Church Newsletter For February 8, 1998
Special First Anniversary Edition

Greetings From One Who Loves You!

This newsletter marks a joyous time for our church. That's right, we made it through our first year! As of today, February 8, 1998, our church is officially one year old! And what a year it has been! When our church first started out, I wasn't sure that a ministry and church could exist entirely on the internet. I had only a vision and faith in Our Lord to guide me, and a little webtv box and no knowledge of html to start with. But within 5 days of starting the website, we had our very first member join our fellowship. Within 3 weeks we had ordained our first minister! It was this initial positive response that helped convince me that there was indeed a place for our type of ministry.

Of course, this has been a learning experience for me as well. Many of the earliest members will recall the very basic nature of our church's website at the beginning. There was no way for interaction among the members to start with. We eventually started meeting in a chat room at WBS, but with a small membership, there wasn't much turnout at first. Hey, Brother Adam, remember those first few sessions when it was just you and I in the chat room for two full hours? Eventually, of course, as membership grew, so did the attendance. Then, one day, GCN contacted me and offered to provide us a chatroom for our site, and that's how we got the room we now have.

In fact, all the features of the church that you see now were similarly acquired - first came the realization that we needed something, then came the search for what we needed, and then those features would be added. The Prayer Request Message Board and Testimonial Message Board were soon added. The bulletin board was quite a challenge to locate, since I had to find a free provider of that service. Now, of course, there are several providers of free bulletin boards on the internet, but back then, there were few indeed. It's hard to believe how rapidly things change on the internet!

Now, there are many ways for our members to keep in touch with one another. Many of our members have traded e-mail addresses and communicate regularly that way. Many are also on ICQ, so they can communicate instantly with one another. (If you don't have ICQ, check out the ICQ communication panel on the front page of our website for information and to download it free.) Yes, we truly are a fellowship, and if you aren't participating in our fellowship activities or communicating with other members of our church, you're really missing one of the best features of our church.

I'm very happy to share with you that our membership has grown to 246 members! Isn't that wonderful? We are truly an international church, with members in the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Great Britain, Scotland, Singapore, the Philippines, Germany, Hungary, Kuwait, Switzerland, and Greece! (Hope I didn't leave anyone out.) I'm also very pleased to announce that we've ordained 157 new ministers into the clergy! Think about it, 157 new ordained evangelists out spreading the Good News that Jesus Is Lord! Oh, what a wonderful feature of our church to freely ordain Christians who feel called to serve Our Lord!

Of course, our church would be nothing without you, the members of The First International Church Of The Web. I'm simply the guy who maintains the website and takes care of the administrative duties of the church. I am also honored to serve as your pastor, and do spend a great many hours in actual ministering to our members and visitors, which brings me great joy. But it is you brother, and you sister, that make our church what it is.A place of caring refuge in a dark and sinful world. It brings me great happiness to see our prayer warriors responding to the prayer requests on the Prayer Request Message Board. I love to see the membership sharing testimonies, trials, difficulties, and victories on the Bulletin Board. Many of our members have told me that they found our church through a link on another member's website, or through word of mouth from someone involved with our church. Many of the graphics you see on our website were created by members and donated to the church. Some members have even created special pages just for our website, with helpful information, resources, and more graphics for other members to use. And our church would be very much the poorer without the generous gifts and support of some of our members (and even some non-members), who have given to our church out of their own desire to help. There's even one member who submits our church to all the major search engines and many minor ones every month, month after month. For all this that you, the members, do for our church, you have my sincere and heartfelt thanks.

I'm also very pleased to announce the latest addition to our church website, The First International Church Of The Web Clergy Credential Catalogue! Now, all you ordained clergy who've asked me about getting printed credentials from our church can find everything we offer in one location, complete with descriptions and samples. You can find a link to the catalogue on the Clergy Resource Page. Special thanks to Rev. Harry A. Smith for his work in helping me get this page posted.

Finally, let me say how very pleased and honored I am to serve as your pastor on the internet. It brings me great joy that you've permitted me to serve you in this way, and though I'm not perfect, I do promise to always do my utmost to serve you to the absolute best of my abilities. Please forgive me my shortcomings when I fail you in any way. Let me also say how proud I am of you for all the other online churches, ministries, and other evangelistic activities you engage in. You're a wonderful bunch of folks, a truly caring and loving group of Christians, and it gives me great joy to be associated with you, and humbles me that you allow me to serve you.

So, what's in store for us for our second year? Well, we have many exciting projects in the works. We're working on a children's outreach ministry, which will be called "Teddy Bear Monastery". Two of the cutest teddy bears you've ever seen, named Theodore and Tilley-Bear, will tell children about Jesus. We're also working on a Prison Ministry page, where we'll have resources specially designed for this type of ministry posted for use by those involved in prison ministries. These are some of the things in the works right now, and of course, you know me, even more features will be added as time goes by. So 1998 promises to be an even more exciting time for our church than 1997. Oh, what a wonderful time to be alive, and what an exciting time to serve Our Lord!

Well, that's going to do it for this edition of the newsletter. I'll write another one on the 15th, and then we'll be back on our usual newsletter schedule. Until then, I love you, and God bless you!

Yours in Christ,

Brother Dave

© 1997