Under Sail

December is a busy month for pastors and churches.  Some of the good things happening in the ministries of our churches are just now being forwarded to the District Office.  Here are some noteworthy things:
Coastal Community Wesleyan Church in Scarborough, ME:  Pastor Dwayne and Melodie Hopkins serve this congregation and community.  December 14th was the church’s annual Children’s Musical entitled “The Christmas County Spelling Bee.”  194 people were in attendance between the two services (lya 120).    Melodie shares, “One of the things that blessed me most was a little girl in our church who said to me before the musical, ‘Miss Melodie, I invited my friend and I don’t know if she knows Jesus.’  [Melodie] found out after the program that through this little girl’s invitation to her friend, the entire family of four including Mom and Dad were present in church for the first time.  A little child shall lead them!”
Also, on Saturday morning (12/20), part of Coastal’s choir – eighteen people – went to the Long Creek Correctional Youth Facility for their Christmas Chapel.  This was their fourth year, and they are already booked to return in December, 2009.  Pastor Dwayne and Melodie report these teenagers responded positively, even though it always takes a bit to get past the hard defensive wall they put up.  By the end of the chapel service, they were hugging the choir members as they left.
While the choir was having chapel at 9:00 a.m., at the very same hour, another man in the church took sixteen others from the church family to Preble Street Soup Kitchen to serve breakfast to the homeless.  This was Coastal’s fourth opportunity to serve at Preble Street/Wayside Soup Kitchen, and they plan to do it every two months, if possible, in 2009.  Thanks, Coastal, for resonating with God’s heartbeat, and making a difference in His Name.
Pastor Kevin Wilson from Halifax – Metro Wesleyan reports their church had fallen behind in their yearly budget in the last few weeks.  The pastor informed the people of the need, and just recently they saw a weekly offering of over $8,200!  This has put them back on track financially.
The Sunday before Christmas (December 21) Metro put on their Christmas program, “Christmas at Bethlehem Gulch,” and had an attendance of over 150 people!  Pastor Kevin says, “Our services for this Christmas season have been fantastic, with great enthusiasm, and the monthly average has been 113” (lya 96).
Fredericton Crosspoint decided to hold one Christmas Eve Service this year at the Fredericton Playhouse in place of doing three services in their sanctuary.  The sanctuary holds approximately 250 people and the Playhouse has 698 seats.  There were about 650 people in attendance including the 50 or so people on the platform and behind the scenes.  Tim Guptill is the Lead Pastor.
Pastor Jason (Emily) Rooney, Monticello Wesleyan, reports the Kids Christmas Musical (December 14) provided a great opportunity to connect with their community.  They had 130 people in attendance (lya 32), followed by an ice cream social.  This was a great turnout!  Congratulations!

The Moncton Christian Academy (MCA) celebrated its 25th Anniversary with a special evening at the Moncton Wesleyan Church (MWC), December 28th.  Many of the school’s alumni returned for the celebration service, which was followed by an Alumni Banquet.  A highlight of the evening was the recognition of Rev. Willie Brownlee in honor of the twenty years of leadership he has given as the Academy Administrator.  Our Christian educators are often “unsung heroes,” yet they are making a huge contribution to molding the next generation.  Pastor Willie is one of these people.
Special thanks to Serge and Lynn Gagnon who spearheaded an endeavor to raise funds to send Pastor Willie and Gail Brownlee and their family on a dream vacation.  The Brownlees will enjoy a seven-day cruise plus a week in Orlando, FL, including Disney tickets.  Our hat is off to the Gagnons for their efforts, and to all who made the evening a memorable one.  Congratulations Pastor Willie! Thank you for “staying the course!”
Emma Hicks was appointed this fall as a Global Partners Go-Net Employee to Czech Republic.  She attended the GP Missionary Orientation in November.  Emma is the daughter of Brian and Fern Hicks, and the granddaughter of Rev. Bert and Avis Hicks.  Emma is just beginning to build her support team, and she will need churches and individuals who are prompted by God to come alongside her, and support her emotionally, financially, and spiritually in the worthy endeavor of proclaiming Christ.
Global Partners has put together an excellent 2009 Prayer Calendar that focuses prayer for each month on particular fields, people, personnel, and needs.  I encourage you to get one, if you haven’t already.  Contact Global Partners, PO Box 50434, Indianapolis, IN 46250-0434 or email Peter Moore at moorep@wesleyan.org

