Blog

In the Gray: Interview With Actress Hannah Musa of Jos, Nigeria; 5/30/21

Hannah Musa from Jos, Nigeria joined us, via Zoom, for worship this past Sunday (May 30, 2021). Having her share with us about “In the Gray”, a film project she helped bring to reality, was a joy and blessing. She offered commentary that was helpful in understanding the film as well as gaining awareness about the challenges that Nigerian followers of Jesus are facing. Hannah also shared that the film was designed to be a ministry tool, and that her church would like other films to be produced. We also learned from Hannah about her work with women whose husbands have died. Our Nigerian sisters and brothers are faithful and resilient.

Links to the elements of the service are as follows:
IN THE GRAY movie (Available to view for free on Youtube)
He Will Hold Me Fast by Shane and Shane
No Gray by Jonathan McReynolds
Climb Ev’ry Mountain performed by Audra McDonald
 

Overcomers, 5/23/21

What obstacles have you witnessed Daughters of Deborah overcome? What obstacles are phenomenal women today overcoming? Women too frequently need to overcome obstacles and systems in order to achieve. The worship service on May 23 offers vignettes of women, both historical and present, who are overcomers. Supportive scriptures and theopoetic offerings will be included as well.

Link to Resources

Cover Image of Pauli Murray was taken from Carolina Digital Library and Archives

Katy Perry – Rise

Reese Witherspoon’s Hello Sunshine

Brave – Touch the Sky

Being Serena, “Baby’s First Grand Slam

“A Woman”  – Featuring Amy Grant & Ellie Holcomb

The Daughters of Deborah, 5/16/21

Are you familiar with the story of Deborah, a lifelong leader, profound prophet and poet, fearless fighter, songwriter, and brilliant woman? The worship service, May 16, offered insights about Deborah, based on her story found in the book of Judges. Invitations were given during the service to share about “daughters of Deborah” (those special women in our lives) who have been influential and impactful in various ways. Brief stories were shared and experienced.  

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Phenomenal Woman, 5/2/21

The May 2nd worship service was the first in a four-week series focusing on women. Women were instrumental and played key roles in funding the itinerant ministry of Jesus. Women continue to hold key positions of leadership in not-for-profit organizations making a positive social impact. The worship service on May 2nd highlighted the names and activities of several of these important women.

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Mother’s Day Service, 5/9/21

Mother’s Day is celebrated the 2nd Sunday of May each year. Worship this past Sunday, May 9, followed along with this celebration theme. Included in the service were vignettes about special women who contributed significantly with their lives, and whose contributions while important to the context and time in which they lived have continued as a legacy for us today. At the close of the service, several stories were shared about women of special influence and impact that we have known and know personally.

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Renewal: How New Generations are Approaching Church, featuring Dunker Punks Founder Emmett Witkovsky-Eldred, 4/25/21

This month our services at the Canton COB have focused on renewal. How have we experienced renewal of what the sacrifice of Jesus means in our lives? How have we witnessed renewal in nature? How have we experienced renewal regarding our commitment to sustaining the environment? These are powerful questions we’ve reflected on throughout the month. But this Sunday, it’s appropriate to explore what renewal means in regards to the church. The Covid-19 pandemic has undoubtedly changed the way we “do” church. Most conversations about church and the idea of “renewal” tend to focus on the challenges. 

A recent gallup poll, for instance, found that fewer than half of Americans belong to a house of worship. This is the first time this has ever occurred since Gallup began asking this question more than 80 years ago. Even more remarkable is how rapidly changes are taking place as just 20 years ago the poll revealed that 70% of Americans belonged to a church, synagogue, or mosque.  For years, demographers characterized millennials as “the rise of the nones,”  yet research shows these “nones” are actually on the rise in every age bracket born before 1946.

This morning our aim is to confront these challenges by reflecting on where we see hope. As Winston Churchill once said, “A pessimist sees the difficulty in every opportunity; an optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” In particular, we want to explore how newer generations of leaders are redefining ways to do church. To help us better understand this renewal we are extremely fortunate to have Emmett Witkovsky-Eldred with us as our guest.

