I am not one who likes to dwell in the past. It’s wise to learn the lessons of history – to embrace those things that are good and reject those that are not – but I prefer to keep my focus, attention and effort on what is before me, not behind.
However, as this year rapidly comes to an end, I think it is good for us as a church family to look back at some of the ways God has blessed and continues to bless Southside Baptist Church.
The year 2016 brought continued growth in our membership, which is contrary to what most Southern Baptist churches experience today. As I write this letter we have already baptized eleven people this calendar year; we are regularly welcoming more than forty people to our Sunday School classes and more than seventy to our worship services (last week we had fifty-one and eighty-six respectively!). Children who attended our Vacation Bible School are being saved and baptized. This year’s Christmas Shoebox effort was a tremendous success! The spirit of our people is loving and welcoming, and our fellowship continues to be sweet.
All this is certainly encouraging, but there is so much ahead of us. Three of our members are preparing to work at this year’s Migrant Children’s Camp at Lake Yale the first weekend of December. Our choir is working hard to be ready for this season’s Christmas Cantata, “Emmanuel,” which will be presented at our Christmas Eve Candlelight Service. On January 1st, Elizabeth Ratliff, missionary to Zambia, will once again help us welcome the new year with her “Report from Africa.” Then it will be time for us to turn our laser-like focus on preparing for Vacation Bible School 2017.
Yes, rejoice in the blessings of 2016, but only for a moment! 2017 is here, and there is much work to be done. Merry Christmas!