Brothers and sisters,

It is hard to believe it, but my one-year anniversary here at Hope Valley Baptist Church was this past Sunday! My tenure as Senior Pastor began on May 1, 2021, with my first sermon being the very next day! It was a sermon entitled, “First”, and it was based on a reading from 1 John 4:7-21. The theme of the sermon was love (always a good topic!) and we talked about the way that God chooses to love people well and the call for each of us to love people well. I used a tennis analogy to talk about the love of God. I said that the most important part of a tennis player’s serve is the toss—that everything literally hangs in the balance when the ball is in the air. And I said that when God was choosing how to define Godself, everything hung in the balance, and God chose love.

Over this past year, I think we’ve done a good job, as a church, of choosing love. We reached out to McDougald Terrace and helped provide snacks during a time when kids would struggle to stay fed. We have started forming a relationship with teachers at Parkwood Elementary School to remind them that they are appreciated. We created goodie bags for healthcare workers at UNC, donated socks and underwear to Durham Urban Ministries, collected food for the Food Bank of Central and Eastern North Carolina. We’ve continued to house refugees in Hope House and help other people through Families Moving Forward. We’ve introduced new services (like the Service of Lament) in order to meet the needs of our congregation. And we’ve found new and innovative ways to gather together as a church family with Trunk-or-Treat and our Easter Egg Hunt.

It has been a good year and I am looking forward to what the next year has in store for us. I am encouraged by the fact that Covid case numbers continue to go down and so I am hoping that as 2022 continues, we will be able to gather in ways that look a little more normal. I hope that we can continue to reach out to our community, to build relationships with them, and discern God’s will for our church. I hope that we will continue to define ourselves by our love for others. Join me in praying for Hope Valley and the ways that we can remain faithful to God’s call for our church.

Grace and peace,
Pastor Ben