Congregation sponsors weekend of sermons, songs and seminars
By John Warren
BIG SANDY, Texas--"One of the greatest needs among the Church of God is Christian fellowship," said Dave Havir, pastor of the Church of God Big Sandy. So the congregation here plays host to the brethren each winter for its Family Fellowship Weekend.
This year's event, Dec. 22-23, included a marriage seminar by Wayne and Doris Cole of nearby Tyler, a music-filled church service, two meals, seven additional seminars and three family activities.
48 years of experience
The events of the weekend began at 12:30 p.m. Saturday with a marriage seminar by the Coles, who have been married for 48 years.
Mrs. Cole spoke first and talked of nine distinct stages in marriage. Approaching the subject with humor, she spoke as one who in her words had "been there, done that and survived to laugh and talk about it all."
The nine stages were dating and preparation for marriage, newlyweds and their adjustments, the first pregnancy, the first bundle of joy arrives, the first child goes to school, those teenage years arrive, Mom's in menopause and Dad flips out in a midlife crisis, the empty-nest syndrome and the golden years of retirement.
Mr. Cole spoke next and focused on a book by Gary Chapman titled The Five Languages of Love.
"Rarely do both marriage partners speak the same primary language of love," said Mr. Cole. "It is important to learn to speak the language of your spouse."
The languages are words of affirmation, quality time, receiving gifts, acts of service and physical touch.
Sound of music
A two-hour church service convened at 2:30 with two shorter-than-usual sermons and 15 selections of special music.
After the congregational singing, Karl Wilson of Tyler introduced the first segment of special music. Here is a synopsis of this portion:
· A vocal ensemble from Big Sandy sang, with Mr. Wilson directing. Other members of the ensemble were Christy Evans of Waverly, Ohio; Betty Foster of Longview; David Havir of Big Sandy (not to be confused with his father, Dave Havir); Jonathan Havir of Big Sandy; Melodee Overton of Hawkins; Darcy Stahl of Big Sandy; Maria Velasco of Gladewater; Daron Walls of Gladewater; Wayne Weese of Big Sandy; Mike Wilson of Big Sandy; and Joanne Woodring of Tyler.
Joe Kirkpatrick of Portales, N.M., delivered the first sermon. Mr. Kirkpatrick is a banker who serves as an elder in the Christian Church of God in Amarillo, Texas, founded in 1980 and pastored by Jeff Booth of Amarillo.
Mr. Kirkpatrick's sermon was about maintaining a focus and a vision on the Kingdom of God.
After the sermon Mr. Wilson introduced the second segment of special music. A vocal ensemble from the Tulsa, Okla., area sang eight songs.
The ensemble is directed by Ray Kurr of Mounds, Okla. Other members of the ensemble were David Andrews, Natalie Andrews, Fran Hope, Bridget Kurr, Heather Perkey, Derinda Smith and Lucille Smith.
Mr. Kurr pastors a small fellowship group in Tulsa. He also coordinates and directs a choir from various Church of God groups in that area.
In recent months the choir has traveled to congregations in Oklahoma, Arkansas, Missouri and Texas.
Ready for the wedding
Mr. Havir, who gave the second sermon, began his message by reading a quotation: "A good sermon comforts the afflicted, but a good sermon also afflicts the comfortable."
In his heart-to-heart message, Mr. Havir talked about the certainty of Jesus' return and asked if people were ready for the wedding (a reference to two parables in Matthew 22:1-14).
Mr. Havir concluded with a seven-minute multimedia presentation. The presentation coordinated fast-moving images projected onto a large screen behind the lectern with rousing music.
Mr. Havir told The Journal that Jonathan Stahl of Big Sandy deserves the credit for the multimedia presentation.
"I want to thank Jonathan for coming up with the idea, for putting in the dozens of hours to produce the presentation and then for offering it for me to use in some fashion," said Mr. Havir. "It was a powerful presentation, and it made the perfect conclusion to my sermon."
After the service members of the congregation enjoyed a dinner prepared earlier in the week by members of the congregation.
Michele Mischnick of Hawkins coordinated the meal but credited many other people with helping out.
"Various people came to the building on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday to prepare the main items," said Mrs. Mischnick. "Many others brought desserts."
The meal consisted of barbecue, potato salad, coleslaw, beans, bread, tea, lemonade and desserts.
At 6:30 p.m. two people from the local area taught the group country-and-western dances, including line dances.
At 8 p.m. Patricia Forrest of Pritchett and her daughter Crissy played CDs while the audience visited and danced.
A long-standing tradition during the Family Fellowship Weekend is to sponsor a brunch for guests.
At 9 a.m. Arlon and Tat Tomes of Lindale and their crew served the meal of eggs, ground-beef patties, potatoes, fruit, biscuits, banana bread and drinks.
The early arrivers were treated to a surprise when they were invited to be witnesses as Mr. Havir baptized Brandi Kurr of Mounds, Okla.
Seminars about the family
At 10 the seminars about the family began in the classrooms.
The speaking schedule was as follows:
Family variety show
At 2 p.m. a two-hour variety show began with Wayne Woodring of Tyler as the emcee. Tim and Angela Dunnam of Pritchett were the sound technicians, and Neil McIver of Big Sandy was stage manager. Jake Dunnam of Pritchett also helped on the stage.
The first act of the show was a play about Noah's ark coordinated by Mrs. Woodring and directed by Sharon Wilson.
Characters in the cast
The cast of characters included Walter Crankcase (Jonathan Havir), Noah (Jared Weese of Tyler), Mrs. Noah (Jessica Wilson of Tyler), Shem (Ruth Syltie of Pritchett), Ham (Reaghan Francis of Big Sandy), Japheth (David Havir), Heckler No. 1 (Crissy Forrest), Heckler No. 2 (Abby Syltie of Pritchett) and the sign person (Clint Skelton of White Oak).
Other performers in the show were as follows:
Movies and games
At 6 p.m. movies and games began. Joni Mischnick had organized the evening, with separate movies showing in the classrooms. While some played table tennis and foosball in the foyer, others played cards and table games elsewhere in the building.
© The Journal: News of the Churches of God