Thursday, July 2, 2015


We are on schedule for the Worship Center/Sanctuary Renovation to begin the first week of August. There are two parts of the project that we are still waiting for. One is the change in lighting and the other is a church wide video security system. We have been encouraged by our leaders to install a video security system. We were hesitant because of the cost. With the recent tragedy at Mother Emmanuel Church, it has moved our concerns forward. We are now in a position to include it as a part of the renovation project.

So, let’s review. We renovated the Worship Center 15 years ago. We moved from a dark, gothic look to a more pleasing warm and traditional 1980-1990 look and feel. The Renovation Team began with a need to just replace a well worn and used carpet and to change the paint colors. Then we began looking at doing an entire renovation including seating, lighting, fixing cracks, correcting sight lines in the balcony, etc. The project grew to the point that we needed to bring in a General Contractor and the Church Interiors Consultant. Together we put a plan in place that looks to create a comfortable, casual welcoming worship center.

How much will it cost? What if I told you the renovations were all but paid for? Between donations and available cash on hand, we are able to update, upgrade and renovate the Worship Center with no cost to the church family! I know…amazing right? There is one thing we would very much like to do. We are purchasing 420 high quality padded chairs to be placed in the worship center. We would like to give every individual and every family a chance to purchase a chair or as many chairs as you would like. Each chair costs just at $50. You could make a donation for one, one for each family member or as many as you would like. We had several members of the Renovation Team ask if we could do this for the church family. Of course, we would like to. All said and done, that would be an additional $21,000 if all 420 chairs were purchased. Certainly Janie and I will donate for our family. Speaking of donating: The church pews will be donated to an African American Church in St. Stephen. They lost everything in a recent disaster and this will go a long way in rebuilding their worship center. Win-win-win! Gotta love that.

More to come as we make progress. Hopefully we will be sharing final plans at this year’s church anniversary on July 12.


Pastor Tom

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Praying for our brothers and sisters of the Mother Emanuel AME Church



From: Dr. Richard Harris, Interim Executive Director-Treasurer, South Carolina Baptist Convention

The news of the tragic shooting in Charleston at the Emanuel AME Church breaks my heart and that of our leadership in the South Carolina Baptist Convention. This act of violence against our brothers and sisters in Christ is deplorable and evil, and appears to be anti-Christian. We stand with our brothers and sisters in prayer and in Christian love and sorrow. We stand ready to assist this church and its members where their beloved Pastor and District 45 State Senator, Reverend Clementa Pinckney, was killed. Our leadership is calling our South Carolina Baptist Convention staff to a time of prayer today, and we are calling on all of our 2,138 churches and church leaders to join us in prayer and support of our fellow Christians in Charleston. We stand ready to assist in any way possible and will be investigating how we can assist in any way.

The violent acts of unspeakable evil committed by this young man on Wednesday evening in one of our sacred houses of worship is evil and deplorable beyond words. He obviously needs the prayers of Christians. The appearance of such a tragedy in a Christian church in South Carolina is a wake-up call for the need of Christians all across the state and America to stand heart to heart and hand to hand in total rejection of such horrendous acts of violence upon anyone, particularly Christians. I would request that any Christian anywhere would join us in prayer and support for this wonderful church and church family in Charleston. Let’s be praying for all the families who have been touched by this tragedy.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015


