A community church in North Andover, Massachusetts

Posts by Rev. Rob Branch

Easter 2021

Thine is the glory,
Risen conquering Son!
Endless is thy victory
Thou o’er death has won!

In the spring we see plants coming back to life with new green growth, and flowers, and the sweet scents of warmer air and sun. We see the birds and woodland critters becoming more active, some even after an entire winter’s sleep.

Out Of My Mind – March 2021

I write this on the morning of February 12, the coldest day so far this winter, and if the weather prognosticators are accurate, we’re right in the middle of a series of “snow events,” three in the last nine days and three more coming in about as much time. I have to keep reminding myself that spring begins officially on March 20. And reminding myself and reminding myself. I have to admit, I will be relieved when the season of “snow events” is over until next winter.

Out Of My Mind – February 2021

I probably said this last year, but I think it bears repeating: Ground Hog Day should be a national holiday. I’ve thought that since I first started reading the comic strip “Pogo,” when I was nine or so. (Yeah, I’m REALLY dating myself.) Just to have a holiday for no specific purpose except to celebrate a grumpy rodent waking up. And I’m sure the idea will never fly.

Christmas 2020

A year ago, who would have thought we would be where we are today? There is no question that the Covid 19 pandemic and subsequent lock-downs have changed our lives dramatically and not always for the better. I suppose we must obey the “powers that be” in these matters, but I have to admit, Advent services without singing is hard. And I am sure that everyone will have at least one uncomfortable memory of these days.

That’s the bad news, and enough of it, because Christmas is about good news.

Out Of My Mind – December 2020

As we approach the season of Advent this year, with so many unexpected and terribly disrupted events, it might be good for us to think back 2000 years to that first Christmas, when Jesus was born. With all our political turmoil (as I write this mid-November, the election is still in the courts) and unanswered questions about the virus, maybe some perspective could help, I hope.

Out Of My Mind – September 2020

Let me tell you about 1968, the year I turned 20. In January, the U.S.S. Pueblo was captured by the North Koreans. In April, Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated. In June Bobby Kennedy was assassinated. With August came the tumultuous Democrat National Convention in my home town with a mayor telling the police “Shoot to kill!” With November came the election of Richard Nixon to the Presidency of the United States. Through it all, anti-war demonstrations and riots. And besides, that dreadful year would never end. 1969 could never be rung in, because Guy Lombardo had died, and what is New Year’s Eve without his orchestra playing “Auld Lang Syne”?

Out Of My Mind – June 2020

I write this on May 12, a couple of days before my first anniversary as your interim, and I’m astonished how things have changed in the course of 12 short months. Perhaps, more accurately, the last three short months. Let me try to review this last year a bit, and then offer some conjectures about the future.

Out Of My Mind – May 2020

In times of tumult, we want to encourage each other, and to pray with and for each other, even if we cannot be together physically. As suggested earlier: write, e-mail, phone other members of the church and please contact me in need. Stay in touch.

Out Of My Mind – March 2020

I write this the day before our second retreat, so any observations about that gathering will of necessity be expressed at board and committee meetings directly.

I’ve never cared much for the month of March. It’s neither winter nor spring. It’s mostly marked by cold dampness and mud. If somehow we could send March to Siberia, everyone would win: we wouldn’t miss it, they wouldn’t notice it and they have an extra 31 days. I guess that’s why I’m not in charge of weather or calendars.

Out Of My Mind – February 2020

As I write this, the church has not held its Annual Meeting, so any comments on that will have to be shared at board and committee meetings directly. Some very positive things have been afoot leading up to the meeting, which is all good.

Now to February. Beside all our regular activities, there are two matters in the life of FCBC taking place in February, and I want to point them out, asking you to mark your calendars.

Out of My Mind – January 2020

Twenty-twenty? Is it possible. Of course, all year long, we’re going to be hearing all kinds of corny pun and jokes about “seeing clearly” etc., etc. “Oh oh! Look look! 2020.”

A new year always brings with it hopes and expectations for each of and as a church.

One hope we have as a church is that God will continue to guide the Search Committee in the process they have begun to seek a new settled pastor. We should be praying for them as constantly as we can. The Bible tells us to “Pray without ceasing,” and that principle should be foremost in our hearts and minds as we make this journey with the committee.

Out Of My Mind – Christmas 2019

No doubt this is the busiest time of year inside the church and out. What with preparations for Christmas, shopping, family gatherings, and other activities, it’s easy to forget WHO we are celebrating. The baby in the manger is easy to overlook, and that it too bad. How can we keep Jesus’ birth front and center in our minds and hearts this time of year? Here are a few suggestions coming right out of our church calendar.

Out Of My Mind – November News

I write this on October 9, so some of the following will be guesses, educated or otherwise. A few matters are already happening or have already happened, so I’ll start with them.

The biggest news in our church since our last Open Door newsletter is the election of officers by the Pastoral Search Committee. They are planning their first regular meeting on Wednesday, October 16, so please keep that date and meeting in prayer.

Their deliberations for the entire process will be guided by a sort of manual created to help churches seek and find settled pastors. So, again please pray that God will give the committee members the insights they’ll need to work together for the church.

Out Of My Mind – New Beginnings

The biggest news in the life of our church recently is the election of our Pastoral Search Committee.

It was interesting to see First-Calvary at work striving to perceive the Holy Spirit’s direction through the election process. Some expressed concern that it seemed a bit heated at times, but we want to remember that as Baptists we believe that the Holy Spirit often speaks most clearly in the struggle.

I want to specifically thank the Nominating Committee for their diligence and hard work in identifying seven members who said they would serve, if elected, and the Moderator who ran the meeting coolly and carefully. Also thanks to all the members and friends who were there and let their voices be heard.

Searching for a new settled pastor needs to be thorough and deliberate. The committee will need the ideas and thoughts of all our members and friends as they go forward. Most of all, they will need our prayers of support and encouragement. There is a sense that God has chosen them to steer the future of this church, so our prayers for them are also for First-Calvary.

Out Of My Mind – The New Church Year

It has been a summer of getting to know each other, travel, worship and planning. It has been my pleasure to serve as your interim part time pastor since last May, and now, with autumn almost upon us, I’ll have the opportunity to serve you full time, beginning Sept. 1.

I write this at the end of the first full week of August, so some plans are still to be made, but there are other ministries which are definitely in the works, with only specific times and places need to be set.

The Deacons have asked that the weekly Bible study be continued, and I look forward to leading that, if the participants approve. Choir will be starting up this month. The different groups in the church will be beginning their fall schedules. Look in the Open Door newsletter and in the Sunday bulletins for times, dates and locations.

Out Of My Mind

How good and pleasant it is when kindred live together in unity!

Psalm 133:1

First, I just want to say “Hello.” It’s a joy to be with the people of First-Calvary Baptist Church as together we begin this significant time of transition.