I want to share the announcement I made after Sunday's worship on February 10th. I noted two decisions affecting the pastoral ministry at FBC-D. Prior to making the announcement, I met with key church officers, the Stewardship and Finance Committee, the Pastoral Relations Committee (which has served as a personnel committee) and the Church Council. They are in agreement.
1. I am accepting an 8 hour/week ministry position with the ABC-MI in the Metro Detroit Association, working primarily with pastors;
2. For over a year I have been praying and considering whether the Lord was leading me into retirement. The answer is both yes and no. The "yes" has several reasons which I shared February 10th. The "yes" part led me to convert my retirement account to an annuity. This action means that after 5/31/13, I can no longer serve as your full time pastor. If I were to remain at the church I would need to be 50% or less of my current ministry and income according to the MMBB (The Ministers and Missionaries Benefits Board--which holds my retirement account.)
When I shared this action with church officers and committee and the Council, I was asked if I would consider remaining part time as a "senior" pastor. Then the search for a youth/young adult pastor would be expanded to an assistant pastor, who might, if God wills, become the next
pastor. I took a couple of days to pray and think about it and agreed. Now the church needs to decide. At a practical level, I will still lead worship and lead the church; I will also curtail some hours. The money the church saves, 1/2 my package, can be added to the money saved when Fay left. This provides enough for us to look for a full time assistant pastor. The new arrangement, if the Lord wills and the congregation agrees, is at present a work in progress. I am intent on having clear definitions and boundaries. Be mindful, I will be available for the usual pastoral care needs,
emergencies and crisis situations; none of that changes. I so much appreciate the kind words and the affirmation I received from the congregation. Serving you is a privilege, honor and blessing. I will be available after worship this next Sunday for further discussion if needed.
After 32 years of full time ministry, this is one of the most difficult decisions I have ever made. I request yourprayers for myself and the church, for the Lord to lead and guide us.
Peace and Grace,
This Focus will cover the next two months of summer, a season that arrived back in April as I recall. I hope everyone remains cool, calm and collected when the temperature soars above 90 degrees. Actually, being cool, calm and collected is a good way to be when the temperature is lower as well.
Some time ago I introduced you to the Vision Team. Let me remind you who they are: Vickie Furman, Harry Porter,
Dianne Hubbard, Mike Kuptz and Brenda Threatt. We finished some preliminary work on the life of the church. I believe we all recognize the need to hear from the Lord and this is one way to sharpen that spiritual sense of discernment.
Toward that goal of listening for the word of God and hearing the summons of God, the Church Council is now on board with
this process. We are using another book, “Twelve Dynamic Shifts for Transforming Your Church”, by E. Stanley Ott. This book is $13 and may be purchased through Cokesbury Bookstores or Amazon. The author has written the book for pastors and lay members. It is very reader friendly.
In addition, I have been preaching sermons that accompany this effort. Of course, without the power and presence of the Holy Spirit there is no church. It is instructive to see how the early church responded to its summons to proclaim the gospel. The church shared its message in public, fully aware of the inherent danger. After all, Peter was arrested. The church also met together as a spiritual faith community. They developed a structure that prepared the followers of Jesus for ministry while at
the same time freeing these same followers for ministry.
The power for the outward journey comes from the strength of the inward journey.
In Acts 2:42 there are four habits or practices the early church follows that are critical for churches in the
21st century as well: “They devoted themselves to the apostles’teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of
bread and to prayers.” This is our template for being the church at 21100 Southfield Rd.
Following this method of being a church makes sense to me. This way of following Jesus builds disciples, strengthens mature Christians and serves as a welcome invitation to others to “Come and see” what Jesus is about at FBC-D. Be in prayer for the leadership and for yourself and rejoice in the good thing God is up to.
Peace and Grace,
I want to bring you up to date on some developments regarding another FBC-D child care ministry in our facility.
(1) Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the
kingdom of God belongs. Truly I tell you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will
never enter it.” The child care ministry is a ministry, not just an income producer. Why would we sponsor a child care ministry? It is because we have a commitment to provide a safe environment for the spiritual growth and development of young children. If it were just about the money, then it is not worth the effort or resources. At that point the church just becomes a business. The church is gathered to serve. To keep our priorities in order, the Church Council adopted a mission
statement for the child care ministry at FBC-D. It reads as follows:
“The First Baptist Church of Detroit seeks to create a safe, nurturing environment for the spiritual, social, and educational development of young children.”
(2) The Fellowship Hall is in the process of a make-over in the child care area. The rooms are being painted and a new entrance for child care parents will be created. This new entrance is through the doors in the gathering room leading to the playground. The old child care office will become an infant room and the old infant room will become a toddler room. There is additional refurbishing and modification related to fire and health concerns. At this point in time we cannot “grandfather in” existing conditions in these areas.
