2020 Annual Ministry Report
SENIOR PASTOR REPORT
Pastor Michael Wilburn
Dear Immanuel Family,
I regard our year together as a massive test of the church’s resolve to worship and serve the Lord Jesus. Who could have imagined the course that laid before us? Yet God’s grace was sufficient and his people remained faithful. I praise God for sustaining and growing us through months of a pandemic, political division, and racial protests. I am grateful to God for you, the congregation, for being flexible and courageous to gather at different times, places, and ways. I am thankful for Immanuel’s staff that faithfully served the Lord by leading you. Together, we committed to (1) caring for ourselves and each other, (2) trusting the Lord, and (3) loving our neighbor. We are a stronger local church entering 2021.
The COVID-19 pandemic hit our nation on the second week of March. Sarah and I were in New York City when it became the epicenter of early cases and began to shut down. Immanuel closed in-person worship gatherings beginning Sunday, March 15th, and did not regather for 13 weeks. During this time, I preached sermons to an empty sanctuary, and our recorded services were posted online for members to watch at home. Beginning Sunday, June 7th, Immanuel reentered public gatherings in a staged approach with a single worship gathering and family seating in the fellowship hall. Live-streamed services were added to ibcrichmond.org and the church app on Sunday, August 16th, and an additional 8:30 am worship gathering started on Sunday, November 8th. While implementing the reentry plan, Immanuel maintained safety guidelines, social distancing, and mask-wearing in keeping with CDC, Virginia State, and Richmond City recommendations.
As a pastor-shepherd, I cared for your soul and your body. These were difficult decisions requiring wisdom. Every safety protocol was implemented with your physical safety and wellbeing in mind. I praise the Lord for commitment, leadership, and unity among Immanuel’s elders, deacons, staff, COVID-19 committee, and reentry committee. While I may have announced guidelines to you, hours of competent discussion informed each of those choices.
We faced a myriad of challenges and restrictions together as a church family. I thank the Lord for members who worshiped, served, gave, and prayed faithfully. Video updates emerged as our major form of communication–first as a Friday Recap in which I shared announcements, upcoming events, and words of encouragement, then The Weekly in which the pastors discussed ministries and topics. Thank you for listening and following. I believe that clear communication was the key to our church’s unity.
We regularly needed the strengthening promises of God to process the year’s uncertainties. God’s Word through the weekly pulpit guided us. I preached 18 sermons in the book of Ezra, 15 sermons based on The Apostles’ Creed, and 8 sermons on good works from the book of Titus. On our first Sunday regathered in the church, I preached a sermon, “Learning through COVID-19” from Job 42:1-6, and on Easter Sunday, I preached “Alive in Christ” (Romans 6:5-11) from Hollywood Cemetery overlooking the James River and the Richmond skyline. In my absence, Pastor Jon Dillon and Pastor Thomas Long capably filled the pulpit. Dr. David Nelson was the only guest speaker in 2020 on October 11th. All of these sermons can be watched or listened to at ibcrichmond.org or the church app.
The COVID-19 pandemic has not ended. It appears that the necessary distribution of vaccines will take the better part of 2021 to achieve, which will allow our lives and church gatherings to return to normal. You may not see bulletins, offering plates, and choirs this year, but I expect to see love, grace, and faithfulness each week in you. Until our Lord returns, “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:23-25).
Pastor Michael L. Wilburn
Hank Sierk, Chairman of the Elders
When voted chairman of the elders this past January, having no idea what challenges lay ahead, I was sure of one thing – the only way to lead in the right way was to start the year with prayer. We organized and held a special night of prayer with all the elders and deacons so that we could focus ourselves on God’s will. His direction was certainly essential as very shortly we were faced with the specter of COVID 19 and the need to change our church worship in dramatic ways. For months, our faithful pastor preached to empty pews. Musicians and worship leaders led music for an invisible virtual congregation. Friday video updates were born.
As restrictions began to loosen, Dick Anthony, leader of our reopening team, and Bob Andrews, Deacon of Health and Safety and his faithful team led us to meet the changing medical and legal requirements that were placed on us.
We have all heard enough about the challenges associated with COVID, but let’s be thankful for the good that has come from this dark cloud of pestilence. While a number of our members have suffered from the disease, by the hand of our gracious God and the faithful prayer of His saints, all so far have recovered. Our church has grown closer. We have been calling one-another and showing our love in so many practical ways that the difficulties have become small in comparison with the blessings. We have seen increased opportunities to minister in our communities. We have been blessed by new people getting involved to allow us to support two services. We have learned how to meet virtually and have found that it can be intimate. Visitors continue to come. The Lord has provided our new IY pastor, Thomas Long. Thanks to John Cummings and others, we have improved our church technology to live-stream our services. Immanuel’s people have graciously continued to support our church financially through these tumultuous times. This is a lot to be thankful for!
Evaluating all this, I am challenging us to keep on being faithful…
“Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.“ (Hebrews 10:23-25)
As Pastor Jon encouraged us in the mission conference and since then – we can seek out and engage in opportunities to disciple others. We can shine as bright lights in our sphere in this darkening world.
Please join me in thanking our staff who have all taken on additional responsibilities and have adapted to almost continuous change as they continue to serve us.
Finally, I want to personally thank Dave Sommers, Vice Chairman, for his support and counsel throughout this year. Things certainly would not have gone as well without his wisdom often tinged with humor. Also, thanks to John Denler, our secretary – project manager to the core, who kept us on track with his colorful minutes and reminders. It has been a pleasure to work with a committed and godly group of elders who were exceptionally patient with their procedurally challenged chairman.
ASSOCIATE PASTOR OF DISCIPLESHIP REPORT
Pastor Jon Dillon
Habakkuk 3:17-19 says, “though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation. GOD, the Lord, is my strength; he makes my feet like the deer’s; he makes me tread on my high places. To the choirmaster: with stringed instruments.”
I think this passage of Scripture aptly describes how I feel about this past year with all of its frustrations and disappointments. Just about all the plans I hoped to realize for this year were thwarted by the threat and restrictions of the pandemic. Every aspect of my ministry was forced to adapt and some couldn’t be done at all. Many families in our church were directly or indirectly impacted by the virus including my own. But through it all, I could rejoice in the Lord and take joy in the fact that God is my salvation, my strength, and my source of ability. While this past year looked different than I had imagined, I am encouraged to know that God was doing the same work as always of shaping lives according to His purpose for His glory. He used the trials of this year to stretch and strengthen my faith and the faith of many others in the church.
Our weekly prayer meeting took on a whole new approach and look this year. In March, we were not allowed to conduct our Wednesday night activities in person any longer due to the pandemic restrictions. So we took our prayer meeting to the web and began meeting virtually by Zoom at 10:30am and 6:30pm. Pastor Michael and I shared the responsibility of leading and teaching. Most often, we would share a short devotional on a passage from our daily Bible reading. We spent the majority of our time sharing praises, prayer requests, and praying. It was awkward at first as we all experienced the learning curve of Zoom, but it quickly became a refreshing time that many grew accustomed to attend. In fact, our Zoom prayer meetings more than doubled our normal attendance when meeting in person.
