Divided We Stand...Together
Divided We Stand...Together

John A. Murphy, Jr. • July 06, 2022

Recently, our country "celebrated" its 246th birthday. I put the word "celebrated" in quotation marks for several reasons as it seems that we live in a time where our nation is deeply reflective on the many sins of our collective past. Among those sins is the most obvious slavery, a topic that has divided our nation since its founding. Yet there is more: racism continues to challenge us as a country; as do issues of equality; women's rights; ongoing debates over first, second, fourth, and sixth amendment rights and the application of these rights for all; and not least of all debate over recent decisions of the U.S. Supreme Court.On July 4th amid the parades, firework displays, picnics, and festivities, there were certain celebrities who took the opportunity on this day to denounce their citizenship, or proclaim how horrible our country is. Then, there was the tragedy of the mass shooting in Highland Park, Illinois that left at least 7 dead (at latest count) and dozens more injured.Since this weekend so much has been said about people dividing our country. They forget that we are and have always been a divided country. Our Presidents through the centuries have been elected by the slim average percentage of 9% or less of the popular vote, and since 2000 by an average of 2.5%. No President in our lifetime (or perhaps ever) has been unanimously elected. So anytime any person disparages one party's voters over the other they are in essence insulting at least 40% of the country. That divides us. The vitriol of politicians doesn't help matters; neither does the encouragement of absolutism and defiant resistance to any compromise.There was a time when government leaders were praised for their ability to get things done by working for solutions with members of the opposition, to persuade others, and hopefully improve life for all concerned. Compromise was not a bad thing, it was part of the process in trying to get things done. Now, it seems elected leaders of all stripes are praised for taking a stand, for digging in their heels, and for outright defiance of the opposition. So the wheels of republican democracy grind to a halt; nothing gets done and presidents resort to "executive orders", which only further divide us.The preamble of the U.S. Constitution begins with the solemn words: "We the people of the United States of America, in order to form a more perfect union..." Clearly our founders understood we weren't there yet, and perhaps never would be. As a mentor/pastor of mine once described the Christian faith, "It's a process and a progress."There is in this country of ours so much to be praised. We live in a country where we have the liberty to speak our mind and disagree; to raise our flag and to burn it; to peacefully gather in support or protest; and to vote. The very reason that our country is great is because we can reflect on both its greatness and its flaws. We can raise our flag and cheer; and we can raise our fist skyward or kneel in protest. It is because our country is great we have the freedom to do these things.And what about our faith. How do we as Christians respond when we believe we align better with one side or the other. First, we must remember that no political party has the high ground as the more "Christian" party. There are good, faithful, believers and followers of Christ all along the political spectrum. I have often discovered in conversation with people I disagreed with that we came to similar conclusions from very different starting points.If there was ever a separation it would be between sinners and the most Holy High God. Yet, God said, "Come, let us reason together..." (Isaiah 1:18). It was God who sent his only son to walk among us. Even Paul in his second letter to the Corinthian church says, "All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation," (2 Cor 5:18).If the message we've been entrusted with is ministry and message of reconciliation, who are we to continue to beat the drums of separation? Jesus said, "They will know you are my disciples by your love for one another," (John 13:35).We live in a country of deep divisions, radically different opinions, and the freedom to express all of it. One of the things that impresses me most about Mission Woods Church is that we have all stripes represented. We have those that would call themself liberal, and others staunch conservatives, and still others who put themselves somewhere in the middle. This is not only true politically, it is true theologically as well. Yet, together we strive to seek Christ first in all things and to bring glory to the One true God who is worthy of our praise.May we, together, let our light shine before others that they may see our good works and give praise to our Father in heaven, (Matthew 5:16). God bless you all.In His Grip,Pastor John
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Masks Optional Beginning March 12
Masks Optional Beginning March 12

John A. Murphy, Jr. • March 10, 2022

After long months of wearing masks, following safety guidelines, we're excited to be making masks optional again, beginning March 12.

