Dear Epicentre Family,

On Sunday during Home Church Live (HCL), Pastor Ben reminded us again of our heavenly Father’s love for us. His love for us is not based on performance. His love also doesn’t shield us from hardship or darkness, but He prepares and empowers us to face it. We are in a season where many of us are experiencing challenges, both external and internal, but we can rest in the assurance that God loves us and provides all that we need to walk through these challenges.

In this update, we want to share our hearts and about what’s happening at Epicentre:

1. Unity
My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” (John 17:20-21)

Jesus’ desire and prayer for us is that we would be one in unity with each other just as the Father and Jesus were one. Unity is the key to the world knowing who Jesus is, so it should not surprise us to see and experience relational challenges within the Body of Christ as the enemy will do whatever he can to stop us from being united. In fact, as we continue to talk about and emphasize unity, we may actually begin to see an increase in friction between people. It’s partly spiritual warfare and partly God refining all of us to grow in genuine love for one another. If you are finding yourself dealing with relational issues with someone, whether it’s a family member or someone in our church community, we encourage you to remember unity is what we want to pursue rather than who’s right or who’s wrong. Keep going back to 1 Corinthians 13 and Philippians 2, and ask God to show you how He’s inviting you to love those around you, to encourage and build them up.

2. Race Conversations
The issue of race, racial healing and racial justice has dominated our news headlines this past month. While we have begun to talk about this issue in HCL and have made some social media posts, there might be differing thoughts about our engagement. Some of you may feel that this is a very important social justice issue that the church should engage in and in greater measure. Others of you may wonder how the church should engage in an issue that’s so polarized it feels like there’s only one right answer and not much room for discussion. Then, there may also be those of you who are concerned about other issues. First, we want to say that today’s race conversations are often very deep, raw and emotional, so we are still learning how to navigate these conversations. Second, we also recognize that not everyone will have this issue as the primary passion in their call to be salt and light in our world. However, we sense a “God moment” and an opportunity for the Church in America to bring the repentance, love and healing of God into the larger conversation.

While our focus will always be on the heart of Jesus and on partnering with Him in the things of His heart, there will be human issues that require the Church’s engagement or else the values of the Kingdom won’t be considered nor will Kingdom solutions be brought to bear. We feel that this is one of those times. As believers, it is clear to us that all humans are created in the image of God, and should be valued because of that. When this is not the case humanity is out of alignment with God’s heart, and we need to exercise our priestly and prophetic role in calling out evil and partner with God to make things right.

Furthermore, we are also clear about where God is leading all of humanity towards:

After this I looked and there before me was a great multitude that no one could count, from every nation, tribe, people and language, standing before the throne and in front of the Lamb. They were wearing white robes and were holding palm branches in their hands.  And they cried out in a loud voice: ‘Salvation belongs to our God, who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” (Revelation 7:9-10)

The unity God desires to see in heaven is a unity that includes people from every nation (race/ethnic group), tribe, and language. So if we want to pursue unity, we need to have a biblical understanding of this topic.

Today, our Black brothers and sisters are hurting, and when one part of the body suffers, all the parts suffer with it (1 Corinthians 12:26). This is why we take steps, however small, to practice love by entering into pain together and lifting each other up, and at the same time examining our own hearts. As we identify with one another’s pain and partner with God for healing, we move towards making the Body of Christ whole.

To help us to have a greater understanding of God’s heart for the parts of the Body of Christ that are hurting, this coming Sunday (6/28) at HCL, we will be sharing a conversation between Pastor Janet and Pastor Clarence Hill, Lead Pastor of our sister church, Antioch Norman, on the topic of race. Pastor Clarence is an African American pastor who has been working for years in Oklahoma to see people walk in their full identities as sons and daughters of God, which leads to greater unity in the Body of Christ between races. We invite you to come with an open heart to hear the conversation, so together we can take the next step towards seeing Jesus’ prayer for unity happen on the earth.

3. Caring for One Another
We encourage you to continue to look out for one another in our Epicentre family. As we enter in the summer months, many lifegroups will be taking a break. Let’s make sure we continue to reach out to one another and ask how the other is doing.

Don’t forget to check out epicentre.org/ACTS for opportunities to serve our Pasadena and greater Los Angeles community!

4. Virtual VBS (July 7-10)
Our Kingdom Kids ministry will be hosting its first virtual VBS July 7-10!  The theme is Deeply Rooted: Sowing the Stories of Jesus and will be focused on the stories of Jesus and how to go deeper with Him. All sessions will be hosted online, and there will be small groups assigned by age/grade level. We invite your kids to join us in this exciting event that we hope to nurture their deeper friendship with Jesus! Sign up here.

5. Selah Service and Extended July 4 Holiday for the Staff
On July 5 we will have a Selah Service for HCL. As we all take a pause for the holiday weekend, we encourage you again to take a breath and rest your heart with us that Sunday. Since our staff has been running hard in this season, we are giving our staff an extended holiday weekend to be refreshed in their souls and hearts. Our “offices” are closed July 2 through 6. However, if you have an emergency during this time, do not hesitate to reach out to us. We’re family.

Being the Church we are meant to be in this season and in our generation is not always easy, but if we are willing to stay committed to Jesus, one another, and to do it together, we can do it!  

Thank you for being the Church with us!

Blessings,
Pastors Janet & Fiona
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