The Verdict

Happy 13th Sunday of Pentecost!

As a pastor, I find there are generally three types of people: those who accept their faith passively and do not give much of it a second thought, there are those who study and learn the faith, but never grow beyond a certain point or perspective, and then there are those who are constantly growing and learning.  The third type of people may change their convictions over time, but they do so with deep reservoirs of thought and study.  They can talk to others who disagree and listen to their convictions without becoming argumentative.  They can take and apply Bible stories and verses and appreciate them from different angles.  They do not just read one side of a theological argument but try to see where everyone is coming from.  In the early church, James, the brother of Jesus and the understood leader of early Christianity, was just such a person.

On Sunday, we continue our walk through the Acts of the Apostles, backtracking a chapter to what happened before Paul met Timothy in Lystra.  Paul and Barnabas were arriving in Jerusalem to meet with the church leaders after some evangelists had arrived in Antioch and upset the believers there.  Antioch had a church community that was both Jew and Gentile, and this blended cultural environment had been successful until these folks showed up and told them that the Gentile Christians had to become Jewish before they could become Christian.  So in Jerusalem, Paul and Barnabus seek to finally put the issue to rest among the Christian church, so it could continue its expansion. 

While this may not seem like a big deal to us today, this was a huge decision to make as the early church was making up the limits and boundaries of Christianity in those early days.  After all, the 12 Disciples had all been Jewish, Jesus had been Jewish, raised in a Jewish family among a Jewish community in Nazareth.  On Sunday, our goal will not be to talk more about Gentile inclusion – we’ve already done that – but to look at how we can, like James and the Jerusalem Council, think theologically through life.  We’ll be talking about a four-fold way of thinking that is very near and dear to people who look to John Wesley and his example of faith.  Ever heard of the Wesleyan Quadrilateral?  We’ll talk about it today as we worship and meditate on God’s grace and James’s response to it in Romans 3:21-26 and Acts 15:1-2, 7-20.

Sunday’s Online Service—If you log in to your Google/YouTube account about 10-15 minutes early, you will be able to easily access the chat and fellowship through the YouTube premier page both before and during the service. Find the premier page on our YouTube channel at: 8/30/20 Online Service.  The premier page will be active from the moment the video is uploaded, so you can practice any time this weekend!

Sunday’s In-Person Service – At 8am we will worship in the church courtyard (between the Fellowship Hall and the Sanctuary).  We will have communion at every 8am service.  Worshipers are asked to bring their own chairs or picnic blankets, face coverings, hand sanitizer, and Communion Elements (bread & grape juice) to each service.    

Our Children’s ministries that include the nursery, SPKidz, and iClub have relaunched their in-person meetings. They are currently meeting at 8am in the Fellowship Hall. Please join them for an interactive socially distanced fun time as they learn their lessons and play games together.


The Youth is meeting for a fun night on August 30th from 4:30-5:30pm. So many games and outdoor activities are planned! Please come and bring a friend! SPYouth will regularly meet every 1st and 3rd Sunday from 4:30-5:30pm in the Fellowship Hall. Praise NG will be meeting every 2nd and 4th Sunday in the Sanctuary.


We so appreciate you keeping connected with us as we navigate these trying times for everyone. Please contact the church office by email at or by phone at 352-694-2161 if you have any questions or need any help.  While office hours are limited, someone will receive your message and get back to you as soon as possible.