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Grand Opening Celebration!

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Today was an amazing day for Gateway, we might call it the beginning of a new chapter in our church's story.

With that in mind, it is useful for us to remember some of the milestones of our journey -- and these are highlighted below -- as part of a responsive chronology read by some of our members -- to help us remember where we have been.

There are so many people who made this journey possible -- and Pastor Ed tried to mention as many as he could before he was overwhelmed by tears of gratitude for what God has done for us through all of these amazing people.

Our story chronicles the Lord's favor despite our own limitations including lack of foresight,  recession, leadership failures, policy restrictions, impatience, and frustration.   The Lord worked through the congregation and others around us -- to make our building a reality.

At this critical time in our history, we must also remember why we built this building...  from the human perspective, this building isn't even for us.  Our purpose for building it was to serve the community in which we live -- this is why the building also serves as a children's center and recreational center for the community as well as being the home of our church.

But the most important reason for building this center, is that by doing so we can, in some small measure honor and glorify the God we love and the God we serve. 

Here is the Celebration Responsive Reading we declared together this morning:

By faith First Baptist Church of Alexandria received a vision to plant 5 churches in the Northern Virginia area.

 By faith First Baptist called an inner city Pastor in Boston to plant one of these NoVa churches.

 By faith that inner city Pastor responded to the call of NoVa to start a new church.

It is no accident that God called this Pastor and his family to this place.

 CONGREGATION: THANKS BE TO GOD

 By faith a NoVA land developer followed God’s directive to lead a local church to 31.5 acres of land in an undeveloped area just south of Route 50 and West of South Riding with the vision of that location becoming Center and Main street Loudoun County in the future.

 By faith that developer pursued giving this land to a church when initially rejected by the Pastor of a new congregation.

 By faith that developer went to the Virginia Baptists Extension Board in Richmond to present the vision for this land so they would buy it for a church.

 By faith this board bought this land with the vision of a church being planted there and taking root in that fast developing area.

It’s no accident they bought this land in the name of a brand new small NoVa congregation who had no name or no money.

 CONGREGATION: THANKS BE TO GOD

 By faith this congregation set aside the thought of this land and for years pursued authentic Christian community and relationships.

It’s no accident that God brought many people during those years whose lives were impacted by God’s presence and forever changed.

CONGREGATION: THANKS BE TO GOD

 

By faith this congregation bought the 31.5 acres from the Virginia Baptist Extension Board after 5 years, then the next year bought an adjoining 1 acre of land with house to serve as the church office.

It’s no accident that the County of Loudoun, on its own, zoned the majority of the land as ‘CLI’ which allowed the construction of a church on it by right.

CONGREGATION: THANKS BE TO GOD

 By faith this congregation felt God’s leading to build a building on the land and conducted the first Capital Campaign giving over $800,000.

 By faith this congregation followed God’s leading and paused the first building project to focus on Him and His people.  This decision was excruciatingly difficult; but God moves even in the difficult.

CONGREGATION: THANKS BE TO GOD

By faith the decision was made to use $450,000 from the Land/Building fund to pay down existing debts – a decision that would pay dividends in the future. 

By faith, and God’s immense grace, this congregation moved forward through a difficult, desert time of testing (a recession; staff challenges; leadership failures; declining energy and attendance). 

CONGREGATION: THANKS BE TO GOD

By faith an experienced land developer followed his heart and gave his life to Jesus.  No one knew what a vital role this developer would play in the future of God’s plans … well, God knew.

It’s no accident that this developer lives 2 doors from the Senior Pastor and sought his counsel as his faith blossomed.

CONGREGATION: THANKS BE TO GOD

By faith this congregation moved from Herndon to Mercer Middle School in Stone Ridge to be closer to the land even though this meant many members would not be making the journey.

By faith two congregations combined to become one, bringing new strengths and talents to help lead the congregation and a second building project.

Over the next few years, by faith, many new people from the Dulles South area joined the congregation 

 

By faith the decision was made, as this congregation emerged from a time of discouragement, to follow God’s direction to restart the building project.

