This week in worship, Pastor Doug and Jill are “Giving Thanks for God’s Faithfulness.” They will be sharing the many ways that they have witnessed God’s faithfulness in and through BBC over the past 25 years.
Thank you for worshiping with us.
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The first video below is JUST THE SERMON.
If you would like to watch the entire service, scroll down a little more.
Click to listen to the message:
The video below is the WHOLE SERVICE, and below that you’ll find the text for the message.
Click this link to get a printable version of the sermon:
Giving Thanks for God’s Faithfulness
12 Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, 2 looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.3 Consider him who endured such hostility against himself from sinners, so that you may not grow weary or lose heart.
It’s important to remember what God has done. The last six weeks in worship we heard lessons from the turbulent period of the Judges more than 1,000 years before Christ. One of the problems of that era was that the people forgot about God, they didn’t remember all that God had done, they failed to share the story of faith of the God who had delivered and led them through many trials over many years. They didn’t give thanks for God’s faithfulness, grace, provision, and intervention, and instead just went their own ways.
We don’t want to make the mistake of forgetting God. We want to follow Samuel’s example in 1 Samuel 7:12 of remembering ‘The Lord has helped us to this point.’ Jill and I were truly grateful for the lovely celebration that BBC had for us on October 25 and it got us thinking that it would be worthwhile to share very briefly some of BBC’s story of faith of what God has done in our church as we have partnered with God over the last quarter century. Hebrews 10:23 exhorts us, “Let us hold fast to the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who has promised is faithful.”
It’s fitting for us to give thanks for God’s faithfulness to us at BBC and there are some clear threads that are evident over the last quarter century. Some of us have been present for all those years, others were here for part of it and have departed, hundreds have gone to be with the Lord, and some of us have just begun participating in BBC more recently. We invite you to think about where you are in this story, and to consider your personal story of God’s faithfulness to you.
Many people have contributed to our church through the years. To some of us they are just names, but to others of us their names bring back memories of serving, sharing, giving, fellowship, worship, learning, laughter, tears, and joy so God could be glorified and people could grow as disciples of Christ, and experience God’s love. We’re sorry we can’t name every person who has made a significant impact, and because of time we have limited names, but please know we’re grateful and thankful for every person God has worked through at BBC.
As we look back, and I read through 25 years of annual reports for today, there are several themes we that we want to share. The first is BBC has long been a loving church.
Part of the DNA of BBC has been a core of friendly and committed people who have a passion for helping others. In the providence of God, we arrived at BBC at a time when the population of Brewster and the mid to lower Cape was growing. In the Annual Report for 1996 at the end of Doug’s first full year, he wrote, “A popular Christian song begins, “Surely the presence of the Lord is in this place.” That is true of Brewster Baptist. People who come to worship, attend Christian education classes, participate in groups, and visit the Caring Cupboard sense God’s spirit as well as the wonderful friendliness and love of our congregation.”
Love is fundamental to being a follower of Christ. John 13:34-35, A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.
When we arrived, BBC was prepared to take a step forward. Before we came there were two ten-year pastorates (by Don and Shirley Mills and Glenn and Joan Abbott) and Dr. Bill Barker did a super job as the interim and was bringing new people to the church. Youth leader Nancy Sveden was serving our students. The church was also blessed to have several retired pastors: Rev. Charley and Helen Griffin, Bishop and Elizabeth Covell and Cathie and Dick Kroeger who joined the church shortly after we started. We were blessed to serve as a catalyst that enabled God’s Spirit to begin moving in fresh ways.
The second theme is Spiritual Gifts and every member a minister.
That was the title of my Doctor of Ministry thesis. 1 Corinthians 12:7, “To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.”
My dream in the fall of 1998 after Hurricane Georges did a lot of damage in Puerto Rico. and going to Puerto Rico, January of 1999. Bill Harwood coordinated our trip and our work with the Baptist Church of Campo Rico. We had a wonderful experience with the church and Pastora Irma Gomez and a young seminarian named Madeline Flores-Lopes who went on to become a missionary with IM and we’ve done I think 5 trips with her and she is receiving funds from our WMO this year.
Led to trips almost every year, including PR this past February.Funny how when you do something for someone else, you are the one who ends up being blessed and changed. Built relationships with Sophia Baptist Church, Bulgaria and NE India. Also local mission projects and service activities (responding to the needs God shows us) opening our church up to folks who were homeless with the Overnights of Hospitality, serving meals at the Salvation Army, LOCAL or Faith Family Kitchen, building Habitat homes.
Stepping out in Faith and following God’s Call
This was true not only in going to Puerto Rico, but for us coming to Brewster and for the church to vote to call a 30-year old pastor.
In my interview there were a couple questions I’ll always remember.
One was whether the church should build a new sanctuary. “I think we ought to build a new sanctuary that can seat 500 people.”
Should the church hire a professional fund raiser or raise the money itself?
The building project and the fundraising to make it possible were big faith steps!