TWO MONTHS AWAY We are approximately 2 months away from the renovation of the Worship center. I have been writing articles to share the vision and purpose. This will actually be the second major Worship Center/Sanctuary renovation in my 30 years here at JIBC. The first one took place almost 15 years ago. We moved away from the more traditional 1960’s gothic and dark worship center to more bright, welcoming warmer colors and fabrics. It was more of the trend in the 1980’s. We are now moving to a warm and welcoming style that reflects the 21st century and who we are as a church family.
THE LEADERSHIP TEAM APPROACH I am grateful for the team put together to lead in this project. It began with me moving the possibility of renovation forward. It moved to a Renovation Team listed in the first renovation article. That team then reported their findings and suggestions to the entire staff and Elders. We met with various church members seeking their input and ideas. We called in consultants with Church Interiors, Inc and others to help in the process. Then we presented the plans, as we had them, for the approval of the Church Leaders/Ministry Management Team.
WHAT IF IT DOESN’T LOOK LIKE CHURCH? The only real question we have heard is concerning updating the pews with high quality chairs. I realize there is a love in many of us for the pews. But the pews really do not make us look like church…you do. Pews or chairs are just seating devises. Church seating in the 13th century started with stone slabs. They quickly updated to wooden benches with no backs. Stone, wooden benches, pews or chairs…the function was seating. It is not the pew that makes us look like a church…it is you. You and I are the church, the Body of Christ. The Worship Center is just the place we gather. The renovation will be warm, comfortable and inviting. The chairs will give us a little more versatility in that they can be moved, rearranged for weddings or larger crowds and, if need be, cleared out in case of a Hurricane Hugo type disasters. We are planning to keep and reupholster the pews in the balconies. We already have a sister church family in St. Stephens that had their entire worship center destroyed. They would like to have the pews and we think that would be a wonderful use for them.
THE GOAL The Renovation and Leadership Team is committed to continuing our warm and inviting place of worship. We want to reflect more of who we are…a more casual, comfortable church family. Changing the carpet and paint gave us the motivation and opportunity to address many issues in the worship center; carpet, paint, fixing cracks, better protecting the stain glass windows, addressing light, completing unfinished work from the last renovation, improving the balcony line of sight, etc. Praise God we are in the position to consider such a renovation. While some are just holding on…by God’s grace we are moving forward. To God be the glory.
Pastor Tom

Wednesday, June 10, 2015


This is the second article related to our Worship Center Renovation. Even as I am typing this article, some plans are still being made and fine tuned. So let me speak about what we know for sure. No one will be concerned at all or have questions about the change of our carpet. It has lasted 15 years and is now, because of the humidity, wrinkled in more places than it is not. It has stains that carpet professionals have not been able to remove. It is time. New carpet led to a new paint color for the walls. So now would be the time to sand the walls and woodwork, caulk and re-caulk the stain glass windows, fix cracks in the walls etc. It is not JUST putting on new paint. Just painting the ceiling is a major task requiring the best of professionals. Our renovation team and the consultants have come up with a lovely color for the walls.   

Direction of Renovations. 

Imagine a line like this:

Elegant    Classic    Traditional           Comfortable    Casual   Contemporary

Our last renovation 15 years ago leaned more toward the elegant, classic, traditional side of the line. We have never been elegant…we were just leaning that way. We certainly were a more traditional looking worship center. We are really not a traditional church. We are more comfortable and casual. We are far from what some would call fully contemporary. We are a younger, more casual and comfortable church family. It is reflected in our ages, our families, our ministries, our music, our values and our mission. Our last renovation 15 years ago took us from an early 1960’s look to a 1980’s kind of look. This renovation will still look lovely, warm and inviting. A great example is Victory Baptist Church on Woodland Shores: a very conservative church with a wonderfully beautiful more contemporary look. We really are looking to reflect who we are now and who we will be for the next 15 years.

A Final Tribute to the organ. Fox music installed our Allen organ back in the early 1960’s. They had just become Allen distributors and they believe we were their first Allen customer. The organ has been in disrepair for years. Years ago, one visiting organist said he would never agree to play it again because it was in such poor shape. The Hunts paid to have someone try to repair it. They were not successful. They were among the very few who could work on that type organ and now they have gone out of business. The Allen organ we have is an “analog” organ. It is the same technology as the old TV’s with rabbit ears. Those were analog. Almost all of us now have digital televisions. It is the same technology as the very old cars and buses with governors to control the engine. Our organ is actually in the Allen museum. Really… no kidding. It is so old it is in a museum. Fox music and the Allen Organ companies told us no one would ever buy our organ; it was not likely to ever be repaired; and they did not want it even if we would give it to them free of charge. Have you tried to give away an old analog TV? Goodwill, Habitat and the Kidney Foundation will not take them. You can only take them to the garbage dump or maybe sell them at a yard sale.

