Week 17 Update – July 2

Covid-19 precautions have slightly relaxed in the past few weeks. We have completed a full month of in-person, public worship on the church property (socially distanced and masks requested). We have learned much about how to minimize the risk of infection to our church family and guests. The state of Virginia still shows a decline in Covid-19 cases. These things being the case, after much prayer and deliberation, your church leadership team would now like to take another step in restarting our ministries.
 
Your Sunday School teachers will be contacting you soon to discuss the possibilities of meeting, as classes, in-person again. This will not be wise for every Sunday School class. Some of our classes are made up of members who remain vulnerable to the virus. These should not consider meeting together in-person yet.
 
Resuming in-person Sunday School groups and Bible study does not mean going back to the old normal. If a class is to meet, it must have precautions in place to protect its members. This will require creativity, flexibility, and strict compliance to our church’s Covid-19 guidelines.
 
We now have the prayer meeting going. The Student Discipleship Groups will begin on July 15th . Parents and children are being contacted now for VBS registration. On July 19th , we will have “Fun in the Son Day” worship services on the church lawn. If we add in-person Sunday School to this new beginning, this will be a great start!
 
I am so thankful to the Lord and to all of you for how we are making it through this time of trial. We have remained connected with our hearts intertwined with each other and our God. I know that many of you are still limited to our worship and study online options. Please don’t despair. The end of these difficult days is coming.
I love you all!
Pastor John


Week 16 Update – June 25

She’s beginning to stir. The old girl is waking up. Those who are able are changing their sweatpants for khakis or jeans or whatever people wear to church these days. The church is coming back!

Corporate worship has resumed. We are getting together safely, praising the Lord together, and hearing His Word in-person. We have guests regularly joining us and we are reaching out to them. This part of the body life, we share together, is going now. It’s a good start and a great debt of gratitude is owed to the many volunteer lay leaders who have worked hard to make it happen.

Let me tell you about another sign of life that has fully emerged from the soil. Some in our family have begun a prayer meeting (socially distanced with masks required) in the sanctuary on Mondays at 6:30. It’s a powerful time and you might want to be a part of it. Thank you, Steve and Nancy, for hearing the Lord’s voice and making this happen (I don’t know if Nancy will see this but I KNOW Steve won’t! Somebody tell him I said “thanks,” please.) The prayer meeting of a church is the engine that makes it go.

Other shoots are also sprouting. Visions for Student Ministry, Sunday School, and VBS are stirring. Please pray that the Lord will give His fresh direction and that we will do what is most pleasing to Him as these ministries begin to develop.

We praise God for His goodness to us. Covid-19 numbers have continued to decline in the Peninsula and throughout Virginia. Here is a graph from last week that I was able to capture from the Virginia Department of Health website. Although I could not reproduce a copy of this week’s graph, it shows a continuing trend downward. You can go see for yourself at https://www.vdh.virginia.gov/coronavirus/ .
 

We need to be thankful and yet careful. The Washington Post reports this week that Arizona, Arkansas, California, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas have all seen Covid-19 spike in their states and that Nevada and Missouri have seen recent single day high numbers. Coronavirus is still present and active.

Vigilance is still called for. We are still going to control our social distancing when we get together. We are still going to request (but not require) that masks are worn. We are not going to be reckless with your lives. This is the heart conviction that is driving our decisions. I hope you can appreciate it, even if you don’t agree with it. At worst, just endure our over-protecting mother-hen-edness. It won’t last forever.

As always, I want to speak to those of you who are still stuck at home because your health is just too fragile to risk getting out for in-person worship. We love you. We know you love us. You can call if you need us and we will come. We will not forget you. You are now, as you have always been, a vital part of this church family and we cannot wait until we can all be together giving loving hugs and mushy kisses again!

Love you!

Pastor John



Week 14 Update – June 12

It has been a great joy to worship publicly and in-person again. Week one, we had a total of 101 worshipers who were served by deacons, First Impression Team members, Audio-visual Team members, and the Worship Team. These lay leaders and staff were not counted in the 101. Week two, we had a total of 103 worshipers also served by those teams. We’re trending upward (2% increase)! We have had guests, who LOVED our church, and seekers asking questions. We had one person added to our membership last week and others are inquiring. The worship has been wonderful and the Lord has been present.
 
