While attending a conference recently, one of the speakers quoted a former seminary professor, John Hendrix. Dr. Hendrix taught in the Christian Education area, and when he was teaching about ministry and the way the Gospel works, he was known to say, “Nothing never happens.” Though he offered the phrase to encourage ministers and teachers to find hope in knowing that God’s Word works even when we don’t see the results of our efforts, the phrase has come back to mind in the context of this church recently. This is definitely a season in the life of Hope Valley when much is happening.
You will find in this newsletter Colby’s announcement that he has accepted an offer to become the full-time Minister of Youth and Family Education at Wyatt Park Baptist Church in St. Joseph’s, Missouri. We are sad to see Colby and Chelsey leave, but I certainly understand Colby’s desire to find a full-time ministry position as he follows God’s call in his life. We will share more details in the next Illuminator, but please be praying for Colby and Chelsey as they deal with the many challenges that come with a long-distance move and such a significant transition. Amidst the excitement of new beginnings, there is always stress and the challenges of leaving friends and familiar patterns. Let us support and encourage them during these days.
While we are preparing to bid farewell to the Whittakers, I hope you will join me in supporting the Personnel Team’s recommendation that “the church hire Amy Herring to become part-time (18 hours per week) Minister of Children and Families.” There will be a special Called Church Family Meeting after worship on Sunday, May 1 to discuss this proposal, examine the job description, invite questions, and vote by ballot. Amy and Jonathan have been active members and faithful workers at Hope Valley for 18 years, including amazing leadership in VBS in recent years. She has been attending Campbell University Divinity School where she is working on her Masters of Divinity degree and has received her certification in Preschool and Children’s Ministry. She has been working with us as a Ministry Intern, but after a lengthy period of prayer, discussion, and consideration, the Personnel Team believes it is time to ask you as a congregation to approve the recommendation to hire her as a part-time paid member of the ministerial staff. Further details will be available during the Family Meeting on Sunday, so please plan to remain after worship for the meeting, discussion and vote.
Much is happening in the life of the church, and I appreciate your faithfulness in worship, discipleship, service, and prayer.
We are moving forward with plans for the ministry to refugees, and I am grateful to all who have expressed support and who have prayed for God’s clear leading in this process. There is much to be done before we will be hosting guests in the house on our property, but I am excited about the way I see God working. In fact, the first step in the renovation process – getting rid of the mold/mildew in the house and cleaning the duct work – will be happening within days. Before long, we will be inviting volunteers to help us get rid of old stuff that has accumulated in the house and then beginning some demolition work that will be needed.
I have asked several members to help with the details and leadership in this process and have been inspired by their commitment and energy. During a recent meeting with Marc and Kim Wyatt, we have outlined three areas of focus. Dave Dugan and David Stoops will be coordinating the efforts to renovate the house and get it ready for guests. Cara Bolton and Julie Stoops are working with the Wyatts and World Relief Durham to help us not only prepare to work with refugees when they arrive in the house, but will also be leading efforts to organize ministry efforts even during the months when the renovation is taking place. Mike Dossett, Toby Bowen, and Wes Bolton will be tending to the practical details involved in raising finances for the renovation and communicating with other churches and possible ministry partners. If you would like to be more involved in the planning and details of this project, please let me know, and we will let you know when we need volunteers for specific tasks.
We have also scheduled a meeting to share the vision of this ministry with other churches and potential partners and to invite them to join us in this ministry. This meeting will be held in the Fellowship Hall on Tuesday, May 3 at 7 p.m. As HVBC members, you are invited to attend the meeting, but the targeted audience for this gathering is those in our community who might be interested in joining us in this work. We particularly encourage you to invite friends from other churches who might consider getting involved. If you have contacts with contractors or others who have special abilities to help in the renovation work, feel free to invite them as well. I envision this as a ministry that will draw churches together and model Christian cooperation in ministry. Hopefully, this meeting will open and develop the discussions that lead to shared work together in the days and months ahead.
In these days after Easter, I am filled with gratitude. I know that this is not normally the season when we list reasons for thanksgiving, but it feels like a good time to reflect on how blessed I am and we are.
- I am thankful for a risen Savior. Having spent time focusing on the cross through Lent and Holy Week, it is such a gift to be re-minded that Jesus rose from the dead. Easter affirms that God has power over death and any darkness we encounter. How wonderful it is to have hope in the valleys because we know that the pain of Good Friday is never the end of God’s story and God’s work.
- I was truly blessed to worship with you through Holy Week. Somehow, Easter seems much brighter and more significant when we truly walk with Jesus on the difficult road to the cross. It was a treat to participate in hand-washing on Wednesday and to reflect on the cross during our Good Friday service. Taking time to sit with the pain of Good Friday helped me recognize ways that God still wants to work in my life as I seek to be crucified with Christ.
- In my 25 years of pastoral ministry, this may have been my favorite Easter service. I left the church with a true sense of joy and celebration in my heart and mind. What a gift it was to have the wonderful folks from Valle de Esperanza join us for Easter worship. It was a blessing to participate in baptism of members from both congregations, to hear both languages at several places in the service, to share communion together, and to hear the Hallelujah Chorus as the culmination of the service. Thanks to Emmett and the choir and brass for their hard work in preparing this difficult piece. Hearing this powerful song sung so beautifully was a perfect way to end the celebration of resurrection with joy and energy.
- I appreciate the strong support offered when we voted to move for-ward with the proposal to renovate the house to become a source of temporary lodging for refugees entering the country through World Relief Durham. I recognize that this was not a unanimous decision and that some questions and concerns remain, but I am convinced that God is giving us this opportunity to impact and bless the lives of others with Christ’s love and hospitality. We hope to begin working on this project soon, and I ask that you pray that God will provide the resources needed to get the house ready and make it a place of ministry that makes a true difference in the lives of people facing transitions to a new country.