Dear Church Family,
We look forward to some wonderful ministry together in the month of May. This is a tremendous time of celebration for many of our families. Students are finishing school, graduates are going through commencement exercises, and we look forward to a wonderful summer. There are some important events coming up that I want to tell you about.
Our Orange Bucket Sunday is this coming Sunday May 1. This is a tremendous ministry that we have done for several years, gathering food for the Food4Kids program. Thank you church family for your generosity in helping hungry children in our county.
Mother’s Day is May 8. What a blessing it is to gather and celebrate the moms in our church and world. We not only have physical moms but we also have spiritual moms that have made a huge spiritual impact on us. Every lady is to be honored on this day and particularly it gives us an opportunity to say thank you to our moms.
May 14 and 15 is our Love Loud weekend. We have five opportunities for you to be involved in hands-on ministries. These are the following: One More Child: landscaping and bringing dinner to Foster Family homes in Lacrosse; One More Child: putting together furniture and landscaping to set up a new single parents’ home; Blessing our First Responders by bringing goodies and thank you notes; Santa Fe Oaks block party; writing letters to our overseas missionaries. You can sign up for these in church or Life Groups the next two Sundays or you can call the church office to sign up for one of these events. What an opportunity it is to not only be the church but do the work of the church!
Youth camp is scheduled for July 3-7. Parents, I want you to hold that date. This past February we had our largest DNow weekend ever. I believe camp this year will be tremendous. We will go over to the beautiful Lake Swan camp and have an awesome four nights of spiritual ministry for our young people. It’s a great opportunity to reach out. Signups are beginning this week.
Our Vacation Bible School will be July 18-22. The theme is Spark Studios: Created in Christ. Designed for God’s Purpose. Meghan Williams and her VBS team are putting together the best VBS week for our children. You don’t want to miss getting your students signed up. You can sign them up online right now at gatorchurch.com.
I want to tell you about the Full Circle Parenting Conference scheduled for September 9-10, 2022. Jimmy and Kristin Scroggins who have been with us for a couples retreat in the past will come into town and will teach all of our folks centered around their new book called Full Circle Parenting. Jimmy and Kristin are tremendous Christians who love Jesus and are raising a godly family. They will tell you that they don’t have all the answers but they will give us wisdom and principles to live by as we seek to raise our kids in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. I want you to hold these dates on your calendar.
This coming Sunday, May 1 Kelly and I will celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary. It was 40 years ago on May 1 that 2 college students stood in front of their family and their North Central family and made their commitment to one another. Kelly and I are so grateful for the ministry of North Central in our lives. Never in our wildest dreams would we have imagined coming back here to be able to pastor the precious believers of North Central Baptist Church. You truly are a tremendous New Testament church with a heart for people and a heart for families and young people. We both are the products of that love and we’re thankful that we have celebrated 40 years together serving Him. It all began on a Friday night at North Central Baptist Church 40 years ago.
We are looking forward to wonderful days of ministry this month. May the Lord bless you and your family.
Love in Jesus,
Dear Church Family,
We are looking forward to our Easter celebration on April 17th. We are going to have a special biscuit breakfast in each Life Group beginning at 9:30am on Easter Sunday. In recent years we have had an emphasis entitled, “It’s Easter! Pass the biscuits.” I love the story of the grace of God that is afforded to us because of what Jesus did on Easter. His glorious resurrection has changed our life forever.
I want to encourage you to start inviting people to come with you on Easter Sunday morning for Life Group and worship. There will be many who will be open to your invitation. We will celebrate the risen Savior in a wonderful way on that day. The music will be fantastic, and I’m praying to bring a powerful message of the grace of God. Our Life Groups will have a wonderful lesson on that day as well and can celebrate together. We will also have a photo booth that will be available that morning before and after the service for families to take a special picture on Easter Sunday. It’s going to be fun! It’s Easter! Pass the biscuits!
Following Easter there will be four special Sundays where you can invite your friends to be back with you to participate in some special events. We call these our C4 Events: Connecting our Community to Christ and His Church.
On April 24th we will have our One Week Later service. This is a service of testimonies, responsive readings, scripture readings, special music, and the presentation of the Gospel along with the Lord’s Supper. It is our hope and prayer that in this service we will answer the question, “Now that we know Christ has risen, how should we then live?”
May 1st is Orange Bucket Sunday! On Easter we will hand out 100 orange buckets to our families for them to fill to bring back non-perishable food and dry goods for the Food4Kids program here in Alachua County. This excellent program collects food for needy children in our public school system. We have been a part of this for a number of years. Now more than ever these foods will be used to help families in our own area. What a special way to make a difference.
May 8th is Mother’s Day. What a glorious day this always is as we celebrate the impact of our Moms. You don’t want to miss it.
May 15th is a special day that we call Love Loud. In the afternoon on Sunday May 15th our folks will gather in different parts of our area to minister to others. In the morning we will gather as the church. In the afternoon we will gather to be the church in the community. We want to “love loud” our community in a special way. In the days ahead we will announce the details of all the opportunities for ministry so be on the lookout for a place to sign up to get involved.
On April 10th Matt and Jess Seitz from our Central Asia Partnership will be stateside and in our service. They will be sharing about the way God is using the Central Asia Partnership to make a difference in that part of the world for Christ.
What a joy it is to be your Pastor. I look forward to this special month of worship and ministry together.
