2013 Pastor's Annual Report

2013 started with new found commitment to spiritual formation with the Different in 90 woodsplan for spiritual growth, development and renewal.

Different in 90 consisted of a multi-faceted program of daily Bible reading, prayer and fasting. The program incorporated the use of social media on Facebook and the church website. Members gave testimonials, did journaling and engaged in some small group discussion about the impact of practicing spiritual disciplines.

The program gave the church and individual members a much needed increase in energy and optimism about the church’s ministry moving forward. During the pastoral conversations that were held late last year one of the takeaways was the members' request for similar ongoing activities or programs that aid in spiritual renewal like Different in 90.

In an effort to engage the congregation around a host of topics related to the welfare of the church, we held multiple pastoral conversations. The purpose of these conversations were to have dialogue about the ways pastor and people can work together to strengthen our church. The conversations were fruitful and there are plans to continue the dialogues in the current year. Attendance for the pastoral conversations was less than what I hoped but provided a starting place to being ongoing talks that look for ways for us to practice congregational discernment.

What is the Spirit saying in the context of community where there are multiple witnesses of affirmation? The central task of the church and each believer is to come to know God’s will and congregational discernment is one of the spiritual practices to use to make such a discovery. Our efforts center on the use of the Bible, prayer and dialogue as the way to come to such a discovery. In the coming days I will be sharing a new effort with the conversation to do the work of congregational discernment as we make this practice a routine way of ordering our lives together.

In our Deacon Ministry meetings we have had much discussion around initiating our family group project again. The family group program was designed as way for the deacons to connect closer to individual families to help meet their spiritual needs. The family groups have been restructured with each deacon having a set number of families and deacons have started the process of contacting families to confirm contact information, status with the church and receive information about ways to strengthen our church.

By the end of February every family group should have been contacted by their deacon. The family group project will also be used to do small group fellowships and other activities that will help members get to know one another and build bonds. The family group project will also be used to collect information form members about a host of church-related topics including time of worship, structure, study opportunities and topics of interest and outreach projects. Our Deacon’s Ministry has agreed to continue to prayerful study and monitor what options work in the church’s best interest.

We were blessed this year to team with WBTV news to host a Team No Sugar Event which brought hundreds of person throughout the WBTV viewing area to our campus and provided great free publicity for our church. We are always on the lookout for community partnerships that will extend our footprint in the community and make First Baptist-West the place that helps to serve the larger community. We hosted both the Congress of Christian Education and the Annual Session of the United Missionary Baptist Association. I cannot thank our dedicated volunteers enough for the hours and service they gave to make both events not only successful but to establish a standard that UMBA expects others to follow in the future. These two events were only the second such events for the UMBA since the merger of Mount Peace and Mecklenburg General.

Our church supported two students last year in Liberia and is seeking to expand scholarship support to students through the Lott Carey Foreign Missions. Dr. Gregory Moss, president of Lott Carey, came to our church during a morning worship service and spoke to us about the work of Lott Carey and thanked First Baptist-West for past support. Rev Glencie Rhedrick from our congregation is the board chair of Mecklenburg Ministries, which is the largest interfaith religious group in our city. Through her able leadership Meck Ministries continues to be on the front line of building community beyond religious, gender and racial barriers. I had the opportunity to share in the last Moral Monday March before the legislature adjourned and encourage as many as possible from our congregation to become educated and involved. The next march will be Feb 8 in Raleigh.

This past year marked the Fifth Anniversary of the March on Washington and I participated with our youth in an event hosted by the Museum of the New South that brought Diane Nash to our city. Ms Nash was a major member of the Freedom Riders and SCNC. The interaction with Ms Nash was both educational and helpful. The youth continued their education about civil rights by going to Atlanta and visiting Ebenezer Baptist Church for worship and touring the King Center. These interactions were ways the church assured that our youth had an understanding over the path we have come as well as the critical role the youth played to make it possible.

During the course of the year I have preached 48 sermons, conducted 8 funerals, attended multiple funerals for members who lost loved ones, conducted three weddings, three baby dedications and made 53 hospital visits. I have conducted 36 Bible studies and logged over 70 hours in pastoral counseling. I have made numerous home visits to members upon request or upon death. I continue to keep an open door policy where members have access to me when necessary and I remain flexible to make appointments often times around the member’s schedule.

We completed the work on the refinance of the church loan as required by the terms of the pervious loan and for those who desire more information that information is available through the Finance Ministry.

We are now in a position to move forward in faith and take advantage of the wonderful opportunities that God has placed before us to grow this ministry and create a broader witness of goodness for the King of Kings in the Queen City. So let us move forward in faith together confident of what our God can do with those who trust Him and honor Him.

Gripped by His Grace,

Dr Ricky A. Woods
Senior Minister
First Baptist Church-West