We have been very careful in our approach to COVID. Our building was closed for several months as we moved everything to online. Then we came back and worshipped in person (sort of) as we gathered in our parking lot each sitting in their own vehicle or "COVID safe pods" as Pastor John called them. Finally we were back in the building and masked.

We continue to take precautions. We continue to follow guidelines and use hand sanitizer, encourage distancing, cleaning surfaces, etc. After a discussion and consultation with medical professionals our session is opening our sanctuary again with masks being optional. We invite you to join us and are excited to once again see your whole face if you choose not to wear a mask. If you choose to wear a mask there will be no shame and we love seeing your smiling eyes!

Join us in person, in our parking lot, or online this Sunday!

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Everyone Is Welcome  Christmas Eve 8pm
Everyone Is Welcome Christmas Eve 8pm

MISSION WOODS CHURCH • December 09, 2021

Christmas is one of the great high points of the year for many families. Our Mission Woods Church family loves to celebrate Christmas as the birth of our Savior. Whether you have never been to church before, are a regular attender, or perhaps have missed church for a while and just want to do something special for Christmas Eve, we welcome you to join us.

If you'd like to join us you can attend our Christmas Eve service two ways: Indoors in our sanctuary (we ask everyone to wear a mask or face covering), or simply pull into our parking lot and listen to the service on the radio in the COVID safe pod of your own car. Either way, we will work to make you feel welcome and included in our worship service.

Our Service will be at 8pm on Christmas Eve. Children of all ages are welcome. All will participate in one service together.

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Join Us For Worship!
Join Us For Worship!

MISSION WOODS CHURCH • October 19, 2021

Join us for worship in person at Mission Woods Church. We are worshipping indoors and in our parking lot. Inside our sanctuary we ask that you wear a mask. Our congregation is singing (masks on) and spaced as you are comfortable. We have individual seats so it's easy to move them where you like. Our worship team leads without masks.

There are some who continue to worship in their "COVID safe pods" (their automobiles) in our parking lot. You are invited to join us in our parking lot and simply tune to the radio station we broadcast on. You will be able to sing along thanks to lyrics in our bulletins, and we can provide you a hymnal to keep in your car for when you come to worship.

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MISSION WOODS CHURCH • January 26, 2021

Join Us for COVID Safe Worship!

We're very proud to be able to continue worshipping in person in a COVID-19 safe way. Let us share what you'll experience as you worship with us.

What to expect:

  • As you drive up to our church you will be greeted by a friendly face, and provided with a bulletin of what's happening during the service. If you haven't worshipped with us in our parking lot before we will also provide you with a hymnal in a plastic bag for you to keep in your car for worship. Please hold on to this hymnal if you are planning on returning to worship with us. If not, you may return it at the end of worship.
  • You may choose from any parking space since you will not be getting out of your car.
  • Tune your car radio to the radio station listed on the bulletin. Currently we're using 92.3 on your FM dial.
  • Turn off your engine, but not the radio. Be sure to turn off your headlights, and the heating fan as these will deplete your car battery.
  • Sit back and prepare for worship.
  • After the service we invite you to drive through the portico to greet our pastor and worship leadership team. You may deposit your offering in our offering plate at this time. Please remember to wear your mask when you roll down your window.


What if I need to use the restroom?

Our restrooms are available inside the building. Please remember to wear your mask while inside the building.

What if I'm just visiting? What should I do with the hymnal?

On your way out, return the hymnal to the bag provided and hand it to one of our worship leaders as you exit under our portico.

I want to make an offering. How do I do that?

We have several ways you can contribute.

  1. You can simply write a check and we will provide you with an envelope on your way out that you can put in the offering plate.
  2. You can give cash, and we will provide you with an envelope you can use to deposit it in the offering plate on your way out.
  3. You can mail a check to Mission Woods Church, P.O. Box 296, Milton, WA 98354.

