2020 Vision: Our Foundation

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Earlier this year at General Council 2019, Alliance president Dr. John Stumbo opened Council with a sermon from the book of Acts. This sermon specifically focused on the parting of ways between Paul and Barnabas and their travelling companion John Mark. Acts 13:13 tells us, 'From Paphos, Paul and his companions sailed to Perga in Pamphylia, where John left them to return to Jerusalem'. Paul and Barnabas were heading inland toward Pisidian Antioch. This was going to be a very challenging trip, up through the mountains with difficult terrain, and they were not exactly sure what they would encounter. They only knew that this was precisely where God was sending them. John Mark was not up for the challenge; why we do not know. John chose to part ways and head back to Jerusalem. Decisions were made by each of these men there in the port city of Perga that day.

The Elders here at First Alliance Church believe we, as a body of believers, are at a “Perga moment” of our own. It is time for us as a church to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit through our elders into a new direction. We know this is the direction God is guiding us, and excited about what He is doing among us. This direction may bring unexpected terrain, challenges, and winding roads, however we will press forward toward the vision God has placed before us to Connect to Christ, Grow with Others, and Engage the World as we seek to be and make biblical, loving, Spirit-filled disciples becoming more like Christ.

Over the course of the next few months and into 2020, the Elders will be presenting, through the method of short videos twice a month “2020 Vision”. These videos will lay the groundwork for the direction God is leading First Alliance Church Toccoa in 2020 and moving forward.

We invite you to view each video, be in prayer about next steps, and join with us on this exciting and yet unknown journey we are taking together.

Here is Episode 1: Our Foundation:


LIFE 2019 Recap

This July 19 of our First Alliance youth, along with two friends, and four adults, participated in LIFE conference. We spent five days in Orlando with 6,000 other Alliance youth from around the world. Many of you prayed for our travels, our youth, and our time there. It was obvious! Thank you.

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Awaken was the theme of this year's conference. Each day focused on a different aspect for us to Awaken to: Identity, Wonder, Community, Simplicity, and Mission. The seminars, main sessions, service project, and worship time all contributed to the theme of Awakening to God.

It would be hard in this brief space to capture the vibe of the late nights, the energy from thousands of people, volume of the worship, charisma of the speakers, emotions, laughter, and conversations. We packed a lot into just a few days! Through a variety of means; teaching, songs, in depth conversations, and certainly the activity of the Holy Spirit, many of our students heard from God, took steps of obedience, experienced healing, and embraced truth. The particulars aren't my story to tell. I was there as a witness, and a coach of sorts. But their stories are important. I would encourage you to find a student that went to life and ask them what they experienced.

What happened at LIFE conference is important. What's most important, though, is for the work God has been doing, and will continue doing, to be nurtured. Our young people are a vital part of our church body. As we invest in them they draw out of us more experienced disciples the fruit of prayer, faith, love, hope, encouragement, unity, and grace. We become a better body. And as their faith, maturity, and gifting grow our church body is infused with new life and fresh spiritual vitality. It's a win/win!

So, yes, LIFE was an amazing experience! But really it is a launching point. An opportunity for us to continue investing in the lives of the young people God has blessed us with. Here are three ways we can do that:

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  • Get to know our young people, all of them, the ones who went to life and the ones who didn't. Ask what God is doing in their lives and how you can pray for them. And certainly ask those who went to life about their experiences and what they learned.

  • Pray for our students. Pray about the things you know God is doing in their lives. Pray they will find their identity in Jesus, they will love God's word, that they will be guided by the Holy Spirit. Pray for endurance, courage, and wisdom for them at school, work, and other activities. It's hard being a young person in our culture today.

  • Last, ask God if he would have you invest directly in the youth of our church body. We have space for volunteers on Wednesday night, in our small group ministry, and for mentors. You can talk to Pastor Chris about next steps if that's something you're interested in.

God is calling this next generation to Awaken to the wonder of knowing Him, to embrace community, and to live on mission with Him. It's an exciting thing to witness and to nurture! Can you see it?

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How God Led FACT to a New Lead Pastor

First Alliance Church has a new lead pastor! After being extended a call by the Elder Team of First Alliance, and affirmed by the South Atlantic District Superintendent, Rev. Brian Rockwell, with his wife Jessica, have affirmed God’s call and agreed to come and serve on the pastoral team.

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A little over 10 months ago, Dr. Scott Borderud announced to us that he planned to retire within a year. Though his plans changed due to the opportunity to become superintendent of the Southwestern District of the Christian & Missionary Alliance, he still concluded his ministry as senior pastor this past November. His resignation led to the necessity of inaugurating a transition process in order to find the person who could take up the mantle of shepherding us at FACT.

A Search Committee was formed and did research to determine the profile of one who could function as our lead pastor.  With congregational input the profile was constructed, and the committee began to diligently search for the person who would best fulfill our expectations. Throughout the process the committee listened for the still, small voice of the Lord that would confirm to us who His choice would be.

