Although Memorial Day Weekend typically signals the unofficial start to summer, First Baptist Church got a week’s headstart.
No, I’m not referring to the typical summer-like pattern that evolves in our mountains with foggy mornings and afternoon thunderstorms. I’m referencing our children’s campout and sleepover this past weekend. As our 1st Explorers Ministry Director, Kelly Brown, details in his own reflection, the young men in our Royal Ambassador program went on a campout to the Davidson river while our Girls in Action had a sleepover at the church.
On Saturday morning, I drove across Highway 276 to rendezvous with the boys as they began to strike camp after a wet night in the Pisgah Forest. Yes, the boys and their leaders were a bit damp, but the bacon that Chris Moore was frying had everyone in a festive mood and the boys played whiffle ball beneath the drippy canopy of leaves. There was an unmistakable feeling of accomplishment among them, and I delighted in the sense of community that had sprung up among the men and boys. With the smell of a campfire flooding my nostrils, I couldn’t help but smile as the men drank coffee and the boys acted like boys. After a long and at times torturous winter, we had finally made it to summer.
Summer is a time for Sabbath-taking. It is ripe for new rhythms, late dinners and walks along a lush river valley. Summer is also a unique time for service and ministry as the season provides unique opportunities to assist our friends and neighbors while we tell them the “old, old story” of Jesus and his love. At First Baptist, we will strive to honor both rest and mission.
Here are some highlights of what we have planned for this summer:
-Sylva First Wednesdays concludes for the spring on Wednesday, June 6. Our Wednesday night programming in the fall will begin anew on August 22.
-Our joint Vacation Bible School with other downtown churches will run from June 11-15 in the mornings at Bridge Park. There are countless ways that you can serve the children and our families that week. Join us to help lead the children’s small groups, or to provide water for volunteers, or to visit with parents, or to help set-up tables and tents, or to simply be a part of the joyful chaos that is Vacation Bible School. Truly, the sound of children’s laughter is a balm for a sick and weary soul.
-Speaking of children, our 1st Explorers Ministry will again be offering their robust offering to the community with our Summer Explorers Camp. Although you may not have a child or grandchild participating in this wall-to-wall summer ministry opportunity, your Sunday School class can choose to partner with Kelly and our staff to provide unique opportunities of connection with children and their families this summer. I can think of no better ‘home’ mission opportunity than for a group, ministry, circle or couple to adopt a summer camp group of children who will be on campus with us over 40 hours each week. Think of the relationships that could be built and strengthened!
-As a church family, we’ll gather for fellowship on three Sunday afternoons this summer to relax, play and devour ice cream. Yes, we’ll be headed to the pavilion at Deep Creek in the Great Smokies Mountain National Park on June 24 where we’ll eat and play, and we’ll have our traditional potluck picnic at East LaPorte on August 26. But sandwiched between these two events will be a new gathering where we’ll have supper on the church grounds. On Sunday afternoon, July 15th, we’ll enjoy a hot dog supper followed by a veritable feast of ice cream afterward. It’s been some time since we crowned an ice cream maker champion, so get your recipes primed and ready for our contest after supper that evening.
-Of course, it’s not summer without the crack of a bat. Although our children and youth will be at their respective Passport Mission Camps the week of July 4th, that won’t stop the rest of us from taking in an Asheville Tourists game on the 4th of July at 7 PM. We’ll drive separately but sit together. And after the game, we’ll be invited to head out onto the field to take in their fireworks display. Tickets are $10 each and must be purchased by June 4th in our church office.
-Oh, and there’s much more. Our youth will be meeting together on Mondays from 4-6 PM each week, and there will be church hikes and a host of other mission opportunities to be a part of, as well. We know that your family will be traveling and vacationing this summer, but we also hope you’ll choose to broaden your chumminess with our own church family this summer, also.
Summer is a sweet, sweet gift and we’re not about to waste it. So, look around and see God at work in our beautiful mountain home. Feel the mist from a thundering waterfall. Take in an evening with friends by a fire pit. Barbecue on a rusty grill by a cement picnic table in the national park. Listen to the melody of the songbirds. And above all, be thankful.
It’s summer, and the time is ripe to play, rest and serve.