We have been contacted by other churches, who wish to open, and have heard good things about our approach. I give praise to the Lord. We dedicated ourselves to prayer and put many eyes, minds, and hearts into what needed to be done. I know the Holy Spirit has been guiding us.
 
The next two weeks are going to be extra special. This week we will honor our graduates and the following week is Father’s Day! It’s going to be great celebrating God’s goodness to our church family.
 
Most of our congregation is still connecting with us through the on-line broadcast. I’m so thankful for your perseverance and the Tech Team’s expertise that makes it happen. When we see the number of views, we are always so encouraged. If you are in the high-risk group, please continue to join us remotely. You are all so important to the church and to the Lord. We can do this a little longer.
 
I want to end with a special “thank you” to the Sunday School teachers and deacons who are keeping close tabs on our membership. If you aren’t in a Sunday School group, we will have a hard time making sure you are being cared for. There is a class for everyone. Contact us please and we will help you connect.
 
I’m so glad I’m a part of the family of God (at SMBC).
 
Pastor John


Week 13 Update – June 4

SMBC Covid-19 Update
June 4, 2020
 
Two Sundays ago, we had a dry-run worship service with our First Impressions, Technology, and Worship Teams. They were further supported by a great number of our Deacons and our Church Staff. They underwent training that day and quickly grasped the precautions and policies under which we would open up for in-person worship services again. You can see those precautions and policies in the “SMBC Phase-1 Reopening: Policy Statement” which is located on our church website.
 
Last Sunday, May 31st, SMBC became one of the first churches of our size, in this area, to be ready and able to hold in-person worship services. This was made possible because of the tremendous job and the hard work of our team leaders, members, and staff. I CANNOT express adequately how thankful I am for all of these brothers and sisters and what they have done to get us back to the public worship of our Lord and King. Thank you for making it possible for us to gather around His throne!
 
We had 101 individuals attend the 4 worship services on this first Sunday back. This number does not include the 16 First Impressions/Deacon servers or the Tech and Worship Team members. Our teams were careful to guard their social distancing as they arrived, as they worshiped, and as they departed. It was weird because we couldn’t throw our arms around one another in fellowship or hold hands as we prayed. It was wonderful because the Lord received our corporate praise and we were able to break the Bread of Life together. It wasn’t a complete return to normal. It was a beginning.
 
As long as we can maintain safe precautions, even though the Covid-19 is still present, we can continue to worship in this way. We know that the Lord would not have us be reckless with the lives of His people and we are going to continue to take our responsibilities very seriously. Please understand and expect this level of care.
 
The healthy and whole Christian life consists of: regular gathering for Biblical teaching & preaching, true spiritual fellowship, prayer, worship, giving, and evangelism/missions (Acts 2:42-47). We know you need these things and we are doing our best to make them available. Even though we are now able to worship and hear the Word together, we still hunger for deep fellowship opportunities. Our evangelism and missions efforts have had to be re-envisioned as well for a time. And, these needs are especially felt by our children and youth.
 
I say all of that to say this, we have taken a major step but we aren’t there yet. Please continue to pray to the Lord for the world’s deliverance from this virus. Come back to in-person worship if it is prudent for you to do so. If you are compromised in your health at all, I beg you please to wait. We can almost see the end of this. Stay strong. Be patient. You are too important to lose.
 
We will continue to have the 4 worship services at this time. We will also continue our high-quality online broadcast of the services (8:00 and 11:00) and Sunday School (9:30). Some Sunday School classes continue to meet on Zoom. If you would like to join one of those groups, please contact the church and we will help you get connected.
 
Our church is a very special family of faith and the love we share in Christ is real and readily available to others. I am so thankful for who you all are in Him. God bless you this week!
 
Sincerely,
Pastor John


Week 12 Update – May 28

Hopefully by now, you have read my May 13th letter and the “SMBC Phase-1 Reopening: Policy Statement” that was sent by mail, email, and posted on our SMBC Connections Facebook page in the last two weeks. Please pray about whether it is time for you and your family to venture out and participate in in-person worship or not.
 
The services and Sunday School will continue to be broadcast, from the church, online. The worship services will be streamed at 8:00 (traditional) and 11:00 (contemporary) a.m. Sunday School will be streamed at 9:30. Please note this new time change for Sunday School.
 
