Twenty Years and Counting

On March 15, 1987, Bob and Annette Morrison began serving at First Baptist Church of Pensacola, Bob as Minister of Music and Annette as his administrative assistant. This Sunday, March 25 our church will celebrate Bob and Annette’s 20th anniversary at First Baptist.

Currently, Bob serves as Associate Minister, primarily expressing leadership in the areas of music, worship, and media. Along with each of our staff ministers, Bob assists with hospital visitation, prospect contacts, memorial services, and weddings. And Annette continues to bring strong organizational and planning skills to our music department as Bob’s administrative assistant.

This week during each of our morning worship services, we will take a moment to express our gratitude to Bob and Annette. Then, on Sunday evening, we will gather in Chipley Hall for an Anniversary Reception where we will revisit some fun and serious moments from across the years.

Our congregation looks forward to many more good years of ministry alongside Bob and Annette Morrison.

Invite a friend to join you as we gather for worship and Bible study on Sunday morning, and make plans to join us for the reception on Sunday evening.

Enjoy A Safe and Refreshing Spring Break!

This is an exciting week as we adjust to the earlier edition of Daylight Savings Time, as many of our students enjoy Spring Break, and we watch the construction of our first ROC wall. That’s right. The construction phase of the ROC is officially underway as the first of many new interior walls has now been framed. Construction will progress inside the existing structure for the next few weeks. Then, during the week following Easter, work will begin on the new addition.

On Sunday evening, we will meet at six o’clock for Vespers in Pleitz Chapel. Our guests will be Carolyn Anderson and Ray Johnson, representing one of our multiple mission partners. Carolyn has been a long-time friend to our church as she has served in many capacities in Florida Baptist life and more recently as coordinator for the Florida Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. Ray is former missionary to the Philippines, former pastor of Riverside Baptist Church in Miami and now the newly elected coordinator of the Florida CBF. Ray will share a devotional message during Vespers. After Vespers we will enjoy a reception in the Atrium as we express appreciation to Carolyn on her retirement and as we welcome Ray to his new assignment.

We will continue our series Deep Questions for a Deeper Faith on Sunday morning as we ask “Would You Leave the Ninety Nine?” from Luke 15:1-7.

If you are traveling on a vacation or to visit family members during Spring Break, travel safely and enjoy a time of physical and spiritual refreshing. If you have friends or guests in town this week, invite them to join you as we gather for worship and Bible study this Sunday.

Stretch, Yawn, and Come On!

Spring Forward this Sunday! Whether you choose to adjust your clocks at bedtime on Saturday evening, or you actually make the official adjustment at 2:00 a.m. on Sunday, this is the weekend that marks the beginning of Daylight Savings Time.

This year, DST begins in March rather than April. Many of us have made sure to update the calendars on our computers to make sure there are not Y2K-type glitches. But we must also prepare to adjust our body clocks and our alarm clocks to the new time. Be sure to set your alarm and resist the temptation to sleep late this Sunday. This Sunday yawning is welcome and momentary dozing will be forgiven. Stretch, yawn, and come on to worship and to Bible study, as we transition to DST together.

On Sunday evening, we will meet at six o’clock in Chipley Hall for our church wide Chili Supper and an inspirational interview with Kelly Murray and Cheryl Lauer, both of whom have recently returned from military assignments.

We will continue our series Deep Questions for a Deeper Faith on Sunday morning as we think on the question “Do You Think They Were Worse Sinners?” from Luke 13:1-9.

Invite a friend to join you as we gather for worship and Bible study this Sunday.

Integrity on Tour and Beyond

When members of the PGA Tour think of integrity, they inevitably think of Joe Durant. Durant, who began his professional career in 1987, has competed on the Nike Tour and PGA Tour since 1993. And while Durant enjoys winning a golf tournament, he doesn’t let his status as tour professional interfere with his priority commitments to his faith and his family.

A few weeks ago I had the privilege of interviewing Joe Durant on “Religion for the Public Square,” a program appearing weekly on WUWF, the University of West Florida television station. My co-host, Rabbi Leonard Zukrow, joined me in talking with Durant about ethics and integrity in professional sports.

Durant is a native of Pensacola, Florida who played golf at Escambia County High School and Huntingdon College. After a discouraging start as a professional golfer, Durant spent some time soul-searching before returning to the tour. Upon his return, Durant has consistently ranked near the top in driving accuracy and greens hit in regulation.

Chosen by his peers to serve on the policy committee for the PGA Tour, Durant is highly respected for his integrity. As a conscientious person of faith, Durant has been careful to keep his success on the golf course in perspective. He chooses corporate sponsors with intentionality, he prioritizes and nurtures family relationships, and he contributes time and resources generously to community organizations.

In the second half of 2006, Durant was the hottest golfer on tour, getting 7 top ten finishes, winning the Disney Funai Classic, and coming in second at the Tour Championship. He completed the 2006 season at thirteenth on the money list and moved up to 32nd in the World Golf Rankings. The win at Funai was his first tour win since winning the Bob Hope Classic and the Doral Open in 2001. Last year as Durant was approaching the 18th green in Orlando, the television analysts noted how appropriate it was for Durant to win at Disney because Durant is known for his family values.

