A Call to Prayer

Do you know the first words of the Lord’s Prayer?  …_______________?

Wrong. Our Father is how the prayer starts but in the context, the first words are “then Jesus taught them how to pray”.

One Student Ministry joined with other ABCD students and youth pastors from all over the state for winter camp at Lake Poinsett in Arlington.  Joel Fredrickson (Point), Bob Weiss (Watertown), Dave Klass (Aberdeen), Melissa Fletcher (Dell Rapids), along with fellow youth pastors Adam & Ryan gave winter camp a new look this year.

It was an amazing time! We called it “E-Break”.  Like an Emergency brake, but this one for student’s lives that are moving too fast.  About 50 of us joined together in a camp like setting, and the cold weather even forged better relationships as we studied the Lord’s Prayer and stayed indoors.  We even took a break from our cell phones and were intentionally present with each other. What a gift!

We tried different types of prayer.  We talked about how silence, music, making a list, focusing on a word, writing, art, creating, being, stopping something, celebrating, coloring, enjoying, singing, walking, eating together, praising, forgiving…. Are ALL types of prayer!  Really anything can be, if you let it.  It is about letting your heart be in tune with Gods.  It was powerful.

1 Thessalonians 5:17 says “pray continually”.  In other words, it’s like that dude Journey said, “Don’t stop praying!”  The word Amen is often used as “The End” but really it means “I agree”.  And if you agree, we invite you to join our youth and pull the E-Break on our lives this Lenten season; maybe it’s time to switch the routine, try something new or different, and let Jesus teach us how to pray.

Amen! To get us going…Take a sheet of paper, write out each letter from A to Z, then think of a name or describing word for God for each letter.  Jesus’ prayer starts with praising his Father, whose Name is mighty! It will be A-mazing! 

Abide: Lenten Prayer Service

LENTEN PRAYER CHAPEL, Wednesdays during Lent

February 17 through March 9 in the First Baptist Chapel

Open for Prayer & Reflection 6-8:30pm

Guided Prayer & Worship Gathering 6:45-7:45pm

 "Almighty God, whose Son Jesus Christ fasted forty days in the wilderness, and was tempted as we are, yet without sin: give us grace to discipline ourselves in obedience to your Spirit; and, as you know our weakness, so may we know your power to save; through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord, who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of the Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen." Thomas Cranmer, 1489-1556

 Join us on Wednesday evenings during Lent as we gather for a focused time of prayer in the chapel. We will read Scripture, sing songs, give testimony, and pray together as we pay attention to how the Spirit is leading us this lenten season. Whether or not you can make it to the guided time from 6:45-7:45pm, the chapel will be open from 6-8:30pm for those who would like a space for prayer and reflection (brief prayer guide provided each week).


Christmas Concerts with Kyle Matthews

First Baptist Church is excited about our very special musical
guest coming to Sioux Falls from Greenville, South Carolina for
Sunday Dec.ember13. We want to offer a warm welcome to
singer, songwriter, theologian and pastor, Kyle Matthews.

Kyle has been Pastor of Worship Arts since 2008 at First
Baptist Church, Greenville, and is the creative artist behind See
for Yourself Music. He is one of Christian music’s most prolific
songwriters. Among more than 60 of his songs recorded by major
artists of disparate genres, Kyle has penned “If You Want Me
To,” recorded by Ginny Owens, “Everything and Nothing,”
recorded by Vince Gill, “One and the Same,” recorded by Cece
Winans, and “God Forbid,” recorded by Point of Grace.

His song “We Fall Down,” recorded most notably on a multiplatinum
release by Donnie McClurkin, won numerous music
industry awards, including the Dove Award for Traditional Gospel
Song of the Year, the Stellar award for Song of the Year, and
ASCAP’s 2002 Christian Song of the Year.

Kyle’s itinerant ministry includes almost as many speaking
engagements as concerts, because those opportunities allow him to
blend his songs and storytelling with preaching and teaching.
Kyle is married to Susan and they have two children.

Pastor Warren and Laura met Kyle during their ministry years
in St. Louis and are delighted to welcome and introduce this friend
to First Baptist. Kyle will be leading worship and speaking in both
the morning services on December 13, and will also share a
special Family Christmas Concert that day at 3:30 PM followed
by refreshments in the Family Life Center.

This is a great opportunity to tell the Christmas story to your
friends and family, so make plans to be a part of this great day
of worship! 

