Wednesday, January 27, 2021

Jonathan Clark celebrates 20 years at Baptist Temple

 Guest Blog by Robert Newman

Jonathan was called as Minister of Music to Baptist Temple in January of 2001. He had recently graduated from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary with a Master of Music after earning a Bachelor of Music from Oklahoma Baptist University.

Born and raised in El Paso, Jonathan became a Christian at the age of six and was baptized at Immanuel Baptist Church. He remembers struggling to understand what he was to do to become a child of God. He had sensed God's call into ministry since about the second grade but began to really consider God's call while finishing high school.

Jonathan stepped out in faith and discovered a fantastic world of worship. God called him into the area of music and worship. A call has been continually confirmed throughout his time in college and seminary studies. He discovered within himself a concern for corporate ministry to God, to the people of God, and to the unsaved community.

In 1991, he was licensed at Immanuel and served churches in Oklahoma and Texas. Jonathan is the recipient of several music awards including the 1995 Oklahoma Music Teachers Association Regional Voice Competition. He placed first in the college men’s division at the National Association of Teachers of Singing and was chosen as a member of the National Men’s Honor Choir by the American Choral Directors Association, both in 1995. In 1994, he received Oklahoma Baptist University’s, Helen Gaskin Church Music Award.

Jonathan found his concern for ministry was most effective when applied with concern for the individual. He has best been able to address this concern through creativity in ministry and worship and by organizing and using ministry resources. He believes that the church's responsibility is twofold. One responsibility is ministry. This means ministry to God first, then to the people of God, and then to the lost community.

The church's additional responsibility is making disciples. He believes that evangelism is essential for a healthy church ministry. He is still growing and learning as a Christian and a servant, and desires to be more Christ-like.

During his time as Minister of Music, he worked with choirs of all ages, leading tours and music camps. Purchasing handbells, he formed a handbell choir and took them on tours, and to workshops and festivals. His creativity enabled him to direct Easter and Christmas cantatas and transition our worship to a blended program with a worship band. Jonathan, also, supervised technical upgrades to our worship service including a new sound system, video projector and upgraded lighting.

When promoted to Associate Pastor, in 2009, Jonathan oversaw practical discipleship projects such as Financial Freedom Workshops and Abundant Life University. He supervised several major maintenance projects including a $300,000 air conditioning rebuild, complete roof replacement, upgrading exterior lighting, converting all interior lights to energy-efficient LEDs, installation of the cell tower and solar panels, and remodeling the Chapel. Jonathan was ordained on November 3, 2012.

Jonathan was promoted to Executive Pastor in 2018, which includes supervision of our early learning center. In a short time, he was able to bring financial stability to the early learning center, while raising academic standards and making teacher payrates more competitive.

During the pandemic, he secured a Paycheck Protection Plan loan to ensure our employees would still receive pay. Furthermore, we were able to provide childcare for the children of essential workers, purchase another van and grow our after school ministry.

A significant achievement for Baptist Temple in 2020, under Jonathan's supervision, was the completion of our inclusive playground. A place where children with disabilities can play with their friends of typical ability. The total cost of the project was nearly $250,000 in cash, material donations and volunteer labor.

As we emerge from the pandemic, Jonathan is helping Baptist Temple to expand and strengthen our ministry to the physical and spiritual needs of our community.

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Baptist Temple Year in Review: 2020

2020: The Year in Pictures

It is with great joy that I write this blog as a testimony of God's faithfulness. Even in the darkest times we can see Him at work. While the COVID environment created limitations and hardships, God created streams of mercy that enabled us to continue to be a channel of blessing to our community.

Towards the end of March, we shut down hard. All of our campus churches went online. Jubilee Academy went to remote learning. Our Early Learning Center closed and all campus activities were suspended. We did not know how long this would last.

I soon received an email that put us back into play. A lack of open childcare centers created a crisis for medical workers who were unable to return to work. Our newly hired daycare director, Kathleen, quickly went to work and, in two weeks, we had the equipment, protocols and training to reopen.

In order to stay close to our members in this age of social distancing, we commissioned our deacons and Stephen Ministers to be Phone Angels and make weekly check in calls to all our members. Robert Newman, our Archangel, and Minister to Adults, kept it running smoothly. He, also, created paths for online ministry so our worship and Bible study would continue.

Thanks to Jonathan, our Executive Pastor, we continued to improve our infrastructure to save money and enhance ministry delivery. Jonathan's most visible accomplishment was the completion of our inclusive playground. Work days continued in January as the equipment began to arrive. Construction is essential work, so it continued through the Spring and Summer. We dedicated the first inclusive playground in the Southside to God's glory in October, as a testimony of God's love for all His children. We received nearly $250,000 in cash, material and labor to make this happen.

In 2020, we collected and distributed over 55,000 pounds of food. During the shutdown Daniel, our Minister of Outreach, delivered food directly to our clients who were in greatest need and lacked transportation. David and Bertha led the way in determining ways to provide ministry through our thrift store and pantry in a safe manner.

Uncertainty caused many churches to cancel summer travel plans but we still had a 40 member team from Lee's Summit FBC stay at BT this summer. We also had five summer interns who assisted in worship and a variety of other tasks.

A partnership with No Place Left expanded our disciple-making efforts. No Place Left is a network that seeks to preach the gospel to the ends of earth until there is no place left that has not heard. A group joins us on Thursday mornings to prayer walk in our neighborhood and has provided training for our leaders. In the Fall we hosted a No Place Left residency for seven people (six are ministry students). The residency provides advanced training for evangelism.

We returned to worship in our sanctuary in May, with the new protocols in place. We maintained space between family groups, wore masks and avoided hand shakes and hugs. The 30 minute service reduced the amount of singing and the offering plate was not passed.

Soon Family Deaf Church, Sunny Slope and Rise Above returned. Another church, New Direction, started meeting on our Campus. (The Message and Life Change still have not returned.) Other groups began to return, including Jubilee and youth basketball clubs, all with new safety procedures.

Although it seemed to be a quieter year, much was accomplished. A group from the community has started working on the community garden, ensuring its beauty and utility. Under Kathleen's leadership the Early Learning Center not only survived but revitalized the after school program and helped us acquire a van to pick up kids from other schools.

All this was made possible through your prayers and financial support. Thank you for your faithful partnership that sustained us through a difficult year.

Behold, I will do a new thing,
Now it shall spring forth;
Shall you not know it?
I will even make a road in the wilderness
And rivers in the desert.

Isaiah 43:19 NKJ