I traditionally devote one bulletin article near the beginning of most every year to review the year past and look forward to the year ahead. We might think of it as a look through the rearview mirror and the windshield.
Looking through the rearview mirror at 2016, it was a very encouraging year for us here at Sunny Slope. Attendance figures were up across the board, with an average of 84 for Sunday morning Bible classes, 126 for Sunday morning worship, 59 for Sunday evening worship and 62 for Wednesday evening Bible classes. As a whole, these averages are significantly higher than those from at least the previous two years.
Even more encouraging, the September through December averages were even higher, with 90 for Sunday morning Bible classes, 134 for Sunday morning worship, 60 for Sunday evening worship and 68 for Wednesday evening Bible classes. Not counting the week of the Gospel Meeting, more than 150 were present for Sunday morning worship four times during that period. That has not happened since at least 2011.
At least fourteen precious souls were added to the Lord’s Kingdom last year as they were baptized into Christ for the remission of their sins. That does not include the additional individuals who were baptized through our jail ministry and correspondence course ministry. At least three others who had been away from the Lord’s church for a period of time came back in repentance, asking prayers for forgiveness.
These figures are important first, because they glorify God. Second, because they represent souls coming under the sound of the gospel. Third, they are something of an indicator as to the effectiveness of the outreach being done here at Sunny Slope.
Our local radio ministry has continued to expand with KCRO offering us a free time slot at 2:30 AM Monday through Friday. The thirty minute program is now on KCRO AM and FM four times each day Monday through Friday. It also runs five times a week in Council Bluffs. Listeners continue to come and check us out here at services. At least two more precious souls were baptized last year after having listened to our program.
Over 5200 CD’s were distributed last year, another way we proclaim God’s word. Now, what’s in the windshield for 2017? We plan to continue to aggressively reach out with the gospel. We are well into our First Of The Year Outreach Campaign. Before it ends, we will have run about 700 television spots and numerous newspaper ads encouraging people to contact us for a free Bible study. The jail and correspondence course ministries continue to go strong. We are looking at ways to further reach out into the community with God’s love, trying to touch souls and open up possibilities to teach the gospel. Phil Sanders is scheduled to be with us again this Fall for another Gospel Meeting.
With the increased attendance we have brought out all of our extra chairs. It’s wonderful to look out across the auditorium and see so many people gathered to worship God and hear His word taught. There is much work to be done, and there are many possibilities in front of us. You are important- Your involvement, Your prayers, Your ideas and Your encouragement. The blessings and victories are from God. It is He Whom we serve, and to Him goes all the glory…
Gary L. Hutchens