It’s no accident the new Building Team had the right skills and talents to lead this project and navigate through all the activities to make this a success.

CONGREGATION: THANKS BE TO GOD

By faith it was decided to follow God’s new direction for the building and land to make it a Community Resource Center to better serve the surrounding people.

By faith this congregation conducted a second Capital Campaign pledging $2.2M and giving $539,000 (24.5% of pledges) the first 15 months of the campaign.

By faith the Virginia Baptist Extension Board loaned this congregation $350,000 interest-only the first three years, and NorthStar Association loaned this congregation $150,000 interest free for three years, based on the vision of this congregation.

By faith this congregation made the decision to sell the South Parcel to a development company.  By doing so, it provided for the Tall Cedars road construction across our land, a sewer connection, and turn lanes into our main church parcel saving millions of dollars.  It also provided $1,200,000 for the Building fund.

By faith, this congregation accepted a loan from Middleburg Bank which enabled it finally to actively pursue the vision God had planted. 

CONGREGATION: THANKS BE TO GOD

By faith, this congregation prayed for dry weather and it did not rain, then prayed for rain and it poured. 

CONGREGATION: THANKS BE TO GOD

By faith, this congregation watched as the facility rose from the ground – vision becoming steel and stone.

CONGREGATION: THANKS BE TO GOD

By faith, this congregation has overcome every obstacle because of the power and grace of Almighty God and the provision of our Savior and Master Jesus Christ and the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit.

CONGREGATION: THANKS BE TO GOD

And by faith, strengthened by the encouragement of God’s past repeated faithfulness and movement, this congregation looks forward with great anticipation to what God will do and where God will take us to reach those that live in this immediate area and serve those that will come.

CONGREGATION: THANKS BE TO GOD

Gateway Attitudes: Hold Things Loosely

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Pastor Ed began Sunday's sermon speaking about the deeply disturbing events in Charlottesville.  Beyond denouncing the horrific chain of events there, Pastor Ed strongly denounced the actions of supremacists and Nazis and their efforts to divide the community.  We all prayed that the church might be a voice of reason, standing up for the downtrodden and the disenfranchised -- keeping our eyes and hearts on those who are truly in need. 

Pastor Ed then elaborated on Gateway's profoundly blessed journey from its start as Rachel Carson Middle School's first church partner (a miracle in its own right) to the unique circumstances that enabled Gateway to move to Mercer Middle School, one week after a new (and supportive) Principal took over at the school.

From the beginning, Gateway has been blessed, and it is hard to view any of the many blessings the congregation has received as mere coincidence.  Now, as we move into our new facilities, we pray that God will continue to bless us as we seek to serve the community. 

In today's sermon we added a fifth G-attitude to our growing list of things we will do as we make our transition into our new building. 

In quick review, the first four G-attiitudes are outlined below. in our efforts to promote solidarity, and serve others with excellence we will

- Connect in full -- that is, we want to feel the weight of everyone -- with everyone playing the part that they can play.

- Express our Gratitude by saying "It's my pleasure" when people thank us for helping them.

- Take personal responsibility.  Problems can only be resolved by individuals so, "when I see a problem, I own it."

- Grow closer as a community.  We will actively plan to interact with others and make new friends so that "Nobody eats alone!"

Our 5th G-attitude is based upon a lesson from Ephesians 4:1-6.  In this passage, Paul is asking us to live a life that is worthy of our calling.  He doesn't ask us to be good -- but rather to be unified.  -- and that we make every effort to maintain the unity of the spirit. 

At Gateway, we recognize how difficult that this is to do... after all, each of us has plenty of flaws -- and each of us needs to give as well as receive a lot of grace from those around us if we are to succeed.

In this light, we should be careful to "hold things loosely," so that we can easily give and receive the grace that each of us so deeply needs. 

We need to carefully assess where we are challenged with holding things loosely.  Are we people who need for things to be deeply organized or fully under control?  Are we the opposite, wanting flexibility in all things? 

We need to realize that for the sake of spiritual unity, we may need to hold these desires loosely so that they do not become an obstacle that keeps us from working together.

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