2019: In the Rearview Mirror

Believe it or not, 2019 has only two days left.  As we age, we increasingly note “how time flies.”  I’m not sure why this is.  Perhaps it is due to the increasing pace of life with expanding families, accumulated friends, work obligations, etc.  Perhaps some of it is attributable to a familiarity with life, the sense that we have “been there and done that.”  When I was younger and life was fresh, full of new experiences and exploration, I couldn’t wait for the future to come.  Time seemed to drag until the next great adventure.  Not that I am uninterested in life now, but there settles upon the older folk (yep, I’m there) that we’ve been here before.  I don’t look forward to things with quite the exuberance as I used to.  I put notes on my calendar and busy myself with other things until whatever special appointment arrives.  Maybe we could call it the “Ecclesiastes Effect.” 

Looking back to 2019, we at Centreville felt the weight of the Tolbert’s planned move and the change in (or possible dissolution of) the eldership that would occur.  I am sure that many prayers were offered that Centreville could maintain a scripturally complete leadership structure with elders and deacons working to serve the group.  I am also confident God granted those prayers and blessed us tremendously with the arrival of the Carltons and Mark’s agreement to take on the yoke offered by the congregation.  As still fairly new members, this was not an easy decision for Mark and Beth.  Shepherding is a heavy load to bear for anyone, much less someone who isn’t yet totally familiar with the history, membership and atmosphere of a congregation.  We are indebted to the Carltons for their acceptance of a difficult task.

Additionally, Will Roberts came onboard as a deacon.  Will and Sarah (and girls) joined us late last year and were proactive in integrating with the congregation.  We appreciate Will stepping into the deacon-void left by Craig Matthews, and we are also being served by a weekly prayer list emailed out by the Roberts.

We also welcomed the arrival of Danielle Ashkettle, the Robinsons and Ethan Glover.  Unfortunately, we had a number of losses during 2019:  the Whites, Matthews, Carlsons, Tolberts and college students – Michael Gibson and Alessandra Mandala.  This congregation’s history is one of consistent turnover, and we are a much different group now than just three or four years ago.

2019 saw some overdue material changes like new carpeting, pew upholstery, copier and pulpit computer. 

Our attendance on Sunday mornings hovered around the 80-90 mark, occasionally topping 100.  We continued our rotations of pulpit speakers:  Rick Tolbert, Mark Carlton, Randy Glover, Brent Acree, Danny Glover, Dave Mayberry, Mike McKinsey, Will Roberts, Kevin Pulliam, Drew Matthews, Keith Monroe, Justin Mandala, Brad and Shawn Glinkerman, Jim McPherson, Kevin Anderson, Terry McCall and Brian Hammond.  We also had two good weekends with Chad Brewer and Kyle Pope.

Several men participated in teaching adult classes:  Rick Tolbert, Danny Glover, Terry McCall, Brent Acree and Jim Jonas.  Other men taught the teens.  But the lion’s share of teaching our children was borne by so many of our energetic, creative and dedicated ladies.  There is no way to completely capture the value of the investment in our young people by the work that is done downstairs, out of the limelight and in conjunction with the work of parents at home.

We continue to support two preachers in other locales:  Andrew Jonas in Graham, Texas, and Nelu Stanciulescu in Romania.  In addition to these, we gave substantial financial help to Fred Newman in Charlottesville as his wife, Becky, underwent excruciating and costly treatment for pancreatic cancer.  Our Meet Up Bible reading is still active on Thursday morning, and several of the ladies meet for a study on Tuesdays.  Also, Kevin Pulliam has been having good discussions with fellow patrons at Starbucks.  Other studies are ongoing that the group may not even be aware of.

These are just some highlights, but the real point of it all is:  Do you feel like you grew spiritually as part of this congregation in 2019?  And a follow up:  As we are on the threshold of 2020, what role do you play in the fruitfulness of this congregation?  If your answer is in the negative, it may say something about the congregation itself, the leadership and/or other factors, but it certainly says something about you.  Serving the Lord is ultimately the free will response of a conscience that has been touched by the grace of the Lord and His other abundant blessings.    

Looking ahead, what needs to change in your life so that you gain the most from the opportunities coming in 2020?  As noted on the front page, “Today is yesterday’s ‘someday.’”  And tomorrow is the “someday” in which we intend to do better.  How can the elders help you achieve your goals?