Dear Calvary Church Family:
Every third year, our church grants me a sabbatical. Thank you so much for this "time away" from my day to day responsibilities as your pastor - a time for rest, renewal, reflection, and study. I always come back from sabbaticals not only rested and renewed but also better equipped to carry out God's calling for me - to be the pastor of our church.
I will be on sabbatical during the month of July. During my sabbatical, our excellent and dedicated church staff led by our associate pastor Hank Ellington will continue to provide leadership in the ongoing ministries of the church. I have asked the following ministers to preach at Calvary during the four July Sundays that I will be away:
July 5 Rev. Hank Ellington
July 12 Dr. Greg Earwood, President of the Baptist Seminary of Kentucky
July 19 Rev. Hank Ellington
July 26 Dr. Dwight Moody, President of the Academy of Preachers
I will return to the Calvary pulpit on August 2. Thank you again for the sabbatical. And thank you in advance for continuing to support Christ's work through our church during my absence.
At a called church business meeting this past Sunday (June 28), our church voted to embark on a Capital Campaign to raise the funds needed to address the following issues:
1. Pay off Debt on Mission Lexington Building $500,000
2.Replace 55 year old Heating and Air System $606,000
in the Sanctuary
3.Improve Sound and Lighting in Sanctuary $409,000
(Includes flooring & Audio Visual)
4.Improve Handicap Accessibility in Sanctuary $ 22,600
5.Improve Sound/Lighting and Audio Visual $128,000
in Fellowship Hall
6. Design/Overhead and Contingencies $329,936
TOTAL ML Debt & Construction Costs $1,995.536
*Any Funds received above this will be used to pay off existing
debt on ROC Building and to add to our maintenance reserve.
More specifics about our Capital Campaign will be shared with the church in the near future. For now, join me in praying that this church wide campaign will be used by God to enable our congregation to be the church that God is calling us to be both now and in the years to come.
As I go on sabbatical, please know how grateful I am to be your pastor. What a privilege it is for me to be part of our wonderful Calvary family!
Dear Calvary Family:
Let me encourage you to be present this coming Sunday (June 28) for a called church business meeting. This meeting, which has been previously announced in accordance with our church constitution and by-laws, will take place in the church fellowship hall immediately after the 11:00 a.m. worship service. Lunch as well as child care will be provided.
The purpose of this called meeting will be to hear a presentation from the Capital Projects Steering Committee to consider a recommendation from our Deacons and our Finance Committee that our church embark on a capital campaign to raise adequate funds to address the following issues:
1. Paying off the debt on the Mission Lex- ington Building ($500,000);
2. Replacing the fifty- five year old heating and air system in the Sanctuary Building ($606,000);
3. Improving and enhancing the worship experience - including sound, lighting, audio/visual, hearing assistance, handicap accessibility, and Sanctuary renovations ($889,536).
Our church currently finds herself in one of the strongest financial positions that we have had in recent years. We certainly have the potential (and the responsibility) to carry out this proposed $1,995,536 capital campaign which will enable us to make much needed and long overdue improvements to our sanctuary and fellowship hall and to eliminate the $500,000 debt on the Mission Lexington Building (where Christ-oriented medical and dental services are given to the poor and marginalized in our community). Not only will this proposed capital campaign enable us to become a more effective church now, but it will also position us to be an even more effective servant church on mission for Christ for years to come.
So come and join your church family at the called business meeting this Sunday as we consider and discuss this opportunity to be the church that Christ is calling us to be!
Dr. J. Dan Cooper, the pastor of our Calvary Baptist Church family from 1980-1990, died this past Thursday evening (June 4). As many of you know, the last several years of Dr. Cooper’s life were quite challenging for him and his family as he lived with ongoing health issues related to a stroke which he suffered in March of 1988. As many of you also know, Dr. Cooper provided our Calvary family with dedicated, visionary, and Christ-like leadership during his tenure as Calvary’s pastor.
