Church Ministry Stories

Indiana Kachin Baptist Church

By the grace of God, Indiana Kachin Baptist Church is growing year by year. Despite all the members of IKBC are still struggling with the common challenges of first generation in America; such as languages, skills, and cultural and social adaptation, they are doing with their best to make their lives better day by days with the guidance and helps from the host church One Christian Church and ABCGI.

Indiana Chin Baptist Church

Tell us about a way you’ve reached out into your community.

God blessed us a magnificent church building, and we were very excited to have dedication ceremony on November 26, 2016.

How has the Executive Minister and/or ABCGI staff been of assistance to your church this past year?

Rev. Joan Friesen has been a wonderful leader as well as a close friend of ours throughout the year. We felt like she always kept us in the thought.

Iglesia Bautista Hispana Lynhurst

It was such a great blessing workshop “Amor y Respeto” (Ephesians 5:22-33) five couples participated during 3 months Jan – March every Saturday from 5 pm to 8 pm. As a result of it we celebrated two baptisms and a wedding.

It was a tremendous opportunity to teach, learn and play together!

Iglesia Bautista Betesda

Tell us about a way you’ve reached out into your community.

English as a second language classes, helping the Hispanic Community with immigration issues.

What happened?

Some families are coming to the church.

What event from the past year most excited you?

Our first anniversary

Why?

Brought joy to our church families

What new thing did you try in mission or ministry?

VBS

What did you learn?

We learned that children are very important in the church’s life.

What challenge did your church face?

To grow not only in members but in spirituality.

How is God bringing you through it?

God is blessing us every day and bringing more people to our church.

How has your church partnered with another church for ministry and mission?

With Emerson Avenue Baptist Church we have a good partnership that help both churches to grow.

How has the Executive Minister and/or ABCGI staff been of assistance to your church this past year?

Excellent, your prayers and financial support help us in everything.

 

 

 

 

Greenwood First Baptist Church

In 2016 First Baptist Church of Greenwood was going through a season of changes and emotions. We felt God was distant for a time but many kept praying and believing God had a plan. Wee did He ever! In July 2016 we hired a new senior pastor that had compassion and a direction for the church. Changes have taken place and continue to this day but in a loving, compassionate and God focused way. As we look back we realize that maybe we were too comfortable and God’s plan was to let things get shaken up a bit to make us realize and appreciate the church family as a whole and most of all to let the Holy Spirit fill us and be out guide.

Garfield Park Baptist Church

Garfield Park Baptist Church began a re-visioning process at the beginning of 2016. Jay Kennedy, Congregational Life Strategist, introduced the idea of exegeting the community to determine what should matter to our church. During the summer’s combined adult classes, Pastor Judy and husband Fred used scriptural reflection to help us listen for God’s vision. Jan Goodyear, Church Leadership Strategist and a member, helped us to flesh out the vision statement and map member and community assets. We are exploring where God is at work in our neighborhood and how we can join in by identifying organizations we can partner with, rather than creating programs of our own. Using region staff has brought great clarity in visioning anew and acting upon it.

I would say the Easter Egg Hunt and Community Fund Day events was most exciting.

The Easter Egg Hunt and Lunch has evolved into a whole church event that we have a lot of participation by man members.

We had folks that donated money, eggs and candy. We had a large group that met on Friday night and stuffed over 1500 eggs in just a few hours.

We also had 20 or 25 people on Saturday to hide eggs, sing songs, present the Easter Story. We fed every one lunch and just show Christian love and Fellowship to the families of the neighborhood.

The Community Fund Day was much like the Easter Egg Hunt. It not only involved a large number of our church people but also a few of the neighborhood organizations.

It was a day to give some love to the neighbors but also a way for use to partner with other groups in the community.

Both events were well attended (150-200) and very popular. They were times when we lived out our vision of “Bringing Light to the Park”.

I would say that all of the different Political opinions has been our challenge this year and I think it continues to be a challenge.

I think God is bringing us through this through Pastor Judy who is very aware of the diversity of thought in the Church. I think that we are striving to be respectful of others opinions and leaning on the fact that “What holds us together is much more important than what tears us apart”.

Garden Baptist Church

2016 was a very hard year for Garden Baptist Church. In February, Dale Heatherington ended his pastorate and it was a difficult ending that resulted in the loss of several families.

On August 1, Marie Wiese was called as the interim pastor and the church began the work of healing and seeking God’s direction for the church. With a core group of 15-17 remaining, the body has been asking whether Garden Church would survive. After several months, the church began to stabilize and the worship attendance had began to increase by the end of 2016 to 30-40 each Sunday.

The church formed a “dream team” which will meet throughout 2017 to discern next steps for Garden Baptist Church.

