Our mission at Reach Church is simple yet profound…we live to reach all people with Nothing But Jesus. The reality is that many times in life, we are tempted to focus on everything BUT Jesus. Jesus is not only for those who are skeptical of Christianity, but for those who have been Christians for decades. When we are about Nothing But Jesus our lives begin to change.
Dear Reach Church,
Last night I was called at 11:30pm and told there was an active fire inside our church. When Melanie and I arrived, we were met by a firefighter who is also a parent of Red Lion students. He prayed with us and directed us to the command center where the Fire Marshall was stationed. There were fire trucks all up and down our entire driveway and firefighters everywhere. We thanked these fantastic men and women who put their lives on the line to keep us safe. Several firefighters were on a lift drilling holes in the steeple in order to release the smoke. The law enforcement officials shared that random pews and several of the window sills in the sanctuary appeared to have been intentionally set on fire and that equipment had been thrown off the balcony to the main floor. The officials stated the obvious---that it was apparent that the fire had been set intentionally. The place where many of us had just sat together for Core Team Training, the place where we worship together, laugh together, cry together, hear the word preached, and commune together was now a crime scene where our church had been egregiously attacked. The Fire Marshall asked that we wait to release the information regarding the origin of the fire until today. Our security infrastructure, including our surveillance equipment, performed exactly as intended.
There is a tremendous amount of water and smoke damage in the sanctuary and throughout other areas of the building. We have been told that the sanctuary will not be useable for several months. Bill Becker, our Operations Manager, and our team, are working with our insurance company (we have an excellent policy) and local contractors to begin the long process of assessing the extensive damage and rebuilding our sanctuary.
I was interviewed by ABC 6 News today (the interview will be broadcast this evening at 5:00pm) and the reporter asked for me to describe the emotions that we are experiencing at this time. I shared that we are going back to the Scriptures and are reminded of Paul’s words to Timothy…that “we have not been given a spirit of fear or of cowardice, but of love, of power, and of self-discipline” (2 Timothy 1:7). That we are reminded of James’ words to the scattered early church that had experienced persecution that we cannot fathom…to “consider it pure joy when we face trials of many kinds because these trials develop perseverance in us and that perseverance must finish its work in us so that we will be complete and lacking nothing” (James 1:2-4). I shared that our mission is three words: Nothing But Jesus, and that we are called to see all of life through the lens of Nothing But Jesus (I Corinthians 2:2). This means that when someone sets themselves up as our enemy and does what this person did to our church building that we are reminded of Jesus’ challenging question in Luke 6:32…”If you only love those who love you, what credit is that to you?” And that Jesus commands us in Matthew 5:44 to “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you”. This means that it is actually freeing to forgive the person who committed this intentional evil and pray for them to encounter Jesus as we have. I told the reporter that the Reach Church is not relegated to a building, but it is a living organism of our precious people…you (I Peter 2:5). I shared how much I love our congregation and how I have no doubt that this will bring us together as never before. I am so sorry that we are facing this evil, but I am convinced that Joseph’s words in Genesis 50:20 are true for us today…“what man meant for evil, God will use for our good”.
You now know essentially what I know about the fire, but more importantly, my hope is that you will turn to the Scriptures and to the lens of Nothing But Jesus as you process what has happened. We are committed to sharing as transparently as possible regarding this incident including the details regarding the motive if the person responsible is caught and that information is disclosed to us.
While the following plans are fluid and subject to change as the situation develops, we still want to bring you into our planning as we move forward as a church family:
At our first Core Team Training, I shared that given the events of 2020, we believe this time in our church’s history is yet another “watershed moment” where God is doing something new among us (Isaiah 43:19). We are definitely being “refined in the fire” and our prayer is that refining will “result in praise, glory and honor as Jesus is revealed to us more and more” (I Peter 1:7). Don’t miss what God is doing! Be part of it. As the Body of Christ, we need you to continue to come alongside us in this spiritual journey (Ephesians 4:16). While we are deeply saddened by what happened last night, we can’t wait to see how God’s plan for Reach Church will continue to unfold!
I love you all very much.