Love in Jesus,
Dear Church Family,
Our Bible study theme for Sunday worship has been “Looking Unto Jesus” from the book of Hebrews. If you have ever looked closely in Scripture at the superiority of Christ, you will be greatly encouraged! I encourage you to invite some folks to come with you to our services. The gospel is powerful throughout this wonderful study.
We are thrilled to help take the Gospel of Jesus to Malawi. John and Mollie Wells and their daughter Paris will be headed over to Malawi in March. We are currently raising funds to help them in launching their ministry there. You can go to our website and find the Malawi Missions event button for an opportunity to give online. You also can mail in a check or bring it with you to worship and place in our offering boxes. Please mark you check or envelope clearly with “Malawi Missions”. One of our greatest joys as a church is to support missions around the world.
Last year we made some serious strides in giving towards local, state, and international missions as a church family. Because of your faithful giving, we had one of the largest missions efforts in recent years. When you add up our Cooperative Program giving to the Southern Baptist Convention, the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for Foreign Missions, our Central Asia Partnership, Church Planting in the US, and local missions, our people gave a total of $204,972.47 to these causes. This is unbelievable! We have a precious fellowship of people who care about the lost of the world!
Please be praying for our church family as we navigate other activities, Bible studies, and events that will grow our people and reach the lost during these challenging days. The mission of the church should always be in the forefront of our minds and hearts. I am so encouraged by what our staff has done to involve every age in Bible study on Sunday mornings. Our youth have been discipling your students in a marvelous way. Our college ministry has been reaching out to many new students. We have men’s discipleship groups that are meeting all throughout the week. We have at least 3 Bible studies meeting online with people overseas. Truly the gospel cannot be hindered!
I want us to be keenly aware of people who need Jesus and Christian growth! Because of the circumstances of this time, it has been more difficult to have personal contact with those we can encourage. Our dear North Central Family, we will have to work at it – reaching out to everyone by phone, visits at the door, cards, and other ways to encourage others with the message that “Jesus Loves You and so do I.” Let’s take good care of one another and pray for one another like never before.
It truly is a joy to be your Pastor. I’m not sure that there has ever been a time when I have felt the need to ask for your prayers for me personally, more than I feel it right now. Navigating these days and needing Godly wisdom for the way forward is a heavy burden I feel. I have this assurance – that Jesus is faithful and is the same, yesterday, today, and forever! Pray for me, our wonderful staff, and for our whole church family.
May the Lord continue to bless the wonderful people of North Central Baptist Church,
Dear Church Family,
Happy New Year! 2020 has come to a close and we now must look to 2021 to be a year of Spiritual growth and impact for our church family. We are a blessed people! Life must move forward, and it will. This is a good time for evaluation. If you are like me, you are holding on to the promises of God. This coming Sunday, I’ll be sharing a passage of Scripture that I believe contains the most wonderful promise from the Lord for His children. Don’t miss this coming Sunday either online or in-person as we look at this strategic passage of Scripture.
On Sunday, January 10th, Paul Worcester will be preaching in our morning service. Paul is the newly appointed strategist for all Collegiate work for Southern Baptists. He has been a church planter and has been used by God to equip hundreds of individuals and churches in evangelism and discipleship across the country. He has impacted many on our campuses here in Gainesville, through his conference speaking and example. We are privileged to have Paul here to speak to our church family.
The Life Impact Conference will be Jan. 6-9 here at North Central. Students are coming back into town early to participate in this regional conference. We are honored to host this impactful event. I want our folks to know that you can participate in the entire conference for a deeply discounted fee of $25 (this doesn’t include meals) OR you can come free of charge to the large group meetings in the evenings, Wednesday through Friday. The speakers are amazing. This is a who’s who of Collegiate ministry experts who are passionate about reaching college students and others for Jesus. The principles shared are transferable to all of us. You will not be disappointed. Why not come for each of the evening services?
Our teenagers are signing up for their DNOW weekend, scheduled for Jan. 15-17.Brother Kris Woods has put together an amazing event for our students. He has put in place all of the proper protocols for the safety of your students and their leaders. Dan Elkins, who works with College students and youth at Fruit Cove Baptist in Jacksonville, will be the speaker. I’ve known Dan for more than two decades. He and I served together in youth work in Jacksonville, prior to my coming to North Central. Our youth will love Dan and his passion for Jesus. Parents can get more information and sign up their students online at www.gatorchurch.com.
At the writing of this article, North Central has given over $69,000.00 to the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering for Foreign Missions! This is most likely the largest Lottie Moon Offering we have ever given! We believe in the work of our International Mission Board, as they train and send hundreds of missionaries worldwide. I want to encourage you to give monthly to this offering. We always emphasize it at Christmas but you can send funds to this offering all year long. Years ago, I was challenged by a member of our North Central family to give to the Lottie Moon offering monthly. This is an amount over and above your regular tithe to the budget that you can give. It allows you to give all year long and helps us reach our Christmas goal. Thank you for your faithful giving to our church budget and to special offerings like Lottie Moon.
I want you to be praying for John and Mollie Wells and their rapidly approaching ministry launch to Malawi. This African nation is in great need of the gospel. God has called John and Mollie (and Paris) out of our fellowship to go take the gospel to them. We are so thankful for their heart to go. We want to do all that we can to help them go. We are committing some of our Missions budget to this cause but also wanted to give you an opportunity to give to a special offering to help them launch. We will take this offering beginning on January 17th and give it through the last Sunday of February. Please mark your special offering for Malawi Missions.