We have prayed, studied, prepared, and trained for our return to in-person worship. A great deal of collaborative thought has gone into how we need to protect the congregation. Now we need to commit ourselves to understanding and cooperation. I ask that you try to understand why the precautions we will take are necessary. I also ask that you cooperate fully with our staff and ministry volunteers who will be doing their very best for you.
 
We will maintain social distancing. We have scheduled you for a particular hour of worship to keep the number of individuals in the sanctuary low. Additionally, we will seat you in the sanctuary for maximum spacing. You will likely not get to sit in your favorite pew. 🙂
 
Since we prepared the guidelines, Governor Northam has issued “Executive Order Sixty-Three, requiring Virginians to wear face coverings in public indoor settings to help contain the spread of the novel coronavirus.” We were already asking that those who come wear masks. We continue to ask this and hope you will comply. All of our staff and ministry team members will be wearing masks as well.
 
These are strange days and, as I have said here, they call for precautions, understanding, and cooperation. Our priorities are the Lord’s pleasure and the protection of His people. Living in a fellowship community requires us to, at times, surrender our personal rights for the concerns of others. Let’s gather in humility and joy this Sunday. I know that THAT would be very pleasing to the Lord.
 
Love you all!
Pastor John


Week 9 Update – May 7

Happy Mothers’ Day (week)!

Give mom a call. Order her a gift to be delivered. Postpone that time together, but make sure you make it happen when we are loosed.

This will be the 9th week of not having worship services, Bible studies, or ministry programs at the church facility. The church will not physically meet on the property May 10th (Mothers’ Day!) or May 17th. Only those essential ministry team members involved in the online broadcasts should come to the church building. The links for both Sunday School and our worship service are available on the church website. DVD’s of the Sunday School lesson and the worship service are available in the office during the week.

This Sunday, Duane Hayes will be teaching the general session Sunday School lesson at 9:45.

At 11:00, we will begin our worship service.

Please pay attention to our Facebook pages and church website for announcements.

Many of our Sunday School classes and ministry groups have begun to meet online. If you desire to be a part of one of these groups, please contact us and we will connect you with the group leaders.

You can contact us in these ways:

  • Call the office – We are keeping the church office open at regular hours during this crisis (757 565 0476)
  • Contact your deacon – If you are a part of a Sunday School class, you should be hearing from your deacon regularly and you should have your teacher or deacon’s contact information. If you are a part of the church family but have not yet become involved in a Sunday School class, you can email me at jicka@smithmemorial.org
  • If you are a part of one of our ministries (Sr. Adult, Women’s, Men’s, Children’s, AWANA, Student, etc.) you can contact your ministry leader. If you don’t know who that is, contact me at the above email address.

Schedule – At this time, our regular schedule of ministry is all online.

  • Sunday School – (Youtube and Livestream) 9:45 a.m. from the Sanctuary every week utilizing our SS teachers in rotation. Several classes are meeting online in smaller groups.
  • Worship – (Youtube and Livestream) 11:00 a.m.
  • New Members Orientation (Zoom) – 3:00 Sunday afternoon
  • Sacred Marriage Bible Study (Zoom) – 6:00-8:00 Sunday evenings
  • Women’s Bible Study (Zoom) – 7:00 Monday evenings
  • Mid-week Bible study and staff chat – (Facebook Live) 6:00 Wednesday nights. You can access this event by going to the Smith Memorial Baptist Church Facebook page.
  • Moment of Prayer – 5:00 every Saturday night. Just stop where you are and pray as a family.
  • Other – Some of our Bible study groups and SS classes are getting together for additional times of fellowship (Zoom). Contact the church or your SS teacher for the schedule for those meetings.

Offerings – If you are a part of the SMBC family, here are our ways of receiving tithes and offerings at this time:

  • You can give online through the website – smithmemorial.org and click “Give” in the top right corner of the screen
  • You can mail it to Smith Memorial Baptist Church, 6515 Richmond Rd, Williamsburg, VA 23188
  • You can bring it by the office during office hours – we will keep our distance although it will be wonderful to see your faces!
  • You can contact us (see above for how to contact us) and someone will come and receive it from you

The Governor has begun talking about the curve being flattened and a Phase One beginning soon. Let’s just keep praying.

                      Love you all deeply and miss you all terribly!

