Friday, January 20, 2017

A productive week

It has been a busy week here at Central Baptist. On Monday morning the painters arrived and began the work of painting the sanctuary ceiling. On Sunday afternoon a crew of a dozen folks arrived to unscrew and move the pews. Everything was ready to go when the painting crew from Shoreline Painters came in with their scaffolding to do the job.

Last Sunday night we continued our book study. We have been reading through Rev. Joshua McClure's newest book, Made for Glory. Last week we were fortunate enough to have Rev. McClure with us to introduce the book. God has certainly blessed him. 

On Tuesday night our Church Council met. It was the first of three Board meetings this week that were filled with excitement and reflected the good spirit that is surrounding the ministry here at Central Baptist as we enter the new year. We discussed everything from the 2017 spending plan, to the next steps in our technology plan, to the plans we have to develop our youth ministry, to the formation of a by-laws revision committee. 

Following our mid-week service on Wednesday night. the Board of Deacons met. We talked about the generosity of the congregation and how the response to the Fellowship Fund has been terrific. We noted that the Pastoral Partners program has been going well and decided that we will have a meeting in February to check in on all those who have been serving and to see if we can assist them. Karen Boeniger and Geri Maloney have updated the Lay Assistant list through the next six months. We prayed for several of our members and friends who have been going through challenging times. They included Peter Arruda, Carol Johnson, Tim Lynn, Judy Terwilliger, Doris Stoppa, and Kolleen Celico. We also prayed for Tiffany Kaminski and her family on the loss of her dad this past week. 

On Thursday night our Board of Christian Education met and began looking at plans for Vacation Bible School. We will have a meeting for volunteers and those interesting in choosing the program on February 28th at 6:30 p.m. We also reviewed the Safe Church Policy and set a meeting date for us to go over it with all the Sunday School teachers, youth volunteers and any VBS volunteers who could make it on Thursday, February 16th at 5:00 p.m. There will be a follow up session for those who cannot make it that night. Erica Ballesteros volunteered to be our representative on the Central Nursery School Board as we reconstitute it this month. We also decided that we will hold a VBS type youth event for three nights during Spring Vacation in April. We will spend a good amount of time on it at our February meeting. 

I have to say that it was a very productive and positive week. We got a lot accomplished and made plans for the future.

Be blessed!


Thursday, December 15, 2016

Our weekly podcast is online now

For the last couple of years Scott Gail has been posting our weekly sermons online as podcasts. This has been a great outreach ministry to those who cannot come to church because of work schedules or physical limitations. Several months ago he also started putting up our choir anthems and some of the Praise team music.

Check out this past week's message at the following web address. Just cut and paste it into your web browser.

Be blessed,


White Gift Sunday

Our White Gift Sunday service is one of the best of the year. The morning began with a welcome and shortly afterwards our choir offered an Anthem titled, "Angels Sing. It included our children singing with the choir. It was very nice.

My message was titled, "What Gift Did You Bring?" I apologized for mixing up the chronology of the Christmas story but my text was from Matthew. It lifted up the visit of the Magi. It seemed fitting for the day when our congregation came to the manger offering gifts for the children of our community. My point was that giving gifts for the sake of giving gifts wasn't the reason for doing so. The gifts need to be from the heart. Then I challenged everyone to remember Jesus when they were choosing gifts and to do something that will bring him glory and honor this Christmas. You can check out our podcast to hear the complete message. It should be up by this coming weekend and you can find it on our church web page at

As I closed out the message I invited the congregation to sing, "We Three Kings" and to come forward and to lay their white gifts at the foot of the manger. Our children presented a living nativity scene right in front of us and we even had a live baby for the manger as Xander Lowe laid there quietly as we surrounded him and the kids with our gifts of love.

For many years now we have gone to the Pawcatuck Neighborhood Center and the Jonnycake Center seeking families we could adopt. We get the names and then put the toy and clothing requests of the families we have received on our giving tree. The tree goes up around Thanksgiving and people pick up the tags and go shopping for the gifts. One the gifts are purchased, we ask people to wrap them in white paper and bring them to church for this special Sunday. It is a very moving experience to see the people come forward with their gifts. What a blessing this is to our community.

Here are a few photos of the day. Enjoy.


The Silence and the Sound Cantata

This year's Christmas Cantata was one of the best so far. Using the script and music from "the Silence and the Sound," we told the story of God's plan of salvation from the beginning of time. Randy Miller directed the program again and Kathy Hughes and Lynn Dowding brought together the members of several choirs and a small group of musicians.

