“Unto thee, O God, do we give thanks, unto thee do we give thanks:
for that thy name is near thy wondrous works declare.”
Every day is a day of thanksgiving, but we recognize every fourth Thursday of November as a special day of thanksgiving. In Psalm 75:1, we learn that we should be thankful unto God because His name (He) is near rather than far-flung. Believers nationwide proclaim and testify about how wonderful and marvelous are His works.
People have not always recognized the fourth Thursday of November as Thanksgiving. The first Thanksgiving-type celebration happened in November of 1621, when the Pilgrims’ governor, William Bradford, declared a time of thanksgiving to celebrate the English settlers’ first successful corn harvest. After a long and bitter voyage to the west and a devastating winter, the remaining Mayflower passengers turned their hearts and minds toward God in gratitude for their blessings.
President Abraham Lincoln declared two national Thanksgivings in 1863. The first one was in August to commemorate the Battle of Gettysburg during the Civil war “entreating all Americans to ask God to commend to his tender care all those who have become widows, orphans, mourners or sufferers in the lamentable civil strife’ and to ‘heal the wounds of the nation.” The other one was in November to give thanks for “general blessings” which we celebrate today.
While in another country a few years ago on the fourth Thursday of November, I was surprised that they did not acknowledge Thanksgiving Day. I then learned that some countries do not commemorate this day; nonetheless, praise God that we live in a country that does honor this day. Today, I encourage everyone to share ample quality time with God by thanking Him for being so good; also, enjoy and be safe among people in your pod. My prayer is that each of us will experience a blessed and happy Thanksgiving.
I must commend everyone for the team effort we demonstrate each Sunday when we assemble for corporate worship. Since we reopened on June 6th, God has blessed, sustained, and protected us from the Coronavirus. We worship safely together by being covered by the blood of Jesus and by being extremely cautious. Last Sunday, I felt so bad for everyone because the temperature in both sanctuaries was extremely cold, especially at the North Campus. If God is willing, on this Sunday, we will experiment by somewhat warming both sanctuaries before people congregate. Always know that your safety is a chief priority, and your comfort is immensely considered.
Our architect informed me this week that the City of Richmond is close to granting us our building permit. In case you are unaware, we desire to construct a multimillion-dollar Family Life Center, adjacent to our current sanctuary at the North Campus, which will consist of a gymnasium, game room (for the youth), and weight room. Many of us made a pledge that we fulfilled, but some have not. I encourage everyone (if you have not already done so) to participate financially as soon as possible in this building project by choosing one of the following tiers:
1) $10,000.00 or more
2) $5,000.00 to $999.00
3) $1,000.00 to $4,999.00
4) $500.00 to $999.00
5) Below $500.00
Every Dollar Counts: We need to close our year better than what we are averaging. From now to the end of the year, each of us is needed to give generously in our Tithes and Offerings because we are on course currently to fall far from our yearly average. Let’s demonstrate our love for God and St. John (at least for the remainder of this year) by being generous with your Tithes and Offerings. Moreover, if you desire to reap a harvest, allow God to lead you to sow a special Seed Offering. Giving is God’s way for us to receive more, for He promised to open the windows of heaven and pour out blessings leaving us with no room to store them (Mal 3:10). We currently give in person during Sunday Morning Worship Celebrations, by mailing or dropping off our Tithes and Offerings at our Administration Building or South Campus, or by giving online through our website (sjmbc.org).
A New Way To Grow: For 34 years, I have taught, as a Pastor, ways for a church to grow in person, but a new way to grow is now necessary due to the existing pandemic. In order to be safe, St. John is currently utilizing 30-40% of our seating capacity (social distancing) in the sanctuaries of our North Campus and South Campus. Consequently, we are now seeking ways to build our Virtual Audience through live streaming (YouTube and Facebook/Meta) and podcasts. I encourage everyone to subscribe to our YouTube platform and encourage others (St. John parishioners and friends) to subscribe also. The larger our YouTube subscription the greater benefits we can receive.
Safety Protocol: We currently have two Worship Celebrations (each is approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes) every Sunday: 9 a.m. at the North Campus and 11 a.m. at the South Campus. We encourage everyone, especially people who are physically disabled, to arrive at least 10 minutes beforehand to be seated safely and comfortably. Temperatures are checked, hand sanitizing is urged, social distancing is applied regarding where people shall sit and walk, wearing a mask is still mandatory (even though exceptions are now made in our county which began November 1st, utilization of restrooms is restricted to 2-4 people at a time (depending on the size of the restroom), and congregating before and after Services is prohibited.
Weekly Activities: I strongly encourage everyone to participate in the St. John activities that benefit you. Regarding each of the following activities, visit our website at sjmbc.org if you need more information. What’s forthcoming?
- Worship Celebrations at 9:00 a.m. (North Campus) and 11:00 a.m. (South Campus)
- Online Church School at 2 p.m.
- Online Lord’s Supper (1st Sundays) at 7:00 p.m.
- Online J.A.M. Sessions For Children (2nd and 4th Sundays) at 4:00 p.m.
- Preparation For Grocery Giveaway at 10:00 a.m. (South Campus)
- Online Women Missionary Ministry – General Mission (4th Mondays) at 6:00 p.m.
- Grocery Giveaway at 12:00 p.m. (North Campus and South Campus)
- Online Church Leadership Council at 6:30 p.m. (Tuesdays before 3rd Sundays)
- Online Prayer at 12:00 p.m. and 6:30 p.m.
- Online Church School at 7:00 p.m.
“Unto thee, O God, do we give thanks, unto thee do we give thanks: for that thy name is near thy wondrous works declare” (Psalm 75:1).
May God bless each of us to experience a Happy Thanksgiving.
Your Servant In Christ,
Dr. Kevin B. Hall, Pastor