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Easter Reflections

This past January, I was privileged to be part of a group of pastors and staff from NorthStar traveling to Israel for a Holy Land Pilgrimage. The trip impacted each one of us in some way. As we move towards Easter, for me it sparks a sense of self-reflection on what this experience has meant to me. We had the opportunity to walk the same steps that Jesus walked, from entering the city of Jerusalem, to standing on the Southern Steps where Jesus taught the crowds, to where he spent his final days with his disciples.

We spent about half an hour in the Garden of Gethsemane, where we contemplated the evening Jesus spent there. Overlooking the Eastern wall of Jerusalem, he would have seen the soldiers and religious leaders coming from the Temple to the Garden to arrest him. He had ample time to turn and leave and save himself before they arrived. Obviously, he knew his purpose was to sacrifice himself for each of us, but it does make you wonder about the thoughts that may have crossed his mind as he saw them coming, knowing escape was just over the hill. Being a follower of Jesus, and most of us on the trip dedicating our lives to ministry, this brings to light how we should be making decisions in life. Many feel that being a Christian means God should be on your side, so He should want you to have all the things you want in life. When things are going wrong, He should make them right for you. When you are in pain, He should take the pain away. As we see in scripture, this was not the case for Jesus, “Going a little farther, he fell with his face to the ground and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will but as you will’…He went away a second time and prayed, ‘My Father, if it is not possible for this cup to be taken away unless I drink it, may your will be done.’” (Matthew 26: 39, 42). In the garden, Jesus prayed twice for God to change what Jesus knew was going to happen. Jesus had the ability to take it into his own hands and run, yet he put aside his wants for God’s will. We often focus on our own comfort and feelings, thinking that is what God wants for us. Of course, God does want good things for us, but sometimes we are to go where we don’t want to go and do what we don’t want to do for the sake of His will.

 We also visited the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, one of two sites believed to be the place of Jesus’ crucifixion, burial, and ultimately, resurrection. We spent time at the Garden Tomb, too, the other location that could be the place of the crucifixion, burial, and resurrection. We took communion here and contemplated the death and resurrection of Jesus.

For me, I wanted this to be the place where Jesus was laid to rest and then emerged from the tomb. The garden is beautiful and peaceful, and felt more worshipful. Our group leader reminded us that wherever it actually took place didn’t really matter. What mattered is that everywhere we had been that day, including there in the Garden Tomb, we would have seen the sky get dark and felt the earth tremble on that day of his death. “From noon until three in the afternoon darkness came over all the land…And when Jesus had cried out again in a loud voice, he gave up his spirit. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom. The earth shook, the rocks split” (Matthew 27: 45, 50-51)

 Jesus had been in the same places as we had been throughout Jerusalem and throughout our travels in Israel. His story is real. The places are real. The people are real. I’ve read the stories all my life, and I knew in my head that they were real places, real people, real experiences, but now I have seen those places and heard the stories at the sites they took place. It has made it so much more real for me. Now, whenever I hear the stories of Jesus, I will picture those places and imagine what it felt like to be there with him.

I imagine it’s like when you meet a big celebrity that you have admired. It makes them so much more real, not just someone you see on a screen. And you want to show everyone the pictures, and tell them about the experience. Tell them this is what they are really like. I know that I feel this way about Israel. I want to tell others what it is like, and what Jesus may have been looking at when he told these stories, or taught the crowds. What he may have seen and heard in his last week before the cross. And that it is real. It happened there and I truly feel blessed to have experienced it and hope to be able to again in the future.

Mary Beth Inman is Office Manager and Communications Manager for NorthStar Church Network.

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In case you missed it...

