Art Johnson wrote the “Deacon Team Moment” for the Ringgold Reflector in January. He included this quote by Aiden Wilson Tozer:
“Of all persons, the Christian should be best prepared for whatever the New Year brings. He has dealt with life at its source. In Christ he has disposed of a thousand enemies that other men just face alone and unprepared. He can face his tomorrow cheerful and unafraid because yesterday he turned his feet into the ways of peace and today he lives in God. The man who has made God his dwelling place will always have a safe habitation.”
Harriett Jones, President of the Joy Club, gave a special “Thank You” to the many people who had helped each month with the Joy Club meetings by providing delicious food, cleaning up, and other duties. Special praise was extended to some of the men in the group who went the extra mile to lend their help, cooking skills, and muscle power.
Daniel Wolfe, Minister of Music, wrote “Wow! What a joy it is to be part of the Ringgold Baptist family. More than six years ago, I was welcomed by a group of people I did not know. Needless to say, there was a lot of apprehension on my part, but since our beginning together , I have felt more love and caring than I ever anticipated. Thank you one and all for the kind, loving support you offer.” Dan, God has blessed you with so much talent. We love you and are so thankful you came to be with us.
The deacons hosted the Family Night Dinner and Devotions on Wednesday evening, January 8. Pastor Duane presented an overview of Faithful TV and information about how we could access the church’s free video library.
The annual church Committee Organizational Meeting was held on Sunday, January 12, at 5 p.m. A light dinner was provided by the Constitution Committee.
On January 26, the Baptist Men’s Day began with a breakfast for the men and boys of the church. The special music for our worship service was by the men’s choir, followed by the personal testimony of Don Sparks, our featured speaker. It was a very inspirational service.
The Eva Walton Circle collected items for the House of Hope (homeless shelter) in Danville during the month of January. Their project for February was a donation of Ensure to the Danville-Pittsylvania Cancer Association for cancer clients that have this need.
The annual Soup(er) Bowl lunch was held on Sunday, February 2, after the worship service. Donations of approximately $900 were given to help sponsor the youth’s summer mission trip.
A kickoff for a Family Game Night was held on Saturday, February 15, from 5 p.m. until. Pickleball and other games were enjoyed by all who participated.
Scout Sunday was observed on Sunday, February 16. Boy Scout Troop 372 and Cub Scout Pack 372, along with their leaders and families, were in attendance.
Pastor Duane had been providing a series of sermons from the book of John. On Sunday, March 1, he started a series on “The Greatest Week in History.” His first sermon in this series was “Sunday: The Week Begins” from Luke 19: 28-44.
The Youth Pancake Breakfast fundraiser was held on Sunday, March 8.
Family Night Dinner and Devotions hosted by the Agape Sunday School class was held on Wednesday, March 11, at 6:30 p.m. Dena Caldwell presented the devotions.
The goal for the Annie Armstrong Easter Offering was $2500. Donations amounted to $2,718.
When we gathered for our worship service on Sunday, March 15, we were very much aware that the coronavirus had become a threat to our way of life in the United States; although at the time, it was not prevalent in our area. The following Wednesday, March 18, we received the message from Pastor Duane on the All Call phone system telling us that it was with a heavy heart that he and the deacons were canceling all services and activities of the church until further notice, due to the coronavirus.
In the April Ringgold Reflector, Pastor Duane wrote that this did not catch God by surprise. He had led us in the last year or so to put some things in place to help with this. A camera system was installed in the sanctuary that would allow us to live stream our worship services. We would be able to view our Sunday worship services and Wednesday evening Bible study live on Facebook, You Tube, Faithful TV, or on our church website at www.ringgoldbaptist.org. The church office would be open from 9 a.m. until 2 p.m. Monday through Friday. Pastor Duane would be available to us 24-7 as always. The deacons would also be available to us as needed. Pastor Duane asked for our prayers as he, along with the deacons, tried to help navigate us through these troubling waters.
Stephanie Barts, our Minister to Children, worked very hard to keep the children worshipping and learning about Jesus by creating a family devotional on Wednesdays and Sundays on Facebook. She also posted links to devotions on the children’s page which is on the church website, and she continued to do the children’s message during the regular church services on Sunday mornings.
