Good morning, church family. As I start my comments this morning, several of you have talked about the video messaging that your Shepherds are using as one of different forms of communication so that we can be in closer contact with you. We would appreciate your feedback if you think this is a worthwhile effort for us to continue as we also plan to revise and develop a stronger strategy for communication with this church family.

There’s been a great deal of emphasis over the last few weeks about the financial issues of our church family. On behalf of your Shepherds, I want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for your wonderful generosity in 2023. Our message has been one of encouragement that each of us would look into our hearts and determine how best we could contribute to the causes here at Northside. You did that. Even in the economic uncertainties of 2023, you did that. You were wonderful!

This was not a surprise to the Shepherds and it was certainly not a surprise to me. When Mignon and I first began attending services at Northside many years ago, we were in a Wednesday night class down in the Fellowship Room. As we were preparing for class we heard about one of our members who had developed a chronic illness and had lost his job. One of the Sunday School teachers in the class said that one of the children had commented Sunday that the family had no electricity. As we sat there we realized that this family, living from paycheck to paycheck like so many other families do, had fallen through the cracks.

And as new members, we thought, what will happen next? Will we refer this to a church committee to determine the facts to see if this is someone who is worthy of help from the church? Do we wait for an elder to give some kind of proclamation that this is a good cause? And at that moment, one of the older men in the class stood up, turned toward us, and said, “We need to help this family.” And he picked up a box, and he said, “This is the hat, so to speak, and I’m passing it now.” And we sat there and watched the hearts, the purses, the wallets open on behalf of this family. They saw a brother in need.

There was enough raised that night to be able to help the family get back on firm footing and move forward toward more normalcy in their life. This was a powerful, revealing moment for me, and I have never forgotten it. It showed the very soul of this church family. Your shepherds are grateful for those souls. We are grateful for your soft hearts. We are grateful for your generosity. We are grateful that you have committed yourselves to the ideal that every single member of this church family is valuable and is important.

May God continue to smile upon us. May we continue to work hard as we seek to accomplish God’s vision for God’s kingdom here at Northside.

Jim Martin
From the Shepherds