I am personally indebted to and grateful for Dan Cooper. When I was a very young pastor at the Lexington Avenue Baptist Church in Danville, Kentucky, I called Dr. Cooper (whom I had never met at that time) and asked him if he would meet with me and share with me some advice about carrying out the responsibilities of being a pastor. Dan not only graciously agreed to meet with me, but he bought me lunch and told me that he would be more than glad to meet with me again. In short, Dan became a mentor to me. And while I was the pastor of the LABC in Danville, Dan was the guest preacher for a spring revival that we held at the church. Little did I know at that time, that one day I would be called to be the pastor of Calvary following Dan’s pastorate (which was cut much too short because of his stroke). But what I did already know at that time was that Dan Cooper was the type of Christian leader and pastor who would encourage and mentor young pastors. To this day, I am grateful to God for Dan Cooper’s ministry to me.
In coming days, there will be a memorial service for Dr. Cooper at Calvary – a service at which we will celebrate Dan’s life and give thanks to our gracious God for the gift of Dan’s life. For now, I know that you will join me in keeping Dan’s family – his wife Marilyn, his son John and his family, and his daughter Dana and her family – in your thoughts and prayers.
May God bless the Coopers and our Calvary family as we grieve the loss of a beloved pastor and friend.
We are now just past the midpoint of our church wide Transformed campaign. This past Sunday we focused on being transformed in our emotional health. I am grateful to Dr. Rick Landon, director of our Interfaith Counseling Center, for “tag team” preaching the sermon with me. Rick provided us with insightful answers to several “interview” – type questions such as:
1) When should people get counseling?
2) Why should people get counseling?
3) Why do people hesitate (or even refuse) to get counseling?
4) What can we do (as a church as well as individuals) to encourage people to seek counseling?
Dr. Landon also shared some of the resources that are available to our church and community through the ministry and counseling services of the Interfaith Counseling Center. You can find more information about Interfaith Counseling Center by going to the center’s website (www.interfaithcounselingcenter.org). Last Sunday’s “tag team” sermon can be accessed by going to our church website (www.calvarybaptistchurch.com).
We will continue our Transformed campaign this Sunday when we will examine what it means to be transformed in our relational health. Let me encourage you to be present for both Sunday School and worship as we consider biblical principles which will enable us to have healthy relationships (with God and with others). Let me also encourage you to read the daily devotions in our Transformed Workbook/Journals which I have found to be extremely helpful.
I look forward to seeing you Sunday.
This Sunday is Youth Sunday. A special worship service, led by our youth, will take place at 11:00 am in the Sanctuary. Just about everything in this service, from prayers and special music to leading congregation hymns and preaching, will be led by youth of our congregation. I am confident that this will be a wonderful and meaningful time of worship, just as it has been in years past.
But I've been asked on more than one occasion, "But Jason, why don't you preach on Youth Sunday?" Though I have been known to preach before, I prefer to give time and space for our own youth, children who have been nourished in the faith of our congregation, to respond to God's leading in their hearts to preach, pray, or perform a sacred piece of music. At Calvary, we worship a God who calls out men and women to serve, minister, and preach in a wide variety of situations and places. And this same God, who called Deborah as a judge over the ancient Israelites, also called the prophet Samuel as a young boy. This same God, who gave the Holy Spirit to Peter at Pentecost, called out Mary, a young woman, to birth our Savior Jesus. God uses men and women, boys and girls, the young and the old in God's own purposes. And how can we allow our youth to boldly respond to God's calling unto them without giving them the opportunity to respond?
Youth-led worship services also provide the opportunity for our youth to stretch themselves, to do something outside of their comfort zone, and to equip them to participate in a life of faith throughout their lives. Whether leading a call to worship, playing the trumpet, or collecting the offering, every youth has the opportunity to serve and lead in this service. It is important to me that Calvary be a church where youth are stretched and asked to do this. Services where youth prepare and lead worship provide a context and foundation for our youth, who will grow into adults, to participate and contribute in a significant way in the worship of God as adults. Hopefully, when our youth are grown and in churches with their own families, they will remember their experiences of leading worship and answer "Yes" when they are asked to pray, serve, or lead future worship services.
So come this Sunday. Let us be together as a church family. Be led by our youth, who will be our future church leaders, deacons, and maybe even a preacher or two, and let us worship the God who calls every child to repentance and faith.