                                Pastor John

 



Week 8 Update – April 30

How are you doing? I enjoyed a little online rant by one of our members who was absolutely “done” with apps and video conferencing. I won’t disclose her name but I sure shared her frustration.
 
Other states are beginning to open their stores, restaurants, and churches. Virginia is not. We can learn a lot from those churches that are opening and right now that is exactly what our leadership team is doing. There is much to consider. At this time, it does not look like the virus concerns will evaporate all at once. It appears that, when we DO get to meet together again, we will be carefully phasing in our activities. One pastor friend of mine in Atlanta said that they began meeting two weeks ago and their congregation was very agreeable to the strict new COVID rules they were asking everyone to follow (one door for entry, one door for exit, pews roped off to insure safe social distancing, wipes provided in the bathroom with a request that everything touched was wiped down after—including the doorknob, no handshakes or hugs, etc.). As I said, there are a lot of precautions to consider before we begin again and we are doing that now. Suffice it to say, that unless COVID-19 is immediately removed from the earth, changes (in the short-term) are facing us. We will meet them and we will continue to move forward as a church together.
 
This will be the 8th week of not having worship services, Bible studies, or ministry programs at the church facility. The church will not physically meet on the property May 3rd, May 10th (Mothers’ Day!), or May 17th. Only those essential ministry team members involved in the online broadcasts should come to the church building. The links for both Sunday School and our worship service are available on the church website.
 
This Sunday, Jeshua Branch will be teaching the general session Sunday School lesson at 9:45.
 
At 10:50, we will begin our worship time by witnessing the baptism of Tristen Steiner.
 
Please pay attention to our Facebook pages and church website for announcements.
 
Many of our Sunday School classes and ministry groups have begun to meet online. If you desire to be a part of one of these groups, please contact us and we will connect you with the group leaders.
 
You can contact us in these ways:
  • Call the office – We are keeping the church office open at regular hours during this crisis (757 565 0476)
  • Contact your deacon – If you are a part of a Sunday School class, you should be hearing from your deacon regularly and you should have your teacher or deacon’s contact information. If you are a part of the church family but have not yet become involved in a Sunday School class, you can email me at john.jicka@smithmemorial.org
  • If you are a part of one of our ministries (Sr. Adult, Women’s, Men’s, Children’s, AWANA, Student, etc.) you can contact your ministry leader. If you don’t know who that is, contact me at the above email address.
Schedule – At this time, our regular schedule of ministry is all online.
  • Sunday School – We will broadcast the weekly Sunday School lesson at 9:45 a.m. from the Sanctuary every week utilizing our SS teachers in rotation. Several classes are meeting online in smaller groups.
  • Worship – We will continue broadcasting our regular worship service at 11:00 a.m.
  • Sacred Marriage Bible Study (Zoom) – 6:00-8:00 Sunday Evenings
  • Women’s Bible Study (Zoom) – 7:00 Monday Evenings
  • Mid-week – We will have a Facebook Live chat and Bible study from the church every Wednesday night at 6:00. You can access this event by going to the Smith Memorial Baptist Church Facebook page.
  • Moment of Prayer – 5:00 every Saturday night. Just stop where you are and pray as a family.
  • Other – Some of our Bible study groups and SS classes are getting together for additional times of fellowship (Zoom). Contact the church or your SS teacher for the schedule for those meetings.
Offerings – If you are a part of the SMBC family, here are our ways of receiving tithes and offerings at this time:
  • You can give online through the website – www.smithmemorial.org and click “Give” in the top right corner of the screen
  • You can mail it to Smith Memorial Baptist Church, 6515 Richmond Rd, Williamsburg, VA 23188
  • You can bring it by the office during office hours – we will keep our distance although it will be wonderful to see your faces!
  • You can contact us (see above for how to contact us) and someone will come and receive it from you
Barring a resurgence of infection, we may be seeing the light at the end of this tunnel. Please continue to pray for the healing of our world and that God is given glory through Jesus Christ.
 
Love you all deeply and miss you all terribly!
Pastor John


Week 7 Update – April 23

This will be the 7th week of not having worship services, Bible studies, or ministry programs at the church facility. The church will not physically meet on the property April 26th, May 3rd, or May 10th (Mothers’ Day!). Only those essential ministry team members involved in the online broadcasts should come to the church building. The links for both Sunday School and our worship service are available on the church website.
 