(3) To cover these remodeling and refurbishing needs we re-negotiated our loan with the Detroit Baptist Union. The total principal is increased but due to lower interest rates the monthly payment actually dropped.
(4) We do not have a startup date for the new child care providers. The physical changes need completion and the state needs to approve the license. We are hopeful the child care ministry will resume this summer, perhaps in June. We just have to be patient.
I want you to keep this vital and critical ministry in your prayers. I want us as a congregation to be more closely allied with the new child care center than we were with the last one. I want us to see this as I believe God sees it: a vital ministry for children and families.
Pastor Bill Walker
“Thank you for
your help!” These words were
written by the widowed spouse of a retired American Baptist minister after she
received a Thank You check from the Retired Ministers and Missionaries Offering
14 years,” she wrote, “I have
received an annual check. These
gifts have given me peace of mind and a sense of gratitude that have brought
tears to my eyes. The money has
helped me at times when I didn’t know how I would manage.
This year’s gift helped me pay the insurance on my house.
My heart is filled with gratitude to Christ
Her words of thanks echo those of many of the more than
3,000 retired American Baptist ministers and missionaries, or their widowed
spouses, whose annual Thank You checks are made possible by the RMMO. Fifty-seven percent of the offering is
distribute4d in the form of ABC Thank You checks; 43 % is available to meet
emergency and special financial needs.
The theme of this year’s RMMO is “Remember
with LOVE/Give with GRATITUDE.”
As a denomination we are grateful for and deeply indebted to our retired
spiritual leaders who have faithfully served our churches and mission fields.
First Baptist Church of Detroit will be receiving this
offering throughout the month of January and our goal is $800.
Special envelopes will be available in the pews.
Your gift makes a difference.
Z. Dianne Hubbard
Earlier email resulted in confusing beginning. The cursor jumped before I noticed; I spelled checked but did not proof read. I consider it a lesson well learned...hopefully a lesson learned. I regret any confusion.
Jesus kingdom talk is about God and change. Here is a quote from C. S. Lewis; it is a bit dated but still relevant. I offer it for your consideration.
"If you read history, you will find that the Christians who did most for the present world were just those who thought most of the next. The Apostles themselves, who set on foot the conversion of the Roman Empire, the great men who built up the Middle Ages, the English Evangelicals who abolished the Slave Trade, all left their mark on Earth, precisely because their minds were occupied with Heaven."
C. S. Lewis
For Sunday morning read Matthew 13; the passage is 13:31-33, 44-52. Matthew 13 is a chapter full of parables and parables themselves are
"Picture stories" .
Jesus is trying to describe what the kingdom of heaven is like and he uses parables to illustrate the kingdom. The kingdom of heaven is called the "kingdom of God) in the rest of the New Testament. Matthew uses the word "heaven" because he is the most "Jewish" of the gospel writers and the first century Jew did not speak the word "God" since human lips are considered too profane to utter such a holy word. The point is "Kingdom of heaven" and "kingdom of God" are the same reality and force; the kingdom of heaven is God becoming present in this world turning our expectations upside down and ordering creation along his divine intention. Love, forgiveness, justice and peace are among the attributes God is bringing to life.
How do we recognize the kingdom?
-This is what Jesus is pointing to.
Where would you see the kingdom breaking out today?
-Remember, the kingdom may not look like what you think it will look like. Kingdom thinking is thinking "outside the box"
Allow God to surprise you.
Be blessed and I'll see you Sunday.
Friends, An excerpt from a prayer:
"I Arise Today" to begin your day:
and all mornings
as we face the day
daunted by expectations
others place upon us,
weighed down by burdens,
unsure of outcomes,
that you faced all this
that we might loose
these chains that bind us,
rise above and beyond
the troubles of this world,
and know peace.
To the one who has overcome
we bring our thanks and praise
For the beginning of he work week:
Prayer for Grace and Strength Lord God, I pray that you will fill my heart with the blessing of your Holy Spirit.
Grant me this day the strength to be temperate in all things, diligent in my duties,
and patient under my afflictions. Direct me in all my ways. Give me grace to be just
and upright in all my dealings; quiet and peaceable; full of compassion;
and ready to do good to all people, according to my abilities and opportunities.
For the sake of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ,
Amen.May the Lord bless you today at work and at home and as you go to and fro.
For tomorrow morning read Psalm 139 which is the sermon text--The Nearnes of God;
also for your devotional life, I share this prayer from another Psalm:
Prayer of Praise (from Psalm 86)Give ear, O Lord, to my prayer; and attend to the voice of my supplications.
In the day of my trouble I will call upon you: for you will answer me.
Among the gods there is none like you, O Lord; and no works like those you have done.
All nations whom you have made will come and worship before you, O Lord; and will glorify your name.
For you are great, and do wondrous things: you are God alone.
Teach me your way, Lord, and I will walk in your truth: unite my heart to fear your name.
I will praise you, O Lord my God, with all my heart: and I will glorify your name forever.