Jason Matlack, Minister to Youth
Several people have asked me for a copy of the "Ten Questions to Ask at the Start of a New Year" that I quoted in last Sunday's sermon. These questions, which appeared in a recent article by author and professor Don Whitney, are as follows:
1. What's one thing you could do this year to increase your enjoyment of God?
2. What's the most humanly impossible thing you will ask God to do this year?
3. What's the single most important thing you could do to improve the quality of your family life this year?
4. In which spiritual discipline do you most want to make progress this year, and what will you do about it?
5. What is the single biggest time-waster in your life, and what will you do about it this year?
6. What is the most helpful new way you could strengthen your church?
7. For whose salvation will you pray most fervently this year?
8. What's the most important way you will, by God's grace, try to make this year different from last year?
9. What one thing could you do to improve your prayer life this year?
10. What single thing that you plan to do this year will matter most in 10 years? In eternity?
In addition to these ten questions, Don Whitney encourages us to ask some additional "evaluation" questions including:
-What's the most important decision you need to make this year?
-Who is the person you most want to encourage this year?
-What one thing do you most regret about last year, and what will you do about it this year?
-If those who know you best gave you one piece of advice, what would they say? Would they be right? What will you do about it?
I hope that you will join me in taking some time to evaluate your life, especially as you reflect on the past year of 2013. With God's guidance and direction, may we be resolved to live more fully and faithfully in the time that God gives us in 2014. I look forward to seeing you Sunday when we will focus on the metaphor, "You are the light of the world," (Matthew 5:14-16).
As I write this week's column, I have just read the daily devotional and prayer guide for December 3. This devotional and prayer guide is a project and ministry of our Calvary Prayer Team. Each day during the month of December, a different member of our Calvary Church family has written a devotional thought and prayer for that particular day. Today the devotional thought was written by Mark Dill, one of our youth who is a senior at Henry Clay High School. Mark's thoughtful devotional recounts how he learned the important lesson of sharing as a result of an Advent calendar that he and his sister Meredith have enjoyed during each Christmas season. Yesterday, I was inspired by Francis Marcum's story of a loving act which she and her family received during the Christmas of 1965.
I look forward to reading these devotionals each day. Not only do they enable me to learn something new about members of my wonderful Calvary church family; these devotionals are also reminding me--during this busy, often hectic Christmas season--to keep my focus on God's gift of His Son Jesus Christ.
Let me encourage you to join many other people in our church family who are reading these meaningful devotionals and prayers each day of this Advent Season. These devotionals are being e-mailed to our church members each day. They can also be downloaded by going to the home page of our church web site www.calvarybaptistchurch.com. There are also some "hard copies" available in the church office, Welcome Desks, Sanctuary, and in the Senior Adult area in EB2, third floor.
Take note of the various worship services and church activities that are scheduled throughout the month of December. Invite a friend and/or family member to come to one or more of these worship services and/or activities with you. Researchers tell us that many of the unchurched people in our country would come to a church service or activity during the Christmas season if a friend or family member would just ask them. Who is a person that God might be directing you to invite to church this Advent season?
"Who's #1?" This was the title of last Sunday's sermon. It was not a sports question. (Incidentally, the UK Wildcats are #4 in this week's polls.) For our purposes last Sunday, "Who's #1?" was a personal question: "Who's #1--who has first place, top priority--in your life?" Affirming the biblical mandate that God is to have top priority--to have #1 ranking--in our lives, we examined a three-fold formula designed to help us demonstrate that God really is our Lord, that we really do regard our Lord Jesus Christ as #1. Here is the formula: 1) First Day; 2) First Fruits; and 3) First Thoughts.
1) First Day--Worship the Lord at church on the first day (Sunday) each week. Setting aside one special day to worship God is a visible demonstration and testimony of our belief that all of our days belong to God.
2) First Fruits--God's people of Old Testament days gave the first portion of their harvest (the crops, their "income") as an offering to God. This reminded them that God was the Source of all of their blessings--that the Lord was the Ultimate Owner of all possessions and "income" with which they had been entrusted and given. Following this pattern, we give God the first portion of the income we receive--the "first fruits" of our income. This is an ongoing reminder that all of our income and possessions really belong to God. Giving a "first fruits" offering (which for me and many Christians is the first 10%, a tithe, of our income) enables us to honor God with the "first" portion of our income, rather than giving God the "leftovers."
3) First Thoughts--Developing the discipline of thinking of God (and of thanking God) first thing in the morning is an excellent way of dedicating your entire day to the Lord, of striving to be a good representative of God's love in all of your thoughts and actions. Many people find it helpful to think of a scripture verse as the day begins. Psalm 118:24 is one such "first thoughts" verse. "This is the day that the Lord has made; I will rejoice and be glad in it."
