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Level 1 Serving Opportunity - Serve at The Gear Shop

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Saved people serve people. That’s a phrase that you probably haven’t heard very often, right? That is, unless you attend the church here at Severn Run of course. Then you’re probably rolling your eyes at me because we hear it all the time right now. Hopefully you’re not too tired of hearing it though, because we really don’t want people to get tired of it.

Saved people really do serve people, and because we’re so serious about it around here, we have a ton of different ways that you can serve, and we’ve been highlighting a lot of those so that you can find a spot that’s just right for you. We understand that not everyone is used to serving, and that serving on some of the larger or more visible teams might seem a bit foreboding, so we wanted to highlight a few places that were more ‘low key’, and where you don’t have to jump in head first serving an entire Sunday. (Of course, if you want to do that, we’d welcome it, and we have a lot of opportunities for you to do so!)

One of the places where you can serve in the church on Sundays is at the Gear Shop. You’ve probably seen it if you’ve ever attended a service here. The Gear Shop is a place where you can buy goodies that we’ve created so you can share about Jesus and Severn Run wherever you go. We have mugs, coffee cups, t-shirts, magnets, car stickers, and a variety of other things. (Because who doesn’t want to drink coffee on the way to work in a spiffy Severn Run polo shirt while showing the upset driver behind you that they can find peace from the anger of you just (totally accidentally) cutting them off, right!?) Ok, maybe a bit over the top, but you get the picture. So yes, the Gear Shop is a totally cool way that you can serve and help people show those who they come into contact with what their values are.

We reached out to Rebekah Twardowski who’s the Gear Shop coordinator. Here’s what she said about getting involved at the Gear Shop.

I had been looking for a ministry that I felt God calling me to. I have two little ones and was trying to find something that I could really sink my teeth into. I had been praying about what to do when I was told that our church had a graphic design team. Earlier in the year I had started painting and lettering and had helped design a t-shirt for our Mom's Group. I loved it so much and I thought the design team is something I could step in to and use for God’s glory. In May, I finally emailed Bonni Mace about the design team, and she responded telling me that she was already planning on asking me to lead the Gear Shop. God's hands were clearly all over the situation preparing my heart for this. 

We currently have six consistent volunteers in the Gear Shop. We have had a lot of interest with the ‘Be The Difference’ challenge, and are so happy to be adding new faces to the team! This summer we changed to an "after church" schedule - we are opened from the end of service until the atrium starts to clear after the beginning of the next service (about a 40-minute serving time). Serving includes putting out inventory, making sales, and greeting people with a smile!

Our mission is to creatively reveal the love of the Father through the life of the Son in the Power of the Spirit. We do that by equipping people with gear that they can wear into the world and proudly (and literally) wear their faith on their sleeve.

Our goal this next year is to keep things fresh by keeping our inventory numbers smaller and bringing in new designs fairly often. Our hope is to get some gender-specific t-shirts (since we have always just had unisex tees), and also new products like water bottles and mugs.

So, there you have it! If you’re creative, good at customer service, or just like to smile, the Gear Shop might just be the perfect place for you. If interested, you can go to SevernRunner.info and sign up directly via the ‘Be The Difference’ challenge under ‘Level One’ (look for ‘Empower people to share their stories with Severn Run gear’)!

This is a great place start serving for the first time because this is something that you’d be comfortable doing. If this serving opportunity doesn’t excite you, keep an eye on the blog because we will be highlighting lots of other places in the church and you just might find the perfect one for you.

  Sign Up to Serve!

The Jesus Difference

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I have a history of a back and forth relationship with God, but I have a feeling I’m not alone. We have times when we walk closely with God, but we might fall away. And then we will come to a point where we are at the end of ourselves and we realize how much we need Jesus. There is a drastic difference between a life lived in the darkness, and a life filled with the light. I want to show you this difference--the Jesus Difference--in my life.

