Making Rounds, Being Thankful

by Rev Robert A Wendel

The Thanksgiving holiday is an ideal day to take at least a few moments to reflect on those things and people for which you are thankful.  Good health is, surely, a primary blessing sought by everyone.

In October, I participated in the day-long fall conference of volunteer chaplains at Appalachian Regional Hospital.  The “good word” shared by facility administer Rocco Massey concerned the vital importance of “making rounds” walking around the floors, connecting with patients, staff and visitors as the best way to maintain a high quality of patient care and satisfaction.  Every trained chaplain learns that lesson early.

After one week of hospital duty at ARH, I try and take it all in, patient by patient, profoundly grateful for life.  But, this month I’ll be sixty-six years old and no one lives forever.  I, too, will face a day when news about my health will not be good, when, like so many in health care settings, my fears will be real as I notice my own health break down, when mortality grasps my hand and will not let go.  So, I ask, “What has being a chaplain at six different facilities in thirty-five years taught me?”

Above all, I affirm that each day I live will be acknowledged as a pure gift, a moment of time that is unique, unrepeatable that must be savored,  Second, I resolve to live each day with one primary purpose; to try and show love or respect to at least one other child of God.

And finally, the greatest gift that I can offer to my Heavenly Father is my heartfelt thanksgiving.  For it is simple gratitude that is, often, the most healing medicine to humankind and it is thanksgiving that transcends all time and death.

Saint Ambrose said “No duty is more urgent than that of returning thanks.”   Michael Levine wrote “The sign outside the gates of salvation says “Be grateful.”

The devotional speaker for the next ABC Men’s Breakfast on Nov. 8th at 8:00 am will be Rev. Jonathan Turner.

As always, we hope you’ll be able to join our fellow men for food, fellowship and some very good words.

Operation Christmas Child

by Debbie Vanaman

It’s November and shoeboxes are starting to arrive here at FBC.  Even though collection week doesn’t start until November 17th, your generosity in sharing God’s love to children around the world is truly awesome.  But we’re not finished yet.  We need one final huge push to hit the national goal of 10 million (yes that’s right 10 million) shoeboxes.   West Virginia always has a huge contribution and I am confident that this year will be no different.

On Sunday evening, Nov. 2nd at 6:00 p.m. up on the 3rd floor we will be having a shoebox packing party to pack the items that you have donated into shoeboxes.    We could always use another pair of hands.

As I said collection week starts November 17th and runs through November 24th.  During this week, I may need some help in the evenings packing up cartons. (I’ll give a shout out via email and text message if help is needed.)    If all goes according to plan, we will load up the boxes that have been collected on Saturday, November 22nd – time to be announced.  This is where I need the strong muscles of FBC.  These cartons can be heavy but with enough hands,  it usually goes smoothly.

It truly amazes me each and every year how the people of Beckley and Raleigh County come together and help spread God’s love around the world.   On behalf of myself and the Southern West Virginia team of OCC, I want to thank you in advance for packing a shoebox, working the collection center, packing cartons or loading our truck.  Without your help, prayers and your support, this mission would not be a success each and every year.


by Doc Adkins

It’s officially autumn!  On certain recent days it seemed like winter but rest assured it is autumn.  I remember the bold autumns of my childhood in Hinton. That smell of smoke coming from the chimney. A well thought through pantry of all kinds of stuff canned from the garden. Fall apples in a bushel basket on the back porch for anyone to partake when they entered the screen door on their way into the kitchen entry of the farm house.

I recall the bright summer sunshine giving way to a deeper golden glow that casted a rich light over everything.   The soft summer breeze picked up a cool edge that rattles across the pavement with the fallen leaves.

I once heard that a tree shows its true colors only once photosynthesis has stopped and the green of the chlorophyll gives way to the gold or crimson or rustic specific to its variety. I find that so interesting–a tree spends most of the year growing and storing energy and only once it begins to rest can you see its “true colors.” 