We saw many answered prayers throughout the year especially those in regards to the pandemic as God protected the church from any outbreaks and delivered the ones who contracted the virus. When we were able to meet in person again, we continued to meet by Zoom at 10:30am and conducted a hybrid meeting in the auditorium at 7pm. I believe the faithful prayers given up at these prayer meetings played a crucial role in the perseverance and growth of our church throughout the year!
Soma Life Groups
We began the year with 9 groups meeting on the first Sunday of the month. Once the pandemic restrictions were in place, most of the groups began meeting on Zoom. They typically discussed the study questions from the Sunday morning message which often made application to life in the pandemic. The small group setting gave people a chance to talk about their struggles and use God’s Word for guidance and encouragement. The purpose of the small group is not just to study God’s Word, but it is also to establish relationships in the bond of love and foster mutual edification toward spiritual maturity. The experience of this year has firmed up my conviction that we need more Soma groups because they serve to effectively minister God’s grace and love in a time when it is difficult to connect with others. If you are not involved in Soma groups, I would encourage you to find a group near you. If you would like to host or lead a Soma group, please let me know.
Beginning the year, I was asked to be a part of our Young Adults Sunday School class as a teacher and mentor. Along with Keith and Kelly Ober, we came alongside Billy Kain and Chris Clark to teach through Proverbs. In April, we transitioned to meeting on Zoom and taught through a lesson by Tony Evans called The Power of God’s Names. We learned that with each of God’s names we get a glimpse of His wonderful character and taste of His incredible promises to us. In the coming year, we will start with a expositional study of the Letter to the Ephesians.
One blessing of the pandemic was that it challenged me to find new ways to connect with our people. As a result, I started a Facebook Live group called Weekly Encouragement where I share a short devotional every Monday. I find a passage of Scripture and share it from a different location every week which served as visual illustration of the Biblical principle in the passage. I have since changed the name of the group to “Times of Refreshment,” and I share now every other Monday. I plan to continue this ministry in the coming year.
I was honored to be the featured speaker for our Fall Missions Conference. The focus of the conference was local missions, and the theme was “Making Disciples for God’s Glory.” I presented to the church a challenge to become true disciples of Christ, to intentionally create relationships with others for redemptive purposes, and to make an investment in the lives of others to develop them as disciples of Christ who would do the same. My goal for our church is that disciple-making will become the most important ministry under which everything we do will be to that end.
One of the biggest disappointments I experienced this year was having to cancel the Family Fun Festival that was planned for the fall. We put on our very first Festival last year, and it proved to be a great way to meet new people in our community and to serve together as a church for the sake of the Gospel. So again, the pandemic challenged me to find a new way to reach our community with Gospel. I prayed that God would show me the way, and He led me to discover a charitable service sponsored by Richmond Public Schools where they were delivering groceries to needy students. They needed volunteers to make the deliveries, and I began delivering groceries to 7 or 8 families almost every week from May until December. Over that time, I was in at least 25 different homes in North and South Richmond, and I was able to share the Gospel with most of them and tell them about our church. As a result, I had the opportunity to give Bibles to some, a few individuals visited the church, and one of those, who I helped beyond the groceries, has stayed in contact with me on a regular basis. My family and I provided a Christmas meal to one of the families, and I was blessed to deliver to them a money gift from one of our church families as well. I hope the program resumes in the coming year, but if not, I want to stay connected to the families I have met for the Gospel’s sake.
I believe that the trials endured and the lessons learned in 2020 has strengthened the faith of our church and has reminded us of the urgency of our mission to make disciples for God’s glory. I look forward to see how God will use and grow us this coming year after the refinement of 2020. My hope and prayer is to see each one of you become more like the Lord Jesus Christ, growing in knowledge and grace, loving in word and deed, and sharing your life with others for the sake of the Gospel and edification. Let us keep our eyes up and out as we endeavor to fulfill God’s purpose for us to glorify Him in our lives and in the world.
STUDENT MINISTRIES REPORT
2020 has been a year of excitements, challenges, and growth for Immanuel Youth. I have officially been the student ministries pastor since August and in that time a lot has happened. Immanuel has been incredibly kind and gracious to me as I transition into this role and I have found myself being encouraged continually by those within the youth ministry as well as other members of the church. My main goal over these last five months has primarily been to build relationships with everyone in the ministry but has also been to shift the youth group’s focus towards service and discipleship.
In regards to my first goal it feels like things are going well. Covid has presented challenges in regards to being able to meet as casually and consistently as I would sometimes like but I have still been able to have meaningful interactions with the youth, their parents, and the youth staff. The kinds of relationships, partnerships, and friendships that I would like to build within IY are not something that can be achieved overnight…but we are making sure and steady progress. The difficulty for the youth staff and I is in trying to interact with and disciple students as much as we can while also setting an example of properly following covid guidelines and best practices.
In regards to my second goal things are going incredibly well. In the time I’ve been with the youth they’ve had the opportunity to clean up Woodland Cemetery, work on projects around the church, participate in Labor of Love, serve in Word of Life, serve in children’s church, and make Christmas cards for those on the church’s special care list as well as the nurses, staff, and patients at St. Mary’s hospital. The atmosphere seems to be shifting in a positive way. In 2021 I would like to explore new avenues for discipleship between our youth that are also compliant with the church’s health safety regulations.
In October, we were able to resume in person meetings for the youth group. The transition has gone well and with the encouragement of the youth leadership our students have worked hard to follow health safety guidelines which have allowed us to remain open. Our lessons have been based on “The Whole Story of the Bible in 16 Verses” by Chris Bruno and since August we have examined scripture from Genesis onwards.
There is so much more that the youth staff and I would like to do with our students, but we are also trying to navigate this global health crisis as best we can. The church’s prayers for wisdom in decision making, and safety in execution are highly valued amongst the leadership of Immanuel Youth. We believe that even though there will be challenges in the coming year, that God can and will do a mighty work in and through our students. Thank you for your continued support and encouragement.
CHINESE MINISTRY REPORT
In this year the pandemic has been a great challenge to the Chinese ministry as it is for everyone, but we still have greatly experienced God’s Grace. Hemin, Jiamin, Pastor Geoffrey and Enguang are among the leadership of the ministry.
We continued to study the book of “Acts” which we started in 2019. We stopped the Friday Bible study after the pandemic started. We are thankful that we started a new study of Psalms led by Pastor Geoffrey on every Tuesday. Geoffrey plans to lead us study book of Hebrews in the coming year. For the Tuesday study through zoom, we even have some participants from China or participants from other churches. Tiejun Ma invited his uncle to the study, and his uncle trusted the Lord to be his savior and Lord.
We also watched some gospel movies like “Martin Luther” and “Gospel of John.”
