Rev. Don Ellis with the Lord

Rev. Don Ellis went home to be with the Lord on January 17, after a long illness. He was a faithful minister for many years, pastoring many churches in Texas and several other states. He served two separate pastoral terms in Henderson, first from 1956 to 1962, and again from 1979 to 1992. He was a man of intense faith and biblical wisdom. Missionary Bud Bivens recalls, “I remember Brother Don, fresh out of FWBBC, had a new ’55 red &white DeSoto and he told my dad that it was a graduation gift, but he could not drive it in good conscience since it was bought with money from tobacco farming.” Rev Ellis was always a source of encouragement. As Steven Shotzman, former pastor of First FWB Carthage puts it, “Rev. Ellis was a friend to anyone who needed a friend, and he was a pastor to the pastors.” I found that to be true in my own life. Not only did I learn a lot from him during the many funerals we co-officiated, I also benefited from from our many phone conversations and lunch dates. He will be missed. Brother Don’s obituary can be read below. Please feel free to share a memory in the comments.

Don Ellis

William Donald Ellis, 87, of Fairfield, TX formerly of Longview, TX, passed away on Wednesday morning, Jan. 17, 2018, at his daughter’s home in Fairfield. He was born on Jan. 2, 1931, in Montgomery County, TN to the late William Robert and Alice Gertrude Gower Ellis. He graduated from Coopertown High School in Coopertown, TN with the class of 1949, and attended Welch College in Nashville, TN and served as a minister his entire life. He married Emma Elizabeth Johnson on Sept. 4, 1954, in Greenville, TN and she preceded him in death on Feb. 16, 2000. Mr. Ellis moved to Fairfield three years ago from Longview. He was a member of First Free Will Baptist Church in Carthage. Mr. Ellis was preceded in death by his parents; wife; brother, Bobby Ray Ellis; and son, Donald Jewel Ellis.

Survivors include his son, Jonathan David Ellis and wife Cheryl of Winona, TX; daughters, Sheila Elizabeth James of Beaumont, TX, Marla Marie Walker and husband Bob of Cedar Hill, TN, and Wendy Sue Andrews and husband Bill of Fairfield, TX; brothers, Robert Bell Ellis of Coopertown, TN, Mac Welbur Ellis of Pleasant View, TN, Joe Bailey Ellis and wife Jeri of Nashville, TN, and Jewel Ellis and wife Frances of Carthage, TX; sisters, Esterlene Barnett of Chapmansboro, TN, Marjorie June Crutcher and husband Stanley of Coopertown, Evangeline Clinard and husband Walter of Cedar Hill, Mary Dimple Balthrop and husband Clyde of Cedar Hill, and Bonnie Faye Balthrop and husband William of Chapmansboro; 10 grandchildren; and 27 great-grandchildren.

A funeral service will be held at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018, at Jimerson-Lipsey Funeral Home Chapel (1131 State Highway 149, Carthage, Texas 75633) with Bro. Mike Fields and Bro. Shane King officiating. The family will receive friends from 5-7 p.m. on Friday at the funeral home. Interment will be in Heads Cemetery in Roberson County, TN.

A guestbook may be signed online at www.jimerson-lipsey.com.

Happy Thanksgiving

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Psalm 100

Make a joyful noise unto the Lord, all ye lands.

Serve the Lord with gladness: come before his presence with singing.

Know ye that the Lord he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name.

For the Lord is good; his mercy is everlasting; and his truth endureth to all generations.

PULP1T Magazine Debuts

One Magazine Publishes Special Issue for Pastors

by Mark Headrick (First, Henderson)

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In October, a new Free Will Baptist publication arrived in pastors’ mailboxes across the denomination. Pulpit Magazine (stylized PULP1T) made its debut thanks to a grant from the Free Will Baptist Foundation. With articles like, “Red, Yellow, Black & White: A Christian Examination of Racism,” “For the Sake of the Gospel: Leaving Prejudice at the Cross,” and “Willis Bryant Was Cherokee: Overcoming Racism to Bring the Gospel to Southwest Oklahoma,” it is clear Pulpit has no intention of tiptoeing around the issues.