People are often described as being in a particular ‘season of life.’ If there are parallels, our prime years would be autumn, right? At about the point we’ve passed the summer season of youth, we’ve reached the place where we can live off the wisdom we’ve gained through our experiences. We aren’t as worried with impressing anyone, even though we’ve finally developed some of our most impressive characteristics–a lack of self-consciousness, a new self-confidence, wisdom that overcomes insecurity, grace to let others make the mistakes we’ve already learned from–just to name a few.

I’m not as old as I look,  (at least, that’s what my birth certificate says,  but I so  enjoy playing the Geezer part of life.  And, I do look forward to my check in a few years). Part of me would love to look in the mirror and see unlined skin and hair.  And what IS left of it, is masked by the ever-increasing silver.  At the same time, I’m glad that I’m not the person I was in the ‘summer’ of my earlier years.

In our youth-obsessed culture it’s easy to overlook the value of growing and maturing. But just like trees grow and mature and produce fruit at the right time, hopefully, so do we.

The Bible puts it this way, Psalm 1:1-3

“Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take  or sit in the company of mockers,

But whose delight is in the law of the LORD, and who meditates on his law day and night.
That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers”.

Wherever you may fall on the season of life’s spectrum, take time to appreciate what God has done so far and anticipate what He has ahead.

“Nourishing the Body That Nourishes the Mind”

by Joyce Mills

The backpack food program discreetly provides nutritious, child-friendly, easy to prepare food to 17 chronically hungry children in everyday backpacks to take home over the weekends and out of school time.

What a wonderful program for children which

  • Provides nutrition
  • Eases their anxieties
  • Reduces absenteeism
  • Improves attention span
  • Raises academic performance
  • Increases self esteem

There are several ways that you can help us.  We can always use donated food. For the month of October you are asked to bring cans of soup, especially Chicken Noodle and Tomato.  You can also donate money to help buy food.

You can volunteer to fill backpacks on Wednesday at 5:00pm.  You could volunteer to pick up our food orders from the Mountaineer Foodbank at the drop-off point.   You could pick up the backpacks at Beckley Elementary and bring them back to the church on Wednesday morning for a month.

We have 27 people who do specific jobs for the backpack ministry.  There are many of you who give money very faithfully each month.  Of course, there are many of you who also purchase food each month.  We always need Peanut Butter because each child gets two jars each month to go with the fresh loaf of bread provided each week.

The foods must be kid-friendly, shelf stable, easy-to-prepare, and nutritionally sound, so it is important for us to choose the foods wisely that will make up the backpacks each week.  Thanks to you who have joined the fight to feed hungry kids and we invite others to join us .

You are Invited!

You are invited and encouraged to come and meet Lauran Bethell who is a global consultant on Human Trafficking.  Her main goal is to initiate and encourage new grassroots projects addressing the exploitation and abuse of women and children, many of whom are victims of trafficking.  While based in The Netherlands, she travels extensively throughout Europe, Asia and the Americas, teaching, training and consulting.

On Monday, October 27th from 10:00 to 11:50 am the Joy Circle will be hosting a Mug and Muffin here at the church in Fellowship Hall to meet Ms. Bethell and listen to her presentation.  Bring your favorite mug and muffin and share in some fun, fellowship and facts.   Later that day at 3:45 pm the women of the Greenbrier/Raleigh Association will meet with Lauran in the parlor.   To conclude the day, we will meet at Pasquale’s Restaurant at 5:00 for dinner and fellowship.

If you can attend even one of these sessions, you will be truly blessed.

October Youth Update

Fall is officially here and with it comes some great opportunities for our kids!

September 27:  We’ll be heading to a hayride and bonfire at Pipestem State Park.  Dinner and transportation will be provided.

October 5:  Our kids will have the opportunity to meet at Okes Family Farms at 2 pm.  Bring your lunch.  Some activities available at the farm include:  face painting, corn maze and bouncy houses.  You can also purchase pumpkins at the farm.

