January 2021 Newsletter

A Word from the Pastor: Hope Is Greater

It was a dark year, for sure. We lost much during 2020:

  • We lost the freedom to move about and do what we want without having to think constantly about being exposed to the novel coronavirus.
  • We lost the ability to visit lonely souls in nursing homes and other facilities.
  • We lost many community events like the Cass County Choral Society’s concerts.
  • We even lost a sense of civic unity after a bitter election season.

But more personally, in our congregation, we have lost some precious saints during 2020. Marlene Hess, Jim Bartelson, and Carol Smith all passed away this last year. And it is during these dark days of winter—along with the holidays—when we become acutely aware of our losses.

Various surveys have identified that Americans have rated their mental health as declining over the course of 2020. According to a Gallup survey in November of 2020, several subgroups of Americans reported their mental health as significantly worse off when compared to November of 2019 (change in percent reporting good/excellent mental health):

  • Women -10 points
  • Unmarried people -10 points
  • Older Adults -10 points
  • Middle- and High-income Earners: -12 points
  • Irreligious People -12/-13 points

With all this, there seems little reason to be optimistic and all the more reason to be pessimistic. Sure, the vaccines for the COVID-19 are coming, but with few guarantees of their effectiveness and after significant losses, we shouldn’t get our expectations too high. But I would like to say that optimism is overrated. Optimism is not a virtue. Optimism demands real progress in the world, and it can lead us to look at the world through rose-colored glasses. And when things don’t go right, optimism vanishes.

But hope is another story. Hope is a virtue. Hope is not the same as optimism. Hope is greater than optimism. Because even when things are dark, even when losses are heavy, and even when our mental health is poor, hope shines brightly, defying the darkness and the loss and the depression.

Even if our society is fractured and divided, hope that God will eventually and completely overcome human sin is certain. Even if the coronavirus has ravaged nursing homes, our foundational hope is that God will wipe away all tears in the Age to Come. Even if we have been forced to say goodbye to our loved ones before we were ready, hope in the Lord Jesus—who overcame death by his resurrection—gives us comfort beyond anything the world can offer us.

In Gallup’s survey, there was exactly ONE subgroup who actually saw an improvement in their reported mental health: those who attend religious services weekly (+4 points). Now a “weekly attender of religious services” doesn’t mean that the person is a Christian, but it’s about as close a marker as we have in demographic-speak. And surveys don’t establish causality (whether psychologically healthy people go to church or whether people are psychologically healthy because they go to church). But, put another way, while the world was falling apart with anxiety and depression over the calamity that was 2020, those who put their hope in Christ were undaunted. And this makes sense. Hope is evergreen. It is not based on the ebb and flow of the seasons or natural disasters or pandemics. Hope is rooted in the eternal God who has come to us in Jesus Christ.

In this new year, I pray that you will be filled with the true hope that comes from Jesus, for nothing else is worthy of our devotion.

Pastor Ray

The Life of Our Church

New Sound System

We have been blessed to purchase a new sound system for our sanctuary, and it is nice! Many thanks to the memorials that were used for this new system: in memory of Marlene Hess, Jim Bartelson, and Carol Smith. We are grateful for their gifts. And many thanks to Evan Smith for consulting and installing the system. We are grateful for his gifts, too!

We pray that this new equipment may serve God’s purposes into the future. Scripture proclaims that “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” (Romans 10:17 ESV) We pray that people will be able to hear clearly, not only through the new sound system, but through the Holy Spirit enlightening their hearts.

Online or In-Person Services

We are open in a “new normal”! Feel free to worship in-person, with common-sense precautions (e.g., masks and keeping social distance). But if you are uncomfortable coming to worship, you may worship virtually through our YouTube channel. We will stream the service live, and the service will be archived after that.

Please visit and subscribe to our YouTube channel to discover our videos:


Sunday School

“Socially Distanced Sunday School.” Bring your Bible and a friend. Every Sunday at 9:30 a.m. We will resume on Sunday, January 10, after Christmas break.