What an exciting year this will be. We are hitting the ground running, as I’ve heard it said, with opportunities to share Jesus and bring people into our church community. Please be on the lookout for those who need Jesus. Let’s make an eternal difference this year!
God Bless You,
Dear Church Family,
“What the World Needs Right Now at Christmas” is the Bible study series that we are doing on Sunday mornings. When you look at the major Christmas texts from Scripture, you come away with specific themes that are clear from the passages that emphasize the birth of Jesus. Our world needs the message of Christmas right now like never before. Think about these themes: Hope, Love, Peace, Joy, Light, and Change. These key words come from the study of the major Christmas texts from Scripture. We will be looking at these this Christmas season. I hope you will invite someone to study with you either in our in person service or the online venue. It is a joy to worship the Lord Jesus with you!
This is a great time to share Jesus with those around you. People are open to the message of Christmas like no other time of the year. I encourage you to minister to your “one” whom the Lord has placed on your heart. Let’s find a way to get Jesus to those in our sphere of influence.
We are asking the Lord to make us a mission minded people. God’s heart is for the peoples of the world to know His salvation. We have
recently sent off 7 of our folks to two different mission fields. We recently heard from John and Mollie Wells about their heart for Malawi. We are truly a blessed people. One way that we support missions around the world is by taking up the Lottie Moon Christmas Offering. Our goal is $20,000.00! Please pray about your participation in this great offering. Every penny of this offering goes to the field to directly support our missionaries. We are thankful for that!
The Smoky Mountain Christmas Concert is one of the highlights of our Christmas here at North Central! We will have two concerts this year on December 13th in order to provide plenty of space for social distancing. The concerts will be at 3pm and 6:30pm. To register, you can go online to our website and look under the events tab, and there is a link to the online ticket process there. The tickets are free but you need to reserve your spot. This will help us in our planning.
We are thankful for the Privette family and their gift of music that blesses our church family and the whole community!
Another very special highlight of the Christmas season is the Christmas Eve Candlelight service on December 24th at 5pm. We will sing the carols of Christmas and take the Lord’s Supper together. Having the Lord’s Supper on Christmas Eve is very special. I encourage you to bring your whole
family. We will do this service as we have done our Morning Worship services with all of our
regular Covid-19 protocols.
The Life Impact Conference is coming to North Central in January! I want you to put this on your calendar: January 6-9, 2021. Life Impact is a conference that our church is hosting in our facilities and emphasizes evangelism, disciple-making, Bible study, and prayer. God has used it powerfully in so many students’ lives. Many have shared that this retreat was the
turning point in helping them follow Jesus! Because it’s here, I want you to get in on this awesome teaching. Paul Worcester, the key leader for Southern Baptists in reaching college students, will be here to share along with others who have a heart for discipleship. It’s really a chance of a lifetime to hear such great equippers in one place. The student’s registration includes meals and other expenses related directly to them. But because we are hosting, we have a special NCBC rate for non-college students of $25 which gets you all of the sessions including the breakouts! This special rate doesn’t include the meals but it includes all of the messages over the four day conference. You can sign up with Life Impact by going to lifeimpacteast.org.
May the Lord Jesus bless you and yours this Christmas! It is a joy to be your Pastor!
Love in Jesus!
Dear Church Family,
What a joy to write to you today. I’m so thankful to be a part of such a wonderful fellowship of believers. The last several weeks, we’ve commissioned 7 of our NCBC family to serve the Lord in other places. We are so thankful for this!
We are looking forward to some wonderful activities in November. Make sure and pray for these special events. Try to participate and be a part of all that is happening in our church.
Operation Christmas Child is a powerful ministry in the life of our church. The boxes you donate will go around the world to send a Jesus-centered Christmas message to children. The boxes are due on November 15th. I encourage you to do as many boxes as you possibly can.
We are grateful for the way that the Lord has taken care of our church financially. We will celebrate this in a small way as we report our 3rd quarter financial statement this Sunday at 10:35am (ten minutes before church) for our regular business meeting. We will also elect some new committee members as well.
Lee Anne Privette and Allison Harris are opening up some Life Groups for preschoolers and children on Nov. 8th. You must sign up your children in advance for this ministry. We want to provide plenty of space in the classrooms. There are guidelines available for our parents regarding this fantastic ministry that is beginning. Help us follow all our protocols so that we can minister to these wonderful children.
We look forward to hearing John and Mollie Wells give their testimony on Nov. 15th. They are preparing to travel as full-time missionaries to Malawi. We are so blessed to know these fine friends and have an opportunity to participate with finances and with prayer. Don’t miss hearing them on the 15th.
I want you to mark your calendars for December 13th. I know it may seem far away, but I knew you would want to reserve that Sunday for Worship in the morning and then the Smoky Mountain Christmas Concert by the Privette family in the evening! This has become such a wonderful Christmas tradition for all of us. We have had some of the largest attendances in recent days at this annual event. It is just fabulous. Mark it down.
