Happy New Year!

When does the New Year begin? Well, it depends. The calendar year runs from January 1 through December 31. The Ridge Church year begins September 1 and concludes August 31. Finally, the Southern Baptist Convention year begins July 1 and ends on June 30. I know it is a lot to keep up with, but someone has to do it.

The Nominating Committee has been busy enlisting folks for the upcoming church year that begins September 1. I hope that when you are asked to serve you will prayerfully consider your response and focus on reasons to serve rather than reasons not to serve. As members of The Ridge Church, we have a responsibility to find areas to serve cheerfully with the gifts that God has equipped us.

Several pressing areas of need include our preschool department. The leadership is in place and assistants are needed. If you have questions or can help one or two Sundays a month please contact the church office.

Now when it comes to the SBC New Year, I want to share some exciting information from the past year.

July 1, 2017 – June 30, 2018

Total Baptisms:  13

New Members

Baptism:  11

Statement Of Faith And Baptism:  6

Letter From SBC Church:  1

Total New Members:  18

Total Receipts:  $ 260,167.00

We Labor Together with God, Wes

What are your plans for serving God through The Ridge Church this year?

In our Sunday small groups, we are studying the life of Nehemiah; “Nehemiah: Building a Life of Service.” The point of last week’s lesson was, Serving God requires intentionality. In other words, serving God is not done with leftovers. To serve God we must intentionally plan to serve God.

When given the opportunity to rebuild Jerusalem’s wall, Nehemiah knew this would take planning. He had to gather resources, secure, motivate workers, and provide protection. It was a difficult situation.

Planning is quite biblical. When Nehemiah prepared to present his request to the king, he had a plan ready in case the king granted it. When he arrived in Jerusalem, he made more plans to rebuild the city walls.

Serving God requires intentional planning. We see that point illustrated in the life of Nehemiah. We understand the point as something we should apply.

That is the lesson and here is an application: What are your plans (intentions) for serving God through The Ridge Church this year? The church year begins September 1st. What are your plans (intentions) for supporting the ministries and programs and activities of The Ridge Church?

Where would you like to serve? What would you like to do?

  • Can we count on you to participate?
  • Can we count on your financial support?
  • Can we count on your enthusiasm?
  • Can we count on your prayer support? In praying, Nehemiah became the answer to his own prayer.

What are your plans and intentions for serving God through The Ridge Church?

We Labor Together with God, Wes

Have you been a guest at church lately?

Last week Debbie and I were on vacation. We made minimal plans and simply enjoyed the lack of structure for a few days. It all worked out well.

We headed to Nashville and then on to Mobile, AL. We stayed at a quaint little place in the old part of Mobile and had dinner with Charnel Et-tawill and Jacob. They were excellent hosts. We ate at The Original Oyster House overlooking Mobile Bay and watched the alligators head to their homes for the evening. What a marvelous sunset. I will post a picture on our Facebook page.

From there we motored on to Marietta, GA and visited with Debbie’s sister, Rhonda and her family. On Sunday, we attended church at FBC Mableton.

Since I am not accustomed to visiting churches for the first time, I relished the opportunity to take on the role of GUEST.

Entering the parking lot was quite intimidating since it was rather large and there were several points of entry. I was not sure where I was supposed to park until I spied the “guest parking” sign. Next, I was searching for the entrance. Not just
any entrance but the correct entrance. I remembered a sign as I was parking pointing to the worship area. As we entered the building my nephew, Andrew, escorted us. Otherwise, we would have had to make the very long trek to the
sanctuary on our own.

Finally, we were where we were supposed to be and were greeted by several members and a few of the staff. Overall, finding our way was a good experience.

I must say though, if there were greeters, in the parking lot it would have alleviated a lot of stress and given us more confidence in where we were going and what we were supposed to do.

Thank you parking lot greeters of The Ridge Church for your dedicated ministry!

We Labor Together with God, Wes

VBS Gorham

As I write this article, we are in the middle of VBS at Gorham. What has been a great week is getting greater each night!

While many have been involved in the planning, prayers, and providing financially for this mission project I specifically want to give a hats off to the following:

  • Bible Study:  Courtney Griffith
  • Parenting Workshop:  Pam White
  • Music:  Debbie Henson
  • Recreation:  Allie Hottensen, Jakob Wilson
  • Crafts:  Lisa Hottensen
  • Records and Assistants:  Angie James, Dennis Howell, Mat Phillips
  • Snacks:  Lynette Yates, Linda Garlinghouse, Karen Dover
  • Meals prepared and served:  Jenny & Louie Hertter, Lisa Hottensen, Courtney & Bradley Griffith, Adult 4b, Adult 3
  • Encouragement by attendance and participation:  Kay James, Betty Jo Raney, Myrtle Huppert, Nancy Wells, Susan Russell, Butch & Rosie Herter, Louie Hertter V, Lilly Barr

Our involvement in Gorham is making a difference in the lives of the people there as we share the gospel of God’s love. Just as important, our involvement in Gorham is making a difference in the lives of those of us here, who have
given time this week to be in Gorham.

On another topic: I’m sure you have noticed the Newsletter/Bulletin combination. We will experiment with several different layouts over the summer. The goal is to
keep everyone informed with the many activities, ministries, and happenings On The Ridge through the most effective and efficient means possible. We also want the format to be appealing so it will be read.

One more thing: Have you been anywhere this summer? Take a picture and put it on the bulletin board.

We Labor Together With God, Wes

I Just Don’t Know What to Expect

It’s very difficult for me to make that confession but it is true. Monday evening we begin Mission VBS in Gorham and I have no idea what to expect.

These are a few of the many questions running through my mind right now.

