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We have embarked on the first quarter of a new year for Haywood Baptist Association—this great family of churches. I have now begun my second year of serving as your Associational Mission Strategist.

During this time, I concluded an interim pastorate at Calvary Baptist Church in Canton. It was a joy to have served them for nearly half a year. Pray for that church to find God’s will for a pastor and direction in future ministry.

We enjoyed fellowship with Jonathan Wagner, wife Whitney, and their children. The Wagners are your missionaries to Albania through your International Mission Board and are on the field because of your giving to the Cooperative Program and the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering—plus the support of your prayers, as well. Jonathan spoke to the Pastor’s Conference and the men seemed stirred by his message and ministry. We are praying about whether we need to connect closely as an Association by taking a mission trip there.

Election Day, November 2, 2021, found me standing on the sidewalk across from Planned Parenthood in Asheville to express my support for the unborn. I held up a sign declaring my conviction concerning the Sanctity of Human Life. Many honked and gave a thumbs up showing support. Others held up a different digit. I had a water bottle tossed at me—that hit me on the leg. I suppose if that’s the worst I experience, it is not so bad—certainly not the kind of pain the babies in the womb know during abortion and the emotional trauma that women who have gone through abortion continue in many cases to face. On a more positive note, we rejoice that Mountain Area Pregnancy Services will soon be opening an office in Waynesville. They need your support. You will see a link to how you can do this here:

During this time, we also finished the monthly meetings of the Church Revitalization Cohort. Now, our area missionary, Steve Harris, and I are looking at some ways of growing this movement by offering a few intensives—perhaps a Friday/Saturday event. The need remains and we want to communicate an effective revitalization strategy to more pastors and church leaders. In fact, I am travelling to Caraway this week for a Revitalization Training by leaders in our State Convention. Should you be interested in learning more about Church Revitalization, I would love to speak with you.

The Pastor’s Conference and the Baptist State Convention took place the second week of November. It was an excellent meeting—a wonderful spirit of unity in God’s Word and His love. Thank you for enabling my wife and me to attend.

I continue to visit in our churches, have breakfasts and lunches with pastors, fill the pulpit when asked, and regularly pray for our HBA churches and those who lead them. My effort is to support the work in Haywood County and to be an encouragement to those who are on the front lines.

I led a Marriage Retreat for Calvary Road Baptist Church in Greenville, SC. The couples filled the room and were so responsive in our time together. These types of seminars—not only on marriage—but a broad array of topics—are available to you, just for the asking. Some of what I have done recently includes a monthly training for Deacons at Antioch Baptist Church and I am leading a Spiritual Formation University Class at Crestview on Sunday evenings on spiritual growth. I have been asked about offering training for Sunday School and other small group leadership. We will look at doing this soon.

Broyhill Children’s Home had a Christmas Party that my wife and I were able to attend. God is doing such good work through this ministry. There is a major emphasis to connect homeless children with Christians who will foster or adopt these kids. Here is a link to learn more:

As 2022 came, a new challenge presented itself in our HBA office. Our Administrative Assistant, Laurel Smith left us to take another job. We thank her for her faithful labor. I have increased the number of my hours and we are seeking God’s direction for someone to give us help in our communications and especially finances. So, being short-staffed, I would encourage you to call before you come by. If you call and no one answers, please leave a message. These will be checked regularly and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

We have started a Men’s Prayer Meeting on Tuesdays at the HBA office beginning at 7 AM. Wesley Stephens, Outreach Pastor at Barberville was burdened for this need and I have been happy to join him. It has grown so that last week there were seven of us praying together.

Two of our pastors had close family members that died. Please remember Scotty Rollins, Pastor of Burnette Cove whose mother passed away, and Roy Kilby, Pastor of Bethel, whose wife, Wanda went home to be with the Lord. I was able to attend the visitation and support these families.

I am excited about an opportunity to participate in an afternoon Bible Club at Meadowbrook Elementary Schools. Pastor Jason Miller of Dutch Cove, leads this Bible Club. We are praying for God to use this for Gospel ministry with the children and hopefully reach their families!

I appreciate all that you are doing to make a difference in your community, county, state, nationand indeed to the ends of the earth! We are planning a vision trip to Vermont the week after Easter. I have been working with Tim Owens who is up there in coordinating this. Details will be forthcoming soon. It is a blessing to partner with you in spreading the good news!

Yours for a Productive Ministry,

Dennis Thurman, AMS

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