The Thanksgiving Season is a most appropriate time to evaluate our commitment to making God #1 in our lives. I look forward to seeing you this Sunday for Sunday School, morning worship, and our Family Thanksgiving Feast. This Sunday (Commitment Sunday) will provide all of us an excellent opportunity to demonstrate that God is #1 as we practice the disciplines of First Day, First Fruits, and First Thoughts.
As I reflect back on what was an incredibly active week in the life of our church family, I want to express thanks to you--my Calvary Church family--for your participation in the work of our congregation. Specifically, I want to express my appreciation to:
1. Rev. Carrie Beth Tonks for her leadership leading up to and during Children's Sabbath. Thanks to all of the children, all of the children's choir workers and leaders, and all of the parents who helped to make the Children's Sabbath worship experience so meaningful for our entire congregation. Carrie Beth, your sermon was thoughtfully prepared and inspirationally delivered. Preach on!
2. Everyone in the CBC family who came and worked on one or more of several mission projects on Mission Blitz Day. Special thanks to Rev. Brian Varble for his leadership in this very worthwhile endeavor.
3. The many Calvary members who went to First Baptist Bracktown as we helped our sister congregation celebrate her 133rd anniversary as a church. Many thanks to my friend Rev. C.B. Akins, and to the entire FBC Bracktown congregation for providing such wonderful Christian fellowship and hospitality. Thanks to our choir for leading out combined congregations in the worship of God through inspirational music. Thanks to Rev. Seth Hix, Dr. Kevin Raybuck, and Dr. Rebecca Miller for your musical leadership. And thank you, CBC family, for your presence and participation.
In the spirit of Philippians 1:3-5, thank you, my Calvary family, for being the church!
A grateful pastor,
What a celebration we had in the Fellowship Hall this past Sunday evening as we recognized our Minister of Childhood Education, Rev. Carrie Beth Tonks, and our Associate Pastor, Rev. Hank Ellington, for 20 years of faithful and exceptional service to our church! Although both of these honored "guests" became a bit "warm" at times (after all, the program included a "roast"), the spirit of joy and laughter and heartfelt appreciation that permeated the Fellowship Hall conveyed how grateful our CBC family is for these two talented and dedicated ministers.
All kidding and "roasting" aside, THANK YOU Carrie Beth and Hank:
-Thank you both for 20 years of faithful service to Calvary Church.
-Thank you for viewing your respective ministry positions as a calling and not just as a job.
-Thank you for your work ethic and for your commitment to excellence.
-Thank you for teaching us--not only through Children's sermons and pulpit preaching and Bible studies, things you have spoken and said; But also thank you for teaching us through your lifestyles and actions, things you have modeled and lived out.
-Thank you for challenging us to give God our very best through the sharing of our time, talents, and resources.
-And thank you for blessing us through the sharing of your own resources, talents, and time.
-Thank you for "being there" for us when we have needed a counselor, a prayer, an empathetic ear, a minister, a friend.
-Thank you for the many times that you have laughed with us, worked with us, fellowshipped with us, and even on occasion, cried with us.
-Thank you for being our ministers.
-Thank you for being--in the best "Philippians 1:5" sense of the word--"our partners in the gospel."
-Thank you for being our sister and brother in Christ.
-From the depths of our congregational (and my pastoral) heart--THANKS!
Your grateful pastor,
P.S.S. (Pastor's Postscript): Remember that this coming Sunday (September 15th) is National Back to Church Sunday. Plan to be present and invite a friend (or friends) to come with you. See you Sunday!
The start of a new school year underscores the reality of change: new teachers, new classes, new (in some cases) schools, new activities, new schedules (for students and families), etc. There are a myriad of changes in our lives as a new school year gets underway.
We have recently just started a new sermon series entitled "The Essential Qualities of Personal Change." Already we have talked about two of these essential qualities: 1) HONESTY and 2) WILLINGNESS. In order to make the types of changes that God often calls us to make in our lives, we need 1) to be honest with ourselves in admitting the particular change and changes that we need to make; and 2) to be willing to take some action steps that will get the change process underway.