Many visiting scholars have returned China, and there are still a few here. We occasionally have some discussions of the gospel or some spiritual writings posted on the webchat group, which the scholars can access, and we believe it may be helpful for them to know more about our Lord and savior. A good relationship between China and USA will be very helpful for the spreading of the gospel, we think it is unwise to do things to disrupt the relationship between the two countries.
Becky and Jon Peterson gave lessons to the kids when we met in the church. They have always been in contact with nearly all scholars or students who ever visited our church. Hemin is able to keep in contact with many scholars through his postings of spiritual poems in his webchat moments. Becky and Jon even invited some scholars to their house after the pandemic started.
We need a lot of improvements in our services. We pray the Lord will give us wisdom and power to reach more scholars, helping them know more about our God and savior, and that they will eventually trust Jesus as their savior and Lord.
The Chinese ministry team
CHURCH ADMINISTRATOR AND MISSIONS DIRECTOR REPORT
Paul Dreiling, Administrator and Missions Director
This year’s COVID pandemic has reshaped our world preventing us from engaging in our normal church activities. One of the positive outcomes is that it allowed all of us to spend more time at home with our families giving us a chance to nurture our relationships with those we cherish the most. There were times this year when most of the Immanuel staff worked from home, but we were able to keep the office open continuously with a skeleton staff. In August we returned to normal office hours. Rather than meeting in person for our weekly staff meetings, we learned how to encourage each other and plan for the future via Zoom. On behalf of the church staff, I want to express our thankfulness to the church family for their faithful giving through the pandemic so that we could continue to serve.
It has been my privilege to give oversight to the Administrative support team this year. Brenda Bowles and Judi Bowman, our Administrative Assistants, have demonstrated incredible flexibility as they have worked from home at times, and other times in the church office, making sure that all the bases were covered. Although working largely from home, Sara Bunn, has overseen our website, the distribution of the Weekly, and the Church App. Sara has carried an extra load this year with all the additional communications that have happened over our media platforms because of COVID. In his 30th year as Treasurer, Gary Chaulklin used his innumerable abilities in handling payroll & taxes, preparing financial reports, overseeing the church management software, and as our IT consultant. Scott Morris and JoAnne Boseman have served our church diligently during the year on our Facilities staff. They both take pride in their work and have gone the extra mile in sanitizing the church against the virus. Because of the limited church activities due to COVID, there was more time to address detailed maintenance and repairs of the church. Deeper cleaning to the sanctuary, carpet cleaning, waxing of classroom floors and lots of fresh paint are a few of those things.
Because of your faithful giving, Immanuel has been able to continue our financial commitment to our missionaries during this year. Many of our missionaries have faced very strict shutdowns in their countries. Some of them found it difficult to return to the US for their home assignments and some that did return to the US haven’t been able to return to their field of service. But our God is in control. I love the prayer requests of one of our veteran missionaries, Cam Abell, which asks, “That God will end the pandemic, but not before He uses it to accomplish His purposes in unbelievers and believers.”
Although we have had to postpone the Sunday evening Missionary Reports, we have been able to hear missionary updates during the Sunday morning service for most of our missionaries. Their work continues and we have been able to support and pray for them. A special thanks to Susan Broda who has compiled the Missionary P&P each week. Once the requests are prepared, they are sent to Judi Bowman who sends them out via email. Please contact the church office if you would like to receive an email copy of the P&P.
The Mary Baker missionary homes have been used extensively this year by the Wades, Sakamotos, Froelichs and Seidlitz. A special thanks to Barbara Hobbs, who cares for the homes and prepares them for our missionaries. New beds, a new sofa, and a HVAC system have continued to make these homes a blessing to all.
MUSIC MINISTRY REPORT
Liz Dillon, Music Director
Still settling in to my new role as Music Ministries Director, 2020 began with the typical re-set and planning for the year ahead. The choir began rehearsing for multiple performances leading up to the Good Friday service and, of course, Easter, the highlight of the year for churches everywhere. On March 8, Immanuel hosted a travelling drama team from Bob Jones University. After that presentation, the choir met and rehearsed for, what we did not know, would be the final rehearsal of 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic restrictions began just a few days later, and still has a great impact on our music ministries.
Just a month before that, John Cummings was instated as Deacon of Sound Technology, a need that I had immediately perceived, when I came on staff. He has been an invaluable asset to the entire ministry! With his help, we were able to transition to virtual worship services beginning March 22, which was our only way of providing worship for several weeks, until live gatherings were allowed later in June. And that is the “big story” of the year! We now livestream Sunday morning worship services every week, and along with Wednesday Zoom prayer meetings, are able to be as together as possible, even with those who need to stay home for the safety of their health.
The musicians have maintained an incredible level of unity and cooperativeness, as we pre-recorded services for several weeks and now present two services each Sunday. They have continued to learn, practice at home, rehearse together–6 feet apart!–help one another, through quarantines and illness themselves.
Thanksgiving (Pieless) Praise and Christmas Eve Services gave us extra opportunities to serve and provide some of the Immanuel traditions that we’ve been missing this past year. Even our young musicians got involved, and continue to be a blessing to me and to the church.
As we enter 2021, we plan in pencil, with an eraser close at hand, knowing God continues to lead each step we take.
CHILDREN’S MINISTRY REPORT
Gloria Duffey, Children’s Ministry Director
We believe parents are the primary teachers for their children. We deem it a privilege to walk alongside the parents at Immanuel as they instruct their children in their life’s journey. We also believe that a God-centered worship is supremely important in all of our children’s programs. I am very humbled as I look back through the 2020 year and see how the Lord has worked through each of our volunteers, teachers, leaders, assistants and programs to assist parents as they instruct their children to Know, Grow, Serve and Share the Lord in their life.
This year was very different as the staff members at Immanuel worked through creative ways to maintain contact with all of our members due to the guidelines of our governor as a result of the COVID19 virus. Our in person church services were cancelled in mid-March, but zoom meetings and online streaming allowed us to continue to keep in touch with our Immanuel family members through the preaching of the Word. On June 7, 2020, Immanuel opened for the morning worship service following the directions from the COVID19 committee and the Reopening committee. Our Children’s Ministry started on September 6, 2020, with classes offered during our morning worship service from 10:30am to 11:30am. We recorded temperatures of each worker and child upon entering our building, we set up each classroom for proper social distancing, we created small supply boxes for each child, and we all wore a mask as instructed by our governor. November 8, 2020, saw the opening of a second early worship service beginning at 8:30am to 9:30. The hour between the two services gave Paul and Scott enough time to sanitize the sanctuary. As the 2020 year ends we continue to meet in person during two services with our Children’s Ministry programs serving our Immanuel family each Sunday.
It is a privilege to serve the Lord and His people through our Children’s Ministry. If I can be of service or answer any questions regarding our Children’s Ministry, please don’t hesitate to contact me.
WORD OF LIFE REPORT
Chris & Megan Clark
In May, Peter and Sara Bunn stepped down from Word of Life as head coaches after five years. They have provided creativity, organization, and leadership to the ministry. They have left very big shoes to fill. We are extremely thankful to them for their ministry in Word of Life.
