Rev. Douglas Avilesbernal
Glad for the end of this year
Hopeful for the beginning of 2019
I wanted to thank you all for the amazing work you have done in 2018 with your churches and communities. We are living in very difficult times for the church yet you have all contributed to Evergreen being an oasis of church hope in our world. I did mean to write church since currently it seems like the church is often as much a barrier to the Gospel as secularism. So thank you for working hard to help our churches be seen as welcoming places of hope and support by doing your best to follow the Gospel.
We are a diverse community. We are diverse because we’ve opened our arms and hearts. We are diverse because the “other” feels welcomed among us. We are diverse because we do our best to keep from falling for the fear of the other so prevalent in our time. We are diverse because for many of us the fear is not of the other and what they will take from us. Instead our fear is of what we would become if we come to hate the other. I am glad we are not diverse because it is fashionable or politically correct.
We are an active community locally and regionally. I have noticed as I visited about half of you how we all seem to be trying very hard to do what we preach. I am thankful for the blessings that brings to your communities and honored to witness all that wonderful work. I commend you on your ministries.
We participate in just practices. It would take pages and pages to enumerate the many ways our churches advocate for justice in our communities. I’d just like to remind us of our communal participation at our annual gathering. A little over a week before we were to gather in San Jose we received a message letting us know the workers at the hotel we had chosen to book our rooms were on strike. We had booked over a dozen rooms in that hotel. Yet, you all responded in support of the hourly wage workers on strike and all reservations were withdrawn! Then, when the pastor of our host church, Liliana Davalle suggested we walk over to the picket lines and join the workers many of you joined that as well! We also sent a letter to the hotel’s corporate office in support of those striking and stating that we as a region were watching this strike and will share with our entire denomination the outcome of those negotiations. Keep being a voice for justice wherever you are!
2019 Will be a busy year
Blessings on 2019,
Rev. Douglas Avilesbernal
Evergreen Baptist Association
By Rev. Doug Avilesbernal
NIV “But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
When I was too young to know better January was a big letdown for me. All the excitement was over and there were no big days to celebrate. In fact, the only thing that happened was going back to school!
As I grow older and my vision broadens I am beginning to be thankful for the “break” we have in this month. There is not a whole lot happening so we’re free to recover as we rest.
However, I do wonder if I have missed a very important aspect of this season my whole life. I think I have let the celebration of the birth on Christmas be the only and most important aspect of the season.
But, looking at Mary and the Shepherds in the Luke passage we get a look at what can be a wonderful addition to our Christmas season. We can see how they all experienced the excitement of receiving the news of the birth before hand and celebrating it when it happened. What I find interesting is what they do after that. Mary “treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart” and the shepherds “returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen”.
The birth of a baby changes the life of everyone around her. But this change was different, they all knew something extraordinary had happened and it changed how they looked at life. The shepherds became evangelists! Mary explored deep within.
In this post-Christmas glimpse we get through the Gospel of Luke we see some signs of what happens when one encounters Jesus in a meaningful way. It might be a good idea to add January to our season life.
When I was too young to know better January was a disappointment. As I grow older and have less energy to spare January is a time of rest. In both of those I have missed the fact that January can also be a time to meditate on what happened as well as to share the wonder of the gift we have received with the world! I pray you take the freedom of January to meditate on what has occurred and be energized by that wonderful gift.
By Rev. Mindi Welton-Mitchell
Ministry Associate for Social Media
You may have heard of GDPR: General Data Protection Regulation. This is a regulation in the European Union that regards how personal information is collected online for citizens of the EU. This regulation most likely doesn’t apply to your congregation, unless you have members who are from the EU—either people who still claim their citizenship in the EU or who were part of your church and moved to the EU. What this means is that you need their permission to be on your email list, your newsletter list, or even to receive your boosted Facebook advertisements. The GDPR is to protect people from having their information sold to another party or shared without their permission.
Even without the GDPR, it is a good idea to make sure you have people’s permission to send them your church newsletter or to print their information in a church directory. A simple permission form for members or regular attendees is easy to create, something that says, “I give my permission for this church’s name to reprint my contact information in the church directory,” or newsletter, etc.
It is also a good idea to have some sort of permission form for people to use or share their photos online—and especially, always, with children’s photos. You can do this either as a permission form, or an opt-out. A simple note at events where photos may be taken that “photos taken at this event may be posted online; if you do not wish to have your photo or your child’s photo posted, please fill out this form” or “please let name of person in charge of event know.”
There are reasons that people may not want to share their personal information, or they may be willing for the pastor to have it, but not for the rest of the congregation. It is always a good idea to ask first.