December 2011

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No Public Displays of Christmas Allowed

You have read the same headlines and heard the news. “City orders Christmas decorations removed.” “Local malls must include symbols of all faiths when decorating.” “School children are prohibited from singing Christmas Carols.” “Merry Christmas is now a politically incorrect greeting.” “Christmas will now be referred to as Winter Break so as not to offend or exclude.” “The Salvation Army is no longer welcome on the premises.”

Even television and movies make a mockery of our faith and commit blasphemous attacks that leave us shocked and incensed. These blatant assaults coincidentally reach their peak during the seasons Christians hold most sacred. Jesus’ birth, death, and resurrection are made fun of in the most vile and obscene manner possible, and the offenders are usually encouraged and praised through the media and by activist groups, big and small. All things Christian are portrayed as stupid, narrow, and obsolete by the standards of a modern society.

As believers, our first inclination is to take offense at the changes to our most sacred traditions and look for ways to confront the anti-Christian propaganda that dominates the landscape more and more. We wonder how such attitudes could be the true expression of the majority in this democratic republic. It must be a small minority of folks leading the attacks and policy changes, so let’s issue the rallying cry and set the sinners straight.
But before you get caught up in all of the uproar and ugliness, let me remind you that Jesus was not really popular in His own day and time. The religious institutions of the day refused to recognize Him, the people in the street loved Him one day but hated Him the next, and even His inner circle of closest and dearest friends abandoned Him when the government arrested, terrorized, and eventually murdered Him on false charges. It was a far darker environment than what we live in today.

We must remember that the Christian faith and Christmas have very little to do with the number of brightly lit lights, beautifully decorated trees, sacred signage, or singing carolers. It has everything to do with representing Jesus Christ in the world where we live. A government might legislate what banners or symbols are displayed on a piece of property, and activist groups may picket and force some “seasonal” traditions to be shut down or silenced, but NO ONE may extinguish the light of life and joy of Christ that lives within us!

It is required of you to be a light to the world not just for a few weeks in December but throughout the year. There is no government on the planet that is capable of legislating your relationship with God, and though the nativity scene may no longer be displayed in some places, it is impossible to quench the Spirit of God as He directs you to love your neighbor...and those who will spitefully use you and say all manner of evil against you. If the roots of our faith reach no deeper than those few days of Christmas tradition or is not visible to those around us 365 days a year, 24/7, then do we really have a faith? They will know that we are Christian by our love, not by our decorations.

I would love to see all those around me embrace the traditional symbols of Christmas and celebrate with me the meaning, joy, and peace I have come to experience in Christ, but that will never happen for the simple reason that Jesus is still not understood, respected, or loved by the huge majority of those in this present age. If even those within our churches fail to honor Jesus Christ in their daily lives, why should we ever expect those outside the church who are without a Shepherd to respond any different than the suffering and struggling mobs of unChristian masses did when Jesus walked the earth?

Unless they hear they cannot believe, and unless you tell them they cannot hear. If someone this Christmas tries to turn off your lights, take down your tree, block your parade, or remove your stable, think first of Jesus. He would reach out to the hater and love him with all of His heart. May you be a Merry Christmas to those around you.

Written by Rev. Steve Manuel for the December 2007 edition of “The Spirit.”

Thank You!


Dec 19 Eldridge Cullum (Thaxton)
Dec 28 Monroe Baldwin (Diamond Hill)
Dec 31 Charles Stinson (Retired)
Jan 11 Vernon DeLong (Trinity)
Jan 17 Bill Mitchell (Mount Zion)

A Place for You in WMU!
Mrs. Rebekah Overstreet, WMU Director
1813 Oakwood St., Bedford 24523
Phone: 540.586.2956

Women on Mission: Diamond Hill will lead weekly devotionals at Oakwood Manor in December. Radford will lead them in January. Mentow will host the December birthday party for residents of Bedford County Nursing Home; Bethlehem will host it in January.