I asked several people to serve on a marketing team (Hark, George, Bud, and David Boyd) and we started writing and recording 60 second radio spots.
We began using the motto: The Adventure of a lifetime begins here” based on Mark 1:17.
2001 was a huge year. We brought on Kip Mickelson as a Worship Pastor in 1999 to help start a contemporary service.
By June of 2000 we were having 4 worship services a weekend, Saturday night and three on Sunday morning for 16 months before we moved into our new building.
At the same time that we were raising money toward our $2.4 million goal, we didn’t even know if we could do more than build the shell of the fellowship hall and kitchen, but God kept inspiring and motivating people to give and support what the Lord was doing.
At the same time, we emphasized that the building would be a launching pad for ministry and not an idol. So, we also took on sponsoring a project with Eastern Theological College in Northeast India. This was facilitated by retired missionaries and BBC members Fred and Mary Downs and working with TABCOM we had 2 trips to ETC (Fred Downs, Sharon Linnell, Jill Scalise, Doug, Bob Linnell, Chuck Hilton, Judy Boyd, and several others from the region went to ETC).
By 2004 over $400,000 had been raised for a new Program Center, for Brewster House – a guest house on campus, and TABCOM Bhavan a revenue generating small hotel for people to stay in. We also paid off our $837,000 mortgage within four years of moving into the new building and literally burned the mortgage in 2005.
Change – the one constant – a willingness to change, try new things, and take risks to reach more people.
Homie Strum, “I used to come to church and look for people I didn’t know and say hello, Now I come and look for people I do know and say hello.” That exemplifies the attitude of BBC members being open to change and growth.
The year of 2014, “ended up involving more change and transition than I or anyone else ever expected or imagined.”
By the end of the year six staff members had completed their time of service at BBC for various reasons.
Long-time Administrative Assistants Cindy Caldwell and Sandy Light retired as did lead sexton Joanne Bassett and Church Administrator Jane Wallbrown, and Rev. Patti Ricotta devoted herself to mission work, and sadly Financial Manager Bill Morrow died suddenly during Holy Week.
It was hard. Amid all the loss, we saw God’s faithfulness and provision. Pastors David Pranga and Barbara Burrill began their ministry at BBC. Sharon Kautz joined the staff and increased our social media presence. Soon Tom Swaida joined our team.
There are many ways we could illustrate change – from worshiping upstairs in the chapel to moving into the new building with a screen and projection which most people at BBC hadn’t experienced before. We’ve gone from a cassette tape ministry to CD’s to Facebook, YouTube, Livestreaming, and a church app!
We’ve seen change in town – in 1995 Brewster was growing, and housing was relatively inexpensive. Two years ago, 36 BBC people moved away largely because of the cost of housing and 30 of them moved out of state.
Part of change is continuing to take care of the property: we’ve added a meditation garden, playground, gazebo, storage facility, renovated the chapel/ steeple (built 1860- imagine all the change!), and bought shares in solar gardens.
Out of the Box Thinking – being open to what God can do – buying Peg Consodine’s house which abutted the church property to possibly provide a second parsonage in the future. Doing ministry in COVID. Continuing to adapt to the present situation. Finding ways to worship, connect, grow in faith, share God’s Love.
There will be hard times – we should expect them- at a national level- 9/11 and great recession of 2008-2009. Church family- loss of loved ones including tragic deaths (murder, OD, people who died by suicide). Serious health concerns. Staff leaving and people moving away. Challenges in being a big tent church.
Our “white whale” has been organizational structure as we moved quickly through the 200 and 400 barriers in worship attendance. But we get through these times with faith and trust in God. Not with fear. And with a focus on Love.
Not every decision will work out, we all make mistakes, but like a good athlete, you learn from it and move forward and don’t let mistakes and failures in the past hinder you in the present. Hard times can lead to greater maturity and growth if we make the most of the opportunities, they present to us.
Spiritual Growth and Development– 2 Peter 3:18
“But grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To him be the glory both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.”
Throughout the years, it’s amusing how many times we’ve had church wide emphasis on Spiritual Discipline, prayer, the Fruit of the Spirit, you know, the fundamentals of living out our faith.
Small groups are the glue that help to hold a church our size together. We’ve had Bible studies, Pilgrimage trips to Israel and Jordan, Italy, and France, Sunday School classes, VBS, watched children grow and their faith develop, baptisms, Christmas pageants and youth group. People have grown closer to God. Numerous folks have gone into ministry (Bob and Sue Baker, Marilyn Raatz, Kenny White, David Condon, Nate Ryan), We’ve celebrated ordinations of pastors Kevin Saxton, Patti, Barbara…Doreen Mayer graduated yesterday TABCOM’s School of Ministry.
Stories of people’s changed lives – appreciated people sharing their stories whether Summer Wednesday evening services, last Sunday of the year or in conversations.
1 Timothy 6:18, “They are to do good, to be rich in good works, to be generous and ready to share.”
Hebrews 13:16, “Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.”
