(This is Jimmy and Lew getting ready to judge the chili for the chili bingo night)
Mooreland Baptist Church has had a longstanding relationship with Red Hill Elementary School. We’ve always had church members who happen to be teachers at the school. Right now we have two teachers at Red Hill. Our church has always done our best to support the school and especially their PTO.
Every February Red Hill’s PTO hosts their annual chili bingo. Area folks bring crockpots full of chili hoping to be the winner. We also get out our stamps and play rousing games of bingo. Sometimes even a local radio DJ is our bingo caller.
The chili bingo is one of my favorite things to attend in the community. It’s fun to bring my own family to play bingo and eat together. It feels good to support the school. And it connects the church to the community.
Red Hill is a rural elementary school and sometimes lacks the fancy things the other schools in Albemarle County have. They’ve recently renovated the building and added onto it. It looks great. But Red Hill still needs support from the community. There are still plenty of needs.
We do our best at Mooreland to support the school. We send school supplies. We buy books at the book fair. We support the PTO events, including the color run. But one way we do this is provide chili judges for the chili bingo. Jimmy has been a judge for the chili bingo for years. Lew has joined in. And it is serious business.
Judging the chili for the cook off is just one way we support the school. But to me it’s the most fun. This is what ministry can look like-joining in the fun. Hanging out with our neighbors. This is what loving our neighbors can look like.
Here at Mooreland food is a central part of our worship, fellowship and community life. We eat monthly lunches together after worship. We participate in communion every month as we gather around the table in worship. We share a midweek meal together with area seniors. Usually when we get together, there’s food involved. And usually it’s fried chicken.
This week we are sending food to hungry people. We will gather with our friends from Cove Presbyterian Church and pack meals for Rise Against Hunger. We’ll pack over ten thousand meals. Adults, Seniors, youth and children will come together to pack rice, veggies, and a vitamin supplement and put them in boxes. We’ll even load them onto the truck and see it drive away.
It’s a very satisfying feeling to see that truck pull away. We see the fruits of our labors pull away in the truck. We send them off to hungry children and families. It may seem like a drop in the bucket, but it’s something we can do to fight hunger.
Jesus stood on the mountain and made five loaves and two fish feed five thousand people. I think about this as we get ready to pack meals. It may only be one truck load of food to help out some hungry people. But Jesus can multiply our efforts and use these meals to help out many people. That’s our hope and prayer.
How is God feeding you in your life? Maybe it’s your garden that you are planning right now. Maybe God’s feeding your spirit as your spend time alone with him. Or maybe God’s feeding you with food and fellowship. We believe God nourishes our bodies and souls. May we seek to feed hungry people.
Every month we get together to have Supper Church on a Wednesday night. It’s also known as the night when the church puts up with its pastor’s cooking. Anything that goes into the crock pot will do: Beef Roast, Pork BBQ, Taco meat, etc. Every once in a while I make a pot of soup on the stove. But most months, it’s the crock pot. My crock pot lives at church more than it does at home.
As pastor Supper Church is one of the most favorite things I do. I make dinner for a bunch of people, we eat together, we visit, and we do an activity that is good for all ages. It’s like a family gathering of sorts. It doesn’t even matter to me what the activity is, the more important thing is that we get together and visit.
The Christian community is what makes the church go around. Yes we worship together. Yes we study the Bible together. Yes we serve the community. Yes we support each other in times of need. Yes we celebrate things and mourn people. But if we don’t have a deep and abiding love for each other, none of this stuff means beans. We can have the coolest and most meaningful worship service, but if there isn’t love in the church, the worship service doesn’t matter much. We can have extensive service and mission projects, but if there isn’t love in the church, it doesn’t matter much. We can all read our Bibles and pray our little hearts out, but if there isn’t love in the church, it doesn’t matter much.
That’s why it’s important that I shove food into a crockpot every month and get everyone together to visit. Fellowship and love are what make a church go around. Neglect it, and the church falls apart. Every time.
As the temperatures cool down we tend to hibernate like bears. Let’s remember to visit and fellowship with each other. Let’s remember that our love for each other is what makes a church, a church. After all, loving one another is what Jesus commanded his disciples to do and it’s what he commands us to do.
This past Sunday I brought my daughter Norah to church with me. As pastor, this is a particular challenge because I find myself balancing teaching, preaching and potty training. It’s a challenge, but it is so worth it to see my daughter interact with church members who love her so much. The other thing is that my husband is a Presbyterian so she rotates churches. As a result, there are many Sundays when I have her by myself and he’s either worshipping elsewhere or preaching elsewhere.
When I joined the ministry I had no idea what it would be like to be a mom and be a pastor all at the same time. But now that this is where I find myself, I wouldn’t trade it for the world. It’s turned out to be a beautiful thing.
Mooreland is a small church, so my daughter goes to Sunday School either by herself or with one other child. Mr. Leighton is usually her teacher. He reads her a Bible story and then they do fun things. But this past Sunday Mr. Leighton couldn’t make it. Mr. Leighton is a farmer and his cows escaped their pasture. He had to go figure out how to put them back. So, Ms. Susi, Mr. Leighton’s wife, came to be with my daughter.
Susi asks me if she can take Norah to the farm to see a baby calf. Ernie the baby calf is having a hard time. He isn’t feeding from his mother and they are having to bottle feed him. So, he’s hanging out in the barn waiting for his next bottle. My daughter gets excited and I throw Susi the keys to my car so my daughter has her seat to ride in.