I interviewed Editor Eric Thomsen about the magazine and its bold content.

What was the inspiration behind the creation of Pulpit Magazine?

I have long been burdened with the need to provide a free, top-quality magazine for Free Will Baptist pastors. Pastoring is never an easy job, and the complex issues raised constantly by our postmodern culture make it even more challenging.

In recent days, the denomination has expressed concern about church revitalization. I am convinced one of the keys to revitalization is encouraging and inspiring pastors who have become weighed down, even paralyzed at times, by the cares and concerns of ministry. I see this magazine as an excellent vehicle to encourage, support, and equip pastors. Our congregations will benefit as the direct result of a refreshed and inspired pastor armed with new ideas and vision. And the health of our pastors and local churches will determine the health of our denomination.

This publication was made possible through a grant from the Free Will Baptist Foundation. Did the grant cover just this first issue, or the entire run?

I am grateful to the Foundation for the grant that made the first issue possible. For now, PULP1T truly will be periodical—once, perhaps twice a year, depending on funding. I would like to see the frequency increase, however.

Kudos on the subject matter. As a pastor who has taken much heat for speaking out against racism, I am thankful to hear what I have been preaching coming from other denominational leaders. What made you decide to tackle this issue right out of the gate?

The subject has been in the works since Tom McCullough spoke on racism at the 2015 national convention. His humble call to acknowledge, confront, and lay aside racism for the sake of the gospel struck a chord deep within me. While Free Will Baptists have a rich history of standing up for the rights of the oppressed, it is crucial that each new generation continue to look within, to ruthlessly root out any vestige of prejudice that would hinder the work of the gospel. Before I ever requested a grant to fund the first issue of PULP1T, I had identified this subject as the topic for the first issue. Interestingly, my deadline for writers fell the week after the horrific events in Charlottesville thrust the subject of race back into the national headlines. As usual, God’s timing is impeccable.

At any point in the process, was there any hesitation to devote this issue to racism?

None. I submit humbly that Scripture speaks clearly regarding racism. It’s sin. It should have no place in the heart and life of any believer. Yet, as fallen beings, we all need to be reminded on a regular basis—as Tom McCullough said so eloquently—“God cares nothing about the color of a man’s skin but about the condition of his heart.” I am grateful for writers, pastors, and church members who share the truths of God’s Word openly, fairly, and without apology, even when the subject is controversial. When dark topics are brought from the shadows into the light and discussed openly, God can heal the festering wounds of sin.

If any Texas pastors did not receive their first issue, how can they get one?

PULP1T magazine is free for any pastor or church leader who would like to receive it. Simply email editor@nafwb.org or call the Executive Office at 877-767-7659 to be added to the mailing list. An online edition will be added to onemagazine.com and fwbpastor.com, so articles can be shared beyond the borders of the denomination.

Much thanks to Eric for his hard work and expertise, as well as his bold vision, and his heart for pastors and the denomination. Be sure to request your copy or look online at the other fine articles dealing with Free Will Baptist history, theology, and pastoral health. Drop Eric a note and let him know your thoughts.

Brewer’s Beat

Your Quarterly Update from the State Office Coordinator

by Marcus Brewer

Greetings from the State Office and the Executive Board!

I hope you’re enjoying the onset of fall weather and all the other joys of the autumn season. We’ve had an active period the last three months, in large part due to Hurricane Harvey and its aftermath. Our Texas Free Will Baptist churches were fortunate, in that most escaped any noticeable damage to their buildings and property and the few that were damaged were able to readily identify and begin repairs. Based on the reports we received, three churches bore the brunt of the damage we received: Authentic Church (Victoria), Eastside Church (Houston), and Iglesia Bautista Libre (Houston).