Emmett Witkovsky-Eldred (@emmetteldred) | Twitter

Emmett is a leading advocate for young adult participation in the church. He was a former intern for On Earth Peace, he was a Youth and Young Adult Ministry Assistant, he served as a contributing editor to Messenger magazine, and he’s a frequent guest speaker at COB conferences & worship services. 

Emmett organized what’s known as the Dunker Punk movement. His leadership then inspired the Arlington COB to start the Dunker Punks Podcast which Emmett serves as a co-host. The DPP has grown today into a country-wide movement that sees headphones and USB cords stretching like the mustard seed weed in Jesus’ parable. The DPP amplifies young prophetic voices to reach across and beyond traditional church, because everyone deserves community in Christ. Emmett was an original voice on the show and has furthered the project in numerous ways. He has a lot of insight into the young adult experience in the church today and we are thrilled to have him as our guest.

Continue reading “Renewal: How New Generations are Approaching Church, featuring Dunker Punks Founder Emmett Witkovsky-Eldred, 4/25/21”

Earth Day, 4/18/21

Creation is a gift to each and all of us. We are called to be stewards of this amazing natural endowment but experience and history reminds us of ways in which we have missed the mark. In 1970, a movement began to express an urgency that we, humans, need to pick up the pace of our stewardship practices or else this wondrous phenomenon with co-exist with may wither around us. That movement, Earth Day, continues and is celebrated each April. The worship service on this Sunday celebrated Earth Day and its reminder to us of our responsibility to care for the created order gifted to us. May we take pride in our individual and collective efforts to do what is right with all that is shared with us on the terrestrial globe we call Earth.

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We are Never Alone In Our Resurrections, 4/11/21

Worship this Sunday focuses on the theme that “we are never alone in our resurrections” and was inspired by American astronauts of Apollo 13. A question to spark our thinking and conversation is: Why should others be included in our resurrections?

Links to the elements of the service are as follows:

Apollo 13 theme music and Hubble photos

Apollo 13 Launch scene

Apollo 13, Houston, we have a problem

Apollo 13, A new mission

Apollo 13, Rocket re-entry

We Are the World

Science Fiction & Faith, Exploring Ray Bradbury’s “The Illustrated Man” ; 3/28/21

Kevin is producing the service this Sunday which will consider the subject of desire. Using a chapter entitled The Man, from Ray Bradbury’s book The Illustrated Man, along with thoughts from Irish poet John O’Donohue, the opportunity will be offered to explore desire’s divergent paths.  

What is your response to science fiction? One angle is considering the genre to be purely fantasy and entertainment without any substance. Another angle is learning that we are using today what was considered fiction or fantasy only several years ago. So is it fantasy or prophecy? How does science fiction continue to provide formation for our lives? How does this genre engage our imaginations to focus and re-focus our energies to enter life experiences to adopt and adapt new ways to encourage better human co-existence? In what ways do we find theological perspective (God; the Divine) in science fiction? These and other questions will be explored during our worship services in March. As this journey unfolds over the next several weeks, be encouraged to find theology imprinted within the science fiction genre. May we all be inspired by the nuggets of wisdom we’ll mine together.

Continue reading “Science Fiction & Faith, Exploring Ray Bradbury’s “The Illustrated Man” ; 3/28/21″

Science Fiction & Faith, Exploring Motifs of Ray Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451”; 3/21/21

On this Sunday, the service is produced by Martha Harr. She will explore a few motifs from Ray Bradbury’s book Fahrenheit 451. If you are uncertain about the meaning of the word motif, and how it assists in making theological connections, listen in to learn more.

