Vacation Bible School 2017

Thank You
To all who participated in VBS this past week.
We had a great week with the children and youth.

113 students registered
53 Volunteers registered
Average attendance 113

Also, a special thanks to all who supported our
VBS Celebration Night on Thursday with
your attendance. Your encouragement is appreciated!

No one has a better VBS than we do. Our VBS workers make
all the difference and impact the lives of children for a lifetime.
Thank you sincerely for your efforts and ministry.

This Sunday morning at 10:15 am we observe the
Ordinance of Baptism.
There are nine baptismal candidates.

What a great time to be part of God’s work #OnTheRidge.

We Labor Together With God, Wes

The Most Important Week of the Year!

Monday morning we begin the most important week of the year for the Ridge Church. It is the week of Vacation Bible School. Is it an effective event? Is it a glorified babysitting event? To be sure, it is a financially costly event. It is a time costly event. It is a physically costly event.

But, is it worth it?

I believe this week of Vacation Bible School is worth it because it is the greatest outreach and evangelistic ministry of The Ridge Church. At no other time and at no other Ridge event will we have as many unchurched families as we will have during the next five days. We will spend 15 hours of time interacting and connecting with children and parents.

I believe this week of Vacation Bible School is worth it because it is a sacred week. God has provided us a tool to reach our community with the Gospel. It is worthy of scheduling our personal activities around this great God provided event!

About 25,000 SBC churches will conduct a VBS this summer. They will enroll about 2.8 million students and workers. If past years are an indication, about 80,000 professions of faith will be made; 2,000 decisions to pursue a vocational ministry; 231,000 prospects will be discovered with about 40,000 added to Sunday School programs.

I believe this week of Vacation Bible School is not only “worth it,” it is essential to the life of a functioning, growing church and community.

I came to know Jesus Christ as my personal Savior as an 8 year old boy at VBS. It is extremely important to me. I pray VBS is extremely important to you!

We Labor Together With God, Wes

Sunday – A Day For ______

I thought it was just me, but I guess I’m not the only one who marvels at all the Sunday activities that keeps folks from attending worship. In last week’s newsletter from Carbondale First United Methodist church, Pastor Rhein made a similar observation. (link)

He noted the frustration of so many Sunday morning activities as not just a community thing but also a universal occurrence. He writes and I concur, “I am not being critical of parents, and I am not saying that these young people are “scarred for life” because they miss Sunday school and [worship]. But I do think there is a need for a Sabbath that allows everyone to rest and refresh themselves from the activities of the week.”

He develops his thought by referring to the 4th commandment, “Remember the Sabbath Day to keep it holy.” (Our Sabbath is Sunday, reminding us of Easter and the Resurrection each time we come to worship.)

In Jesus day, it meant no work, and even limited the number of steps taken. In addition, there were 39 categories of activity prohibited on the Sabbath. However, these activities are encouraged on the Sabbath: Spending Sabbath together with one’s own immediate family, temple attendance for prayers, visiting family and friends (within walking distance), hosting guests, singing, reading, studying and discussing the Scriptures. According to Reform Judaism, “one should avoid one’s normal occupation or profession on the Sabbath whenever possible and engage only in those types of activities that enhance the joy, rest, and holiness of the day.”

Of course, I do not think we should list and enforce acceptable and unacceptable activities on Sunday I do however believe we need to remember Sunday as a day for 1) Worship and 2) engage in activities of “joy, rest, and holiness.”

We Labor Together With God, Wes

Summer Kick Off!

Summer has arrived! Graduations are celebrated, schools are out, and vacations have begun. To kick it all off we celebrate Memorial Day. I realize that some may conclude that the purpose of Memorial Day is to help us “memorialize” the arrival of summer.

Of course, that is not the case at all. Memorial Day, originally called Decoration Day, is a day of remembrance for those who have died in service of the United States of America. While several cities and towns vie for the honor of celebrating the first Memorial Day, one thing is for sure, the origin of Memorial Day is the result of The Civil War and a desire to honor our dead.

This weekend some will find their way to the cemeteries for the purpose of, as proclaimed by General John Logan, national commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, in his General Order No. 11. dated 5 May 1868: “strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land.”

Over the years, this observance includes decorating the graves of all men and women who died in any war or military action. In addition, we often take the time to remember and honor our loved ones who have died.

This Sunday morning at The Ridge Church, we will remember those friends, family, and church members who have died during 2016.

