News from Matt
Well, since I have been here for a month, I figured it would be a good time to introduce myself and give you an idea of where I come from and what is important to me, both as a person and as a pastor. Robin and I each grew up in small towns in Southeast Iowa. Robin graduated from Eddyville High School and I graduated from Blakesburg High School. These schools have since merged and are known as Eddyville-Blakesburg. To me this is an abomination and a sad day in world history. After graduating from high school I enlisted in the U.S. Army as an infantryman. Yes, I watched the movie Rambo way too many times. This would be the start of a 26 year career in the military. During that time I lived for two years in Germany, two years in South Korea and about five years overall in the Middle East, along with other assorted places here in the states. Through deployments and training exercise I was able to visit 73 different countries on five different continents. While there was a down side to service in the military the good far outweighed the bad. I would not trade any of my experiences for anything. Those are the things that make it possible to deal with what comes in the future. Those experiences serve as a well that I can draw on when helping others deal with the trails and tests they endure in their life. The last seven years of my time in the Army were spent in Fort Dodge, IA as a recruiter. Recruiting for the Army and evangelizing the lost are a lot alike. Each one is about persuading individuals to give their life to someone or something that they have no experience with. It was this time as a recruiter that I learned that life and faith are based on relationships. People will not join the military for you if they don’t know you. In the same way many will not listen to or accept what you present to them as the Gospel unless they can see the difference that God has made in your life. I also learned during this time that people are really fascinating and at the same time the strangest critters on the earth. As far as the church, I come from a Southern Baptist background. My father was from South Carolina and my mother grew up in Ottumwa, IA. While I attended church growing up and was saved at a summer camp when I was 12, church was not an important part of my life when I was young. After being saved I drifted from the church in my teen and young adult years. Robin and I were married when I was thirty years of age in 1997. Robin has grown up in the church and it was a vital part of her life. Her mother’s family was from New Providence. Lawrence and Virginia Tatum were her grandparents. Lawrence ran the farm for Quakerdale for nearly forty years and Virginia taught special education in the public school system. They were my first exposure to the Friends and Quakerism. When we would visit New Providence I as always impressed by the people’s expression of their faith in their daily lives. It seemed so much more mature and deeper than what I had seen in other churches that were trying to blend into the culture instead of standing for something else. My journey back to the church was not dramatic or inspiring. It was just a steady movement forward that brought me back to my faith. Robin was working on me and, most importantly, God was working on me. Gradually, I rediscovered what I had loved about the church growing up. By this time Robin and I had decided to start our family. We would find out that we weren’t able to get pregnant, so we chose to adopt a child from South Korea. After waiting through the process for a year and a half we were ready to give up on getting a healthy new born baby. Robin started looking on the “Child in Waiting” page for Dillon International. That’s when we found Kellen. He was born at 25 weeks and was thought to have profound hearing loss and likely would suffer from considerable learning disabilities as he grew older. After considerable thought and prayer we decided that Kellen was the one we were meant to have. We traveled to South Korea to pick him up from his Foster Mother and spent a week in the country. For the most part Kellen accepted us immediately. We have found that through the grace of God and His plan Kellen has none of the disabilities or challenges that we were expecting. The only hearing problem he has is “selective hearing”, but he is a male so that’s just normal. After we finalized the adoption we decided it was time to get another one, since we didn’t want to raise an only child. A couple of weeks after sending the check and paperwork of to begin the adoption process for our second child, I came home from work at lunch time one day and Robin told me she was pregnant. She was happy, but I had to lie down for about twenty minutes. Eight months later Nathaniel was born and has not stopped moving yet. We are blessed with two perfect children and look forward to raising them in small town Iowa environment just as we were raised. Finally, what are my priorities for the Church? First, Bangor Liberty is a church that does many things the right way. I am excited by what I see and what I hear when talking to people. This church has a reputation within Iowa Yearly Meeting as being very active both locally and in the yearly meeting. I would hope we would continue in this way and maybe be even more influential and active. I was impressed during VBS when we had 57 kids here on one night, but the impressive part was that there were over 30 adult volunteers here as well. This is a great testimony to the importance of the church in the life of its members. I want to continue what has taken place here over the last few years. I do see however, that there were some in the church who was left out or who felt they were being neglected. I pray that we can overcome that and bring everyone into the church and improve our relationships with each other in the future. I want this to be a church where everyone is comfortable, where God’s word is preached and loved. I want this to be a church where every age group is ministered to and each group can minister to each other. I am excited about the future and what plans God has for Bangor Liberty. More than that, though, I am grateful that you have made me your pastor and accepted my family into yours. I look forward to meeting all of you and getting to know you better. I hope you would not wait for me to call you though. If you have time stop at the office during the day or knock on the parsonage door at night I enjoy talking about just about anything. So feel free to get a hold of me at your convenience. Thanks, Matt
HOC Meal Report
On July 30th, 100 people enjoyed lots of grilled cheese and tuna salad sandwiches, fresh veggies, fruit salad, BBQ beans, pudding, scotcharoos, strawberry shortcake, milk and coffee.