In order to tell my story, I have to go all the way back to before I was even born. My mother and father were both raised in strong Christian families, and not just religious families, but they had parents who really loved Jesus and served in various ways, especially my father’s parents. My grandparents on my father’s side were extremely active in the Church. My grandmother was cherished by all, and led many people through hard times via her counseling. My grandfather has written many books and has been in leadership roles in churches for as much of his life as I’m aware of. Looking at my father, it’s obvious that the apple didn’t fall far from the tree. He met my mom while at seminary, and for about two-thirds of my life he’s been a pastor, or at least involved in ministry in some way. So yes, I guess that means you can call me a PK (pastor’s kid). But honestly, what does that have to do with anything???

Maybe not so much anymore, but back when I was in high school there was a certain perception about what a PK should be, and what they shouldn’t. Let’s just say that I did not fit the mold; at least, inwardly I didn’t. On the outside, I was the perfect pastor’s kid. I spent a lot of time at church, I served and helped my dad out a lot when he was pastoring several churches that he had started himself. And, I behaved (for the most part). However, internally there was no real relationship with God, and in fact I tried to keep whatever was there hidden from the rest of the world. I was ashamed of my faith, if we could even really call it that. I’ve always believed in God, but he was never truly real to me.

Because I had no real faith, I was just a ticking time bomb waiting to go off. And sometime around 2007 I finally exploded…

In late 2006, I joined the Air Force. In truth, it was a good move for me, and honestly it was the only way that my wife Rachel and I could get married and not struggle financially. And where did we get sent? Only a few thousand miles away to Germany…

So, off we went to start our new life in a place where we knew no one, and where I had no real connection to the life I was previously living, except Rachel of course. I still had my morals, which were instilled in me by my parents, even if the faith part never really stuck. So, luckily, I at least had that, and in reality, it probably saved me from going down some even darker paths than I did. But, to be honest, I was already lost. My heart was not in the right place, and my thoughts were not thinking on Godly things. I did some things that I’m not proud of, and I hung out with people that only brought me down. I did not go to church, and in fact I didn’t really even want to. This lasted through three years in Germany, and got even worse our three years in Guam.

After the birth of our second child in Guam, which was not something we had planned, things got pretty grim. I almost made the worst mistake of my life, and made dozens of others that I really wish I hadn’t. I still wasn’t going to church. I was swearing as much as the worst sailor you’ve ever met (no offense to my Navy brothers and sisters). I was not being a good father, I was angry a lot, and I treated my wife poorly. However, again, my morals, as weak as they were by now, still kept me from tipping over the edge. I thank God to this day that he was watching over me, even before I was born. I know that the choices my parents made, and the way they raised me, was just so that I could survive through these trying times later in my life.

So, there I was living my life in the darkness, with no way that I really knew of (at the time) to get out. But then, everything changed…

Just as the dust of an explosion eventually settles, things in my life finally started to become just a little clearer. I was able to get back on my feet and begin to heal from the wounds, though it took time.

In 2013, I changed jobs in the Air Force, which took us to California for several years. For nearly 7 years I’d hardly stepped foot in a church, but when we arrived in California I felt the tug to look for a local church to attend. We tried one, which ended up not being the best fit for us, so I started looking for another. I don’t remember how I heard about Shoreline, I think it was through an online search, but when we tried it out we really liked it there. And for the first time in years I finally started to feel something. It started deep within my soul, and it was a very slow change, but God spoke to me in profound ways over the next year or so. At times, it kind of felt like going to the dentist - it was uncomfortable, but I needed to remove the dead and decaying parts of my life so that I could fully heal and recover. I don’t really remember a specific moment when everything changed, though perhaps Rachel could tell you if you asked her. It was not some big light that opened in the sky and unleashed Heaven’s full glory down on me, burning away all the bad parts of my life. It was just a slow process of change as my mind began to be reformed – old habits and interests slowly faded away, and new ones took their place.

You won’t ever hear me say that I’m wholly complete, but I can tell you that the difference between now and then is night and day. As Nathan "Nate" John Feuerstein, the artist known as “NF”, so wonderfully put it, “Christian is not the definition of a perfect me.” Christian only defines who I strive to be, and who I look to as an example.