What is your response to science fiction? One angle is considering the genre to be purely fantasy and entertainment without any substance. Another angle is learning that we are using today what was considered fiction or fantasy only several years ago. So is it fantasy or prophecy? How does science fiction continue to provide formation for our lives? How does this genre engage our imaginations to focus and re-focus our energies to enter life experiences to adopt and adapt new ways to encourage better human co-existence? In what ways do we find theological perspective (God; the Divine) in science fiction? These and other questions will be explored during our worship services in March. As this journey unfolds over the next several weeks, be encouraged to find theology imprinted within the science fiction genre. May we all be inspired by the nuggets of wisdom we’ll mine together.

Continue reading “Science Fiction & Faith, Exploring Motifs of Ray Bradbury’s “Fahrenheit 451”; 3/21/21″

Science Fiction & Faith with Dr. Steven Schweitzer, Academic Dean at Bethany Theological Seminary, 3/14/21

Mar. 14 – Dr. Steven Schweitzer, Academic Dean at Bethany Theological Seminary, is our guest presenter this Sunday. Steve brings a wealth of knowledge and experience in connecting science fiction and theology. Anyone who has experienced Steve’s presentations can attest that he will keep your attention regardless of the subject matter. His ability to share knowledge is equaled by his capacity to connect with the audience.

Dr. Schweitzer regularly teaches an advanced seminar on Chronicles-Ezra-Nehemiah and a course on Science Fiction and Theology. He has offered Insight Sessions at Annual Conference and workshops for various districts and congregations. He and his family attend Cedar Grove CoB in New Madison, Ohio in the Southern Ohio/Kentucky district.

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Science Fiction & Faith, 3/7/21

What is your response to science fiction? One angle is considering the genre to be purely fantasy and entertainment without any substance. Another angle is learning that we are using today what was considered fiction or fantasy only several years ago. So is it fantasy or prophecy? How does science fiction continue to provide formation for our lives? How does this genre engage our imaginations to focus and re-focus our energies to enter life experiences to adopt and adapt new ways to encourage better human co-existence? In what ways do we find theological perspective (God; the Divine) in science fiction? These and other questions will be explored during our worship services in March. As this journey unfolds over the next several weeks, be encouraged to find theology imprinted within the science fiction genre. May we all be inspired by the nuggets of wisdom we’ll mine together.

Mar. 7 – Our service today is produced by Carol Davis. It includes a series of scripture readings and introductions to and viewing of movie clips serving as metaphors to God, Jesus, the Bible, and faith. This service, as well as subsequent services in March, will utilize theopoetics to engage our minds and hearts to explore new questions and broader horizons. March 7 is a great kick-off to the other services in March.

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Overcoming, 2/28/21, with special guest Reverend LaDonna Nkosi

This month, the Canton Church of the Brethren will be recognizing the contributions of African Americans and their central role in U.S. History. Please enjoy the following audio recording from our service from Sunday, 2/28/21.

THEME: Overcoming

Overcoming fear of injustice is a reality for people of color that white people may not experience as intensely. How might we understand the fear others have that we may not experience? How do we engage in efforts to help dispel realities that cause such fear to be experienced? Rev. LaDonna Nkosi, Director of Intercultural Ministries for Discipleship Ministries, will be the guest presenter this Sunday (The Gathering Chicago)

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Dreaming, 2/21/21

This month, the Canton Church of the Brethren will be recognizing the contributions of African Americans and their central role in U.S. History. Please enjoy the following audio recording from our service from Sunday, 2/21/21.

THEME: Dreaming

ESSENTIAL QUESTIONS: What dreams do you have for humanity to exist peaceably and justly? If these dreams are realized, what do you envision this reality looking like? What can we do to ensure a more just and equitable co-existence?

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Love Your Enemy, 2/14/21

This month, the Canton Church of the Brethren will be recognizing the contributions of African Americans and their central role in U.S. History. Please enjoy the following audio recording from our service from Sunday, 2/14/21.

THEME: Love Your Enemy

ESSENTIAL QUESTIONS: Do we really forgive people if we cannot forget? What stories of Jesus are examples of Loving Your Enemy? Why do you think Jesus added “for they know not what they do?”

