O Lord, my Lord, how many times you have come to my rescue! How many Sundays has there been no strength left, and no word to speak, and no time to prepare! And you! You, in your tender mercies and fatherly care and sovereign power have come! And as it were out of nothing have brought forth a message and a praise to your Name. Thank you, Father, from the bottom of my heart; for surely I have tasted the God of Isaiah:
He gives power to the faint,
and to him who has no might he increases strength.
They who wait for the Lord shall renew their strength,
they shall mount up with wings like eagles,
they shall run and not be weary,
they shall walk and not faint.
How thankful I am that you came to First Baptist Church for the evening service last Sunday evening! Some estimated up to a thousand people from the combined churches. But not only for your presence, especially for your spirit—your singing, your spontaneous applause for FBC, your gracious remarks to the hosts, your cheerful demeanor at the reception—and all that when the sun hadn't shown up for two weeks!
To FBC (sent to them to be printed in their bulletin)
On behalf of the people of Bethlehem may I express our joy and gratitude for the wonderful hospitality shown to us last Sunday evening. We felt genuinely welcome during the open house. We were filled with gladness to sing with you, and worship together. And we marvel at all the work that went into preparing those delicious sandwiches and fruit and brownies!! May the Lord honor your labors and use that night to confirm us in his chosen paths.
1) In response to Suzanne Lavin's good question, I would hope that if (!) the merger passes, we would immediately establish a “Hospitality Task Force” of creative people from both churches to brainstorm about ways to mingle our congregations. This group would exist and make recommendations until April, 1989, and would dream of ways for families, classes, ages, groups, etc., to get to know each other.
2) I am committed to having in your hands a proposed set of by-laws and a merger agreement (that spells out details of staffing, Sunday School proposals, committee commitments, etc.) in time for you to read them and discuss them and make suggestions about them before the evening when we actually vote as a church. So don't fret that the voting date might slip up on you unawares and catch you unprepared. There will be much to read and consider and discuss before that happens. We won't force the process, even if it takes longer than the target dates. Let's keep praying earnestly for the Lord's perspective and for obedient hearts.