Recently, you recognized Pastor Appreciation Day in our services. Thank you for doing that. Kelly and I celebrated our 13th anniversary as your Pastor on October 15th. It is such a wonderful thing to experience the blessing and bond of Pastor and people at North Central. We truly have a precious fellowship of believers here. We have a wonderful staff team! This is a place where people are saved. The saved are discipled and grow, and people are sent out locally and around the world to be living witnesses for Jesus! I’m the most blessed Pastor anywhere!
I Love You in the Lord Jesus,
Hello Church Family!
Who would have ever dreamed that when the Coronavirus hit the world, that it would have impacted us as it has for more than 6 months and beyond? We went online only for our worship service in March. We came back to “in person” services along with the online service on June 7th. Even with all the impact Coronavirus is making on our lives, the gospel is still powerful to save! We have found a way to study God’s Word, share our faith, baptize new believers, observe the Lord’s Supper, send out missionaries, and encourage one another! We have even had weddings in our fellowship! Praise our Lord!
In the midst of all that is happening, we have an election coming, too! This is a very important election for the President of the United States. I believe that believers in Christ should participate in the process by casting your vote! What a privilege we have to be a part of our government process! The last day to register is October 5, which is fast approaching. Get registered and vote on November 3rd. Study the candidates and what they stand for. I have always encouraged everyone to vote for candidates whose positions line up the closest to the principles of Scripture! We need policy and laws based on the Word of God! His ways are higher than our ways! When leaders align their policies with Biblical principles, everyone in the country, even those not professing Christ as Savior, will benefit! Vote on November 3rd.
North Central has always been a sending church! We have been praying for years about establishing our own people to a new place of mission impact. Even with Coronavirus, we have launched the Central Asia Partnership! We have and are in the process of sending 5 adults to this area of the world who will be used of God to push back the walls of darkness. In addition, Andrew and Alexa Hudson will join a church planting effort in San Diego, CA real soon. John and Mollie Wells are preparing to go to Malawi in East Africa in January. North Central (YOU) will have a part in all of this. When you faithfully give to our fellowship, you have a part in this work and the work of over three thousand SBC missionaries around the world! Thank you for your faithful giving and vision!
On Sunday, October 4, we are providing some activity for the little ones during the preaching. If you have a child, ages 3-5, go to our website, (www.gatorchurch.com) on the Children’s Ministry tab to sign up for the extended care for your little one. It begins this Sunday!
We have Life Groups meeting in person at the church. Some groups are meeting online. Currently we have Adult groups for Couples, for a Men’s group, and a Women’s group. Our Youth and College Students are meeting in person. If you would like to join an in person adult class, please email us (firstname.lastname@example.org) and we will give you the details. We are looking to add Children and Preschool Life Groups on Sunday Mornings that will enable every member of the family to study God’s Word at the Church. Look for details soon about this.
Man’s Search for the Mission Puzzle Piece is our study in Ecclesiastes. Solomon had given us access to his journal and all that he has learned. God gave him wisdom to record this for us. Oh, what we have learned!
It is a wonderful joy to be your Pastor! God has been so good to this precious fellowship of believers! Buckle your seatbelt! The Lord Jesus is working powerfully in hearts and lives as He is mighty to save!
I love you and thank God for each and every one of you!
Dear Church Family,
Well this has been one interesting summer! In the midst of it all we have been able to stay together in worship as a family. Here’s where we are at this point:
We are worshiping in two venues on Sunday morning at 10:45 AM. We are worshiping in-person and online. If you miss the online service and would like to hear it, you can access it on your telephone by calling 1-855-404-NCBC(6222). I have heard of several of our folks who listen to it regularly. So if you don’t have access to a computer and you have not been able to worship with us in-person, please listen to the service by calling that number.
We are also meeting in Life Groups, on a limited basis, with our youth, college students and some Adult groups. Our college students are meeting in the main auditorium to provide for social distancing. Our youth are meeting in the large meeting in the new educational building to provide for social distancing. The youth also meet on Wednesday nights in the main auditorium.
We are rejoicing over the launch of our Central Partnership. Please be in prayer for our team as they are traveling during these days. Pray that they get settled to begin their ministry in Central Asia. Would you consider giving sacrificially to the language training for our team? If you would like to give online, click here, or you can go to our website and find the language training icon on the home page. When giving in-person, mark your offering with “Central Asia Language Training.” Thank you for your generosity in reaching the nations.
Our students have gone back to school. We know this has been a hectic time as people have made so many adjustments.
We have some upcoming events that we want you to know about. On September 13th, we will be baptizing. What a thrill it is to see lives changed and touched by the gospel of Jesus Christ. If you or someone you know needs to be baptized please contact us at the church office or email us at email@example.com.
On September 20 we will have the Lord’s Supper together. This is always an incredibly special service. If you are watching us online, please have some bread and juice ready on that Sunday morning. You can participate along with us as we take the Lord’s Supper at the church.
May the Lord continue to bless you and your family. It is a joy to be your pastor.
Dear North Central family,
The Scripture says, “Do not be weary in well doing for in due season you will reap if you faint not.” These are very interesting times. The COVID-19 pandemic has adjusted so much about the “in person” meetings that we normally have as a church family. But it has not adjusted our mission of preaching, sharing the gospel with those who need Christ, and of making disciples of all we win to Christ. This is the mandate we have from Holy Scripture.
I want to thank you for keeping up with one another and encouraging one another. This is what being the church is all about. We are a family, and a family takes care of each of the members.