While we were unable to finish the spring semester in person, we praise God that many kids were still able to complete their requirements to earn their bronze, silver, or gold medals. The kids worked hard to memorize verses, found ways to serve others, and complete missionary biography book reports. We were even able to have a special awards ceremony for the kids in July to recognize their hard work.
Word of Life Clubs started meeting again in person in October. We are very thankful for the privilege to be able to meet in person again. We currently have 30 Olympians (1st – 6th grade) and 12 Gopher Buddies (3 – 5yr olds). We are thankful for the flexibility of our parents, kids, and volunteers as this fall semester of Word of Life has looked different than years past.
Some of our activities may look different, but we are thankful for the kids and volunteers who participate wholeheartedly. The kids wrote and mailed over 35 cards to members of our church that could use encouragement during this time of COVID. It has been such a blessing to hear kids come into class recounting how they made their card extra special or how the person they mailed their card to responded to them via phone or letter. We had a special visit from M.H. sharing about her work with CEF and the CAMEL project. Immanuel Youth came in December and served in each class by teaching Bible lessons, leading games, song time, and a variety of other ways. We are thankful for their hard work and service. This coming spring semester we look forward to having special speakers, fun themed nights, and our annual FASCAR event.
Please join us in thanking those that serve in Word of Life Olympians and Gopher Buddies in a myriad of ways: Gloria Duffey, Dave Breedlove, Charles & June Furrow, Matt & Ashley Lavender, Rennie & Judi Bowman, Ruthie Hess, Chris & Barb Luckett, Howard & Judy Wilburn, Eva Gilliam, Netti Hummer, Raylene Nevi, Sarah Wilburn, Linda Weaver, Becky Peterson, Scott & Laura Morris.
Respectfully submitted by,
Chris and Megan Clark
The Evergreens met one time in January of 2020. Due to restrictions surrounding the pandemic the Evergreens have been unable to meet for the remainder of 2020.
WOMEN’S MINISTRY REPORT
Sarah Feiler, Women’s Ministry Director
At the annual meeting last year, Immanuel Baptist Church voted me in as its fifth Director of Women’s Ministry, after Tami Jones faithfully completed her sixth year in that role. Roughly six weeks later, the church shut down. While I would not say that my first year went, exactly, as expected, it is still a joy to reflect and report on God’s abundant kindness throughout 2020.
In January, we hosted a “Saturday Morning Chat,” entitled, Mental Health and the Church: A Conversation about Anxiety. Through a panel discussion, we saw how struggles with anxiety, both inside and outside of the church, are incredibly common, as we were encouraged with personal stories, practical guidance, and preeminent truths. We hope to continue these conversations in the future and are so thankful for our panel participants – June Feiler, Heather Larsen, and Rachel Wheeler – and Kristi Bowles, who organized the event.
In the spring, we studied the Book of Genesis together, through a video series by Jen Wilkin, pivoting, quickly, in March, from our typically-scheduled Wednesday and Friday format to Zoom meetings. Though somewhat disrupted, we were reminded, through this study, that God orchestrates everything for His glory and the good of His people, as we saw how the God of creation and covenant is the same yesterday, today, and forever.
In the fall, we joined together over Zoom, once more, to study the Book of Jude. We were admonished, through this video series by Jackie Hill Perry, to do the necessary work of contending for the faith in a world of unbelief, while being encouraged that, as we do, the God Who saved us will keep us – both now, and forevermore.
Sadly, we, as many of you, also found ourselves erasing plans from the Women’s Ministry calendar this year: activities, service projects, Bible and book studies, times of fellowship, and even our 2021 retreat. 2020 has, certainly, been a year like no other. For those of us who have had times of frustration, loneliness, pain, sadness, anxiety, and disappointment over the last 12 months, may the new year grant a fresh perspective on, and appreciation for, the moments of gratitude, friendship, comfort, joy, peace, and hope that we are sure to experience, at God’s merciful hand. As author and theologian, Frederick Buechner, says: “Life is grace. Sleep is forgiveness. The night absolves. Darkness wipes the slate clean, not spotless to be sure, but clean enough for another day’s chalking.”
I am so grateful for the privilege of serving the ladies of Immanuel. I am also grateful for the privilege of serving with the Women’s Ministry Leadership Team – Kristi Bowles, Kristin Gilman, Tami Jones, Christina Kinder, and Barb Sommers. These women love this church and use their gifts well. I join them, and all of you, in praying that the coming days and months will be full of grace, forgiveness, light… and excitement for a new year, which may not be spotless, but, in God’s providential goodness, promises to be “clean enough for another day’s chalking.”
Grace and Peace,
Tom Smith, Men’s Ministry Director
Men’s Ministry was heavily impacted by COVID 19 closing activities early this year. We were scheduled to finish the last six week session in the 33 Series. We met one week and the pandemic shut things down. Trying a Zoom format was considered, but the men decided they would rather wait and meet in person, whenever that is an option in the future. Kevin Carter will be taking the lead moving into the New Year to lead plans for the future of the Men’s Ministry as opportunities continue to increase and expand.
MISSIONS COUNCIL REPORT
Larry Weaver, Missions Council Chairman
The Missions Council’s purpose is to initiate and direct the missionary activity of Immanuel Baptist Church. This includes seeking missionary outreaches within the USA and throughout the world as well as caring for our current missionary families. Our missionaries continue to commend the members of Immanuel for the support they receive both in prayer and financially.
Even in this extraordinarily taxing year of restricted in-person worship and reduced contributions, we have been able to help financially in several missionary efforts. We added Richard Haines at $750 monthly for his future ministry in East Africa; increased Phil and Angela Flowers’ monthly support by $100; increased Rita Beale’s monthly support by $250 and gave her a one-time gift of $2,000; increased David and Rei Karmokar’s monthly support by $100; and are supporting Richard Haines for eight months at $118 monthly to minister at the GDQ school in Albania. Mission projects included a one-time gift of $4,290 to our missionaries in South Africa, David and Karin Brown, for a classroom at Christ Seminary; and $2,000 each for Avant (Winnie Minear’s board) and Samaritan’s Purse for hurricane relief in Central America. However, there are no funds currently available to commit to new missionaries or to increase support for existing ones. We, as they, trust the Lord to provide as his children understand the vision of reaching the world for Christ.
2020 was a time of relocation for several of our missionaries. M.H. moved to Indianapolis for training and mentoring in preparation to relocate to the Middle East. She continues to strive to raise her needed current and future support. William and Charisa Haase relocated within country in Northern Africa. Eric and Kristin Froelich recognized the Lord leading them to return to the USA indefinitely while maintaining their responsibilities with Pioneers in Central Asia.
Three of our missionaries passed on to their ultimate reward during 2020. In January Edna Cruz passed away. After retiring on March 31, Richard Acquaye unexpectedly died on May 6. Virginia Anderson entered glory on September 5. We are thankful for each one’s service in the Lord’s work.