Both girls have a great time. My daughter hasn’t been to a working farm before and she certainly hasn’t seen a baby calf like Ernie. It was a new experience for her. And she gets to learn from someone who isn’t me and isn’t her Daddy. It’s a beautiful thing. How better to learn about God’s creation than to go see a baby calf in person?
Ever since I came back to the church from maternity leave I’ve been amazed at how my church has loved my family. As an infant Norah was passed around like a little football, loving every moment of it. Norah has always loved being around people. And as she has grown up to her three year old self, she sits with church members during worship. The other children have become like family to her. Norah is completely at home at Mooreland. She knows they are her people.
Mooreland has become part of our family in a big way. Isn’t that the way church is supposed to be?
2018 was a good year for mission work for us here at Mooreland Baptist Church. We believe in joining in God’s work beyond the walls of our building. We have a long history of serving our neighbors, working with other churches and working with a Haiti Orphanage. This past year was no exception. We continued some of our usual ministries and we did a big craft sale too.
We donated to Samaritan’s Purse Ministries and sent a whole pile of shoeboxes. These are sent out to children in need.
We also continued our neighborhood midweek meal group. It’s a group for seniors who meet twice a month to eat lunch together. We eat, we play games, we have a devotion and we pray together. This group has become a family.
We also packed boxes for Rise Against Hunger alongside our sister church, Cove Presbyterian. We packed over 10 thousand meals together. We’ve done this for the last five years.
We began a Mom’s Small Group this past fall. We eat together, visit with each other, have a devotional and support each other. This is a new thing we did this year.
And this is a just a snippet of what this small church has been up to during 2018. We also had Vacation Bible School, we had our Haiti Craft Sale, we sang in the North Garden Community Choir, we helped at the North Garden Community Day, and we had a joint worship service with Trinity United Methodist Church. It’s been a big year for us. It’s been a fruitful year for us.
We are all looking forward to 2019 and what opportunities it will bring. Will you join in our story of service? All are welcome to serve, fellowship and worship with us.
The cross, the manger, the wine (grape juice), the bread, the dove-all these things are important symbols in the church. These things are important to us here at Mooreland too. But I would add another symbol to this list. There’s nothing more that reminds me of the faith of the people here at Mooreland than a tie dyed T-shirt.
I know it sounds silly, but there’s a lot of truth to it. Whenever Mooreland has a big event like Vacation Bible School, a fundraiser, or Community Day-we’re in our tie dyed t-shirts more often than not. If we’re going to do a craft at VBS or have a craft sale-what do we have to do? We have to tie dye. It’s not the same without it.
Tie dying began years ago before my time here. I can’t tell you when it started, but I do know that it started with Vacation Bible School. It was a fun thing to do with the kids. And year after year, the kids want to tie dye. It’s not Vacation Bible School without tie dying. It’s a requirement now.
Last week we tie dyed shirts, onesies, and pillowcases. They will be on sale for our Haiti Craft Sale in November. Children and adults worked on their t-shirts. We used all different colors, we used different techniques, and there’s really no way to make a mistake. They all come out beautiful. It doesn’t matter how much dye is used. It doesn’t matter what colors are used. It’s doesn’t even matter if there’s a few spots that don’t match with the rest. The shirts are always beautiful.
The same is true with our congregation. All of us are different. Some of us are farmers. Some of us are schoolteachers. Some of us are medical personnel. We all have different stories and different backgrounds. And our differences make for a beautiful community of people. We are as unique as each tie dyed t-shirt.
Some churches have logos and branding. For me, our tie dye is our branding. It’s our logo.
The churches in North Garden have been supporting the Robert Ford Haitian Orphanage in Haiti for years. Dr. Ray Ford, a retired pediatrician, originally started the orphanage years ago after realizing there was a need for it. Dr. Ford regularly goes to Haiti to see the orphanage and host a medical clinic.
Every year there is a Haiti yard sale that makes tens of thousands of dollars. They sell clothes, furniture, household items, and even have a bake sale. It’s been a big money maker and an annual tradition in our community. But every year someone donates a hand made craft item for the yard sale and it only sells for a dollar or two. One of our church members is also cleaning out their craft supplies and wanted to donate them to the yard sale. But a lightbulb went off for us. What if instead of selling these hand made items at the yard sale, we have a craft sale? And what if we can get a table at the local apple festival in November? Hmm.
Well, it’s happened folks. A table at the apple festival in November has been secured. And folks at Mooreland have been hard at work making crafts for the sale. We have birdhouses. We have scarves and mittens. We have beautiful hand made cards. We have fall decorative items. We will have tie dyed t-shirts, socks and head bands. We will also be making wreaths.
It’s been pretty exciting. Every Sunday when I come to church a new batch of crafts arrives. You never know what’s going to show up. And lots of different folks are making things. It truly is a church wide effort. We have really come together for this craft sale. It’s a beautiful thing.
Here’s a couple of pictures of some of our items.
Here are the pertinent details about the craft sale:
It will be on Saturday, November 3rd from 11-5 PM at the Albemarle Ciderworks south on Route 29. 100 percent of the proceeds will benefit the orphanage. The website for the Haitian Orphanage is www.fordhaitianorphanage.org.
Check out Mooreland’s Facebook page for more craft pictures. We’re still making new things and will continue to post pictures. www.facebook.com/mbcnorthgarden
See you there! Come buy our crafts! We would love to sell them all and raise lots of money for the orphanage.