Thanks to Jan & Royal, Diane R, Neil & Peg, Bill & Rosalee, Mike & Charlene, James & Sharon, Reg & Melidy, Dani & Larry, Kris & Amber, Donny, Blake & Alicia, Bob & Jeanette, Brent & Ann, Nathan & Breanne who provided food or funds.
Extra funds were used to purchase dish soap, toilet paper, etc. for the supply closet. Thanks to Vi, Darla, Peg, Leah, Mollee and Tom who helped in the HOC.
A man and his wife who come to visit with people and participate in a Bible Study volunteered their assistance with the meal. He sliced tomatoes and took out the garbage. She cleaned tables and mopped the dining room floor.
We needed all the help we could get with such a big, hungry group creating so many dishes.
Our next meal will be August 27.
During July donations were collected for the HOC School Supply give-away. Many supplies came in and overflowed the little school bus. Also over $300 was given at the VBS closing program and will be used to purchase items or school bags for next year. Thanks for generously supporting this ministry to those in need.
Starting dates for area schools
BCLUW Aug 24
Hubbard-Radcliff-Eldora Aug 24
West Marshall Aug 24
Marshalltown Aug 24
Teen Challenge of the Midlands is our focus for our August mission. A representative from Teen Challenge will be coming to BLFC to share with us during our Sunday school hour on August 9.
Teen Challenge of the Midlands is a residential program for men, women, and boys, or girls that offers a 12-18 month stay. These centers are designed to help individuals learn how to have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and in turn, live drug free lives. The program offer Bible classes, work assignments and recreation.
Teen Challenge is a non-profit organization that operates on donations. Residents are not required to pay for their stay. The average monthly cost for housing is $1200. Teen Challenge has a vehicle donation program with auctions 3 times a year. This is the 18th annual Bankers Trust/Teen Challenge Golf Marathon. Held at Beaver Creek west of Des Moines, this helps to raise funds for the ministry of Teen Challenge.
This month’s mission affects me on a personal level. My brother, Ross, has been there since May. After 15 years of substance abuse, Ross hit the lowest point of his life and agreed to go to Teen Challenge.
I'm so pleased to report that he is doing amazing! Thanks be to God and to all the prayers from our family, friends, and our church family who also has taken this long journey with us!
Please take some time to visit their website to see how you can help! They also take non cash donation items. There is a list of those on the website.
Sunday, September 6th, 6:15 will be a Fall Kick Off for Sunday School & Hot Dog Roast & Outdoor Family Movie with popcorn. Bring a lawn chair & join us for the food, fellowship & movie!
LIBRARY LEDGE – QUAKER BIOGRAPHIES
William Penn and the Founding of Pennsylvania, The Journal of George Fox, Life in the Quaker Lane by Seth Hinshaw, While it is Day by Elton Trueblood,Mothers of Feminism by Margaret Hope Bacon - the story of Quaker Women in America, Lives That Speak – Stories of Twentieth Century Quakers. As well as many more. Love & Prayers, Kristy