This past weekend Central Baptist Church celebrated its 115th Anniversary. It was a great weekend as we celebrated God's grace upon us and the faithfulness of His people. We had guests who have moved to other churches and the main speaker was our former Pastor, Rev. Bob Zoba who pastored this church from 1986-1990.
We have also honored those among the members who have been here for a long time - 20, 30, 40, 50, and even 60 years. In a time when mobility is the code word for people and for church members, it is highly impressive to see that some people have deep roots in communities and churches.
I have watched new members come and try to find their niche. In a small church, membership means becoming involved, doing something that has to be done, sometimes because there is no one else to do it. It takes a while, sometimes up to five years for the new members to be able to say: "This is my church". Now, as theologians and pastors we know that the church belongs to the Lord Jesus Christ, but in the local church, there is a sense that the church belongs to the members.
I was pondering on the members that have been here for these many years. I am sure that at one time or another, they thought to move, they heard of another better church, of another better pastor, or sometimes of a church that was even closer to where they were living. Yet, steadfastly, for over 60 years, 50 years, and 20 years they have been coming to this church. When the weather was the August heat, when the rain was drizzling in April and October, when the roads were icy in January, when most people were staying home in mid-July, they kept coming in. When some of them did not show up, the other members would call because they knew that something major had to happen in order for these people to be absent.
I was thinking of the thousands of volunteer hours that these people have given to the kingdom of God! I was thinking of the thousands of songs that have been sung for the glory of God by these people! I was thinking of the thousand of choir anthems they have rehearsed. I was thinking of the thousands of people they have blessed by teaching Sunday School classes, Junior Worship Services and Vacation Bible School.
Steadfastness is a practical concept. People need to see the example of those who are practicing steadfastness. Many years ago, I preached a sermon entitled, "I will be there, if nothing better comes along!" People came telling me that it has been one of the convicting sermons that I have preached. Steadfastness, keeping promises no matter what the cost, is a rare commodity these days.
Paul writes to the Corinthians: "Therefore, my brothers stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that you work in the Lord is not in vain. (1 Corinthians 15:58). And to the Philippian Church he writes: Welcome him in the Lord with great joy and honor men like him." (Phil 2:29)
On this 115th anniversary day we have honored our brothers and sisters who have demonstrated this steadfastness by serving and honoring the Lord here at Central Baptist Church for such long periods of time.