In Christ Alone,
Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, to all God’s holy people in Christ Jesus at Philippi, together with the overseers and deacons: Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now, being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. ~ Philippians 1:1-4
Our pastors, elders and staff agree that we could easily write the same encouraging, honest, transparent, challenging, and Christ-centered things to Reach Church that Paul and Timothy wrote to the Philippian Church. Throughout our 35-year history, Reach Church has always been a “Philippian Church” (the most encouraging example of an imperfect church in the Scriptures) and the way you have responded to the crazy and unexpected events of 2020 has been no different. Because of the way God has fought and won one battle after another for us, we are emerging from the events of 2020, not wounded or weakened, but resolved and poised to pursue our mission of “living to reach all people with Nothing But Jesus” as never before. In fact, our world needs this message like never before.
Our world has changed dramatically since March. Now, as we begin to return to a sense of normalcy, and as we press towards resuming in person worship and ministries, we must understand that we are not returning to the same world we left behind months ago. Though we may return to some of our favorite restaurants, cheer for our sports teams again, and finally get some much-needed hugs, the culture around us has changed. We must fight our desire to simply return to a new level of normal. Instead, we must continually ascend to our roles as Christ's ambassadors in the world we live in, never simply reverting back to the known, but to transcend to the new level of good that Paul shares in his letter to the Philippians. A focus on truth. A focus on unity. Majoring on major things and not minor things. Encouraging one another. Investing in the next generation. And fighting off any wolves (Paul calls them “dogs”) who may threaten the flock in our pursuit of Nothing But Jesus.
We believe that the world events are such that all churches will need to approach the coming days not as a finish line, but as a starting line. To that end, we are launching a CORE Team of Reach Church. You don’t have to be a super spiritual person or have your whole life figured out to be part of this team. You don’t have to be a long-time member or previously involved in lots of stuff to be part of this team. Like I said, this is the starting line! Therefore, on Monday, July 13th at 7:00pm, we are inviting you to be a part of CORE Team Training! We believe we are positioned to make a profound impact on our community with the message of Nothing But Jesus, but we need every person in our church to find their unique role! Maybe it's simply to be present, to be more intimately connected with your church family and to simply take the next small step of your faith journey. Perhaps you have been on the sidelines for years…it’s time to “forget what lies behind and press forward to what lies ahead” (Philippians 3:13). Perhaps God is calling you to lead a volunteer team, lead a small group or Bible Study, become a church officer, or lead worship. Maybe your calling is to greet people at the door and make people smile. Maybe it's to be a part of the lives of our children or teens. Whatever you find your calling to be, the body of Christ needs you. Reach Church needs you to reach all people with Nothing But Jesus!
CORE Team Training will start on Monday, July 13th in-person at the church! We will practice social distancing and invite you to wear a mask if you feel comfortable with doing so. However, we don’t want anything to hinder your ability to be part of the CORE Team! You will be able to Zoom if you must participate from home. We are excited to offer this hybrid format, and we will provide materials to keep your kids busy and engaged while you are in training! We will spend Monday nights together for 8 weeks, concluding on August 31st.
We are encouraging EVERYONE to commit to be a part of CORE Team Training. We are expectant that God will use this time to unite us together as a church, to strengthen your own spiritual journey, and to further ready our church for what is to come - because we believe the best is yet to come!
In Christ Alone,
Pastor Chuck L. Betters, on behalf of the Session and Staff
Tomorrow morning at our online service, I will have am extended conversation with our Pastor Emeritus, “PB” (as he is affectionately known by many), about being a father, but also about other lessons he has learned as well. I am really excited to hear his responses to the questions I have developed and I pray they will be an encouragement to you. We will also give you an opportunity to drop a question in the comments section of whichever online platform you are using...so be thinking about questions you may want to submit!
The change and turbulence all around us is such that the eventual normalizing of culture won’t be a finish line for those who are going to impact the culture but a starting line. I am convinced that these times represent amazing opportunities for the church to broker the message of Nothing But Jesus in many new ways. One great example of that are our outdoor worship services.
It has been ironic that even with social distancing measures these services have still been great times of connection and encouragement. If you have not yet attended one, please come out next Sunday evening (June 28), at 6:00. We have areas where you can social distance, and we have other areas where you can stay in total isolation from others if you are in a high risk category, or if that is your preference.
