This past quarter afforded me an opportunity to visit more of our Haywood Baptist Churches. After concluding a couple of interim pastor positions last year, the preaching opportunities have been scant—and as much as I missed that—the Lord has opened the door for my wife and me to get out and see what God is doing in the flocks that comprise the Association. I will say, that looking at my schedule, the preaching opportunities are filling up—but not in one church, but several churches—so I get the best of both worlds! I was blessed to worship with Burnette Cove, Burnette Siding, Camp Branch, Cove Creek, East Waynesville, Fines Creek, First Baptist Canton, Oak Grove, Radcliffe Cove, Spring Hill, and I preached at North Canton and Emmanuel.
Recently, we hired two folks that I believe will be a home run for us: Kayla Mashburn, is a member at Mt. Zion, and Roarke Mabe, a fine young man from The Orchard Church. You can read more about them in your program.
One of my joys has been to partner with Dutch Cove Pastor, Jason Miller, and numerous committed volunteers in an afterschool Bible club on Wednesdays at Meadowbrook Elementary School in Canton. Typically, I have taught the Bible lesson to the boys and girls. What an open door to get the Word into young hearts! You should explore the possibility in a local school in your community.
I attended a Church Revitalization Meeting at Caraway. Dan Page and Stephen Buys joined me in Atlanta for a Replant Lab that the North American Mission Board hosted in March. This will be one of the most significant areas of ministry in our churches, and I am hoping those pastors can assist us in that task. Frankly, some of our churches are struggling and need to be in a replant situation, and many are plateaued or beginning to decline and need revitalization. There are tools available to diagnose and prescribe help for these.
Pastors’ Conference is a special time of encouragement in the Word. It begins at 10 AM most Mondays and several attendees go out to eat afterwards. The fellowship is rich. I would love to see more of our pastors involved. I also understand that some men are bi-vocational and this hinders their attendance, so we will look to begin a meeting at least quarterly in the near future, perhaps on a weeknight. Let me know what you think about that. My wife is eager to start a pastors’ wives fellowship. If she does not have your wife’s contact information, please see her before you leave.
Tuesdays find me teaching Pastoral Counseling at Fruitland Baptist Bible College in Hendersonville, NC. I started at the end of March. The students are so young—mostly! There are a few who have answered God’s call to Gospel ministry later in life, but most of the student body is in their 20’s to 30’s. This puts me in a fertile field to discover and develop ministers to serve our churches.
I concluded a Spiritual Growth study on Sunday evenings with Crestview Baptist Church, and my wife and I launched a Young Marrieds Sunday School class at Crestview. We have been able to connect five couples that had not been attending a Bible Study group. Marriages are being strengthened and in the next quarter our hope is to transition to an ongoing class and develop a teacher who will take over for me. Further, I have met with Crestview’s staff and leaders in helping in their development of a vision plan to move the church forward. I have been involved in the Men’s Ministry and Senior Adults also. My wife has attended the ladies’ mission group and helped prepare for Easter outreach.
There have been several meetings in Caraway and Cary with the NC Baptist Nominating Committee. I chair that committee, which is responsible for filling the leadership positions in our State Convention. Please pray for this as we head down the home stretch to complete our work by summer so the report can come to the Convention in November.
Last week, I concluded Deacon Training with Antioch. We are in discussions about other ways I can aid them in their ministry. If I can offer training to any of your organizations—Sunday School, discipleship, leadership, prayer, evangelism, and other areas, let’s talk about it! In addition:
We sponsored a seminar, “Reaching Your Community Like a Missionary,” led by Dr. Steve Harris.
I attended the Associational Bible Drill. It would be beneficial for your young people to participate in this.
We took goods that had been collected by Crestview to Church of Hope—a Slavic congregation in Asheville. These were shipped to Ukraine, to help the victims of this horrible war.
My wife and I attended a Gideons’ breakfast at High Street. This is still a wonderful evangelistic ministry that is worthy of your support.
I had a video conference with a young pastor in Albania.
We had a workday to do some “spring cleaning,” at the HBA office and property.
I traveled to Hudson, NC for the retirement reception for a mentor and friend, Dale Fisher, who served as AMS of Caldwell Association for over three decades.
I participated in the National Day of Prayer event in Canton.
In conclusion, I attended the visitation for Wanda Kilby at Bethel Baptist Church. She stood by Dr. Roy Kilby for years as an exemplary pastor’s wife. She will be missed greatly. Let us continue to pray for Brother Roy and his family.
Dennis Thurman, Haywood Baptist AMS