A question that has guided our community outreach is, “If our church disappeared tomorrow, would anyone in the community notice we were gone?”
What can we say about the amazing generosity of people’s giving!
To BBC, to missions, to special projects.
Every year since 2000, BBC has given over 15% of income to mission/ benevolence. Recently 17-20%.
We were the first church on the Cape to sponsor a Habitat for Humanity house. (sponsored 2)
#1 in giving to the RMMO one year, in the top ten almost every year.
Holiday Fair over $465,000 given away (amazing how things add up over the years, change: Women’s Fellowship- all church- 100% give away to local needs) The power of habits and disciplines that are done faithfully over time.
Not just money, it’s also sharing time, talents, experience…and candy for Barbara’s Trunk or Treat. Ormon’s NH cabin- over a decade of youth group trips.
Luke 6:38, “Give, and it will be given to you. Good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap. For with the measure you use it will be measured back to you.” We can’t out give God.
$517,000 in Eddy Grants. Over half a million dollars from Mary-Louise and Ruth Eddy who left an indelible mark on our church and the town of Brewster.
Estate gifts – (Jean Mirick, Ernie Hebert, Ellen Cotter, Flo Roberts)
Looking back, we see that God provides people needed for such a time as this.
Again and again, we have seen God provide the people we need to take the next step for the work of God’s Kingdom.
Chris Morris. 2001/2003 to present. Pastor Kevin, Allison and the Saxton family, who faithfully led the Youth and guided our technology. He is now leading an ABC camp in PA.
Pastor Mary Scheer’s work with Deacons and small groups.
We’ve had retired pastors and missionaries and their spouses. who have used their gifts in teaching, preaching, pastoral care, missions, music and worship (including Charlie and Helen Griffin, Bishop and Elizabeth Covell (who is still on the Mission Team and was singing in the choir until COVID-19), Dick and Cathie Kroeger, Fred and Mary Downs, Jon and Joyce Freshwater, Vincent and June Fasano, Lee and Audrey Vermont, Ramzy and Nancy Asfour, Jane Wallbrown, Greg Keosaian).
We have members and friends who have repeatedly stepped in to serve God and neighbor. If I tried to list everyone, we’d be here all day.
The story of the BBC is the story of the service and devotion of so many Christians. In the last 25 years, we’ve welcomed 1,256 new members – folks who God has brought here, people who have been a part of the journey for a season- some longer, some shorter.
Reading through the annual reports, I was struck by the number of hours of service, the way people have shared their gifts, talents, and experience. The willingness to serve. Amazing People! Folks who can make these panels, who can serve food from the CC, run the AV booth, sing. folks making friendships and helping one another through life.
I could go around the sanctuary (or talk with many folks watching from home) and state the different ways people have been and continue to be a part of God’s Story at BBC. The relationships that have grown over the years. How God is at work in our lives. And how we build up and encourage one another. The church is God’s People.
Doug has also led over 350 memorial services. We owe a gift of gratitude to those who have gone before us and helped to build God’s Kingdom here through their love, service, and generosity.
The Latest Chapter
Exactly a year and half ago, on May 19, 2019, I preached from Deut. 2.3, “‘You have circled this mountain long enough. Now turn north,” about how we needed to Turn North and undertake some new major initiatives buying a house, calling a fourth pastor, moving into the future. Now we’ve bought and renovated a house and Joe, Shelby and their children are here, and Joe is being installed today as the latest example of God’s faithfulness to us for which we praise the Lord.
– We hope you find yourself in this story, in the story of God’s Love. And in what God is inviting you to do in this season of life. As St Teresa of Avila says:
Christ has no body but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
Compassion on this world,
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,
Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.
Each of us in our time on earth can do what we’ve seen here at BBC. We can love God and all our neighbors, discover and use our spiritual gifts, we can be bold and courageous and willing to step out in faith, to take risks, embrace change and innovation. We can expect hard times, so they don’t defeat us or surprise, but help us continue to mature and grow in our trust in God. We can be committed to learning and growing through small groups, classes, trips, and other opportunities. We can know that God has a place and a calling for us. We can give generously and sacrificially so God’s work can advance, and lives can be changed. We can demonstrate and grow in the fruit of the Spirit. We can do good and forget it. We can “let our light shine before others, that they may see our good deeds and glorify our Father in heaven.”
Questions for Discussion of Reflection
- It’s important to remember what God has done in our lives. What are some ways you’ve seen God’s faithfulness in your life for which you give thanks? Consider writing out your own story of God’s faithfulness.
- What are some themes you’ve seen in your own story of faith?
- What stands out to you about what God has done at BBC over the last 25 years or in the years since you’ve become a part of the church?
- How do you deal with change and hard times? How can you approach them from a faith perspective in a way that can lead to growth and deeper maturity?
- Why is it important from a spiritual perspective to remain open to new experiences and to be willing to take risks?
- How does imitating the generosity of God enlarge our hearts and spirits and deepen our trust in the Lord?