2016: Reflections on Rebuilding for His Glory
Pastor Brad Brown
I am so excited about what the year 2017 holds and all that God is going to do in and through us at Heritage Village Church! I am blessed to be pastor of such an amazing congregation and so grateful that God has called my family and me to serve here. Each of you has made us feel at home in so many ways, and every act of generosity and kindness is so appreciated. 2016 has been a year of rebuilding for God’s glory!
Many in the congregation have faced trials and difficulties this year. We recall that the Lord is our Shepherd and that even when we walk through the valley of the shadow of death we fear no evil, for He is with us (Psalm 23:4). Our family feels so privileged and blessed to be able to minister to those who are sick, hurting, or discouraged. It has been our deep joy to be able to serve the various individual needs of our members through visitation, song, prayer, cards, and care packages.
This year we were able to attend various functions sponsored by the Heritage Village Seniors and met many new friends in Heritage Ranch. I was blessed with the opportunity to serve as a Polling Commissioner and help regulate an honest election process. I met many community members that day and was able to pray for a child who was ill. I have also been able to meet with local pastors at the Paso Robles Ministerial Alliance and attended a visioning banquet hosted by Child Evangelism Fellowship.
We were sad to see a few members move out of the area this year but encouraged by the many new faces that have started to regularly attend and participate in the life of the church. I am thankful that visitors are greeted and receive a warm welcome each Sunday. I am especially grateful for the dedication of our faithful board of directors and for all who serve through hospitality, worship, set-up, decorating, sending greeting cards and, of course, baking yummy treats!
In JANUARY, the pulpit committee convened, decided on their choice for pastor, and made a formal job offer. Their hard work and dedication to prayer was astounding. They took their role very seriously and sorted through many applications as they sought God’s will for HVC. They also treated the candidates with such respect, dignity, and hospitality throughout the process. Their professionalism and dedication to following the Holy Spirit is to be highly praised. I was very excited to receive their phone call and by faith accepted the position. Shortly afterwards, we came to visit again, and I gave a message “Strength for the Weary: Wings like Eagles” from Isaiah 40:27-31. The following week by congregational vote I was formally accepted as Pastor of HVC!
In FEBRUARY, Pastor Wendell Brown continued to faithfully serve as interim pastor for HVC. We are all grateful for his ministry and congregational care. Several houses that we were interested in fell through, and we wondered how and when we would get from San Mateo to Paso Robles. Miraculously, God provided a three bedroom affordable rental in Oak Shores, and we pared down and packed up in San Mateo.
In MARCH, we moved in to our Oak Shores home on one of the rainiest weekends of the year. On Palm Sunday, I preached a message called “Hosanna in the Highest,” and on Easter, “Reasons for Hope in Dark Times.” We felt it was important to be at HVC for Easter and rearranged our moving schedule to be here in time to celebrate Christ’s Resurrection together. I was rewarded with sightings of eagles soaring over Heritage Ranch after each of those two services!
In APRIL, we were received at the most beautiful installation service. Pastor Ed Bedrosian gave a charge to the congregation and prayed a blessing over me and the family. Many people came out to support us, and we were also blessed with beautiful gifts of appreciation. During a message I gave called “The Lord is My Shepherd,” an entire flock of sheep loudly passed by the windows behind me, creating a Divine object lesson I will never forget!
In MAY, I began a series on “Rebuilding” from the book of Nehemiah. I discovered so much in this somewhat obscure book of the Bible, and there was a wealth of personal application to our church and community. I now feel that Nehemiah is one of my good friends and can’t wait to meet him in Heaven. Near the end of the message “Rebuilding through the Power of Prayer,” a gentleman fell unconscious and we had the opportunity to put the message into practice by praying for his healing. We are all grateful and thanking the Lord that he is healthy and well. We also met together for tasty tacos and shared some fun facts and stories about one another.
In JUNE, our amazing board of directors started the long task of going through and rebuilding our bylaws. We reworded some things that were hard to understand, clarified our values and foundation on the Word of God, and re-organized sections that were confusing.
In JULY, I finished building a website for HVC. It includes sermon outlines, information about worship, a blog, and a link to updated pictures from our new Instagram account. A link to our website was added to the Heritage Ranch website and quite a few people have visited our church after first finding out about us online. We also held a Good Humor & Ice Cream night with homemade ice cream and all kinds of toppings. I will always remember “pirate grandma” and “the wig that got washed away.”
In AUGUST, the Chimney Fire threatened our homes and community. We had a front row seat to it all in Oak Shores and saw the fire burning from our deck. We had opportunities to pray for firemen staying at the clubhouse and for evacuees who were brought across the lake (up until the time we ourselves had to evacuate!) We also held a special prayer service for those affected by the fire. Our family was blessed to have some extra time on an “evacuvacation” on the coast. God spared Oak Shores because of a godly remnant and the prayers of His people as the fire came right up to the entrance. We are grateful for his grace and favor.
In SEPTEMBER, we finished the Nehemiah series on “Rebuilding” and had a special celebration. The top takeaways from the series became our values as a church. We held a pie tasting and talent show featuring songs, skits, and jokes as many revealed their hidden talents. During September, Dan Krull and his family came to visit and shared miraculous stories from their ministry in Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. We started the Abide series on Sundays in 1 John and the Abiding in Christ Bible Study on Thursdays in the gospel of John. We also held a special vision casting service to declare HVC’s mission and vison. Mission Statement: We are a family of God growing together in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ through a heritage of praising His works and declaring the Gospel one generation to the next by the power of the Holy Spirit and for the glory of God. Vision Statement: Rebuilding by abiding in Jesus, cultivating Biblical values, and walking in God-directed opportunities. Finally, in this busy month, a member generously donated a projector which we were able to use to project song words and sermon notes as visual aids.
In OCTOBER, we started a monthly women’s prayer group on Wednesdays. We celebrated together with a potluck and met for an Operation Christmas Child sendoff. Yulia shared her testimony and how the Gospel was even able to penetrate Communist Russia. Her testimony was also made available in written form and continues to inspire and encourage others.
In NOVEMBER, we went on a nature hike together and marveled at the wonder of God’s Creation. The board of directors completed the bylaws revision and prepared to present them to the congregation. I am so thankful for the many hours spent on this process as we literally rebuilt the foundational document of HVC.
In DECEMBER, we gathered together for cookies and carols. I gave a series of Advent messages called “Unwrapping Christmas” and discussed hope, peace, joy, and love. We ended the year with a Sunday morning Christmas Day candlelight service, celebrating the great gift of Jesus.
2016 has been a year of rebuilding HVC for the glory of God and the advancement of His Kingdom. We have seen evidence of His Kingdom advancing, answers to prayer, and confirmations of His faithfulness. I am so grateful to the Lord for 2016 and am thoroughly anticipating 2017! Thank you to each of you for your generosity, love, and kindness. I am blessed to be your Pastor.