Category Archives: Thoughts

Pastor’s Thoughts

August 5, 2020

To the Congregants and Friends of FBC—

Can you believe we are already into the month of August? With this new month I am going to stop saying, “These are challenging times.” I have now moved towards, “Jesus, continue to use me in spite of.” I am ready to move forward in God’s ministry through me in a more positive manner…what about God’s ministry through “you?

Attached to my note is an invitation from The Reverend Jennifer Gregg, Priest of the “Cathedral of the Beloved.” (See below.)  This ministry has been going on for the past several years, and many of you have witnessed the Sunday meals on the lawn at St. Joseph’s Catholic Church. Well Rev. Gregg has been the organizer of this endeavor. She is now making another request to community churches on behalf of a pending endeavor. This request is about the implementation of a homeless shelter at First Methodist Church on Fenn Street. Please read the letter she has sent, and pray about this endeavor. If you are willing to participate and feel so moved by God, please email me at: ssr1919@msn.com

I informed Rev. Gregg that I would forward this information to you, but that it was up to the individual congregant whether or not to support and participate.

I hope you continue to watch FBC during our virtual Sunday morning worship. Invite your family and friends to a “watch party” of the FBC Sunday worships. On this past Sunday, as of today, the worship had 340 views across Facebook and YouTube. One day we will get a more inclusive count with PCTV’s views. Remember, invite family and friends to view the worship with you, and then discuss afterwards your thoughts and perspectives.

We look forward to our time together this coming Sunday, August 9th at 10am on PCTV – 1301. If you live in South County, it is broadcast at 9am on channel 1301 CTSB (Community Television for Southern Berkshires).  And there’s always the FBC Facebook Live Stream (First Baptist Church of Pittsfield, MA)!

 Pastor Sheila

Dear Partners,

The Invitation:

We are inviting you to work with us and members of First Methodist (FUMC) to make sure the homeless shelter at First Methodist on Fenn Street becomes a reality.  

As some of you already know, this work is already well underway and Downtown Pittsfield Inc. (DPI) and the downtown business owners are working to bring it to a halt.  As one member said during the Development Review Board hearing last week (and I paraphrase), “it’s not about wanting it in my backyard, I don’t even want it in my front yard.”

Prayer and Faith Response:

People of faith communities have always made provisions for the most vulnerable among us.  With this in mind, we have a responsibility to act. God continually asks of us, “Will you strive for justice and peace among all people, and respect the dignity of every human being?” And we respond, “I will, with God’s help.”

It is time to pray with our hearts, our hands and our feet.  Prayer and raised voices, with God’s help bring aid to the most vulnerable and make God’s love known. 

Action:

Here is how to mobilize.

We would like 10 people from your community to make three calls each for a total of 30 phone calls on your assigned day.  The three calls would be to:  Downtown Pittsfield, Inc., Senator Adam Hinds and Mayor Linda Tyer. At the end of each week, this would amount to each entity receiving at least 150+ phone calls. We want to keep the pressure on.  The Development Review Board for the City is scheduled to meet again to vote on this project August 18th.  

In addition to the phone calls, we are asking a letter from every vestry/council be sent to the Development Review Board (DRB) to express your support for the homeless shelter.  The address and phone numbers needed for this action are in the enclosed documents.

To aid in this process we have also created a potential call in script, background information on the overall project and contact information.  We are grateful to The Rev. Ralph Howe who provided the shelter background and background on ServiceNet. 

As a best organizing practice, we invite you to consider having a point person in your community to help organize those who will be making the phone calls.  Below is a proposed schedule.  The most important piece is for phone calls to be made every day.  I realize I have not been in touch with all of you about your participation, if these days don’t work for you, please be in touch.  The proposed schedule is:

Monday, August 3rd:  Zion Lutheran and First Baptist                                         

Tuesday, August 4th:  South Congregational and Knesset Israel

Wednesday, August 5th:  Cathedral of the Beloved, First Congregational, Unitarian Universalist Pittsfield

Thursday, August 6th:  St. Stephen’s and Anshe Amunim 

Friday, August 7th:  First Methodist

 Monday, August 10th: St. Stephen’s and Knesset Israel      

Tuesday, August 11th: Zion Lutheran and First Baptist

Wednesday, August 12th: South Congregational and First Congregational

Thursday, August 13th: First Baptist and Anshe Amunim

Friday, August 14th: Cathedral of the Beloved, First Methodist, Unitarian Universalist Pittsfield 

 Monday, August 17th: Everyone

Tuesday, August 18th: Everyone

 Please let us know if you have any questions. 