  • Authentic Church was in the rare position of not having opened their doors for services yet, as they were nearing completion of their facilities to prepare for their first service. They had to replace their brand-new privacy fence and repair a broken window and some water damage. Despite the difficulties, they were not only able to make repairs, but they were also able to serve as a relief station to distribute water and supplies to other Victoria residents in need…and then they had their first official worship service on Sunday, October 22.
  • Eastside Church had a large amount of water in their building that required replacing much of the flooring and baseboards, but the main sanctuary was undamaged and repairs were initiated quickly. Eastside was then able to donate goods and services to the nearby school in their neighborhood, much of which was inundated by high water for days.
  • Iglesia Bautista Libre also was located in an area in which many people’s homes were affected much more than the church building. They were able to host and coordinate a number of outreach events to their surrounding community to provide clean water, food, and other supplies to those with little to no access to them.

In addition to these churches’ activities, other churches opened their doors and donated their time and resources to help others in need:

  • Woodforest Church (Magnolia) served as a distribution point for trailer-loads of supplies to be sent all across Houston, coordinating with other FWB churches and other ministry and charity organizations both within Texas and out of state. Their members also directly served their community by providing needed supplies and providing labor to help with cleanup and repair efforts.
  • Eagle Heights Church (Richmond) opened their doors to serve as an overnight shelter during the peak of the storm and its aftermath, temporarily housing neighbors and others without shelter for several days until nearby floodwaters receded. Their members also helped in their area with cleanup and repair efforts at nearby homes
  • Collin Creek Church (Plano) quickly established a relief fund to which their members and anyone else could donate online to offset costs of cleanup, repair, and supplies for our churches in need.

You may notice a theme among all of these churches, that they were willing to give of what they had to help others, and much of what they were able to give also came from our other churches across the state. The individual churches mentioned above, as well as the State Office and FWB Master’s Men headquarters (and probably many other sources we’re not aware of), received monetary donations totaling well over $15,000 over just a few weeks. We are so very grateful to each of you who gave of your time, money, and resources to not only help our churches in need but also allow our churches to show the love of Christ to the communities they serve.

Space does not permit a thorough retelling of all that took place in response to Hurricane Harvey, but if you are a subscriber or follower of the Texas Challenge, you have been able to read about many of the above activities in more detail. Mark Headrick has reformatted the Challenge in this website. Links to new articles are posted on the State Association’s Facebook page, and weekly summaries will be sent out through e-mail. If you are not already a subscriber to the Texas Challenge e-mail list, send an e-mail to Mark Headrick at fwbtexaschallenge@gmail.com. (That address is also where you can send news items, photos, and other information about the goings-on in your church and district.)

We have two “Save the Date” items for you to add to your calendars:

  • The 2018 All Boards Meeting will be January 25-27 at Fellowship FWB Church in Bryan. While the purpose of this meeting is for the respective state-level board members to conduct their business, non-board members may also attend some of the discussions and join in the fellowship.
  • The 2018 Texas Youth Conference has been announced for June 13-16 by the Christian Education Board. The conference is slated to take the place of the youth retreat that has been held in April the past few years; more details on the program will be released as they’re finalized.

Finally, it’s been awhile since we’ve shared this reminder: please visit the State Association website at www.texasfwb.org and review your district’s and church’s information in the directory. We’ve had a few items on the website that have been recently reported to be out of date, and it never hurts to double-check that your phone numbers, e-mail addresses, and mailing addresses are current. If you see any information that needs to be changed, please send updates and corrections to me at the State Office.

I hope you all have a great autumn, and as always, you can contact us with any questions at stateoffice@texasfwb.org.

