Merry Christmas!  This holiday season, we just wanted to say (for the millionth time) just how thankful we are for your role in our family’s life.  2017 has obviously been a huge year for our daughter – even despite brokenness, she has developed into such a vibrant, sweet, silly, little girl and her time at Seaside has truly been a big part of that!  I had her at home with me for two months before she started at preschool, partly because we hadn’t found a daycare that felt right.  We are so glad we held out until we found Seaside!  She had likely never heard the name of Jesus until this year, and it makes me cry to think of how you all are pouring God’s love into her even when she’s not at home.  Even the social workers say they can see that preschool has been a huge part of her development.  It’s because of the love and effort of your and your team.  Thank you for praying for Olivia, encouraging me (and my husband), and investing so much love into our sweet girl.  We are grateful!  – Letter to the Director of Seaside School, Heidi Beauchaine, from a Seaside Parent

Overall, Potter’s House served 676 people.   Fresh Food Wednesday served 361 families, feeding 1,055.  We were also open Christmas Day and served 68 people.  We did this with a little over $4,000, but the value was $26,732! Here are some of the reasons people applied for financial support:

  • Single mom with 2 children; ex-husband behind on child support.  Works for restaurant and tourist season is over so work is slow.
  • Not working due to cancer and has 5 children.
  • Injured at work and waiting for workers compensation to be awarded.
  • One parent laid off for a few months with 2 small children to support.
  • Behind on rent and utilities due to father being out of work.

 

For many, Christmas can be a joyous season – celebrating the birth of our Savior with our family and friends. For others, this can be the saddest, loneliest time of the year. Many seniors live alone and have no family or friends that visit, due to many reasons. This year, we partnered with Home Instead Senior Care, Catholic Charities, and Jewish Family Services to help bring the light of Christmas into the lives of these forgotten seniors. The tags on this year’s Senior Tree of Light reflected the simple needs of everyday living of those who are lonely and financially needy. We provided gifts to seniors who were least likely to receive a present this holiday season.

  • 50 gifts
  • 5 extra knitted hats
  • 2 extra Christmas sweaters
  • 15 prayer shawls
  • 7 stuffed animals
  • Extra gift bags for wrapping

We filled a small Toyota Corolla from front to back including a stuffed trunk, leaving just enough room for a petite young woman to drive. She was overwhelmed with the generosity of our church family, so much so that she was in tears. What a blessing to be a part of Christmas for those seniors who are often forgotten and neglected. THANK You Everyone!

Eagle Eyrie Experience

Forty-six of our CREW middle and high school students headed to Eagle Eyrie Baptist Conference Center in Lynchburg this fall for their retreats.  Brock Morgan, a national youth speaker, challenged the students to not listen to the lies of guilt and shame, realize that they were worthy to God and that the hope of the gospel was for them even if they felt they were far from God.  Carter Thornton remarked, “I have been going to Eagle Eyrie since seventh grade and it has changed my life spiritually and emotionally. I have become a more open person from going and meeting random people and my faith in the Lord has grown through these new encounters. I thank my church and Eagle Eyrie for making it possible and will definitely miss it (since this was my last year).”  The middle school retreat had cold weather but the time of worship and small groups was incredibly powerful.    On the high school retreat our students were up front in the auditorium and participated with excitement in everything offered.  The joy though, was almost all our students either recommitted their lives to Jesus or accepted Jesus as their Savior!   “I’ve been to Eagle Eyrie 7 times now, but each trip is unique and full of adventure. As I’ve gotten older I’ve begun to take it to heart more as it has truly had a lasting impact on my faith journey. Eagle Eyrie is a worldly reminder to continue on my personal spiritual race. This year, the food was amazing, the speaker was outstanding, and while the weather was cold, the hearts were warm. I’m overjoyed to have been able to attend one final time as a student, and I pray they continue to do works in the lives of teens for time to come,” Jake Brown.  These retreats are a highlight of our Student Ministry and your prayers and support are a gift to each student that attends.

 

Bikes for Work

Can you imagine having to walk to work everyday? How do you carry several bags of heavy groceries over a distance? In 1998, one man had a solution. Clark Mandigo, one of our previous Associate Pastors, had the great idea to start a Bicycle Transportation Ministry. He knew that one member of our congregation owned a bike shop, so he asked Dave Moore if he’d be interested to help. To this day, Dave Moore is still leading the Bicycle Transportation Ministry but he is not alone. The bikes come from our congregation and community – some from as far as Chesapeake and Norfolk. For years now, Ann Shufflebarger has been donating 1/2 of her garage space to house the bikes until they are repaired to give away. One time, they received a donation of 60 bikes at once, and Martha McIntosh donated the use of her garage until they were all gone. There are 10 men and 1 woman volunteer who refurbish and repair bikes on a weekly basis. The bikes are brought from the garage to the Workshop at the Potter’s House, where they are updated and repaired, then they move to a storage shed next to the Potter’s House where they wait to be issued. Any adult who has a job can request a bike. Just bring in a pay stub showing you have been working for at least 2 weeks and, voila, you receive a bike! You can bring that bike back anytime for free repairs, as long as you have a current pay stub. The Ministry also helps other Ministries, not just individuals. PIN (People In Need) Ministry has requested 2 bikes per week on a continuing basis.

