Pastor’s Perspective – June 2021
Many of you already know that as a pastor, and as the pastor of First Baptist Church for the past 13 years I have been an advocate of church unity and interdenominational outreach. I’ve done these things, not because I have a professional interest in them, but because I believe that it’s a divine imperative. I believe that unity is what God expects from the people of God. I believe this because it is clearly stated in the scripture.
Jesus prayed that his disciples would remain unified, even into the future. As his high priestly prayer in John 17 makes quite clear, in spite of our denominational dysfunction, and our temporary separations inspired by our desire for reformation and righteousness, Jesus still desires that we might be one under the authority of the Holy Spirit.
Our lack of harmony has injured our testimony in the world. How can we preach a gospel of sacrificial love if we cannot work together with our own brothers and sisters in Christ? Jesus told us that our unity would glorify the name of Jesus amongst the people of the world. Sadly, if our unity glorifies the Lord, what can we say about our separations and dissolutions? It is time for the Church to rediscover the power of unity in Christ.
So why am I telling you this?
First Baptist Church has reached out to a local church that needs some help. Garden Park Church has a long history in the Holland / Springfield area, and while they have their own denominational traditions and history, they are a church that is compatible to First Baptist in attitude and outlook. They come from a Church of Christ denominational background but have been an independent church for the past several decades.
They recently sold their building to another congregation and were severely hampered in reestablishing their ministries and service by the COVID outbreak. They have been renting space at the Maumee Indoor Theater for the past several months and have continued to try to rebuild their congregation in both size and in spirit.
Due to the work of the Holy Spirit, Garden Park’s story was heard by our President David Clarke who then shared it with me. We reached out to the Garden Park Church and over the past several months we’ve had several meaningful contacts with them; to see what they would need and how we might be able to help them.
While we don’t have all of the details completely worked out, we can tell you that we’ve come to a preliminary agreement with Garden Park Church, and that in the month of July they will begin to utilize our worship space for Garden Park worship services. Our intention is to eventually give them full access to our building in a way that would allow them to establish their ministry without impairing the continuing work and ministry of First Baptist Church.
The beginning stages are going to be simple. First Baptist Church will continue to worship at 10 o’clock every Sunday morning, with Garden Park Church worshiping following our service at 11:30. This will continue through the summer, with the understanding that we will adjust service times in order that both congregations will have attractive service times and time to prepare our worship teams. We are considering several opportunities to share in common ministry, including the possibilities of sharing Sunday School responsibilities and commingling prayer ministries and building maintenance.
We are testing the waters and seeking God’s guidance on all of this, so that the Holy Spirit might be able to lead us forward to a place where we can bless not only two individual congregations, but also glorify the Lord by showing the world around us that the people of God can unite under the banner of Jesus the Christ, through the power of the Holy Spirit.
We believe that we have a good partner in the Garden Park Church, and in the next several months, you will be having an opportunity to get to know the people of Garden Park. We believe that God is going to bless First Baptist Church, as we bless the world around us and we hope that you’ll be a part of that blessing.
Please join with me as we pray that the Holy Spirit might guide us through the days and weeks ahead, so that God might open new doors and new avenues for growth and blessing. Pray that God might lead us through this moment and glorify His holy name. After the difficulties of 2020, we seek your prayers and support as God leads us to a new vision for the future.