The Best Parent Manual Ever!

by Teressa Voltz (Woodforest, Houston)

When my oldest daughter was about eight or nine months old, she did not like to ride in the car seat. It was always a fight to get her buckled into the seat. Our car seat was a hand-me-down and was made with exposed metal buckles. One day, it was really hot and especially difficult to get her in the car seat. I remember that we struggled through screaming and thrashing around as I finally got her into the seat. She usually would calm down once buckled, but her screaming escalated. At first, I thought she was just hot and irritable, but the screams began to alarm me. When I finally took her back out of the seat, (it was only a few minutes, I promise, but seemed quite longer), she ended up having a third degree burn on the inside of her leg from those exposed buckles. As a parent, I felt like a complete failure. How could I let this happen to my child? How could I have done this to my child?

There are times, as we parent, that we all feel like failures. We ask ourselves, “how could I have done this, or not done that?” Parenting is not easy and all parents have made mistakes. What we need to remember is that even though we will make mistakes, feel discouraged, and sometimes feel grief, we must allow God to guide us and lead us as parents.

I have heard parents say, “I wish my child came with a manual.” Wouldn’t that be great, especially when they are teenagers? While we do not get a manual from the hospital or doctor when we bring our newborn home, we do have a manual, THE manual to follow as our guide. The Bible should always be our go to book when needing guidance with our children. It is so difficult today to raise children in a Christian home in the middle of a secular, evil world. As my husband and I raised our children, I remember hearing from friends and family, “you are too strict,”; “they are going to rebel when they are older,”; “you are being ridiculous.” Were we ridiculous that we did not allow our children to see R-rated movies? Were we ridiculous that we only had one television in our home and it was in the living room? Were we ridiculous that we ate as a family at the dining room table most nights? Were we ridiculous that our children couldn’t go out on a date with just the two of them until they were 16? Were we ridiculous that they couldn’t have a cell phone until they were in high school? Were we ridiculous that we had to meet the parents first before being allowed to a sleepover? Were we ridiculous that we made them change clothes before going out if we didn’t feel they were appropriate? Were we ridiculous that it was the expectation that our children went to church with us? Were we ridiculous that we got our children involved in numerous church/denominational activities? Were we ridiculous that the answer was no many times?

Ridiculous. Maybe in the world’s eyes. But we took our guidance from the Lord. We prayed about every decision and for guidance. We prayed for, with, and beside our children. Did we make mistakes? Of course, often and many. Me burning my child’s leg is just one example of hundreds we made. But we kept our focus on Christ. We didn’t compromise our convictions and the direction we felt God leading us with our children just because others made fun of us and said negative things about our parenting. It wasn’t about being friends with our children when they lived at home. It was about leading and guiding them with the convictions God gave us through the Bible and the Holy Spirit. According to Deuteronomy 6:4-9 (ESV), we are instructed to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul and might and teach this to our children.

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates. Deuteronomy 6:4-9 (ESV)

Did we get discouraged about our parenting skills? Yes. Did we question sometimes if we were doing the right thing or making the right decisions? Yes. Did we get tired of the struggle? Yes. We all do. It’s human nature and it’s Satan filling us with doubt and weariness. It was because of those times of doubt and weariness that we continually made sure that our children knew we loved the Lord no matter what.

Keep your eyes on Jesus. Proverbs 22:6 (ESV) tells us to, “train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.” This doesn’t mean that our children will always make the best decisions and choices, but it does mean that we as parents must do our part as commanded by God. Use the best parenting manual available and continue to pray for God’s guidance as you raise His children. After all, they really aren’t ours, they belong to the Lord.

Carthage Church Holds Revival

The Theme Was “Unified in Christ”

Revival services were held October 15-18, at First Free Will Baptist Church in Carthage. East Texas Pastors shared evangelist duties as they rallied attendees each night around the theme “Unified in Christ.”

Each night featured robust congregational singing, and joyous special music was provided by Carthage’s praise team and various soloists from around the district. Brother Shane King (First, Carthage) was a great host, and his passion was contagious, as he prayed and pleaded with his own congregation and visiting churches to come together as one in Christ.