We held our Mission Conference on October 17 and 18, but it was much different than other years. Our Discipleship Pastor, Jon Dillon, was our speaker and focused on the necessity of being a disciple and then making disciples as instructed in the Great Commission. Each session was challenging and included practical ways to disciple. Due to the Covid virus restrictions, our church meal was cancelled and all services were live streamed in addition to limited in-person attendance. Each service was well attended in spite of the restrictions (Saturday PM 47 in sanctuary, 84 online; Sunday AM 219 in the sanctuary, 60 online; Sunday PM 69 in sanctuary, 42 online).
We are blessed to have a part in supporting our missionary families. Please continue to pray regularly for each missionary. Also pray that God will provide the necessary support for these and future mission families, and that he will use us and them to share the Gospel with the unreached.
Pastor Jon Dillon
Agape Class—Larry Weaver
We are thankful to the Lord that our Agape class has preserved during this extraordinary year of 2020. When our in person meetings were cancelled, we thought that the ban would only last a few weeks. Quickly it became obvious it would be a much longer duration. After three Sunday’s without meeting in person, we began using Zoom, an on-line meeting site, on April 4. We continue to gather weekly to fellowship, share praises and prayer requests, discuss Scripture, and pray. One positive about meeting in this manner is that we have had former members who no longer live locally join us regularly. Ours is a discussion class. Scripture is read and expounded as the class members share their views and understanding. We look forward to being able to meet in person again, but until then, we are thankful for the opportunity to “see” each other and fellowship as we learn from the Word.
Ambassadors Class—Dick Anthony
The end of the year gives us the opportunity to reflect back on the past and look to the future. We all have experienced the ups and downs of 2020. The Ambassadors class spent the first part of 2020 studying the Book of Acts. The arrival of COVID-19 in the spring has brought our study to a temporary halt. We look forward to continuing our study as soon as possible.
Crossroads Class—John Kinder
2020 has been a year of challenges, but the Crossroads class has many reasons to give thanks. We were able to restart live, in-person, COVID-compliant Sunday School during the summer and have continued throughout the year. We completed studies in the life of David, a review of Ephesians, and took a close look into Malachi to finish the year. We’re especially thankful to report the first salvation thru the Crossroads ministry in 2020! The Lord continues to bring local college students and singles, most of whom have little prior experience with Immanuel. We’re meeting live in the Annex every Sunday morning @ 9:30, including an interactive on-line option for those who are away from Richmond. Crossroads isn’t for kids, but it’s not for parents either… we’re here for everyone in between. Come see us!
Disciples Class—Tom Zimmerman
During 2020, the Disciples Class, like many others, met via Zoom on Saturday nights for most of the year. Although not ideal, gathering virtually proved to be a real blessing as we delved into God’s word together and class members were faithful in attendance. We shared many praises and prayer requests drawing us even closer together despite having to meet virtually. God demonstrated his faithfulness to us as we strove to be faithful to him and his Word. During the year, our class studied three Books of the Bible in-depth: 2 Peter, James and Revelation. A verse-by-verse approach with discussion allowed a much richer and deeper look into God’s Word. Additionally, we studied some of the cults and false religions with a focus on sharing the true Gospel. We enjoy tackling challenging parts of Scripture to be challenged in our Christian lives and to learn new principles from God’s Word. We are blessed with members who have an in-depth knowledge of the Word of God. You might say our motto is, “The Bible, the whole Bible, and nothing but the Bible.” As we enter 2021, we pray that God will continue to lead and bless our class.
Fervent Class—Jerry Riggins
The Fervent Sunday School Class at Immanuel Baptist Church has attended to the needs of the Richmond population since its beginning in 2006. Fervent’s prayers and application of Biblical principles have been at work in the lives of its attendees during life changing events such as marriages, home purchases, relocations, job and career changes, deaths, births, becoming the primary care-giver for elderly parents, retirement, and the acceptance of Jesus Christ into their lives. For over a decade, we demonstrated how lessons from the Old Testament scripture are applicable in the world today and how these lessons can guide us in: pursuing God, knowing God, purging distractions from God, focusing on God, loving God, loving our neighbors, furthering the maturation of our spirits, leading people to God, and spreading the Word of God. The group studied the Old Testament Books and compared and connected them with Books in the New Testament. Major life events have brought our journey as a class to an end during the past year with the retirement of the leader and the challenges of gathering in person as a result of COVID 19. Our remaining members continue to attend Sunday services in person or online and will seek God’s will in how we can stay active in the church body and serve in other ways at Immanuel (Titus 3:14).
Joint Heirs Class—Cam Abell
With the onset of Covid-19 protocols, Joint Heir’s began meeting online using the Zoom platform in early spring. Continuing with an interactive approach, we completed our series in John’s Gospel, then began a new series in First & Second Thessalonians. Our focus on the biblical text continues and a faithful core group consistently present thoughtful questions and propose terrific applications each week. The class has appreciated how the use of PowerPoint has enabled a visual element to complement what is stated verbally. Chris Luckett and Myron Safritt assist with leadership tasks and teach on a fill-in basis for a change of pace and emphasis. Typical outside events have been reduced in number and attendance due to the impact of Covid. But the class is committed to the Lord and each other as we encourage each other, pray for one another and collectively grow in our walk with the Lord.
Women of the Word Class—Tami Jones
The Women of the Word have faithfully continued to meet weekly to study God’s word, encourage one another, and lift one another up in prayer. Bron Bradshaw started off our year leading us in a study by Trillia Newbell entitled If God Is For Us, a study on Romans 8. The study was on our great salvation, our inheritance, the assurance of our faith, and ultimately the love of our good Father. The pandemic shifted our class to a different platform, ZOOM. Since then, we have been meeting each Saturday night online. In the spring, Betsy Smith led us in a study on Cries From the Cross by Erwin Lutzer. The study helped to prepare our hearts for the Easter season and grasp the true meaning of the cross from Christ’s perspective and what it means for us. From June until the end of the year we have studied The Power of God’s Names and The Power of Jesus’ Names by Tony Evans. Both of these book studies have been a blessing to us all.
They have helped us to understand God’s character and His attributes, keeping our focus on these during this challenging year.
Young Adults Class—Billy Kain, Chris Clark, Keith Ober and Jon Dillon?
The class began the year with new leadership. Billy Kain, Chris Clark, Keith Ober, and myself joined together to lead and teach the class with an overview study of Proverbs. We had great discussion and learned so many practical lessons from this study for the newlyweds and married couples with young families who attend. When the pandemic restrictions were given, we continued to meet via Zoom on Saturday nights. We completed a study by Tony Evans called “The Power of God’s Names.” This was a timely study as we were all experiencing major changes due to the virus. Between working from home, kids doing school at home, and not being able to be with our friends and family, our couples and families were under a lot of pressure and needed to know that God was still in control. Reflecting on His names was a great encouragement to us all. We plan to do an expositional study of the Letter to the Ephesians for 2021.