  • Who will show up? How many will show up? Will anyone show up?
  • Will it be too hot?
  • Will we have enough food?
  • Will anyone participate in the Parenting Workshop?
  • Will the folks from The Ridge Church be disappointed?
  • Will they complain?
  • Will I be disappointed? Will I complain?
  • What have I forgotten?

Actually, I do know what to expect!

I expect that however many or few we have in attendance that each one who attends will know that Jesus loves them and we love them as well.

I expect that the gospel will be the central focus of the week. No doubt, the games, crafts, and recreation are a lot of fun and they will reinforce the daily Bible study. However, the main emphasis will be telling the children and their parents about Jesus.

Everything else is secondary to the great purpose of sharing with each child, Jesus loves you and he came to save you.

I expect that those who are unable to participate in person will be praying each night for the children, parents, and volunteers.

Further, I expect God to do a mighty work in the midst of us all for his glory!

What a great week we have ahead of us. I wouldn’t miss being a part of it.

We Labor Together With God, Wes

All Aboard!

Wednesday night we pondered the significance of Genesis 2:5 “no shrub had yet appeared on the earth and no plant had yet sprung up, for the Lord God had not sent rain on the earth and there was no one to work the ground.”

The verse reinforces the truth I shared Sunday that “God works through you.” The application of that truth was experienced Sunday afternoon #OnTheRidge with the “Blast of Splash.” There was a great turnout of Ridge folks to meet the many guests that came to enjoy the many streams of refreshing water.

God desires to work through you even though it is not convenient. Where in scripture do we hear God say, “Lucky you, this won’t be difficult, I’m calling you to the easy task, the one without personal sacrifice.” Nowhere!

Spending a week of evening hours in Gorham is going to be inconvenient. It is too far to go, it is too late in the evening, there is too much to do at home, there are other activities already scheduled for the week. The list of true inconveniences goes on, and God responds, “Yeah I know.

I am truly grateful for those who, in spite of the inconveniences, are making the sacrifices with a happy heart and a positive attitude, to “labor together with God” in reaching the families of Gorham with the “Good News.”

We Labor Together With God, Wes

Mission Action Opportunity – Get on Board

In Southern Baptist life, much is made of Missions. Missions is an important part of who we are as a people of God. Our mission is to reach people with the gospel of Jesus Christ so they have an opportunity to accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior.

Over the years, “The Ridge Church” mission involvement has often been measured according to the amount of money given so other people can do missions. However, missions is not what other people do, it is what we personally do.

The South Carolina WMU (www.tinyurl.com/TRC-MissionAction) website reinforced this idea in my mind this week. Their site included a reminder that, “mission action activities always include a witness. Mission action is hands-on involvement. It is not giving other people materials to do the work for you. … Also, remember mission action is ministering and witnessing to people who are not members of your church or church programs.”

The Ridge Church has always been very involved in Missions. Right now, we are collecting cans of green beans for the Murphysboro Food Pantry.

July 9-13th we will embark on a new Mission Action Project – VBS in Gorham. We will definitely be hands-on giving testimony of the gospel to those who have no connection with our church. You have an opportunity to be “hands-on” involved.

We need your help with meals, participation, financial support, and prayers. Will you “Get on Board”? Register as a volunteer at tinyurl.com/GorhamVBS2018 or call the church office. There is a place for everyone.

We Labor Together With God, Wes

Is VBS Worth It?

When you plan for months and then pour your heart and soul into a week’s worth of VBS, you might sometimes ask yourself, “Is it worth the effort?

After all, VBS is not cheap. It requires a large investment of money. While The Ridge Church has budgeted, $2,000 for this year’s VBS, that just covers the basics. We are so fortunate that our VBS volunteers shoulder most of the cost of each year’s VBS.

VBS also requires a large investment of time. The time invested includes the 15 hours of actual VBS (9-noon,mon-fri). However, there are many hours of lesson preparation and room preparation. Oh yes, and the daily responsibilities at home pile up (literally). Then when all is completed its time to tear down and clean up.

VBS also requires a large investment of understanding. Children come from a variety of backgrounds and ways of learning. We are a rambunctious society and the days of sitting still for a lecture have long since passed. The challenge becomes finding ways to connect with each child so they can hear the gospel and feel God’s great love.

Is it worth it? Those of you, who have invested yourselves over the years in VBS, how do you answer that question? We would all love to hear from you. Will you take the time to write/email me a note?

We Labor Together With God, Wes

No Summer Hiatus

I was beginning to wonder, but I do believe that Summer is here. It would have been nice, however, to have had a little bit of Spring in the mix. Nevertheless, Game On!

As Summer approaches and family plans and getaways take shape I remind everyone that the ministries and financial needs of the Ridge Church do not go on hiatus. The financial responsibility of each member of The Ridge Church continues through each season of the year.

In the midst of our Summer re-creation, there is also a need for weekly worship together. Whether you are in town or out of town find a place of worship each Sunday. It will deepen the meaning and purpose of the rest of your activities.

While not always the case, I am sure that most family plans can be put on hold for an hour. In fact, one might consider worship part of the day’s plan for everyone.

Summer #OnTheRidge is actually a very busy time. With the arrival of Memorial Day we are off and running. We begin with Vacation Bible School in June (June 11- 15). Following that, our #SummerSundayNights #OnTheRidge schedule begins. The complete schedule is inside. These activities are intended to bring people together to connect, relax, and enjoy. It’s great family time.

Please remember to pray for Gorham. We are in need of volunteers to provide and serve a light dinner before each night of VBS. Day 1 has been assigned. Let me know how you can help.

We Labor Together With God, Wes