August will bring some changes in Gainesville. Schools are scheduled to start back. The University of Florida and Santa Fe college will resume their courses. We will continue to have only one public service on Sunday mornings at 10:45am. We are considering ways that some of our life groups may begin to meet. Whatever we choose to do, we must take every precaution and fulfill the best guidelines from our healthcare professionals. The churches are advised to make sure they keep their social distancing recommendations. If social distancing is difficult, we should wear masks. As you know our greeters are all wearing masks. Each church member should wear masks as well during times when social distancing is difficult. Let’s continue to pray that God will protect our church family as we move forward.
Our Central Asia Partnership is about to launch. You will hear more about this on August 23 and August 30 in our service. We are grateful and thankful that God is allowing our North Central family to reach out in a greater way to those that have never heard the gospel. Your witness as a church family will be made known for Jesus’ sake in a new ministry field for us. This is so exciting!
I’m excited about our study in Ecclesiastes. The title of the series is “Man’s Search for the Missing Puzzle Piece.” Solomon is giving us great wisdom about life and what’s important. Don’t miss these exciting Bible studies.
May the Lord Jesus continue to bless this precious fellowship of believers. It is a joy to be your pastor.
Dear North Central Family, What a joy to write you today! As I write, we have just launched our VBS -Virtual Bible School! Oh Wow! Allison Harris and the team have done an outstanding job, making the absolute best of a tough situation with COVID and all that we are going through. What amazing fun! This will be so encouraging for our children and the great news is that we are producing a new lesson and activities for every week in July, so the blessing just goes on and on. Thank you, Allison and Team!
Our Great Commission (Matt. 28:18-20) effort at North Central continues to expand. I hope you are noticing the fine job that Meghan Williams does getting out all of the information about NCBC mission efforts. She is our Ministry Resident in Missions and is helping us communicate to the church family all that is happening through the life of our people. I took inventory of the new things happening and wanted to highlight these for you. Ministry Residents: We already have Stephen Mohler for the College Ministry, Meghan Williams, working in Missions and will add Mitchell Shedd for the College Ministry in August when the Semester begins. These are UF grads who feel called to do Gospel work for the rest of their lives. We rejoice that we have the opportunity to watch them grow and provide some discipleship in their lives. Central Asia Partnership: We have two couples that will be moving to the field shortly. This is something that we have been praying and working toward for nearly 3 years. Praise the Lord! We also have a former college student heading overseas for a two year commitment. We’re so excited and will be uplifting her work in prayer! Church Planting through the North America Mission Board: Andrew and Alexa Hudson are headed to San Diego, CA to plant a new church among college students. They are looking to head that way in October so look for more info about their work soon! Malawi Missionaries: John and Mollie Wells and their daughter Paris are headed to this amazing African country (Lord willing in Jan. 2021) to be support personnel and help plant churches among an unevangelized people group. Wow! Our ministry will extend to this continent by their going. All of these efforts are happening in the next 6 or 7 months! What an opportunity!
“Man’s Search for the Missing Puzzle Piece” is the title of our study of the book of Ecclesiastes. Our service is online and in person. You feel free to decide which is best for you and your family. We are having good attendance in both of these venues and are thankful for our Music and Tech teams, which are making it all happen. We are praying that this recent spike won’t continue and will not result in severe health issues for our community. We will continue to monitor our community and advise as to the need to adjust our schedule.
We are scheduled to have quarterly business meetings, but because of the Coronavirus outbreak, we haven’t had an opportunity. So, we will have two meetings in one on Sunday, July 19th at 10:35am just 10 minutes prior to the start of the main service. The meeting is primarily for the approval of our financial reports, which are very encouraging. We are thankful for the Lord’s blessings in these days. If you, as a member, cannot make the business conference, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will send you a digital report following the meeting.
We are praying for our nation and for the world. We celebrate our freedom as a nation this weekend. The framers of our constitution gave us a great gift – the ability to gather in freedom to worship the Lord! Many have paid the ultimate price to keep that commitment alive so that generations following would have that freedom. My own Dad fought in the Pacific in World War 2 to insure this for fellow Americans. We have many in our fellowship who fought for this freedom. What a great responsibility we have. Let us use this freedom to tell all people everywhere about freedom, not just political freedom, but the ultimate freedom – that of knowing the Lord Jesus Christ who sets us free from the law of sin and death.
May the Lord Jesus bless this precious fellowship of believers!
Dear North Central Family,
“I was glad when they said to me, ‘Let us go into the house of the Lord.’” Psalm 122:1 This verse means so much more to us today because of the Coronavirus pandemic that we have experienced. We will gather back at North Central in person beginning Sunday, June 7 at 10:45am. We believe it is the right time to do this. Some in Alachua County have already begun, and we have learned from them. Our county leadership, after listening to the health community, have given us recommendations that encouraged us to open. So here are some things that I want you to know.
The rows of seating will be 6 ft. apart so that you will not need to social distance from those in front of you or behind you. We are asking for you to leave 3 empty seats between you and the next group on a row. This will help all of us keep our distance. If you have been “staying at home” with extended family or others, then feel free to sit close to them.
We will not have any nursery or Childrens activities, so make your plans to bring the children with you to the service.
We will have hand sanitizer stations set up in the hallway coming into the auditorium by the fellowship hall and at the main front door entrance to the worship center. We encourage you to wash your hands thoroughly before you come and feel free to use these stations, too. Wearing a mask is optional.
