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First Baptist Church of Winona, TX

FBC Winona News & Updates 10-18-17

Church Family,

I hope you are having a great and blessed week. This will perhaps be my final News & Updates posting. Let me his a few announcements and then give you some info.

TONIGHT will be a meeting for ALL who are interested in participating in the Christmas Musical this year – from 6-6:30 pm. We need to see how many are interested, and what ages (particularly 1st grade-12th grade), to see if there is enough interest, and to what degree, so Bruce and his crew can make plans for this year’s musical.

ALSO TONIGHT – We will be back to complete regular Wednesday night schedule at 6:30 pm. I will be teaching the adults a lesson from James 2:14-26 on faith vs works. I would love to see you here. No choir rehearsal tonight.

SUNDAY will be our 168th Anniversary Celebration, including a meal after morning worship. The church is providing fried chicken, so we just bring sides and desserts to go with that. It will also be my final service with you as Pastor of First Baptist Church of Winona. Thank you so much for all of the kind words and affirmation you have been giving my family and I. We are certainly going to miss you!

SUNDAY NIGHT is the GETBA (Greater East Texas Baptist Association) 9th Annual Meeting and Youth Rally. It will be at Trinity Baptist Church in Longview (Estes Parkway, just south of I-20), beginning at 6pm. Adults and children will be in the sanctuary and youth will be in the youth rally. Our own Cody will be speaking at the youth rally and I will be leading the Annual Meeting.

It’s my understanding that there will be a special called Church Conference on Sunday evening, October 29th, 6pm, for the purposes of electing a Pastor Search Committee.

After this week, I will be taking this blog and using it for more of a personal blog, going forward. At least that’s my plan. You can go to the web address of which all of these posts are listed, and subscribe there if you want to keep up with my personal blog.

I’ve also had quite a few who are on the “Word of the Day” daily Scripture text messages, ask me if I will be continuing to send that after this week. For the time being, I will continue to do that and I will be adding new folks along the way. I may investigate a more efficient way of distributing these text messages going forward.

On Sunday evening, we hired a new Church Secretary! Stephanie Parker is now working part-time as our Church and Financial Secretary. She is learning all of the secretary duties and technology stuff that I’ve been doing and by year end will be doing all of Gary Graham’s responsibilities as Treasurer. She’s learning quick and I know she will do a good job. The church phone number is 903-360-5715 and her e-mail is

As of now, the mass text messages as far as prayer requests and announcements will be discontinued but they are looking into options going forward to resume that.

Be blessed,

Bro. Tony




For anyone interested in participating in this year’s Christmas musical – preschool child, elementary age child, youth or adult – there will be an information meeting on Wednesday, October 18th at 6pm.

Anyone interested NEEDS to be there so the planning staff can know which direction to take this with year’s musical.

This supercedes the previously published schedule in this week’s bulletin.

FBC Winona News & Updates 10-10-17

Christ alone cornerstone
Weak made strong in the Saviour’s love
Through the storm He is Lord
Lord of all

Church Family,

We had an awesome time with the Parent/Child Dedication on Sunday, as 6 families pledged to raise their families according to God’s direction and the church affirmed it. It’s one of the sweetest times we get to experience in worship. The song above really underscores what it is all about.

It was also a bittersweet day for my family as I announced my resignation as Pastor of First Baptist Church of Winona after 9 great years. God has clearly led us to the next step in our journey as I have accepted the call of First Baptist Church of Palestine to be their new Senior Pastor. I will be preaching and teaching the next 2 Sundays and my final service with you will be on Sunday morning, October 22nd, the day of our 168th anniversary dinner. That evening I will have my last Greater East Texas Baptist Association event as moderator/leader of that association – our 2017 annual meeting.

I’ll have more to say later, but I want to thank you for all of the words of encouragement and affirmation during these days, and for the past 9 years. As I said Sunday, you will likely find someone who is a better pastor, a better preacher, but you will not find anyone who loves you more than I do.

This is Homecoming Week for Winona ISD, so I realize that things will be a little crazy at times, like on Wednesday night with the color run and bonfire, but we will still be going full force here on Wednesday night at 6:30 pm. Adults will continue our study of the book of James and have some great worship and prayer time together. All other classes are as scheduled.

Sunday will be a busy day. In addition to regular morning activities, we will have a Trunk or Treat Meeting Sunday afternoon at 3:30 pm as the final tune up for the event on the 28th. We need donations of individual bags of candy to stock the booths and we need volunteers to help with registration, perhaps directing traffic, and just being on the scene to assist. Trunk or Treat is Saturday, October 28th, from 4-6pm, at Winona High School front parking lot.

We will also have a Church Conference at 5:30 pm where we will vote on a new Church Secretary job description as well as a recommendation from Personnel Committee that Stephanie Parker be hired as our new Church Secretary. I’ve been doing some training with her and Gary has as well. I believe she’s going to do a great job.

