As the expiration date on the year 2023 swiftly approaches the University church can look back on a wonderful year. The sweet fellowship, mountains of service, and attention to our divine mission has carried us to the doorstep of another year, and the future looks as bright as our history.
It is difficult to think of the University church without thinking about Focal Point, one of our main projects each year. This year’s slate of speakers was not only top shelf, but the messages were so encouraging and uplifting. One of my favorite parts was how most of the speakers spoke about the need for peace and forgiveness. There were questions about how well Focal Point would be attended, but in the end, the event was well supported.
Next year, Focal Point will be a little earlier in the year—April 14-18, 2024. This shift allows Wayne and others involved with Bear Valley Bible Institute to use their break between sessions to attend, instead of leaving in the middle of the school term. We hope you have already marked your calendars for this spiritual summit.
This year the Wrap Around Closet has seen major growth. We are busting at the seams with donations and finding more ways to bless our community. We have been able to help many families clothe their children all year long. Their smiles of surprise and appreciation have blessed us in return. In 2024 there are plans to reach more families with material as well as spiritual services. Please include the Closet in your daily prayers and consider volunteering your time to help propel this ministry.
Spiritual growth was an important part of 2023. Thank you to so many who encouraged me in our series on Mark. I appreciate the comments about a deeper study of Mark and being challenged to see Mark through the eyes of the first century readers. I also appreciate the pushback that some gave, challenging me to dig a little deeper. It is good to know people feel safe in approaching me in disagreement and are willing to discuss concerns with me—though there were only a couple of concerns during the year. In the end, I believe the study on Mark was beneficial for most people.
Next year our preaching theme will be “Choose Well.” Our choices determine our destiny, therefore choose well. We will use each month to focus on one major theme. In January it will be choose evangelism over silence. In February it will be choose love over hate. Other topics will be forgiveness, holiness, life, dependence, selfcontrol, peace, the church, thankfulness, and joy.
In 2023, there were 5 baptisms here at University. We are thankful and blessed by each one. We need to continue encouraging and strengthening these new Christians, but also seek new converts. I would like to set a goal for University to reach 8 new people this year—that’s a 60% increase. I know if we all put our hearts to the plow, it is a row we can plant and harvest in 2024.
Besides baptisms, our family has grown through the growth of many families. Since Julie and I arrived in October 2022 there have been 6 babies born. The cacophony of babies crying and squealing is a reminder of what a vibrant church University is. Growing churches have babies crying and men singing—we have them both! Next year we are expecting at least 8 new babies! Get ready, Church.
God is blessing our future with the fruits of the present. Tell your friends about what is happening at University and invite them to see it for themselves. Keep up the good work, don’t grow weary in well doing, and outdo one another in love.