On the afternoon of Saturday, December 10th we performed the program at First Seventh Day Baptist Church of Hopkinton. It was part of the festivities surrounding the Ashaway Stroll. We had a full house. On Sunday afternoon we hosted the event at Central Baptist to a group that was close to two hundred strong.

At our church Lori Lord and I did the narration. In Ashaway, Pastor Dave Stall did the honors. There were some beautiful solos and a children's choir that enhanced the choral sound. It was very moving.

To think that this cantata had humble beginnings. Lynn was telling us that our choir would occasionally do its own cantata until one year Kathy Hughes called Lynn to inquire if we might do something together at Christmas. Lynn said it was July and she was sitting on the beach in Florida when her cell phone rang. That winter the two churches came together and sang for the first time. A few years later we added some instruments. Then about six or seven years ago, we asked Kathy's son, Randy Miller, to serve as the conductor for the group. In the last couple of years we added an Easter Cantata to our offerings. It has been a lot of fun for the choir members and a blessing to the congregations who have experienced the programs.

I will have a few photos from this year's event by this weekend.


CBC goes Christmas Caroling

On Tuesday night a small group of us went caroling. Our list of folks to visit wasn't very long this year and it seems a lot of the regulars were away or very busy. We had fun none-the-less and were able to bring a little joy to Dot Gallagher, Don Fargo, Helen Sacco, Ruth Brayman and Sylvia Pierce. For the first time we were able to all ride together in the church van as we rode across town. It wasn't quite the "One horse open sleigh" but it was fun to be all together.
Next year we hope to involve the choir and the Sunday School and choose a time that suits everyone. We may also expand our list of folks that can visit. 

Be blessed!

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Operation Christmas Child 2016

On Saturday, November 19th we gathered in Fellowship Hall and put together 127 shoeboxes stuffed with toys, books, hats and other fun stuff for Operation Christmas Child. Organized by Janet and Brian Gerbutavich, about 20 volunteers gathered to stuff and pray over the boxes. This was the fourth year we have done this and it continues to be one of the best supported mission efforts of the church. Thank you to all who donated throughout the year in order to bless these children from around the world.

Here are a few photos from the evening.


Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Thanksgiving Sunday worship

On Sunday, November 20th we celebrated Thanksgiving Sunday. We had lots to be thankful for as we offered up our giving Estimates for 2017, blessed the Operation Christmas Child Shoeboxes and praised God for all of the blessings we had received. I also took a few minutes during the service to give a short quiz and rewarded correct answers with copies of Rev. Joshua McClure's new book, Made for Glory, and CD's from the Bennett family.

The hour ran a little long so I cut my sermon short and focused on ways to develop a grateful heart. Here is the link to the podcast if you'd like to hear it. Just cut and paste the link into your browser. I will also include the text below. Enjoy.

“The Blessings of A GRATEFUL HEART”

November 20, 2016                           2 Corinthians 9:6-15
This morning we conclude our stewardship series on “Giving it all you’ve got!” Now the truth is that you can’t give God your best, you can’t fully utilize your spiritual gifts and you can’t share the Gospel if you don’t have a grateful heart.
You can talk about giving all day long and it will fall on deaf ears if your audience doesn’t understand what it is to be grateful. As good as things are in America, we live in a society where everything is taken for granted. In politics we talk about “entitlements.” Many of us fall prey to the idea that we are owed something. When we don’t get what we want we get upset and angry and hold back our giving. We become Scrooges and look at the world with the narrow view of only responding to those who can give us what we want.
It even happens in churches. If you don’t like the minister, or the program, or the lady sitting next to you, it is so easy to decide that you won’t support that ministry. Now I’m not talking about bad theology or a church that is moving away the center of scriptural practices. I’m talking about people who look at their giving as a carrot to get someone to do their bidding and to get what they want. What they don’t get is that they are holding back from God.
I thank God that this doesn’t happen here. The truth is that we are blessed at Central Baptist with people sitting in the pews beside us who get it. You are giving it all you’ve got. You are here because you have experienced the generosity of God. You have experienced his love first hand. You see, we have a Father in heaven whose very nature, we read in 1 John 4, is love. He has shown that love in the gift of his son, Jesus. In John 3:16 we read, “God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son.” Why? “So that whoever believes in him” that’s you and me, “shall not perish but have eternal life.”
How many times have you felt the blessings of God? At the birth of your children? On the day of your wedding? When you bought your first home? After recovering from surgery? When you get together with a lifelong friend? When you get your new job? For some people it is at the dawn of a new day. For others it is just getting through a trying period of life.
One of my favorite songs in the old gospel hymn, “Count Your Blessings.”
When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed,
When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,
Count your many blessings, name them one by one,
And it will surprise you what the Lord has done.
·       Refrain:
Count your blessings, name them one by one,
Count your blessings, see what God has done!
You can’t help but be a thankful person if you have experienced the transforming power of God’s love. It turns you into a grateful and generous person. You are touched so deeply that you want to pass it on.
I’ve heard Brian Gerbutavich talk about why he believes in Operation Christmas Child. As a kid he had to scramble to get what he wanted. But then the love of God came into his life and it changed him and now he wants to give back, to be a blessing to others.
I’ve listened to Jonathan Gibson share his testimony as to how Jesus came in and changed his heart. He received the blessing of a new life and it gave him his family back and a new perspective on everything.