October 22nd will be the day we celebrate our 168th anniversary as FBC Winona. We will have our annual anniversary luncheon following worship. The church is providing fried chicken. You are asked to help bring sides, salads and desserts.

Danny Thompson has resumed his Sunday evening small group, Winning on the Inside: Facing Trials and Defeating Temptation. It meets at 6pm on Sunday evenings. Youth will be resuming small groups as well very soon. Cody will reveal those details.

Thanks to all who helped paint the inside of the parsonage. There is still one room that needs the color put on it and the trim needs to be done at some point, but it’s looking great and Cody and Christian are moved in.

The ladies restroom remodel is coming along great. There were some delays with some of the subcontractors, which happens along the way sometimes, but it should be completed and ready to use pretty soon. It looks very nice!

Have a great and blessed week,

Bro. Tony


FBC Winona News & Updates 10-2-17

He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.”Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! – Revelation 22:20

Church Family,

As you get into your Monday, many of you have become aware, as I have, of the mass shooting in Las Vegas last night, resulting over 50 dead and over 400 injured. It is suspected at this time that this was a single-shooter act, carried out by a man in a 32nd story hotel room with numerous long rifles and lots of ammunition. I watched some video that was taken by someone with a cell phone in the crowd, where you can hear the gunfire like something you would expect in a war zone. I cannot even imagine the feeling of fear or helplessness that those in the crowd must have experienced.

It would be easy to spend a long time discussing it, asking questions like… Why?? What would possess someone to do such a thing?? What was going on in his head?? The truth is, those are questions that puzzle all of us, but the answer really is simple. The answer to all of those questions is… sin. It’s sin that causes us to act in un-Godly ways. It’s sin that allows unholy thoughts into our heads. It’s sin that allows unrighteous anger to enter our hearts. It’s sin that encapsulates someone to commit such a heinous act.

It seems so foreign to the committed believer, because God’s grace has given us what we need to resist such things. It’s not as if we are incapable, because we are. It’s not as if we are immune, because we are not. It’s only grace that keeps us in the palm of Jesus’ hand. It’s only grace that tempers us when we get off-course.

Today I thank God (maybe a little more fervently) for grace. 2 Corinthians 12:9 says, “But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” It’s only by grace that we are where we are!

In addition to thanking God for grace, I pray the words of John in Revelation 22:20, He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.”Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!

On to more mundane things…

Danny Thompson will be resuming his small group this Sunday at 6pm. They are studying “Winning on the Inside, Facing Trails and Defeating Temptation”. Sounds like something we could all use.

Youth will also be starting small groups, possibly as early as this Sunday evening.

We are open to more small groups beginning, but for that to happen, we need more leaders. If you’d be willing to lead a small group, let me know and we’ll get you equipped.

Sunday morning we will be dedicating 6 families with small children as a part of our worship time. All of these are the results of prayer and God’s grace and I look forward to this time of commitment.

I’m thankful for the fact that we have 7 booths committed for the community Trunk or Treat. We have room for more, as we are seeking to have as many as 32 between all of the churches and entities that are participating. You can bring candy to help equip our booths anytime. Perhaps the easiest place to collect it would be the tables outside the sanctuary under the coat rack. We’ll be having another planning meeting on Sunday, October 15th at 3:30 pm.

Our FBC Winona 168th Anniversary will be celebrated on Sunday, October 22nd with a potluck luncheon following the morning service. I hope you will be here.

Christmas Musical Auditions – Wednesday, October 11th—6:00 pm, Sunday, October 15th—time TBA. Open to children and youth.

Ladies Retreat – Friday & Saturday—November 10-11, Timberline Baptist Camp. Cost—$65—Deposit of $20 due at sign-up. Sign-up sheet on Welcome Table. Mark on offering envelope “Ladies Retreat”.

Thankful for God’s grace,

Bro. Tony



FBC Winona News & Updates 9-26-17

O praise the Name of the Lord our God
O praise His Name forevermore
For endless days we will sing Your praise
Oh Lord oh Lord our God

Church Family –

I hope that is what is coming from your heart today – lifting His praise now and forevermore. He is worthy!

Tomorrow is the annual See You at the Pole. Students all over the country will be gathering in the morning around their school flagpoles to pray for God to move in our schools, communities and our country. In Winona we will have 2 gatherings at 7am – one at the High School flagpole and one at the flagpole in the plaza by the Middle School. All students and adults are welcome.

Sister2Sister Rally for ladies is Thursday night at Woodland Hills Baptist Church. Meal is at 6 and worship is at 7. From I-20, take exit 599 and go back to the left on Loop 281. Church is about 4.5 miles from I-20 on right.

This week we welcome Cody Fitzgerald officially as our new Minister of Students! He will be at the high school flagpole in the morning and lead Youth Worship tomorrow night. Spread the word!

Christmas musical auditions will be Wednesday, October 11th at 6pm and Sunday, October 15th at a time TBA.

Sign-ups continue for Ladies Retreat as well as booths for Trunk or Treat. Both lists are on Welcome Center Table.