This Sunday, Jeremiah St. Clair will be teaching the general session Sunday School lesson at 9:45.
 
At 10:50, we will begin our worship time by witnessing the baptisms of Jodie Booth and Arlen Woodbury.
 
Please pay attention to our Facebook pages and church website for announcements.
 
Many of our Sunday School classes and ministry groups have begun to meet online. If you desire to be a part of one of these groups, please contact us and we will connect you with the group leaders.
 
You can contact us in these ways:
  • Call the office – We are keeping the church office open at regular hours during this crisis (757 565 0476)
  • Contact your deacon – If you are a part of a Sunday School class, you should be hearing from your deacon regularly and you should have your teacher or deacon’s contact information. If you are a part of the church family but have not yet become involved in a Sunday School class, you can email me at john.jicka@smithmemorial.org
  • If you are a part of one of our ministries (Sr. Adult, Women’s, Men’s, Children’s, AWANA, Student, etc.) you can contact your ministry leader. If you don’t know who that is, contact me at the above email address.
Schedule – At this time, our regular schedule of ministry is all online.
  • Sunday School – We will broadcast the weekly Sunday School lesson at 9:45 a.m. from the Sanctuary every week utilizing our SS teachers in rotation. Several classes are meeting online in smaller groups.
  • Worship – We will continue broadcasting our regular worship service at 11:00 a.m.
  • Mid-week – We will have a Facebook Live chat and Bible study from the church every Wednesday night at 6:00. You can access this event by going to the Smith Memorial Baptist Church Facebook page.
  • Sacred Marriage Bible Study (Zoom) – 6:00-8:00 Sunday Evenings
  • Women’s Bible Study (Zoom) – 7:00 Monday Evenings
  • Other – Some of our Bible study groups and SS classes are getting together for additional times of fellowship (Zoom). Contact the church or your SS teacher for the schedule for those meetings.
Offerings – If you are a part of the SMBC family, here are our ways of receiving tithes and offerings at this time:
  • You can give online through the website – www.smithmemorial.org and click “Give” in the top right corner of the screen
  • You can mail it to Smith Memorial Baptist Church, 6515 Richmond Rd, Williamsburg, VA 23188
  • You can bring it by the office during office hours – we will keep our distance although it will be wonderful to see your faces!
  • You can contact us (see above for how to contact us) and someone will come and receive it from you
 
Every time I think of you, I give thanks to my God.
Philippians 1:3
 
Love and miss you all!
Pastor John


Week 6 Update – April 16

This will be the 6th week of not having worship services, Bible studies, or ministry programs at the church facility. Isn’t that amazing?! One of our members, Jim Kittle, sent me a quote that said: “I don’t think anyone expected that when we changed the clocks we’d go from Standard Time to Twilight Zone.”
 
Like all of you, I am listening to and following the news and press conferences by our government leaders. They are saying that there are indicators that we may be at the peak of the virus spread. To me, that means that things may begin to get better from this point forward. We pray that is the case.

We will continue to make official decisions regarding physical church gatherings every week (usually on Thursday). We hesitate to cancel more than two weeks in advance because we never know what the Lord may do. We pray He stops COVID-19 immediately and dramatically.

Remember though. Noah and his family stayed in the boat after they landed on Mt. Ararat for 220 more days. They were in the ark for 371 total days. It only rained 40 days and 40 nights. You can only imagine how soft the ground must have been after they landed. The earth wasn’t ready yet to support them. Governor Northam closed the schools on March 12th and issued the stay-at-home order on March 30th. That means that we have been in our arks now for 38 days at the most (March 12 – April 19). Let’s be patient and prayerful.

The church will not physically meet on the property April 19th, or 26th, or May 3rd. We will however, continue to meet online for Sunday School and worship. Those links are available on the church website. Only those essential ministry team members involved in the broadcasts should come to the church building.

Richard Dorman will be teaching the general session Sunday School lesson, this week, at 9:45.

At 11:00, we will have a guest preacher from the IMB that you will not want to miss. Let’s be in prayer now as Dr. Gordon Fort prepares to come and bring us a timely missions challenge.

Please pay attention to our Facebook Pages and click the link to our weekly bulletin on this website for announcements.

