Updated: Oct 21, 2021
Each year the President of the United States gives a State of the Union address. As we complete another year of ministry through Haywood Baptists, I thought it appropriate to share a state of the Association report.
One year ago, you entrusted me with leadership of this mission partnership. It has been a delight (mostly) and distressing (occasionally). At times the gravity of the assignment and the enormity of the need become a weighty burden. Though this never leaves me, I also find it a wonderful blessing--to seek to serve my Lord by serving His people!
This has been challenging as we have and still are dealing with a pandemic--with all the struggles that has caused. A culture of increasing hostility toward the church from outside and a growing apathy by the church from inside show us the currents are running against us. Then, the flood waters wash over the county--a crisis we have been compelled to address.
Yet, through it all, God has been faithful. His church will prevail. He has promised to build it and the gates of hell will fall before the warriors of the Word on the march.
The last quarter has been filled with ministry opportunity in the midst of difficulty. I was able to attend a community BBQ at East Fork Baptist Church in Cruso only days before the flood devastated the area. Since then, we have raised money, gathered goods, done clean up, and delivered food to the community. Most significantly, we have shared the Gospel. We worked to help clean up the East Fork church building on a Saturday where several of our churches came together. I went back there to revival services held under the tent, set up in the parking lot. We are grateful for the churches who united to purchase and put up the tent. We were able to set up the Baptist Men's Disaster Recovery HQ at Calvary Baptist Church. I was able to work one Saturday in doing a muck out of a house. We are encouraging our churches to find at least one flood victimized family they can adopt--to love on and minister to during these days. We made a promo video for disaster recovery at the Orchard Church. My wife and I were able to serve with Crestview Baptist Church in delivering meals. We distributed a number of Gospel tracts designed by Steve and Josh Frazier. We have some of these available to you to take and use.
I have continued to serve as an intentional interim of Calvary Baptist Church, as they explore an adoption process. This is where a healthy church adopts the struggling congregation to help them in maturing and becoming a healthy one. Dellwood Baptist Church has already adopted another of our churches--Cove Creek.
I was able to attend two ordination councils and services. One of these was for Jonathon Eller of the Orchard Church and the other for Isaac Brooks at Dellwood, who will preach at Cove Creek.
It has been my privilege to attend regularly and speak periodically at our Pastor's Conference. This is a wonderful time of spiritual enrichment for pastors and staff. Under the capable direction of President Mark Tice, we look for even better times ahead. We meet at 10 AM at the HBA office, and a number of men go to lunch afterward for a good time of fellowship.
I was invited to preach Homecoming at Riverside. I have twice spoken to the Pisgah football team. I would be happy to do likewise for the Tuscola team, if you arrange it! I spoke to the senior adult meeting at Crestview. I preached a revival service at FBC Clyde.
Pastor John Swanger and I met for breakfast. I met with Roy and Wanda Kilby, and their son, Pat, for breakfast, also. Pastor Steve Frazier and I met for lunch. I met with Pastors Bobby Rogers and Shawn Porter at Dellwood. I also met Pastor Dan Page for lunch. There were numerous other calls, texts, and so forth as I reached out to encourage our pastors. I regularly pray for them and the churches, and post devotionals for these Gospel leaders.
I attended the Baptist On Mission Lunch and Learn at the Buncombe Baptist Resource Center. I met with North Canton Baptist Church deacons a couple of times as they search for an interim pastor. I met with our Associational Officers several times. I led evangelism training--and would love to come to your church and do that! I attended the funeral services for Steve Ledford at Canton Middle School. What a loss of a fine Christian gentleman! I was able to travel to Alpharetta, Georgia and the AMS Conference at the North American Mission Board. Along with Pastor Josh Evans, my wife and I served in the hospitality tent at the Mountain State Fair--having opportunity to love on and witness to some of the workers. I attended a business men's Bible study at Laurel Ridge Country Club. I attended Bible study and met with leaders at Antioch Baptist Church.
Three areas where I hope we can join together in service are:
1) Locally--participating in the Canton Labor Day Festival 2022! We were scheduled to do so last year until the floods!
2) Nationally--taking a mission trip to the New England, tentatively set for April 18-25. I have spoken with Tim Owens and are developing a ministry plan.
3) Internationally--God willing, we will lead a mission effort to another country. We are praying about where. Will you join us in seeking God's direction?
In His Service,
Dennis Thurman, AMS