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Hate as a Measurement of Unambiguous Love, 2/7/21

This month, the Canton Church of the Brethren will be recognizing the contributions of African Americans and their central role in U.S. History. Please enjoy the following audio recording from our service from Sunday, 2/7/21.

THEME: Hate as a Measurement of Unambiguous Love

ESSENTIAL QUESTION: After all that they endured, why did the people never give up hope?

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Sunday Morning Meditation at the CCOB, 5/17/2020

THE CCOB MORNING OF COLLECTIVE MEDITATION

Sunday, May 17, 2020, 9:30 a.m.

ANGELS AMONG US

READING 1:

In the New Testament we learn that at each significant moment of Christ’s life on Earth, angels showed up. Whether they were in the air or on the land, these guardians relayed prophecy, celebrated moments of joy, provided protection, and delivered messages of hope.

The angel Gabriel not only told Mary she would bear a son, but what the boy would be called, who he was to become, and how his future was already established (Luke 1:30-33).

Angels rejoiced and sang Glorias from the heavens when the baby was born (Luke 2:13-14).

An angel told Joseph he could finally take his son home because Herod and those who wanted to kill the baby were dead (Matthew 2:19-20).

After Jesus endured the Devil’s temptations in the wilderness, the angels came and ministered to him (Matthew 4:11).

An angel sat with Jesus as he prayed in the Garden at Gethsemane (Luke 22:43).

When Jesus was betrayed, he exclaimed that he could have twelve legions of angels to sustain him if he only asked God for help (Matthew 26:53).

An angel rolled back the stone of the tomb of Jesus and another announced his resurrection (Matthew 28: 2, 5-6).

Jesus ascended into Heaven with angels watching nearby (Acts 1:10).

And someday Jesus will send out angels with trumpets to gather his elect from the four winds – from one end of heaven to the other (Matthew 24:31).

Whether we believe in the actual physical embodiment of angels or not, the significance of angels in our lives can be very real.

In his inaugural address, President Abraham Lincoln, with a Civil War brewing all around him, spoke of angels. He stated,

“We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory will swell when again

touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”

As we now face a pandemic which has disrupted our lives in every way imaginable, we must continue to believe in angels…we must BE angels… deliverers of joy, of protection, of hope.

For as we learn in Hebrews: Are not all angels ministering spirits sent to serve those who will inherit salvation? (1:14).

And as we are reminded, “Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it.” (13:2)

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CCOB to Offer Services Online: Message from Pastor Kevin Kessler

I continue to hope and pray that you are safe and well. If at any time you need to visit or you have thoughts and concerns you need to share, please contact me by phone (cell: 309-224-4828), text (same number), or email (cantoncob@gmail.com).

Because we are social beings, having the ability to continue meeting together on Sunday is important The online platform Zoom provides us with a means of connecting electronically. It isn’t the same as being present with each other in the same location, but it is a platform that allows us to be present with each other by video/audio or audio from the safety of our own homes.

Therefore, for the next 2 Sundays, March 22 and 29, we have the opportunity to connect with each other using Zoom at our regular meeting time of 9:30am. If you have access to a computer, microphone, and camera (fairly standard laptop) you can easily access the Zoom connection. Even if you do not have this equipment, you can still join in by phone. Using the phone does not provide video but at least offers connection by voice (you can share and you can hear others who are sharing). A few directions will follow.

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How Dare You, 3/1/20

Sermon Title: How Dare You

Speaker: Pastor Kevin Kessler

Scripture: Romans 8:22-23, Isaiah 57:16-21, Genesis 2:15

Date: Sunday, March 1, 2020

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God-like Gratitude, 11/24/19

This Thanksgiving, we are encouraged and reminded to be grateful, but what does God-like gratitude look like? Jesus brought us a new humanity that transcends ethnic and social boundaries, but do we as Christians have vision for those displaced and oppressed? As we conclude our study on the spiritual practice of sharing a meal, it is wise to consider if we are setting a place at the table for everyone.

