The Local Church


The Emmanuel Baptist Church of Williamsport, PA, just celebrated its 60th Anniversary on November 1, 2015.  I write about it today because of the need to persevere in the ministry.  We each have a ministry in this life. The local church is the base for that ministry to be accomplished.  Dr. G. Blair Hemans, my father, founded the church.

We served there as a family. We grew in the Lord and in sound doctrine. My husband, Carl, and son, Joel, were saved and baptized there.  We were called to full-time ministry there. It was truly a place of growth. Through my Father’s leadership, as he was lead by the Holy Spirit, the church became a place of growth for my family and others.

Just recently, we honored our Veterans on November 11, so I am inserting this short tribute to my father who served as a Chaplain during WWII: “I remember my father as a great man of character and a great man of God, a pastor of pastors! [Many Pastors in the area came for counseling.]….I remember my father on his knees beside his bed praying and our time of family devotions before going off to school….He served the Lord faithfully, preaching and teaching God’s Word….He faithfully visited and gave out God’s Word and always encouraged others to do what was right, to be faithful….He was very patriotic and served as a chaplain in World War II. Also, he taught in the Reserves until he died….On every special occasion, he flew the American flag in front of our home. He loved his country….I know he loved me and always wanted me to serve the Lord with all my heart! What a reunion we will have in Heaven! These are just a few reflections of a life dedicated to The Lord!  –Excerpts from ‘Reflections’ by my sister, Lydabelle Barrett (Missionary to Brazil), June 2014.”

In the local church we are to receive sound doctrine that we might grow thereby. To have correct biblical growth one must be taught sound doctrine.  One of the many duties of the pastor is given in 1 Timothy 4:6: “If thou put the brethren in remembrance of these things, thou shalt be a good minister of Jesus Christ, nourished up in the words of faith and of good doctrine, whereunto thou hast attained.” The entire chapter deals with many aspects of the total local church family.  Please take a moment to read the chapter.  Much is said about doctrine and the vital role it plays in the life of the Christian. Sound doctrine will keep you from wandering all over the vast field of false beliefs.

1 Peter 2:1-5: (1) “Wherefore laying aside all malice, and all guile, and hypocrisies, and envies, and all evil speakings, (2) As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby: (3) If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious. (4) To whom coming, as unto a living stone, disallowed indeed of men, but chosen of God, and precious, (5) Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.” In verse 3: “If so be ye have tasted that the Lord is gracious,” we see noted the graciousness of the Lord.  He has been gracious to the people of Emmanuel Baptist Church in Williamsport, PA. Pastor Everett Bixler and Pastor David Bixler and their families have faithfully carried on the torch at Emmanuel.

I am thankful that my family still continues in ministry at Tabernacle Baptist Church, Virginia Beach, VA. We have sound doctrinal preaching, and we hear the full “counsel of God” from the pulpit.  It is impossible to overstate the value of the local church and sound doctrine in the Christian life.  Ephesians 1:12: “That we should be to the praise of His glory, who first trusted in Christ.”

We were thankful that our son, Joel, and his wife, Jackey, were able to be at Emmanuel’s 60th Anniversary; representing our entire family. Joel was able to say a few words in the morning service and the afternoon service. Also the church skyped an afternoon service from the church in Brazil where Larry and Lydabelle (sister) and their families are serving the Lord ministering to the folks there!

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