Annual Dues ($2.00 for each member of Women on Mission and leaders of age-level organizations) are due now for the 2011-2012 year. The following churches have already mailed their dues: Big Island, Diamond Hill, Hunting Creek, Mentow, Mount Hermon, Sedalia, Shady Grove, and Thaxton. Checks should be payable to Strawberry WMU and mailed to Phyllis McDaniel, 2460 Hawkins Ridge Rd., Goode, VA 24556.

Chaplain's Office,
Fluvanna County Correctional Center for Women

WMUV recently received a call from Ron Switzer. He and his wife, Nancy, volunteer at the Correctional Center and work with Chaplain Julie Perry. The Fluvanna Correctional Center for Women is in need of the hygiene kits that have been packed and sent in past years. Response has been slow this year and they are in need of many more kits. If your churches are preparing the kits, please email Ron at immediately to let him know how many you are preparing. If you wish to participate this year, fill the Ziploc bags with the items listed below and let Ron know you will be sending them. The date for distribution is December 9, and right now they do not have enough for everyone to receive a kit.

We’re very grateful for your continued support of our inmate Christmas gift program, a ministry of the Chaplain Service of the Churches of Virginia, Incorporated. We know that some of you have already been working on collecting gift items, because we’ve already received them. For others, it’s an on-going effort throughout the year. Each Christmas, your efforts allow us to provide very practical and needed items to over 1,200 women who are incarcerated.

Collecting hygiene items this year will be much easier in that there's no need to be concerned about alcohol content in any of the products. It is no longer an issue. For hygiene items, please remember not to exceed the sizes shown below. The five items should be placed in a clear plastic Zip-lock bag.

Hygiene Item Packets
+ One individually wrapped toothbrush
+ One tube of tooth paste not to exceed 6-ounces
+ One deodorant stick not to exceed 2.4 ounces
(No spray or roll-on)
+ One bottle of lotion not to exceed 15 ounces
+ One bottle of shampoo not to exceed 15 ounces

Any gift item may be mailed or delivered to the correctional center. The mailing address is Fluvanna County Correctional Center for Women, (Attn: Chaplain Perry, Inmate Christmas Gift Program), P.O. Box 1000, Troy, VA 22974. The shipping address is Rt. 250 West, Troy, VA 22974. Since the correctional center warehouse is not always able to receive deliveries, it's important to clear each delivery in advance with Chaplain Perry (434.984.3700, ext. 4079 or For those who wish to contribute money, please make your checks payable to Chaplain Julie Perry and mail it to her at the correctional center.

Many of you have heard about the WMUV ministry to Standing Rock Indian Reservation. The 2012 Mission Trip is scheduled for July 29-August 4. Volunteers will engage in construction, medical, VBS, cooking, adult crafts, recreation, and a traveling fair. The first training session for new volunteers will be Saturday, March 3, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., at the Virginia Baptist Resource Center. To register, call 1.800.255.2428. Items for collection are: NEW shoes, new socks and underwear for all ages, money or gift cards, make pillowcases for boys, girls, teens, and adults.

Visit the Children’s Page of the WMUV website for information on “Abigail Girls” and “The Lisk Scholarship.” Applications for either are due February 1, 2012.

Wedding Anniversaries

Dec 5 John & Esther Woodford (SBA)
Dec 20 Greg & Maryanna Soult (Mentow)

Click for December Calendar

Focus on Our Family

Bedford will present a Live Nativity on the front lawn of the church on Saturday, December 10, 6-9 p.m.
The children’s choir Christmas program “Light of the World” will be presented on Sunday evening, December 11.

Bedford Baptist and Main Street United Methodist churches will present “Savior of the Nations, Come: An Advent/Christmas Hymn Festival” in the sanctuary of Bedford Baptist on Saturday, December 17, 7 p.m., and again on Sunday, December 18, 7 p.m.

On Saturday, December 24, 7 p.m., Bedford will celebrate a Christmas Eve Candlelight Communion Service.