WOMEN’S MISSIONARY FELLOWSHIP REPORT
WMF Executive Committee & President Rebecca Cianciolo
Women’s Missionary Fellowship’s (WMF) purpose is to pray for and encourage our missionaries. In February, we celebrated Charles and June Furrow with a retirement reception. In November, we were blessed by Amy Seidlitz and Kristin Froelich updating us on their ministries, at a combined meeting in the Fellowship Hall. Home groups are the heart of WMF, below is a summary of how each group supported their missionaries in 2020.
The Elizabeth group meets in the Far West End, usually on a Tuesday morning, with 10 active members. It was with deep sadness we learned that our brother Richard Acquaye passed into glory. Even through the challenge of COVID we have continued our ministry and found ways to meet. We count it an honor to support these godly servants through prayer, correspondence and gifts.
The Hannah group met with the Gilliam Family, at the home of Martha Hancock, in February. Since then, we have yet to meet in person or on Zoom; this does not mean that we have been inactive. Prayer requests, and missionary newsletters are regularly sent to our members. We became aware of needs from the Larry Smoak family and his sponsoring organization helping to feed those in Honduras. A call went out via e-mail and followed up with texts, and phone calls, and our group raised $260 to purchase food to feed those in need.
The Miriam group is very thankful that we have been able to meet in person since September, as our attendance and meeting locations allowed for proper distancing. Amy Seidlitz shared with us in November. As well as praying for our missionaries’ needs, they have been remembered on birthdays and at Christmas with monetary gifts, and cards have been sent for other special occasions. We are hopeful to maintain our in-person meetings in the coming year.
The Lydia Group met in Hanover and Henrico County. Throughout the year they send Birthday cards (monetary gift included), Anniversary cards, Easter cards, Thanksgiving cards, Christmas cards (monetary gift included), Get Well cards, and Prayer cards. Finally, there are monthly emails between their missionaries and their group’s correspondent.
The Naomi Group meets by Zoom, until we can safely get back together again. We welcome new members to join us on Zoom, the 2nd Monday of each month at 10:30 am. If you would like to join us call Becky Petersen at 804-275-6358. We send notes of encouragement and pray for their prayer requests. As with the other groups, we remember them with gifts of money at Christmas and on their birthdays. Come join us!
The Esther group met at Laura Burijon’s home at the beginning of 2020, as we have for several years. In the summer and fall we met via Zoom, and then finally in-person once again by the fire pit! We are so thankful that God’s work is not restricted or slowed by our circumstances. Now, we more deeply appreciate our missionaries’ flexibility and creativity to carry on despite many unexpected constraints. As a group, we look forward to finding new ways to encourage and support our missionaries stateside and overseas, and we are eager to introduce more ladies to the WMF ministry in 2021.
Regretfully, the SARAH group has not met since March. We have maintained contact with our assigned missionaries and are praying for their ministry in this world of adjustments and changes. We are trusting the Lord for a year of blessings in 2021.
As WMF moves into 2021, we welcome new leadership, Anita Caudill and Candi Bowles, as President and Vice President. Rebecca Cianciolo and Marilyn Slifer are grateful for the opportunity to have served in these roles and are excited to welcome Anita and Candi. We welcome all Immanuel ladies to consider joining WMF, it is a time of fellowship and encouragement for the members as well as the missionaries. Missionaries often speak of the love and friendship they find in WMF.
LIBRARY ANNUAL REPORT
Martha Hancock, Head Librarian
Philipians 4:11-12 NKJV Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need.
Many words, some overused, have crept into the library’s and our world’s vocabulary: unprecedented, a new normal, and trying times. Other terms such as quarantine, social distancing, masks, hand sanitizer, curbside pickup, delivery directly affected our ability to obtain things we needed. Things we needed included things to read.
From March to June the library was unused and cold. In late June, a detailed plan to offer curbside delivery was presented to the re-opening committee. Finally, there was a safe way to connect people with books with a minimum of touching and contact. All the toys, the drawing table, stuffed animals scattered about were removed to the workroom to await a time when children can roam freely touching object of their desire without a care. Quarantine buckets were strategically placed where books and materials could be returned safely. Several regular families availed themselves of this method of using the library. Deliveries were offered to those unable to pick up.
In the meantime, until limited in-person access could be offered, the adage “when life gives you lemons, make lemonade” came into play, and we began to plan for a library makeover. Jessica Preas found cute material and made curtains. A neutral two-tone color scheme was chosen. In October and November, the Caldwell family (Angela, Drew, and Jed) helped me pack up 6 shelving units that had to be moved during the painting stage.
Here is the result: the large office window in the children’s section has been removed in preparation for child-friendly shelving in the future; the library has all new electrical plugs thanks to Dean Oxford, and one flip of a switch turns on the lights (Tim Cox). Everything looks so fresh and new thanks to Paul Dreiling, Dean Oxford, Hank Sierk and Gene Preas. I cannot thank these men enough, especially Paul for making it happen. Future decorating is coming. We cannot wait for you to see it.
In December, we were approved for appointments for one adult during a fifteen-minute period. Between services at 9:45 and 10:15 a.m., and 11:45 a.m. and 12:15 p.m. are available All information and directions as to traffic pattern are on the website. Sign up on the church app or website under “Connect/Church Library.” Browsing the catalog before your visit will help with the selection process. The library staff is also willing for busy moms to choose books for you based on your preferences.
Our library budget this year is leaner so we are learning to abase in that area only ordering what is necessary while at the same time, making a list for future purchases. If you would like to donate a book or DVD, please contact the librarian, Martha Hancock, for some suggestions.
Jay Cox, Benevolence
“But if anyone has the world’s goods and sees his brother in need, yet closes his heart against him, how does God’s love abide in him?” 1 John 3:17
The purpose of the Benevolence Committee is to aid church members and others when their specific needs have identified and approved by the Elders.
Our service areas include a Clothes Closet, Food Pantry, and the Good Samaritan Committee which serves a meal to families who have lost a loved one.
Since March of 2020 the committee has been challenged in the distribution of goods and services at the church. For the safety of the committee members and the community we serve food commodities including canned vegetables, proteins, soups and nutritious snacks are bagged and handed out to those in need. Request for clothing are handled by a committee member who records the item and size. The recipient waits at the church door for the item to be brought. No one enters the building as we comply the COVID Committee guidelines.
Through the generous giving of the Immanuel family and especially the Agape Sunday Class has kept our food pantry and clothes closet well stocked.
The year 2020 has been a big challenge with big changes in normal procedures, but our faithful volunteers have answered the call and served with hearts that are beacons to a community in need.
Dan Lavender, Caregiving
In preparing this annual report, it is sobering to reflect on everything that has happened this year. At the beginning of the year, I naturally assumed that my ministry contacts would be like the past two years. During January, February, and early March, I was able to visit people in their homes, hospitals, and assisted living facilities as well as calling them, sending cards, and attending memorial services/visitations. Then unexpectedly everything changed. Because of the new coronavirus protocols, face-to-face interactions became an issue so during the remainder of the year the majority of my contacts were made by phone and cards.
For the past two years, Marilyn Slifer has helped with this ministry outreach. I sincerely appreciate Marilyn’s involvement and various church members helping in other ways.
