The Witness
Volume 40, Issue 8
February 23, 2022
“If the world hates you, be aware that it hated me before it hated you. If you belonged to the world, the world would love you as its own. Because you do not belong to the world, but I have chosen you out of the world—therefore the world hates you (John 15:18-19).”

What is it that makes you distinct from everyone else? For most of my life, one of the distinctions for which I am best known is my height. I have been asked my whole life: How tall are you? Why are you so tall? How did you get so tall? Do you play basketball? How’s the weather up there? Though I pale in comparison to the height of college and professional basketball players, being tall has always been one of my distinguishing features. After 15 years of vocational ministry, rather than just being “the tall guy,” I am referred to by some as “that tall preacher.”

What are the things that make you distinct from everyone else? Maybe it is your physical appearance—your height, hair style, or fashion choices? Maybe it is a favorite hobby or talent—you are a woodworker, golfer, artist, reader, or musician. Maybe it is the college you attended or root for—you are a Hokie or Hoo, Blue Devil, Tarheel, or Wolfpack. Maybe it is your profession—you are a mechanic or doctor, small business owner or lawyer, police officer or fire fighter, real estate agent or teacher. Maybe one of your most distinguishing characteristics is a certain behavior—you are a talker or listener, helper or giver. What is it that makes you distinct?

For the earliest Christians, their distinguishing characteristic above all else was connected to their faith in Christ. In fact, the term Christian was coined by outsiders, not followers of Christ. According to Luke, “It was at Antioch that the disciples were first called ‘Christians’ (Acts 11:26).” The quality that separated them from everyone else, that which made them distinct, was their commitment to the way of Christ. The term “Christian” became the single, defining feature of those who consistently professed the name of Jesus, worshipped Jesus, cared for others like Jesus, and confidently faced persecution and death through their faith in Jesus and trust in his promises.

It was this distinction—living in the world, while not being of the world—that not only changed the lives of Christians, but eventually, transformed the entire Roman Empire as the Emperor Constantine declared Christianity to be Rome’s national religion. As helpful as Constantine’s edict was to converting the Roman Empire into a Christian nation, there were also some downfalls. One in particular was the way Christianity became an official religion, rather than an unofficial way of life. For the earliest Christians, their faith in Christ was not just some internal belief they held; it was a lifestyle they prioritized over all other physical, social, vocational, cultural, political, and national distinctions. It demanded their allegiance and loyalty over all other attachments to the world; it formed their identity, governed their decisions, and determined their purpose above all else. As a result, the world referred to this group with a distinct name that encompassed everything about them that set them apart–Christianos, which literally means “little Christs.”

The early survival of the Jesus movement was dependent upon the distinctiveness of his followers to live in a way that was different from everyone else. They could not claim the name of Jesus, yet continue to live within the same life patterns and rhythms as every other Roman citizen. Their belief in Jesus did not change the world; it was the radical way of life they chose to live in response to that belief that transformed a polytheistic Roman world. The power of the gospel is just as strong today as it was then. God’s Spirit is just as active in our world today as it was then. The challenges of today are no greater than they were then. The question is, will Christians be as distinct today as they were then? Are Christians today willing to completely change their life patterns and decisions in response to the gospel? Will our identity in Christ be prioritized over all other social, vocational, cultural, political, and national distinctions?

What is it that makes you distinct from everyone else? What is it that needs to change in order for your identity in Christ to be your most distinguishing characteristic? 
-- Travis
This Sunday, February 27th
We're excited to welcome Cooperative Baptist Fellowship Field Personnel Joshua & Jessica Hearne and their daughter, Lucia, this Sunday for a focus on missions. They serve in Danville, VA alongside Grace and Main Fellowship, an intentional Christian community practicing radical hospitality and shared life with people experiencing homelessness, hunger, addiction, food and housing insecurity, and injustice. Jessica manages Grace and Main’s Urban Farm and Tool Library, which provide fresh food, gardening education, and free access to tools for people living in their neighborhoods. Jessica will be bringing this Sunday's message, "A Place to Stay," based in Genesis 18:1-15. We hope you'll join us to learn more about their work.

The Youth Choir will also perform at both morning worship services this Sunday.

Our Sonshine (3-4 year olds) and Cherub (K-2nd grades) children's choirs will sing at the 11:00 AM service, as well. If your child is participating in the service, please plan on meeting in the Children's Worship room at 10:45 AM.
Wednesday Night Activities
Tonight is the last night of our Spiritual Disciplines in the Narrative of Joseph study, and we will discuss the discipline of service. Our scripture is Genesis 49:28 - 50:26. Click here for tonight's study notes. Prayer service and study begin at 6:15 PM.