10 Benefits of Parking Lot Worship

  1. You're in your own COVID-19 safe sanctuary pod.
  2. Amazing scenery - trees, sky, birds, sunshine, rain,...snow?
  3. You can control the volume of your own personal sound system!
  4. You can wear your pajamas and no one will know.
  5. You can attend as a family without the fear that your children talking might disturb anything. (This is usually a fear of parents and we're always happy to have children in our services).
  6. You can recline your own pew...I mean, seat!
  7. You can debate fellow passengers on one of the points in the sermon during the sermon, and no one will know.
  8. You can sing as loud as you want, on key or off, and make a joyful noise to God without disturbing others.
  9. If you snort while laughing at one of the pastor's jokes/stories - no one except your fellow passengers will know.
  10. If you fall asleep during the sermon, no one knows.

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Christmas Eve 2020 - A bit of normalcy?
Christmas Eve 2020 - A bit of normalcy?

MISSION WOODS CHURCH • December 21, 2020

Join us Dec. 24th at 7pm for a complete Christmas Eve service in our church parking lot.

Are you feeling like everything this year has been "less than"? At Mission Woods Church we understand. That's why we've worked very hard to put together a worship service for Christmas Eve that is complete and COVID safe. Join us Dec. 24th at 7pm for a complete Christmas Eve service in our church parking lot.

This year has been one for the record books. No doubt we will talk about it for years to come. The separation, the closures, the virtual meeting/schooling, and the absence of normalcy. Many this year are feeling like they need to "settle" for something "less than" in everything. We don't get the customer service we'd like. Our interactions are all with masks on. Our Christmas gatherings and so many of our traditions are out the window.

At Mission Woods Church we want everyone to know they're invited to join us for a full Christmas Eve service. We will be sharing in the Lesson of the Carols with singing led by our worship team of all those meaningful Carols with their scriptural lessons. We'll have a special message for children of all ages (rumor has it we'll have a visitor!), and you'll be a part of something bigger than just a drive-by blessing, or another online gathering staring at the screen.

Please join us for our Christmas Eve Service, Dec. 24, 2020 at 7pm in our Church parking lot!

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COVID Safe Worship
COVID Safe Worship

MISSION WOODS CHURCH • November 19, 2020

Our church continues to strive to provide full worship services with COVID safety in mind. You can join us Sunday mornings at 10am in our church parking lot and worship with us in the safety of your own vehicle!

Please bring a mask, as we would like to say "Hi" from a safe distance as you arrive and give you a blessing as you leave. You are also encouraged to dress warm and even bring a lap blanket. When you arrive you will receive a bulletin and be instructed to tune your car radio to an FM station so you can hear the full service. Music included!

We encourage you to fully participate, singing, praying, and listening to what God is saying to us during this challenging time. If you have questions please call, or reach out to us at info@missionwoodschurch.org

We hope to see you at a worship service soon!

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COVID-19 Update
COVID-19 Update

MISSION WOODS CHURCH • November 02, 2020

How Long? How Long, O Lord?

There is much discussion about when and how to reopen our church building. Our session has taken this very seriously and we are doing our best to be faithful shepherds of our congregation entrusted to us. We recognize that many churches have reopened and many more have not. Most in our presbytery have not yet reopened.

From the beginning in Genesis we read, “It is not good for the man to be alone,” (Genesis 2:18). This was a statement about how we are created by God to be in community. The author of Hebrews implores us, “Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, let us not give up meeting together…” (Hebrews 10:24 & 25). As Christians we are called into community for love and support, and also for correction and sharpening. And yet, we are in the midst of a pandemic, and haven’t been able to meet in our sanctuary since March 8th!

When this whole pandemic hit we all thought we would be closed for a couple of weeks, perhaps a couple of months. When in June the governor released his 4 phase plan on reopening, the Session expected to move through the phases rather quickly and agreed that phase 3 would be the time we would reopen; but that didn’t happen. Our session continued to meet to discuss how we might continue to minister to our congregation. By August we were barely into Phase 2, and we began doing parking lot worship. Our county is still in phase 2.