Speaker: Joe Brewer

Title: God-like Gratitude

Scripture: Colossians 3:15-17

Date: Sunday, November 24, 2019

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In Suffering, Comfort, 10/27/19

Sermon Title: In Suffering, Comfort

Speaker: Pastor Kevin Kessler

Scripture: 2 Corinthians 1:3-7

Date: Sunday, October 27, 2019

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Assurance: A poem by Marilyn McEntyre read by Carol Davis, 9.22.19

Title: Assurance (A poem by Marilyn McEntyre from “When Poets Pray. For more information about Marilyn McEntyre here is a link to her website)

Speaker: Carol Davis

Date: Sunday, September 22, 2019

Scripture: Psalm 8: 1, 3-9

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The Fellowship of Place, 9/15/19

Sermon Title: The Fellowship of Place

Speaker: Pastor Kevin Kessler

Scripture: Psalm 108

Date: Sunday, September 15, 2019

Sermon Resources –

  1. Christ Plays in Ten Thousand Places by Eugene Peterson (Eerdmans, 2005)
  2. As Kingfishers Catch Fire by Eugene Peterson (Waterbrook, 2017)
  3. Iona Abbey Worship Book, (Wildgoose Publications, 2001

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Proclaim Christ, Reclaim Passion – 7/14/19

Speaker: Pastor Kevin Kessler

Sermon Title: Proclaim Christ, Reclaim Passion

Scripture: 2 Corinthians 5:12-21

Date: Sunday, July 14, 2019

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The Spiritual Practice of Pilgrimage, 7/7/19

What is a spiritual pilgrimage and why does it matter? For thousands of years, Christians have embarked on journeys to sacred sites throughout the world, such as retracing the steps of Jesus in the Holy Land or walking the Camino de Santiago (Way of Saint James) in northern Spain. But we don’t have to walk hundreds of miles to experience a spiritual pilgrimage. What has the spiritual practice of pilgrimage looked like in your life? What new journey do you feel called to embark upon?

Speaker: Joe Brewer

Sermon Title: The Spiritual Practice of Pilgrimage

Scripture: Acts 17:24

Date: Sunday, July 7, 2019

Source: “The Way is Made By Walking: A Pilgrimage Along the Camino de Santiago” by Paul Boers.

You’re Always There, Special Music from Baylor Carper & Ed Carper

On Sunday, July 7, 2019, the Canton Church of the Brethren was privileged to hear a special performance from Ed Carper and his daughter Baylor Carper.  The song they played was called “You’re Always There.” Please enjoy!

Why Solitude? – To Renew Self-Awareness, 6/23/19

Sermon Title: Why Solitude: To Renew Self-Awareness

Speaker: Pastor Kevin Kessler

Date: Sunday, June 23, 2019

Scripture; Mark 6:30-34

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Why Solitude: To Be Filled – 6/16/19

Speaker: Pastor Kevin Kessler

Sermon Title: Why Solitude: To Be Filled

Date: Sunday, June 16, 2019

Scripture: Luke 6: 12-16

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A Heritage of Serving – with Special Music by Ed Carper and Baylor Carper

On Sunday, April 28, 2019, we were pleased to welcome Bill Kostlevy, the director of the Brethren Historical Library in Elgin, IL.  In addition to Mr. Kostlevy’s message, we heard special music from the father-daughter duet of Ed and Baylor Carper.

Sermon Title: A Heritage of Giving and a Heritage of Serving

Guest Speaker: Bill Kostlevy, Director of the Brethren Historical Library in Elgin, IL

Scripture: Deuteronomy 8:7-10; Psalm 24:1-6; Mark 10:42-45

Date: Sunday, April 28, 2019.

