Dear Gateway Family,
Merry Christmas! We are coming to the end of another year and what a year 2020 was! Be honest, when we woke up on January 1st, none of us would have anticipated what the Lord had in store, and yet, our God has once again proven Himself to be loving, patient, and faithful. What an amazing Lord we get to serve together as a community!
Thank you for your humble service and generous and sacrificial giving that enabled us to be faithful to our mission of Reaching Generations for Christ, even in the midst of a season of pandemic and uncertainty. Below are just a few of the challenges we were able to address together by God’s grace, as well as some of the opportunities up ahead in 2021:
- Moving Online Overnight - After just 33 days as your new Senior Pastor, we shut down the facilities due to COVID-19 and went to remote worship services overnight. I’m so thankful for the way Steven Stanley and Alison Madill led us through this season. From not streaming our services prior to March, to developing an emergency plan in a week’s time was truly amazing. We were able to invest in our audio/visual equipment during this time as well, so that our online worship experiences would continue with the excellent quality we established during the Spring.
- Zoom! Zoom! Zoom! - Similarly, our groups (Life and GriefShare) transitioned to meeting online via Zoom right away, still giving everyone in our community the opportunity to get connected in a Life/GriefShare Group and grow in their relationship with the Lord. Thank you to Mike and Nancy Barbato and all our Life Group leaders as well as our GriefShare Team (Joyceann Fileccia, Josephine Reitano and Irina Brown)!
- Web Presence Established - Our web presence was given an update during the COVID shutdown also. Jena Hernandez and Steven were able to redesign our website, and Jena’s work in re-evaluating and strategizing our social media plan was truly phenomenal. We will continue to value this means of communicating our mission and the gospel message in the year up ahead. I’ve enjoyed launching our daily devotion, Growing Deeper Daily, and look forward to starting it up again in the New Year.
- Gateway Academy was also able to transition to online learning right away in the spring under the leadership of Chris DeSanctis and his team. I’m so thankful for his leadership during this season. Also, a big thank you to the teachers who were able to transition to online learning using Google classroom and other resources seemingly overnight! Re-opening to a 5 day, fully onsite education this fall is a testament to the hard work of the Academy team. Thank you!
- Blessing Others - We were able to bless our community during the shutdown with special gifts to first responders, hospital personnel, and a local Christian food pantry, and through your generosity, we were able to give special offerings to several of our global partners in Italy, India, and Cuba, and locally to the Pregnancy Care Center as they were the hands and feet of Jesus in their communities during this challenging season. Our Christmas Offering is designated towards increasing our giving in 2021 to our World Outreach Partners.
- Reopening in July was a major undertaking, as we sought to be compliant with necessary safety procedures, a task we would not have been able to accomplish without the hardworking volunteers in our Welcome Ministry led by Victoria Kollar and Susan Emanuele and our Security Team led by Tony Justiniano. Our maintenance team went above and beyond to ready our facilities over the summer and keep our buildings and grounds in tip top shape (including painting throughout the building). I’m so thankful to Linda and her team! Jane, Anne, Jason and our family ministry team got Sunday mornings going again for our kids and teens, and we resumed onsite classes and Life Groups. Our business office (Jane, Nancy, Bill and Lew) worked hard to keep things behind the scenes running smooth, and our receptionist, Adele, was always just a call away throughout the quarantine. What amazing servants of the Lord we have on staff and volunteering at our church!
- Special Events - Our worship nights in July with our friends from Salem Church, movie night on the lawn, youth events, drive-through prayer, virtual VBS, Trunk or Treat (Thank you, Perrottas!), Christmas Tree lighting (Thanks Aaron and the guys!), and other unique opportunities to Worship, Connect, Serve, Grow, and Share together this past year were special times. Thank you to everyone involved in making these happen!
As we end out the year and look forward to 2021, we will continue to be faithful to our mission as a church on Staten Island – Reaching Generations for Christ. We are working now as a leadership team on our 2021 strategy to reach and build up generations here on our Island that are deeply devoted to Christ and His Word. In addition, we are looking forward to presenting a plan to address all of our pending facilities upgrades this coming year. Together, let’s continue to pray and seek the Lord to guide our steps.
For 56 years Gateway Church has been a beacon of light for Jesus Christ on Staten Island, and He has us here to love and lead this church for such a time as this. It has been a joy as your Pastor to labor alongside the Trustees, Elders, Deacons, and Ministry Staff and Volunteers. I appreciate you all! Thank you once again for your sacrifice, service, and love. This coming year, no matter what unknowns are up ahead, may we be found faithful!
Grace and Peace,