Pastor Mark Heinrichs shares with us a new endeavor that has grown out of the church he serves!
Working with the congregation of Sutton, VT Freewill Baptist Church, I have developed a YouTube channel called “Vermont Country Pastor.” In March 2020, the Co-vid 19 pandemic shut down our in-person Sunday morning worship for months. In its stead, I began producing a video sermon on a weekly basis that I uploaded to YouTube. This was done to connect to home-bound church members and perhaps attracting new inquirers. Like many of you, we feel that we have a lot to contribute and have looked at opportunities to expand our reach.
With the return of Sunday morning in-person worship in June of 2020, we expanded the weekly video to include major parts of our regular worship. What has happened as a result of this is astonishing. As of today (11/23/21) we have had 944 visits to Vermont Country Pastor. We have regular viewers from Washington State, Oregon, Florida and South Carolina. Many thanks to our congregation at Sutton Church for their substantial contributions to the effort. This fantastic result was accomplished through the purchase and use of a home video camera bundle and video editing software that I use on my home computer. Please visit Vermont Country Pastor. Any questions or comments please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Glory to God!
Recently I read Philip Yancy’s memoir, “Where the light fell”. Yancey’s latest work is about growing up in a family and church environment, devoid of grace, most of angry, cruel, and self-righteous. The memoir is a painful read, until the near end, when Yancey, while a student, surprisingly has Jesus meet him. Yancy describes this moment as not quite a vision, but very real, a Christ of love and grace meeting him for the first time. And from that point in time Philip Yancy begins to set aside his toxic family and church life, to understand and receive God’s grace. As exhibited in many of Yancy’s writings, this discovery of grace occurred despite the abuse he suffered in home and in his church.
In small way, the memoir reminded me of once being a jaded Bible College senior, wondering what in this church culture was truly from Christ, honoring of God, and what was a fabrication, not of Christ, and an obstacle to knowing Christ in a deeper and deeper way. During a year of sorting that all out, the only path was to know Christ more, and have the courage to set aside what was not of Christ. Like Yancy, C.S. Lewis and Bonhoeffer became my guides, and as time went on Eugene Peterson, Henri Nouwen, and Richard Foster. There was so much more to Jesus Christ than my church culture had led me to believe. The spiritual paradox I pondered was that Jesus gave His own light to see Him more clearly and deeply like He had a flashlight on a video camera pointing to Himself. And to paraphrase Bonhoeffer, the words of Scripture are the objective Word of God, but then the Holy Spirit speaks to us from Scripture, and the Word becomes the Word to us. It is a bit liking stepping out of the darkness and walking deeper into the light.
Once I was accused of preaching too much about grace. The accusation went something like this: “No matter what passage you preach from, you always get back to God’s grace and accepting Christ.” All preachers have hobby horses. But something about my Bible College experience, left me with a concern, that if we lose Grace, we have lost the Gospel, and we damage our relationship with Christ and with other people. Christ's light illumines His grace. Our comfortable darkness abets our not comprehending the Light, and we obstruct the receiving of God’s grace and truth. Even when we believe, the light sometimes get put under bushel, and we believe grace is a limited commodity.
During Advent, I read Luke and John together. I am reminded that Christ is totally God and totally human. One Gospel speaks of the fleshly Christ born to a virgin in stable and greeted by uncouth shepherds, but heralded by angels. The other Gospel speaks to us about the eternal, infinite, yet veiled Christ. And from this Christ flows, like a mountain cascade, grace upon grace to every person who will receive welcome light and grace, and Christ Himself.
If people on the fringes of the light, or stumbling in the darkness to see the Grace in God’s people and in Christ’s Church, where will they see it?
This past summer a young camper arrived at check out without his backpack. His mother questioned where it was, and the boy shrugged, and he said, “I don’t know”. Embarrassed, I asked the camp counselor to go and find it and apologized to the mother. The young boy quickly spoke up and he said, “It’s all my fault”. “Why is it your fault?” I said. “Because I hid it.” "Why did you hide it?" The boy said, “cause I want to stay.”