So, what’s really different about me? Besides most of the bad stuff that’s gone (yes, I do still sin), I’m passionate about things that I used to not care abiyt. Take this blog post for one. The old me would never have considered sharing all my shame on the internet. The old me would never have freely volunteered to write something meaningful so that in some small way, others might find the courage or the strength to allow change in their own lives. Besides that, the way I think has changed a lot. I see people differently. I judge less, and love more. I treat people differently, and my anger is under control. Of course, I do still have some small outbursts when I have to drive in Maryland traffic, but anyways…

One of the other ways that I’ve changed is in my desire to serve others, which as you know if you’re a Severn Runner, is something that we’ve been talking about recently. I know that I still need to do more, but even that feeling of ‘I need to serve more’ is something I NEVER would have thought about a few years ago. I lived for myself, and that was apparent. Now, though I’m still a selfish human by nature, I consider others more often and have more of a desire to help them.

I know that there are many of you out there right now who are reading this and possibly needing to do some reflections on your own lives, even if it’s only mirrored through my own distant experiences from yours. We all have different lives and experiences, and that’s what makes us unique. God speaks to each of us in different ways. So, it’s my hope that at least through sharing my story you’ll take a moment to listen and see what he has to say about yours.

Is he calling to you? Is he asking you to come discover this Jesus Difference that we’ve been talking about? Or, perhaps he’s asking you to share your own story of the Jesus Difference in your life, so that maybe, just maybe, someone you can uniquely reach might find the courage to allow the change that they’ve been desperately searching for their whole life.

You never know just who your story can affect. You never know just who your story can reach. And you’ll never know unless you share it.

There are a million stories out there of people who’ve come to understand this Jesus Difference, and who will probably tell you that it has been the biggest and best difference in their lives to this day. There are millions of stories through the ages of lives that have been changed – lives once lived in darkness, that are now bathed in the light.

Will yours be one?

Serving at Severn Run (Part II) – Where You Can Help

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We’ve talked about why it’s important to serve (see Serving Part 1 here), and hopefully by now you’ve decided that either you need to start serving, or you just need to serve more. Most of us are in one of these two boats. 

There are a few people who serve a lot of their time, and that’s great, but we need to understand that they can’t carry this burden alone. And don’t get me wrong, most of the regular volunteers that we have at the Church of Severn Run are all very generous with their time, and they love serving! I bet if you asked any one of them how much they got out of it, they’d tell you it was a lot more than they put in.

Let’s take a little bit to look at just a couple serving areas in the church specifically where a few dedicated people are running most of the show and who could use some help.

One of the biggest areas we have, with the largest requirement of volunteers, is the kids’ ministry. We have rooms for babies all the way up through high school.

Let’s start with the little kids, because that’s our biggest group. Here’s some numbers to put our need for volunteers into perspective:

- For every 4 kids 2 years old and younger, we need one volunteer per service.

- For every 8 kids 3 years old or older, we need one volunteer per service.

Typically, we’re looking at having 2 adult workers per classroom for each service, equaling 12 volunteers per service, and 36 volunteers on a Sunday if everyone only worked one service. These kinds of numbers are what we’d need to be covered and not have anyone working overtime or more than they’d like to.

Preferably, we’d like to have around 40-50 volunteers a week so that in the case of cancellations, or extra kids, we’re covered. Generally, two adults per classroom is good, but sometimes we have more kids and need more help. Recently we talked with Kristin Wood, our Preschool Director, and we only had 28 volunteers on this particular Sunday. Granted, this is the summer time, and we’re constantly dealing with people being out for vacations and family things, but it’s pretty typical for us to see less-than-ideal volunteer numbers, even though Kristin noted that she was happy to have 28 this particular week.

We think that we can do better, don’t you?

Many of our kids’ volunteers work more than one Sunday service, sometimes even all three. While they love to do it, this can be tiring. If we had enough volunteers back there for each person to work one service once or twice a month, that would be the best-case scenario. Some volunteers would still work more than that, because that just what they like to do. But, we recognize that not everyone can do that, and having more volunteers would help make it so that everyone could work as much as they wanted to, and not be asked to, or feel like, they had to work more than they wanted to.

