First off, Laurie and I have returned to First Baptist. How does this happen? It started with a growing unease at being lost in a crowd not our own at Grace. Then, a few weeks before Easter I found and contacted my old fiend Rob Creek on Facebook. He said his family had returned there, the new pastor was really good, and we should join them there for Easter. In the meantime, we had heard a lot from other people about the pastor, David Trimble, as well, and how the church had went from about 100 at our pre-catastrophe peak down to 35 and was now back in the 80's. Then Shenan called and wanted to come out Easter weekend so she could go with us. Moments later, KC called and told us that pastor Trimble (a frequent customer of his at Mancino's) had invited him as well.
Returning there, we learned that many of those who left even before we did had returned as well- and that Trimble is a very good pastor. He sings, he laughs- when a baby screamed during his message, without batting an eye he said, "Who's grandbaby is that? and the place broke up. So, after attending again the next week, I sent this message to Pastor Chris Norman at Grace:
I wanted to let you know that Laurie and I are returning to First Baptist. We've given this a lot of thought, and there are several reasons. None of them have to do with anything that you or anyone at Grace have done or not done. A lot of it has to do with comfort level in a group you don't really fit in. Again, this is not on you; Grace is a big church and lends itself to being more involved with self-starters that have an easier time making friends. One of the things that connect Laurie and I is that neither one of us fit that definition. Another thing is that Grace is a church that by and large is a church driven by professional people (you might say management types) with a higher level of energy and resources than we have. Again, this is not a bad thing; however, it makes us a drain on you if you stop to meet us, and us left out if you don't. First Baptist is smaller, and more blue collar, as it were. Most importantly, as we have reviewed the situation, we have found that several of our old friends, who left First Baptist in the same time frame we did, have now returned. The circumstances of finding this out, and the invitations we received as a result, makes us feel that the time in our lives that Grace's blessings were meant for us is at an end and God is trying to put the FBC house back in order, and somehow we are a part of that plan. Also, I find that a more old time church with hymn-book music and one-and-out sermons are more beneficial to me personally. I'm trying hard not to make this sound like a critique; we all respond differently to different types of messages, and you are a very good teacher. I get more out of messages in which I find that one thing that attaches itself and speaks to me than I do series.
I want to personally thank you, for your patience, your enthusiasm, and the wonderful counselling that you provided during our sojourn with you. You encouraged me to put hard things in God's hands, and I appreciate that.I pray that God continues to bless the walk that all of you are taking at Grace. Keep in mind when you read this that what I'm basically saying is that God has made different kinds of churches for the different kind of people he made; and it is time for us to return to a church made for us. I know that God will do great things through you, and hope He has that in mind for us as well.
Our prayers will go with you.
To which he replied:
Hey there, Chris. Thanks so much for the kind e-mail. I completely understand what you are saying, and I can certainly appreciate it. I pray for God’s blessings on you and Laurie and on First Baptist.
I have appreciated our interaction over the years, and I know you all want to serve God.
Blessings to you my friend.
Of course, as I write this, we missed church this week. 12-hr days and a nooner on Saturday really took it's toll; as services began at FBC, we were just struggling out of bed.
The next thing of note is, did you see that the volcano I said might be the next big disaster has shut down air travel all over Europe- including President Obama's trip to the Polish president's funeral? You think God read my blog on that? I also make a more serious note of the far-from-widely-publicized quake in China that claimed over a thousand lives this week. The year of the earthquake rolls on.
I found this picture on a blog I follow, thought you'd all like it.
Finally, I was convinced in research last night that I should add the English Ice Hockey League (EIHL) to the Euro-leagues I follow. Coventry took the regular season with a 38-18 record; they lost in the playoff semis and it was #2 Belfast Giants who won their first championship in the perpetually-struggling British hockey scene. Now here's where it becomes typically British-backward. The first two rounds are best-of-twos (where if the games are split it becomes a total-goal series- a little soccer right here on ice). The championship, however, is a one-game, winner-take-all affair (unlike the rest of the world, which generally start at 2-of-3's or 3-of-5's and graduate to 4-of 7's). Belfast downed Cornwall in this match 3-2 to become the winner. Of course, in Jolly Ol', this isn't quite the end, as they have two more post season tourneys there. It is, however, the end of our coverage of the EIHL.
I also found a site dedicated to attendance figures of the Euro Leagues. It does not seem to have KHL updated past the teams that went on past the Quarterfinals, so no Lokomotiv and no Dinamo Riga. But at the point he was updated to, he had the Deutsche Eishockey Liga (Ger.) tops at a 5800 per game average (and Eisbaren Berlin the top draw at a 14,000 average), with the KHL second with a 5400 ave., the Czech Extraliga 3rd with 5200, Finland's S-M Liga 4th at 5000, and then dropping to the Austrian Erste Bank Hockey Liga at around 3300. The best draw of all the Euro teams, again discounting any KHLers who survived round one, were SC Bern from the Swiss National League A at over 16,000, followed by Eisbaren Berlin. Several teams in the Swedish, Finnish, and Russian second-tier leagues outdraw the smaller first tier leagues.