When will we begin meeting inside on Sunday mornings? That is a great example of a question that won’t matter as much in this new world we are entering. Because of our property, we have regular opportunities to come together and worship which is all the matters. Our dream, which we realize we will need to continually test based on real world conditions, is to only begin meeting inside when being inside is the best way to pursue our mission of “living to reach all people with Nothing But Jesus”. Right now, continued outdoor Sunday evening worship services and Sunday morning online services, together with continued opportunities for Bible study and discipleship, is the best way to pursue that mission! Our plan is to continue with these outdoor services since that gives us the best of both worlds: both safety and togetherness.
We are looking forward to another memorable and encouraging Sunday at Reach Church!
In Christ Alone,
We realize that this doesn’t impact most of you; however, we are pleased to share that Reach Church has given Tri-State Christian Academy (TSCA) to Crossroads Bible Church (the church where the school is located in Elkton, MD). We believe that localized leadership is best for the advancement of TSCA and that this change will allow us to narrow our focus to our local ministries. We are thankful for the way God used us at TSCA to help for a season. We continue to have a great relationship with the families of TSCA as well as with Crossroads Bible Church and wish them all the best.
This decision also allows us to bring some of our finest teachers, also Reach Church members, from TSCA to Red Lion. Mr. Turner Jones, the former principal of TSCA, will be our Bible Department Head, Denise Holt will be returning from TSCA to teach high school Science, Katie Frist will be transferring from TSCA to teach high school Math, Andy Hendry will be transferring from TSCA to teach Bible, and Noel Gasorek will continue her outstanding work at Journey Christian Academy, our school for students with special needs.
We are also pleased to announce that Mr. Kurt Sarac has been named our Dean of Administration at Red Lion. Many know of the Sarac’s long time support of our church and work in local ministries such as Door of Hope, but you may not be aware of his business acumen. Bill Becker, who has been serving as our Operations Manager at the church, was conducting an evaluation of Red Lion when he and Kurt, who has served as a teacher at the school, began interacting. Eventually, Kurt presented a business and ministry plan for Red Lion that is, by far, the most detailed and exciting plan that I have seen for Red Lion, since we began our work there. He and Bill have already begun actually getting things done from the plan. Please join me in praising God for bringing these two men to our staff! It is a breath of fresh air and incredibly encouraging to work with men with this kind of expertise, vision and work ethic.
As we see light at the end of the COVID-19 tunnel, we are excited to see relaunch Reach Church with these changes in place.
Dear Reach Church,
This Sunday, we will continue our series in Philippians called “A New Level of Good”. Tune in at 10:00am to enjoy our worship team and to hear the message!
On Sunday evening, at 6:00pm, we will join together in person on the lawn area behind the church parking lot. We will worship and share in communion together.
Here is how it will work:
1. Bring a blanket and/or lawn chairs for seating.
2. Bring food and drink for your seating area only if you would like.
3. We will hand out disposable and sealed Communion elements as you arrive.
4. The back parking lot will be reserved for those who wish to stay in their cars during the service. Please do not approach those cars during our time together.
5. There will be socially distanced spots for each family or individual painted on the grass. When you arrive, you will be directed to those spots.
6. We want to love and include those among us who need to know ahead of time that others will respect their need for total separation. Therefore, we will also have a section for those who wish to practice extreme social distancing and do not wish for others to approach them.
7. Please wear a face mask when you are not able to socially distance (when walking from your car to your spot, when having conversations with others, when walking back to your car at the end of the night). We do not expect you to wear a mask while seated at your designated seating area since you may also be eating and drinking during the dinner hour.
We are looking forward to Sunday! Please continue to pray for our nation and continue to ask God to “break my heart for what breaks yours”. We believe that when our hearts are truly broken for the injustice and violence around us that we will be ready to share Jesus into the situation instead of our own politics or opinions.
In closing, while we realize this does not impact most of our church, we have had a major change at one of our schools. We are very pleased to announce that Reach Church has given Tri-State Christian Academy to Crossroads Bible Church (the church where the school meets in Elkton, MD). Please click here for more background on this new change that will allow us to narrow our focus to more local ministries and will allow Tri-State to be led by those closer to the school and the community there.
In Christ Alone,