Three serious situations needing our prayers:
1. Early in the morning, December 26th, James Bremner, the only child of Karrilee and Dale Bremner, was involved in a one vehicle accident on his way home.  His vehicle hit a patch of ice which led to a serious accident.  James was admitted to the ICU in the Moncton Hospital in critical condition with head injuries.  We are pleased to report that in the last week there have been measurable improvements in James’ condition for which the family is thankful.  However, there are many hurdles still to be faced.  Karrilee is my administrative assistant, and is known to many of you.  Her parents are Cedric and Marina Landers.  Karrilee and Dale thank you for your prayers and continuing support.
2. Charles & Ruby Bain’s 18-year-old grandson, Stephen Bain, son of Kevin, was in a one vehicle accident December 27th in Falmouth, NS, again because of icy road conditions.  Kevin’s mother, Diane, was killed in the accident.  She and Stephen were the only two people in the vehicle.  Stephen was admitted to the ICU in a Halifax hospital.  He has already undergone more than one surgery.  An imminent concern was that there would be a sufficient blood supply to his feet.  His right foot was crushed badly in the accident.  Stephen underwent surgery January 2nd and according to Pastor Mike White, Sackville Wesleyan, “The doctors are guardedly optimistic that they can save his right foot.  His left foot is doing very well and will require no more surgery.  Please pray that Stephen will have patience in the process of healing.”
Stephen’s mother, Diane, was the daughter of Clair and Frances Ford, charter members of the Sackville Wesleyan Church.  The Fords now attend the Kentville – New Hope Wesleyan Church.  Rev. Scott Prime held her funeral service January 2nd at the Kentville Wesleyan Church.  Our prayers and condolences go out to the Bain and Ford families in their loss.
3. Norma Lee Ricker, wife of Rev. Hazen Ricker, received word from her oncologist on December 31st that she has brain cancer and that she needs to start radiation treatments immediately.  The doctor said it was incurable, and possibly spreading to the bones and other organs.  The radiation treatments will “buy” her two to three months to live.  The oncologists will consult with another doctor the first of the week to see if they can operate and remove the cancer.  This would also “buy” Norma Lee a bit more time (to use her words).  She asks, “Please pray that God’s perfect plan will be carried out exactly as He has planned.”  Please keep this exemplary ministry couple in your prayers during these challenging days.
The 2008 Discipline of The Wesleyan Church is now available (on-line).  Every pastor should have a current copy of this book on hand for reference.  It’s customary for the Vice-Chair of the Local Board to also have access to one.  The 2008 Discipline is available in hard cover, soft cover and CD.  To order, go to:  http://www.wesleyan.org  Then choose “Departments” across the top, and choose “Wesleyan Publishing House” in the dropdown menu.  Choose “WPH Books” in the left-hand side bar.  The Discipline is the fourth book listed under New Releases.

The Atlantic District Ministerial is scheduled for February 3-5, 2009 to be held in Moncton, NB.  We have changed the time of year and location from some previous ministerial gatherings to provide a different venue, and also give opportunity for a mid-year break.  Our special speaker is Dr. H.B. London Jr., Vice President of Ministry Outreach/Pastoral Ministries for Focus on the Family.  He is a fourth generation minister and a graduate of Pasadena College (now Point Loma Nazarene University).  Rev. London pastored for 31 years.  He hosted a daily radio program, “Lifeline to Truth,” for 14 years in Salem, OR and for six years in the Los Angeles area.  He also had a weekly television program, “A New Way to Live,” in Portland, OR.  After serving three decades in pastoral ministry, H.B. accepted the invitation to become assistant to the president of Focus on the Family.  His assignment as Vice President of Ministry Outreach/Pastoral Ministries is to serve as a liaison to pastors and churches – a kind of “pastor to pastors.”  He communicates with thousands of pastors and church leaders each week through “The Pastor’s Weekly Briefing” and produces a bi-monthly Pastor to Pastor CD and newsletter.  He has co-authored several books with Neil B. Wiseman, and authored a couple himself.  This will be an excellent time of refreshment, input and team building.
Information has already gone out to our pastors and ministers regarding registration, accommodations, costs, and related matters.  I also sent a copy of this information to the local church vice chairs.  Please register soon, if you haven’t already.
It is only one week until the Annual Atlantic Snowbird Breakfast on Saturday, January 10, 2009 at the Country Kitchen Restaurant in Brooksville, FL at 8:30 a.m.  We look forward to greeting all our Atlantic District snowbirds at that time.
I will be in Saint John First Wesleyan Sunday, January 4th, and then leaving to attend the annual GS/DS Institute which is being held this year in Jacksonville, FL, January 11-13, 2009.  Joanne and I are taking a few days vacation prior to, and following this event.  We will be back on the District January 18th.  I will have my cell phone with me, but should an emergency require immediate attention, please contact the Assistant DS, Dr. L.D. Buckingham.
Joanne and I thank you for the many cards and remembrances over the Christmas holidays.  We very much appreciate your kindness, your prayers, and your friendship.

“There will always be more people willing to do ‘great’ things for God than there are people willing to do the little things.  The race to be a leader is crowded, but the field is wide open for those willing to be servants.”      – Rick Warren

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