Pastor Bud Goude has been moving G.P.B.C. into deeper ministry. His stated goal (page 39) is: “To honor his Heavenly Father through glorifying his Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ. By loving God, loving others, and serving in the world, he believes the church will fulfill its purpose to bring others to become disciples of Christ”. Our monthly VISION and weekly bulletin now display this Bible verse: “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them and … teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you.” From 2009 – 2015 we have baptized 77 new converts. A total of 151 people have joined our church during these past seven years. Praise God!
G.P.B.C. involvement with Upward Sports from 2009 – 2015 is largely responsible for this church growth. This Christian based ministry teaches youngsters in kindergarten through sixth grade soccer, football and cheerleading skills AND the gospel message. Eight Saturday games, weekly practices and Bible study culminate in a celebration where many have declared Jesus Christ to be their Savior. This nationally based ministry has required much congregational commitment: coaches, referees, food concessions, game testimonies, field maintenance, in addition to leadership.
A second mission thrust has been our involvement in the Gloucester County United Emergency Shelter Team (G.U.E.S.T.) for three winters now. This program offers meals and shelter to local homeless persons from December through March. Pauline Littell led us to become a host shelter in 2014. This involved opening our church for two weeks from 7pm to 7am. We serve the clients dinner and breakfast besides packing them bag lunches. They are assigned sleeping pallets which move weekly from church to church. It is gratifying to see how the Gloucester Christian community is able to help individuals find jobs, housing and even lead them to Christ during this difficult time. A day shelter offers computers and laundry and shower facilities.
A third outreach for G.P.B.C. has been increased commitment to our Benevolence Fund. Christmas 2010 we switched from decorating the sanctuary with Poinsettias to donating $5 or more to Benevolence, represented by Doves on the Chrismon tree. Each season brings a new benevolence theme – Crosses for Easter, Stars in summer and leaves during autumn. Donations have ranged from $400 to $2,000. Gloria Breeden meets with qualifying individuals who have emergency financial needs to distribute the monies.
Several changes have come about in our missionary work since 2009.
- We joined One Harvest Food Ministries in April of 2012. This outreach is similar to Angel Food Ministry (see page 40-41). Alice Oldfield reports that Youth and Sunday School classes have provided four years of Thanksgiving meals to community families, a total of 130 dinner boxes!
- Vacation Bible School shifted from morning to evenings in 2011 to accommodate working adults.
- Gloucester Point Baptist Weekday Preschool closed in the fall of 2012 after 28 years of serving the community. Gloucester public schools and many other churches now offer weekday preschool programs and our enrollment became too small to sustain our ministry. We dismantled the playground and donated the preschool supplies to our Sunday School department.
G.P.B.C. has continued to take mission trips of all kinds. Youth and adults teamed together to two summer journeys to Standing Rock Indian Reservation in North Dakota, 2010 and 2013. We held a five day soccer camp for immigrant children on the Eastern Short in 2011. Jason Turner, minister to Youth and Children left G.P.B.C. in June 2012 and Lyn Whitt stepped in as Youth Director for the next year. Gary and Barbara Mangrum felt the Lord’s leading to assume youth leadership in the fall of 2013. Their group joined other Gloucester church teens in 2014 in “Helping Hands” missions within the county. Summer of 2015 our youth were ready to travel to Copperhill, Tennessee with the Team Effort program doing needed repairs.
The Southern Baptist Convention provides many resources and opportunities for our children to grow in Christ. We are grateful to those who are called to be leaders in this work. One such example is Paige Townsend, who is our new Coordinator for Children and Youth ministries at G.P.B.C. She smooths the way for our volunteers. Also our “new” 15 passenger van, purchased in 2015, is a great help to transport for activities.
In finishing this chapter we cannot neglect to mention our Capital Improvement Campaign, begun in 2014. Our church building was built in 1974 with the addition completed in 1995. After forty years the building needed major attention. We started with a new roof. Then came Sanctuary renovations: carpet, pews, choir chairs, sound system, projection screen. Next we installed new lighting, carpet, flooring, paint, and furniture for the narthex, church offices and education wings. Restrooms were updated; library and some classrooms reassigned. The church body has supported this project well. As more money becomes available, plans include expanding the current Fellowship Hall. With our increased membership we can no longer accommodate everyone at our fellowship meals.
As we close this chapter, we are thankful that our congregation is growing – in numbers as well as maturity. We rejoice in our body believers, that each of us has been uniquely gifted. A few examples illustrate our diversity.
- Ted Fisher, Chairman of Building and Grounds is always available to unlock, chauffeur, fix problems.
- Keith Belvin has led us through our Building Improvement project, organizing, encouraging, supervising.
- Tommy, Paulette and Melissa Ashe plan our church dinners, month after month, year after year.
- Gus Saunders hosts a Friday night Men’s Bible Study in his home.
- Sharon Warren is led to teach Sunday School at the Homeless Day Shelter, and also to lead our women in Spring Bible Study.
- Denise Gandee faithfully changes the church sign to advance the gospel.
- Jeannie Fitzgerald inspires our ladies to bake bread for world hunger. She also introduced the Lottie Moon Tea to encouraged giving to International Missions.
As we move toward our 60th Anniversary, may we continue to be inspired by the words inscribed on our new hall floor Mariner’s Compass: Enter to “LOVE GOD, LOVE OTHERS” and leave church to “SERVE IN THE WORLD.”