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A MESSAGE FROM PASTOR HOWARD

Wow! It seems the time is just flying by. It was only a couple of days ago (in my mind) that I wrote the last Pastor's Page, and it wasn't that long ago I arrived as your new pastor and now I feel very much a part of things as if I've been here for a long time. It's funny how that happens, but then again, not really. So much has happened, so many things have changed and our changing, and then, how quickly it fades away and we forget and settle in to our routines, too often taking things for granted.

I write this only a few days after the terrible tragedy in Orlando, Florida where 49 people lost their lives to senseless hate and anger. The flag outside my office window has been lowered to half-mast in recognition of the tragedy and respect for those who suffered and died. The breaking news of innocent people being shot to death is becoming all to common place. So many attacks have taken place in what we thought was a peaceful America. Anger, hatred, and intolerance seem to be filling the hearts of many Americans. Sadly many of these attacks have claimed to have taken place in the name of religion. The United State which was once known as the "melting pot" is more and more becoming a place of intolerance and hostility toward those who are "different". Aurora, New York, Boston, Columbine, Sandy Hook, and now Orlando, just to mention a few places where these tragedies and intolerances have occurred. Eventually they will fade into the background, the media will not talk about them and we will move forward, but will we change?

Change only happens when people speak out or "cry out" against the injustice and hostilities that are occurring. Religion should not be a tool to divide us but should be a means of bringing us together lovingly in the name of our God.

Now is the time for the people of God to unite their hearts and voice taking a stand against violence and destruction Now is the time to let God's Love and Forgiveness fill our hearts. It is only in changing our hearts that the kingdom of God will be seen. Now is the time to come together letting people know the Church is a safe and loving place where God's Mercies are shared. We may not be able to change the world all at once - but we can begin to make changes right here in Hammonton. Now is the time for change -- open your hearts to God's changing Love,