Family Ties June 2021

Covid 19 Vaccination Clinic

First Baptist Church was approached by Mark Jackson from Ramsey County Public Health about the possibility of using our facility as a Covid-19 vaccination site. The intention was to reach out to the Karen community (some of whom were hesitant about getting the shot). The first of the clinics was on Easter Sunday morning. So, as people gathered outdoors in the courtyard for our EASTER SUNDAY celebration, inside, over 300 people received Moderna shots from five vaccinators.

What a memorable way to celebrate our Lord’s resurrection from the dead!

Between 600-700 people have received vaccinations here. Karen people were the targeted group, but several non-Karen members of the First Baptist Church and Hope Community Church also took advantage of the clinic.

Special thanks to the more than two dozen volunteers who helped set up spaces, registered people, interpreted and assisted in directing people. Thanks to the people who brought food to help keep the staff and volunteers going. And thanks to Wah Wah for making the connections with Ramsey County.

“Whenever you did this for one of the least important of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did it for me!” Matthew 25: 40

Pastor Sheila receiving her vaccine.
Lining up to receive their vaccine.

Combined Leadership Team

At First Baptist we have been talking for a long time about how we want to be two in one – two cultures that are working together as one church. Because we have different languages, traditions and ways of doing things it is important that both cultures are respected and are given the freedom to do things in their customary way. But it is also important that as one church we work together and communicate with each other.

To help us to truly work toward trying to authentically be two cultures in one church we are starting a new Combined Leadership Group. This group will consist of Pastor Sheila and Thra Say Hae Say (Pastor Saul’s assistant) plus two or three members from the leadership from the 10:30 and the 12:30 services. This group will meet four or five times a year to share with each other what has been happening in the separate leadership groups and then to work together to think about what we can do to support each other and find ways to do more things together in a mutually transforming partnership.

To be one church it is important that we communicate with each other, listen to each other, share our hopes and our dreams – and then work together side by side. We hope that this new Combined Leadership Team will help us to find ways to better work together to serve God as partners in Christ’s service.

Meet Jackie White

You may have noticed someone new doing the Invocation during the 10:30 service. My name is Jackie White.  I have a long history with First Baptist.  As a little girl, my family attended and volunteered with First Baptist in many ways.  My mom, June Haram, was the church secretary and my father, David Haram, served as a Chairman of the Board in Christian Education.  Today, I have three grown children, along with six grandchildren.  Last year I renewed my membership with First Baptist.

I am currently a Staff and On-Call/Casual Hospital Chaplain, providing spiritual and emotional support to patients, families, and staff.  Serving in multiple hospital systems, my current work is mostly focused in emergent, critical care, end of life, death and dying situations.  I work at a Long Term Acute Care hospital/LTACH and in a Transitional Care Unit at another hospital. 

As part of my professional journey, I met with Pastors’ Bill and Sheila about my licensure and ordination process.  While focusing on ordination, I am grateful and excited to become more involved at First Baptist Church.  I look forward to getting to know everyone.  I attend Deacon’s meetings and look forward to doing more with the Deacons and other opportunities, as we begin gathering together again. I also hope to preach in the future. You may see me bringing the message some Sunday. I am grateful to be here with you to do God’s call with you.

Now that you’ve learned a little about me, don’t be shy.  If you see me on Sunday morning, please come and say hi and introduce yourself. I would love to meet you too!

“By participating in the revolution, our generation of young women shows that we are no less brave than men.”

Eh Soe Dwe, a young local Karen artist who is also a part of First Baptist Church, made this piece in response to the situation in Burma.

“I created this piece to recognize the women in Myanmar who stand in solidarity with the Civil Disobedience Movement. Lives have been lost at the hands of their own government but despite the risks, our mothers and sisters have been at the forefront of the movement. Whether they are leading the protests, tending the wounded, providing water, or protecting the protest zones, their efforts all count towards the liberation of the people in Myanmar.” Eh Soe Dwe

“We are not going to run. Our people’s blood should not reach the ground” – Ma Kyul Sin, 19.

“Ethnic minority women in Myanmar have been beaten, raped, murdered, and disposed by military men. But they are resilient, they are the key players in peace building, and their justice will prevail.”

Associated Groups:

Main Idea AA

The Main Idea AA group has helped make our building more accessible by adding an iron railing outside the south west door to the sanctuary and wooden railings on the staircase down to their meeting room below the sanctuary. This group has been faithful in offering in-person meetings to people in need of support throughout the pandemic. They report that their hands are a little raw from all the disinfectant and hand sanitizer that they have used. Good job! We are pleased to be partners with Main Idea.

Hope Community Church

Brian Silver reports that the number of people attending in-person worship on Sunday mornings at Hope Community Church is gradually increasing. There have been several new people who began attending during the pandemic. There are also four women members who are pregnant. They have a growing need for space. HCC is now using the room previously occupied by Project Home. They were able to increase their building use payments to $2,000.00/month. Brian reported to the Council that HCC is grateful for the partnership with First Baptist, particularly in these difficult times.