 On behalf of Cathedral of the Beloved’s board, staff, and those we serve, thank you.

Faithfully,Jenny+

The Rev. Jennifer Gregg, Priest

Cathedral of the Beloved

413-344-8262

 

 

 

July 29, 2020

To the Congregants and Friends of FBC—

This is a big weekend with the Lobster Picnic on August 1st…I have heard there are record numbers who have placed orders for pick-up. Thank you!!!! Have fun, and I hope the weather this weekend is lovely for you to sit outside and enjoy the scrumptious feast. Special thanks to the hard work of Lynn LaRagione and Chef Frank LaRagione for always doing a great job with the special fundraising meals here at First Baptist. This one is an especially hard fundraiser with the summer heat and the cooking of the lobsters; but these organizers are experts along with their volunteers. Special thanks to all of the volunteers who are serving this year…we are ever so grateful for your service.

I want to highlight, for just a little bit, on last week’s sermon and worship which focused on “praising God.” I believe the Holy Spirit led me to focus on this theme since all of us, from the pulpit to the congregants and friends watching via Livestream or PCTV, need to be reminded of the importance of praising God even during difficult times. Yes, it’s hard, but I hope we will all remember that God loves us, and will see us through our heartaches, physical and emotional pain, and finally, anxieties relating to the future. You see, when we forget to praise, we may forget to thank God for the blessings that we currently have…and will only focus on the troubling times. When we praise, we can hold onto hope in spite of the bad times. Try it and see what happens!!!  I do believe you will experience more peace and less worry about the future.

I have been thinking about New Orleans lately, and my home church. There was a devoted Christian man there who would often sing this “tear-jerking” song with such passion that many congregants did not have a “dry” eye upon completion of the song…even when they tried not to show emotion. Although he had a beautiful voice, I truly believe the words of the song made his passion even more heightened with their beauty and truth. They are as follows:

I don’t know about tomorrow; I just live from day to day. I don’t borrow from its sunshine, for its skies may turn to gray. I don’t worry over the future, For I know what Jesus said, and today I’ll walk beside Him, for He knows what is ahead. Many things about tomorrow, I don’t seem to understand; But I know Who holds tomorrow, and I know Who holds my hand.

Who’s holding your hand? Reflect upon the above words, and ask Jesus to hold yours!!!!

I hope you continue to watch FBC during our virtual Sunday morning worship. Invite your family and friends to a “watch party” of the FBC Sunday worships. On this past Sunday, as of today, FBC had 275 views. And, that’s just on the Livestream; the numbers would be more if we were able to count PCTV’s views. Remember, invite family and friends to view the worship with you, and then discuss afterwards your thoughts and perspectives.

We look forward to our time together this coming Sunday, August 2nd at 10 am on PCTV – 1301. If you live in South County, it is broadcast at 9am on channel 1301 CTSB (Community Television for Southern Berkshires).  And there’s always the FBC Facebook Live Stream (First Baptist Church of Pittsfield, MA)!

 Pastor Sheila

 

July 22, 2020

To the Congregants and Friends of FBC—

Are you enjoying the summer heat? Don’t complain…you know that winter is coming, soon. Remember to praise God even for the “hot days.” So, on that note….

I wish to thank all of you for the flowers, other gifts, cards, texts, and telephone calls to celebrate my 64 years of life. Whether I look 64 or not, there are days that I feel 64 with a different ache, and don’t speak of memory lapses, but guess what? I still praise God!!!! I am so GRATEFUL to be here doing God’s Work!!!! Grateful that we are a church family, and grateful that we WILL worship together again!!!!!! What are you grateful for? What can you praise God for? What should you be praising God for?