We looked through numerous resumes, examined reference letters, interviewed some by phone or in person. Some fit the profile better than others, but after several months the committee still had no indication from the Lord that we had found the person of His choice.

Around the middle of November, the church leadership called for a special Sunday night of prayer, specifically to seek the leading of the Lord in the candidate process. It was right after that meeting that we received the resume of Rev. Brian Rockwell. He had not been seeking a change from his current pastorate, but after a few people suggested that he consider FACT, God confirmed in his heart the thought that he should submit his resume to FACT as a matter of obedience. This seemed a direct answer to the prayers on that Sunday night.

Brian accepted our invitation to candidate and that Sunday the congregation had the opportunity to meet him and hear him preach. We took a straw vote of the congregation, and 85% were in favor of the Elders extending a call to him. Taking this into consideration, the Search Committee and the Elder Board overwhelmingly approved doing so.

When I notified the District Superintendent about the results of the vote, he was surprised at how great a majority the vote represented. He remarked that most churches the size and complexity of First Alliance would have a much lower vote. The vote being that high was another sign of confirmation from God confirming through the congregation that Brian was His choice to become the lead pastor.

He and Jessica have accepted the call and plan to transition to ministry at First Alliance in the middle of March. We want to do all we can to help them in the transition and welcome them warmly to First Alliance.

Many of us are excited about their coming. But we do want to be sensitive to those who conscientiously expressed a feeling that, for whatever reason, Rev. Rockwell was not the person of God’s choosing. Does that mean that you missed the voice of the Lord?  Not necessarily. Remember the first great decision the early church had to make at the Jerusalem Council in Acts 15?  There were strong opinions on both sides and vigorous debate, but after Peter spoke from his experience, and Paul and Barnabas testified of God’s working in their ministry, and the leader James formulated a decision, the apostles, elders, and the whole church came together in agreeing to move in the same direction. There was unity despite that fact that there was not uniformity in their opinions.

We have an opportunity now to manifest that same kind of unity. Though some of you may not be happy with the decision of the vast majority and the church leadership, we can recognize that God has apparently led us in the choice of Rev. Rockwell. We can agree to support him and move together in the direction of furthering the mission and ministry of First Alliance. We all want to see this church become all that God wants it to be, don’t we? We will see God do that, as we yield our wills to His will, and as we joyfully serve Him together as biblical, loving, Spirit-filed disciples as this local body of believers. 

Praise God from whom all blessings flow.

A Liturgy for the New Year

A liturgy is a pattern used by Christians for worshiping God, declaring His greatness, and focusing on Him. Liturgies have been used in many forms throughout the history of the Church as a means of praising, repenting, asking, and yielding. As a new year begins, we offer this liturgy for your use personally or with your family. What better way to begin a new year than by focusing on the Lord?

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Eternal Father, as we come to the end of the year give us grace to reflect on what has passed. Convict us of the sin we have committed, forgive us for the opportunities we have missed, heal us from the wounds we have endured, and comfort us in the loss we have sustained. Thank you for your presence with us in the past year. It is because of your presence that we have endured.

Response: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

Eternal Father, we ask for discernment in the year ahead. Make us hungry to connect with Jesus every day through prayer, your word, and meditation. Help us prioritize our spiritual community and seek opportunities to grow with our church family in faith and love. Give us an urgent desire to engage the world around us with your good news, starting in our neighborhoods and reaching to the very ends of the earth.

Response: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

Eternal Father, we thank you for your goodness to us in the previous year. The blessing of your presence through your Holy Spirit, your word, and our fellow believers has encouraged us. We pray for your continued blessing in the coming year. Bless our homes with peace, our work with good fruit, our community with hope, and our relationships with grace. We acknowledge all of our possessions, relationships, and areas of influence, are gifts from you. Help us steward them in holiness to your eternal glory. Amen.

Response: Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.

Based on Lamentations 3:22-23. Written by Beck Gambill


Advent: The Worshipers

Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the reign of King Herod. About that time some wise men from eastern lands arrived in Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We saw his star as it rose, and we have come to worship him.” Matthew 2:1-2

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The ancient middle east, when Jesus was born, was just as tumultuous and dangerous as it is today. A trip from a distant land to Jerusalem wouldn’t have been easy and perhaps not even safe. But there were men of influence and knowledge who saw a sign that compelled them to make the journey, regardless of the difficulty.

When they got to the place where Jesus was they acknowledge his authority and worshipped him. Sometimes our journey in life is difficult, even dangerous. The question is - will we recognize Jesus authority and worship him? In sorrow or joy worship has the power to breathe hope into our souls.

How will you respond to Jesus this Christmas? Will you join the wisemen and worship him as king?

Advent: The Good News

“That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep. Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them. “Don’t be afraid!” he said. “I bring you good news that will bring great joy to all people. The Savior—yes, the Messiah, the Lord—has been born today in Bethlehem, the city of David!” Luke 2:8-11

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The wait was finally over. The Savior was here! Heaven and earth met in the fields outside of Bethlehem. Sleepy shepherds snapped to attention as the night sky burst with the glory of God’s messenger. Salvation had come!