I have given everyone (myself included) a "homework" assignment as we journey through this sermon series. Here is your assignment: WHAT IS ONE MAJOR CHANGE THAT YOU NEED TO MAKE IN YOUR LIFE NOW? If you are like me, there are probably several changes that you need to make in order to be the person that God wants you to be. But the assignment calls for us to focus on just ONE. So be honest with yourself and identify a specific change that God desires for you to make. And then be willing to start taking the necessary action that needs to occur if such a change is to become a reality.
The "change" quality that will be the focus of this Sunday's sermon is IMAGINATION. Imagination (dreaming or goal-setting) entails keeping before you a clear mental image of the difference that actualizing a particular change can make in your life. Such imagination/dreaming/goal-can be a key component in the change process. Proverbs 29:18 (KJV) says: "Where there is no dream (no imagination, no goal setting), the people perish." Or to paraphrase this verse in a positive way: But where there is a dream (replete with imagination and goal setting), the people flourish!"
So do your homework. Be sure to ask God for His help. And come to Bible study and worship this Sunday as we continue our focus on personal change.
Each week I receive an email update from the Kentucky Baptist Fellowship under the heading “Three Things To Know From KBF.”
Then, as you might expect, there is a concise summary of three events or happenings which have had or shortly will have an impact upon the work of the Kentucky Baptist Fellowship. This format provides a succinct way for KBF members and KBF church to stay informed about important news items and mission opportunities.
So it is with apologies to KBF that I borrow the organization’s weekly format to share with you “Three Things To Know From Calvary Baptist Church.”
1.“Four Sundays of Prayerful Giving” was generously strong! During these four Sundays (May 19 & 26, and June 2 & 9), the total undesignated offering given toward the budget was $219,792. The budget goal for these four Sundays was $172,256. This means that on these four “prayerful giving” Sundays, our congregation’s undesignated tithes and offerings exceeded our budget goal by more than $47,000. Thank you CBC family for prayerfully considering and giving what you felt the Lord was leading you to give. This generous response to this “prayerful giving” emphasis provides the financial resources which are needed for CBC to continue to be the church that God calls us to be during the summer of 2013.
2. On Sunday afternoon, June 23, our church gathered in our chapel to ordain Catherine “Cat” Hall to the gospel ministry. Cat, a graduate of the University of Kentucky and Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, is in the process of being endorsed by the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship (CBF) in preparation to fulfill her calling to serve as a chaplain in the United States Navy. Cat, the daughter of Ernie and Ruth Ann Hall of Versailles, is also the granddaughter of the late Rev. Donald White who pastored the Hillcrest Baptist Church in Lexington for many years and of (the very much still alive) Anna White who is well-known throughout the Elkhorn Baptist Association (and beyond) for her commitment to and passion for missions. The ordination service was deeply moving and inspirational – not only for Cat and her family but for the members of our CBC congregation as well. How proud I am to be the pastor of a Baptist church that believes that women as well as men are called by God into ministry and that recognizes God’s call on servant leaders like Cat Hall through the process of ordination. Thank you CBC for recognizing that God calls both females and males to be ordained for ministry!
3.This coming Sunday (July 14), our church will celebrate the ordinance of the Lord’s Supper at both the 8:30 am and the 11:00 am worship services. Plan to be present as our church family gathers around the communion table for a meaningful service of worship and remembrance.
Well, there you have it: “Three Things to Know from CBC.” May the Lord bless us as we strive to be an informed and faithful mission-oriented congregation.
Looking forward to seeing you Sunday!
In just a few weeks, school will be out! But church will still be in session. Before you know it, summer vacation will be here! But the work of the church will continue.
As you immerse yourself in hurried and hectic end-of-the-school-year activities and as you schedule family vacations and various summer camps, let me encourage you to be intentional and faithful in including God and His church in your summer plans. There are several ways that you can support God's work through our church as summer approaches and arrives:
1) Whenever you are not travelling, be present for Sunday School and Sunday Worship
2) Volunteer for one (or several) of the numerous mission and ministry projects that Calvary will offer and sponsor throughout the summer (such as Vacation Bible School, Grilling for the Homeless, participating in the weekend mission trip to Liberty, Ohio, working in God's Pantry, or volunteering at the ROC).