Continue reading “A Heritage of Serving – with Special Music by Ed Carper and Baylor Carper”

CANTON CHURCH OF THE BRETHREN PRESENTS “FORGIVEN” ON PALM SUNDAY

The Canton Church of the Brethren presents “Forgiven” on Palm Sunday, April 14, at 9:30 a.m. The church is located at 269 E. Chestnut. The public is invited to attend.

The service features the words of Jesus, special readings, poetry, and a variety of music presented by the Canton Church of the Brethren Choir. The choir, directed by Carol Davis, consists of Candice Stuckey, Wilma Long, Doris Howater, Robin Henry, Tammy Kessler, Jackie Davis, Kevin Kessler, Colin Davis, Bob Champlin, and Ed Carper. Accompanist is Pam Willison.

Special musical guests include Carla Bobell, Lindsey Larson, Alex Smith, Tammy Weaver, and Trygve Meade. Chad Murphy provides narration.

“The message of Easter directs each of us to paths of forgiveness,” said Carol Davis, music director. “The Holy Week story is one of hope for everyone. We invite any and all to join us for this service of inclusion.

Song selections include “My Father’s House,” by Bruce Springsteen and sung by Colin Davis, “Forgiveness” from the musical Jane Eyre, “One God” as recorded by Barbra Streisand, “Hosanna to the King,” “Every Time I Think of You,” and more.

For more information, please contact Carol Davis at carol.davis31@gmail.com

Lectio Divina (Divine Reading)

Lectio Divina is a prayerful approach to the scriptures.  Some would say it is a way of praying the scriptures.  This practice, which translated means Divine Reading, was introduced by a 12th-century Carthusian monk named Guigo.  Lectio Divina can be practiced a number of ways both individually or in groups.  he most common method has 4 steps: Reading, Meditation, Response, and Contemplation.  Sometimes another step of prayer is added.  Or, the method can be reduced to 3 steps of reading, meditation, and action.

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??? – 2/3/19

How do you understand God speaking to you and inviting you into action in this text from Luke 4?

How will you respond?

Speaker: Pastor Kevin Kessler

Sermon Title: ???

Scripture: Luke 4:21-30

Date: Sunday, February 3, 2019

 

 

Formation, Not Information – 1/27/19

Speaker: Pastor Kevin Kessler

Sermon Title: Formation, Not Information

Scripture: Romans 12:1-2

Date: Sunday, January 27, 2019

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Bigger Than the Box, 1/6/19

Sermon Title: Bigger Than the Box

Speaker: Pastor Kevin Kessler

Date: January 6, 2019

Scripture: Proverbs 2: 1-15

Today is Epiphany Sunday, the time of the church year when we celebrate the story of the those who traveled great distances seeking the Christ child. The child was nearly 2 years old when the seekers arrived. Whatever had sparked the curiosity of these seekers caused them to continue pursuing a goal. Something mysterious, something of wonder was out of their reach, something that compelled them to continue on until they were able to experience first-hand what they sought.

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Canton Church of the Brethren Presents CANTATA

The Canton Church of the Brethren Choir and guests will present the John Purifoy cantata

Christmas Seekers on Sunday, December 16 at 9:30 a.m. in the church sanctuary. The church is located at the corner of Third and Chestnut Streets in Canton. The presentation is open to the public.

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Two Cents Worth, 11/11/18

The poor should not be expected to be burdened with more responsibility than they can handle. Those who can bear the burden with greater ease would do well to exhibit the level of responsibility they expect others to carry out.

Sermon: Two Cents Worth

Scripture Text: Mark 12: 38-44

Speaker: Pastor Kevin Kessler

Date: Sunday November 11, 2018

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Walking Clocks, 11/4/18

Jesus says the greatest commandment is to love God and to love our neighbors.  But is our ability to carry out our primary purpose troubled by a dominant culture defined by hastiness?  How can we best share the Brethren way of peace when everyone is in such a hurry?

Sermon Title: Walking Clocks

Scripture: Mark 12: 28-34

Guest Speaker: Joe Brewer

Date: November 4, 2018

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