We have been faithful all year to recite scriptures together every Sunday morning in keeping with the year-long theme: “2021 – The Year of the Gospel.” I have preached sermons about the meaning of the gospel, the seven last words of Jesus from the cross, the seven “I Am” statements of Jesus, and now the prayers that Jesus prayed before He ascended back to heaven. To celebrate our year of the gospel emphasis, our church has successfully raised $27,000 to install our “Making Christ Real on Mundy Mill” digital sign by which we will keep the gospel alive to tens of thousands of people who pass by our church every day. Jesus said, “…If I am lifted up from the earth, I will draw all men to Myself” (John 12:32). Through our gospel sign, now totally funded, we will lift up Jesus to multitudes of unsaved and unchurched people.
Renovation work has continued during these difficult days. We are now poised to transition our ministry to the lower building, now fully renovated, to begin renovations on the upper building. The transition will take place on February 19th of this new year. We are under our renovation budget due to the tireless work of our people and the great relationships we have made with sub-contractors who have done their work in off hours saving us thousands. We praise God for the work of our Renovation Team and volunteers. We have come so far. There still is much work yet to do. We have taken our time, been patient, and made progress every day during this difficult year.
Recently, I said to our Deacon Body, maybe it is time for us to take Baptist off the name of our church. I have had some personal struggles with my own spirit and attitude toward the denomination of my upbringing. I am disappointed that Southern Baptists seem no longer interested in servicing small churches. Southern Baptists have become absorbed in mega church polity, national political wranglings, and social marketing pressures. We seem to have lost our will to serve rather than to be served. I am personally disappointed and broken hearted in the direction our beloved convention is taking.
My deacons responded to my disappointment with a hearty, “NO SIR!” They told me without hesitation that Grace is a Baptist Church and will always be a Baptist Church. I respect their commitment and their instruction. To that end, I will begin a new emphasis in 2022. This past year has been the “Year of the Gospel.” This new year will be the “Year of Our Faith.” We will focus this entire year on the doctrines we believe. We will restate and recommit ourselves to our Baptist roots. The focus scripture will be the one that led Martin Luther in 1517 to form the protestant reformation, “For by grace you are have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). I love Grace Baptist Church. I love our Baptist beliefs and confession of faith. I look forward to this new year, this new emphasis, and this new opportunity to serve the Lord Jesus together with you.