A month from today we will be celebrating our Homecoming. Homecoming is our big event for this year as we are celebrating our 175th anniversary as a church. It’s an opportunity for us to look back and celebrate the past 175 years as “the church on the hill.” But, it is also our hope that as we look back to God’s faithfulness throughout our church’s history we will be inspired for the future. Indeed, we’ve chosen for our theme this year, “Celebrating 175 years…Moving Forward in Faith.” We hope the past 175 years are only the beginning of what God wants to do through “the church on the hill.”
Along these lines, I want to take a moment to look back and to look forward, but on a much smaller scale than our 175 year history. I want to look back at our summer and celebrate what God has done over the past couple of months. I then want to look forward to the weeks ahead including the special plans we have for our Homecoming on September 20.
We’ve had a busy summer at Church Hill first. June 14-19 we had 18 people, including 10 youth and 8 adults, from our church go on a mission trip with Appalachia Service Project to Mitchell County, North Carolina. We had 3 teams serving 3 different families, and we helped these families with much needed home repairs.
My wife Callie and I attended marriage enrichment training at the end of June/beginning of July, and we are excited about having a marriage enrichment even for our church and community in the upcoming year.
We had 6 nights of Vacation Bible School activities from July 19 through July 24 averaging 60 per night at Bible School. The first night, Sunday, July 19, we had a pool party at the Church Hill to kick off VBS. Monday through Thursday we had Bible School programming using Group’s “Nazareth: Where Jesus was a Kid” culminating with a closing program on Friday evening. It was such a blessing to see so many kids come from the community to the Bible School. Indeed, our Vacation Bible School has become a significant outreach for our church to our community!
During July we collected over 50 backpacks with school supplies to help children in need in our community as they started back to school. Also, related to our reaching out in our local schools, on August 10, the first day of school for Hawkins County, we hosted the entire staff of Church Hill Middle School for lunch. I want to extend a big thanks to Betty Dorton for helping to organize this luncheon!
Last Saturday, August 15 we touched at least 500 lives through our children’s health fair as 250 adults and 250 children came into the health fair. This was our church’s contribution to the Church Hill Community Celebration. The health fair included exhibitors from various agencies and community organizations to help resource the families who came. There were also health care professionals present at the health fair to screen children for dental, vision, hearing and speech. 112 children were screened, and 36 of these were identified as needed more attention. Carol Gilreath, our parish nurse did an excellent job organizing the health fair once again!
We closed the summer and kicked off the new school year this past Sunday in our worship service with Tyrus Morgan, a Contemporary Christian recording artist from Nashville, and his band leading our music. Tyrus promotes Compassion International, an organization that invites people to sponsor children in developing word countries, and last Sunday we had 7 children sponsored by families in our church.
Indeed, there’s plenty to look back on and celebrate over the summer months, but now let’s look ahead because there is a lot to look forward to in the upcoming month. I do want to note that we are presently in the middle of a 6-week study during Sunday School on the beginnings of the Methodist movement tying into our 175th celebration. We are using Adam Hamilton’s study entitled Revival: Faith as Wesley Lived It.
I alluded to it earlier, but I am especially looking forward to our Homecoming on Sunday, September 20. That day we will begin at 9:45 a.m. for a special combined adult Sunday School class in which we will have a special presentation and a time for sharing memories and stories about our church. The Rev. Steve Brown, a former pastor of our church, will be preaching during our 11 a.m. Homecoming worship service. Following worship we will have dinner on the grounds up on the hill above our church under tents and the picnic shelter. It will be a delicious barbecue luncheon, and we will have special music guests Tennessee Skyline for our dinner on the grounds.
The celebration will continue into the week with revival services Monday, September 21 through Wednesday, September 23 at 7p.m. nightly. The Rev. Jim Goddard will be preaching Monday. On Tuesday, the Kingsport District Superintendent the Rev. Lauri Jo Cranford will be preaching. The Rev. Will Shewey will then preach on Wednesday. On Monday Celebration and 4Joy from First Baptist of Church Hill will provide our music. Then on Tuesday our own men’s chorus and choir from here at Church Hill First will sing. The CrossPoint Praise Team will then lead the singing on Wednesday.
Praise God for what God has done in and through us over the summer. I know God will continue to pour out blessings in the month ahead. I pray that we will be open to what God is going to do through Homecoming and the Revival so we may be renewed, revived and inspired so that we may indeed continue to move forward in faith. Again, I hope the first 175 years are only the beginning of what God will do through “the church on the hill!”