Church Update – 01/06/2017

Hello Church Family,

It is awesome and a blessing to see this family rally around one another and unite in the face of adversity. Please continue to hold up each other in prayer as we process our individual emotions and responses. Now that some time has passed, I encourage you to begin seeing, recognizing, and thinking about the positive effects of this ordeal to help your healing process.

Here is something to hang your thoughts on. Through our recent actions as a church body and without really realizing it, we have just launched a huge witnessing event in the community. Through the media outlets and word of mouth more people know or are revisiting the idea that First Baptist Church is alive and active in the center of the Lebanon community and is a God-loving congregation. I am experiencing and also hearing of stories that as our co-workers, neighbors, and strangers are realizing our connections to this church, it is prompting many new conversation that might not otherwise have occurred. God is alive and working in our community! He is using this event and us to shine in this community and further his work. There is good in all of this and in time each one of us will heal and be prepared for what God has planned next.

Now on with an update. This week the Executive board met for the purpose of ensuring our church mission and the services we provide are still intact and/or are at least considered.

The Deacon’s Board is staying on top of ensuring we have a place for Sunday worship. For the next few weeks we will have continuity and some stability by staying at the Mason Lodge on Green Street. They continue to pursue other leads for a longer term solution that suits our mission and facility requirements. This may take a bit, so please be patient if news on this progress is infrequent; but do know that it is a top priority for them aside from meeting the spiritual needs of the church.

The Christian Education Board reports that the Adult Sunday School will resume on the 15th. Children’s church during the regular service is still active and a meeting space for that will be provided no matter where we are on Sunday mornings. The Junior High sessions led by Carol will be postponed for now until it makes sense to resume.

Youth Group is meeting this week at the Girdwood’s house and they will provide further details then. We continue to appreciate the Girdwoods et al for supporting the building of our Youth’s spiritual health.

We have received several emails from the Church Office and the office appears to be on track for back-to-normal support sometime next week. Pastor Rick is situated at the parsonage as well and continues his usual schedule of support and visiting.

The Missions Board is continuing the Community Dinners and Food Pantry efforts. This week and next they have/are holding these events at the Mason Lodge. They are working hard to potentially utilize the local senior center for ease of access to our patrons. Regardless, both services will occur at the same location.

Our Treasurer, Jen, has been establishing new bank accounts to keep track of our insurance funds and the gracious financial support from the community. Together she and Keith will revise the 2017 annual budget in time for the annual meeting.

The Trustees have obviously been very busy dealing with the actual church building. Many kudos to them for their efforts this past week. The Trustees had met as a Board last night, so there may be additional updates or corrections beyond what will be reported here. I will convey some of the discussion points as of our Weds night meeting.

The insurance company has declared the church a 100% total loss. This is more of an insurance classification, but basically everything will need to be replaced. On Thursday (yesterday) an engineer came to survey the building to assess any hazardous materials (i.e. asbestos, lead paint, fuel spills, etc.) which determines how we dispose of the debris on the lot and will also determine the timeline. It is looking like maybe two weeks before we can begin the demolition process.

The Trustees are working to secure some items as they are able. For instance the one stain glass windows that survived will be removed, cleaned, and repaired. A couple of the smaller gothic windows and casing will be saved along with at least one of the small roof turrets. They will assess other opportunities. All of these will be stored so they are available for future consideration of any new structure design. We are not sure about the existing foundation yet, but at least four of the foundation granite blocks will be stored on site to later be considered for landscaping opportunities.

A next key order of business for the Executive Board is to form a “Building Steering Committee”. This committee will gather and collate input from the congregation on what a new structure will look like and convey that intent to the architects. We are going to begin this process very soon.

The recently formed Pastoral Search Committee is going to put their efforts on hold for a little bit, while we work through this distraction. They are in discussions to determine when it would be appropriate to resume the process. The delay should be short, but they drive the timeline.

The Annual Meeting is going to occur as planned on Jan 29th. We will hold it wherever our church service is. The formal Meeting Warning will be posted on Jan 15th. We had every intent to have the annual reports published by that time. However, our leadership team has been otherwise distracted and some of the details needed still have to be recovered or recreated due to the loss. Therefore we are committing to having the reports available for preview no later than the 22nd. During the Annual Meeting we will provide an update on activities, but we will not enter into long discussions about how we will proceed with the church building. We will reserve that sort of discussion for a Town Hall type meeting to be scheduled when prudent.

So a lot is going on. One of the priorities for me, as moderator, is to ensure there is transparency in the coming months and we keep the congregation informed as much as possible. It has been very hectic and busy in the last week. As activities start to slow down and settle out, the frequency of updates may dwindle a bit, but that is only because there may not be any new info.

The main intent for this update is to inform you that our church body is alive and well. God gives the strength to endure and prepares us for his service. Remember, we are “not a perfect church, not a perfect people, just have a simple desire to follow Jesus”.

In His service,
Keith, on behalf of the Executive Board

Update from Church – 01/03/2017

Dear Friends,

I am writing to update you on the progress of our recovery so far and to encourage us all to keep our focus right during this time of hectic work.

For the next couple of weeks we will be meeting at the Masonic Lodge where we met last Sunday.  They have graciously offered to let us use it as long as we need it and have even offered to make some adjustments for us.  This is well above and beyond the call and we are very grateful.  We want to breathe and think so having the worship space set for now lets us concentrate on other urgent matters.

We are getting a temporary office set up at the parsonage.  Our office hours will be the same as ever.  We should have a phone soon.  You can always call me on my cell (603) 306-5570.