Al Collins & Paul Dreiling, Premises
The purpose of the Premises Committee is to be caretakers of the church property. As God provides the funds, we make repairs and improvements that will serve the church for years to come. Because of the uncertainty of the pandemic in the finances of church, the elders placed most of the capital project expenditures on hold. However, there were several projects that were underway before COVID began – the replacement of the Fellowship Hall floor and the back hallway roof drains that were completed in 2020. As well, several smaller projects were approved and completed – new security cameras, the purchase of a floor scrubber for the Fellowship Hall and brick wall repairs along the back of the church.
A special thanks to David Breedlove and Dean Oxford who worked with Paul Dreiling in the pulling of the cables for the security cameras. During the year, the 4’s and 5’s classroom and library were painted by volunteer/staff teams. If you would like to use your practical skills in helping maintain the church, please contact Paul Dreiling.
We’d like to thank Michelle Ravensbergen, Pam Anthony, and Barbara Hobbs for their years of leadership in decorating the church especially during the Christmas season. Their creativity and hard work have been such a blessing to our church. Thank you ladies.
Bob Andrews, Security
(including Health, Safety and associated Training)
Conducted a Medic First Aid Training course on February 29th for IBC individuals.
Health and Safety:
In March, the COVID19 pandemic affected the operation of IBC. Regular services and activities were suspended on March 15th. We started viewing recorded worship services and held Zoom meetings.
In mid-March, I was ask by the Elder Executive Committee (EXCOM) to form a COVID19 Committee with the main purpose being to recommend or advise the EXCOM and Elder Board on COVID issues that would need to be addressed.
I formed the committee with the IBC First Aid Response Team members already in place. Their input, wisdom and response to me on COVID19 questions and issues were a great help and a blessing to the church. I feel that their expertise and guidance, especially at the start was instrumental in our church moving forward on many issues. They are appreciated. The committee included Laura Burijon, JR Cianciolo, Pam Anthony, John Larsen, Becky Dreiling, Ron Ravensbergen, and Ashley Lavender.
Review and Recommendations by the COVID19 Committee since March 2020
- Food Pantry and Clothes Closet operations.
- Preparation of meals for the Good Samaritan Ministry
- COVID19 guidelines for Musicians and the Worship Team
- Recommendations and guidance regarding individuals who have contracted the virus outside of IBC.
- Whenever assistance is requested by the Reopening Committee.
As we moved forward at IBC through the pandemic and the restrictions and mandates placed on us by our Governor, the CDC and the City of Richmond, we reached the Governor’s Phase 2 and later Phase 3 restrictions which allowed us the ability to do more at IBC. The Elder Board ask that a Reopening Committee be formed with the purpose to set forth COVID precautionary guidelines and procedures for the reopening of church meeting, events and activities.
The committee worked very good together in jointly reviewing and/or setting guidelines and procedures to follow for each activity as they were needed. After reviewing and sometimes adding additional precautions we felt necessary to be followed, the reopening or activities were approved to proceed.
As with the COVID Committee, the Reopening Committee I worked made every effort to assure compliance with COVID19 Regulations and mandates placed on us by the State and CDC. Also, a priority has been and continues to be put on making sure those attending assuring all those attending our church activities and meetings are safe from contracting the virus and to the best of our ability keep it from entering our facility.
I appreciate the assistance and time I have worked with the Reopening Committee. Their wisdom, input and dedication in the reopening of the many activities, classes and meetings has been a major key in our ability to move forward safely at IBC during the COVID19 pandemic. The committee was comprised of Dick Anthony, Paul Dreiling, Larry Weaver, Scott Morris, and Chris Clark.
Activities, Reopenings and Events reviewed by the Reopening Committee since March 2020 with assistance from the COVID19 Committee as needed or requested.
- Develop church reopening or re-entry plan to start services. Determine seating capacity limits and cleaning and sanitizing procedures.
- Establish face mask and social distancing requirements and place reminder notices at entranceways.
- Mark pews to indicate required seating locations for proper distancing.
- Offering collections
- Communion distribution method
- Research heating and AC (HVAC) circulation of air within our facility with regard to COVID19
Phase 2 and later Phase 3 requirements and applications for IBC.
- Word of Life Awards program
- Recommendation on a Kentucky Youth Trip in August.
- Crossroads Young Adult restarting.
- Reopening the church library with access restrictions and COVID19 requirements in place.
- Request to hold a Memorial Service for David Bruner at IBC and a luncheon afterwards.
- Requested guidance on Teen activities at locations other than IBC.
- Reopening of the Young Married Class.
- Ballot marking and the distribution and collection method for Business Meetings.
- Review of Gloria Duffey’s Children’s Ministry check-in process, COVID19 precautions, room setups, teaching and activity process and mask requirements.
- Reopening of Church Time Children’s Classes September 6th.
- Reopening of the Pregnancy Resource Center Training on Thursdays Sept-Oct.
- Request to start the Good News Jail Ministry training at IBC.
- Reopening of MOMS monthly meeting in the Fellowship Hall
- Request to resume the meeting of the Woman’s Missionary Fellowship (WMF) at IBC.
- Youth Group reopening request by Thomas Long.
- Word of Life request to reopen.
- Capitol Cookout and Prayer Walk request to use the IBC facility
- Develop a plan for starting two morning worship services.
- Develop guidelines and a policy for IBC facility use by member requested and those outside the church membership who would like to use our facility. COVID19 precautions and guidelines to be included.
- Provide guidance from the Reopening Committee and COVID19 Committee on contact tracing and area sanitizing following a confirmed COVID19 case within IBC.
Accomplishments in 2020
- Seven security cameras placed at selected locations were installed and are active. These are a real asset to the security surveillance of our facility during our meeting times and after hours. Additionally, there is a camera at the doorway to the Admin office to monitor the entranceway. Additional cameras are in the process of being put into service at the Annex. Paul Dreiling, David Breedlove and Dean Oxford were instrumental in running the wire and getting the cameras ready. Thank you.
- Work was started on a Building Evacuation Plan for our IBC facility. Hopefully in 2021, it will be completed and each meeting room or area will have a posted evacuation diagram to follow in the event a building evacuation is needed.
My 2021 Activities
- Continue working on the COVID19 and Reopening Committees providing assistance and guidance as needed.
- Hopefully, conduct two Medic First Aid retraining courses at IBC.
- On March 28th, I will be taking an Active Violence Emergency Response Training (AVERT) instructor course in Virginia Beach, Va. The course will teach awareness, how to react in a violent situation, and how to respond to severe injuries that are often a result of these situations. As an instructor, my intent will be to train our IBC Security Team, First Aid Responders, ushers and those within our church that are interested in receiving the training.