Jacob Webster, Minister to Youth, figured out ways for the youth to stay connected also. They would utilize Facetime or Skype at their regular lesson times (5 p.m. on Sundays and 6:30 p.m. on Wednesdays). This gave them the ability to see one another as well as listen to the lesson and interact as they typically did in the past.
A special “Thank You” to our own Dianne Donahoe. After hearing the CDC’s announcement that all people should wear protective face coverings when out in public, Dianne stepped up and offered masks to any member of Ringgold Baptist Church needing one. Dianne had quietly been behind the scenes stitching masks for several weeks in case there was a need. On Tuesday, April 7, she set up a chair and table on the parking lot of the church between the hours of 1 and 3 p.m. for people to drive by and pick up the masks. By 1:35 p.m., she had run out of 97 masks and began taking orders for more. She later brought 2 boxes of masks to a morning worship service for our members.
The churchwide Mission Project for March and April was monetary gifts collected to support Blessing Buckets for God’s Pit Crew. Donations amounted to $1,179.
The Chatham Rotary Foundation prepared weekly food boxes for families in need in the Kentuck and Dan River School area. Ringgold Baptist Church and Kentuck Baptist Church donated their entire inventory of food for the Backpack Buddies Ministry to be used for these food boxes. Ringgold Baptist Church received a $1,000 grant from BGAV to be used with hunger ministries during this pandemic. This money was also donated to the Chatham Rotary Foundation to help prepare the food boxes.
Pastor Duane sent a message on All Call that on Easter Sunday, April 12, we would be having a drive-in Easter sunrise service on the parking lot of the church. We could stay in our vehicles and listen to the service on FM Radio Station 88.7. Drive-in services were also held on Sunday, May 3 and May 10. Thanks to Larry Collie who made a frame and platform for Pastor Duane to stand on in front of the church to preach God’s word.
On Sunday, May 17, we were invited to bring a chair and join in the worship service in the shade of the trees in front of the church. At this time, there were a lot of questions, fears, and different opinions about what would be the best way to keep everyone as safe as possible from the virus. The leaders of our church believed that meeting outside was the safest and most comfortable way for everyone involved. We could still worship in our vehicles by listening to 88.7 FM or at home if you so desired. It was a great and memorable worship experience. The birds seemed to be so happy. They were quite active and shared their singing talent.
Independence Day was celebrated during our worship service on July 5 with American flags on display and with the singing of patriotic hymns.
We began to have Sunday School at our outside worship services on Sunday, June 7. Brian Horne was the teacher for that Sunday.
The WMU missions project for June and July was the Baby Bottle Boomerang. Donations of $479.23 went to the Transition Pregnancy Center.
Our graduates were recognized and honored in our worship service on Sunday, July 12. We had six high school graduates and two college/professional graduates. The Special Events Committee had to find a way to have a special service for the graduates due to restrictions created by the coronavirus, but they did a great job. It was an impressive service. Across the front of the church, there was an individually designated area for each graduate, with a large photo of that person. There was a gift bag available for our church family to leave a card or remembrance. The graduates marched in and stood in front of their respective area. As their names were called, each graduate moved to the center and Kristie McDowell told about their accomplishments and future plans. Since in previous years the church had always provided a meal for the graduates in the Family Life Center, a gift certificate was presented to each graduate for a family meal prepared by Susan Pritchard of Gentlemen’s Ridge Catering Service. They were also given a devotional book.
Something unusual happened during this event that was not planned by the Special Events Committee. It had to be God’s plan. Rusty, Judy and Kerry Luther’s dog, came to our worship service and went around and greeted the people in attendance (each person or family individually). When the graduates were in their place in front of the church, Rusty started at the beginning of the line, went to each graduate, paused at their feet and, in his own way, he let them know how much he loved them and how proud he was of them. This is something they will probably never forget. Rusty, we certainly won’t forget you. You are a special dog.