Dail Andrews (Good Hope, Henderson) preached Sunday night. His message was “Unified in the Lord” from the text 1 Samuel 7:3. Bro. Dail emphasized that effective unity in the body of Christ requires everyone hearing the message, turning to Him, and putting away all idols (anything that takes you away from God). He challenged the congregation to recommit to consistent daily Bible reading  and prayer. It is most important that Christians spend time with the Lord.

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Dail Andrews and Shane King

On Monday, John Voss (Mt. Union, Garrison) delivered a message from 2 Corinthians 4:10, “Let Them See Jesus in You.” Many times the trials and tribulations we endure can cause us to retreat unto ourselves. But Pastor John boldly proclaimed that we should not lose heart in the valleys. Not only does God give you a new heart in salvation and open your eyes in faith, but he calls you into a body of believers who have experienced the same. The unity we experience in Christ becomes an encouragement to all of us.

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John Voss and Bro. Shane

Wade Rector (Buncombe, Carthage) brought the message on Tuesday night. His text was 1 John 4:7, and he preached that the church cannot have unity without love. One cannot have love without God in his life. Every exhortation in Scripture is born out of God’s love for us. Bro. Wade delivered a biblical exhortation for those in attendance to repent of their sins and let Jesus do the changing in their lives.

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Wade Rector, Mark Headrick, Bro. Shane, Bro. John, Lee Rogers

 

 

The revival concluded on Wednesday night with Mark Headrick (First, Henderson) preaching a sermon based on John 17:20-26. Jesus prayed to the Father for the unity of the church. Therefore it is a prayer only God can answer. But if we resist God’s unifying work among believers, we are in rebellion against Him. Bro. Mark exposited though Jesus’s prayer that the church’s unity becomes a living testimony of the gospel as it is outlined in John 3:16. He challenged the congregation to realize when we don’t live in unity with other believers, our message becomes a lie in the eyes of the world.

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Frank Miller, Bro. Mark, Bro. Shane

 

The revival was well attended each night, and all were blessed who came. The week brought a truth and a challenge we will not soon forget, nor must we.  May God continue to revive our hearts.

Midweek Missions Moment

This week, Faron Thebeau checks in to tell us about his new mission work. Faron left the Texas Association to plant a multicultural church in his home state of Missouri. We miss him greatly, but are thrilled by the prospect of great things for which the Lord will use the Thebeaus.

Thirteen years ago I felt the Lord calling me into Hispanic ministry. I had been very content pastoring in Missouri but the pull on my heart was persistent and the Lord began to open doors in Texas. For the last eleven years it has been my privilege to fulfill that call by pastoring Primera Iglesia Bautista Libre in Weslaco, Tx. When I arrived in Weslaco, I did not fully understand the molding that God would have to work on my heart. I had been diligent to prepare myself to speak the language but I had not understood that I would have to learn a new culture as well. I learned the language very quickly, but learning the culture was a long but fruitful process.

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I feel very blessed to have spent the last eleven years in the Rio Grande Valley. The impact on my life has been tremendous. I met my wife while I was there and God gave me my children. In addition to these obvious changes, God began to change the way I view culture. It is only now looking back that I can see God was preparing me for the next step in my ministry.

Culture is a hot button issue in our society. It seems that not a day can go by without hearing of some disturbance between generations and races. Indeed, it seems like there is no end in sight to these tensions as each side becomes more entrenched in their view each day. This has a detrimental effect on the church as it serves to introduce schisms in the body of Christ. Martin Luther King Jr. observed many years ago that the most segregated hour in the United States of America is 11:00 a.m. on Sunday morning. I cannot help but feel like Satan is pleased by this division.

It is for this reason that I have felt the call to plant a multicultural church. I was contacted by the Missouri State Mission Board about the possibility of planting such a work in Rolla, Mo. Rolla is a small town with a population of slightly less that 20,000 but it has the highest percentage of foreign born residents in the state of Missouri. This is mainly due to Missouri Science and Technical college that calls Rolla its home. It is amazing to see the amount of diversity in such a small town. On Labor Day I took our kids swimming at the local pool and while we ate lunch, speaking Spanish at one table, the tables on either side of us were speaking Chinese and Arabic. There are many good churches in Rolla but none that has successfully evangelized the diverse foreign population. This is what Abi and I feel called to do.