Waterlily Montessori School

Waterlily Montessori is currently enrolling for the 2021-2022 school year.  Scholarships are available.  Tuition for a 5 day per week program is $1,100.00. If you would like to help, there are volunteer opportunities to assist with certain tasks.

First Burma Christ Church

First Burma Christ Church has resumed in-person worship in our sanctuary at 3pm Sundays. They had online services that reached about 50 homes this past year. They stayed well connected

Judson Sunday

On July 11th at 11am we will celebrate Judson Sunday outdoors at Keller Park in Maplewood. First Burma Christ Church, the 10:30 and 12:30 services will meet together for worship and a picnic. This year, Pastor Bill will be talking about the life and mission ministry of Adoniram’s second wife, Sarah Boardman Judson.

Gwen Forsline

Gwen Forsline was not a member of this church.

However, she was a good friend of the work and mission of First Baptist Church and she was generous in her contributions to us.

I met Gwen more than fifty years ago. Her husband, Wes, was a pastor at Calvary Baptist Church in Minneapolis and before that a denominational executive. He was a great mentor and a supporter of the Baptist Youth Fellowship when I was president of the MN State BYF.

Gwen was always a kind and gracious woman. Professionally she was a dental hygienist until she was 75 years old (an excellent profession for an empathetic person).

She was a talented cook, organizer and hostess. She also belonged to a Bible study with seven close friends for thirty years.

She died in April at the age of 96. We recently celebrated her life via a ZOOM memorial service.

I wanted to introduce you all to Gwen because in the past year she contacted the church (through her good friend, Nancy Johnson). She made a gift of several thousand dollars to be used by us in our Karen work.

The Covid -19 virus just beginning to close in on us and she was concerned that there would be special needs in our community. She made no special request as to how the money was to be spent. She gave it to us for ministry with no strings attached.

It was the beginning of a hot spell and the kids were not in school – they were home all the time. Many of our families live in crowded apartments that were becoming uncomfortably warm inside.

We were able to purchase fans to be distributed to people who were suffering from the heat. We bought several dozen fans – the oscillating table fans were a big hit. We also learned that because children were out-and-about more than usual because of lack of school programs that they were being bitten by mosquitoes and getting sunburned. We purchased insect repellant, itch medication and sunscreen (thank you to Eh Hey Hser for her help getting these supplies into the hands and arms and faces of many kids).

We told Gwen about how we had invested her money and she was pleased; so much so that she gave us some more money with which we were able to buy more supplies. We were also able to significantly help a particular family facing a difficult crisis.

We came learn that during this time that Gwen was very sick. She had been diagnosed with cancer and that her condition was serious. She had been battling the disease for some time.

She died just a couple of months after her second gift to us.

Gwen lived out her faith. She was constantly looking outward to the needs of others, even as she faced her own health challenges. Her obituary reflected her love for those around her. “Preferred memorials: ‘Employee Appreciation Fund’ at Friendship Village in Bloomington (where she lived); Arrive Ministries (refugee resettlement) in Richfield; CAMFED (Campaign for female education in Africa); no flowers please.”

Burma Update:

The violent response of the government has extended to areas outside of the cities. In the rural areas there are aerial bombings of Karen, Kachin and Shan villages. Many families have had to flee to the jungle to seek refuge from the violence.

Different organizations associated with First Baptist Church have been sponsoring fundraising events to assist people in Burma facing tragic circumstances. You are invited to participate in this effort. Upcoming events will be announced in the bulletin and on Facebook.

Below is an article from The New York Times quickly explaining the violence in Myanmar. To read the full article, please follow the link:

Myanmar Coup: What to Know About the Protests and Unrest – The New York Times (

The New York Times

Myanmar’s Coup and Violence, Explained

Demonstrations and a deadly crackdown have roiled the nation since a Feb. 1 coup brought back full military rule following years of quasi-democracy.

By Russell Goldman

May 29, 2021

Unrest has gripped Myanmar. Peaceful pro-democracy street demonstrations and work stoppages have given way to paramilitary operations in opposition to the country’s ruthless military, which seized power in a coup d’état on Feb. 1.

Military leaders’ initially restrained response to the first waves of protests, civil disobedience and general strikes has grown more forceful over time, escalating into a brutal effort to put down the movement that has so far left thousands injured and more than 600 dead. Many of those killed have been young protesters, their lives ended with a single gunshot to the head.

The coup returned the country to full military rule after a short span of quasi-democracy that began in 2011, when the military, which had been in power since 1962, implemented parliamentary elections and other reforms. In the weeks since the coup, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the country’s ousted civilian leader, has faced charges in a secret court.

What led to the military coup in Myanmar?

The military refused to accept the results of the vote, which was widely seen as a referendum on the popularity of Ms. Aung San Suu Kyi. As head of the National League for Democracy, she had been the de facto civilian leader since her election in 2015.

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