American Baptist Women’s Ministries

ABWM will meet on Wednesday, January 20, at 1:30 p.m.

Annual Congregational Meeting

Our annual congregational meeting will be after worship on Sunday, January 10, 2021. If you have items for the annual report, please get them to Ray by January 4. The status of the potluck lunch is to be announced, so stay tuned for more information.

Atlantic Food Pantry

The Atlantic Food Pantry has seen dramatically heavier usage this fall! They always need food and monetary donations. Please consider supporting the food pantry, either directly or by dropping off goods here at our sanctuary.

Ray’s Office Hours

Ray will keep office hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays, or by appointment. You can always call, text, Facebook, video chat, Zoom, etc.!

Communion in January

We will celebrate the Lord’s Supper on Sunday, January 3. And if you are watching worship on YouTube, you are certainly encouraged to participate at home with your own elements.

From Nancy Wheeler

Dear First Baptist Church Family,

May the music of Christmas fill your heart and home. Blessings at this Christmas and into the New Year.

In Christ’s Love,

Nancy Wheeler

From Pastor Ray

Dear Church Family,

Thank you so much for your generosity this Christmas season! I deeply appreciate all the cards, gifts, and expressions of affection. I am blessed to share in ministry with you.

Blessings and Peace!


Stay Connected!

Facebook: Follow our Facebook page for updates and alerts.


Text: Subscribe to our text message service for prayer requests and updates: Text (712) 250-1607 to be added.

YouTube: Subscribe to our YouTube channel. http://www.tinyurl.com/FBCAtlanticYouTube.

Newsletter: Visit our Web site and subscribe to receive our newsletter (blog) by email (at the bottom-left of the homepage). https://fbcatlantic.wordpress.com.

Diaconate Meeting Minutes from December

The Diaconate meeting of the First Baptist Church was held on December 13, 2020 with Pastor Ray McCalla leading us in prayer. Moderator Chuck Smith opened the meeting.

Vicki Brown, Church Clerk read the minutes of the Diaconate meeting that was held on November 8, 2020. No corrections or additions were made.

Reports were given by Vicki Brown, Financial Secretary; Sandi Rhoads, Treasurer; and Luella Bartelson, Benevolent secretary. Sandi reported that there is a balance of $36,664.67 in the checking account.

Old business – Ray reported that CenturyLink hooked up the new modem which cost $200.00 and Centurylink waived the $100.00 service charge and our monthly bill was lowered by $10.00 a month. Everything is working as it should now.

Evan Smith looked over our sound system and gave a report on a couple different options we could do. After discussing the options we decided to go with a complete system with new speakers & microphones and also to add a mixer to the system. With the mixer we can add components as we go. The mixer will cost around $1,200.00 and the speakers will run around $1,000.00. With all the new parts the price will be around $2830.00 & tax. Evan will install everything for $200.00. Lyle Brown made a motion to go ahead and have Evan order all the parts, Kyle seconded. A vote was taken and motion carried. Marlene Hess’ daughter felt this was a good way to spend the memorial money for her mom. We will have a plate made to put on the organ in memory of Marlene Hess.

Vicki Brown brought up that there is enough in the Deacon’s fund and if there is a family from our Church that could use some help we could make a donation to them. We wanted to make sure it was used by a family from our church since that is what the money is to be used for. Ray will check with one family to see if they could use a little help for expenses they have incurred.

We will have our Christmas Eve service on December 24th at 4:00 p.m. The service will be open to the public.

We will need to appoint new officers at the Annual meeting on January 10th. Vicki Brown asked if everyone would keep the officer positions they are currently in. We would change the dates that the trustees will serve. Everyone agreed to keep their current positions.

With no others business to discuss the meeting was adjourned.

Respectfully submitted, Vicki Brown, Church clerk

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