Congregation sponsors weekend of sermons, songs and seminars

BIG SANDY, Texas--"One of the biggest 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 year for its Family Fellowship Weekend.

This year's event, Dec. 23-24, included a special-music service, a church service, three meals, six seminars and two family activities.

"The weekend provided excellent sermons and seminars," said the pastor, "and people enjoyed the opportunity for extended fellowship."

Sound of music

The first activity was a special-music service at 12:30 p.m. Saturday. The congregation and guests heard 70 minutes of melodies coordinated by Karl Wilson of Tyler, Texas. Here is a synopsis of the program:

nA choir from Tulsa, Okla., sang two selections to open the service. Ray Kurr of Mounds, Okla., directed the choir. Other members of the choir, all from Tulsa, were David Andrews, Evie Andrews, Jamie Andrews, Natalie Andrews, Diana Davis, Fran Hope, Derinda Smith and Lucille Smith.

  • Heather Perkey of Jenks, Okla., performed a piano solo.
  • David Fisher of Pritchett, Texas, and Betty Foster of Longview, Texas, sang a duet, accompanied on the piano by Kim Skelton of White Oak, Texas.
  • Loren Edelbach of Big Sandy played a selection on the hurdy-gurdy.
  • Luther Waller of New Boston, Texas, sang three songs.
  • Mrs. Foster and Maria Velasco of Gladewater, Texas, sang a duet.
  • Rod Lewis of Burleson, Texas, played a saxophone solo, accompanied on piano by Lyna Jane Bryant of Sulphur Springs, Texas.
  • Jonathan Stahl of Big Sandy played a piano solo.
  • The Tulsa choir concluded the service with three more selections. (For more about the Tulsa choir, see the article at the top of page 13.)

Guests speaking

At 2 p.m. the church service began. Cathy Elliott of Longview and the choir from Tulsa provided special music during the service. Two men delivered sermons: Tony Stith of Zimmerman, Minn., and Dennis Mouland of Palisade, Colo.

Mr. Stith spoke about helping the fatherless. Not only did he provide information about the effects within society of fatherlessness, he described his experience of growing up without a father. He gave practical advice about how to help people in those circumstances.

Mr. Mouland spoke about the need for Christians to show compassion. He explained that Christians are regularly tested by how they deal with people inside and outside of the Church of God. He likened a congregation to a spiritual hospital and noted the irony of many Church of God congregations having what he called "bouncers" at the door. He likened that practice to the concept of having bouncers at a hospital emergency room who would talk about illness but would not let the sick inside to be helped.

According to Mr. Havir, tapes of the sermons will go automatically to subscribers of the monthly audiotapes from the Church of God Big Sandy.

At 4 p.m. the audience participated in a potluck meal. Fellowship continued for hours.

At 7 p.m. the Family Variety Show began in the main auditorium, with Mr. Stahl coordinating it. Julie Wilkins of Hawkins, Texas, had organized the refreshments. Twenty-five acts included vocal solos and ensembles, other musical presentations, gymnastic routines and a variety of humorous presentations.

The age of the performers ranged from 15-month-old Jacob Wilson performing sleight of hand to 74-year-old Mr. Edelbach playing the hurdy-gurdy.

Beginning at 8 o'clock Sunday morning, volunteers from the congregation served breakfast in the building to their guests. Tat Tomes of Lindale, Texas, coordinated this meal.

Helpful seminars

From 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. seminars took place in the classrooms in the building with the overall theme of "Building Godly Relationships." Mr. Havir, as moderator, made a few opening comments about loving one's neighbor as oneself. He mentioned that private victories in life precede public triumphs. He introduced the speakers:

  • Lee Stolley of Pritchett made a presentation titled "Learning From Life's Experiences." He described humorous incidents from his years as a law-enforcement officer in South Texas.
  • Mrs. Elliott gave a presentation, "Failing Forward." She is a senior sales director for Mary Kay Cosmetics who recently won a pink Cadillac from her company as recognition for her successful efforts in sales. In her presentation she discussed the importance of learning from and progressing after mistakes.
  • Mr. Stith gave a presentation, "Equipped for Ministry." He is a systems and policies trainer for the personnel department of the State of Minnesota. In his presentation he emphasized that everyone's experiences are different, and people should recognize how their experiences can help them serve other people.
  • James Moran of Tyler presented "Two Great Laws." Mr. Moran works as a licensed counselor for American Counseling and Testing Services. He referred to Jesus' words in Matthew 22:36-40, about the "great commandment." Then he summarized the seven main points in Stephen Covey's book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.
  • Kit and Elaine Holloway of Winona, Texas, led the group through a lively interactive session titled "Making Marriage Work." The Holloways have operated their own business that refinishes and repairs bathtubs, A-1 Tub Service, for 15 years. They have been married for 41 years. In their presentation they separated the audience into smaller groups for discussion, then brought them back together to share their observations.
  • Mr. Mouland gave "Is the Law of Kindness in Your Tongue?" He is a land surveyor and an instructor in survey law at the University of Wyoming and the University of Nevada at Las Vegas. He talked about the power of the tongue to build up people.

Evening activities

While the seminars were occurring in the classrooms, volunteers were readying the main auditorium for the evening's activities.

At 4 p.m. the congregation and guests partook of a chili supper. Michele Mischnick of Hawkins had organized this meal.

At 6:30 p.m. the congregation served as hosts of a family dance. Melodee Overton of Hawkins coordinated decorations, Carl Akins of Big Sandy set up the dance floor, and Mrs. Skelton organized refreshments.

"Many of us from surrounding areas greatly appreciate the hospitality of our friends and the attitude of service in the congregation in Big Sandy," commented Mark Gully of Waco, Texas.

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