youth Participation in Worship

This year, Eastgate is beginning a program to invite young people ages 9-13 to work with alongside the elders and deacons during Worship services.  If you have children or grandchildren you would like to participate, please see Rev. Joshua Patty for more information.

Women’s Spring Retreat, Tall Oaks March 13-14

The regional women’s spring retreat will be held at Tall Oaks from 4:00 p.m. Friday, March 13 through 4:00 p.m. Saturday, March 14.  This spring’s theme is “Picture It” and Rev. Donna Rose-Heim, Interim Regional Minister, will be the keynoter.  Registration is available through the Regional Office.  Early bird registration is open now and continues through February 13.

Dare to Lead!

Are you interested in learning about new possibilities for being a church that actively transforms lives and communities?  Our Greater Kansas City Region, in partnership with the Hope Partnership for Missional Transformation, is presenting two “Dare to Lead!” programs for congregational leaders in March.  The programs will be held on Saturday, March 7, 2:00-4:00 p.m. at New Vision Christian Church and on Sunday, March 8, 4:00-6:00 p.m. at Fairview Christian Church.

“Dare to Lead!” is an introduction to a larger program called “THE JOURNEY” to develop new congregational leadership styles for ministry.  Board officers, elders, and ministers are invited to attend.  You can learn more about the program online at www.hopepmt.org/transform/the-journey

Seminar on Communion Saturday, May 16

You are invited to a special Saturday workshop on the Lord’s Supper.  Rev. Dr. Mike Graves, preaching professor at St. Paul School of Theology, will lead “Eating Jesus Again for the First Time: Rethinking Holy Communion.”  This interactive workshop for clergy and laity will be held at New Vision Christian Church, Saturday, May 16 from 9:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m.  The cost is $15 per person and includes snacks and lunch.

Association of Disciple Musicians, June 23-28

The 2015 national workshop of the Association of Disciple Musicians will be held June 23-28 at William Jewell College in Liberty, Missouri.  The conference will feature several local church and music leaders, including preaching professor Rev. Dr. Mike Graves, composer Mark Hayes, and organist Jan Kraybill.  The theme is “The Colors of Worship” and will include seminars and worship services.  There will be reduced registration fees for local participants.

2015 General Assembly, “Soar!” in Columbus, Ohio

The 2015 General Assembly of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) will be held July 18-22 in Columbus, Ohio.  This gathering, held every two years, brings Disciples from across the United States and Canada together for worship, workshops, business meetings, and more. 

The 2015 theme is “Soar!”  Inspired by Isaiah 40, it will be a time of reflection and inspiration exploring themes of comfort, preparation, call, and challenge from God for those who would be faithful.

Online registration is now open, with early registration discounts available until April 1.  More information is available on line at ga.disciples.org.  Eastgate is entitled to grant voting privileges to 4 people for the business sessions.  (If you plan to attend and are willing to be a voter, please speak with Joel Griffitt or Rev. Joshua Patty.)  As an ordained minister in good standing, Rev. Patty is a voting member of the General Assembly and plans to attend this year.