As of the writing of this letter both King and Pierce Counties are experiencing a surge in the number of COVID-19 cases. In Pierce county the current case rate is 122.3 per 100,000. Our target to reopen is 75 per 100,000.

“The Governor still strongly encourages religious leaders and communities to conduct services remotely.” This is a great idea, yet there are those in our congregation who do not have internet, and virtual meetings still feel very distant. With ingenuity and the purchase of a radio antenna broadcast system, we have been able to conduct services in our church parking lot minimizing the infection risk to our congregation and allowing us to hold live worship and see each other!

We are so thankful to all those it takes to pull off our worship time together: Lisa (pianist), Cami (Worship lead), Katie, and Kari for their leadership in music and prayer. And none of this would happen without Scott and Lance working on our sound and the antenna setup so that the broadcast works each Sunday. And there are a host of others that have worked to make our parking lot worship as possible: Jennifer joyfully greets and hands out bulletins; Darrell plays host in the parking lot assuring that people are tuned to our radio station for the morning; Ruth makes sure that our bulletins have the extra items that may be needed since we don’t have the screen to look at and then assists handing them out with Jennifer; Natalie makes sure that the offering is collected, counted and deposited. And the whole team waves greetings under the portico afterwards.

So What's The Plan?

  • For the foreseeable future we will continue to do Parking Lot Worship.
  • We will continue to watch the infection rate in the Pierce County/King County Region.
  • When the infection case rate drops to 75 per 100,000 in Pierce County, our session will implement a plan to reopen worship services on Sunday mornings inside our building with social distancing protocols still in place. (This is the guideline adopted by several school districts in the area.)
  • Once we open, we plan on continuing the radio broadcast for those still not comfortable entering the church building. We will have a host in the parking lot.
  • Sermons will continue to be posted online and printed copies are available upon request.
  • Small groups may meet in the building if and only if they wear a mask at all times, follow social distancing and follow cleaning protocols  by the state health department. 
  • Small groups are able to meet virtually through ZOOM. Contact Pastor John and he is able to set up your meetings for you.
  • Our Session continues to seek to EQUIP our members. We have purchased Faithlife EQUIP for the entire church, giving all of our members access to LOGOS Bible Software with Bible studies, devotions, and more. You also get FaithlifeTV, and an interactive Faithlife page where you can learn more about what’s going on in our church.

Frequently Asked Questions:

How is the church doing financially?

Our church family is incredibly faithful. We have continued to be able to meet all of our financial obligations and even to be able to build up some reserves during this time. Thank you for your ongoing faithful support of the ministries of Mission Woods Church.

On Sunday morning we see people going in and out of the building, why can't we?

As stated above it takes a lot of people to set up, conduct, and take down our worship service each Sunday. These people are practicing social distancing and mask wearing inside the building. All cleaning procedures are done before and after each service.

The restrooms are always available to you during the service, we are asking that no more than 2 people be in a restroom at a given time.

How come our worship leaders take off their masks while singing/speaking?

Mainly to aid in singing/speaking clearly. Outside we are able to do this; inside we would have to keep the masks on at all times.

Can I still meet with the pastor?

Yes! Pastor John is happy to meet with people in person, by phone, or in a video conference which he can set up. You can call him directly using the number in the directory.

This whole experience has been a learning one for all of us. Thank you for your patience. Our session recognizes the need to keep you informed. We are pledging to update you regularly through our website and mailings like this one. We truly are blessed to be the family of God.

On behalf of the entire Session:

Clerk of Session - Kari

Pastor - John

 Phase 1, Phase 2, and Phase 3 Religious and Faith-based Organization COVID-19 Requirements – from Guidelines for Religious and Faith Organizations, Governor.wa.gov. 