I love the third verse of the hymn, “Pass it on!” It goes,
I wish for you my friend
This happiness that I've found;
You can depend on God
It matters not where you're bound,
I'll shout it from the mountain top
I want the world to know
The Lord of love has come to me
I want to pass it on. 

       The happiest people I know are generous people. They share everything. It doesn’t mean they don’t have problems in their life. It simply means that they are rooted in the love of God. Like the apostle Paul who said in Philippians 4,

I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. 13 I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

Why is it so difficult, then, for us to grow grateful and generous hearts? I think one reason is that we have, as author Brennan Manning says, “Condemning hearts.” We have messed up in our past and that keeps coming back to haunt us. We hear that voice telling us over and over again, that we are failure, or that we have let people down. We hear that voice telling us we should have done better. We are not good enough.
The voice often comes to us with our mother or father’s name on it. It may come from a teacher or even a priest or minister. It plays over and over again in our heads and it condemns us for what we have done. Psychologists tell us that what often happens as a result of this condemning heart is that we turn it around and condemn others.
We become critical of everything. Nothing is good enough. What others do is not acceptable. We withhold praise and only pass out criticism. We collect grievances and hold grudges. The truth is that critical people are not happy people.

So in order for us to know the blessing of a grateful heart, we need to repent and turn around. We need to own it as our own and then turn it over to God and ask God to forgive us. Once we are forgiven it opens up a whole new world for us. There used to be a saying, “This is the first day of the rest of your life.” I think this is exactly what Jesus was talking about with Nicodemus in John 3 when he said you must be born again. For people who turn from the past and give their lives to Christ see everything in a new light. Jesus forgives that condemning heart. He says, “I forgive you! Now embrace the new life.”
I had a friend who used to share his testimony. He was an ugly miserable person. He was on drugs. He did things to spite people. He ran around and didn’t care about anyone else. He was a bully. One of our Trustees said that they grew up together and he was scared of him. Going to Viet Nam made him even worse. But then some friends started praying for him. He had his own Damascus Road experience and it changed his life forever. He became a new creation and it showed in everything from the way he treated others to his giving in church. He became a tither. He became a giver in every area of his life, a mentor to kids and witness to his friends.

My friend came to know that God’s love had transformed him into a person with a grateful heart. The bitterness, anger and jealousy that had marked him before was now vanquished by the love of Christ and his life took on a new feel. The truth is that when you know that god loves you and that you have been forgiven you can do crazy things. You can love without limits. You can be an encourager without fear. You can give generously without worrying about tomorrow.
When Paul writes to the folks in Corinth in his second letter he writes the word that Anita shared earlier. He says,
“Now he who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness. You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God”
So let me say this: Giving should always be a joyful thing. It should come as a response to what God has done to bless you. The scripture says, “God loves a cheerful giver.” You know why? Because it says that you appreciate what God has done in your life and you want to pass it on.
Please read this passage again if you get a chance. It suggests that God gives us all we need. He supplies the sower… It suggests that the more generous we become, the more blessings will flow into our lives. I’m not just talking about giving money, although that is important to meet the needs of our ministry. We need people who will give sacrificially especially in a year when we are stepping out in faith to do some great things. We need people to meet the challenge of our spending plan.
Even more so, I’m talking about being generous in everything. Be generous with words and compliments. Do all you can to make someone’s day. We live in a world that beats people down. You can change someone’s day with a smile or a kind word. Be generous with encouragement and look to lift someone up who is down. Find a reason to compliment someone. You don’t know how much that will do to change a person’s life. There are enough others who are trying to knock people down. Be generous with your time. We are too busy and there are people all around us who simply need to know someone cares. Giving some a few minutes of your time speaks volumes and let’s them know they are important.
I think you get the point. The truth is that Paul suggests that whenever you do this, God will be glorified for you will be a witness to his grace and love.
The truth is that you will be blessed too. For it is a blessing to walk around filled with God’s love in your heart. So let’s give thanks and praise God.