We plan to use our experience in ministering among two distinct cultures and apply it to learn to minister among the diverse population here. We have chosen the name Mosaic for our church as we hope to take the many distinct backgrounds and blend them together to raise one voice of praise to Jesus. Only in Him will we find true unity. We held our first meeting of the launch team last week and had an initial commitment of fifteen people. Among them were a Guatemalan family, a Philippine, a Mexican, and a young lady who works at the college as a liaison to foreign embassies in order to recruit foreign students. We thank God for this blessing and ask for your prayers as we continue to work to meeting the burden God has placed upon our hearts.

Mosaic

Clyde Gillentine Honored

Celebrating 54 years of service to Free Will Baptist churches

by Marcus Brewer (Fellowship, Bryan)

On Sunday, October 15, the congregation at Collin Creek Church (Plano) had their annual celebration of Pastor Appreciation Day, but this was a bit different than their typical festivities. In addition to acknowledgements to Senior Pastor Robert Posner and Student Pastor Baxter Horton, this year Collin Creek featured and honored Clyde Gillentine, who has served as an Associate Pastor and an advisor at the church since it opened in 1990. After a Scripture reading, prayer, and songs, the unique program of the day opened with a video montage of a collection of family and church photos highlighting some of the events in Clyde’s life and ministry, featuring many images with his wife Marie and their children and grandchildren. Matthew Gillentine, Clyde’s youngest son, gave a testimony from the family’s perspective, describing a number of favorite memories, intertwining ministry activities with family history and recalling some of the people who influenced Clyde and, by extension, the rest of the family.

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Dr. Tim Eaton, president of Randall University, provided comments that recalled Clyde’s service to what was then known as Hillsdale FWB College, going back further to his student days when the school was known as Oklahoma Bible College. Bro. Clyde was an accomplished student, graduating magna cum laude with an Associate of Arts degree and the highest GPA in his class in 1969. He continued that success at Free Will Baptist Bible College, finishing his Bachelor of Arts in 1971, also magna cum laude with the highest GPA in his class. He always remained close to Hillsdale over the years, twice serving as a member of the Hillsdale Board of Trustees as the representative from Texas.

Following another time of Scripture reading and songs, Marcus Brewer offered some thoughts on Clyde’s ministry from the perspective of the Texas State Association. Clyde served as pastor, associate pastor, or interim pastor of eight different churches in Texas (mostly in a bivocational role) and two more in Oklahoma. Clyde was also a church planter, starting a mission church in Mesquite shortly after graduating from FWBBC in 1971. Clyde has also served in a variety of roles in the Texas Association and the West Fork District Association. As part of his terms as Hillsdale Trustee he was also a member of the Executive Board in Texas, and he has served on a variety of other boards and committees as well. In the West Fork District, he has served as moderator twice, promotional secretary/clerk twice, and various times on the Christian Education Board, the District Home Missions Board, and the Credentials Committee. In all of those roles, he provided valuable contributions to the ministry of Free Will Baptists in Texas.

To close the main portion of the service, Robert Posner shared remarks about the consistency and faithfulness of Clyde, as well as Marie, in serving the Lord in whatever ministry that He called them to. Clyde and Marie have touched many lives in their 54 years of ministry to Free Will Baptists and serve as an example for each of us to follow in being committed to serving the Lord, not just in a local church, but in any role that we can fill in the service of the Kingdom of God.

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In the final portion of the service, Clyde and Marie were presented with a pair of panels displaying Matthew 6:33 and John 3:16, surrounded by thoughts and well-wishes from those in attendance. Attendees were also invited to share memories and written comments and encouragements. The service closed with two songs performed by Bro. Clyde with friends and family, followed by a fellowship meal. It was a great day to celebrate the lifelong ministry of a faithful servant.

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