Pastor Warren

Living Memories

Memories are those precious “pictures” that outlive us as a person. They stem from the experiences created around the adventures we encounter in life, and the way we choose to interact with them, as well as those involved in them with us. These lasting memories may be good, or bad, depending on how we handled these life experiences. Through God’s grace and forgiveness, we can build healthy memories of each experience. As memories that live on, they become a legacy that we leave behind. What living memory legacy are we building?

In the December 6 morning services, we will take a few moments to remember and honor in pictures those from our church family who have passed away in 2015. Then at the 3:00 PM Memory Service that same Sunday, you will have an opportunity to share some of your living memories of these individuals, plus other loved ones your are remembering this Advent season. For the memory service it would really help if you brought a picture or other symbolic reminder of that individual, and then briefly share a memory of them. What living memory of them still touches your life?

This Memory Service is for you, to come and build one more living memory of your loved one, no matter when they died, 2015 or earlier. We look forward to sharing this time of building living memories together with you.

Rev. Vic Lehman, Associate Pastor of Congregational Care

Letting Go of Control by Pastor Vic Lehman

What do you fear the most? Getting on an airplane? Being laughed at, at school or work? That as we age we will outlive our peers and no one will show up at our funeral? That if I risk loving someone, they may not love me back?

Fear seems to touch all generations and, in most cases, has a lot to do with letting go of control. In reality, we simply cannot control a lot of what life brings our way, especially from other people, as the above list of fears shows. Add to this list the helpless fear of loss, of struggling with a loved one in the dying process, of coping during the holidays without that loved one there--all involving elements that we cannot control. There is little hope in maintaining a facade of control in these situations. Yet many of us simply refuse to let go of control.

 Have we figured out yet, that thinking we have things tightly under control is an illusion? That it leads to a dead end street of hopelessness? There is only one who actually is in control; only God, and we are not him. Only God’s control can bring a true glimmer of hope into our fearful situations and we will need to loosen up our control in favor of his, for hope to blossom over fear.

 So, can we come to the place where we trust God with our fears; our vulnerabilities? Can we trust God with our losses, especially of dear loved ones? Or are we going to remain in a facade of control, that stiff upper lip, forcing ourselves to go stoically through the holidays, remaining firmly “in control?”

 We can do that, eliminating emotion from our experiences, or we can let go of control and live out our true feelings fully and experience the beginning of healing. So which will it be for us this Thanksgiving and Christmas season? Artificial control or letting go and letting God? Only going God’s way will produce lasting hope and healing over fear.

 Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit (Romans 15:13 NASB).

Can Christmas Still Change the World?

This Christmas at First Baptist Church, we want to invite you to turn your experience of Christmas upside down. The Christmas story is a story of love, hope, redemption and relationship. So, what happened? How did it turn into stuff, stress and debt? Somehow, we’ve traded the best story in the world for the story of what’s on sale.

We invite you to join the Conspiracy, a Christmas Conspiracy during the season of Advent. Advent Conspiracy is a global movement of people and churches resisting the cultural Christmas narrative of consumption by choosing a revolutionary Christmas through Worshipping Fully, Spending Less, Giving More and Loving All.

Here are some of the Highlights of the Advent Season that you won’t want to miss:

November 29 (Advent 1): Morning Worship - Entering Christmas FULLY – Luke 2:1-19
December 6 (Advent 2): Morning Worship - Spend Less – Give More – 1 Peter 1:13-25
3:00 PM Memory Service in the Chapel
6:30 PM Christmas Chapel at USF with FBC choir, Pastor Warren speaking
December 13 (Advent 3): Morning Worship – Special Concert in both services with Grammy Award winner Kyle Matthews
3:30 PM Family Christmas Concert with Kyle Matthews with Refreshments to follow
December 20 (Advent 4): Morning Worship - The Embodied Gift of God 2 Samuel 7:1-11 (Christmas Sweater Sunday)
Christmas Eve: 5:00 PM Family Worship (childcare 0-3)
9:00 PM Candlelight Acoustic Christmas

‘Tis the Season to Practice Gratitude

I like to think I’m thankful all year long, but I do tend to think even more about gratitude during the Thanksgiving season. First and foremost, I am thankful that I have a Savior who loves me and extends grace on a daily basis. I am also so thankful for a husband who is willing to be a part of my ministry here at First Baptist. He puts in countless hours helping me do a variety of children’s ministry ‘things’. I am so grateful for his help, but he might say that he doesn’t really have a choice. It comes with the territory!

