Last night the adult choir of Westmoreland Baptist Church performed the Christmas Cantata, "Comfort and Joy" in our evening service. It was the first major project taken on by our interim Music Director, Carla Bell, and our choir responded wonderfully. Carla stepped into a big empty spot this spring after the West Virginia Convention of Southern Baptists State Office hired our former Music Minister, Randy Spurgeon, as the Convention's Director of Music and Family Ministry. She has done a yeoman's (yeowoman's?) job of leading our music program while she holds down a full time position at Huntington Federal Savings and Loan. Her circumstances were made even more difficult by the long illness of her father and his passing in October. The service was not just some "dry cantata", but was actually a warm worship experience. It was a most pleasant end to an important day to me.
You see, Sunday, December 14th, marked my 6th anniversary as pastor of Westmoreland Baptist Church. To say it has been quite a ride would be an understatement. I want to thank God for His Providence in bringing me to this place of service and for the wonderful people I have had opportunity to serve with and to serve. I also thank Him for His Grace that has helped to make them six of the most precious years of my 38 years in ministry.
According to my records, in the past six years I have preached 708 messages; married 12 couples; baptized 70 people; taken part in 9 mission trips (six overseas trips and three in North America); made countless visits to hospitals and nursing homes; and conducted 64 funeral and memorial services. As pastor, I have visited in numerous homes; canvassed the neighborhood; organized two Upward Sports Ministry leagues; held three evangelistic block parties; sat in on dozens of committee meetings; attended numerous youth rallies and associational events, went to six Southern Baptist Convention Annual Meetings; served two years as state convention president; and began a five year term on the Board of Trustees of New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary. Furthermore I have been blessed to shepherd a flock that is easy to love. Easy for me to love, because they are beloved of the Father.
During these six years, I have also managed to work in six surgical procedures (three on my feet and three related to my battle with cancer); two six month courses of chemotherapy and all of the CT Scans, PET Scans, blood work, and all the other medical stuff that goes along with the above. Perhaps now you see why I thank Him for His Grace!
Have there been some ministry challenges during the past six years? Of course! That goes with the territory. But God has been faithful to me and to His people in this congregation. Personally I would love to have seen more baptisms, but He has added souls into His Kingdom as He sees fit, and I am simply thankful to be where He has placed me at this time. We want to be busy in the work of the Father, but we do not want it to just be so much busy work and activity. We seek to magnify Him in worship, help build Christ Followers along the way, as we minister to people in Jesus' name.
Last night's service was a really special ending to a special day for me.