I feel like this in the stillness of the outdoors, I want to stay. I enjoy seeing campers make new friends, try new activities, enjoy time around Bible study with inspiring words from the Camp Pastor and staff mentors. Camp helps create an atmosphere of worship through the study of God’s Word together. I feel thankful. This sweet melody of camp helps to create harmony in life.
2022 Camp Registration is open!
"But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect.“ 1 Peter 3:15
2022 theme video
Each of us plays an important role as followers of God - as Christians our role is to engage with God and our neighbors. We do this by being prepared to share the reason for the hope we have in God. In 2022, we will equip ourselves to speak the truth in love with gentleness and respect. Reserve your space today with a $100 deposit.
More about Camp:
Support for camp
Please consider helping us finish the year strong. As we continue ministry this season and beyond, we are raising support for two areas. First, Sentinel is MISSION FIRST as we never turn a family away for the inability to pay for camp. Donations are needed to help with scholarship support. Secondly, we are raising funds for new projects: a playground next to the Hobby house and a new bathroom next to the Wigwam.
Sentinel Lodge Retreats - experience the stillness in our year round retreats
Pines Camp - seasonal camping, reserve your 2022 camping experience.
See you soon on the mountaintop,
Kevin Van Brunt “Pk”
Executive Director, Camp Sentinel
Our mission is to create a welcoming environment for Christian relationship building and spiritual renewal. Within the stillness of God's creation and through the guidance of the staff, people are moved from discovery into authentic relationships with others and with Jesus Christ.
campsentinel.org (603) 539-4839
29 Sentinel Lodge Road, Center Tuftonboro, NH 03816
It has taken me over a week to digest and reflect on our first physical annual gathering since the arrival of COVID. (I do extend my apologies that the recorded portions of the gathering have not been uploaded to our web page. There are some unanticipated tech issues, but this should be resolved soon.)
There are three salient pieces of the annual gathering that stood out. The first was the number of people who physically participated. I was warned that no more than 50 people would attend, but in my eternal optimism, I said it would be 150, not really convinced that it would happen. Yet, in the end there were 135+ participants. The group was overall younger than other years, I think because of the prudent decisions made by others to not attend. There were more children than I have seen at an annual gathering in maybe 15 or 20 years. It is simply encouraging to attendees be comfortable in bringing children and teenagers to join. We welcomed in a new church, Sunshine Community Church in Allentown NH, and several new pastors and their spouses. There was spirit of hospitality and welcome among the those that were there. I was struck by the diversity of the group, and the mutuality and generosity people extended to each other. A constant theme was, “It is good to be together.”
Despite COVID’s lingering, God blessed us.
The second point was the powerful worship, and for many of us, feeling that renewing joyous presence of the Holy Spirit. After Dr. Stokes’ sermon and prayer on Friday night, from where I stood, I could see the tears, the prayers, and welcoming Christ’s presence. The Holy Spirit does comfort, confront, and change us during moments of community worship. Sometimes we take for granted how close Christ is when we worship with an openness to the Holy Spirit. Another theme I heard was “We need to worship together more.”
The third point I would describe as “ferment”. After quality workshops and two excellent keynoters, conversations were grappling with the present and the future. There was a catalyst about, as people pressed each other for their thoughts, strategies, and questions. For some, they didn’t realize that human trafficking is present in small rural communities, often connected with drug trafficking. Or it is okay to seek to understand people of other races and cultures while suspending our own preconceptions, because this too is the way of the cross. Defensiveness never serves Christ and His Kingdom. There was constant buzz around the question of “So what is the church?” Are there differences, even nuanced differences, between evangelism, Christian community, and the church? If we evangelize and bring together communities of new believers on the journey of discipleship and servanthood, when are they Christian communities, and when are they a church? Where does teaching happen, baptisms, and the Lord’s table? Does the Holy Spirit preside over a wide range of church venues and experiences? How are we trying to find our way in the world in the name of Jesus?
Overall, I thank God for the risk we took, and God blessed us in our trying, Jesus was there helping us see and know be close.
Read what's happening all around the Region!