The many volunteers who help in children’s ministry certainly have a choice and I am so thankful that they choose to minister to children and families in their various roles. THANK YOU!

As ADVENT WORKSHOP draws near, I want to publically thank Lori Hofer for her leadership of this wonderful event. Lori works tirelessly all year long, coming up with craft ideas, gathering supplies, figuring out the best and most cost-effective ways to do each craft. She is using her God-given talent to bless so many. Thank you, Lori, for making Advent Workshop a stellar event for children and adults alike!
One way we can bless Lori’s efforts, is by coming alongside her in the following volunteer opportunities:

- Set up – Tues., December 1, 6-8:00 PM Family Life Center
- Run a craft station – Wed., December 2, 5:30-8:00 PM
- Clean up – Wednesday, December 2, 8:00 PM
- Provide boxes for wrapping gifts – shoebox size and smaller – Deliver by Tues., December 1.

If you are able to help in one of these ways, please contact the church office or contact me directly by emailing me at kmashek@firstb.org.

Thank you for your support of Advent Workshop!
Pastor Katie

The Voice of Affirmation, the Voice of Trust

Well, we did it. First Baptist Church thought about an idea. We prayed about a vision. We talked about it for weeks, and then we made a decision together without factions and without experiencing hurtful dissent and division.

For those of you who weren’t here last Sunday, First Baptist Church adopted with a supermajority (83% +) all three recommendations that came from the Church Council and the What’s Next Team. Here is a review of those recommendations:

First, we adopted with 96% affirmation, a new mission statement (Loving God, Loving Others) as well as a new vision statement and Five Ministry Priorities.
Second, we decided with 88% affirmation that major renovation of the current facility should no longer be considered an option.

Third, we decided with an 83% supermajority, that we advance the future of First Baptist Church by relocation of ministries to a property that fulfills the greatest outreach potential.
Some have asked the question “how do our staff and pastors feel about this?” As Staff, we have tried to lead without manipulation or coercion, so our own opinions have been largely kept to ourselves. At this point, let me assure you that your ministry staff is 100% and enthusiastically in support of these recommendations and the resultant decisions.

We are so excited to be on this journey with you and although this action will mean LOTS of work, extra hours and ultimately some discomfort, we are thrilled. It will be our joy to pour our energies with you into this vision that we share of the future.

For those of us who were not in favor of at least one of the recommendations, we understand your possible disappointment – and prayerfully hope that you will be able to join in the direction that First Baptist has decisively chosen to take.
I’m thankful for your voice of affirmation and trust.

Pastor Warren

“I wonder what sort of tale we have fallen into.” Sam the Hobbit

As my first blog on the FirstB website, I have chosen to offer some thoughts that come directly from a small group study in which I am engaged at the church.  I owe much of the substance of these thoughts to the good people at VantagePoint3 and much gratitude to the members of “The Journey” small group.  At this time in the life of this historic congregation, I find myself asking the same question as was offered to us to consider this past week in group: “What sort of tale have we fallen into?”

J.R.R. Tolkien presents a incredible fantasy of a place called Middle Earth in his epic tale “Lord of the Rings”.  That story offers images of the struggle of humanity in an alternate world of “good and evil, friendship and loyalty, of beauty and darkness, of power and hope.”[1]

            Likely one of the grandest narratives in the modern world, Tolkien’s characters are both wise and curious, naïve and courageous.  The plot invites us to join them on a quest to return a very special ring that has enormous power which ultimately is used for evil.

            Frodo, the bearer of the ring and his steady companion Sam encounter tremendous danger in their adventure.  Facing their most ominous challenge, they discuss the life-narrative into which they have fallen.  Considering that some life stories are intentionally entered into, and other stories have been encountered by accident, they ponder what kind of story they are in, and how it will end:

            “I don’t like anything here at all,” said Frodo, “Step or stone, breath or bone.  Earth, air and water all seem accursed.  But so our path is laid.”

            “Yes, that’s so,” said Sam.  “And we shouldn’t be here at all, if we’d known more about it before we started.  But I suppose it’s often that way.  The brave things in the old tales and songs, Mr. Frodo: adventure, as I used to call them.

            I used to think that they were things the wonderful folk of the stories went out and looked for because they wanted them, because they were exciting and life was a bit dull, a kind of sport as you might say.  But that’s not the way of it with the tales that really mattered, or the ones that stay in the mind.

