The West VA Team is going back – We need your help (and it’ll be fun!)

IMG_5030“It’s all about the relationships.” I heard this over and over again from Restoration’s West Virginia trip veterans as I prepared last spring for my first church mission trip. Last July 4th weekend marked the fourth year Restoration has sent a team to partner with Appalachia Community Care, an organization committed to supporting the small community of Chestnut Ridge in Philippi, West Virginia.

I learned first-hand the value of relationships after just a few short days with Chuck and Nicky, the warm-hearted couple my team would help during our time in Philippi. To say that they welcomed us into their life and home is an understatement, and the significance of their hospitality was not lost on our team, since just six months prior, a fire had destroyed Chuck and Nicky’s trailer. Fortunately, friends and family had donated to help provide the couple with another trailer. One of our team’s projects consisted of building a foundation to support their new trailer and burying a drainage pipe to protect the new foundation from erosion.

Hours of laying in the mud under the trailer left us dirty and achy, but Chuck’s quiet smile and Nicky’s hearty laugh made it a joyful experience for all of us. I’ve never met two people so grateful for what God has given them, even after they watched their possessions disappear in flames. And despite all that they had lost, they gave of themselves abundantly in spirit and friendship. I felt like I had made two lifelong friends by the end of the trip.

I have stayed in touch with Nicky via Facebook and was thrilled to see that she and Chuck tied the knot just a few weeks ago. I look forward to visiting them and celebrating the beautiful life they are rebuilding together when Restoration makes its fifth trip to Philippi this July.

The 2014 West Virginia team is now preparing to re-engage old relationships and forge new ones on this annual trip that has become an integral part of Restoration’s story. On June 1st, we will host a spaghetti dinner immediately after the service in the Fellowship Hall to raise funds for our lodging and building materials. We are asking for donations of $10/person or $30/families. We will also be hosting a skills auction and prize raffle throughout the dinner. We are excited to share this experience with you and hope to see you all on the 1st!

– Jessica Payne

Growing Together

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May 25, 2014 – Clay Morrison

1 Thessalonians 3:1-10 / Psalm 16 / John 15:1-8

Listen to Sunday’s songs here.

West Virginia – Just a few days left!

WestVA PicHey folks,

As I said in a blogpost a couple of weeks ago, Restoration is taking our annual trip to Philippi, West Virginia this summer from July 2-6.  And just to remind you, the last day to register for the trip is this Sunday, April 27th.  You can register here, and also sign up for the West VA small group if you’re interested.


In case you’re still on the fence, Wade Casstevens had the chance to go last year and wanted to share a few thoughts with you about the trip:

I went on the West Virginia trip in 2011 and 2013 and am planning to go back again this year.  Both years I was accompanied on the trip by Lucas, my 10-year old son.  Our project site was the home of the Daltons, a young family with two toddlers.  We helped to convert a burned-out mobile home into a suitable home for a growing family.  In 2011 our crew performed mostly exterior repairs, painting the home’s exterior and installing a new roof.  In 2013 we completed interior repairs, including installing wall paneling in the children’s room and putting the finishing touches on a master bedroom.

The West Virginia trip appeals to me from many angles, several of which are selfish.  I work in the building industry in the DC area, and I love to build things and work with my hands.  Additionally, I love the mountains, and the 4 days we spend in Philippi is a relaxing, scenic break from Washington.  

However, the trip also presents opportunities to give and receive some gifts from God that don’t crop up as easily in my regular routine.  For example:

      • The work allows us to provide for the physical needs of the community in the form of shelter, warmth, and community space
      • It gives us time with our families and church community that is not influenced by the needs to achieve, rush, or compete
      • For those of us who don’t share our faith easily, it allows us to love others through acts of service
      • It exposes us to a community (that of Philippi itself) that tends to value family, community, and faith above material possessions in a way that is important for us to be reminded of

If you are thinking of coming on the trip, don’t let the physical nature of the trip deter you; the vast majority of the work tasks are not technical in nature, but cooperative.  Also, if you have any questions about any details of the trip, I would be glad to speak with you.  I can be reached by e-mail at or by phone at 703-244-5650.


