The last two months have been an absolute flurry of activity and ministry opportunities for our church and for me personally. It has been a period of great blessing and near exhaustion, and one in which I am so thankful for how God has used our congregation.
The preview to September came on the last Sunday evening in August when we held an Ice Cream Social in the church gym, and a question and answer session regarding the proposed church constitution revision. The event was well attended and positive. All questions were appropriate and relevant and all were answered fully by members of our Constitution Review Committee. I cannot say enough about how faithful Terry Perdue, June Ashworth, David Thompson, Charley Dygert, Jon Blatt, and Barbara Tarter were to the difficult task they had in rewriting our church constitution - simplifying our structure, plainly stating our mission, and moving much of the extraneous material to our Policy and Procedure Manual. With our new Constitution ratified, and our four "Mission Teams" in place, our church is now poised for effective ministry in the 21st Century. The task before is now is to "Just Do It"!
Upward Basketball and Cheerleading brochures had to be completed and ordered in the first week of September.
By the second week of September "First Place for Health" was underway, and our student ministry had already held their second "Fifth Quarter" post football game celebration of the season.
The Third week of September was a biggun'! It started off on Sunday with our annual Church Picnic at CSX Park. It was a great time of fellowship for our church family as well as a number of visitors. Then came Wednesday with the regular quarterly church business meeting. In this meeting The church approved the new constitution with no debate or opposition. This was a great conclusion to 15 months of hard work by the review committee. In the same business meeting the church called Stephen "Bub" Amis as our new Youth Pastor and Director of Student Ministry. Bub is a great asset to the ministry team of Westmoreland Baptist. Joseph Spurgeon also began to serve as volunteer Director of Children's Ministry, overseeing Children's Church and handling the transition in our Children's Ministry from AWANA to TeamKID.
On Friday evening and Saturday morning of that same week, 21 of our people attended a Church Leadership Retreat, staying the night in the new conference center of the Greenup Baptist Association in Cannonsburg, KY. It was a great time of fellowship and vision sharing with many of the leaders of our church in attendance. Jim Drake, Pastor of Brush Fork Baptist Church in Bluefield, WV was our guest speaker for the weekend.
The Fourth week of September included the Greater Huntington Baptist Association Executive Board meeting, and our newly revived Women's Fellowship had a kick off dinner on that Tuesday. Saturday morning saw 30 men come together for the "Bigger Breakfast", and beginning of a 40 day prayer initiative for men.
The first week of October kicked off this busy month with our four day crusade with "Team Intense". Mitch Hodge, of Boise, Idaho, and Kathy Bertram, of Biloxi, Mississippi performed feats of strength and shared their testimonies and the life changing power of the Gospel in six school assemblies and four nights of ministry at the church. In three days, Westmoreland Baptist Church had opportunity to impact the lives of more than 1700 students and their teachers during the day, and share the Gospel with all who attended the evening services at the church. 58 recorded decisions were made for Christ, and one marriage was salvaged as a result of the Crusade. Praise God!
That same week, the "Pairs and Spares" Sunday School Class, ministered to 87 people in a free clothing distribution in their Garments of Grace Clothing Ministry. Next distribution will be Saturday morning, November 6th.
The church celebrated Communion on Sunday morning, October 10th and we had the kickoff of the new TeamKid children's ministry that same evening. I spent most of that week in New Orleans for my Trustee Meeting at New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary, and had opportunity to get in quality time with our NOLA family. I got back in town in time to help set up for the first annual "Light for the Islands" 5K Run/Walk for our Philippine mission work which took place on Saturday the 16th. 63 Runners and walkers helped us raise nearly $1500 for the purchase of Philippine Cebuano Dialect Bibles. A tremendous amount of the success of this project is owed to the efforts of the Davis family. Rhonda, Ed, Jamie and John, thank you so much. You are loved and appreciated!
The next week was supposed to be more or less catch up time on office work and Upward Basketball meetings and other responsibilities, while preparing for the next upcoming events. But I was surprised by an outpouring of love for Pastor Appreciation month (on Sunday the 17th) and a mega surprise birthday party on Wednesday the 20th. Linda really pulled THAT one over on me. I am so thankful that my son Jay, from New Orleans, my brother Carl, from Atlanta, and Aunt Dori, from Houston, were able to join all of the local family here, along with my church family, to make my 60th birthday something really memorable.
That Saturday I served as moderator of the Greater Huntington Baptist Association Annual Meeting at First Baptist Church of Kenova.
The final week of October was jam packed with activity. I preached Sunday through Wednesday evenings in Revival services at Lloyd, Kentucky's First Baptist Church. Tuesday and Thursday were the funeral services for Frank Dowdy and Leona Calhoun, respectively in Ashland and Huntington. Then on Thursday night we hosted more than 400 children and adults in our church gym for a safe and warm Fall Festival for the children of our community.
During this same 8 week period, I did have the usual sermon prep and pulpit duties, along with hospital visits and church administrative stuff to keep up with. I also found time to take my father in law and his lady friend to a Reds game in Cincinnati (her first - his second), attend several of my grandson's football games, attend my father in law's 89th birthday celebration, preach at the homecoming service at Wayside Baptist Church in Boyd Co. KY, counsel and marry one couple, offer an invocation at a Spring Valley High School Soccer game, go to five different doctor appointments, attend a B.A.L.L. team seniors lunch, attend several weekly pastor prayer meetings, three mentoring meetings with a young minister, attend the Holy Fest concert, and went with Linda to her High School Reunion in Belfry, KY.
Tomorrow morning will be "Youth Sunday" at the church. We'll have our 5th Sunday Fellowship Dinner afterward, and "Faith in Action" tomorrow evening. Instead of regular Sunday night service tomorrow evening we will be going into the community doing various ministry projects in the name of Jesus.
At that point, Sep-Tober will be officially over. Whew!I plan to be in the office Monday through Wednesday on the first week of November, and then attend the West Virginia Convention of Southern Baptists' Pastors Conference and Annual Meeting, Thursday through Friday at Fairleigh, WV, where I will be nominating Seth Polk for his second term as WVCSB President. Upward Basketball and Cheerleading evaluations are the next week, and then... THEN... we should get back to a more manageable routine.
It sure is going to be nice to get back to normal.
Hey, wait a minute! Isn't this the Christmas season coming up???