On Sunday, July 12, we observed the Lord’s Supper using a prefilled communion cup with a wafer attached. This was done for sanitary reasons. If a person could not be at the service or planned to watch online, they could stop by the church office and pick up a communion cup and wafer and observe the ceremony in the privacy of their home. A person could also call the church office and have someone deliver the cup/wafer to their home.
Stephanie Barts wrote in the July Ringgold Reflector that she was excited to start meeting outside with the children again for fellowship, lessons, and worship. Jacob Webster wrote that the youth had begun to gather outside on Sunday nights at 5 p.m.
The Finance team recognized and thanked everyone for their faithful giving to the church during the pandemic. Giving had remained steady, and the church was meeting its weekly budget needs established for 2020.
The pictorial directory plans were postponed until the spring of 2021.
A special “Thank You” to Bobby Gene Atkinson, Garrett Hughes, Brian Horne, Ray McDowell, and Mac McDowell for their hard, and sometimes tedious, work of replacing windows in the overflow section of the sanctuary and in several Sunday School rooms. They also installed lights and vinyl siding and replaced the front door and windows in the parsonage. Their thoughtful and generous gift of free labor saved the church a substantial amount of money. These projects were voted on and approved at the February church business meeting.
On August 12, our Business Meeting was held in the Family Life Center with safety precautions in place. A property improvement proposal was presented by Bobby Gene Atkinson from the Building and Grounds Committee. This included the removal of five trees in front of the church, resolving major drainage issues surrounding the church and parking lot, repaving the parking lot at a cost of approximately $191,000, and obtaining a loan from a local bank which had already been approved. This proposal was voted on and approved.
Due to the weather, we had to go back inside on Sunday, August 16, with Sunday School in the Family Life Center and worship services in the sanctuary. There were 60 people in attendance for the worship service. In accordance with virus restrictions, temperatures were taken at the sanitizing station at both the entrance to the Family Life Center and the sanctuary. Volunteers were used for this job, and a sign-in sheet was available per Covid-19 guidelines. All persons were requested to wear masks but it was not mandatory. Nearly everyone did wear masks for the protection of others and themselves. On Thursday, August 20, an All Call message was sent by Pastor Duane that Sunday School and worship services would continue inside.
After the worship service on Sunday, August 25, there was a Business Meeting to vote on proposed changes to the By-Laws, along with nominees from the deacons for the Board of Trustees. Betty Jo Foster, chair of the Constitution Committee, presented the following changes to the By-Laws:
- Allow the WMU Director to serve more than three consecutive years
- Allow committee chairs to serve more than three consecutive years
- Allow family members to serve on committees together
- The Board of Trustees could serve a three-year term and may succeed themselves three times for a maximum of nine years.
These changes were approved as presented.
On behalf of the deacons, Ray McDowell presented the following church members to serve on the Board of Trustees: John Foster, Bobby Gene Atkinson, and Larry Collie. In addition, it was suggested that Gene (Jimmy) Morris be a Trustee Emeritus. The deacons had worked out a detailed plan to ensure that there would always be a member on the Board of Trustees with past experience in that role. This recommendation was voted on and approved.
The August churchwide mission projects were as follows:
- Collecting school supplies for Kentuck Elementary School, Dan River Middle School, and Dan River High School. Many supplies were donated for this project.
- Donations of food and water for God’s Storehouse. Five hundred and six pounds of food plus water were donated.
- Masks for children at Kentuck Elementary School. The PTO at this school had requested masks for children who arrived at school without one. Four hundred and thirty-eight masks were donated for this project.
A new ministry opportunity for our church was to crochet a pocket prayer cloth in the form of the Thin Blue Line logo for each local law enforcement officer. This was a way to honor and support them at a critical time when they may have been feeling less appreciated. This ministry was coordinated by Cheryl Hogg, our Administrative Secretary.