We will receive funds for the Michael Ruesch family through one more Sunday. This is the family that owned Big Mike’s Pizza and Pasta that suffered the loss all of their belongings last week. You can mark your offering “Big Mike”.

We will be having a Parent-Child Dedication on Sunday, October 8th. It’s going to be a great time! We have 6 families committed, including Cody and Christian Fitzgerald, so that will be very special.

Danny Thompson has had a tremendous response to Children’s Church. It seems like the number grows each week. He could use some help, even on a rotating basis. See Danny for info.


Bro. Tony

FBC Winona News EXTRA 9-21-17

Church Family,

As most of you are likely aware, there was a serious accident in Winona this morning about 3am as a car lost control and drove into the Big Mike’s Pizza and Pasta restaurant (former O’Dell’s  – opened 6 days ago), causing an explosion, resulting in a total loss of the restaurant.

The family that had just opened the restaurant, Michael and Shawna Ruesch and their kids, were living in the apartment over the restaurant. They escaped unharmed, but only with the clothes on their backs. They were raising some puppies that are about 5 days old – the puppies and one of the other dogs got out alive, but the momma and daddy dog did not survive.

I went and visited with them for a good while this afternoon and took them a $500 gift card from our church so they can get some necessities. Fortunately, they have a house in Gilmer that they had been renting out and has just become vacant, but it is unfurnished. The Methodist Church has taken care of getting the utilities operating and gave them a place to hang out today while they get their bearings. Red Cross also gave them a gift card.

The church where they belong to in Gilmer has also been contacted and will be meeting with the family this evening.

I’ve had a number of texts and Facebook Messages today saying “what can I do?” Let me give you some observations and some suggestions.

  1. Don’t ever say “all I can do is pray” – we should pray FIRST before we do anything. It’s the most important aspect.
  2. People always want to bring their “stuff” to help people in times like this. I’m going to be honest with you, they don’t need Uncle Tom’s worn out t-shirt. For clothing, I’m of the belief that we help them get resources and let them get new clothes or shop on their own at consignment stores or Goodwill. Furniture and things like that are different, but we need to be sensitive of what they really need. For that reason, I think financial gifts and buying new items are always best. DeDe Stroud has published a list of sizes on her Facebook page for those involved.
  3. It’s my understanding that a GoFundMe is being set up. I’ll make that available as I get the information.
  4. If you want to give financial gifts, you can do so through the church by noting your offering envelope as “fire” or “family”.

This family literally poured all of their resources and savings into this venture. They would like to re-open a restaurant in Winona if possible.

Pray for the firefighters and other first responders who put in long hours today and had to see some horrific things. Pray for the families of those who died in the car crash. Pray that God will use this situation for His glory with this family and with our community.

Bro. Tony

FBC Winona News & Updates 9-19-17

You give life, You are love
You bring light to the darkness
You give hope, You restore
Every heart that is broken
Great are You, Lord

Church Family,

I hope that is your proclamation today, to tell God how great He is! We see Him in nature, He speaks to us, He leads us and provides for us.

We certainly saw that in action Sunday. We had a great day of worship, study and fellowship. We heard a powerful testimony from Cody Fitzgerald Sunday morning and a great Q&A Sunday night. After that, we held the vote and we voted unanimously to extend the call to Cody to be our new Minister of Students and he accepted! He will begin his ministry with us, effectively, this coming Monday and will be leading the youth next Wednesday night. He and Christian are going to be such a wonderful addition to our church family (Quinn too! Our nursery is growing!)

Speaking of youth, some of our college/career age folks have taken the initiative to remodel our youth worship room and do some work in the game room. The worship room is really looking nice! They will meet in there for the first time tomorrow night, though it’s still in progress. They are doing a super job – just giving of themselves because they want the youth to have a great place to meet.

God is doing some great things around us – sending us some new families who have children and are excited about serving God here. We will be having a child dedication in a little over 2 weeks and we will be dedicating 6 children and their parents, with 5 of those children being less than a year old.

Many of you are already aware, but Trey and Erica Bledsoe welcomed Easton Ryder Bledsoe into their family last Thursday! They are home and doing great! He came into this world weighing 7 lbs., 15 ozs. and was 20 3/4 inches long.

Anyone interested in helping with the Children’s Christmas musical is asked to be in attendance at a meeting this Sunday at 4pm. We need all of our children’s workers and preschool workers on board, as well as anyone who wants to help.

ManChurch is this coming Monday at Sabine High School in Liberty City – meal @6pm, worship @7pm. Sister2Sister (LadiesChurch) is next Thursday (28th) at Woodland Hills Baptist Church in Longview – meal @6pm, worship @7pm. Great events!

We are still signing up for those who want to host a “Trunk or Treat” booth space (car or truck). We are also ready to receive candy and any donations toward food and such (we will be cooking 400 hot dogs and providing chips and water). Eric and Kimberly Dailey are once again leading out on this and this time it will be a community event, with several other churches agreeing to participate.

That’s all for now – be blessed!

Bro. Tony