May 5, 2019: A Celebration of Life Service – Pastor Bill Bigger

William John Bigger
January 22, 1963 – May 1, 2019

On May 5, 2019, the Hope Valley Baptist Church congregation, friends and family gathered to celebrate the life of their pastor, Dr. Bill Bigger.

The service is divided into three parts.

Part 1

Prelude               Give Me Jesus              Chris & Mary Summerlin

Processional        On Eagle’s Wings/It Is Well With My Soul
  Jeff Whicker, Cheryl & Michael Stephenson
                         
Welcome                Christopher Ingram

Special Music        My Tribute                  Jeff Whicker

Responsive Call to Worship           From 1 Corinthians 2:9-10               Cara Bolton
    Come, people of God.  Come and worship!  Listen for God and for
“what no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the human heart conceived –
    What God has prepared for those who love him.
   God has revealed these things to us through the Spirit.
    For the Spirit searches everything, even the depths of God.”
    May the Holy Spirit reveal the very presence, and confirm the Good News,
of Jesus Christ our risen Lord as we worship today.
    Amen!

Invocation             Steve Bolton

Hymn No. 57         Be Still, My Soul                       
Part 2

Personal Reflection        Steve Bolton

Anthem                        As The Deer                     Sanctuary Choir

Personal Reflection        Amy Herring

Hymn No. 573                It Is Well with My Soul               
Part 3

Scripture          John 14: 1-4, 18-19, 25-27          Christopher Ingram

Homily               Christopher Ingram

Prayer of Intercession         Christopher Ingram

Scripture         Isaiah 43:1-7      Wes Bolton

Anthem           Be Not Afraid      Sanctuary Choir

Commendation    Christopher Ingram

Hymn No. 620      Because He Lives             

Benediction           Amy Herring
The Lord bless you and keep you.  The Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious unto you.  The Lord give you grace never to sell yourself short, Grace to risk something big for something good, Grace to remember that the world is now too dangerous for anything but truth, and too small for anything but love. So may God take your minds and think through them. May God take your lips and speak through them.  May God take your hearts and set them on fire.  Amen.

Recessional        Great is the Lord/Great Is Thy Faithfulness    
 Kathryn Bunch Cheryl & Michael Stephenson

Isaiah 43:1-7

But now, this is what the Lord says—
    he who created you, Jacob,
    he who formed you, Israel:
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
    I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
    I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
    they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
    you will not be burned;
    the flames will not set you ablaze.
 For I am the Lord your God,
    the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;
I give Egypt for your ransom,
    Cush and Seba in your stead.
Since you are precious and honored in my sight,
    and because I love you,
I will give people in exchange for you,
    nations in exchange for your life.
Do not be afraid, for I am with you;
    I will bring your children from the east
    and gather you from the west.
I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’
    and to the south, ‘Do not hold them back.’
Bring my sons from afar
    and my daughters from the ends of the earth—
everyone who is called by my name,
    whom I created for my glory,
    whom I formed and made.”

‘Til The Blue Returns …

From Pastor Bill:

I am definitely way past bored & stir-crazy after being in the hospital this long! But Leigh & I have much for which we remain grateful, including a group of church family members who spent their long, beautiful, Spring day at our house rebuilding our deck! It had a lot of needed repairs, several rotted places, & a couple of actual holes! Our church is amazingly good to us! We know that there will never be a way to thank them adequately for the good things they have done & the love that they are showing us through this difficult ordeal. To God be the glory!

I have completed 10 radiation treatments & 14 chemo treatments!So far, I’m feeling that the side effects are being well-managed. The anti-nausea medicine is working well. God continues to provide peace & hope for me.

Over the years, I have prayed often that people will experience the “peace that passes all understanding,” and I’ve seen glimpses of that in very real ways the past couple months. A good friend sent me a link to this song, “’Til the Blue” by Steven Curtis Chapman, performed by Gary Levox. Here are the lyrics and I invite you to listen to it on YouTube.

‘Til the blue returns to your sky.
‘Til the laughter returns to your eyes. I’ll be here to cry with you.
And right here to give you a song.
To help you go on until you are strong.
‘Til the blue returns.
‘Til the blue returns to your sky.

So here are my hands.
They’re not able to put back the pieces you’ve lost or push back the rivers of sadness you’ve crossed.
I’m sorry they’re not but here they are reaching out to help carry you through.

‘Til the blue returns to your sky.
‘Til the laughter returns to your eyes. I’ll be here to cry with you.
And right here to give you a song.
To help you go on until you are strong.
‘Til the blue returns.
‘Til the blue returns to your sky.

