Christmas Pastoral Letter

Beloved in Christ,

A blessed Christmas to you and your family. I hope and trust you are enjoying the realization, especially this season, that God is truly with us in the person of Jesus and the power of the Holy Spirit. In times past, we referred to the counting of the years as AD 2018, from the Latin “Anno Domini,” “in the year of our Lord.” History turned when Jesus, King of Kings, took human form and was born on earth, and the world has never been the same. Amidst all the uncertainty we face in today’s day and age, we can be certain in knowing that despite all the turbulence, God is in charge and the reconciliation of all creation, accomplished through Jesus, is coming in its fullness. As His body on earth, the Church spreads this message of reconciliation through its words and actions. At the center of this is the heart of the Father, overflowing with His love for creation. We as His body are an important part of His means for dispensing that love. Especially in this season, please remember the awesome privilege and responsibility we have to be His means of grace, his continuing gift to the world, that the world will know his Son, and in knowing him, will experience his peace, hope, joy and love. May you and your family know this and live it.

Peace in Christ -

Joseph Acanfora

Year-End Giving Appeal - Part 3

Beloved in Christ,

Grace and peace to you in Jesus Christ; God is with us in him.

Over the past month I have written to you informing you of our finances at Apostles and opening opportunities for your year-end giving, especially toward our Destined For Joy campaign, and thanks be to God, you are responding generously. I am happy to report that as of today, we, the faithful people of God have given $13,567 toward our Destined For Joy campaign since the appeal went out in mid-November. This is over and above our regular giving and in addition to the $1,830 we raised at our Christmas Craft Sale. Thank you for your faithful generosity!

If you have not made a pledge or gift, your offerings to this campaign are most welcome as they will be funding a “city on a hill” from which the light and joy of Jesus Christ will shine. As I stated in the first of these year-end appeal letters we will be in need of roughly $600,000 in additional funding to complete our audio-visual equipment and installation (~$120,000), completion of our full kitchen to serve those in need as well as for our own use (~$100,000), interior furnishings (~$130,000), and $250,000. in principle reduction for our final closing when construction is complete in 2019. After the success of Phase One of our Destined for Joy Campaign, we believe God is calling us to raise this $600,000 within the next two years to bring all of this to fruition. With the great start we’re experiencing only a month into this, I am confident we will get there and grateful for you who are joining in. As you prayerfully contemplate your year-end giving, please consider blessing Apostles with your generosity.

Most importantly, please join the Vestry, Staff and Beth and me in continuing to pray. While our financial need is real, it will continue to take the Hand of God to propel us forward. I know, as Paul tells us: “He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.” - (1Thes 5:24)

Let us take joy in knowing we serve our Lord who is faithful in all things. Let us remain rooted in Him, connected to Jesus as the branches of His vine, empowered forward by his Holy Spirit. In this upcoming Christmastide, as we experience the joy and peace of Emanuel, God’s greatest gift to each of us, I pray that “the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, that your whole spirit and soul and body will be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” – (1 Thes. 5:23)And that you would take joy in knowing our heavenly Father finds you blameless by what our Savior Jesus has done for us. May all we do give him honor and glory, and be a blessing to the people he loves. 

Let me hear from you if you have any questions; God be with you.

Your brother in Christ,

Joseph Acanfora

Year-End Giving Appeal - Part 2

Beloved in Christ,

Grace and peace to you in Jesus Christ this Advent Season, as we joyfully anticipate the coming of Emanuel.

As we progress through this season of expectant waiting in anticipation of the coming of Emanuel, we’re exploring this season through the four lenses of Peace, Hope, Joy and Love. The first week of Advent we talked about Peace. Peace that has come between God and man by the saving work of Christ, and because of that, the peace that is permeating creation because we can now have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ. We talked about the effect this makes in our lives, how we can be at peace with others, and even the world because Jesus’ redemption is for all. This past week we discussed the Hope of Advent. How we are people of hope not because of a blind optimism, and certainly not because of worldly evidence that it all will be fine, but because of the character of God. His love for us, his generosity toward us is so great that we can be hopeful because we know He is in charge and is bringing about his grand plan for our good and the good of all creation. In the next two weeks we’ll talk about Joy and Love, so stay tuned for that!

As part of being people of hope, we know God has good things in store for us when we remain yoked to Him and are co-laboring with him as the Body of Christ. As I appealed to you two weeks ago regarding year end giving and Phase 2 of our Destined For Joy campaign, I encourage you to prayerfully consider your year-end giving, and over the next two years supporting the long range work of Church of the Apostles and Apostles Campus Church by financially supporting the completion and launch of our worship and ministry outreach center at 11717 Lee Hwy in Fairfax. We have furnishing to buy, a kitchen to complete, and we want to have a quality sound and audio system in our sanctuary to praise God in Spirit, Truth, and Beauty without distractions.  We are counting on God’s faithfulness and your generosity to work toward these ends. As of this writing, you’ve already contributed $7,360 toward Phase 2 of our Destined For JoyCampaign, plus we’ve raised an additional $1,830 through our craft sale just for the kitchen!  We are off to a great start as we end 2018. As I stated in my letter to you two weeks ago, we are hoping to raise about $600,000. during this Phase 2 period of Destined For Joyover the next two years, and we can use the typical boost we get at year’s end to help jump start this effort, so I hope you will prayerfully consider being generous to this cause.

