For the past four years, I have written a Year In Review of our church, based on the Hebrews 11 statement “By faith…” As I reflect back over the past year I’m so grateful for all that God has done and for the many people who’ve followed Jesus into the great unknown through faith and obedience. Each year I am reminded of the sacred stories – and I get emotional. Though these stories are different expressions, they are rooted in Christ and His kingdom. I am incredibly grateful for God’s grace and mercy in the past twelve months.
Hebrews chapter 11 tells the stories of faithful men and women who have gone before us. Their stories, seen most clearly through their actions, are meant to inspire us to follow their example and live as a community that exists to be renewed and participate with God in helping to renew the world in the name of Jesus.
With these stories as our inspiration, God continues to write the story through the faithful men and women of The Renew Community.
By faith, the people of Renew attempted to live out the ways of Jesus through hope and love through various expressions in their homes, neighborhoods, workplaces and everywhere they went.
By faith, they trusted that God could use them to be ambassadors and representatives of the Risen Christ.
By faith, Doug Moister began serving full-time as one of the pastors. His pastoral heart has been evidenced in the way he has loved, nurtured, challenged, encouraged, discipled, prayed for and loved the people of our community well.
By faith, Tim and Cindy Culp started a prayer night every Tuesday night in their home. Through this time, people have been experiencing God’s intimate presence and are joining others in passionate intercession on a weekly basis.
By faith, Bill and Beth Carroll opened up their home through the miracle of adoption, spending several weeks in Ukraine finalizing the paperwork to bring their new son Liam home. Their house church (and others) threw them a Welcome Home party with signs, banners, gift cards and a stocked fridge. Brendon and Rachel Derr agreed to be Liam’s godparents and have continued to love the Carrolls well in this process.
By faith, despite incredibly intense medical issues over the past twelve months, Karrie Hoover has recovered and is living a life of health. In November, she stood up in our gathering and thanked God for His faithfulness and the depth of her relationship with him through the struggles.
By faith, Laura Anthony and Pat Mountz were baptized in Doug and Pegge Moister’s backyard on the Fourth of July, declaring publicly the true freedom they have found in Christ as all of Renew jumped, cheered, clapped and yelled in joy at what was taking place.
By faith, Chip and Jen McKenna started Renew’s first student ministries program called Sozo. Under Chip’s leadership, middle school and high school students have participated in retreats, served in our gatherings, organized events and served on a Hurrican Sandy relief trip this fall.
By faith, a new house church was birthed in the Eagleville, led by Doug and Pegge Moister. These courageous newcomers to Renew committed to being in relationship with one another and trusted God together as they worshipped, served, prayed, studied the Scriptures and joined with God and His purposes in their context.
By faith, Mike and Lisa Gribbin, along with their oldest daughter Lana, loved and prayed fervently for the health of their infant daughter Honor, who doctors confidently told them would not live but a few hours after birth. Dozens of people within Renew rallied around the Gribbins, praying for them, loving them, providing meals, babysitting Lana and doing whatever they could to support them. Honor had successful heart surgery at just a few weeks of age and has grown into a healthy, joyful and playful little girl. Because of this act of God’s grace, the individual and collective faith of The Renew Community has grown immensely because of this situation.
By faith, Doug and Pegge Moister continued to open their home up in radical hospitality by continuing their involvement with foster care. They welcomed an infant, Keenan, into their home for several months until a forever family was found for him – marking over 100 different foster children that have lived in their home spanning a few decades. The Moisters have served in many different ways in the past year, refusing to coast during their retirement years and instead investing themselves in kingdom purposes.
By faith, Ang Freed created the mom’s group, a space for young moms to come together regularly to interact, pray and participate in spiritual discussion together. By faith, Dennis and Claudia Brice open up their home for this group, while Dennis watches the children in the living room so the mom’s can have uninterrupted and undistracted time together.
By faith, two dozen women participated in the First Annual Renew Women’s Retreat. Mear Moister and Cindy Culp planned and led the weekend, where women connected, prayed, worshiped, studied Scripture and experienced significant and supernatural breakthroughs in their lives as they moved further into the direction of experiencing freedom and understanding their identity as a daughter of the king.
By faith, Kyle and Brittany Hoff opened up their home to host movie nights, where discussions about faith, film and theology occurred. Not letting Kyle’s disability hold them back, they used their gift of hospitality and passion for people by sharing generously their lives, their home and their resources with others.
By faith, several men participated in and completed intense men’s discipleship groups led by Doug and J.R. They prayed, studied, served, memorized Scripture and committed to learning the ways of Jesus, while committing to disciple other men after the group was completed. Many said it was the greatest spiritual growth they have experienced in their walks with Christ.