Many of our Sunday School classes and ministry groups have begun to meet online. If you desire to be a part of one of these groups, please contact us and we will connect you with the group leaders.

You can contact us in these ways:
  • Call the office – We are keeping the church office open at regular hours during this crisis (757 565 0476)
  • Contact your deacon – If you are a part of a Sunday School class, you should be hearing from your deacon regularly and you should have your teacher or deacon’s contact information. If you are a part of the church family but have not yet become involved in a Sunday School class, you can email me at john.jicka@smithmemorial.org
  • If you are a part of one of our ministries (Sr. Adult, Women’s, Men’s, Children’s, AWANA, Student, etc.) you can contact your ministry leader. If you don’t know who that is, contact me at the above email address.
Schedule – At this time, our regular schedule of ministry is all online.
  • Sunday School – We will broadcast the weekly Sunday School lesson at 9:45 a.m. from the Sanctuary every week utilizing our SS teachers in rotation. Several classes are meeting online in smaller groups.
  • Worship – We will continue broadcasting our regular worship service at 11:00 a.m.
  • Mid-week – We will have a Facebook Live chat and Bible study from the church every Wednesday night at 6:00. You can access this event by going to the Smith Memorial Baptist Church Facebook page.
  • Sacred Marriage Bible Study (Zoom) – 6:00-8:00 Sunday Evenings
  • Other – Some of our Bible study groups and SS classes are getting together for additional times of fellowship (Zoom). Contact the church or your SS teacher for the schedule for those meetings.
Offerings – If you are a part of the SMBC family, here are our ways of receiving tithes and offerings at this time:
  • You can give online through the website – www.smithmemorial.org and click “Give” in the top right corner of the screen
  • You can mail it to Smith Memorial Baptist Church, 6515 Richmond Rd, Williamsburg, VA 23188
  • You can bring it by the office during office hours – we will keep our distance although it will be wonderful to see your faces!
  • You can contact us (see above for how to contact us) and someone will come and receive it from you

We are closer to the end of this worldwide upheaval than we’ve ever been before. Stay close to Jesus.
Love and miss you all!
Pastor John



Pastor John – Dec. 29

In Our Pulpit Today

Sherry, Mili, and I are away this week. We have been in Tennessee with Sherry’s dad, brothers, and their families. I prayed for you while we were away. I prayed that God would refresh you, bless your family time, and reach your lost loved ones with His lifegiving Good News. I look forward to hearing all about it when we get back together again.
Speaking of that! When I first arrived, I was spending a lot of time with you. I heard your stories, we shared our hearts, what God has been doing, and where we feel like God is leading. I am missing that and I want more of it. I still don’t know some of you really well. You don’t have to feed me. I really don’t need it! How about we meet somewhere for coffee? I want this and if you will be so kind, I’m asking if we can do more of it. Call the office. Sandra will put you in my calendar.
NOW… many of you have talked to me about how much you appreciate Dr. Jeshua Branch, Megan, and their children and how we should have him preach for us. I have had two different opportunities to hear a sampling of his God-given gift in this area and I agree with you. Not only can he preach and teach with excellence, he and Megan are authentic servants of our Lord Jesus. And, their kids are really cool. Here are some of the comments I have heard about Dr. Branch:

• “Jeshua is a real people person and an inspirational preacher. I’m so glad he is back at our church.”- Raynell Brady
• “Jeshua has a genuine heart for people to come to know Jesus. His use of visual aids while preaching effectively clarifies the Gospel for everyone. He is truly a leader for both the young and the old.”- Ron Nicholas
• “He is a passionate and fun-loving teacher and has taught me a lot during my youth group years”. – Madison Courtney
• “Despite being a Cowboys fan, he is a great preacher and teacher of the Word. Proves God can use anyone to do anything!” – Kevin Leppert

Today is going to be a great day in worship. If you are a first-time guest, I’m sorry I missed meeting you. Please come back! Our hearts are with you. We’ll be watching the livestream. We’re praying for you today. We love you, are so thankful for you, and we can’t wait to get back home to you next week. Now listen carefully and do what God tells you today.
 
Pastor John



SMBC Blog

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Welcome! We are a body of believers seeking to further God’s Kingdom and fulfill the Great Commission. Our hope and desire is to share the Gospel throughout the Greater Williamsburg area, Virginia, and throughout the world.