The church and visitors after our 1st anniversary worship service.
Pastor Uri, visiting from the U.S., preached this past Sunday.
Our daughter (middle) participating in the life of the church.
Visiting with Pastor Uri Brito.
Some of the women of the church enjoying a night out.
Paula and several children. :-)
Wow. Praise the Lord and pass the ammunition.
Oh sing a new song to the LORD, for wonders he has done. His right hand and his holy arm the victory have won.
Igreja de Cristo (a.k.a. Christ Church) of Porto Alegre has existed for more than one year! For two months toward the end of 2015 the three original families met in a hotel conference room downtown. In November of '15 we Swaits joined them, and what a blessing it has been to serve and be served by them.
In the space of this year the church has grown numerically, from three to nine regularly attending households (we don't have an official membership roll yet, as a plant, but that will hopefully change soon), and that conference room is full. But that is not why I'm so filled with happiness as I think back on this first year. The church has mostly grown in maturity, stability, and strength, which is why, by the grace of God, she is well. Please pray for his continuing mercy.
Much of what Christ Church does in its desire to worship and minister in a Reformed and classically Protestant way is new to Brazil. This includes psalm singing, high liturgy, wine for the Lord's Supper, and the Lord's Supper every blessed week! The south of Brazil has very little Reformed Christian presence, most of our brothers and sisters here are pentecostal low-church evangelicals. And if ever a culture was made "low church", it's the Brazilian. People wear jeans to funerals, and not out of necessity! Because no one had ever been part of a church with a classically Reformed vision, when Christ Church began meeting weekly as a body to renew their covenant with God in worship the expressions of worship were very tentative. When we arrived in November the men who were installed to lead the church, two of whom are being trained for the pastorate, were anxious to see what the theology of worship that had attracted them to the CREC in the first place might look like fleshed out in real life.
In the year since our first service, I am glad to be able to report that our church has owned her identity as the strange and beautiful creature that she is, as a part of the Bride of Christ. It is a grace to know that God accepts our praises and thanks offerings regardless of our merit and skill, and it is a grace to be inspired to try to create beautiful things to offer him. We have practiced psalms and thrown parties and held sewing circles and game nights and after-service brunches. We've lived as brothers and sisters as others have joined us. My prayer is that the church will continue to grow in its life even as we add to our numbers.
Our leadership team has not yet faced any divisive pastoral issues, but they are certainly coming, since we are beset by sin and at war with the world, the flesh, and the devil.
This lack of conflict (a relative term, of course) is something for which we are constantly grateful to our Lord Jesus. Many church plants never make it through their first year. Thankfully the Holy Spirit has filled the church with gracious communion despite several bumps in the road, including family deaths, medical problems, and financial stresses within the church.
I am not only grateful to God for his mercies in giving our church and our family such a good first year, but also proud of the families that have seen this time through with such joy. Keep your hand on the plow, brothers and sisters.
Gigantic. No, seriously. 6'9". It's all people can talk about when they meet me, so I just got it out of the way. By the grace of Jesus bringing this immense frame to bear on building his Kingdom. Reversing this much weight takes a long time.