            Folk just seem to have landed in them, usually – their paths were laid that way, as you put it.  But I expect they had lots of chances like us, of turning back, only they didn’t.  And if they had, we shouldn’t know, because they’d have been forgotten. 

            We hear about those as just went on – and not all to a good end, mind you; at least not to what folk inside a story and not outside it call a good end.  You know, coming home, and finding things all right, though not quite the same – like Mr. Bilbo.  But those aren’t always the best tales to hear, though they may be the best tales to get landed in.  I wonder what sort of tale we fallen into?"[2]

            “What sort of tale have we fallen into?”

            Wow, what a question!  At First B, we have been on a year-long conversation about What’s Next?  It has felt like a journey, with companions and conversations along what has been a mountainous, unknown and undiscovered path. 

What will be in the subsequent chapter of our common story?  Perhaps, like Sam we feel like What’s Next is an adventure, a story that ‘wonderful folk went out and looked for because they wanted it, because it was exciting and life was a bit dull.’ 

But What’s Next for FBC has been less an intentional adventure, and more something we have landed in as a part of God’s story, our story, the life of this 140 year old congregation of Christ-followers.  As we consider What’s Next for First B, let’s acknowledge that we are part of a large, epic tale.  Let’s affirm together that God is not just a part of our story, but that we are a part of God’s story.

Our story is a narrative of a great big God.

As it happened, I encountered a wonderful, public rendering of that story our story this week as I was driving around the city.  I happened to drive past the downtown public library at 8th Street and Dakota Avenue, the location of the first, First Baptist Church building.  I noticed a large brass plaque marking a historic location.  The monument had text on both sides, commemorating that place as the initial house of worship of the Baptists in Sioux Falls. 

Images of the plaque follow as well as the text.  They speak clearly of the story First Baptist Church has fallen into, a story of pioneers and courage, of faith and mission, of risk and passion.  This is the story that we have all fallen into.  Perhaps it gives us a glimpse of What’s Next:

Text of Plaque located at the corner of 8th Street and Dakota Avenue:

In 1872 Baptist services in Sioux Falls were held sporadically as the number of Baptists was too small to form a congregation.  Soon morning services were held on alternative Sundays at Allen’s Hall located at the NE corner of 8th Street and Phillips Ave.  

Finally on July 4, 1875, with 11 charter members, the Rev. Amos W. Hilton organized a Baptist congregation.  Pastor Hilton served the fledgling church for 3 years, sacrificing income and health to do so.

The congregation dedicated its first church building on Nov. 1, 1882.  Wallace L. Dow, the premier architect of Dakota Territory and member of the congregation, designed the structure built on this site.  The 55 by 49 foot building with large arched windows, a sharply pitched roof, and a 60 foot belfry provided “sittings” for 300 worshippers even though the church had only 25 members.  Innovations included a baptistery that was filled with warm water before each use, making outdoor immersion baptisms in the Big Sioux River a ritual of the past.

Early in 1883 the church called Evan B. Meredith as pastor.  His ordination was the first of many to be sponsored by the congregation.  Meredith became a cofounder of the Dakota Collegiate Institute that became the University of Sioux Falls.  In 1893 members William and Elizabeth Sherrard founded the SD Children’s Home, a boarding home for orphaned or abandoned children.

Over the years members of FBC launched six new Baptist congregations and numerous other community service groups providing them financial support, volunteers and encouragement.

After the turn of the twentieth century, a larger church building was needed.  Architect and member Joseph Schwarz was chosen to prepare plans for the new structure.  The construction and dedication in 1910 of “City Temple” at the SW corned or 8th Street and Spring Avenue energized the membership.  With a renewed spirit, missionaries were sent to serve abroad and in the US.  In 1951 the congregation moved to a third church home, located at 22nd and Covell Ave.

The Pastors, missionaries and dedicated congregation of FBC have provided a long history of Christian service to local citizens as well as the unchurched or less fortunate in many foreign countries.  This guidance continues to make a positive imprint on the religious and social conscience of the Sioux Falls community and beyond.

Dedicated in 2000 by the Minnehaha County Historical Society, First Baptist Church and the William and Carol Mashek family.

“What sort of tale have we fallen into?” 

God’s tale of grace, mercy, mission, courage and faith.

[1] The Journey, Stage 1 Biblical Foundations, a Vantage Point 3 Process p. 31

[2] J.R.R. Tolkien, The Two Towers: Being the Second Part of the Lord of the Rings, 2nd edition (Boston, MA: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1982), 320-321