We will have greeters and some of our deacons that will help with ushering and greeting. We will not pass out bulletins nor pass the offering plates.
I want to thank you for your faithful giving during these last 13 weeks. Our people have been so faithful. You have made arrangements to get your tithes and offerings to the church. Perhaps you set up bill pay through your bank or have used our online giving instructions from our website. I think it would be good to continue this in the days ahead. We don’t know how long it will be before we will pass the offering plate as we have done in past days, so having these other methods of giving in place is helpful. We will not pass offering plates in the services in this phase of our re-opening, but there will be a place provided to put your offering if you bring it with you.
Don’t forget that we will still be streaming live on Sunday mornings! Many have been watching and participating with us. If you cannot attend this Sunday or feel the need to stay home, don’t miss watching the broadcast. Encourage others who need the Lord to watch.
Congratulations to all our High School graduates from North Central. I participated in a virtual Graduation Celebration honoring these graduates. We are so proud of them and thankful for their parents and extended families.
We have announced our Virtual Bible School (VBS) that will take place during the month of July for ages 3 through 5th grade. The theme is “Concrete and Cranes”. It is based on Philippians 1:6 which says, “Being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” God is growing His people and this includes our wonderful children. Allison Harris and her team are putting this all together! They will release the new materials for the kids each of the 5 Wednesdays of July, the 1st, 8th, 15th, 22nd, and 29th. All children will still need to register online at www.gatorchurch.com.
Thank you for your prayers during these days. I have been praying for you, too! I am also praying for our nation. I’m thankful that we are a church where all people are welcome. We say this every week, so let’s make sure that we live it out. Only when Jesus is Lord will the power of sin be broken. Every day, we have the opportunity to love others and make a gospel difference in the lives of people. This is the Jesus way!
It is a joy to serve as your Pastor! May God bless the wonderful people of North Central!
Dear North Central Family,
I’m writing this note to you, mindful of the huge changes you have made, that we all have made to our lives as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. This coming Monday, May 4, new guidelines come into play for our state as our Governor has enacted an executive order. Our own county commission is supposedly meeting right now as I write this to update our county on local recommendations. I am working to gain the best counsel for how we can resume our public worship services, to best minister to our people and to protect the vulnerable and reach as many people with the gospel of Jesus. Here are some thoughts:
We will continue to worship at home right now, but when we do meet, it will be with some new procedures enacted to give us assurances that we will all be safe. Our buildings have been cleaned thoroughly and will be cleaned extensively after every meeting. We will not pass out bulletins initially. Social distancing will be taking place, allowing families to sit together with others at safe distances. For this reason, we will set up MORE chairs than normal to give everyone a chance to find the seat that is comfortable for them. We want to have some overflow space set up with closed circuit live broadcast so that people can be directed there if we hit a capacity attendance based upon informed recommendations. Offering plates will not be passed out but placed at the exits for our people to give. We also will continue with a live broadcast for anyone who needs to stay home or just would prefer to stay home and watch. This will set up our whole congregation to worship in a way in which they feel comfortable.
We will move zoom Life Groups to Sunday PM time slots (each class can set time) because it would be hard to have a zoom meeting and then make it to worship. Sunday Evenings can be reserved for these wonderful online fellowship and Bible study meetings.
We will want our elderly and vulnerable folks to be at ease with the decision that they make as to when to return to worship. Online and our phone call worship (1-855-404-6222[NCBC]) will still be available moving forward for all who desire it, including our guests that have been watching us.
Stay tuned for future announcements. The date when all of this will start is still unknown. Even then, we want to be as safe as possible. We also want to meet under circumstances that will allow us to have a meaningful and Holy Spirit anointed time together that is safe and comfortable. Will you pray that this will come soon? Look for updates. It is hard to commit to a timeline until our medical people make recommendations. Our own Florida Baptist State Convention is also providing us guidance which is very helpful.
To date you have given over $1,500.00 toward our Orange Bucket Program that feeds kids in our county. This Sunday, May 3, is the ending of this program, so if you can give toward it, please do so. This is for a great cause.
I want to thank you for your faithful giving to the Lord’s work here at North Central. Once again, thank you for sacrificially giving over the last 8-plus years to get us completely out of debt. This has enabled us to be in a position of financial stability in unstable times. Your faithful tithing and giving over and above the tithe made all of this possible.
Don’t miss our Mother’s Day broadcast. We are collecting Pictures of Moms with the children, pictures of Moms with husbands, Moms with grandkids to show on this May 10 service. Please send in your digital pics to email@example.com so we can work them into our broadcast. There is also a special announcement for a gift for all Moms on that day. Don’t miss the broadcast!
It was at North Central, 38 years ago on May 1st, that Kelly and I were married! I came to UF and met Kelly at North Central. Oh my, how I have marveled at the grace of God given to an ordinary guy from Jacksonville who was wondering what the future would hold. Her saying “I do” to me has been God’s amazing gift to me and has confirmed that God works behind the scenes to bless those who trust Him. I didn’t really have the smarts to trust Him, but my Pastor challenged me to give this area of my life to Jesus. Oh, I’m so glad that I did!
