by Lana Roberts

   One of the ministries of the Deacons is something we call In-Touch. Each Deacon visits and helps the church keep In-Touch with one or two people who find it difficult or even impossible to attend worship services regularly. The Deacons help these folks know that they are not forgotten by their church community; they are remembered by God and His people. Among the many blessings of staying In-Touch is the new and lasting friendships that develop between Deacons and the folks they visit. 0Let me encourage you to look for and celebrate the growing relationships demonstrated in this story by Deacon Hugh Awtrey. 

   My wife Suzanne and I became Deacons last June. We had no idea what being a Deacon entailed, but we were very excited to serve the Lord by serving the church. We found out that the Deacons handle Memorials, Communion, The Food Closet, Care Coordinators, Meal Support, Transportation, and Prayer Ministry. My wife and I were assigned to the ministry of the Food Closet, along with Love, INC.

   The other thing that all Deacons do is participate in the In-Touch ministry. The program involves going to visit, or contacting by phone or written note, our In-Touch participant twice a month. Each Deacon is paired up with their In-Touch person by choice, location, or even by chance.

   My In-Touch person is Bill Barbour. He is a long time member of FPC, and was very involved with the music program, serving as our Brass Choir director for several years. Bill was in charge of the musical programs for all of Clovis Unified before he had to retire due to his medical condition. I was introduced to Bill by Peter France, who was the outgoing Deacon I was replacing. Even though I took Peter's place in the In-Touch program, Peter continues to visit with Bill.

   Bill and I have become good friends and share some common interests. I see Bill on the last Thursday of the month and bring him In-N-Out for lunch. We open with prayer, then we have lunch and great conversation. Bill and I know a lot of the same people from Clovis Unified (I grew up in the district, my mother taught there, and my children all attended). I am also the Chair of the Foundation for Clovis Schools. Bill and I also share an interest in snow skiing, wine tasting and traveling.

   When it came up in conversation that Bill grew up in Pittsburgh, I asked Assistant Pastor Chris Popadich to join us for lunch. Chris and Bill also hit it off, and had great conversations about growing up in Pittsburgh. For Christmas, Chris got Bill a Pittsburgh Steeler Terrible Towel, which now hangs by his chair in the living room. We finish our lunches by praying over Bill for help with his medical condition, and Bill always finishes the prayer by praying for Chris and me, for the work we do.

   I did not know what to expect with my new duties as a Deacon, but the In-Touch visits have been a blessing from God.