December Newsletter

From the Pastor

So far we have explored who the Baptists are and have started to locate them on the Christian family tree, if you will. Baptists are Christians and Protestants in that they affirm the basic core doctrines of Christianity as well as the principles of the Reformation (See my previous two newsletter articles). But the Baptists can be sorted and labeled another way, too.

The history is a little complicated, so I’ll try to keep it concise. The story begins in England, in the aftermath of the English (Anglican) Reformation. It was a time of great upheaval as the Catholic Church was disestablished from its previous position throughout Europe. In its place rose the idea of a state church or of one principality following one kind of denomination (e.g., Saxony was all Lutheran; the English were all Anglican). Which is fine, but what about those who did not believe in the tenets of the state church? Such was the case with many during the early 1600s who came to be called Separatists, Puritans (remember the Puritans?), or Dissenters—and sometimes even Nonconformists!

One of those Separatists was an Englishman named John Smyth, who was ordained as an Anglican priest in 1594. Smyth’s reading of the Bible led him to reject some of the official positions of the Church of England. Because of religious persecution, Smyth went into exile in Amsterdam (in Holland), along with his congregation, and in 1609 he formed what is remembered as the very first Baptist Church.

Smyth’s teaching became the backbone of the Baptist movement, and it still forms the basic DNA that Baptists around the world follow. Besides the Reformation ideals (remember the Five Solas?), the big Baptist ideas are:

  • Believers’ baptism by immersion (opposed to the Catholic, Anglican, Reformed, and Lutheran practice of infant baptism)
  • Absolute autonomy of the local church, led by pastors and deacons
  • Individual religious liberty (freedom of conscience) and the separation of church and state
  • No creeds or confessions (the Bible alone is sufficient for faith and practice)
  • Informal, non-liturgical (“free church”) worship, based on the Bible and spontaneous prayer

The Baptist way eventually came to the New World in the hearts and minds of many hope-filled Puritans. One important figure was the abolitionist Roger Williams, who founded the Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations in 1636. In 1638, Williams formed the First Baptist Church in America, in Providence. And the rest is history—another story for another day.

Blessings and Peace to you all. And may the joy of this season fill you with hope.

Pastor Ray

Diaconate Meeting Minutes

Diaconate meeting of First Baptist Church was held on Sunday November 11, 2018. The meeting was called to order with an opening prayer by Rev. Ray McCalla.

Minutes of last diaconate meeting were read and approved.

Sunday school will start at 9:30 instead of 9:15 as reported in the Quarterly report.

Reports are on file from Vicki Brown, Financial Secretary; and Luella Bartelson, Benevolence Secretary; Sandi Rhoads, Treasurer.

Ray says we can use recorded music on the Sundays that Jan Highfill will be gone and he will arrange that.

Hand bell choir practice will be on Wednesday the 21st.

Discussed basement estimates for the parsonage. We will discuss more when we get the second estimate from WCI in Carroll.

The stool in the men’s restroom overflowed from Friday until Saturday night. Don’t know what the cause was. Jerry will see to repairs for the stool. Service Master is going to come the first of the week to suck up the water and dry the carpet.

Respectfully submitted,
Vicki J. Brown, Church Clerk

November Offering Summary:

$13,760.00 for local
65.00 for missions
50.00 for Myers
80.00 for World Mission Offering
10.00 for Tim Rice
10.00 for Ruth Mooney

Prepare the Way

The congregation of First United Presbyterian Church have invited us to share in their Advent tradition. Wednesdays December 5, 12, and 19 we will gather for a soup supper (food provided) and a study of Christmas carols. 6:00-7:30 p.m. in their Fellowship Hall.

Christmas Cantata

The Cass County Choral Society will present “Sing Joy to All the World! A Christmas Celebration” on Friday, December 21, at 7:00 p.m. at the Atlantic High School auditorium. There will be a free-will offering for the group. If you can’t make Friday night, there is a dress rehearsal on Sunday, December 16, at 7:00 p.m. at the Heritage House.

Hanging of the Greens

Make our house of worship look merry and bright! After worship on Sunday, December 2, we will decorate our building and share a potluck lunch.

Christmas Eve Service

Worship Christ, the newborn King, at 4:00 p.m. on Christmas Eve. We will join the Presbyterians at their gathering place.

Diaconate Meeting

The deacons will gather after worship on Sunday, December 9.

American Baptist Women

ABWM will not meet during December.

Retired Ministers and Missionaries Offering

We will be receiving the RMMO four Sundays leading up to December 16. The roots of the RMMO originated in the mid-1930s, when American Baptist congregations received a Communion Fellowship Offering on the first Sunday of each month to support retired ministers, missionaries, their widowed spouses, and elderly pastors within their churches. In 1977, American Baptist Churches USA launched RMMO to continue this appreciation of God’s service. The offering is rooted in thankfulness and honors the individual acts of support and faith that recipients have shown to their congregations and communities. This year’s theme, Extending Our Hands to Our Neighbors illustrates the importance of being there for one another and remembering we are stronger together then on our own is central to the Christian faith.

Tour of Churches

Ever wonder what some of the other church buildings in town look like on the inside? This is your opportunity to see them! The Atlantic Ministerial Association, along with the Chamber of Commerce, is sponsoring the Tour of Churches: Sunday, December 16, from 3:00-5:00 p.m. Visit the participating churches in town and see them in their Christmas-Advent splendor. Refreshments will be offered at each stop. If you would like to help host our stop, please visit with Ray. Tickets are $10 and are available from Pastor Ray or the Chamber office. All proceeds go to the Ministerial’s Helping Hand Fund.

Handbell Choir

Our ecumenical handbell choir will be performing at our joint Christmas Eve service, at First United Presbyterian Church (4:00 p.m.). Our rehearsal schedule is this: November 28, December 5, 12, and 19, from 5:00-6:00 at FUPC. If you can lift a bell and count to four, please talk to Pastor Ray. We need ringers!

B.U.M.P.Y (Baptist-United Methodist-Presbyterian Youth)

BUMPY will meet at FUPC during Advent (11/28, 12/5, 12/12, 12/19) from 6:00-7:30. There will be a soup supper followed by a study of Christmas carols. We will return to our regular schedule in the new year.

Christmas Giving

Are you tired of giving and receiving too much stuff for the holidays? Then make your gift count! Instead of buying stuff, give the gift of clean water, livestock, medicine, or mosquito nets to those who need them most desperately. And do it in honor of your loved ones. Visit World Vision ( to see what you can do this Christmas.

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