News Articles

SBC DIGEST: VBS previews; Tennessee church shares blessings; NFL great Mark Pike dies

VBS Previews set to help churches ‘maximize kingdom impact’

By Aaron Wilson/Lifeway

NASHVILLE (BP) – As ministry leaders and volunteers look forward to next year’s Vacation Bible School, Lifeway Christian Resources is offering preview events for churches to get their first look at the 2022 theme, train and equip their teams, and be encouraged to make next summer the best VBS ever.

This January, Lifeway will provide six VBS Preview events in four cities. Each event will include both English and Spanish breakout sessions so leaders can prepare for VBS 2022 “Spark Studios” or EBV 2022 “Estudios Destello,” both of which revolve around a theme that explores the creativity of God and His image bearers.

“Attending a VBS Preview is one of the best ways to energize and equip your team for VBS,” said Melita Thomas, VBS and kids ministry specialist for Lifeway. “It will be the first chance many people have to see everything for ‘Spark Studios,’ and more importantly, to see how it all comes together to strategically point kids, teens and adults to Jesus. VBS Preview is also a prime opportunity to network with other VBS leaders, learn from one another and share ideas.”

This is the first year that VBS Preview participants have the choice of attending a traditional two-day event or a one-day Friday or Saturday option. The latter was added to this year’s schedule to allow VBS leaders and volunteers to attend without having to miss a day of work. Two locations will be hosting the single day events, while the other two locations will host the traditional two-day gatherings. VBS Preview dates and locations for 2022 include the following, with registration open at vbs.lifeway.com:

  • Friday, Jan. 7 – First Baptist Church, Nashville, Tenn.
  • Saturday, Jan. 8 – First Baptist Church, Nashville, Tenn.
  • Friday-Saturday, Jan. 14-15 – Sugar Creek Baptist Church, Houston
  • Friday, Jan. 21 – Travis Avenue Baptist Church, Fort Worth, Texas
  • Saturday, Jan. 22 – Travis Avenue Baptist Church, Fort Worth, Texas
  • Friday-Saturday Jan. 28-29 – Ridgecrest Conference Center, Ridgecrest, N.C.

Each VBS Preview will feature a fully stocked VBS store to allow ministry leaders to shop in person for curriculum, decorations, promotional materials and more. “Participants will also be able to see all the decorations and come home with ideas on how to bring ‘Spark Studios’ to life in their churches, and there will be plenty of door prizes, giveaways and VBS swag,” Thomas said.

In addition to providing VBS training, preview sessions will equip ministry leaders with helps to hone classroom skills, provide a safe environment for kids, and recruit and mentor new leaders. Breakout sessions will also be available for student and adult leaders.

Thomas says these preview events are about maximizing the kingdom impact of VBS, which remains one of the most popular church programs in the U.S., according to Lifeway Research. Six in 10 Americans say they went to VBS growing up, and 95 percent of parents whose child attended VBS say it provided a positive experience.

“In the summer, it’s the grown-ups who make VBS happen for the kids, but in January, we get to experience VBS for ourselves,” Thomas said. “We’ll sample the snacks, play the games, make the crafts, learn the songs, hear the Bible stories, and be together. There’s nothing else quite like it.”

More information about Lifeway’s 2022 VBS Preview events, including how to register, can be found at vbs.lifeway.com.

First Baptist, Hendersonville, passes blessing on to others

Baptist and Reflector Staff

HENDERSONVILLE, Tenn. (BP) – When First Baptist Church, Hendersonville, finished the past fiscal year with an overage, church leaders decided to share the blessing with others.

Pastor Bruce Chesser, center, and Bruce Raley, executive pastor of First Baptist Church, Hendersonville, present a check for $200,000 to Randy C. Davis, president and executive director of the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board. The check represented an overage in the church’s funds this past fiscal year.

First Baptist Church presented a check for $200,000 to Randy C. Davis, president and executive director of the Tennessee Baptist Mission Board on Sunday, Dec. 5.

“Because of God’s blessings on our church this past fiscal year, we are excited to be able to bless others with this gift,” Chesser told the congregation.

“God blessed us financially with a financial overage this fiscal year. But, we do not believe He intended for us to hoard this money. God provided it to be used for Kingdom purpose.”

The funds will be designated $100,000 for Cooperative Program, and $25,000 for each missions offering (Lottie Moon Offering for International Missions, Annie Armstrong Offering for North American Missions and Golden Offering for Tennessee Missions). In addition, $25,000 is designated for the new partnership with Hawaii Pacific Baptist Convention for churches to have Vacation Bible Schools. (Last month, messengers at the 2021 Summit – the annual meeting of Tennessee Baptists – approved a new partnership initiative with the Hawaii Pacific Baptist Convention).

All of these gifts are in addition to the funds designated in the church budget.

Davis expressed appreciation on behalf of Tennessee Baptists.

“I appreciate the exemplary Great Commission second-mile generosity of First Baptist Church of Hendersonville and the visionary leadership of Dr Chesser,” Davis said.

Former Bills great Mark Pike, son of Kentucky Baptist pastor, dies from cancer

By Mark Maynard/Kentucky Today

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP) – Mark Pike, a standout on the Buffalo Bills special teams units of the 1990s AFC champions and the son of a Kentucky Baptist pastor, died Wednesday after a battle with non-Hodgkins lymphoma.

Pike played his entire 13-year NFL career with the Bills after coming to the team as a seventh-round pick out of Georgia Tech in 1986. He graduated from Dixie Heights High School in Erlanger, Ky., and was born in Elizabethtown.

He was the son of Harold Pike, who was recognized during the Kentucky Baptist Convention annual meeting in November with the Lifetime Evangelism Award.

The elder Pike, who is 86 and has been the senior pastor at First Baptist Dayton (Ky.) since 2011, was standing with his wife Martha when he became emotional talking about the loss of one son to cancer 11 months ago and now a second son, Mark, who also had cancer and COVID-19 followed by pneumonia. He said Nov. 16 that Mark was on a ventilator.

“I really, really want you to help us to pray that we will not lose another son,” said Pike, his voice cracking. “As moms and dads, we assume we’ll die before our kids (but) it’s been the other way around, I know for a lot in this room, that may be true, too.”

A brilliant athlete, Mark Pike played on all four of Buffalo’s Super Bowl teams led by Jim Kelly. Pike was a special teams dynamo with more special teams tackles (255) than even the more acclaimed Steve Tasker, who was a perennial All-Pro special teams selection.

“He was a big man who played special teams which was a matchup nightmare for our opponents,” Tasker, one of his longest tenured teammates, told a reporter for the Buffalo Bills website. “He was a unique specimen. His ability to run and play special teams with his versatility was unbelievable.”

As he battled cancer this fall, Pike attended the Bills’ Week 4 home game against Houston to serve as the club’s Crucial Catch honoree. Crucial Catch is the NFL’s program to fight cancer through early detection and risk reduction.

Mark Pike is survived by his wife Sharon, their two sons, Ezekiel and Malachi, and their daughter Kramer. He was 57.

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