In the September 2020 Ringgold Reflector, the pastor commented on the times:
“Don’t you wish someone could have warned us about 2020? This has been one of the strangest years I can remember. I believe this is a year we will talk about for years to come. Who could have dreamed our country would be so broken? We have had a pandemic, flooding, an earthquake, a hurricane, riots, and a huge division in our country. Even stranger than that, we had to shut the churches down to try to help contain Covid-19. What a year!” Pastor Duane reminded us that as Christians, we are to bear the fruit of the Holy Spirit, which is “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, and self-control. Against such there is no love” (Galations 5:22-23). He asked the question “Are you producing fruit in this strange year of 2020?”
Dan Wolfe, Minister of Music, mentioned how strange the church musicians and choir members feel during the unusual times. Individual performers graciously sang or played an instrument for God’s glory, and the church appreciates the efforts made in that regard. Thank you, Dan and Leslie, who were so faithful in our outdoor services and continued as we moved inside. Dan stated that although the pandemic drove the choir apart because of the danger of meeting as a choir, “We’re gonna come back strong!”
The WMU project for September was the Alma Hunt State Mission Offering. The goal of $2,000 was met. Also, 254 “Fall Treat” bags were prepared by the Eva Walton Circle for the teachers and staff at Kentuck Elementary, Dan River Middle School, and Dan River High School to show support for their hard work during the pandemic.
Stephanie Barts held an outdoor Vacation Bible School on a Saturday in September. Students from first grade through sixth grade attended. They had a great time watching Bible stories, working on crafts, and tie-dying headbands and bandanas. The children began studying the beginning of the Bible during Children’s Church. Jacob Webster encouraged the youth to come to the 5 p.m. Sunday and 6:30 Wednesday meetings – “a group who will show you both grace and good times.”
The pastor concluded the sermon series on the book of Acts (“The Birth of the Church”) and announced the new series on the book of Ruth (“Living Responsibly”).
On Sunday, September 20, a called business meeting was held after the Sunday morning worship service. Dara Johnson, representing the Nominating Committee, presented a proposal that for one year we keep the same committee members in place as last year since they did not have an opportunity to meet. The exception would be the deacons since they continued to serve during the pandemic. The proposal was voted on and approved.
During the worship service on Sunday, September 27, members of the Pittsylvania County Sheriff’s Department were the first recipients of the Pocket Prayer Cloths made by various ladies in the church. Sheriff Mike Taylor and members of the Sheriff’s Department were in attendance.
October is Pastor Appreciation month. Under Pastor Duane’s leadership, our church continued to find ways for its members and guests to attend worship services during the 2020 pandemic. He also kept us informed of prayer and community needs so we could lift up the sick and hurting in prayer and minister to their needs. Flowers were placed on the altar in honor of Pastor Duane and Dena. The following tribute appeared in the October Ringgold Reflector:
Pastor Duane Caldwell
“Giving to others seems to come so naturally to you,
But we know it doesn’t happen by accident…
You go the extra mile, give the extra thought…
And it really makes a difference.
Thank you for being such a wonderful example of
Members of Ringgold Baptist Church
In our worship service on Sunday, October 25, we observed Pastor Appreciation Sunday. Also, our amazing, wonderful staff were recognized, along with Larry Collie who manages our audio/video system. All of the staff have been so faithful and worked hard to keep everything going during this difficult year. Pastor Duane was given a personalized produce cart and other gifts from members of the congregation.
In our worship service on Sunday, October 11, we observed the ordinance of baptism for 5 people. We also observed the Lord’s Supper.
Usually the month of November has many fellowship activities at church; however, some changes were made to be able to do things in a different way.
Pastor Duane stated in the November Ringgold Reflector:
“In the past 8 months, we have faced difficult times because of Covid-19. These hard times are not over. During these times, we must make sure we stay spiritually nourished. As a pastor, it is my calling to feed the flock. We must be spiritually fed to sustain us in not only the hard times, but also in the good times. We are using many methods to feed the sheep of God. We have been able to utilize streaming media in order for people not able to attend physically, to be able to attend worship virtually, to watch Bible studies, and to stay connected to one another. When we feed on God’s word, we can not only survive, we can thrive. But when we feed on things that are not of God, we can’t thrive, and we barely survive.”
Ringgold Baptist Church is blessed to be able to worship in many ways. Thanks to our hard-working ministerial teams.
