Our History – Chapter IV: Team Ministry (1987-1993)

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As our ministries grew, the church realized that our staff needed to expand also. In 1987, Gloucester Point Baptist Church voted to increase the budget by $28,000 during those two years, enough to finance a second full-time minister.

Sandra Fox resigned as part-time Minister of Music in February, 1987, and the very next month the church voted to hire a full-time Minister of Music, Youth, and Children. A search committee was formed. Tom Emory, Gloucester High School Band Director, served as interim Chancel Choir Director and kept us singing.

Our congregation continued to work in quiet ways. Nancy Wilburn created banners each season for the sanctuary to enhance the worship experience. Leslie Belvin initiated the “Hanging of the Greens” during Advent to beautify the church. Leslie also introduced a large rustic cross outside on the lawn at Easter, draped in black for Good Friday, filled with flowers on Easter morning. The W.M.U. ladies crafted Chrismon ornaments, expressive Christian symbolism for the Christmas season. This organization also remained faithful in providing mission activities for the children on Wednesday evenings.

In the Sunday School Department, Joyce Williams, Superintendent, started three new classes in October of 1988: Preschool II (2-3 year olds), Young Adults and Adult I. For many years Sunday School Teacher Helena Oliver awarded an Eisenhower silver dollar to every one of her students who learned the books of the Old or New Testaments. The Men’s and Ladies’ Sunday School classes honored Curtis Thomas and Minnie Rowe by naming their groups after them. Both of these individuals, through leadership and example, have contributed in a major way to Gloucester Point Baptist Church. Minnie remained active in the fellowship until she was ninety-six years old.

Two important mission projects occurred during this time. Nancy Wilburn conceived and established Advent Bible School in 1987 — a wonderful outreach for children age four and older. They met four evenings from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m. during November and December to learn about the real Christmas in stories and crafts. This ministry continues today.

Pastor Garber participated in a fifteen-day partnership mission trip to Tanzania, Africa, during the spring of 1988. The Baptist General Association of Virginia sent three ministers; our membership donated $1,900 for Dr. Garber’s travel expenses. Paul traveled with an African minister as interpreter to two villages. He preached and baptized.

On September 4, 1988, Gloucester Point Baptist Church called the Rev. Richard W. Shaw to become its Minister of Music, Youth and Children. Rev. Shaw came to us from Texas, where he had just received his Master of Music Degree from Southwestern Baptist Seminary. His family included his wife, Martha, with a degree in elementary education, and baby James. They soon had an addition to their family, Faith.

Mr. Shaw’s energy knew no bounds in the seven years he was with us. That first autumn he scheduled children’s activities on Wednesday from 6:30 to 8:00 p.m. — music and missions. Our church adults worked with the youngsters. The youth met on Sunday from 5:00 to 7:00 p.m. Rick reorganized Missions Musicians into the Senior Sounds.

Rick Shaw introduced many events that served to reach out into the community, as well as to keep our young people involved. Our first “Hallelujah Party” for children was held on October 31, 1988, to provide an alternative to Halloween, with games and food and prizes. The first Youth Valentine’s Banquet was held on February 11, 1989. The teens were “transported” to Hawaii. Subsequent years took them to Greece, France, Italy, England and China with Mary Peters’ awesome decorations and Youth Support Committee catering. A Children’s Valentine’s Party joined the roster of annual events in 1990.

Easter Bible School began in 1989 and patterned itself after Advent Bible School. Another outreach effort took place in early September: a “Back-to-School-and-Church, Music and Missions” Carnival for the children. This outdoor event featured clowns, games and plenty of food! This proved to be so popular with the community that eighty-one participated the following year.

Rick Shaw loved National Independence Day. So every year our Chancel Choir caught his enthusiasm and prepared a Patriotic Musical to sing early in July.

The Shaws truly had a heart for missions. Rick coordinated a Youth Mission Trip every summer. The teens raised money with car washes, bake sales, yard sales, and later, “rent-a-teen” opportunities and a Youth Dinner Theatre. All participants trained to lead Bible Day Camps first in Surry County, Virginia, 1989; Norwalk, Connecticut, 1990; Hartford, Connecticut, 1991-1992; Mexico City, 1993; Roanoke, Virginia, 1994; and Emporium and Driftwood, Pennsylvania, 1995. Those last two summers our youth also conducted week-long Backyard Bible Schools at Seabreeze Mobile Home Park in Gloucester County.

Gloucester Point Baptist’s Advent Devotional Booklet made its debut in November, 1990. Rick Shaw was editor and various church members contributed stories and poetry for personal and family worship. A prayer calendar encouraged missionary support. This publication has since be-come a Christmas tradition and outreach project.

It is easy to see that we were bursting at the seams with young people in Sunday School, church Pre-School and on Wednesday evenings. The church hired Ivy and Wall architectural firm to design new educational space; a New Building Finance Committee was chosen, all in 1990.

In February, 1991, the membership voted to build an educational wing and to enlarge the sanctuary building, to install gutters, to pave the parking lot, and to insulate the north wall — all for $460,000. However, church offerings decreased that year; regretfully this project was postponed.

Good things were happening nevertheless. The building was filled with young people of all ages. Vacation Bible School continued high enrollments of one-hundred fifty to one-hundred eighty. The church began working with Habitat for Humanity projects. We raised over $1,000 with our annual CROP fasts. Our love for mission work continued.

In 1991, the Church Council conceived “Autumn Fellow-ship Festival,” held on the church grounds as an outreach to the neighborhood. Entertainment (chiefly music), crafts displays and antique car shows and food created good memories. This event was held annually for four years, and resumed again in 2001 through encouragement from the Church Council.

The early 1990’s were exciting ones for our Woman’s Missionary Union. The Acteens program was reborn with Lyn Whitt as leader. Hard work resulted in a Coronation Service for eight teenage girls on August 1, 1993. During this time the boys of the church were involved in Royal Ambassadors, a program first undertaken by Harry and Dianne Danforth in the old church. Circles have always been an important aspect of our W.M.U. In 1992, a new Baptist Young Women’s Circle came to be through the efforts of Martha Shaw and others. These young mothers reached out in new ways. One summer they ran a Vacation Bible School at Powhatan Apartments in Wicomico.

Dr. Paul R. Garber retired as Pastor of Gloucester Point Baptist Church in 1993, after a ministry of fifteen years with us. This was nine years longer than any other minister served in our church, and the congregation honored him accordingly with a surprise service and reception on August 29. Special gifts include an anthem composed by Rev. Richard Shaw and sung by the Chancel Choir, a large serving tray and a check for a vacation voyage from church members and friends. The Garbers chose to take a train trip through the western states and remained residents of Snug Harbor, Bena. Elizabeth continued teaching chorus at Page Middle School. Gloucester Point Baptist Church has since conferred on Paul the honor of Pastor Emeritus. Now the Garbers live in Hampton and are active members of Hampton Baptist Church.

Rick Shaw summed up Pastor Garber’s impact with these words: “Our lives are different because we have known you. You have shown us truly who Jesus Christ is and what he is like. You have demonstrated faith at its utmost, compassion at its deepest and worship at its highest.”

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