Last night was an incredible evening by all accounts, but not for the reasons you might expect. St. Anianus Church presented an application to the Monroe Township Planning Board, seeking approval to use the property as a Church in order to begin the process of moving in. People were so inspired by the application, as well as the heartfelt words of support from meeting attendees (during the public hearing portion), that several board members and attendees were moved to tears. As the Mayor emphatically cast the final vote – in what would be a UNANIMOUS decision approving our application – the meeting erupted with cheers, smiles, applause, and congratulations! Several of the board members expressed a sincere interest in coming to visit the Church once we have our official opening later this year. Others admitted that they were unfamiliar with the Coptic Church prior to coming across our application, but that they used it as an opportunity to read up and learn. One of the lawyers in attendance – who has been in a number of other similar meetings – confessed that he had “never seen anything like this before.” Another person indicated that she could “feel the Holy Spirit’s presence in the room during the meeting.” My three biggest take-aways from this process:
- A work of God is always seasoned with Prayer: Through every step of this journey we have leaned on God’s guidance, strength, wisdom and support. Before we entered the meeting, we stood in the hall, circled up, and prayed for God to grant us favor. The moment we came out of the meeting, we circled up once again to give all Glory and thanks to our Lord. Last night was truly a witness to the continued work that God has been doing at St. Anianus Church. My prayer all along is that Christ would be the focus of each person who is being discipled at St. Anianus and that the property would simply serve as a place where God continues to work in the lives of each person who passes through it.
- Team work lets God take Ordinary People and Accomplish Extraordinary Results: By the grace of God, our Lord provided a great deal of wisdom in assembling an all-star team who helped make the evening a success. Between the technical team (the lawyer, engineer, realtor, and other professionals), those who came out and spoke or supported, all who have been praying through each step of the process, and every person who has supported through their financial gifts, last night truly evidenced the power of team. God’s grace, working in partnership with all of the different members, contributed to a win last night.
- Preparation is Key to Success: This entire week – in anticipation for the planning board meeting – I have been meditating on a passage from Romans 8:31b, “If God is for us, who can be against us?” However, knowing that God is with us should NOT serve as an excuse to ignore the need for hard work or to neglect the necessity for preparation. A lot of time and effort has gone into getting to this point, since we purchased the property on May 25, 2017. For example, countless phone calls, meetings, and discussions have transpired in preparation for this night. Also, one year ago yesterday we recorded the #PuttingDownRoots video, which was instrumental in getting the word out about the Fundraising Campaign during the month of March last year. There are no shortcuts!
Special thanks to:
- Senator Robert Menendez for his letter of support
- Mayor Gerald Tamburro for his friendship
- Chairman David Rothman for his strong leadership at the board meeting
- The Planning Board for their warmth, service, and integrity in dealing with our application
20 Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, 21 to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.