On September 17, 2022, we held our 3rd annual Festival of Hope in Plainfield CT. It was
different than the first two. In the previous years, we organized this event, as the Ecumenical Churches in the area. This year we came together as “The Body of Christ” which was my heart’s desire from the beginning.
In August, I read an article in Reader’s Digest that helped solidify my focus for the Festival. It was about the Coast Guard’s involvement with the rescues in New York City on September 11th, 2001. The article ended with this: “In a day where his efforts had helped rescue the equivalent population of a midsize city, the sound that haunts him is that of all the people who weren’t saved.” - Lt. Michael Day, Coast Guard, The Great 9/11 Maritime Rescue
“The cry of the unsaved”, this phrase really struck my heart. It has become part of my
new mission statement, for my life, my church, and The Festival of Hope. The one focus
is: “To hear the cry of the unsaved - and respond with the Gospel message of Jesus Christ,
to encourage believers, and to Glorify the Lord”
That was our plan and our goal for this year’s Festival. We had wonderful speakers, preachers and musicians. We had ministries to present and testimonies of changed lives. The weather was perfect (thank you Father!). Through some wonderful sponsors, we were able to provide the event and food, free to the public. Well, you know when you have a Godly plan, the enemy is going to try and mess it up, and he tried! For a few weeks until 1 hour before we started, everything that could go wrong, did! BUT GOD….
I love that Scriptural phrase “but God”. The head of the Christian Council of Arts, who had struggled the week earlier to put on an outdoor concert, and I came up with the phrase “Murphy’s Blessings”- Everything that can go wrong does, BUT God will triumph and be Glorified!!!” Great is Thy Faithfulness!!!
The 3rd annual Festival of Hope turned out to be a wonderful day in the Lord. God’s Word was sent for throughout the town of Plainfield with our great sound system, lives were changed, hearts were encouraged, and our Lord was glorified.
One of the participants, captured the “Vision” when she wrote this about her
"I must confess, I have a special place in my heart for this Festival. I have been blessed to be a part of it from the beginning and I love the fact that everyone is there to honor God. It is not about what church you are from but rather, it is the Body of Christ coming together to show His love. It is not a 'church performance' driven event but a Christ-centered time. And, because I have been with it from the beginning, I see that it has not changed its focus over time.
All those who put this festival together work very hard to make it the most welcoming and
nurturing time for those who come to it. I thank Father for His hand on all the organizers. It is a definite blessing" -Toni Hurshman
“It was also my first time at the Festival of Hope and let me just say Father God was very much glorified that day. The openness and heartfelt love for God were beautiful to behold. The thing that stood out to me the most was that it didn't feel like a 'church event'; but more like a family barbecue. It was a lot of fun to rejoice in the Lord's love together with you and I look forward to next year's festival. God Bless” -Joel Deeter
We already have a date for next year’s Festival, Sept. 16, 2023 (barring RAPTURE). You
are all invited!
As we go through this year our mission statement is still the same “To hear the cry of the
unsaved - and respond with the Gospel message of Jesus Christ, to encourage believers,
and to Glorify the Lord”. Great is Thy Faithfulness!!!
Rev. Linda Foye Hirtle
One of my favorite topics is chickens. Lately I have been thinking about eggs and connecting my thoughts on eggs to the parable of the wheat and thorns. Sometimes eggs don’t hatch, and sometimes the garden is overtaken by weeds. One of the novice questions I receive from would-be chicken keepers is: “Do I have to have a rooster to get eggs?” The answer is no. But a hen setting on eggs doesn’t always hatch them all, even when there is a rooster present. Sometimes eggs get addled; something occurs to stop the egg from developing or growing. The word “addled”, when applied to the human mind, can refer to “fuzzy”, befuddled”, mixed up”, and “off base.” Reading these definitions reminds me the present writer is included in them.
A further question is: “do Christians, churches, and whole denominations get addled?”; something occurs and the development stops. Addling eggs is way to control geese populations, but there is possible federal prison time for addling an eagle’s egg! I find local church histories inspiring. They usually sound something like this: “Twelve people gathered in the parlor of the Smith farm and after a night of prayer covenanted together to give birth to the First Baptist Church. With the help of a Baptist pastor, an evangelistic Sunday morning worship was established and the new church witnessed 20 people baptized in the brook. Within the next decade, nearly 100 people gave their lives to Christ. On the celebration of the church’s 50th year, it boasted 150 people in attendance and witnessed a Sunday School of 50 children. Its generosity was known through-out the county and three other churches were established by their deacons.”
Fast forward and we ask in a post-COVID world, what’s next? How come so many eggs got addled, and sometimes my own soul is one of the eggs? Lately, I have been sitting with the book of Colossians and thinking about Paul planting churches in that particular valley and how correction from the apostle was needed so soon. In the final chapter of his letter, Paul writes. “Devote yourselves to prayer and be watchful and thankful.” Prayer, awareness, and gratitude may be what protects souls and churches from being addled. Possibly the threat of being addled increases with time. Anxieties and reactions to the present world could bring about being addled. Or, could it be, and as any historian can point out, the movements lose their original purpose and finding the future is regaining the original purpose? I wonder what it was like to sit in that kitchen or parlor and pray together by candle or lamp light.
I think this is still happening, maybe not by candle light, but sometimes subtle movements go unnoticed by those of us busily getting churches to work the way they should. How can I storm the gates of hell when I am too busy revising a set of by-laws or trying to pay for the heat? I believe the Gospel is the purpose that overshadows all others.
With self-awareness, gratitude and a healthy practice of prayer, possibly our eggs wouldn’t get addled.
In Jesus name,
Read what's happening all around the Region!