Most months you receive what some may consider a devotion, mini sermon, or reflections on a particular Scripture or subject. For November, I have decided to take a different direction in an effort to share my gratitude for what has been this year as well as a preview of ministries on the horizon. I know 2020 has been any and everything other than what we had envisioned as a church, families, and individuals, but we have attempted to make the most of what we have experienced. As you well know, we do not get to select the seasons of life or script the days according to our wishes, so we take it a step at a time even when life is not ideal.
I wish to begin by saying “Thank You” to our congregation for your faithfulness in the area of Christian stewardship. I know the times have been trying for all at many different levels, but, in spite of the circumstances, you have gone above and beyond anything that we could have imagined in order to keep the various financial commitments of our congregation going forward. Whether through in-person giving, mail-in contributions, or PayPal, our tithes and offerings have remained rather consistent since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic in mid-March. Stewardships is a difficult matter for ministerial and lay leadership to address on normal occasions, and perhaps more so when we are all anxious about our times. The giving aspect of our Christian faith is essential though in order that ministry might continue in obedience to God’s calling upon our congregation. We know through Scripture how important it is to be good stewards of what God has blessed our lives with and we do so in part through our willingness to give to the local church. Through your generosity, we are able not only to provide for staff salaries, monthly utilities and maintenance, and the like, but we can also participate in the work of God’s Kingdom within the community and across the Original Free Will Baptist denomination. As we move toward the conclusion of 2020, I encourage you to continue in your prayerful commitment to giving as the Lord leads. Allow God to use your blessings to be a blessing to others.
The month of November is associated year to year with the Annual Bridge Builders’ Campaign for the University of Mount Olive. Usually this brings to mind a full meal of barbeque with all the trimmings, a presentation from the University, and a tallying of contributions from the Wilson County Original Free Will Baptist Churches. With our circumstances being as they are, the 2020 county dinners have been cancelled, but our local congregations are still being encouraged to work together in supporting the Bridge Builder cause. Sunday, November 8 will be a University of Mount Olive Sunday here at Little Rock, an opportunity to share about the rich history of this University and the contributions made to our denomination, Eastern North Carolina, and even worldwide. A Bridge Builder is anyone who makes a non-restricted gift of at least $150 to the University which is used to expand the quality of learning opportunities in a variety of programs. The church and county chairperson is our own Yvonne Hedgepeth and she would love to hear from you about continuing your support of the University as a Bridge Builder or perhaps becoming one for the first time. This commitment can be provided monthly, quarterly, or given at as a one-time gift. All of our gifts work together to make higher education a reality for many people of all ages and life experiences.
I am grateful for the support shown both online and in person for our Wednesday Bible Study sessions. Following a brief summer break, we are now gathering once again at 10:00 each Wednesday for a conversation related to the Book of Matthew. It has been a fruitful journey thus far and we are only a few chapters away from its completion. That being said, plans are already being made to move into a study of Revelation as we begin 2021. Revelation is a document surrounded by much mystery, confusing imagery, and non-stop action from start until finish. Much has been said, written, and, even ignored, about the last book of our New Testament and it has left many Christians with a “love/hate relationship” for its way of presenting the Gospel. It is rather interesting to note the many people, places, and events which have been “read into” Revelation and the attempts made to decipher its message only to muddy the waters even more so. In our approach to Revelation, I hope to encourage us to read this letter not as something to fear, be confused by, or consumed with, but rather as a message of hope, life, and inspiration for the living of difficult times. The early Christian faithful experienced great persecution at the hands of the Romans and most likely wondered if their world was about to end. Rather than allowing his people to go into despair, God offered a vision which renewed their spirits and can do the same for us many years removed. I hope that you will consider joining us for the new study series which will begin on Wednesday, January 6.
As we look toward the future, I would like to encourage you to consider a few of these additional ministry opportunities:
Online Sunday School Lessons – We are thankful to have Jerry Godwin providing our Sunday morning lessons virtually through the church webpage. His careful preparation is evident through his insights and application of Scripture each week.
Church Van Drivers – As we are in the process of resuming our Wednesday evening middle/high school youth gatherings, we have young people who are in need of transportation to and from the church for this service.
Trinity Circle Shopping Spree – This annual event is more than a fun time of preparing for the upcoming Christmas season, but also serves as a fundraiser the proceeds of which allow the Circle to perform a variety of ministries.
Hanging of the Greens/Advent Needs – I know it is hard to believe, but we will be preparing for the Advent season in just a few short weeks. We will need volunteers who can assist with the setup/decorating of the Chrismon Tree, wreaths, garland, nativity scene, etc. and to have parts in the service on November 29.
Deacons’ Benevolence Offering – This special giving opportunity allows our Deacon Board to assist with a number of needs within our church family as the holidays approach. This offering is usually received the first two Sundays of December.
Blessings Box – Since its beginning in the summer of 2019, this non-perishable food pantry has served as a reminder of God’s love to a number of people within the community. Please continue your provision of monetary donations and grocery items to keep this blessing going.
In Service Together,
The Reverend Kelley Smart