Chris Clark and the Missions Board are working to get our community dinners going and set up a food pantry.  This week we will give away food vouchers, and have the dinner at the Masonic Lodge.  Yes, they said yes to that as well.  The Missions Board is sorting through other options for a solution that will carry us until we have our new building.

The executive committee will be meeting this Wednesday, to assign tasks and coordinate communication between the boards who are all working hard.

This Thursday the Trustees will be meeting to set priorities for moving forward and plan the next steps.

Obviously we need your prayers and we will need workers as the tasks get assigned.  We will let you know whom to contact for information and to volunteer as soon as we figure a few things out.

I want you to know how proud of you I am.  Your faith, love and zeal for your church family and Christ and his work are evident to all.

In the short run there will be a lot to do in a hurry and some decisions will be made on the fly.  There will be overlaps on tasks assigned.  There will also be well meaning people who will do stuff, or donate stuff, or give advice without knowing exactly what is going on.  In a situation like this misunderstandings and miscommunication are inevitable.  I know in settings like this I need to keep my eyes on Christ and on his priorities.  He cares far more about how we treat each other than he does getting the task done with efficiency.  In my thirty years of ministry, in my zeal for his work, I have stomped on my share of toes and (I am ashamed to admit it), excused it by telling myself I was doing Christ’s work.  Mature people forgave me and took me aside gently to help me grow.  This is the advice that helps me:

“With all humility and meekness, with patience put up with one another in love.  Be zealous to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Eph 4:2-3)”  “Do nothing out of selfish ambition (my way) or vain conceit (I’m right) but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves.  Look not to your own interests, but also to the interests of others (Philippians 2:3-4).”  “We who are strong ought to bear with the failings of the weak and not please ourselves (Romans 15:1).”

All of these passages assume that mistakes will be made and people will offend us, but we need to be slow to anger and quick to forgive.  For example, I wrote that we will be using the parsonage for the pantry.  Well, I was wrong and this caused some problems.  My fault.  I’m sorry.

We have a great opportunity during this time to grow closer as a family and to glorify Christ in our work.

“To the One who is able to do exceedingly, abundantly more than all we ask or even imagine, according to the power that is at work within us; to Him be the glory in the Church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.”

Your partner in the great work,

Rick Pinilla

Fire Loss

Dear Friends,

By now most of you know that our Church building caught fire last night (12/28).  It was a total loss.  Thank God no one was hurt.  They do not know the cause of the fire as yet.  Dave Rataj and the trustees went right to work so we know that our insurance is more than adequate.  We should be able to replace the building completely and we also will have some money for the transition.

More to the point this is a reminder to us that the Church is not a material building, it is a community of people being built by God.  Peter said, “…the Lord is good. As you come to him, the Living Stone…you yourselves as living stones are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ…You are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the excellencies of Him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.  Once you were not a people, but now you are the people of God.  Once you had not been shown mercy, but now you have been shown mercy.”

We remember that Jesus said, “I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it,”  and “When I am lifted up I will draw all men to myself,”  so we have great confidence in the future.  We are in the hands of the One who rose, “from the dead and (was) seated at God’s right had in the heavenly realms, far above every rule, authority, power and dominion and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the age to come and God subjected all things under his feet and gave him as head of all things for the Church, which is His body the full expression of the One who fills everything in every way.”

We remember that he assured us that “All things work together for good for those who love God, for those who are called according to his purpose,” and that “we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.”

We saw the evidence of his work in creating this spiritual house, for his praise when a group of us met today to pray to begin the work of recovery.  He made us a family and like a family we united to support one another in a time of trouble.  There were hugs and tears, but always filled with strong reminders that what matters is Jesus’ presence, Jesus’ mission and Jesus’ people.  Keith Davio said that this will be a new beginning.  Several said that this represents an opportunity to reach out to our community in witness and love.  We committed ourselves to making sure those who depend on us in the community are taken care of.  Chris Clark and the Missions Board already have plans for starting a new food pantry at the parsonage and they are already looking into other locations for our community dinners.  I’m so proud of them.  Jen Langley couldn’t sleep last night after the fire; so she made a list of practical details we need to take care of which helped the meeting go very efficiently.  We already have plans to turn the parsonage into a temporary office.  We are already checking into a couple of locations for worship.  We will definitely be meeting Sunday at 10 am,  at the Masonic Lodge, 25 Green Street, on the corner of Green and Elm.  We should have a place for the entire interim time soon.

Dale and Lori Edwards joined us in an official capacity, but more as family.  He told us how proud of you he is.  I echo that.

The discussion was full of faith in Christ and a beautiful demonstration of Jesus’ gifts at work.   Dale and I even got a chance to witness briefly to the reporter of the Valley News who was there.  So you see we are His People and he is working in us to build his Church and draw people to himself.

I guess I don’t have to say, that it is time for all hands on deck.  First, we need to pray.  We need to grieve together and remember all that Christ did in our beloved building.  We need to put our ministry back together and find ways to be the body of Christ in the transition.  Let’s remember who we are and Who called us together and what our mission is.  I know that some of us have been struggling with participating for a variety of reasons.  Our hope is that this tragedy will remind us that we are family and move us to join together to declare the excellencies of Him who called us out of darkness into his marvelous light; because we really are the people of God.

Your partner in the great work,

Pastor Rick


PS:  I would be remiss not to mention all the offers of support we have gotten.  Pastor Steve of the Congregational Church called me to offer a meeting place and whatever support we needed.  Pastor Becca from the Methodist did the same.  Both of them came by the parsonage to personally greet us.  The pastor of West Lebanon Congregational Church came to our meeting with coffee and doughnuts and offered whatever support we needed.  We also heard from River Bank Church, and I can’t remember all the rest.