Family is among Durant’s highest priorities. Durant loves spending time with his wife and children. To nurture family relationships, the Durant family has a rule that Joe will not be away from family for more than two weeks at a time. On those rare occasions where the Joe’s schedule does not include a planned break, Durant flies the family to join him on tour. In fact, Durant has been known to pass up an opportune tour event to spend quality time with family during a holiday week or weekend.

With gratitude for his success on the tour, Durant has given much back to the community. Durant is actively involved in junior golf programs, especially First Tee, an organization that “provides young people of all backgrounds an opportunity to develop life-enhancing values such as confidence, perseverance and judgment through golf and character education.”

Durant is also an avid supporter of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes. Each year the Northwest Florida chapter of FCA hosts the Joe Durant Classic, a tournament underwritten by Durant to support the ministry of FCA throughout the year. At the tournament Durant not only greets the golfers, he participates in the entire tournament, playing a hole or two with each team throughout the day, and sharing in a question and answer time just before prizes are awarded.

Like many professional athletes, Durant’s generosity is not limited to his own community. Last year when Durant placed sixth in the Zurich Classic of New Orleans, he donated his entire winnings, $248,000 toward Hurricane Katrina Relief.

While many professional athletes make the headlines for their inappropriate behavior, there are many more professional athletes who are guided by their faith and who consistently live according to strong moral, ethical, and family values. Whether on tour or at home, Joe Durant is one of those down-to-earth guys who represents the world of sports with class, character, and integrity.

From Eufaula to Pensacola…Good Things Are Happening

Amanda and I arrived home in Pensacola earlier today after spending a few days in the charming town of Eufaula, Alabama where I had the privilege of sharing in the revival services at First Baptist Church. Dr. Ken Bush and his wife, Joyce, have been exceedingly gracious hosts. Ken is one of the most respected pastors in Alabama and has served faithfully here for 27 years. And you may recall that Joyce is the sister of our own Jean Ingram. I have thoroughly enjoyed getting better acquainted with Ken and Joyce, and with this vibrant healthy church family in Eufaula.

Amanda and I have met many of your friends and relatives here, along with former (and perhaps, future) members of FBC Pensacola. We enjoyed a series of refreshing worship services at noon and in the evenings. We have also heard good words about the services in Pensacola last Sunday, especially Charlie Johnson’s message on worship and the Singspiration on Sunday evening. Then we heard that our Bulgaria Mission Team did a great job sharing testimonies and stories about their recent mission trip. And, as always, our ministerial team does a great job of caring for the burdens and needs of our congregation. Amanda and I are looking forward to worshipping alongside our church family this weekend.

As we prepare for a big weekend in Pensacola remember the following:

  • Atrium Express begins this Sunday morning.
  • Parent/Child Dedication is scheduled for our morning services.
  • On Sunday evening we meet in Chipley for a reception to welcome Dr. and Mrs. Lam.

This Sunday morning we begin a new series addressing Deep Questions for a Deeper Faith. The first message explores the saga of Abraham and Sarah and asked, “Does God Have a Surprise for You?”

There are many opportunities in March for us to grow in faith and friendship. Invite a friend to join you as we gather for worship and Bible study this Sunday.

There’s A March Wind Blowing

As the winds of March indicate the coming of spring in Pensacola, so the gentle breeze of the Spirit indicates an upcoming season of new growth and spiritual vitality in our First Baptist Family.

At the beginning of March, we will welcome Dr. Minh Lam to our church staff as an Associate Minister. Dr. Lam will serve primarily as the Pastoral Leader for our Vietnamese Fellowship, but he will also assist other members of our ministerial team with outreach, evangelism, and pastoral care. Dr. Lam is well-known among Vietnamese Christians for his teaching, his preaching, and his international radio broadcasts. Some have referred to Dr. Lam as the “Billy Graham of the Vietnamese world.” We will join with our Vietnamese Fellowship in hosting a welcome reception for Dr. and Mrs. Lam on March 4.

Construction work on the ROC is beginning. The first few days of work will consist primarily of internal prep work inside the existing structure. Then we will see big machinery coming our way. Following Easter, work will begin on the new addition. These will be exciting months as we watch the ROC become a reality one week at a time with a completion time near the end of 2007.

As the ROC is shaping up right before our eyes, many of our classes and groups will continue to meet for extended months in alternative spaces and crowded locations. For a smooth and harmonious season of construction we asked that everyone practice patience, flexibility, and cooperation. If you get nudged out of your comfort zone, let that experience promote you to your next level of spiritual growth.

On March 4, we will launch Atrium Express, which will encourage a brief time for fellowship in the Atrium prior to the Early Service and “en route” to Bible Study. Coffees and assorted drinks will be available as you visit friends and guests just before the Early Service and as you greet friends and “en route” to your Bible study group. Our aim is to provide positive moments for fellowship as we provide quality opportunities for Bible study and discipleship.

In March we begin a new worship series which will explore “Deep Questions for a Deeper Faith.” Invite a friend to join you as we experience the breeze of the Spirit.