First, congratulations to Mr. Andrew Steele who made a first-time profession of faith, and followed this decision with baptism in our worship service on Sunday, October 17. We welcome Andrew and his wife, Haley, who has been worshipping with us for some time. We also welcome their young son, Henson who attends with them. We are blessed to have them with us!
Our church has purchased several tickets to attend the men’s dinner on Monday, November 8, 2021, from 6:00 PM to 8:00 PM at the First Baptist Church of Stanleyville. This event is sponsored by the Pilot Mountain Baptist Association and features as guest speaker Lieutenant General (Retired) W. Gerald (Jerry) Boykin who was one of the original members of the Army’s “Delta Force” and who served as a Deputy Undersecretary of Defense for Intelligence. LTG(R) Boykin is also an ordained pastor and will speak to the group after a meal with music provided by “Chosen Road.” We have ten (10) tickets so there is no cost if you would like to attend. See me to reserve your spot.
The Baptist State Convention meets on November 8-9 at the Koury Convention Center in Greensboro. If you are interested in attending as a “messenger” (a voting member to represent our church) see A.J. or me. I call your attention to a special night of preaching on Sunday November 7 at 6:00 PM to attend and participate in great worship and preaching. In addition, on Tuesday, November 9, 2021, at 6:00 PM, I urge you to attend and hear more great worship and preaching by H.B. Charles, pastor of the Shiloh Metropolitan Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Florida. Rev. Charles is one of the great preachers in our S.B.C. and I urge you to hear this worship and preaching event. Let me know if you can attend.
On Wednesday, November 10 at 7:00 PM in the place of our normal Bible study we will honor the veterans in our church. If you are a veteran, we would like for you to attend and tell the church what you did in service for our nation. Be sure to bring awards, uniforms or other items that may be of interest to everyone. We try to do this annually to honor those who served. It is always good to hear the stories of our church’s veterans.
On Tuesday, November 23, at 7:00 PM, we will have our annual Community Thanksgiving worship service in our sanctuary. We will not observe a fellowship time afterward due to the on-going pandemic concerns about fellowship meals. We look forward to seeing you at this service, but will live stream the event if you are not ready to attend in person.
Keep an eye open for an announcement to start a new member class for any prospective new members of our church. This class will be held on Sunday mornings at 10:00 AM for eight consecutive Sundays. We will provide you a newly revised notebook and some great instruction to start our new members on the “right foot.” Our church requires completion of this course prior to joining the church. Let Pastor A.J. or me know if you are interested in attending.
Finally, in the last few weeks someone asked me, “Preacher what do you think about the requirements of businesses or organizations to mandatorily vaccinate employees for the COVID-19 vaccine, or the ongoing requirements to wear a mask?” Here are some of my thoughts on this frequently discussed topic. First, like many of you, I am deeply saddened by the grief and sorrow caused, even within our church family, from those that have been lost to this pandemic. I am also moved greatly by those health care providers, several also in our congregation, who have relayed the pain, sorrow, and stress caused by taking care of these very sick patients in our hospitals. We must not even underestimate the damage the pandemic has done to the economic health of many people by preventing them from working or by the closure of their employers because of business shutdowns. This pandemic has caused much sorrow, loss, and disruption in the normal course of our lives. Our church, like other churches, has experienced significant disruptions in services and ministries that we have not to date, fully restored. Indeed, the pandemic has affected our church in unprecedented ways.
This, and many more issues, generate much discussion about the COVID vaccine and whether it should be mandated for people who work in our society. Just for information, most of our church staff is fully vaccinated. Personally, I think it is prudent to do that. I also wear a mask in businesses that request it. I believe that is the respectful and Christ-like way to approach this matter. As you decide about vaccination for you and your family, I ask you to consider Paul’s letter to the Corinthian church, written to advise the Corinthians about harming younger believers by the exercise of their freedom in 1 Corinthians 10:23 (and a similar passage in 1 Corinthians 6:12), “Everything is permissible, but not everything is beneficial. ‘Everything is permissible but not everything builds up.’ No one is to seek his own good, but the good of the other person” (CSB). In this, Paul is telling the church that although they may have the freedom to do something, is exercising that freedom in the best interest of building up the church? In other words, if we express our freedom (to wear or not wear a mask, or to get or not get vaccinated) does that decision harm or potentially harm other believers, especially new believers? I do not think this passage directly answers our question, but it does give us perspective. Our goal is not just to decide these matters, but to represent Christ in all that we do.
I ask you to pray about the vaccine and proceed in the way you believe the Spirit of God leads you. Keep in mind that your, and my, responsibility is to “build up the body of Christ.” Regardless of how you choose, in all your dealings with others do so in a Christ-like manner. This includes interpersonal contact and social media. Some of the nastiest social media posts are made by those who claim to believe in Jesus. Make sure your communication builds up fellow believers and shows non-believers the difference Christ makes in your life. Have compassion for those affected by this illness and the ensuing tragedies created by it. Exercise your freedom (to take the vaccine or not take it, or wear or not wear your mask) in a Christ-like manner. In other words, in this and in all areas of your life let the light of Christ shine through in all that you do. Use your freedom in Christ to show others how much Christ loves them.
God bless you and take a special time to give thanks during our Thanksgiving season.
Rev. James A. Cohn