There are no words.
And it’s still gonna hurt.
So here are my hands.
‘Til the blue returns to your sky.

Dear Friends,

Dear friends,

As I sit in my hospital room on the evening of Ash Wednesday, I have so many thoughts running through my head. There are not enough pages in this Illuminator for me to write everything I want to say to all of you as my church family. First and foremost, Leigh and I want to say clearly, “THANK YOU FOR THE MANY PRAYERS, INNUMERABLE CARDS and THE MANY EXPRESSIONS OF SINCERE LOVE AND CARE.”

I am really missing being at church with you for worship and fellowship, but we have felt your care and support in ways that are giving us great strength and comfort.

I obviously had no idea we were about to enter such a dark and difficult valley, but God’s love, made visible in tangible ways through you, has been a source of hope and blessings.

I don’t feel like I can adequately say thanks to everyone who has stepped up to take new responsibilities during my absence so that the church has continued to worship, study and serve. I am particularly grateful to Steve Bolton and Amy Herring who have stepped up to serve as personal pastors to Leigh and me. Both have made numerous visits to the hospital and have listened prayerfully as we have discussed anxieties about my diagnosis and questioned what the future might look like. Both have prayed beautiful prayers that have left us confident we are in the peace-giving presence of God. We appreciate Mike and Rachel Dossett who are leading a team of Pastoral Care providers.

This has been one of the most challenging three-week periods of my life, but I am more sure than ever that God is present and faithful. I am looking forward to being back in the pulpit to share some of what I’m learning about the goodness of our faithful God and to share more about what I am learning and the ways God has been working in my life. I am also thankful for those who are preaching and teaching in my absence. What a blessing to know that some of my pastor friends are willing to leave their own churches for a Sunday to come preach at Hope Valley to help me and to help us as a church family.

I am truly grateful to have you all as my brothers and sisters in Christ during these challenging days. You all are blessing us in so many ways!

Blessings and love,
Bill

Five Years, Already!

Dear friends,


As of the end of January, Robin Wimberley has been our Administrative Assistant for 5 years. I am exceptionally thankful for Robin and all the gifts and talents she brings to our office and the ministry of our church. Robin always seems to have a smile and greets people who enter the office with warmth and kindness. She has a knack for making people feel comfortable and cared for – whether they are members or guests just dropping by with a question or need.


I appreciate so much her attention to detail and her organizational skills. She manages the master calendar and keeps track of all the church activities as well as the different groups who rent the gym. We are fortunate that we can make use money from renting the gym to help pay for expenses around the church property (including unexpected needs like last year when we had to replace an HVAC system for part of the educational building). Robin’s organizational ability and attention to detail makes this possible.


Robin also works diligently and faithfully to prepare the Illuminator and the weekly worship bulletin and helps us keep track of events and announcements that need to be made.


Robin is the kind of person who will jump in to help with whatever needs to be done – whether it is even remotely related to her job description. She notices things that need to be done and takes care of things without being asked. She is a willing and caring helper to so many of us in innumerable ways.


She adds humor and fun to the office environment as well and has become a good friend to many of us. I think we have all recognized how blessed we are to have Robin working with us. I encourage you to find a way in upcoming days to let her know how much you appreciate her kind spirit and good work for the past 5 years.


Blessings,
Bill

Thankful

Dear friends,

I am writing at the beginning of Thanksgiving week and feel the need to spend some time reflecting on some of the reasons I give thanks for our church this year. We have obviously faced some struggles and difficulties this year, and there are challenges we face as a church moving forward. Still, even as we pray for our church and seek God’s guidance, let us also recognize the good things God is doing in our midst.

During worship this past Sunday, I invited people to voice prayers of thanksgiving aloud at the beginning of the Pastoral Prayer. I sensed the presence of God as different people expressed gratitude to God for a variety of blessings. In particular, my emotions rose to the surface as I heard some of our youth and children speak their gratitude by thanking God for the church and for other blessings. One of our members told me later in the day that he really wanted to begin singing the song, “Lord, Listen to Your Children Praying,” and I honestly wish we would have done so. It strikes me as a wonderful gift to be part of a church where our children and youth feel like they are full participants in worship. Children are not simply “the future of the church.” They are a vital part of our church family, and we can learn from them as they learn from us. May we seek to be a congregation where every voice matters and each member of the family feels encouraged to share gifts and talents in worship and ministry.