 Fox and Allen did offer to sell us a new organ. You know what they call it? A keyboard with a midi. It is a digital keyboard capable of making organ music better than our Allen organ. Guess what? We have one. We have used it on occasion to play organ music. Currently the Korg Keyboard is being used upstairs in the weekly youth worship service. It is available anytime someone would want or need an organ sound. The organ was a fine instrument in its day. So was the Studebaker automobile last made when we bought the Allen Organ. It is not who we are. We live in a digital age. Not many drive a Studebaker with a governor. Fewer and fewer people still watch an analog TV. Likewise, not any thriving churches are playing 55 year old organs with governors. So, soon and very soon, the organ will be making an exit from the stage. We are grateful for the way it served faithfully for years and blessed by those who played it well. Finding someone who plays the organ is very difficult. They are a rare and dying breed. By the way, my favorite song to hear on the organ: A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.

See you Sunday, Pastor Tom

Tuesday, June 2, 2015


Today’s article is the first out of four to share the current renovation plans.  We have not shared the plans before since we did not have plans to share.  Once the process began, we followed the same process we have for years.  We make sure we have approval and complete buy in of Pastor, staff, Renovation Team, Elders and then the larger Leadership Team.  Here is how the process began. 

Several months back JIBC received a very generous financial gift.  Shortly after that we received yet another.  This allowed us the opportunity to think about replacing the carpet in the sanctuary/worship center.  Perhaps you have noticed the terrible wrinkles just about everywhere in the worship center?  It is caused by the extreme temperatures and high humidity.  There was really no good way to repair the carpet, although we have addressed the problem.  You may remember we replaced the old boiler system (yes, I know it seems crazy that we still used a boiler system in the 21st century).   We now have a controlled, updated, efficient heating and air conditioning system for the worship center.  No more lighting the boiler on cold mornings or draining and refilling the water tower when we need the air conditioning.

So, replacing the carpet led to the need to change paint color and repair cracks and unfinished wall repairs.  If you have ever done a remodel project, you know it is like pulling a small string on a sweater.  Once you start, it is hard to find a stopping place.  We were encouraged by our Elders to go ahead and think about fixing, replacing, repairing, updating everything that needed to be addressed. So we put together a renovation team to begin the process of putting a plan together.  It included myself, Dean Kelly, Pam Bingham, our Hispanic Pastor, Claudio (he is a paint contractor) and Pastor Sean.  Once this team started moving, they brought their ideas to the staff for input and help.  Once we had basic colors and fabric, we gathered with the Renovation and Team, Elders and Staff for further input.  This process took a month or longer to come together.  Word would start getting out that we were planning to renovate because we would include other church members by asking for their opinions and input.  But there were still no plans to share.

Bring in the experts.  Once we got the basics of the renovation plans in place, we called in others to help us.  And will still be calling in people with expertise to help us.  One example would be Church Interiors, Inc.  This is the company that the Southern Baptist Convention recommends to churches considering building or renovating.  They sent their consultant to look at our plans.  He did and he liked them.  He also, like pulling that string I talked about, made several more recommendations of remodeling.

Each week for the next three weeks, I will write an article about the renovation and why we are doing it.  Keep us in your prayers. To God be the glory!

Pastor Tom

A Personal Word of thanks:  You may or may not have heard, that our 30 year old daughter, Erin, went into full cardiac arrest on Wednesday, May 27.  Some of you are still learning about our family.  Our oldest child is our son, Bryon; then Brook; and then Erin.  All are married and are the parents of our 8 grandchildren.  Erin Wilkins, our youngest, is in MUSC-CICU.  As I type this, she is waiting to have an internal defibrillator put in.  They do not know what caused the event.  They know she is at risk of having it happen again.  She has come miles and miles from that horrible event at the playground.  Thank you all for your prayers, love and support.  Your love reached beyond our family to feed us, families in the waiting room and many nurses.  We are deeply grateful.  Pastor Tom, Janie and our whole family.