I am the most blessed Pastor ever! I say this because I’ve had a bird’s eye view of you ministering to one another during these days! God bless the precious fellowship of believers here at North Central Baptist Church. May the Lord bring about the day that we can all gather to worship our Lord and Savior Jesus-King Jesus. Until then remember Jesus said, “I will build my church and the gates of hell will not prevail against it!” Be encouraged church family-none of this has surprised our Lord. “Greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world!” I John 4:4.
Dear North Central Family,
I’m reminded of this verse of Scripture – Psalm 95:1 : “He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will abide in the shadow of the Almighty.“ The COVID-19 pandemic has created a new set of circumstances that we would have never imagined just one month ago. Psalm 95:1 is true for all of us who have trusted in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. It does not mean that we are excluded from all difficulties related to the Coronavirus, but that we are ultimately in His hands. Our trust is in Him. He has never let us down. His promises are sure and true.
Although we long for worship together in our building, we are experiencing “Church at Home” with our on-line broadcast week by week. I pray that you are getting it on your computer or other device. If you don’t have access to our on-line broadcast, you can hear it by calling 1-855-404-6222. Our Tech team, Music team, and staff are putting in many hours to make this service possible. We have the best staff and team of volunteers that I know of anywhere. Their heart for you and the mission of Jesus comes out in the excellence of their work. These folks truly want us to experience a quality worship service – the best it can possibly be without being there in person. I’ve seen creativity and a work ethic that has amazed me. Take advantage of all that is being done with the service but also utilize the materials and suggestions on our website. All of this is online with you and your family in mind to help us grow together in Jesus.
We will have the Lord’s Supper together on Easter! This is a little unusual I know, since we are normally in our building for this service and have our deacons handing out the juice and the bread. But I think this is important for our church family to experience together. I want you to get some bread and juice ready for this service. On April 12, on Easter Sunday, we will take the Lord’s Supper as part of our service. I will lead you and your family in this so that we all can take it together at the same time. This will not necessarily be the whole service. We will still have the music as usual, the Bible study (An Easter/Resurrection message!) and some announcements. But we will take a few minutes to take the Lord’s supper in our homes at the same time, during the broadcast. Please prepare for this time together!
We continue to work at the office. Some are coming in and out at different times. The office is closed to nonemployees. If you need us, you can still call the church and we will retrieve all messages. You also can email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can email me directly at email@example.com. We have set up a prayer line at firstname.lastname@example.org and a place to send your photos, highlighting ministry activities and worship shots at email@example.com.
On Orange Bucket Sunday, we normally bring nonperishable food items to the church and give them to Food4kids, a local non-profit that supplies food for school children in need. We are still going to do this but in a different way. Because of the Coronavirus, it is difficult to accumulate these food items at the church and get them to the organization. But we can send them some funds and their staff will purchase the food on our behalf to help these children. Look on our website beginning on Easter Sunday for a way you can donate toward this effort. We will receive donations for this effort from Easter Sunday through April 26, and then get these funds to them. We will report back to you what we have done. This effort a way we can make a real difference in our community.
I encourage you to meet with your Life Group by zoom meeting if at all possible. Staying connected with one another is so important. Pray with one another on the phone too! I encourage our Life Groups to contact all members at least once per week, to connect and pray together. It’s important to speak with our church family and pray for one another. I am also thankful that our deacons are keeping up with their families too. We have wonderful, godly deacons who love our church and families.
Lastly, I want to thank you for your faithful giving. I shared with you that for the first time as your Pastor, Kelly and I gave through our on-line giving page on our website. It was easy! Ever since I can remember, we prepared our offering envelope and Kelly and I gave it in the regular offering at church. Well, this virus has changed that. I’m grateful that we have lots of options -you can use bill pay through your own bank, set up on-line giving through our website, or mail your offering to the church.
Years ago, you made the decision to get out of debt, after the recommendation of a church committee and the Pastor. That was a great decision based in Biblical wisdom. We actually built our educational building, debt free, and paid off a 1.4-million-dollar indebtedness. This was truly a miracle. And now we don’t have a $11,500.00 monthly mortgage bill any longer. We are a blessed people. But let’s not let our guard down. We are still supporting mission efforts and reaching our own community of young people, singles and families. We currently have 3 people wanting to join our church and have 2 awaiting baptism! This growth without any services in our building! Your faithful giving allows all of this to happen! This is a long note today. I simply want to say that we love you and thank God for you! May God bless the wonderful people of North Central Baptist Church!
It is a joy to be your Pastor,
Dear church family,
Who’s Your One? is the effort that we are involved in as a church that challenges each of us to have someone with whom we intentionally want to share Jesus. We all have someone on our heart that needs to know about Jesus and His love. Our “Who’s Your One?” board gives us a visual reminder of the people of whom we are praying and sharing. We will keep our board up until Easter with the prayer that many will be here on the Resurrection day!
Here are some of the many March happenings at North Central:
March 1 we will gather for Life Group Fellowships all across our city. If you are not involved in a Life Group, I want you to attend one of our gatherings real soon. These fellowship activities take place once per month, usually (but not always) on the first Sunday night of the month. They are great opportunities to get to know folks in your age group and life stage. Our folks love to hang out and get to know one another and new friends. Let us know if we can help you find a Life Group.
The Gathering is going to the UF Campus! On Saturday March 14th at 7pm, they will meet to worship and gather together. They always have a wonderful time, and this meeting will be especially special because it is meeting at the BCM building on the campus! Look for details on the Gathering’s Facebook. Our ladies have been meeting in homes across our city for “The Gathering: In the Word.” God is doing great things through these studies. This campus meeting on the 14th is a corporate meeting where all our women come together to worship Jesus. You don’t want to miss this!