Emerson Avenue Baptist Church

Over the last couple of years we have determined that the ministry we have to offer is the ministry of our building. It is a large building on a busy corner in-between two very different neighborhoods. As a congregation we decided the best way to serve our community is to open our building to all who wish to use it. This past year we have become the home of the Irvington Performing Arts Academy, IPAA teaches performance based classes to kids from pre-school through high school. (In fact, as I type this I hear songs from their upcoming production make their way up the stairs and into my office.) We have also continued relationships with other groups that provided educational and spiritual support to our neighborhood. We view these relationships not as a tenant/landlord relationship, but as a partnership in ministry.

One of our major partners is Iglesia Butista Betesda. Pastor Jaime Flores and Pastor Justin Thornburgh operate as a team. There is mutual support and shared vision for the work we do together. The most impressive way we have partnered together this past year is by Emerson Avenue providing the space for Iglesia to begin English Language Classes for our immigrant friends. This program began as a partnership with Indy Reads and has evolved into our own in-house program led by a wonderful and very experienced staff. It is beautiful to walk into the church almost any day of the week and see God’s beloved children gathered together building skills and community.

Emerson Avenue is committed to being a place where the neighborhood’s needs are met through partnerships and community.

Congregation of Covenants

Several members of the Congregation of the Covenants embarked on a new ministry during 2016. A young man named Nate had shared his dream of starting a group he named “This Ability” for young adults who are interested in performing arts and have challenges of developmental disabilities. We partnered with Greenwood First Baptist who graciously provided space for these monthly gatherings. Anywhere from 12-20 would meet for a couple of hours on Wednesday evenings to sing, work on skits, share individual talents, and have refreshments. During devotions, we listened to one another tell how God has helped us through the challenges of life. Greenwood First Baptist offered their beautiful Christmas costumes so we could dress up and go caroling among the residents of Decatur Township Center in December. This ministry concluded with all of the congregation gathering with the group in lively worship and a Christmas Party at Jennifer Henry’s home.

What we learned is that there is a real hunger among young adults for opportunities to connect in a meaningful way – to share their gifts and their stories of faith. There were some who came that were unable to speak, yet communicated with their expressive faces. We found joy in each other’s company.

One of our challenges was differences in expectations about the focus of the group – how to find a balance between ambitious dreams of taking performances “on the road,” and the need of others for a more relaxed enjoyment of being together. We’re not sure if our involvement in this ministry was meant for only a short season, or will develop in a new way since Nate has moved on to be part of a performing arts group in a different town.

We are grateful for Nate’s passion, creativity and leadership. This ministry was possible because of partnering with Greenwood First Baptist. Since our congregation meets in homes, we needed a larger space for the activities of this group. We are thankful for the hospitality of Greenwood First Baptist and the help of Randy Pinegar.

Another new aspect of our ministry in 2016 was to begin our gatherings with a shared meal. This contributed to the creativity of our worship themes. One Sunday we had a “High Tea” event. We followed suggestions from Joseph Huse for this event in supporting the Longkumers and a new university in Nagaland. We learned more about the missionary work of Katie and Taku and the development of this new university. We sent a special offering to these two missions. Another Sunday, we served traditional foods from the Jewish holiday of Purim. We followed the tradition of dressing up as persons in the story of Esther and considered how our faith is challenged and strengthened as we partner in the saving work of God. Many of our meals included birthday celebrations of our members. Founding member Jean Perney hosted us in Bloomington for her 90th birthday!

During 2016, our pastor served a short interim as camps minister with the Baptist Student Foundation at Purdue. This blessed our congregation as we learned more about the young adults involved with BSF. Our congregation decided to increase our 2017 giving to the ABC campus ministries in our state as we have a better understanding of this meaningful ministry.

The house church congregation is based on the early church model found in the New Testament. We spent time in 2016 studying the history of our house church and several others including our sister congregation Celebration Fellowship. Our pastor presented a paper on house churches at our ABC Theological Round Table. In these times of change, it is helpful to consider the various ways God calls us to be formed into and serve as the Body of Christ.

Church of the Master

Christmas day was on a Sunday so many at Church of the Master gathered together to worship. In our worship, we received an offering as is our custom. But that is where things took a turn, a new experience. Instead of putting the money in a general pot and divvying it out, we decided to give the entire offering away. Half of the offering was sent to the Witmers in Thailand and the other half was sent to Kelsey Kegerreis in Indonesia, two missionaries we support. Because of the faithful and generous giving of the congregation throughout the year, we could give all of that away – an entire offering! We celebrated God’s faithfulness and provision and used the opportunity to encourage financial wellness in our personal lives as well. As a church, we are going to continue to make generosity at the heart of who we are because we fully believe that our God is exceedingly generous.