So, if your passion is young kids, or even if it’s just serving where God has called you to, please contact Kristin Wood for more information on how you can plug in and start helping with the little kiddos. It’s a real treat to be able to invest in these kids’ lives, and to give parents the ease of mind to go and pour Jesus into their lives on Sundays, so that they can pour into their kids for the next week.

If serving with the little kids isn’t your thing, there’s also the grade school, middle-school, and high school kids ministries.

The grade school kids are upstairs, and you can contact our family life pastor Steve Stolarek-Houston to work with those kids. We’ve got some really great workers up there with them, but they can always use more help. If you’re more interested in working with the older kids, contact the Student Pastor Chris Martin.

The middle school and high school kids also meet during the week, and they do lots of fun stuff, so this can be a really fun and rewarding way to give back. At these ages, kids are being influenced in lots of different ways, and the world is trying to confuse them from what they’ve learned as a kid. There’s a big opportunity here to literally change these kids’ lives and be Jesus to them.

Ok, so enough about the kids. Hopefully if you’re not a “kids person,” you’re still with me.

I’d like to take another minute to discuss a different area of the church that could use some help when it comes to volunteers. Of course, all areas and ministries are open to new faces, but this one in particular has caught my attention as being a little short-handed.

The area I’m talking about is the technical booth in the back of the service.

Everyone is familiar with the faces of the singers and musicians on stage who perform week after week, and whom we get to praise God with, but not many people pay much attention to the guys and gals behind the scenes. We have people who work the lights, the sounds, and the screens, among other things. While this generally only requires one person per job, we don’t have very many volunteers who work back there on a weekly basis. It’s typically the same 1 or 2 people who work week after week, usually all 3 services, for each need. Needless to say, this can be draining.

And let’s admit, the Worship Tribe and the tech people really do an amazing job helping us worship and connect with God every week. Many of the people who walk through our doors, especially if it’s only once, will only experience worship in the auditorium. We’ve had hundreds of new people visit our church during various holidays, and the tech people play an integral role in helping the church share Jesus with them. Even though the tech people in the back were probably not even noticed by these visitors, you can be sure that they showed Jesus to many who needed to see him. They were crucial in making worship relevant to people who desperately needed to see a version Jesus who wasn’t some all-powerful being sitting on a throne, casting down condemnation on them, but a Jesus who loved and lived and walked among them in a very real way. This is the kind of Jesus that the Worship Tribe shows people on a weekly basis, and they couldn’t do this without the support of their tech team in the back.

Whether you’re technically inclined or not, you can make a difference in people’s lives, just like the examples I provided above. It’s easy to learn, and the rewards are big, especially when you see the looks on people’s faces as a disco ball drops form the ceiling and the whole auditorium lights up like a thousand stars (yes, we actually did this once and it was awesome!). On the other hand, if you like to sing, or can play an instrument, the Worship Tribe is always open and welcoming of new talent. If you’re interested in either of these areas, please contact our Ministry Director, Gwen Hubbard, or our Communications Leader Bonni Mace.

So, what are you going to do now???

The ball is in your court. Do you hear God speaking to you?

Being realistic, I don’t expect hundreds of people to start volunteering for one of these areas of the church. I realize that these places may not be where you’re best-suited to serve, and that’s OK. But, hopefully in one way or another, you’ve heard God’s call in your life.

There are literally millions of ways that you can serve, and it doesn’t have to be here at the Church at Severn Run. But, it is our sincerest hope that you can find a place here where you can put your talents to use to help us share Jesus with the Baltimore area, and to advance his kingdom in your life and the lives of those around you. Follow this link to find out about more serving opportunities at Severn Run.

But beyond that, no matter where he’s calling you to serve, we hope and pray that you will realize all that God has planned for you in your life, and that you will do amazing things for his kingdom.

We pray that the world will be able to see something different in you, not just because of your talent or your service, but because you do it selflessly and with a smile on your face, showing Jesus to a world in need…

And always remember to Love Well, Live Jesus, and Believe Big!

