2018 was a bittersweet year for FBC. We said goodbye to three of our saints—Marilyn Knight, Frank Ewardsen, and Erna Whalen. 2019 has begun with our saying goodbye to Richard Kenders. Though we miss each one, we rejoice in their confessions of Christ. For those who know Him, to be absent from the body is to be present with Him.
We also said goodbye in a different way to Carl and Sarah Conrad, our music director and his wife. While we are always sad to see someone move away from our flock, we rejoice to know that he is attending a good seminary and that they are both getting new opportunities for service and training in the Lord’s work.
Though we had prayed for another intern to fill his shoes, God answered this prayer in an unexpected way. The Lord has brought us several new faces to FBC over the last couple of years, one of the families being the Hockemas. Instead of an intern, the Lord had already providentially arranged for us to add an experienced shepherd from within our own flock. Pastor Hockema has been a source of wisdom and blessing to me and the whole church. We are the richer for every family we receive, and I thank God for a plurality in our pastoral leadership.
Sometimes His ways are different than our ways, but we know that His ways are always better. As Proverbs 16:9 reminds us, “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps” (ESV).
Looking ahead, please pray that the Lord would bless our plans for 2019. We have our upcoming pastor’s conference in May as usual, and other events will be announced, hopefully more evangelistic events than last year, giving a healthy emphasis on outreach. Other plans include evangelistic services during March 15–17, evening services in the summer, and a handful more afternoon services than last year.
The most significant changes for 2019 are the additional services and evangelistic events. As to the evangelistic events, we hope to reach out more to others for the sake of making disciples. As to the additional services, while our Bible Fellowships are beneficial, a service for the gathered church is the greatest means of availing ourselves to the grace of God in a collective setting—grace through prayer, preaching, singing God’s praises, reading Scripture, and observing the ordinances. What serious-minded Christian can object to gathering with God’s people and receiving His grace in all these ways?
My hope and prayer for 2019 is that each of us will take full advantage of the times that the church gathers in order to grow in grace together. As we do, I pray that God will bless the quality of our church, give us a zeal for the lost, and thereby increase the quantity of the church through making disciples for Him. May God bless us in 2019!
Pastor David Huffstutler
Pastor Huffstutler regularly writes articles for our Sunday bulletin. See his bio on our pastoral bio page.