We have been truly blessed by the way God has brought Luke Perrin and Jeff Whicker to join us in ministry. It’s tempting to say that they both just landed in our laps, but I know God is the One who made it possible. I have mentioned before that Luke is doing a terrific job as our intern, and I have enjoyed seeing the ways he connects to our youth and encourages them in their faith. We have been having 9 to 11 youth each Sunday evening, and it has been a treat to see them each participating and contributing to the group dynamics as this very young youth group develops its identity and connection. I am also grateful to the Modern Disciples Class and the Deacons. Each group has provided a snack supper for our youth recently.

While we have been blessed for a long time by Mary Summerlin’s worship leadership at the piano, Jeff has stepped in capably so that we haven’t missed a beat. His talent and heart for worship have been evident as he has shared his gifts with us. I am also enjoying the chance to get to know him and hope you will make him feel welcome and get to know him as well.

I am also thankful for the opportunity to worship together with you during the upcoming Advent season. Please take note of the Advent calendar in this newsletter and join us for the Sunday morning services and the special evening services as we prepare to welcome and celebrate the Gift of the Christ Child.

Bill

Youth Ministry Intern

For several months, there have been discussions about the best way to move forward with our youth ministry. During the summer, we had a terrific group of youth attend Passport Camp, and two of our youth made professions of faith and were baptized. In recent weeks, I have been leading the youth time on Sunday evenings and have been enjoying the time with the kids. We have had
as many as 9 youth in attendance. After considering the possibility of pursuing a Duke Divinity intern for this school year, we decided for a couple reasons not to pursue that option at the time. Within days after that decision, I received an email from Lawrence Powers, the local campus minister sponsored by the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of NC. He mentioned a young man who was interested in working as an intern this school year as he begins following
a call to ministry.

After being connected by Lawrence, I met with Luke Perrin, and a couple weeks later, Luke interviewed with our Personnel Team and Youth Council about the possibility of serving as an intern with a focus in youth ministry. We have presented the idea to the Finance Team and Deacons, and both groups have joined Personnel and the Youth Council in recommending that we move forward with this internship. We will be having a Family Meeting after worship on Sunday, October 7, to present this proposal to the church for a vote.

Luke has served the past three summers on staff with Passport Camp. He spent two summers as a Bible study leader and was the Director for one of their sites this past summer (not the location where our youth attended). As Director, he supervised the rest of the staff and was involved in all areas of camp life. He comes with the highest recommendations from the leadership of Passport who note that when he is leading youth, “he is in his element.” Luke also spent a semester as an intern at the Baptist Joint Committee for
Religious Liberty in Washington, D.C. He is a senior at NC State and plans to attend Divinity School in the fall of 2019. He has worked on staff of the Technician – the NC State student newspaper for several years. In addition, his mother is a minister who has served on the ministerial staff of several churches in NC, so he has a good understanding of the dynamics of church life and loves the church.

I am very impressed by Luke, his energy, his ideas, and his gifts for ministry, and I really believe that he could be a wonderful resource for our youth while we are seeking to determine what we can afford and what our longer-term options are for youth ministry at Hope Valley. I invite you to join me in prayer as we consider this possibility.

Bill

Random Thoughts from a Scattered Mind

Dear friends,
I am writing as I, like all of you, are watching the weather reports and wondering what the impact of Hurricane Florence will be. With so much going on around us, it seems an appropriate time for another edition of Random Thoughts from a Scattered Mind.

– We can all sense the anxiety that so many people are feeling as we await the arrival of this huge storm. We can see it clearly in the grocery stores and gas  station lines. I trust that you are all preparing yourselves to be as safe as possible, but even as we focus on protecting ourselves and our own property, let us also pay attention to the needs of our neighbors and fellow church members. We obviously cannot control the weather, but I am praying for God to protect the people along the coast and in the path of the hurricane.  Likewise, I am praying that God will open our eyes to the ministry opportunities that may arise in the days ahead. Let us be ready to reach out to check on people who live alone, who have health needs, and who might experience damage or other problems. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you see or learn about needs or ministry opportunities so we can try to respond if possible.

– As the storm passes and we assess possible damage, we will do our best to communicate with you about plans for worship and other activities on Sunday; however, if the area is lacking power, that might be difficult. If power is out for the area, I doubt that we will try to have worship, but whatever the situation, I would encourage you all to remain safely at home if you have any concerns
about getting on the roads.

– It was such a privilege to worship again with our Hispanic brothers and sisters on Sunday. It is a powerful experience to hear both languages in the service and to hear the Lord’s Prayer spoken simultaneously in English and Spanish. It was also a blessing to share in the Lord’s Supper together. I can’t help but celebrate any opportunity to demonstrate the diversity of the
Body of Christ in worship. Let us continue to pray for Pastor Julio DeLeon and the good folks of Valle de Esperanza.