A Call to Serve

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People are apprehensive about serving at church. I know this because I’m one of them. After all, who doesn’t want to enjoy as much of their weekend as they can in relaxation, right? Volunteering to spend all day Sunday at church can seem really daunting. The thing is, if we call ourselves Christians, if we truly believe that Jesus was Lord, then we are called to serve.

The one thing that we endeavor to is following the example of Jesus by doing what he did throughout his life. If we’re honest with ourselves, then we already know the answer to this endeavor is service. There are other things that we can do, yes, but if you look at the life of Jesus, he was almost always acting in service to someone. Whether it was washing people’s feet, feeding them, or healing the sick, Jesus was constantly looking for ways to put the needs of others above his own. Therefore, what is it that we are called to do? We are called to serve. But, don’t take my word for it…

Jesus called them all together and said, “You know that the rulers of the heathen have power over them, and the leaders have complete authority. This, however, is not the way it shall be among you. If one of you wants to be great, you must be the servant of the rest; and if one of you wants to be first, you must be the slave of the others— like the Son of Man, who did not come to be served, but to serve and to give his life to redeem many people.” -Matthew 20:25-28(GNT)

Why Serve?

So, what does it really mean to serve at church?

Service should be more than just a volunteer “job” that we do once in a month of Sundays. If you look at the ‘religious’ view of what serving is, then the definition you get is something along the lines of earning our way to heaven. Service is good, yes, but in and of itself it does not grant access to eternal life with Jesus. So, why then are we called to serve? What is the point? Let’s take a look at Paul’s letter to some of the New Testament churches to see why we are supposed to serve.

So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ.

Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work. -Ephesians 4:11-16

Paul knew that we are stronger when we are unified and living in service to both each other and to non-believers. And again, we see here that we are called to be like Christ; that we are to strive to emulate everything that he represents. The ultimate point is for us to be more like Christ so we can resist temptations and be the example of true love to a world that desperately needs it. 

Where Do I Serve?

It would be naive to think that we should all jump blindly into service, just for the fact of serving. Yes, we are called to serve, but we can be smart about it. The Bible speaks of spiritual gifts, and it teaches that we all have different ones. Some people may be more suited to watch and teach children, while others may be musically inclined and thrive being on stage in front of everyone. Others yet are more content to run the lights and sounds and remain in the background. There is no “right” or “wrong” place to serve, there are just places that are better suited to our gifts.

Don’t feel like you have to do something you hate, just to honor God and the people around you. You don’t have to know what your spiritual gift is, (but in case you’re wondering, you can head on over here and take the test to see what it might be). This is not a guarantee to be a perfect fit, but that’s the great thing about serving at church – you can be free to test the waters and find out what suits you most!

Now, you might be thinking that you already know what your gift is, and perhaps that gift is not something that you can do at church right now. In part, this might be true, but give it some thought. Is there really just not a need for your gift at church at the moment? This is unlikely, and there is generally always a way to use your gift. After all, God gave it to you for a reason.

There may be a case where at this moment in time, the church doesn’t have an opportunity for you. And that’s perfectly OK. There are millions of places out there in the world where you can use your gift. It doesn’t have to be at church. But chances are, if you can use it “out there”, then you can use it here too.

If the specific ministry or outlet doesn’t exist yet in the church, then talk to someone on staff about getting that started. It’s possible that are there are a handful of others in the church who have a complementary gift that could mesh well with yours and get some amazing things going right here in our community.

The church also already has a lot of teams that you can serve on. (Keep an eye on the blog as there will be a continuation of this post describing several particular areas within our church that are in need of some extra volunteers.)

Remember, we need to serve because it is an outpouring of our faith. It’s a tangible way we can share the love of Jesus with others.

How Do I Get Connected at Severn Run?

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Many people hop from church to church, trying to find that special connection, but many times seeming to miss the mark. So, this begs the question…why?

Well, we can’t speak for every church out there, but here at Severn Run we believe that life is better connected. *cue the cheers* Ok, ok…if you’ve ever been to a church service, then you understand my meaning there. If not, then simply put, those are words that we say every week, and we have a dedicated group of people who truly believe in the power of that statement.