The next night, March 15th, we are moving our Sunday night Worship service to the BCM to gather our whole church for a special service. One of our college students has committed to go overseas to spend the next two years sharing her life and the gospel message with those that have never heard of God’s love. You will hear the story and also hear how others can go too! This will be a very special night! We begin this service at 6pm at the BCM (1604 W. University Ave, Gainesville, FL 32603).
We are learning how to Walk in the Grace of God from Ephesians on Sunday mornings. These studies are rich with practical steps to walking out the Christian life. Sunday night we have been looking at the topic: Living Life from God’s Point of View when not gathered for special events or studies. I encourage you to avail yourself of these Bible studies to help you grow.
Men, don’t miss the Men’s Retreat scheduled for April 3-4 at beautiful Lake Swan. You will be getting details soon about how to sign up.
Easter is April 12. Would you begin now praying that God would bring many here on that Sunday to hear the message of Christ? Ask the Lord to put people on your heart to invite to be here with us. We will also be scheduling some special events following Easter to help us reach even more with the message of the resurrection. What a glorious opportunity.
It is a joy to be your Pastor.
You are loved,
Dear Church Family,
We have been studying the book of Ephesians on Sunday morning under the topic: Understanding the Grace of God as a Believer. These have been rich studies. We are so blessed by the overwhelming grace of our Lord that is provided by Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection. This is so powerful. I hope you will join us for these studies and bring someone with you.
We also have some wonderful opportunities ahead of us that I want to tell you about.
Spend some special time with your Life Group on February 2! We are having Life Group Fellowships! Check with your Life Group for the location and times. These fellowships are so fun and give us the opportunity to get to know one another outside of the regular Sunday meeting.
Our men have a workday scheduled for Saturday, February 8th from 8am until about 1pm. There will be breakfast for you early and a lunch provided afterward. This is a great fellowship time for our men and allows us to get important things done at the church with your help.
We will be baptizing on Feb. 9th in the morning service. If you need to be baptized, contact us in the office, and we will get you all of details. Baptism is the New Testament public profession of our faith in Jesus.
DNOW is Feb. 14th through 16th. You can sign up your teenager by going online or by contacting the office. This event is a tremendous weekend where students meet new friends and are challenged to walk with Jesus in their daily lives. Billy Young, who directs all youth ministry for the Florida Baptist State Convention, will be our speaker. All of our students will want to be a part of this annual event.
February 16th we will have our North Central on Campus service. We will meet at the BCM on the University of Florida Campus. The Lord has strategically allowed us to impact the college campuses of Gainesville and this is a special opportunity gather there and visualize the magnitude of our work there.
Last week in our business conference, we received new members and discussed our financial report for the year. Our financial position allowed us to give more to our cooperative mission’s efforts than we have ever given in the last decade. Also, we gave our largest gift to the Lottie Moon Christmas offering in the last decade. It is a reminder that when you give, you are supporting the evangelistic, disciple-making, and mission efforts of this fellowship. Also, these special events mentioned above in this letter are all supported through your faithful giving. At North Central, God is raising up an army of witnesses for Christ who are leveraging their time, talents, and treasure for the Glory of God!
What a joy it is to be your Pastor,
Dear Church Family,
A brand new decade! We are entering into 2020 with new vision and impact for the life of our church. I am writing this article to you following the adoption of our 2020 ministry budget. This ministry budget provides for an even greater impact in missions here and abroad.
The North Central annual Lottie Moon Christmas offering is the largest amount we’ve sent in the past 12 years. These funds go directly to the International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Convention and are earmarked to go to the field, not being used for administrative costs. We believe in the efforts of our partnership with thousands of other like-minded churches that make our mission effective and vast!
I want you to continue to pray for our “Who’s Your One” effort. Get somebody on your heart to pray for-a person who needs to know the love of Jesus. Evangelism begins with prayer. Look for ways to invest time building a relationship with your “one.” Take an opportunity to share the good news of Jesus with them using the Romans Road to Salvation, The Bridge illustration, Steps to Peace with God, or the 3-Circles Life Conversation Guide.
We are embarking on a new Bible study on Sunday mornings in the book of Ephesians. The book of Ephesians is about the riches that we have in Christ. These blessings that come from the Lord enable us to live in a different way. My prayer for us all is that we would be salt and light in this generation as a result of the gifts that God has given us to serve Him.
Be praying for our College Students who are attending Life Impact Jan. 1-4 in Deland, Florida. This is a tremendous retreat that challenges students to join the Lord in the harvest through prayer, evangelism, and disciple-making! Pray for lasting fruit!
Please be in prayer for our young people as they prepare for the DNOW Weekend next month. Billy Young, who leads the next generation Ministry for the Florida Baptist Convention, will be the speaker this year. He is a friend of North Central, preaching on several occasions. We’re praying that our young people will grow and that many new people who need Christ will attend and meet Jesus personally.
The Gathering has a special event on January 31st! Be on the lookout for the info that will come out on this fantastic ministry to our ladies. You don’t want to miss anything they do! I’m sure it will encourage you!
It is a joy to be your Pastor as we enter into another decade for the wonderful people we call North Central Baptist Church!