October 29:  We have a costume party planned for 6 pm.

We are also pleased to announce the formation of the FBC Youth Council.  This group provided wonderful ideas for programming, events and attracting new kids to join our group.  The Youth Council will meet regularly and continue to provide feedback and identify opportunities.

Stay connected with our kids for lots of exciting times.  Follow us on Twitter (@beckleyfbc)  and Instagram (beckleyfirstbaptist).

As always, we appreciate your prayers and support as we grow in friendship and faith!

ABW Ministries Plans for the Fall

by Sharon Volpe

The Executive Board of the ABW Ministries met on Sept. 8th.   This was a fall planning meeting and we have several events coming up in October.   That’s right around the corner ladies!   So get your calendars ready!

Saturday, October 4th at Breckenridge Baptist will be the Raleigh Baptist Association Fall Rally.  Registration is at 9:30 and the meeting will start at 10:00.  We will be taking our church van and will be meeting at the church at 8:30 am.  Parking will be available on the college side of the church.  This is always a fun event and I’m hoping to have a large turnout. The speaker is going to be Lisa Simmons who is a very dynamic speaker and should be very interesting.

We are  asked to bring individually wrapped snacks to the meeting which will be going to the Raleigh Regional Cancer Center.  There are times when patients are there for treatment all day and they need these snacks. Each church was asked to briefly speak about a “special community service” that their church provides.  Our special service that we are highlighting is the “Backpack Ministry”.  Helen Greene and Joyce Mills will be making this presentation.

There is also going to be a special surprise presentation for recognition for 93 years of service for Eula Stephens.   This should be an exciting day for all ABW members.  Please plan to attend.   There will be a sign up sheet in the office for van riders.

We will be having an ABW general meeting on Tues. October 14th at 6:00.  Dessert refreshments will be provided.  Each of our officers will be giving a brief comment of their office and their duties.   The devotion will be “Come To The Table” by Karen Nicholson of First Baptist Hurricane.   This will be presented by our officers.  Please come out and support our ABW ministries.

Also don’t forget Women’s Day at the West Virginia American Baptist Convention.  That will be Thursday, October 16th at the Vienna Baptist Church.    

So you see ladies?  We have a very busy month ahead of us.  It’s time to get up, get out and give God the Glory!!!

ABW October Update

by Norma Gunter

The Special Project, for 2014, Moorefield Hispanic Ministry is the other ABW project  I mentioned last month.  Back in 2005 the ABW Special Project was to provide seed money to hire Juan Aragon as the Hispanic Ministries’  Strategist.  He is now a permanent West Virginia Baptist Convention professional staff member.  Since then the church in Moorefield has become a field ripe for harvest.  The goal for this project is $15,000.  This money will be used to help fund a missionary and other outreach programs of the church.  Moorefield is a community with a large Hispanic population.  Through the ministry of Comunidad Luz y Vida (Light and Life Community Church) they have the opportunity to reach out for Christ to immigrants.

In the West Virginia Newsletter 2014 Annual Association Edition, Juan Aragon said, “Love removes the prejudices that hinder us from reaching those unlike us.  Love compels us to care.  In West Virginia we have been given the privilege to join God in what He is doing in the lives of Hispanic immigrants. These are women and men who have come to the USA motivated by the need to feed their families, to provide shelter, to survive violence, to obtain a future that might not be possible at home.  As we follow and remain in Jesus may the spirit of love open our eyes to see and serve them.” May we give generously to this project.

A short report on my families trip to Camp Cowen for Camp Global August 27-31.  When my daughter, Marcia, heard about Camp Global she remembered her many summers at Camp Cowen and wanted her 13 year old daughter, Lauren, to have a camp experience.  So, along with her husband and my two sisters we headed to Cowen.  Camp Global was a Family Mission Camp with missionaries, international guests and Bible study leaders.  There were programs for all ages along with music, vespers, hands-on activities and good food.  The theme for the camp was “We are Unstoppable With God.”  My 13 year old granddaughter enjoyed the camp so much that she wants to come to the Family Camp in 2015.  Camp Cowen is our Baptist Camp located on the Gauley River in the Monongahela National Forest.