Thursday, May 28, 2015


I HAVE OFTEN USED THIS PHRASE: Anyone can curse the darkness, let’s be people who light a candle. In other words, it is easy to moan and groan about how bad things are in society. And I do believe there is a lot wrong. Sometimes those who moan, groan and complain actually think they are making a difference. We can do a lot more beside complain, criticize and be sideline critics. Growing drug problem…JIBC attacks head on with programs for children, youth and adults. Teenagers facing unbelievable challenges…Pastor Sean leads his team to take on every tough issue our kids are facing. Families in decline…your church family is charging in on every front to strengthen and help those looking for help. Personal crisis of past trauma, shock and hurtful events…we have partnered to have a part time professional counselor on staff. Curse the darkness? Not hardly. By God’s grace your church family is taking on the most difficult challenges in our community. To God be the glory. This is His work. No right-minded people would take on such challenges. Many will circle the wagons and simply pray “Come Lord Jesus”.

SPEAKING OF PRAYER…What a segue! Governor Nikki Haley is leading a charge that I want JIBC to fully embrace: A Call to Prayer For a Nation in Crisis. On Saturday, June 13, 2015 at the North Charleston Coliseum, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. From 9-10 is a Youth Rally with Music. From 10 to 4 is a time of Scripture reading, prayer and worship. There is no preaching, no pontificating, no politicians, no church promotions, etc. This is a sincere and devout call to prayer. Prayers will be built around repentance, reconciliation, revival, reformation and refreshing. You may drop in or out for any part or all of the day. IT IS A FREE EVENT, BUT YOU WILL NEED TICKETS BECAUSE THERE IS LIMITED SEATING.

Again, tickets are free, there is no charge for this event. But this is a call for all churches, all denominations, all believers…so seating will be limited. You can check out more information and get your tickets at

You do not have to just curse the darkness…here is something very specific you can do! Pray.

Pastor Tom

Wednesday, May 20, 2015


Every year churches across the country participate in Vacation Bible School. And for good reason: It is a leading tool in reaching children before they have to be rescued. There is probably no other ministry and mission that results in boys and girls coming to know Christ. Think about it this way: great Christian music every night; loving teachers prepared; scripture memorization; heartfelt Bible stories; fun crafts and recreation! What’s not to love?

A SLIGHT CHANGE IN THIS YEAR’S VBS. We are trying to focus all of our attention on children this year. So we will not have the Adult VBS as we have in the past. We are encouraging all adults to volunteer to lead, teach, help, greet, serve, or pray. We will have a prayer team this week that meets to pray for every child by name. And, we are going to not have a youth VBS this year. Many, if not, most of our youth are ready, willing and able to volunteer to help in VBS. This has not always been the case. We have a very solid group of youth and Pastor Sean feels they are more than ready to serve! The week right after VBS our youth will go for an intensive week of mission and discipleship at Fuge Camp at Ridgecrest, North Carolina. Be in prayer for this life changing event.

You can volunteer for one night of VBS, a few nights or all week long. Be a part of the greatest evangelistic children’s ministry of the year!

You cannot beat this line up. The all time favorite Wednesday night dinner…fried chicken! The dinner will be followed by a celebration award night for all our Awanas. Marie Smith, Commander ReRe, and her team continue to do a spectacular job year after year. This night will be a good way to culminate a year of work and fun. Come on out and enjoy the best meal in town and see the children get their awards.

Warning: there is a rumor that Charles Wiggins and yours truly will be doing their last performance of the year this night. I thought this was a “one and done” for me. I am pretty sure there should not be a Rocky 3! I feel like me singing is like watching Nascar…there is going to be a wreck, you just don’t know when. To God be the glory and let’s make a joyful noise.

Pastor Tom