By faith, Amber Phelps continued to serve as Renew’s bookkeeper with a passion and kingdom attitude that rejoices in people’s generosity. With each check she writes, she is notices and articulates – with joy – how these resources advance the kingdom and join further with God’s heart.
By faith, Sharon del Pinto began using her free time to serve at Manna as the volunteer receptionist, greeting people in need of service at the door with a smile and answer the phones. Her willingness to step out and begin to serve two days a week has brought her immense joy, along with dozens of people she interacts with in her role each week.
By faith, Sam Class continued to use his business, a Chik-fil-A franchise in Trooper, as a beachead for blessing and grace. Sam has served the region in various ways through generous donations of food, to seeking to offer both professionalism and grace to his employees.
By faith, Jason and Jess Brand joined the Gribbin’s house church during Jess’ pregnancy. Learning that their son would have some evident birth defects and health issues, the Brands leaned into their house church and trusting God. Their house church, which has experienced pregnancy difficulties and health issues, embraced them, cared for them and loved them well through the pregnancy and birth of little Tyler.
By faith, Cheryl Ensinger and Julie Spratt continued to give of themselves locally and globally, including in their professional field of nursing. In a dentist’s office and in the emergency room, they have cared for hundreds of patients in the name of Jesus. They also have been tireless in serving, encouraging, praying for and listening to hurting people in our church and in the region. They also have served overseas, using their medical training to serve people in Costa Rica.
By faith, Michael and Lindsay Smith opened a fabric store in Skippack, desiring to use that store as an expression of the kingdom. They have shown hospitality, opening their doors to people they view not just as customers, but as people made in the image of God. They have thrown parties, listened well and engaged in spiritual conversations with people, many of whom would never step foot inside a church building. Through their patient love and engaging personalities, they have shown Christ to others through their example – being missionaries cleverly disguised as small business owners.
By faith, Dave & Kathi Peters and Joel Limbauan used their gifts and passions in videography and photography to capture beauty and grace behind a camera lens. Taking trips all over the world to capture story, they have stewarded those stories by sharing them in various venues and with various people all over the world. They blessed our community by filming and editing the powerful and captivating Renew Baptism video.
By faith, a handful of women gathered together on Thursday nights to creatively express themselves through various media and sharing their creativity with others, including during the season of Advent. Their creativity helped Renew grasp the mystery, the joy and the celebratoin of the Advent season.
By faith, Dave Allem presided over the funeral of his friend and neighbor Tommy Coopersmith, who was a part of the Renew family. Through grieving and heartbreak, Dave and many others from Renew, loved on the Coopersmith and Matt families during the funeral. Several people from several different house churches worked to provide for the meal after the funeral service. Several people babysat Marigold, offered help, cleaned houses, cooked meals, offered financial assistance and offered comfort. This continues months later.
By faith, the Renew Community participated in the Advent Conspiracy during the month of December, re-directing a portion of their finances away from consumption and towards compassion in order to support Daughters – an organization in Cambodia that takes young girls out of the sex trafficking/human trafficking industry – and the Boys and Girls Club, which seeks to serve thousands of students in our community. Many people gave generously to the Advent Conspiracy, trusting God with their finances despite a bad economy, surpassing what was given during last year’s Advent Conspiracy.
By faith, supplies were purchased through the Advent Conspiracy and several people volunteered their time to install new floors in the Boys and Girls Club tutoring room, at the request of the staff, providing much-needed improvements for the club to serve hundreds of boys and girls in the region.
By faith, people gave generously and faithfully of their money, time, and prayer in order to live faithfully as men and women who seek to follow Christ’s example. Knowing that, by faith, anything we have been a part of in 2012 has only come by God’s grace working in us.
It would be impossible to chronicle all the simple, subtle, compassionate acts of faith – many of which happened in secret, anonymously and in the midst of the daily life and rhythm of this community.
By faith, the people of Renew have loved when it has been easy and have loved when it has been hard. By faith, they celebrated births and grieved deaths. By faith, they have sacrificed for the sake of others. By faith, they have given out of abundance and given out of little. By faith, they have generously shared meals with strangers and shared meals with long-time friends. By faith, they have shared their faith in Jesus when asked and have had to ask forgiveness when opportunities have been missed.
By faith, the people of Renew have sought to do their best to live out our commitment to follow Jesus with all of our lives…
By faith, we enter into 2013 and beyond, knowing that God will be faithful to finish the work that He has started in this community, and in each of our lives, as we seek to humbly follow Jesus and be a blessing to our communities and the world.