2018 has been a great year, and 2019 is looking to be full of excitement! We celebrated this past year and vision for 2019 at our 16th Annual Meeting on October 27. If you weren’t able to make it, here are some highlights:

We welcomed six new churches to our Network this year:

  • Abundant Power Church in Sterling, VA
  • Church of the Beloved in Vienna, VA
  • The District Church in Washington, DC
  • Grace Capital City in Washington, DC
  • Iglesia Bautista Emanuel in Manassas, VA
  • Iglesia Capital in Annandale, VA

We welcomed 11 new senior pastors to our churches this year:

  • Lon Anthony, Oak Dale Baptist Church
  • Brian Burdett, Lake Ridge Baptist Church
  • James Choi, All Nations Dream Church
  • Daniel Eichelberger, Providence Baptist Church
  • Dan Hough, Little River Baptist Church
  • Sung Chul Hwang, Columbia Korean @ Falls Church
  • Soo Yong Lee, One Body Church
  • Jason Mitchell, First Baptist Church of Springfield
  • Dan Morgan, Middleburg Baptist Church
  • Jason Oh, Pilgrim Community Church
  • Robert Wallace, McLean Baptist Church

Dee Whitten shared about some of the exciting things that occurred in 2018, such as continuing our Art of Neighboring initiative, holding conferences on leadership, discipleship, children’s weekday education, and conferences just for women and youth. NorthStar supported 11 church plants, provided training for international pastors, and participated in the ordination of several pastors. We also took groups to International Justice Mission to learn about their cause, and took around 200 people on a spiritual heritage tour of the U.S. Capitol.

Dee shared NorthStar’s vision for 2019: developing a mission center to provide housing for mission teams coming to our area, as well as a way for mission teams to partner with the churches of NorthStar. Watch for more information about the mission center opening at Manassas Baptist Church coming soon!

Katie Harding celebrated NorthStar Women’s Network’s 15th anniversary as a Network and the huge impact we see of this great network of women in our area. Katie was presented with an award for NorthStar Women’s Network’s 15 years of connecting and equipping women for life change with Jesus.

Chris Mendez from Knollwood Community Church shared about some highlights from a coaching cohort with Thom Rainer that NorthStar has been hosting for several of our pastors and insights he’s received.

Jerry Heilbronner from First Baptist Church of Alexandria showed pictures and video of NorthStar’s disaster response to Dominica. Last year, the Dorothy Allport Mission Offering raised over $65,000 to help rebuild Dominica after a hurricane ravaged the country.

Bart Purdy of Virginia Hills Baptist Church shared about the assistance he has received from Alan Stanford as part of NorthStar Church Solutions to revitalize their church.

NorthStar staff member, Randy Haynes, shared about our current initiative on race and diversity and how we need to be discussing this important issue and addressing it head-on. He invited everyone to participate in the discussion at a symposium on December 6.

Chris Moerman, pastor of Grace Capital City shared via video about their new church plant and how their church is growing quickly in Washington, DC, and the importance of their partnership with NorthStar.

NorthStar recognized Lily Dobson and Dee Whitten’s five-year work anniversaries, and Katie Harding’s 15 years. Eloise Barton, NorthStar’s faithful volunteer for 11 years, was recognized for her many years of service to our Network ahead of her retirement at the end of this year. The United Baptist Church was recognized for their partnership with NorthStar over the past 30 years, in housing NorthStar’s office, as the administrative offices will be moving from their church to Manassas soon. Katie Hawkins was recognized for her service as Moderator this past year, and our new Moderator, Mike Bradley, was presented. Dee Whitten also recognized Marshal Ausberry for his position as President of the National African American Fellowship of the Southern Baptist Convention. Marshal is the Senior Pastor of Antioch Baptist Church in Fairfax Station.

NorthStar had a great Annual Meeting and our staff and Board are excited about the year to come and look forward to energizing churches to carry out their God-given mission in 2019!

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NorthStar Women's Network Celebrates 15 Years!

NorthStar Women's Network celebrates their 15th anniversary this month! NorthStar Women's Network is a ministry of NorthStar Church Network and is a highly valued part of our Network. This women's network has grown immensely over the past 15 years and NorthStar Church Network is extremely proud of the ministry it has grown into under the fantastic leadership of Katie Harding. 

This past weekend, several of the leaders of NorthStar Women's Network and other women from the Network celebrated the 15th Anniversary with a proper tea and time of fellowship at Crest Hill Antiques & Tea Room. Check out the pictures below from this fun event!

NWN 15th Anniversary Tea

NorthStar Women's Network Celebrates 15 years!

Learn more about NorthStar Women's Network and the many ministries and events going on at www.northstarwomensnetwork.org.

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