3) Give a generous offering to support the church budget so that the day-to-day ministry services of Calvary can continued unhindered during June, July, and August. Before we head into the summer months, our church needs to improve our financial position so that all of the work that God has called us to do can continue. We need the support of EVERY CALVARY MEMBER DOING HIS OR HER PART in supporting the Lord's work through our church financially. To that end we have designated May 19, May 26, June 2 and June 9 as Four Sundays of Prayerful Giving.
Deborah and I invite you to join us in giving prayerfully and generously during this four week emphasis. Join us in giving a tithe (10%) of your income. Or, "catch up" your financial giving if you are "behind." Or, give a generous "extra" offering to support the Lord's work through Calvary. Or, use this time to start giving something (if you have gotten out of the giving habit or if you need to get started doing your part)!
I hope that you have an enjoyable summer. Enjoy some vacation time and fun time with family and friends. And remain faithful in your commitment to Jesus Christ and His church. School will soon be over, but church will remain in session. May Calvary be a faithful church in Summer 2013!
In his book Working the Angles, Eugene Peterson identifies 3 basics of pastoral ministry which, in reality are 3 basics of any Christian’s ministry: 1) Prayer; 2) Reading Scripture; and 3) Living unhurried before another person.
For the past month, our church has been focusing on prayer. Our Faith Forward Prayer Team (headed by Sherry Johnson and Susan Scott) has just completed leading a Wednesday night study based on Bill Hybel’s book Too Busy Not to Pray. The sermons on Sunday mornings have focused on prayer, and we have challenged each other to learn the Lord’s Prayer – not only learning it “by heart” but also taking it to heart. Our prayer emphasis officially concluded Thursday, May 2 when – as part of the National Day of Prayer – our church hosted a “prayer” luncheon with Mr. Paul Prather as speaker. Although our “official” prayer focus has concluded, I trust that you will continue working on the “basic” of prayer.
The “basic” of “reading” Scripture (not just learning its message with our minds, but living out its meaning in our lives) will be emphasized during our Wednesday night Bible studies beginning May 8 (and continuing May 15, 22, and 29). Dr. Dalen Jackson, Academic Dean and Professor of Biblical Studies at the Baptist Seminary of Kentucky, will lead this study entitled: “The Bible in the Life of the Church: Interpretation and Formation.” Dalen is a gifted teacher whose Bible studies and presentations at Calvary are always well-received. Come and be part of this exciting study which will emphasize the importance of interpreting Holy Scripture.
In regard to the third “basic” (living unhurriedly before another person), let me encourage you during this busy “end of the school year” season to take and make time for what is rally important in life: God, family, friends, and helping other people. Someone once declared: “Our caring decreases as our hurry increases!” May we be God’s people who care for others! May we slow down enough to be caring and unhurried!
I look forward to seeing you this Sunday.
It was good to be back at Calvary last Sunday (with a new left hip!) I am so grateful for the many prayers, cards, and other expressions of kindness that I received following my recent hip replacement surgery. Special thanks to Hank Ellington and to all of our ministerial staff for their excellent leadership and service during my absence.
I am especially blessed as the pastor of Calvary to have the opportunity to work and serve with a talented and committed ministerial team. How delighted I was this past Sunday to have been present when our church family recognized Robin Prichard on her tenth anniversary as our Minister of College Students! Under Robin’s leadership, Calvary has offered a dynamic and growing ministry to college students at U.K., Georgetown, Transylvania, Eastern, and on various community college campuses. Providing college students with a “church home away from” – a church home that offers opportunities for worship, service, Bible study, and fellowship – is a ministry to which Calvary feels especially called. So thanks Robin and thanks Calvary family for your commitment to our college ministry.
This Sunday - as our congregation continues a month long emphasis on prayer - I will be preaching a message which focuses on three simple and essential prayers: “Help. Thanks. Wow.” The title of this sermon is drawn from a recent book on prayer by Anne Lamott. Come and join us for worship as we explore together some of the many aspects of communicating with God through prayer.
Speaking of prayer, please remember in your own prayers all of the people whose lives have been impacted by the horrific bombs which exploded this week at the Boston Marathon. Remember those who lost loved ones, those who were injured and hospitalized, those first responders and others who offered aid to the injured, and those governmental and agency leaders who will lead the investigation of this terrible tragedy.
I’ll see you Sunday!
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