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