Monday, December 28, 2015

Baptist Temple Year in Review 2015

As another year comes to an end, it's time to reflect on Baptist Temple's ministry in 2015; a year filled with blessings and struggles. We recorded nine baptisms plus another four from Betel and three from Family Deaf Church; a total of 16. We also mourned the deaths of 14 members.

One notable worship event was our first Cowboy Sunday with “Cowboy” Charles Higgs preaching, a testimony from Mike "Shotgun" Franklin, and special music from Tom "Too Slim" Reynolds; a Rodeo-themed lunch followed. Holy Week featured a Palm Sunday drama, a midweek Seder, and an Easter musical presentation. On Mother's Day we honored the moms who, on this Sunday, brought the most children to church (Estelle Lindsey), brought the most family to church (Ruby Beaver), and made the most trips around the sun (Jean Williams). The Christmas season featured a Hanging of the Green service, a cantata (Bethlehem Morning) and a Christmas Eve service.

Our worship was enhanced by two music interns from the Baptist University of the America's. Won, from Korea, shared her skill with the violin and led the hand bell choir. Mateo, from Columbia, played electric guitar in the praise band.

The children and youth went on a variety of field trips; our senior adults enjoyed monthly luncheons; and our adult Sunday school classes enjoyed periodic parties. We had church-wide fellowships as well, including a Valentine's lunch, a Father's Day car show and lunch and a Thanksgiving dinner. The deacons' wives hosted a very special event to honor those in our fellowship who have been widowed.

Evangelism is one of Baptist Temple's historic strengths. All of our programs are established to bring people closer to Christ but some are closer to the point than others. Vacation Bible School is the high point of any Baptist church and it provided us an opportunity to recruit new workers and reach new people.

Our annual Fall festival brought over 500 people this year, thanks to Halloween falling on a Saturday. We are certainly thankful for the help we received from Highland Park Gifted and Talented Academy, Family Deaf Church and the band Resurrection Rising.

At Christmas, our youth blessed children whose parents are incarcerated. Church support was so overwhelming that we gave two gifts to every child. These gifts were given in the name of the incarcerated parent, at that parent's request. We had one child who had three requests for gifts; they were from both biological parents and a step-parent, each of whom is incarcerated.

Our free Wednesday night meals combine benevolence, fellowship and evangelism. The meal could be the only hot meal for some and, perhaps, the only opportunity to sit together as a family. The Wednesday night meal also revives a tradition of coming to church straight from work to enjoy dinner with your church family and attend a committee meeting or work at some ministry. One of those Wednesday night ministries is AWANA, a spiritual formation program for children. For adults, we have classes in a variety of life skills, prayer and Bible Study.

Deacons and staff agreed that spiritual formation was a top priority for Baptist Temple and began to pray and explore how we would draw our church closer to Jesus. As an answer to those prayers, God sent Don Nance, a friend of BT and member of Oak Hills Church, with a package of materials and an invitation to meet Randy Frazee. The result of that meeting was that BT joined more than a dozen San Antonio churches in simultaneously preaching a sermon series with accompanying Bible studies called BELIEVE. Fifty people enrolled in the program on its first day, reviving a Sunday night tradition that was once called Training Union and, later, Discipleship Training.

Highland Park Gifted and Talented (HPGTA) hired a new principal in 2015 which brought new energy to the BT campus. We worked together on maintaining the grounds, improving the playground, the fall fest, stocking the food pantry and getting a cross walk and school zone signal.

Visiting mission teams help extend ministry around San Antonio. Crosspoint Church EspaƱol wrote. “Thank you BTC for hosting us and loving on us with God's grace. We look forward to returning on our future mission trips. Thank you for praying for us before we left, your hearts and family of faith spirit was a refreshing blessing.”

Baptist Temple hosted the Immigration Services and Aid Center's Summer Training Institute. ISAAC is a Texas Baptist ministry to help immigrants obtain legal status. We also hosted the annual meetings of the Texas Baptist Conference of the Deaf and the Bi-vocational and Small Church Conference.

Our day care gets a new name reflecting a new ministry. The introduction of the A Beka curriculum and a partnership with Parent Child Inc. (PCI) have turned us into a premier provider of early childhood education and includes Early Head Start. Our enrollment has grown by 40% since 2009. The children celebrated rodeo, fiesta, Easter, Halloween, Vacation Bible School, and Christmas. Parents were treated to Thanksgiving dinner and a Christmas Pageant.

The San Antonio Baptist Association Hunger Walk, Texas Baptist Hunger Offering and Baptist Mission Foundation combined to provide nearly$5000 to our hunger ministries. These contributions, along with food donations and thrift shop funds amounted to 50,000 pounds of food and related items.

Elizabeth Cruz joined us this Fall as Program Director for our community ministries. She has deep experience and extensive connections with the service community in San Antonio. As a result we have agreements with Our Lady of the Lake and UTSA to provide Social Work students to serve as mentors in our food pantry.

We provide more than material items. This Fall we were able to help a homeless woman obtain ID so she could get into a shelter and a homeless family of four navigate options until they found a place to live. Our local Wesley nurses, Nancy and Sandy, bring health screenings flu shots and classes on health-related topics.

It will 110 years this Spring since the first meeting of the group that would become Baptist Temple. There have been many changes since 1906. The car had not yet gone into mass production but one day I-10 would tear through our neighborhood. The rapid southward growth of the city would soon move northward at an even faster pace.

Because Baptist Temple has adapted to so many changes and challenges, I am confident of the future.
“For I know the plans I have for you,” 
declares the Lord, 
“plans to prosper you and not to harm you, 
plans to give you hope and a future.” 
Jeremiah 29:11 (NIV)