Wade Casstevens

 I’m really excited about the trip, and I hope you’ll be able to join us.  If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to contact me (


Maundy Thursday Sermon

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April 17, 2014 – Clay Morrison

Exodus 12:1-14 / Psalm 116:1-9, 16-19 / John 13:1-15

West Virginia Trip, 2014

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Hey folks,

We’re getting ready to take our 6th annual trip to Philippi, WV.  This experience is a significant part of the DNA of our church, as members have been going since before Restoration officially started!  I got to go for the first time last year, and I had a fantastic time.

On Sunday we opened the registration for this year’s trip (July 2-6), and we’re looking to pull together a team of 30-50 people.  I hope you’ll be one them!

Here are the details:

Who:  Hard working, relational folks (ages 8 and above) who want to share life with people in a neighboring community.

What:  We’ll be working with Appalachian Community CARE, a non-profit that facilitates outreach and home repair in Philippi.  There will be a mix of manual labor, getting to know people in the community, and reflecting on how our experience shapes us.  The main ideas will be to share Christ’s love with the people there and to have fun in the process.

Where: Just outside Philippi, West Virginia, a former mining town in a beautiful rural setting.

When: Wednesday, July 2 to Sunday, July 6.

Why:  This trip is a truly formative experience.  Participants have had a genuine encounter with the people of Philippi in which God’s love was communicated.  Strong friendships have been formed on the team, newfound skills have been acquired, and people have been eager to go back the next year.

How:  Team members raise money for the trip through a combination of personal and group fundraising.

Any questions?  Contact me at  Otherwise, go ahead and register!


A Light to the Nations

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March 16, 2014 – Clay Morrison

Matthew 23:37-29 / Psalm 98 / Isaiah 49:1-18

Listen to Sunday’s songs here.


Welcoming the Stranger: Continuing the Conversation

Hey Restoration,

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Nearly a quarter of residents of the D.C. metro area were born in other countries. These neighbors of ours have fascinating stories, talents and abilities, and valuable perspectives to offer us. Many of these folks also have great needs, like friends, community, resources, legal aid, and a knowledge of the Gospel.


God has given his people clear call to love the stranger (Deut. 10:18-19; Psalm 146:9; Matt. 25:35), and Restoration has so many opportunities to do so. Last trimester, our small group focused on how we might live out this call, and this coming Tuesday, we want to continue that conversation.

We’ll be teaming up with the Love Arlington small group for a night of prayer to bring our desires and questions to God for he might lead us in this area. We’ll also be praying alongside our whole denomination, as God has also been prompting the broader community to live out this call more fully.

If you’re interested, please come! Here are the details:

When: Tuesday, March 4th, 7:30-9pm

Where: 5129 10th St North Arlington, VA 22201 (There is plenty of street parking)

A bonus: Shrove Tuesday-themed snacks

Please contact me at with any questions.  Have a great weekend, and I hope to see you on Tuesday.


New Jerusalem

 The New Jerusalem by Mollie Freeman 2013

February 16, 2014 – Clay Morrison

Sermon did not record.

John 2:13-22 / Psalm 122 / Revelation 21:9-27

Listen to Sunday’s songs here.

Two Small Groups

Last trimester Rachel and I led a small group called Welcoming the Stranger that focused on connecting with immigrants in this area.  We talked about making practical life choices that allow this to happen, from budgeting a little extra time to chat with the person behind the counter at the convenient store, to teaching ESOL, to inviting a neighbor over for dinner.  But at the most basic level our conversations were about being intentional and open with the people we encounter in our lives.

This trimester, Rachel and I are leading a group focused on evangelism as a continuation of last trimester, precisely because we see evangelism as a lifestyle of willingness to be open and engaged with the people around us.  


Too often evangelism is viewed as a sales pitch that is either unappealing or intimidating.  But we view it as an act of love and honesty that should be part of normal conversation: love by offering hope that actually relates to the needs in others’ lives, and honesty by being willing to say how our belief in Christ relates to the situation at hand.  We want to learn how to do this more effectively and more often, and we’d love it if you joined us in exploring this topic.  We’ll talk about how to do this with people of different cultural and religious backgrounds, friends, coworkers, and family.  We’ll be meeting on Wednesdays at our place in Cherrydale.

