Brothers and sisters,

Here we are at the end of the year—and what a year it has been! There have been ups and downs, twists and turns, things expected and plenty of things unexpected! But for this week’s issue of The Illuminator, I wanted to take some time and just talk about some of the many things we’ve done together as a church family.

In the year 2021—or at least in my eight months here—we have been incredibly dedicated to reaching out and helping our neighbors. We have collected all kinds of non-perishable foods to take over to our neighbors in McDougald Terrace, maintaining that ministry throughout the summer, and staving off hunger for dozens of kids when schools were not able to. We have collected food for the Yates Food Pantry, feeding people all over Durham. We have collected money for the Global Missions Offering. We adopted a family for Christmas this year and provided that family with three cars full of presents. We collected school supplies for teachers and provided them with gift cards to purchase more supplies for the children at Park-wood Elementary.

In the year 2021, we have been able to bring back wonderful moments of worship and of fellowship. We’ve been able to worship God together as a church family, celebrating special moments within the church calendar. We have spent time in fellowship with one another drinking lemonade and eating cookies during the warmer months. We just got through with a month of special services in which we hung the greens, ordained deacons, cried out to God in lament, sang the story of the Gospel, and welcomed the Christ Child once again. We’ve found ways, even in the midst of a global pandemic, to worship God in fullness and in truth.

In the year 2021, we’ve taken in several refugees, giving them a safe place to stay and find their footing here in America. We’ve built relationships with them and with other churches who also want to help refugees. We’ve had our first big public event since the pandemic began, with nearly two-hundred people coming to our Trunk-or-Treat. We’ve built a relationship with CBF Field Personnel in Kentucky and helped provide Christmas presents for children and teens in one of the poorest counties in our country.

And of course, I can only say that “we” did all this because on May 1 of this year, I officially began my time as your Senior Pastor. After months of emails, phone calls, interviews, a Bible Study, and a trial sermon, we agreed to partner together in ministry. I’m excited about all the things we’ve managed to do together so far and I look forward to the coming year as we continue to figure out what God would have us do for our community. The opportunities to serve God are endless and I look forward to making the most of those opportunities with you all in the future. My prayer for us all, as we move into 2022, is that we will continue to seek God and God’s will. As long as we do that, we will be able to honestly say that we have remained faithful to the call God has placed on all our lives.

Grace and peace to you all,
Pastor Ben