I hope you will find time to attend Sunday as we honor those who have gone before us and as we worship our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ who said, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die.”

We Labor Together With God, Wes

Church Membership Update

In just the nick of time, the weather is starting to follow the calendar. Whether this continues or not is anyone’s guess. After all, this IS Southern Illinois!

I would like to update you on a task taken on by the Church Council

Membership Update: One of the goals of the Church Council this year is to update the membership list. Currently WSBC/The Ridge has more than 720 members including 350 resident members. Obviously, this is not an accurate picture. .

Since January, the council has been updating the membership list (NO small undertaking). They will present their results in June. Two lists will be presented: 1) Members of Walnut Street Baptist Church and 2) Members of the Ridge Church.

Members of The Ridge Church are those members who attend the Ridge Church, support The Ridge church, and/or connected to The Ridge Church.

The WSBC members will be those who have not connected with The Ridge Church.

The plan is to present the two lists to the congregation in the middle of June for review. Questions will be referred to the Church office. Then a scheduled date will be set for church approval sometime later in June. .

Finally, we will have a current list of The Ridge Church members.

We Labor Together With God, Wes

Seasons of the Year

A friend of mine loves baseball. He knows just about any baseball fact that is worth knowing. When we visit, he shares some of the old baseball matchups. He has a treasure of St. Louis Cardinal stories stashed away in his mind that he pulls out one after the other and tells each one with little hesitation.

He has informed me many times that he wished baseball season never ended and as soon as the World Series is complete, he looks forward to the pitchers and catchers reporting to spring training in February. One might conclude that my friend’s year begins in February, ends in October, and just floats along the remaining three months.

In the church, we might conclude that the church year begins in the spring as we prepare to welcome Easter through the Lenten season, and ends in the winter as we anticipate Christmas during the season of Advent. I suppose it is fitting to consider the leftover months of January and February as a quiet time to refresh and renew. However, I am reminded that betwixt Easter and Christmas we have Vacation Bible School. Further, VBS is a major pillar of the church year.

Now that Easter has come and gone our attention turns to “Galactic Starveyors – Discovering the God of the Universe.” I invite you adults to join us on Wednesday evenings at 6:30 pm as we rediscover that the God who created everything is interested in a relationship with us.

We Labor Together With God, Wes

Are You Undecided About Easter Attendance?

Survey: One in Five Americans Undecided About Easter Church Attendance

Easter Sunday Church attendance is not a cut and dry decision for everyone – even for self-identified Christians. There are as many Americans saying they are not attending, as are attending, Easter worship services. However, 20 percent say they are undecided.

This undecided group includes those who rarely attend and those who attend only on religious holidays.

In addition, eighteen percent who attend only on religious holidays do not plan to attend on Easter, as do 92 percent who never go to church. About half of Americans who say they rarely attend church do not plan on attending at Easter.

Also, Americans age 55-64 are the least likely to attend Easter services (29 percent), but those 65 and older (50 percent) are more likely to attend than those in the youngest demographic: 18-29 (41 percent).

Folks of The Ridge Church, we must be mindful of our many friends and family who haven’t ruled out the idea of attending Easter Sunday. It may be that a personal invitation from you is what would make a difference to them.

Easter is the greatest celebration of the Christian faith. As one in five Americans keeps their options open, we have no reason to be shy about asking friends to join us for Easter worship.

We Labor Together with God, Wes

Share the Victory!

We have just concluded a very busy week on The Ridge. Most of it was packed into the weekend. On Saturday, visitation and funeral services for Dave Baggett were here, followed by a meal for the family. Your expressions of sympathy were a great comfort for Dave’s family as well as the outpouring of your help in providing and preparing the memorial meal.

Sunday began with the Ordinance of Baptism during Morning Worship as we welcomed Jakob Wilson and Jillian Wilson into the Ridge family. We can expect more baptisms following Easter Sunday. If you have questions about salvation, baptism, and membership, I am glad to discuss them with you. Please contact me.

Sunday afternoon was time for our annual Community Easter Egg hunt. We had a great turnout. The numbers are located inside “The Witness”. There were many people involved in procuring, filling and hiding over 5,000 eggs.

And then, our Sunday was complete with our Birthday Potluck as we recognized those celebrating birthdays during the month of April.

These events were opportunities for all the folks of The Ridge church to share the victory, give testimony, and demonstrate our faith in Jesus Christ.

The good news of Jesus is too good to keep for ourselves. We must continue to find ways to share it with others.

We Labor Together with God, Wes