John Cummings, Technology
2020 has been an interesting year for all, but for the Sanctuary Technology perspective it has been a year for growth. At the beginning of the year the church called me to be the deacon of sound and technology for the sanctuary. My role was to assist in training and organization of volunteers, researching what equipment is needed, and working with Liz Dillon to make the overall worship experience run smoothly. First of all I am very thankful to the Lord for this opportunity and his guidance over the past year and all the prayers people have made for the services this year. I also wanted to publicly thank those who are a part of the A/V crew, Shaun and TJ Corcoran, Josiah, Laura and Abby Burijon, Peter Bunn, and Stephen Baker, Megan Bradford and AJ Baker. Thank you all for the commitment to working behind the scenes to ensure that the worship service could be heard and observed by all, your flexibility and determination during a trying year has been an encouragement to me. I would also like to thank Liz Dillon and Sara Bunn for all the communication and coordination that we had during the year to ensure that the service was both seen and heard both in the church and for those watching online.
Before the Covid-19 lockdowns were mandated in Virginia I had begun to research how we could better record and possibly livestream services in the future. These plans were escalated when we were not able to meet in person for our worship services and had to record and post the services online.
During this time it became clear we needed to get an upgraded computer in the media room to run and control the video portion of the services. We used a computer that was not being used in the church as a starting point, but it quickly became clear we needed to purchase a machine with the purpose of controlling video recording and live streaming. We purchased a new computer and a software to help create the livestream called Vmix. We were now able to create better quality recordings of the services as well as have graphics and verses shown while watching. When we were finally able to begin meeting in person again the computer allowed us to livestream the services for the first time for those who still were not able to worship in person. Another project was to set up the Mizpah room and Fellowship Hall to be overflow rooms due to the limited capacity of the sanctuary, and I would like to thank Jon Peterson and Paul Dreiling for running cable throughout the church.
Some other updates to the sound technology was the purchase of new cordless microphones and new microphone for the pulpit. Sara Bunn also assisted in communication with Subsplash in order to get the live streamed services on the church app and website. We are continuing to improve upon these foundations as we look forward to 2021.
Once again thank you to all of those who served and prayed for the worship services this year.
Eric Key, Worship
What a year! This is my fourth year in this role, and things continue to go well. It still has been a challenge finding people interested in serving as ushers at the start of the service. The men currently serving are exceptionally reliable, and are great to work with. I have had a couple of new gentlemen step up and offer to assist in ushering/greeting duty at the beginning of the service, and this has helped immensely! I appreciate the men’s assistance in meeting the challenges of adhering to Covid-19 mandates and helping to enforce seating areas and face coverings. It has been encouraging to getting back to in-person services and seeing everyone’s partial faces every Sunday! I have been encouraged by the number of visitors I have met this year, and look forward to meeting new people every Sunday!
The second part of this role is preparing the communion elements and coordinating the deacons and elders who serve to the congregation. The below chart shows the number of participants who took the cup and bread each month in 2020 with the monthly average taking communion at 158. The beginning of year started out with traditional communions through March of this year with numbers tracking past years participants. We were forced to close the church due to Covid-19 for the March, April and May communions, and were able to resume in-person meetings in June with communions starting back up at this time, but markedly different from past communions. We opted to switch to all-in-one communion elements which are single-serve as to facilitate Covid-19 recommendations. Initially, it was challenging as people adapted to the new style packaging and the change in communion style, but things have seemed to smooth out as everyone has become more familiar with the packaging and how the service flows. It definitely is a speedier communion service and is easier clean-up, but at the expense of being more expensive to provide. I look forward to moving back to the way we used to do things in communion once the pandemic has passed, and we are free to change back.
The third role is preparation and support for baptisms. There were no baptism services this year due again to Covid-19 restrictions. I hope in the coming year this can change!
I look forward to continuing to serve you, and seeing your smiling eyes in the New Year…….let’s hope it won’t be long till we can see each other’s faces and freely shake hands and give hugs!
Your brother in Christ,
ONLINE COMMUNICATIONS IN 2020
Sara Bunn, Creative Director
The word of the year for many, including church communications, should be “pivot.” How many times did we say that? How many times did we pivot to plan B, C, D, … In March we needed to quickly figure out how to best share services (Thanks, John Cummings!), bulletins (Thanks, Judi!), and continual updates online, like launching The Weekly video update (thanks, pastors!) and emailing prayer requests from church members and missionaries (thanks, Brenda & Judi!). We did not know how we would all respond to church life during a pandemic. God has been faithful through it all, as He promises. I was personally blessed by our church family’s patience, understanding, flexibility, and faithfulness as we moved to online-only services and then transitioned to a mix of livestream and in-person gatherings. We know it’s not the same as gathering in person, but everyone graciously surrendered to new ways of connecting and each ministry adapted to whatever new resources or obstacles were thrown their way. Surely it has been a testimony to unbelievers, seeing you dedicated to church gatherings and church family despite all the challenges.
John Cummings is the digital hero of the year as he researched, experimented, and now produces the livestream that is pushed to all of our online resources.
I am grateful for the value our church has placed on keeping up to date with equipment and software that makes “church online” possible, along with all of the other digital resources that we use every day. Here are a few things that have resulted:
• The website, app, email, and social pages have been great resources for quickly updating members and visitors with announcements and guidelines that changed OFTEN throughout the year, and for keeping us connected online. Thanks to all who have shared testimonies and greetings whenever asked. Thank you for interacting on Facebook! It has been a blessing to hear and see each other online when we can’t see each other in person, like through Eva Gilliam’s snapshots of church life, and video submissions for special events. Also, how nice it has been to have visitors find us online and connect in person.
• In January, we had 147 sermon media plays on our website. Compare that to May, when we introduced our app and livestream web embed: 2,321 media plays, live and on-demand, plus the views and interaction on Facebook! The monthly number has declined a bit as we have started meeting in person, but it’s clear this avenue will continue to be utilized MUCH more than it has ever been. This is another opportunity for the Gospel to reach even further in the community, and around the world, as the church continues to share online. Even more so as we each PERSONALLY share via text, email, and social pages.
It will be interesting to see what the new year looks like for churches — in-person and online. Looking forward to a time when we’re fully face-to-face (2 John 1:12).
PERSONNEL EVALUATION COMMITTEE REPORT
Keith Ober, Personnel Chairman
CHURCH OFFICER CANDIDATES
Church Clerk – Jan Sierk
Assistant Church Clerk – Lisa Baker
Church Treasurer – Gary Chaulklin
Assistant Treasurer – John Richardson
Financial Secretary – Chris Clark
Financial Secretary – Jonathan Ferguson
Financial Secretary – Larry Hunsucker
Financial Secretary – Trevor Thornton
CHRISTIAN EDUCATION OFFICER CANDIDATES
Word of Life Head Coaches – Chris & Megan Clark
Sunday School Treasurer – Donnie Bowles
Assistant Sunday School Treasurer – Robert Terrell
Personnel Evaluation Committee Members: Michael Feiler, Danny Gordon and Keith Ober
* The last in person Sunday School Session attendance was recorded 3/8/2020. Regular attendance for Sunday Schools has not been taken since COVID has caused us to adapt our schedules. We will need to reevaluate reporting as we continue to work toward resuming full Sunday School programs.