Children's choirs and adult choir rehearsals will also continue tonight, as usual.
Please note: next Wednesday, March 2nd is Ash Wednesday. There will be no dinner or any other activities. We will offer an Ashes-to-Go event similar to last year, where you can drive through between 5:00 and 7:00 PM and receive the imposition of ashes, as well as a Lenten devotional item. We hope that you will join us for this COVID friendly observance of Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent.
Thrive Student Ministry
Youth Volleyball: our first practice is this Sunday, February 27th. We plan to have two teams. Middle school practice will be from 1:00 until 2:30 PM. High school practice will be 1:30 - 3:00 PM. We will practice on Sundays through mid-May, and games will be on Thursday evenings beginning March 17th. Come out and join us!!
Winter Jam '22: CANCELED! We were scheduled to go to Winter Jam at the Berglund Center this Sunday night, but it has been canceled "due to unforeseen circumstances." Instead, we'll be on our usual Sunday evening schedule with Youth Praise Band, Youth Choir, Snack Supper, and Extreme.
Snow Tubing at Wintergreen: on March 5th we plan to go snow tubing. We'll be leaving the church parking lot at 8:30 AM. Cost is $24; bring money for lunch. TODAY is the deadline to sign up (we must purchase tickets in advance).
DNOW: a weekend of missions and discipleship April 8th - 10th. Our speakers are Kaidyn Settles and Deed Murphey; the Brian Gardner Band will be our music for the weekend. Sign up by March 15th. Cost is $60/person.
Summer Camp: Week of Hope June 26th - July 1st in Charleston, SC. Sign up by March 13th with a $100 deposit.
Preteens Meet this Sunday
Preteens, meet at 4:00 PM in the Welcome Center, and we will wrap up at 5:30 PM. We will be walking through the Stations of the Cross this Sunday. Parents, be on the lookout for an email with additional info!
Walk with Jesus Class
Our spring Walk with Jesus class begins March 6th during the Sunday School hour and is geared for kids in 3rd - 5th grades. Please register with Sarah by this Sunday, February 27th if your child is planning to attend so that we can arrange to have class materials in time.
JOY Seniors
Check out the 2022 JOY Seniors brochure, listing all the planned events for this year. It is now available at the JOY Seniors table in the Welcome Center.

Happy Hearts will be offering a spring/Easter wreath make-and-take project Tuesday, March 15th, 10:00 AM - 12:00 PM in the small dining room. Please sign up at the JOY Seniors table. The cost is $10 to cover supplies. There will be a limit of 20 participants, so be sure to sign up early and reserve your spot. A completed wreath is on display on the bulletin board above the JOY Seniors table.

Mark your calendars for Saturday, March 19th and join the JOY Seniors for an Abbott bus trip to the Highland Maple Festival. Cost of the trip is $80 and includes breakfast. Join us for a day of fun and fellowship.
Youth Choir Mission Tour
The Youth Choir will tour their way to Kennedy Space Center in Merritt Island, FL June 4th-9th. Because of successful fundraisers in 2019-20 and earlier this year, the cost will be $200 per participant (the lowest cost in more than 15 years). All participants need to sign up in the choir room, indicating their interest in going on the tour. Payment can be made in full at one time or $100 due on March 6 and $100 on April 3 (the deadline to sign up). Itineraries and permission forms will be available May 1.
Passport Kids' Camp registration is underway! Camp will take place June 15 - 18 at Eagle Eyrie in Lynchburg. Register your child by March 27th by completing a registration form (click here or find a copy in the church office) and submitting a $100 camp deposit. Questions? Contact Sarah Hurt.
Jean McGuire
923 Chestnut Mountain Drive
Vinton VA 24179-1715
Thank you to the Dorcas Class for their donation to snacks for Boys & Girls Club.
Christian sympathy is extended to Shannon & Jason McCulloch and family in the unexpected death of her brother, Josh Reasor.
Disciples' Sunday School Class
Please note: the Disciples' Class is currently meeting in room 115 (the Pete Creasy classroom) each Sunday morning for Sunday School for the foreseeable future. If you do not already have a Sunday School class, you are welcome to join us!
The Dr. Charlie J. Lovelace, III
Memorial College Scholarship
Attention: High School Seniors! Applications are now being accepted for the Lovelace Scholarship, which is given annually to a graduating senior who is a member of Vinton Baptist Church and who will be attending a four-year college or university. The $1,000 scholarship is awarded for the student's first year of school. Applications are available in the church office, at WBHS, or by clicking here. Completed applications must be returned to the church office no later than Monday, April 11, 2022.
Children's Worship & Nursery Volunteers
We need volunteers for Children's Worship and for open spots in our Nursery. We have combined those open volunteer positions into one sign-up sheet. Please consider helping us in these crucial ministries. Click here to sign up (dates available through the end of March). Thanks for serving!
Blessing Box
Following are items that we could really use for the Blessing Box: Hamburger Helper (any kind), toilet paper, paper towels, Manwich, canned chicken & dumplings, canned Chef Boyardee (any kind), potted meat, juice box drinks (any flavor). Please note that the Blessing Box is fully funded by donations only; it is not part of the Food Pantry, nor does it share the Food Pantry's budget. Please bring Blessing Box donations to the Welcome Center and place them in the appropriate container; please do not put items directly in the Blessing Box. The Blessing Box is restocked three times per week, and community members are utilizing it on a regular basis. Thanks so much for your support!
Pillow Mission
Our next mission project is for children who are going through difficult situations requiring police involvement. We will be making pillows or fleece throws that officers can use as gifts to comfort children. You can help from home, or we can work in groups at the church if there is enough interest. You can help in many different ways: sew pillows, hand tie fleece blankets, provide materials, or give monetarily for materials. We plan to get this project going in March, so stay tuned for more details. If you have questions, please see Whitney Russell or Laura Lea Harris. "...[W]hatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me." (Matthew 25:40)
Snacks Needed
Boys & Girls Club is once again in need of snacks. They need non-perishable, single serve items that do NOT include nuts of any kind. Please drop off your donations in the "Boys & Girls Club" bin at the Missions Tables. Thank you!
Special thanks to
the Special Friends
class for their
generous donation
to the Food Pantry!
Dear Vinton Baptist Church Family,
We can't begin to tell you how much the beautiful flowers and all the acts of kindness during Doris' passing meant to our family. Your love, support, and remembrances are greatly appreciated.
With love & gratitude, Richard Maxey & Family
We would like to express our sincere thanks to our Vinton Baptist Church family for all the cards, calls, visits, and food shared with us in the passing of our brother, Wayne Pennington. Your kindness means a great deal in our grief. God bless you.
Judy & Hootie Kelley and Staley & Carolyn Pennington and Families