Another great continuation of last trimester will be a group called Christianity Explored, led by Mike and Jen Dodson, who were also part of the Welcoming the Stranger group.  Their group will start with the basics by orienting people to the Bible as a whole and then walking through the Gospel of Mark as an introduction to Jesus.  This is a great opportunity to bring a friend who is interested in Christianity, and is appropriate for people of all cultural backgrounds.  It’s also perfect for a Christian who either wants a refresher course or is interested in seeing how one might go about introducing someone to Christianity.  They will meet on Thursdays in Alexandria.

I recognize that for some of us (myself included!), both of these groups could seem a little intimidating.  But a goal of these groups is to give people the opportunity to learn how to relate to the idea of sharing Christ: by just doing it.  If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to shoot me an email (, or you can just go ahead and sign up!



Sacred Imagination

I’ve been doing some reading recently on communication, especially about communication from a theological perspective.  One theme that I’ve seen again and again is the creative ways that God reveals himself.  In the Scriptures and elsewhere, we see that God goes out of his way to communicate who he is and what he desires for our life in ways that are emotionally provocative, aesthetically beautiful, and even jarring at times.


And yet, at the same time, I find it frustrating that God chooses to use means that don’t seem nearly as effective as what I might choose.  Why doesn’t he just speak with a booming voice from heaven, or peel back the curtain of heaven so that we could see him clearly?  We could probably think of lots of ways that God could get the job done of revealing himself.  But for some reason, he chooses to work in subtle ways, like the words of Scripture, the soft whisper of the Holy Spirit, a beautiful view of his creation.  Even the Incarnation, as amazing as it is, is the epitome of subtlety when you think of all the ways that God could have made his entrance into the world.

There are any number of possible explanations for why God chooses to work in these subtle ways, but what’s clear is that he is not interested simply in getting the job done in the most efficient way.  If he did things that way, something might be lost in the process.

One crucial thing that God’s subtlety allows is for our imagination to be awakened.  The imagination is a wonderful, even sacred thing, because when it is active it means that we are engaged at the deepest level.  Whether writing a story, searching for the solution to a problem, or expressing a thought through visual art, we experience a creative energy that taps into a central aspect of what it means to be human.  

Imagination plays a vital role in communication, but it can be short circuited by the communicator’s lack of subtlety. There is an art to holding back just enough information at first in a way that makes the listener wonder what’s coming next, that gets them to try and construct where the story line or argument is going.  If it’s too obvious, the listener is not engaged at that deeply creative level.

We spend much of our lives wondering what is coming next, wondering where this story is going.  That can be frustrating, especially when we believe in a God who could give us all the answers if he chose to.  But maybe this wouldn’t be the best thing, because our sacred imaginations wouldn’t be engaged in the same way.   Our imagination is engaged when we need to visualize the throne room of heaven based on Ezekiel’s description, rather than be shown it directly.  The offer of the Kingdom of God appeals to our hearts when it is shown to us in a parable, rather than having a bunch of soldiers force us to swear allegiance.  And somehow we understand God’s love in a deeper way through a period of suffering than if he just gave us a “nice” life.

During Advent, we say over and over again, “Come, Lord Jesus,” and it can sometimes seem like he never comes.  But he is coming all the time into our lives in subtle ways, ways that awaken our imagination.  Maybe it’s through the narrative that we hear once again this season about Israel longing for redemption.  Maybe it’s our hope that God has provided for us the biggest piece of the redemption of the world in Christ.  Maybe a difficult situation in our family makes the meaning of this season all the more poignant.  Whatever unresolved situation you’re in, whatever unanswered questions you have, ask yourself how God might be using those things to provoke your imagination to explore who he is and how he wants to know and be known by you.

God is actively engaged in our lives, if we take a moment to see him working.  I hope this Advent season helps awaken your imagination and prepares your heart to respond to the ways that God is revealing himself to you.

– Clay

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