I thank my God in all my remembrance of you.  Philippians 1:3

       So, I got to celebrate my one-year anniversary at Burlington Baptist on June 30th.  I thought the first year was going pretty well until COVID-19 kind of turned everything upside down.  We’ve joked a little about the attendance in the first year.  On June 30, 2019 (first Sunday) we had 614 in attendance and on June 28, 2020 we had 185 in attendance.  I won’t even try to calculate that negative church growth number.  I try to look on the positive side and so on May 17, 2020 we only had 12 in attendance and in just 6 weeks we grew to 185.  I guess it is all about perspective and you really can make numbers say about whatever you want them to say.      

       A few years ago, I read (or heard) someone say that your priorities for your first year at a new place should be “patience, prayer, and preaching.”  Those priorities should probably last well beyond the first year but I have tried to think about those three priorities this year.  I feel like I have learned a lot about BBC and been able to get to know so many brothers and sisters in Christ.  I appreciate all of the encouragement that so many of you have sent to Jenny and I this past year.  The staff is a close-knit group that loves working together and that has been a blessing! 

       We were talking about all the changes in our family this past year.  Of course, we changed churches, moved to a new area, bought a new house, and Jenny got a new teaching position.  Our son, Kyle, got engaged, got married, graduated from EKU, just bought a house in Richmond, and hopefully soon has a new full-time banking job.  Kyle went from coming to Burlington a couple times per month to not making it home since Covid struck.  Katelyn got a full-time job at Baptist Health in Lexington, continued classes at BCTC, and she just bought a house in Nicholasville.  She went from coming home every other weekend to about once a month.  It has been a busy year for our family and we are very proud of our children but we sure miss seeing them as often as we were accustomed to in the past.

       In regards to the church, we have felt very welcomed and this year has flown by.  COVID-19 has prevented us from continuing to get to know and build relationships with many of you.  We were able to stay connected to several of our married couples as we continued to meet via zoom until the beginning of June.  Hopefully, we will get to see each of you more this fall and get to know you better. 

       One area that I really hope to make progress in during year two is the area of discipleship.  Three of the church’s top priorities includes: loving God, loving others, and making disciples.  I think we need to have a better discipleship process to help members take the next step in their spiritual growth.  Some need to find a Bible study group where they can grow in the Word and develop deeper relationships with other believers.  Some need to step up to a teaching or leadership role.  It’s easy to be a learner but some of you are ready to lead (and will learn much more through study and teaching others).  Some need to be deployed in ministry and missions.  We want to help you take the next step!

       We have recently talked about adjusting our Sunday morning schedule a little bit in order to encourage more people to connect with a Bible study group.  We are considering moving the early service to 8:30 AM and having a dedicated Bible study hour between 9:30 and 10:30 each Sunday.  Our second service would begin at 10:45. This would allow me to be a little more connected with our Bible study groups and get to know our leaders and see who is involved in various Bible studies.  This would also allow our worship service volunteers to participate in a Bible study group.  Right now, we have services at the same time that our Bible studies are going on.  Personally, I have always been in, or taught, a Sunday morning Bible study and I know I have missed being able to study the Word in a small group on Sunday mornings.  I would invite you to join me in praying about this change.  We have heard lots of good feedback about this possible change but we want to be prayerful about it.  We are looking forward to year two at BBC.  May God be known and glorified even more!                         Bro. Harold