Midweek Message 07/28/2021


Hello and welcome to Midweek Message #68!  I’m so glad you have allowed me into your inbox (and therefore, your life) for just these few short moments. You have no clue how much I appreciate it. Some people tell me I can be annoying at times (but I won’t mention Jo and Tami’s names), so I sure hope you don’t feel that way about the MM. I guess you have the best of both worlds: the MM without me! 🙂

First, I want to let you know how Saturday’s Back to School Expo went. A little history for the unfamiliar. The Expo started a few years ago and found a home-originally- at OV Middle School. Folks would come to the school and pick up their backpacks. But, like many other things in 2020, the pandemic changed the way it was done. Aaron LaGrange (the Middle School principal at the time) and Marce King, the director of the Owen County Chamber of Commerce (OCCC) got their heads together and came up with something new. Why not have a sort of parade where the students (actually their parents) drove them through different stations at the fairgrounds. These stations were teachers with signs, the high school band playing, cheerleaders with enthusiasm, a real life alpaca, and others. It all culminated with each student present in a vehicle receiving an age-appropriate backpack. This was where I worked the past two years and it is so much fun! The joy of the kids is priceless! In 2020 we gave away around 500 backpacks with the rest going to the schools. This year we gave away 600+ backpacks with the rest of the supplies going to the various schools.  I was speaking Monday with someone who works in Monroe County about the Expo and they marveled at what we did, then she asked me if there was an income limit or any stipulations. I said it was for all students and the only stipulation was they had to be in the vehicle to receive a backpack. Please understand these are new supplies, including the backpacks. Spencer Walmart (Zach Redman is the District Mgr.) played a huge part, Owen Co. Community Foundation, Boston Scientific, Youth Services of Monroe Co., Title 4D, and Valley Optical also donated funds. OVCF gave $500 for the supplies. We honestly do care about our schools and our students and want to do what we can to help out. In a very real way, your giving helps us do things like this.  So…thank you for your generosity!

It is hard to believe school starts in a week. UGH! I can hear it from many. I’m telling my age here, but I can remember when school was out the Friday before Memorial Day and didn’t start until the Tuesday after Labor Day (September). Three whole months of summer bliss. Well, no longer and I am predicting never again!  (What powers of deduction I know). Anyway, with the onset of school comes a need many students have: food on the weekends. During the summer, the Lions Club makes meals available every day free of charge. They do a wonderful job with that!  During the school year, another approach is taken. Every weekend and over breaks students in need are given food to take home. The program is called BACKPACK BUDDIES (BB) and OVCF has been involved since its inception.  Pastor Ryan and I were called in on the initial plans for it with Mr. LaGrange and Mrs. Allen. Some of our folks helped pack the bags each week that first year or two. Now, thanks to the many groups in the school who have gotten involved, we have taken a step back (except for Linda St. John who is still directly involved) and help supply the food for distribution. During the month of August, BB will be our mission focus. Diana has made up some lists of supplies needed. I’d like to ask you to pick one of them up and do what you are able to do in helping supply needed food. Just to help you put it in perspective, 200+ students took home food each weekend and during breaks last school year.  If you are reading this, and can’t physically be here but would like to help, you may write a check to the church and we will give the money to BB for them to use.  Thanks for helping us make a difference in our community, and specifically, for the students in need of food in our school system.

Speaking of school, don’t forget to pray for all our administrators and teachers. We have a new Superintendent (Mr. Cline) and a ton of new teachers. Pray for all the students this year as well. Even though things are more “normal” this year than last, adjustments will still need to be made by all.

I’d like to remind you about Mike, Trisha and Ryan Laws being with us Sunday, August 29th. To give you a chance to meet them outside of Sunday morning and to give us a chance to get together for a meal for the first time in almost two years, we are planning on having a cookout/pitch-in on Saturday, the 28th, starting at 6:00 PM. Our plan is to have it at the shelter house unless the weather dictates we come inside. We will cordon off part of the parking lot for the kids to play safely. Hamburgers and hotdogs will be provided, but please feel free to bring what you are able to eat grilled and/or a side dish. Come and go as you please, but do take a few moments to join us and celebrate with us.

I just finished a book last week called Hope Always by Dr. Matthew Sleeth. It is subtitled How to be a Force for Life in a Culture of Suicide. Every single day, someone you or I know is thinking about taking their own life. I hate to be glib but it has become a pandemic. COVID has magnified it, especially among our young people. Dr. Sleeth was an ER physician and chief of hospital medical staff who at the outset of his medical career was an atheist. He has since resigned to teach, preach and write about faith and health. He was in his 40s when he (and later his Jewish wife) came to faith in Christ. One characteristic he mentions is the loss of hope so many have. And when you listen to “experts” talk about the pandemic that is the one thing they always seem to mention: the loss of hope so many felt/feel. Of course, it is more than just the pandemic that has brought about the hopelessness of so many. I don’t have the space to go into more detail but let me just say that while followers of Christ are not immune to suicide, we do have an anchor that so many do not have. Hope you are clinging to that anchor.

The “dog days” of August have already hit us (and it’s only July). Let’s bring in August with a great month of optimism and celebration. I look forward to seeing you Sunday, Lord willing!!

Pastor Bill

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