During worship services the pastor continued the Bible study on the book of Ruth, which seemed appropriate leading up to Baptist Women’s Day on Sunday, November 8. The welcome and invocation were given by Betty Jo Foster. Kathy Andrews led the congregational singing, and Nancy Snead provided the special music. Suzanne Emerson introduced the special guest speaker, Jackie Hardison, daughter of the late Bobby Scearce. Jackie had promised her father that she would share her testimony with the church. Jackie was born in Ringgold and raised in Ringgold Baptist Church and continues to be a lifelong member in her heart. She made her father proud.
We also honored our veterans on November 8. Rhonda May (a veteran herself) gave a very inspirational presentation, paying tribute to all of our veterans.
We were reminded that we could pick up boxes for Operation Christmas Child in the foyer and asked to return them by November 15. The church prepared over 270 boxes, and they were dedicated and blessed on Sunday, November 15, as the children of the church came forward and placed a hand on the shoe boxes.
Ringgold Baptist Church once again served as a local collection site during the week of November 16-20. Thanks to Bobra Robinson, who did an outstanding job of organizing the entire process of distributing and collecting Operation Christmas Child boxes at our church.
Our annual Fall stew was held on November 14 and was prepared by the McDowell family. The stew was pre-ordered at $5 per quart and was available for pick up outside the Family Life Center. This was one example of how we had to do things differently in 2020 since we had always gathered in the Family Life Center to enjoy our stew together in the past. The new method worked, and the stew was delicious.
On Sunday, November 22, Pocket Prayer Cloths were blessed and presented to law enforcement officers from our area.. Officers present included Sheriff Mike Mondul and Deputy Jacob Keatts, representing the City of Danville Police Department and Trooper Nicholas Keister of the Virginia State Police Area 13 in Chatham. Thanks again to Cheryl Hogg for organizing this project.
The Children’s Ministry sponsored a Parents’ Morning Out on November 27 from 9 – 11:30 a.m. Games and activities were provided for the children who participated.
On the fifth Sunday, November 29, a monetary collection was taken to support the Back Pack Buddies Ministry at our church.
Ringgold Baptist Church was not able to host the Thanksgiving meal this year due to Covid 19. We look forward to being able to share with those in need in our community next year.
December is all about Jesus as we celebrate the Christmas season. Although we could not meet in large groups or travel to be with family, we could thank God for the gift of His son Jesus. We were able to celebrate the lighting of candles on the Advent wreath. We were reminded of Christ as the candles of hope, peace, love, and joy were lit each Sunday from the central Christ candle. With Christ in our hearts, we have these gifts of Christ to look forward to every day as our relationship with Him grows.
In order for members to have current names and addresses of members, Cheryl Hogg provided updated church directories (without pictures).
The WMU continued their tradition of collecting Christmas cards for church families. We were reminded to place them in the Christmas mailbox by December 6. The cards were then sorted by members of the Eva Walton Circle, placed in family gift bags, and arranged in alphabetical order in the Family Life Center. They were ready for pick up on or after December 13. The money saved from postage for the cards was donated to the Lottie Moon Christmas offering for International Missions. The goal of $4000 was exceeded this year.
Our Minister of Music, Dan Wolfe, led the church in Christmas hymns throughout the month of December in order to keep our Christmas spirits up! A drive-by Christmas Caroling was held in the afternoon on Sunday, December 20, with the carolers performing on the front steps of the church.
The December business meeting was held on December 9 for the presentation of the 2021 budget. The Nominating Committee also presented their recommendations for officers and committees for 2021. Both items were approved as presented.
The Candlelight Christmas Eve and Communion Service was held on Thursday, December 24. This impressive service reminded us of the light of the world, Jesus, and His birth, life, death, and resurrection.
The church family increased by five professions of faith and baptism, three members by statements, and seven members by letter/transfer. We were saddened by the loss of three members to death and one by transfer to another church.
Pandemics and other setbacks cannot deter the plans of our Heavenly Father. He is in control and prepares the Way.
(Church History 2020 – Written by Dora Dunn and Melody Walley)