ST. FRANCISVILLE – Members of First Baptist Church couldn’t decide which was the greater ministry need – Alzheimer’s disease awareness or dealing with the loss of a loved one, so they developed two conferences set for this summer.
An information conference on Alzheimer’s disease is set for 2 p.m. Thursday, July 24, in the church’s multi-purpose building.
A two-day conference on “What to do when a loved one dies” is set for July 31 and Aug. 1 in the church’s worship center.
“It puts our faith and our commitment in the Lord Jesus to helping the people of our community who are facing the horrible diagnosis of Alzheimer’s and then to help those who are dealing with grief,” said Pastor Joe Ratcliff. “Our commitment to the Lord is found in scripture that is then worked out in practice.”
The Alzheimer’s disease awareness conference is a coordinated effort between First Baptist St. Francisville and the Alzheimer’s Services of the Capital Area. The speaker is to be from Senior Care Services of Our Lady of the Lake Hospital in Baton Rouge.
This conference is free and open to the public.
“Many families of the community and church have concerns about this condition and often have no resource to which they may turn for accurate, helpful information,” Ratcliff said. “The plan and purpose of this conference is to provide an accurate description of Alzheimer’s and resources on which to draw while dealing with it.
“Further,” the pastor added, “there is hope that a support group might be formed that will have an ongoing presence to provide help and direction for those who must deal with Alzheimer’s.”
The July 31-Aug. 1 “What do I do when a loved one dies” conference also is open to the public. Its $10 cost includes two lunches. Reservations are requested to ensure adequate seating and food.
“In conversations with both senior adults and other age groups, it seemed that few of them had factual information as to what should be done if a loved one dies, either accidentally or from an illness while under a doctor’s care,” Ratcliff said. “There is much speculation and downright misinformation about the subject.”
Churches are often called on to assist with the crises surrounding a death, so First St. Francisville determined hosting a conference on the topic would be a way it could minister to people throughout the community and beyond, Ratliff said.
“The many questions related to the loss of a loved one are not often discussed, and many people would like answers to some basic inquiries about what they should do,” the pastor said. “If this is well-received, it may become an annual or bi-annual event.”
The two-morning event begins with registration at 9 a.m. each day and first session at 9:30 a.m. Each day’s talks are to conclude with a 12:15 p.m. lunch included in the $10 registration fee.
Topics to be discussed include Talking with the funeral home; Law enforcement during a crisis: The coroner’s responsibility; Grief and how to deal with it; Legal aspects of your estate and possessions; and, Talking with your minister.
Pre-register in person at First St. Francisville during regular weekday business hours (9 a.m. to 4 p.m.) or mailing in your request with payment to First Baptist Church, Attn: What To Do conference, PO Box 1339, St. Francisville LA 70775.
About 300 people attend First St. Francisville, which was established in 1940. It is one of three Southern Baptist churches in West Feliciana Parish, and one of about 22 congregations in the William Wallace Baptist Association, where Joe Baugh is director of missions.
First St. Francisville cooperates in a community food pantry and clothes closet, and with Families in Need of Assistance, a multifaceted service organization. The church began a day care last August for about 70 youngsters that is almost to the point of self-sustaining, the pastor said.
“We have a very strong youth program that goes beyond our church,” Ratcliff said. Kevin Cheatham is youth minister; the church hosts a community-wide end-of-year youth event.
“I just stand in awe at what God is doing,” Ratcliff said. “I’m just glad to be along for the ride; it’s marvelous and it’s been 14 years.
“We just had an enormous VBS,” the pastor continued. “People took personal time, vacation time, from the plant where they work, or they’ll swap out shift time. I’ve never seen anything like it.”
Men and women in equal numbers – about 130 in all – helped with the daytime VBS June 1-6 that was attended by about 250 youngsters.
“Every year for the last 10 to 12 years, five other churches have benefited by getting the left-over materials, the decorations,” Ratcliff said. “As soon as we finish, we organize the stuff and ship it to the other churches, at no cost to them.”
First St. Francisville budgets $10,000 for VBS, the pastor said.
“It’s money that’s multiplied at five other churches,” Ratcliff said. “That’s the spirit in this church family. I stand in awe every time we do something.”
Northwest Louisiana Baptist Association
MOORINGSPORT – A community center, downtown storage building and family home were renovated by 22 youth and 17 adults during Mooringsport Baptist’s recent RAM Week.
Started six years ago, the annual event with an acronym that stands for Reaching Across Mooringsport is a local take-off on World Changers, during which teens help rehabilitate a neighborhood, explained Kevin Taylor, pastor at Mooringsport Baptist for the last 18 months. World Changers is a program developed by the Southern Baptist Convention’s North American Mission Board. Churches that are a part of the Louisiana Baptist Convention also are a part of the SBC.
World Changers are to work in 96 cities this summer, including Shreveport, Baton Rouge and Kenner. Read in the July 17 issue of the Message an article about World Changers in Baton Rouge and Kenner.
“It helps them understand what missions is all about, what giving is all about,” Taylor said about RAM Week. “It reinforces the Cooperative Program because of that. They learn that this is what mission work all around the world is about.”
The Cooperative Program is the way Southern Baptists pool mission dollars for maximum effectiveness in the state convention and around the world.
“They learn how the one thing leads to another,” the pastor continued, referring to how helping people opens doors to witnessing opportunities. “They learn the importance of cooperating, giving and working together.”
In the months before RAM week each year, church leaders at Mooringsport Baptist determine which projects the teens and their adult helpers can accomplish in the allocated time frame. At the same time, the youth are raising money for expenses.
“The church doesn’t have a budget for RAM Week,” Taylor said. “The youth pay for everything – all materials, everything – with their fundraising.”
An auction each year helps; this year’s brought in about $3,000. A special offering on RAM Week Sunday this year brought in another $1,700.
Three projects were completed this year, and with time left over, the teens took on two additional smaller projects.
• A building used as a library and by the local Council on Aging needed replacement of flooring joists as well as some exterior wood, plus painting the entire exterior – which also involved scraping off old paint.
• A 1,600-square-foot, 15-feet-high, city-owned building used to store heavy equipment near downtown Mooringsport that had no paint left on it was painted for no other reason than to spruce up the downtown area.
• The exterior of a home of a family beset with health issues was stripped of its peeling paint, and what was left was scraped, before it was primed and repainted, and wood skirting was added.
“It was a total difference between night and day, what we did there,” Taylor said. “All the buildings, they look like brand new buildings.”
Work took place between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m. Monday through Thursday. When the crews were done by noon Thursday, they ate lunch and then tackled two additional projects: sprucing up a local cemetery and the church’s prayer garden.
Friday morning they went to Magic Mountain in Hot Springs, Ark., for an overnight fun trip.
During the week they had stayed at Camp Bethany, where Jeremy Carlton, a youth pastor in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., preached and Aaron Watson led in worship. Watson also is to lead worship during Camp Bethany’s two weeks of Fuego in July.
Between the work and the worship, at least two teens made professions of faith this year.
RAM Week started Sunday, June 21, with Carlton preaching during the Sunday morning worship service. Dinner on the grounds followed.
The work teams then drove to each of the major project sites and prayed over them before going out to Camp Bethany, where, during each night’s worship service, the youth took up an offering that totaled $170 by week’s end. It was symbolically presented to the pastor during the June 28 morning worship service, for the new roof the church needs.
“RAM Week shows what worship is all about,” Pastor Taylor said. “It’s putting feet to our prayers.”
About 110 people worship each Sunday at Mooringsport Baptist. They give 10 percent of undesignated offerings to missions through the Cooperative Program, plus more for the work of Northwest Baptist Association.