Sometimes life stretches on with no end in sight, the nightwatch feels like it will never be over. And then good news! Love shows up when we least expect it.

God honored the shepherds with news of his salvation. He set them on mission. He sent them to see the baby with their own eyes. After they recovered from the shock, they left the dark fields and ran to the light of love.

Later on in Luke it says, “After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child.” After such good news the shepherds could never be the same again.

You may be waiting for good news. It’s here. Love has been born to set you free. How has news of God’s love changed you?

Advent: The Birth of Christ

“And while they were there, the time came for her baby to be born. She gave birth to her firstborn son. She wrapped him snugly in strips of cloth and laid him in a manger, because there was no lodging available for them.” Luke 2:6-7

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When the first man and woman disobeyed God a wall came between them and their Creator. Sin was insurmountable. Each of us since has faced that same wall of sin separating us from God.

On our own there was nothing we could do to make our way back to God. But he had a plan for rescue. God the Son dressed himself in skin, limited himself to time and space, and submitted himself to the laws of nature to join us on earth. He became a baby.

In Bethlehem Jesus’ young mother birthed him in pain and joy. The twilight was pierced with his wail. What a mysterious night when God became human and drew near to us in the person of Jesus.

Jesus was born into a family. Walked through Israel’s streets. Laughed with fishermen, forgave sinners, died and came alive again to bring us into his kingdom. Emmanuel - God with us, God with skin on. He alone could tear down the wall of sin and bring us back.

The presence of Jesus has the power to bring joy no matter what we’re facing. Will you allow Jesus’ presence with you to be your source of joy this Christmas?

Advent: The Promise

All of this occurred to fulfill the Lord’s message through his prophet: “Look! The virgin will conceive a child! She will give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’” Matthew 1:22-23

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The First Week of Advent:

It had been four hundred years since the Jews had heard from God. For generations he had led their judges and kings, had spoken through the prophets. Then, silence. Now, Rome occupied Israel. It seemed as if God had forgotten them. Had forgotten his promises.

And then God spoke. Not to a king or a prophet, but to a young woman. Through the angel Gabriel God renewed his promise to provide a Savior. Mary had found favor with God. Faithful as ever, she was quick to embrace the message the angel delivered. It sounded crazy. She was just a young woman, engaged to be married. But, like every other young woman, she had grown up hearing the prophecies, she knew what Isaiah had spoken. God’s Son would be born to a virgin. He wouldn’t leave his people in darkness.

Mary embraced the words of the angel. She would carry hope for nine months and then deliver him for the world. For every broken heart, for every hungry soul, God would show mercy.

God wrapped himself in flesh and became a baby. Mary believed in the impossible and became an accomplice to salvation. Her Son would be our path to peace.

Will you, like Mary, believe God’s promise? He has not forgotten you. Even now, in the midst of your hardest circumstances, Mary’s child wants to be your peace.

Sundays Morning Adjustments

We’re making a temporary adjustment to the Sunday morning schedule that will begin Sunday, December 2.

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After considerable discussion, the Elders believe the following schedule to be best for the health of First Alliance in this season of transition:

  • One Worship Service at 9am with Nursery, Toddlers, and Children’s Church

  • Coffee & Connection at 10:15am

  • Sunday School Communities at 10:45am

  • Evening ministries as scheduled

Some of the factors that have gone into this decision include:

  • we have the capacity to accommodate our current attendance in one service with space for guests

  • we want to emphasize the unity of the church body during this time of transition

  • we want all to experience the vitality and energy of a service where everyone is worshiping, praying, and responding together

  • we recognize it will be a little easier on our guest speakers to only have to do one service instead of two

We recognize and acknowledge this may create a difficulty for a few. For that, we apologize. We weighed different options and decided to stick with the 9am worship service time because it is the service that most currently attend and would make it easier to add a second service back when the time comes.

Moving to one service means the room will be more crowded, yet we are still committed to making sure there is room for guests. You can help with that by not only continuing to build relationships with friends and others in your sphere of influence who don’t have a church home and inviting them, but also by making sure there is room for them.

You can help with this by making sure guests can easily find a seat. Will you fill in the centers of the rows instead of camping out on the aisle seats? We know it’s easy to come in and sit down on the end seats of rows and that it’s asking a lot to change old habits, but the Lord reminds us we should always be seeking to please others and not ourselves. We know that guests (and latecomers) don’t particularly enjoy climbing over someone they don’t know to get to a seat, especially if it’s a family. Let’s do this out of selfless love for others as we love God supremely.

Thanks for your flexibility in this matter. Again, this begins this coming Sunday, Dec. 2 and is temporary. We will continue to evaluate and adjust as we move forward to do what is best for the making of disciples and reaching our community. As we are faithful to connect, grow, and engage as biblical, loving, Spirit-filled disciples, we believe God will multiply ministry and expand His kingdom through First Alliance. If you have any questions, please be sure to speak with a leader.

May the Lord bless us as we live in obedience to Him.