We are coming upon a milestone in our church’s life… this year we celebrate 125 years of ministry to the good people of the Olympic Peninsula. For those with an interest in history, I’d like to point out that we have several copies of a booklet titled “Our First Hundred Years”. It’s a great read detailing the ministries of First Baptist from 1890-1990.
In seeking direction for how best to celebrate this milestone, I turned to our denomination for inspiration. In 2014, The International Ministries of the American Baptist Churches, USA celebrated 200 years in the mission field! Wow!
And in reading their article which was boasting about their 200 years of ministry, a theme become abundantly clear. The focus was clearly to present the vision to charge ahead into a third century of presenting the hope of Jesus to people who do not know him. It was as if to say, “Hurray for our faithfulness of the past 200 years! Now, quickly – let us discern how we will continue moving ahead in this first year of our third century of sharing the Gospel."
Under the heading of “Responding to the Call” the International Ministries article stated the following:
Celebrating God's faithfulness in the past and present flowed into seeking God's guidance for the future as participants in the World Mission Conference added their voices to IM's spiritual discernment process, Responding to the Call.
As part of IM's intentional movement to deepen its embrace of the mission call, in 2013 IM's Board of Directors launched Responding to the Call: Discerning God’s Direction for a Third Century of Mission. This highly participatory process involves consultation with the entire range of mission partners with which God has blessed IM. Together, IM and the members of this global network are answering the following questions:
- How should IM respond to God’s call to be a “light to the nations” so that his salvation may reach to the ends of the earth?
- What does IM look like when it’s at its best?
- What should IM continue doing, and what new things is God calling IM to do in the future?
I believe our denomination got it right! We best celebrate our past success of connecting people to Christ by staying focused on reaching the next generations. It is especially inspiring when we consider that the reason our church is able to celebrate our 125 years of ministry is because, many years ago, our denomination found it worthwhile to invest in the future of the Peninsula. Back in 1890, they sent the Rev. W. T. Lamb on a one year mission outpost to share Jesus with a bunch of fishermen and loggers. In our first 9 years as a congregation we had four different ministers come to this outpost to share Christ with the people of the Peninsula. In the year 1900, our 10th year, we had no pastor. There were even several years where due to the difficulties of ministry, our church failed to function. But by 1913, we were up and running again. In 1919, our church was fully self-supporting, meaning that we were no longer depending on denominational monies to keep the church operational.
Think of the vision, of the commitment, and of the sacrifice it took for those earlier pioneers of the First Baptist Church to set the foundation for what we have today. And as you contemplate that question may it lead you directly to ponder – what is God calling us to do that will lay the foundation for future generations to celebrate that our church still stands?
Under the direction of the Elder Board, we have a team continuing meeting to pray, discuss, and discern God’s will for how we are keep on reaching our next generation with the hope of Christ. May we continue to follow Christ proclaiming his Good News for many more years yet to come. Hallelujah!
Blessings all, Pastor Tim