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How's Your Whittling?
How's Your Whittling?

John A. Murphy, Jr. • August 12, 2020

We all have those verses in the Bible that just convict us again, and again, and again, and again... you get the idea. One passage that has always convicted me is from Matthew 7:1-5. I've summarized it in my own head reminding myself, "I need to be a better whittler."

You see (whether I like to admit it or not) I, like most people, can be really good at seeing little faults here and there in others. It's interesting to note that the Bible does not encourage us in this at all; instead the Bible reminds us to take a look in the mirror at ourselves. "First take the log out of your own eye..."

There is something so keystone cops about the visual here. Imagine if I did have a log protruding from my eye. Every time I turned my head I'd be smacking people upside the head with it, whether intentionally or not. Much like the keystone cops and the still hilarious "ladder routine". We watch them, and we think, "How can they be so blind to their actions?" and yet we too recognize in ourselves that we are often blind to the ways in which our words and actions impact others.

As the inequality and systemic racism of our culture has come to the forefront in our so called Great American Society, the log in my own eye has become increasingly clear to me. I've spent time listening to people with different shades of melanin than mine, and am learning more and more how differently these friends and others have experienced our world. I'm seeing how the log in my eye has blocked my view.

So, I'm whittling. I'm creating space for the Light of the world to get in. It's actually less of me creating the space and more about me surrendering to our Creator and allowing God to create the space. I'm reading more about different perspectives of race; I'm engaging in intentional conversations about race and the inequalities of our life experience. I'm being very intentional to listen and to be honest it sometimes takes everything within me not to say, "But..." and to discount and judge what I'm being told. This is because these conversations are not comfortable.

It's not just about race. It can be about any social, religious, political, or philosophical idea we might hold. Like it or not, we ALWAYS think our opinion is right. Otherwise, why would we hold them? And still, we will admit we're not always right. And so the question comes, "How do you know?" "How do you know whether your opinion is right or wrong?"

In college a professor informed our class that we all prejudge, and then asked if prejudice was wrong. We all agreed that prejudice was wrong and many disagreed with the statement that we all prejudge. What is the difference between prejudgment and prejudice?

Prejudgment is what we all do when we first encounter someone. We approach them with a general belief of who they are and what their experience has been. I prejudge that a child will not be able to understand complex words and so I speak to them with simple words. It's an action of our adjustment to our perception of a person or situation. Prejudice is where we assume our prejudgment to be absolute and correct. They tend to be all or nothing statements. There is no room for change or correction. "All black/white people are..." "All democrats/republicans are..."

No one would pridefully say they are prejudice. It's a shameful thought. Yet, if we take a serious look at ourselves in self-examination, we will see at least a glimpse of the log in our own eye. As we begin whittling on that log and allowing the Light of Christ in, a world we were blind to begins to be revealed. The more of the log that is removed, the clearer we can see ourselves reflected in the mirror in the Light of Jesus. It drives us to a place of humility. "Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you," (James 4:10).

I'm whittling on my log, not only for my own benefit. It's because when the time comes that you would like help to remove the speck from your eye, that I can see clearly to help you. As a christian, we are all called to do the same. So, how's your whittling?

“Do not judge so that you will not be judged. For in the way you judge, you will be judged; and by your standard of measure, it will be measured to you. Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ and behold, the log is in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye."

 New American Standard Bible: 1995 update. (1995). (Mt 7:1–5). La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation.

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Join Us for Church on Sunday!
Join Us for Church on Sunday!

MISSION WOODS CHURCH • August 07, 2020

We've had a few technical difficulties each Sunday, but we were so excited to see so many of our MWC family and others. You are invited to church again this Sunday! Each week we get better at this thing.

Who: You!

What: Worship of our LORD

When: Sundays @ 10am

Where: Mission Woods Church Parking Lot

Why: Because we love Jesus, each other, and our community

How: By the grace of God and the wonders of modern technology.

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