A Word of Encouragement
I appreciate how Pastor Joel has emphasized the importance of church (our local church) these past few Sundays. I have always considered Central an extension of family, and I really mean that in the most real sense of the term. Our Stoll/Carlson/Fletcher family is well-represented with four generations at Central. But we have many more “sisters/brothers,” “aunts/uncles,” “grandmas/grandpas.” I often wonder why it is that we will treat each other—at least in the immediate Stoll household—so badly sometimes. The way we talk to one another or the things we say are things we would never say to anyone else. We are rude, inconsiderate, and insensitive to one another. We should be kind, thoughtful, and encouraging of one another.
Central’s mission statement can be distilled to this: Love God – Love Neighbor. I heard someone when asked the question “who is your neighbor” answer this way: “Your neighbor is the one you will cross the street for.” Pastor Joel has asked us the past two Sundays who it is we are encouraging and that we should seek someone out and encourage that person. I was struck with the simplicity of the scripture for Sunday, March 19, and yet the depth of its meaning. Psalm 133:1 says, “How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity” (NIV). Verses 2 and 3 then go on to say what that is like. Wow! God’s people are promised “blessing, even life forevermore.”Oh that we would live in unity with one another—with everyone—and that we would cherish the blessings the Lord bestows.
It was in this service that we sang Holy Spirit, Living Breath of God as our closing song. I heard from several following the service how much the words of the song and of St. Patrick’s Breastplate prayer meant. There is a great YouTube version of this song where Kristin Getty sings the song and incorporates the prayer at the end. I encourage you to take time to listen and worship along. The words of the prayer as follows:
“Christ be with me, Christ within me,
Christ behind me, Christ before me,
Christ beside me, Christ to win me,
Christ to comfort and restore me.
Christ beneath me, Christ above me,
Christ in quiet, Christ in danger,
Christ in hearts of all that love me,
Christ in mouth of friend and stranger.
I bind unto myself the Name,
The strong Name of the Trinity;
By invocation of the same.
The Three in One, and One in Three,
Of Whom all nature hath creation,
Eternal Father, Spirit, Word:
Praise to the Lord of my salvation,
Salvation is of Christ the Lord.”
* Full prayer at: http://www.prayerfoundation.org/st_patricks_breastplate_prayer.htm
Board of Stewards
We are getting close to the final few months of our fiscal year. This is the first year of our church functioning under a new governance structure, a new set of bylaws. It has been a good year in many respects. The Board of Stewards meets monthly to discuss general business items. Two of those monthly meetings have been in a retreat setting for a day and a half where we have time to fellowship together and go deep into more strategic matters affecting our church. The heart of our meetings give the opportunity to hear what God is impressing on Pastor Joel and the ministry staff. Since January, Joel has been sharing about the “3 P’s,” People, Preaching, Prayer. Our goal as a board is to come around Joel and support him in every way possible that allows him the freedom to focus on these three things. We are confident that staff in place today will also free Joel up to be thoughtful and strategic in how he best uses his time.
Our bylaws call for a series of meetings and activities during the final three months of our fiscal year. The Nominating Committee has just completed their work in presenting a proposed ballot of board members up for renewal. The board approved the ballot at its last meeting and it will be posted publicly soon. The Finance Committee met recently to kick off the annual budget planning cycle as well. Joel and the staff understand the parameters with which they have to operate and will do their best to maximize the resources entrusted to them. The annual meeting in May will be our opportunity as a board and ministry staff to reflect on the year and share what is to come. You won’t want to miss it. Mark your calendars now for Sunday, May 7. This will be an evening meeting and a light supper will be provided before the meeting. Other meetings leading up to the annual meeting are as follows:
April 2 – Proposed ballot posted publicly
April 16 – Proposed budget posted publicly
April 23 – Combined ballot and budget hearing
May 7 – Annual meeting (approval of ballot an, budget)
This is the first year that Central has been “fully staffed” with its new staff structure. We all knew going into July 2017 that the budget that was approved may very well present some opportunities as well as challenges. Much has happened this year with the ministry of Central for which we can celebrate! I am so grateful for all those who give to Central of their time, talent, and treasure. I am appreciative of all those who gave generously to our special Lobby Renovation project this past fall. Just over $50,000 was raised, and the project is now in the “documentation” phase in order to set up the timeline of construction. More updates on that later. Joel wrote a special letter a couple weeks back encouraging financial support to ministry opportunities covered in our general fund. The response has been good so far, and my hope is that the increased level of support will continue. I am reminded of a verse that sets the tone in my own life for all that I have. Matthew 6:21 says, “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (ESV). I have found that where I put my money, I put my heart. It matches up quite accurately, really. How does this verse speak to you?
Question or Comments?
I will try my best to make myself available for any questions or comments you might have for me. And I know our staff and board members would as well. It is a privilege and blessings to serve at Central. I trust that God will continue to provide for Central and that we will all be engaged and encouraging participants of what God is doing at Central.
Kirby R. Stoll
Chair, Board of Stewards
Central Baptist Church