Even though this ministry is to help folks with transportation to work, they haven’t forgotten about the children. The Bicycle Transportation Ministry has been working with the directors of the Atlantis and Friendship Village apartments for about 10 years now to identify families who need kids’ bikes. These bikes are collected and stored until November each year, then repaired and given out in December. On December 4, 16 children’s bicycles were delivered to Atlantis Apartments, and 10 children’s bikes went to Friendship Village Apartments. “These bikes become a major part of Christmas for these kids each year,” says Dave.

A heartfelt thank you goes out to our volunteers: Jennifer Vaughan, Lori Shedlock, Bob Giesen, Tom Moore, Dick Morrison, Harry Pfeiffer, Tim Farabaugh, Steve Lantz, Jim Elbe, David Smith and Fred Coates.

They can always use help, so if you’re handy with tools and like to repair things, call Dave Moore: 757-407-2560.

In November we served over 1,126 households of the working poor and the homeless. The value of what we gave totaled $30,893 using only $4,285!

  • Our food pantry gave food to 404 families feeding 1,105 people.
  • We served a bag lunch and a meal to 632.
  • We paid 71 past due bills.
  • We helped 16 people get IDs.
  • We helped 16 people with bikes.
  • We gave hygiene products to 37 people.

This week, someone called to thank everyone at the Potters House for helping her pay her VA Power Bill ($50 on Nov 28th). She was very grateful!!

The joy on the kids faces was contagious and they were so excited to do this! What a perfect way for them to share our church with this community!

On December 2, our Children’s Ministry and Seaside School entered a float in the Virginia Beach Oceanfront Christmas Parade. Our children connected well with the crowd and folks were very enthusiastic to see our church represented this year. We had 1000 Community Christmas Walk invitation cards to hand out and they were gone half-way through the route. Our Director of Adult Discipleship, Brenda Stahl, who was walking with the float, was so engaged in conversation with some of the bystanders that she got left behind as the float drove on!

“The best thing about the parade was that God allowed us to see we are planting seeds for Him and building relationships with the community around us. I loved seeing the smiles on the spectators faces as they saw our float drive by!” said Heidi Beauchaine, Director of Seaside School.

Crystal Colohan, Director of Children’s Ministry remarked, “In all of the commotion, I caught myself feeling the true spirit of the Christmas season, because of the pure joy I was witnessing between our church family and our home town community! Our waves, smiles, and positive energy connected with our community in a way that was genuine and universal. We proudly shared the love for our church, the love for Christ being the True Gift of Christmas (the theme of our float), and the open arms we have for our community. It was a genuine and joyful experience that we can’t wait to share again with more people next year!”

Did you know that we are home to Boy Scout Troop 378? These Boy Scouts have completed a total of 154 hours of volunteer work this year for our church. In addition, the Troop will be volunteering at the Christmas Walk on Friday December 8 and they are planning to participate in a monthly service opportunity. Please give them a big “THANK YOU” the next time you see them.

Some of the projects included:

  • Easter Egg Hunt: 10 Scouts, 2 Leaders, 2 Adult volunteers x 2 hours (28 man hours)
  • Yard work for our Parsonage: 20 Scouts, 4 Leaders, 6 Adult volunteers x 2 hours (60 man hours)
  • Trunk or Treat: 17 Scouts, 2 Leaders, 3 Adult volunteers x 3 hours (66 man hours)

A Prayer Shawl can offer tangible comfort and be a witness to God in a person’s life. That’s why we are planning to include them with our gifts for the “Christmas Tree of Lights for Seniors.” Recently, Rosie Hughes received a Prayer Shawl before she went into the hospital for surgery. “I took my prayer shawl with me, specifically to use at night, as hospitals can be chilly. During the day, at Lake Taylor, it was usually draped over my bed or chair. Many people (staff) would comment on the lovely scarf, and I explained that this was not just a scarf but a special prayer shawl, a ministry of our church, and that when I went to bed at night I wrapped myself in the prayers of my faith community. The shawl became a witness of God’s love all on its own.” Even if you aren’t able to make one in time for the Tree, please consider participating in this ministry during the year to bring the love and hope of Jesus to someone in need.