And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; And to esteem them very highly in love for their work's sake. 1 Thessalonians 5:12-13 (KJV)
October is traditionally considered to be Clergy Appreciation month. That we need to set aside a month of each year to recognize and appreciate our pastors should remind us that we perhaps do not appreciate the tireless service our pastors perform for our churches and communities. Take Mother's Day, for example; mothers don't get to punch a clock, or work an eight-hour day, or even a 40-hour week, yet we have set aside but one day of the year to remind them how much we appreciate their devotion to the family. A mother is on the job 24-7, no vacations or days off, meeting the needs of her husband and children for as long as all parties are present on this earth. Once a mother, you are a mother for life. Hmm, perhaps we should also have a Mother Appreciation Month - a single day hardly seems enough.
Your pastor's job description is not all that different from that of our mothers. They too are on the job 24-7, with no days off, no vacation, a lifetime labor of love. Friend, counselor, confidant, spiritual guide - the scope of the pastor's responsibility to the church is more than most of us could (or care to) assume. Church members can be so focused on our own problems and needs that we tend to forget that our spiritual leaders often deal with the same daily pressures, yet pastors often lack the luxury of a friend to confide with, as we all to often expect our pastors to be and live a "perfect" life. Consider that your pastor is, like you, also susceptible to becoming tired, disappointed, or frustrated - and that all of the things we might expect of our pastor, he also at times may require of us.
The Holy Bible commands us as Christians to recognize and encourage those whom God has called to proclaim His message and lead His people (1 Thessalonians 5:12-13). This is something that Christians should consider not for just one Sunday, or one week, or one month, but throughout the year, at all times. And while we are giving thanks, let us not forget to include the pastor's wife. She is your pastor's main support, best friend, and closest confidant, involved in every facet of church organization, tasks, and business, and yet always there if asked to lend a hand in support of other activities.
As such, the membership of Bethany Baptist Church wishes to extend a heartfelt thank you to Mrs. Joanne Richter and Pastor Bill Bursell and wife Carol of Wasilla for their service and commitment to the church and community while our Pastor John Bigelow is recuperating from liver transplant surgery at the University of Washington Medical Center. Recovery from transplant surgery is a lengthy process, and the thoughts and prayers of the Bethany Baptist Church membership are with the Bigelow family through these difficult and trying times.
Through church planting and development ministries, Pastor John Bigelow and wife Judy have served in Alaskan communities for over 30 years. The Bigelow family came to Juneau in the summer of 1987 to assume the pastorate of Bethany Baptist Church, at that time meeting at a local school. Over the ensuing years Bethany Baptist has built a house/church at 8493 Forest Lane and the Bigelows continue to serve in a team ministry with missionary Joanne Richter, wife of the late Pastor Don Richter.
Mrs. Richter has served the past thirty years in the missionary field for Baptist Mid-Missions, a worldwide independent, fundamental Baptist mission agency. Joanne and her husband, the late Pastor Don Richter, in 1973 began their Alaskan ministry serving villages in the Lake Illiamna area. They moved to Petersburg in 1982, and were involved in church planting there until 1996. The Richter family then moved to Juneau where Pastor Richter served as associate pastor at Bethany Baptist Church. Mrs. Richter is recently returned from visiting her supporting churches in the lower 48 states, and the church membership warmly welcomes her home.
Pastor Bill Bursell began his Alaskan ministry in 1961 and served as Station Supply for Soldatna, Kodiak, Anchor Point, and Homer over the next ten years. He married wife Carol in 1977 and served villages in western Alaska until 1995. The Bursells are yet serving in Station Supply ministry and now reside in Wasilla, Alaska.
As part of our ongoing commitment to "Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature." Mark 16:15 (KJV) Bethany Baptist Church is a supporting church to six missionary families in three countries of the world. The church also has weekly prayer and Bible study services for seniors and the disabled at Shattuck Manor and Wildflower court.
Chris Erickson is a member of Bethany Baptist Church.