– We owe much gratitude to the many people who made the picnic a real treat on Sunday. I won’t try to list names for fear of forgetting someone, but to all of you who cooked, set up, cleaned up, and tended to various details, we should all say, “Thanks!” I enjoyed the good food and the warm fellowship. It is always fun to spend time around the tables with delicious food and our church friends.

Bill

Church Family Meeting Discussion Item

Dear friends,

On Sunday, we will hold our quarterly Church Family Meeting after worship. In addition to the presentation from the Nominating Team, we will begin discussing an issue related to the gas station property that is on the corner next to us.  That property has been sold, and the new owners will be building a new gas station.

A representative of the new owners reached out to us in mid-June to let us know that they were planning to build a new gas station and wanted to discuss with us the possible layout they had in mind for the property.  Several members of our Property Team first met with their representative and learned of the two options (“Plan A” and “Plan B”) they are considering for the gas pumps and convenience store.  Both will place the convenience store much closer to our property than has been the case in the past.

After getting through the 4th of July and VBS, the Church Council was informed at the end of July of this information and the implications for our church.  On August 8, the Deacons were made aware of the unfolding conversation and proposal.  During the conversations with these two leadership groups, we have attempted to raise and get answers for the questions that might be asked by other members of the congregation.  During the Family Meeting, we will share what has been presented to us and the options that the gas station has offered.  We will then listen to hear what questions and concerns you might have.

In order to construct the building and pumps in the layout they prefer, “Plan A,” the new owners have asked to purchase a small section (just over 1600 square feet) at the edge of our property.  Through some negotiations after the Church Council and Deacons’ meetings, the current offer for this property has been raised some.  The “Plan A” proposal would place the store near the curve in the driveway leading from Garrett Road and would include a slight reshaping of that driveway which would be payed for by the new owners.

If we ultimately choose not to accept the gas station’s offer to purchase a small section of our land, the convenience store will be built in their less preferred location—”Plan B.” Under “Plan B,” the store will be built several feet to the right of Plan A (as we view the property from our sanctuary) so that it would sit directly between our sanctuary and the corner of Garrett Road and Hope Valley Road.  “Plan B” does not require the station to purchase any land from the church.

I understand that my wording above may not be particularly clear. We will have pictures of the two options available for you to examine and discuss during the family meeting. We have made no commitments at this point and do not yet have a formal written offer, but we want to share the information, hear your thoughts and questions, and consider how we move forward as a congregation.

Bill

“Rescued by Jesus”

July 15 – July 20 was an exciting time at Hope Valley as we watched children worship, play, laugh, and learn about what it means to be “Rescued by Jesus” at Shipwrecked VBS. One major God Sighting from our week was the success of our VBS Kids’ Mission Project – a little over $1000 was raised to help support children and families in Haiti through Operation Kid-to-Kid – a partnership between Group VBS and World Vision.

As the church grounds return to a more “normal” appearance, we would like to offer a word of thanks to our church family. There are so many ways that Hope Valley Baptist Church invests in and provides support for VBS. We are grateful for the hard work and dedication of the many volunteers who served in the weeks leading up to and during the week of VBS as well as for those who consistently pray for Bible School and financially support VBS through faithful giving to the church budget. It is an honor and a privilege to serve alongside you in ministering to children and families in our community and around our world.

“I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now.” (Philippians 1:3-5)

Blessings,
Amy & Jonathan Herring

VBS 2018 – Thank You!

July 15 – July 20 was an exciting time at Hope Valley as we watched children worship, play, laugh, and learn about what it means to be “Rescued by Jesus” at Shipwrecked VBS.  One major God Sighting from our week was the success of our VBS Kids’ Mission Project – a little over $1000 was raised to help support children and families in Haiti through Operation Kid-to-Kid—a  partnership between Group VBS and World Vision.

As the church grounds return to a more “normal” appearance, we would like to offer a word of thanks to our church family. There are so many ways that Hope Valley Baptist Church invests in and provides support for VBS. We are grateful for the hard work and dedication of the many volunteers who served in the weeks leading up to and during the week of VBS as well as for those who consistently pray for Bible School and financially support VBS through faithful giving to the church budget. It is an honor and a privilege to serve alongside you in ministering to children and families in our community and around our world.

“I thank my God every time I remember you. In all my prayers for all of you, I always pray with joy because of your partnership in the gos-pel from the first day until now.” (Philippians 1:3-5)

Blessings,
Amy & Jonathan Herring