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The Warm Welcome of Christian Community

By Stephen Powell

I want to take a minute to introduce myself to you and express our gratitude for the overwhelming warmth and kindness we have experienced from you, our new Creekside family.

I’m Stephen Powell and I’m your new worship director here at Creekside. We moved here last month from Nacogdoches, Texas, but the Gainesville area is actually where we are from. My wife Megan and I had our first date here in Gainesville on November 15, 2002. I get brownie points from my wife for remembering dates like that. We went bowling at Alley Katz and then went for a stroll at Westside Park.

I’ve been leading worship ministry for 16 years at churches in Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Texas, but I am looking forward to being here in Florida, we hope, for the rest of our days. We are here for the long haul and are grateful for all that the Lord has done and all that he will continue to do here at Creekside. We still have family in the area and are grateful to see them more often, but what encourages us the most is the family we are gaining at Creekside.

There is a unique unity between God’s people. When you meet a brother or sister in Christ for the first time, on some level you are connected better with them than you are with those you have known for longer who are not in Christ. I’ve had the blessing of sharing meals, conversations, rehearsals, meetings, and more with some of you and in those gatherings there is a sweetness that is only explained by the Spirit within us.

In John 17, the high priestly prayer is recorded. This prayer is the longest of Christ’s prayers to be recorded. In this prayer, a major theme is the unity of the ones the Father has given to Him. In fact, his prayer is that believers in Christ would be unified as the Trinity is unified. While we know that our unification is not perfect or complete, we know that already, through the Spirit, we have a unity that the world simply does not have and we have it because Christ himself is praying that we will have it.

I am going to disappoint you. The person sitting next to you in a worship service is not perfect and will let you down. But, consider that you are united in a way that is supernatural, spirit-empowered, and eternal. When you are tempted to pull away or to not reconcile with one who has wronged you, pray the prayer of Christ in John 17. Read and be amazed at what the Lord is accomplishing in his church.

This is an exciting time! It is incredible to know you and to be a part of this community. The Lord is sanctifying and growing this church and he is doing it by praying for us and by sending his Spirit to be with us.

Thank you for the warm welcome. I’m grateful for the community Christ has secured for us all.