Most importantly, please join the Vestry, Staff and Beth and me in continuing to pray. While our financial need is real; it will continue to take the Hand of God to propel us forward.  I know, as Paul tells us: “He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.” - (1 Thes. 5:24)

Let us take joy in knowing we serve our Lord who is faithful in all things. Let us remain rooted in Him, connected to Jesus as the branches of His vine, empowered forward by his Holy Spirit. As we look ahead, prayerfully awaiting the coming of Emanuel, I pray that “the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, that your whole spirit and soul and body will be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” – (1 Thes. 5:23) And that you would take joy in knowing our heavenly Father finds you blameless by what our Savior Jesus has done for us. May all we do give him honor and glory, and be a blessing to the people he loves. 

Let me hear from you if you have any questions; God be with you.

Your brother in Christ,

Joseph Acanfora

Year-End Giving Appeal - Part 1

Beloved in Christ,

Apostles is an amazing congregation! I have sensed the strength of God upon us for the past six years I’ve been here. It has been beyond any expectation. Even during this time of transition, as we pray for the Lord to bring us home, as we re-plant ourselves in this new community, I sense His presence and guiding light propelling us forward.

We have so much to be thankful for. This especially comes to mind at this time of year. I am so thankful to God for all of you. You are more than just my “church family,” you are my extended family whom I love deeply, and have come to appreciate for your personal commitment to Christ and to one another as His body, the Church. Your example of perseverance, forbearance and faith fortifies me daily. Your compassion for one another and the wider community inspires me and gives me so much hope. I am deeply grateful for you, and sense the gratitude you have for one another.

I know the past year has not been easy as we continue at Willow Springs School on Sundays with the set-up and tear-down each week. Yet, it’s been a time of deeper engagement with the school and surrounding community as we are growing in opportunities to serve and growing in relationship. I believe we are exactly where God would have us. In addition, I’m encouraged to see the property on Lee Highway being developed and the walls rising on our new building.

I hope you, like me, are blessed each Sunday as we come together as the Body of Christ to praise God, hear His Holy Word, and be nurtured in His blessed sacrament. We are experiencing true Three Streams, One River worship of God in Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit!

And yet, the challenges continue. 

We are on track to meet our operational expenses for the year with your continued faithful giving.  I thank the Lord our God and you for your faithful generosity. Additionally, our Destined For Joy campaign brought in over 100% of what was pledged for the three-year giving period. We are so blessed. While that will provide enough to finish phase one of the building project, I know expectations for the completed project are higher than what we can presently fund. According to our latest calculations, we will need an additional $600,000 in Destined For Joy funds over the next two years. As 2018 comes to a close, and you contemplate all the ways our Lord has blessed you, I am asking you to prayerfully consider continuing to give to Destined For Joy over the next two years in addition to your regular tithing. And, if you are among the folks who have joined our fellowship of faith since the original campaign began and haven’t had the opportunity to contribute to it directly, prayerfully consider joining in by giving to this cause over the next two years, beginning right now. I’m aware there’s a third group of folks, the ones who’ve been with us all along, but for a variety of reasons have not given significantly or at all to Destined For Joy. I pray you too will spend time with the Lord and seek His will for you on this. I can assure you that you will be blessed by doing so. For a scriptural basis for all of this, I invite you to engage with our Nehemiah: Foundations of Faith daily devotional series on our blog.  I am trusting it all to the Lord, knowing how He moves His people to supply the needs of His Church to spread His Good News. 

So yes, once again at the close of the year, I need your help to keep this church moving from strength to strength.

So first, will you pray? Seriously! Let’s start there, with prayer. The financial need is great; it will take a spiritual move of God to touch people’s hearts. The world is cynical about many things. The culture is confused about many things. But I am praying that the Lord will strengthen this church to be a clear light and strong beacon for the days ahead.

Second, will you join with other leaders in our church and take this on personally? Beth and I will look at our giving over the entire year and we will give more this month as we meet this need together. Will you join us? I do not mind asking you to give generously. I never have. I have always seen God pour out blessings as people give. Some of you receiving this letter have moved on, are out of the area, or worshipping elsewhere. I ask you as well to prayerfully consider being part of what God is doing by contributing to our year-end needs.

Finally, I have deep and sincere thanks to you for your commitment and loyalty to your parish church. I echo the words of Paul to the Philippians: I thank God in all my remembrance of you. (Phil 1:3)

Let me hear from you if you have any questions, but I do hope you will respond to this important appeal.

With love in Christ,

Joseph Acanfora