Saturday October 4 is the Fall Rally at the Breckenridge Baptist Church.  Lisa Simmons, Associate in Mission Support and Adult Discipleship with the  West Virginia Baptist Convention, is the speaker.  We have invited the women from the Sunset Hills Baptist Church, Coal City, WV, to join us.  The church was voted into the Raleigh Association at the last meeting.  Ladies make plans to come, enjoy a great meal and meet the new women and make them welcome.

The West Virginia Baptist State Convention Women’s Day is October 16, 2014 at the Vienna Baptist Church.  Make plans now to attend the “Women as Agents of Change” day at the convention.

Watching the Pews on Sunday

by Rev Robert A Wendel

Most folks in the church know that being a chaplain at Beckley VA Medical Center is what, originally, brought me to Beckley nine years ago.  Before doing that specialized ministry, I had been a four-time pastor for congregations in New Hampshire and New York.

In my very first local clergy meeting in the Garden State, one of the more experienced fellow pastors said “Robert, over time you’ll be privileged to hear the stories of every person or family in your pews.”

So, I can’t help it.  Each Sabbath, I try and notice who has joined us in worship. Conversely, I make a mental note of who is not present that week.  There are a whole bundle of reasons why potential worshipers are missing:  the flu bug bites, health care or retail personnel must work, the car won’t start, the snow drifts are just too deep or grandchildren beckon.  My own mother worried, “I might start coughing, bothering those around me.” These days, being in church is merely a one weekend option.

A philosopher once observed that in life we always find time for the things that are really important.  Jesus put it another way “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”  Luke 12:34.  He didn’t make church-going a pre-requisite for finding the kingdom of heaven; he only promised that he would be present whenever two or three were gathered in his name (Matthew 18:20).  That, it seems to me, is a good enough reason for his fans to huddle up regularly at the meeting house.

Fred Bauer, an editor and free-lance worker for Guideposts, a trustee and fellow pew sitter who became a supporter and good friend of mine while I was a student minister at Christ Congregation, Princeton wrote, “Whenever worship becomes a burden, heal my blindness O Heavenly Father.”

Thinking about adult discipleship, Lisa Simmons of WV/ABV advised “How often we in the local church experience and allow the slow fade of adults from our community of faith.  Make it simple.  Let the person know they were missed.”

You have the Power to Change the World Through a Shoebox

by Debbie Vanaman

It’s October, fall has officially begun and shoeboxes is in full swing again this year.   Your donations of school supplies and personal items were tremendous.   For the month of October, we will continue to collect personal items and will also be collecting small toys (stuffed toys, trucks, flashlights, & batteries, etc).  These can be left in the large Samaritan’s Purse cartons located in the sanctuary and also in fellowship hall

One of our OCC staff people went on a mission trip last year to Haiti and she shared a story with us.  They arrived at a local church to find over 300 children waiting for them.  They gathered them all inside, told them why they were there to talk about Jesus and to present them with a special gift.  When they started counting heads and shoeboxes, they realized they only had half the boxes they needed.  So they had to divide them into the group that would be getting a box and those that wouldn’t.  It broke their hearts to have to tell these children that they would not be getting a shoebox that day.  Luckily (or maybe how God planned it)  several weeks later after they had left a second shipment of shoeboxes came in and those children were given their boxes.   This is why it’s so important to support this ministry both with your boxes and your prayers.

A church-wide packing party is in the planning stages at this point to pack our shoeboxes – Remember I asked for 75 boxes.  I’ll keep you posted on the date. I will also be asking for some helping hands during collection week to receive and pack shoeboxes as they come in.   Don’t wait for me to ask you – ask me how you can help.   You can catch me in the church office any day or call the office at 304-253-4252 and leave a message for me.  As always, thanks for your support and continue prayers for this ministry.