As stated during the announcements this past Sunday, a subcommittee of the Trustees, along with Sandy and I will meet this Thursday to review the protocol/plans as submitted by the various ministry heads and representatives. I’m praising God for this initial completion. After this review, it will be given to the full Trustees Board for their input. Praise God. Once this process is completed, then it will be up to the Trustees to review, make any necessary changes, and vote to decide when we will come back together as a church family. Praise God!!! We were hoping that Worship at the Lake in August would take place, but the Pavilion’s administrative body contacted us and said all activities were canceled until the end of the year or until further notice due to the COVID-19 pandemic. That is one of the reasons I did not want to make any promises made regarding opening dates…there are so many factors to include. Keep on praying…I just know all will be well. And we will continue to praise God believing that all will be well!!!

I hope you continue to watch FBC during our virtual Sunday morning worship.  Invite your family and friends to a “watch party” of the FBC Sunday worships. As of today, I was informed that the July 19th worship, with the wonderful music and sermon focus, “Being Acceptable to Jesus,” has had 276 views as to date. And, that’s just on the Livestream…the numbers would be more if we were able to count PCTV’s views. Last week, a congregant informed me that she and her niece watch the worship together, and then discuss it afterwards in order to share thoughts and perspectives. I invite you to do the same.

We look forward to our time together this coming Sunday, July 26th at 10am on PCTV – 1301. If you live in South County, it is broadcast at 9am on channel 1301 CTSB (Community Television for Southern Berkshires).  And there’s always the FBC Facebook Live Stream (First Baptist Church of Pittsfield, MA)! I am praying the sermon for this Sunday, How Can We Celebrate in Hard Times will speak to your hearts. I pray that it enables all of you to internalize that we can celebrate life in spite of the current hardships, issues, and problems!!! Why? Because we know that God’s steadfast love endures forever, and this love encourages our souls and enables us to persevere until there are better times.

In God’s Love,

Pastor Sheila

June 24, 2020

To Congregants and Friends of FBC,

In reflecting upon an encouragement message to you, I decided to use my experience from this week with the “Radio2Women” talk show. I was invited by the hosts to offer comments on a piece I submitted to the Berkshire Eagle in the summer of 2018, titled: Linguistics of Humanity: How Words Heal and How They Hurt. The radio hosts believed that in discussing this piece, from almost two years ago, it would be beneficial to the public because it remains relevant during this COVID-19 period, along with racist events that remain pandemic in our country, and the world at large. I must admit, I was excited to talk about the piece, but more importantly, I thought it would allow for a deeper discussion about how we as human-beings do not always think about what comes out of our mouths, whether verbally or via social media. We must be intentional with our words…whether we are making an argument for or against an issue. As Christians, we must speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15), emphasis on “truth.”

So, with that, what has been your truth during these current events? How have you used your words to encourage people, to stand up for people, to engage people on behalf of God’s justice through you? How are you encouraging yourself with words? Not with negative words, but with encouraging words that say, “My hope is built on Jesus’ name…. all other grounds are sinking sand.” And through that belief and hope, you take action with Jesus at your side.

In their thank you note to me, the hosts closing words were:

“We thank you, for leading us down a path filled with awareness and the courage to speak up! I am going to pass your message on to my grandchildren, in the hope that they will know how to navigate in this complex world we all now live in.”

As a disciple of Christ, I hope you use your positive words to lead others toward an awareness.

I am concluding again with, “We will be rejoicing and praising together soon.”  Psalm 150 says, “Praise the Lord!  Praise God in His sanctuary; praise Him in His mighty firmament!  Praise Him for His mighty deeds; praise Him according to His surpassing greatness!”

I hope you continue to watch the FBC service during our virtual Sunday morning worship.  This coming Sunday, June 28th, at 10am, tune into PCTV – 1301. If you live in South County, it is broadcast at 9am on channel 1301 CTSB (Community Television for Southern Berkshires). And there’s always the FBC Facebook Live Stream (First Baptist Church of Pittsfield, MA)!

In God’s Love,

Pastor Sheila

June 17, 2020

To Congregants and Friends of FBC,

Looking forward to our coming together.  Please note that the Trustees and committees are working on plans and protocols to bring us back together safely.  We are missing each other, but we must remember we are in God’s grace.  Know that you can look forward to hearing more about reopening in the weeks ahead!

We will be rejoicing and praising together soon.  Psalm 150 says, “Praise the Lord!  Praise God in His sanctuary; praise Him in His mighty firmament!  Praise Him for His mighty deeds; praise Him according to His surpassing greatness!”

In God’s Love,

Pastor Sheila