Basically, what I’m saying is that you can’t blame the Church at Severn Run if you’re having a hard time feeling connected. Now, now, don’t stop reading just yet, this isn’t meant to sound conceited. We realize that not every single person who walks through our doors will feel that magical connection, but what we are saying is that we try to make it as easy as possible to get connected right from the get go, and that the ball really is in your court to make that first contact and let us know that you’re interested in getting connected.

So, how do you do this you ask?

Well again, if you’ve ever been to a service, then you’re probably familiar with the fact that you’ve been sitting *wink wink* on that first step of connecting every Sunday since you started coming. We have on average about 1300 people in attendance on any given Sunday between 3 services, and there’s just no way that we can know who the people are that aren’t yet connected. You need to let us know, and the best way to do that is the Connect Cards that we have on the seats during Sunday services. Of course, you can always come up to the main desk in the atrium and one of our helpful volunteers can get you plugged in as well, but chances are they’ll probably still ask you to fill out the Connect Card. *hint hint*

“So, I filled out the card. Now what?” (Don’t mean to put words in your mouth, but I’m quite confident that I’ve inspired you to fill out that card already!)

Connect Groups

Well, I’m glad you asked! The next step is that someone from our staff will reach out to you to welcome you to the church and give you some information on how to get plugged in. One of the best ways for you to get connected with others at Severn Run is to join a Connect Group. We have a variety of them, so don’t worry…we’ll find one that suits you. And if we don’t (which is unlikely, but we realize that we are only human) then perhaps we can work on putting one together that you can connect with. But as I said, I think you’ll be impressed with the list of groups we already have. We have groups for anyone from newly graduated high schoolers and young working people to families with children and ‘empty nesters’. We have men’s and women’s groups, and groups based on where you live. If you’d like to see a full list of groups with locations, times, and descriptions of what they’re all about, head on over to our church website here.

So, now that Amber Adams is happy (she’s the Connect Groups leader for the church), let’s talk about a few other ways to get connected…

Of course, you could always do it the old-fashioned way and just walk up to people and make friends, but in this day and age of Snap Chats and moody emoticons, we think that’s kind of scary. So, let’s be honest about how we will actually make friends. And for the record, I’m talking about the kinds of friends who we actually give hugs to or shake hands with, not the kinds that ‘like’ ALL of your posts, even the sad ones. (You know who they are!)

So, how can you really, honestly make real friends that you can do life with at the Church at Severn Run?

I’m glad you… ok ok, I won’t do that again, but seriously, I hope you’re ready for this answer. The answer is to get involved and serve! Now, before you run away screaming (or just switch to Facebook to watch and ‘like’ a video of your best friend’s cat), hear me out for a second.

Serving

I’m not going to get into too much detail, because *SPOILER ALERT* a blog post specifically about serving will be coming out soon. But, since we’re talking about getting connected, it’s an important point to make. You will get to know people better when you’re serving on a team weekly or monthly. It’s one thing to go hang out and have a meal with a group of people, or go through a Bible study (and I’m not knocking either…you should definitely try those too!), but when you’re serving alongside others, you get to know people on a totally different level. And when you’re serving in the church, in most cases, you will get the opportunity to meet people that you probably wouldn’t have normally met had you just been out looking for “friends”.

The point I’m trying to make with serving here is that you never know what you might find, except for good friends who love Jesus and who would love to do life together with you. If you’re interested in finding out more about plugging in to a serve team at church, head on over to severnrun.com/serve, or stop by one of the service tables we have out in the atrium on Sundays. However, we don’t always have tables out there, so if that’s the case this Sunday (because you’re going to stop by, right?) then just talk to the main desk and they’ll get you hooked up.

Also, if you’re not quite convinced yet, please keep an eye on the blog for our serve post, which will be coming out shortly. This blog post will address some specific areas in the church where we’re struggling to get volunteers. Hopefully this will inspire you to reach out and take a step of faith that God has put on your heart.

Don’t Delay…

Don’t let another summer go by without getting connected. Don’t miss the chance to connect with new friends and make lasting relationships. Don’t live life on your own.

Why? Because we here at the Church at Severn Run firmly believe that life is better connected!

Get Connected!

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