Diamond Hill will be presenting “Christmas, Why Bother?” on Sunday, December 18, 2011, 6 p.m.

In observance of Pastor Appreciation Month, Flint Hill held a reception on October 16 honoring Pastor Mark Oblinger whobegan his ministry at Flint Hill on August 14, 2001.
Flint Hill has established a Food Pantry for those in need in the community.

On Sunday, December 18, 10:30 a.m., Mentow’s worship service will consist of Songs of the Season. At 6 that evening, you’re invited to join the church family as they celebrate a Candlelight Communion Service which will be followed by a Christmas fellowship.

On Saturday, December 10, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Mentow will take part in a Bone Marrow Registry Drive at Curry’s Building (intersection of routes 43 & 626.)

Palestine has two mission trips planned for January 2012—Uganda, January 4-18, and Haiti, January 21-28.

Quaker hosted a gospel sing on Sunday, November 27, featuring Broken and Family Grass.

The musical “Promise of Peace” will be presented on Sunday, December 18, 6 p.m., followed by a time of fellowship. There will be a candlelight service at 7 p.m. on Christmas Eve.

Rainbow Forest’s Choir and Orchestra will present “Home is Born Emmanuel” on Sunday, December 11, 9:15 and 10:50 a.m.

The church will have Christmas Eve candlelight services at 4 and 5:30 p.m.

Staunton will present its Christmas cantata “A King Is Born” on Sunday, December 18, 6 p.m.

The children of Suck Spring will present the musical, “A Christmas Puzzle,” on Sunday, December 11, at 6 p.m.
One hundred shoe boxes were sent by the church through Samaritan’s Purse in an effort sponsored by the Solid Rock Youth group.

The Hearts on Call mission group collected close to 50 pair of glasses to be sent to missionaries in Uruguay.

In October, eight people from Suck Spring spent a week in Nicaragua with Because We Care Ministries, ministering both physically and spiritually. The church voted to send $2,000 toward finishing a medical clinic and $1,000 for furnishing meals for villagers during the Christmas season.

The MissionKids sent a care package to Brock Malcolm, a member of Suck Spring, who was deployed and is serving in the Middle East. They also collected money for World Hunger, using bread banks, and collected canned food to be shared in the community.

Suck Spring joined Norwood and Mount Hermon for a Thanksgiving service which was held at Mount Hermon on Wednesday evening, November 23.

Churches are needed to help provide donations to Bedford Christian Ministries. BCM helps Bedford residents with items such as food, clothing, financial aid, and household goods. But right now the BIGGEST NEED is household items. The shelves that should contain blankets, towels, pots and pans, silverware, and sheets are literally empty. Would you consider doing a donation drive for one or two of these items? This would be a great project for missions groups, men’s classes, Sunday School, youth group, or the church as a whole. We want to provide the best to people who have little or nothing of these items. So, as you donate, please either purchase brand new items or give gently used items (nothing broken, torn, smelly, stained, or rusted). This is currently a desperate need for Bedford Christian Ministries. Donations can be dropped off at their building on Washington St. from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 Noon on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Fridays. If you need any questions answered about donating (or volunteering your help), please call Pastor Michael Cox at 540.586.4502. Thank you for helping.

SBA’s Vision Statement: Due to our common faith in Jesus Christ and His body, the Church, we Commit ourselves to Connecting with one another for Coordinating the missions and ministries of our member churches and Communicating opportunities to partner together to fulfil the Great Commission and Great Commandment.

Blessings at Christmas and throughout the New Year!

Help us all stay informed. If you have information about what's going on at your church, please share it with us. Items for the next newsletter should be written and in the association office by Monday, December 19.

Occasionally the administrative assistant has to close the SBA office for errands or meetings. Before coming by to drop off or pick up items, please call 540.586.8345 to be sure the office is open.

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Strawberry Baptist Association
163 West Main, Bedford, VA 24523
Tel.: (540) 586-8345

Copyright© Strawberry Baptist Association
Updated 11/29/2011
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