March & April 2019 ·

How Much

Do You Care?

1000 Carl T. Jones Drive | Huntsville, Alabama 35802

(256) 882-3085 |

Christine Betts Assistant Director, Youth/Families

Robert Blevins Director, Community Development

Daniel Brown Print & Digital Media Specialist

Niña Cash Director, Children's Ministry

Rita Clardy Executive Assistant

Shannon Clark Administrative Assistant

Ron Clegg Associate Pastor, Discipleship

Ty Commons Youth & Family Intern

Janice Crowson Director, Facilities/Finance

Kim Delchamps Administrative Assistant

Terri Good Accountant/Bookkeeper

Derrick Harris Assistant Pastor, Shepherding & Young Families

James Parker Chief Musician

Peter Render Assistant Pastor, Youth/Families

Angela Sierk Assistant Director, Children's Ministry

Will Spink Senior Pastor










Pastor's Note

Introducing the Southwood App

Session Update

Gospel Community

What makes it different?

How Much Do You Care?

Going Global

Southwood’s Ministry to the Nations

10 Things Overheard at the Most Recent

Parent Café

Sr. High-Life Winter Retreat


Ask a Pastor with Peter Render


Christine Betts

Robert Blevins

Daniel Brown

Ron Clegg

Derrick Harris

Peter Render

Angela Sierk

Will Spink


We want to hear from you! Please send

your suggestions and comments to

Upcoming Events

March 8-9 Women’s Retreat

March 29-31 Mercy Conference

April 5 Family Event Trivia Night


Daniel Brown

Kim Delchamps

High-Life Students

April 18

April 19

April 20

Maundy Thursday Service

Good Friday Service

Easter Egg Hunt

Cover Photo

2019 MNA Mercy

Conference - REACH


March 8 & 9

At Beautiul Camp Alpine in

Mentone, Alabama. $95 for Friday and

Saturday or $50 for Saturday only.

Register at

Pastor’s Note

I Thank My God ...

As you read Paul’s letters to the churches, you

notice quickly how much he prays for those

people he loves so much. In particular, you

notice that he begins his prayers over and over

with thanksgiving to God for these churches. Now

Paul also sees problems and struggles in every

community, but he sees God at work in his people

no matter what, and for that he constantly gives


Just considering that reality has caused me to

realize afresh how thankful I am to God for the

Southwood Family – and that now seemed a good

time to share a bit of that heart with you. There

are many more things for which I am thankful than

I can include here, but here are some places I see

God at work in this season for which I give thanks.

I’m thankful that Southwood is a multi-generational

family. What a gift it is to have older widows and

homebound members who pray for me and us! I

rejoice in particular for how Marie Hill, Mark and

Laura Wolfson, our deacons, and many of you are

connecting with our homebound members – a

blessing in both directions, to be sure!

On the younger side of things, your love for the

littlest among us is palpable. Nearly every month

brings multiple new babies to our church family,

and you support and encourage each other so well

in these seasons. Beyond that, you care for foster

children and adopt other little ones in a way that

shares the heart of God with those precious to


I praise God for the influx of college students

we’ve seen over the last couple of years. With

hardly any intentionality on our end, God has

brought young people to us not merely for us to

love but particularly to inject energy and gospel

joy into our community in a fresh way. We learn

from them, and they learn with us how to be a part

of a church family.

The work of the gospel in our midst is evident in

your generous spirits, your welcoming attitude

toward newcomers even when they’re different

from you, your passion in prayer, and your servant

spirit when help is needed. Those kingdom realities

come only from the Spirit, and they’re present here

in ways that deeply encourage me.

I’m thankful for the work of both our missions

teams, particularly how our Community

Development Team is working to stretch us toward

gospel-driven relationships and justice in our

communities. Our Express Grace Conference, the

upcoming Mercy Conference, and discussions with

Robert Blevins and Lance Cooper are helping us

engage a big and difficult challenge one step and

one person at a time.

Our women are using their gifts in more ways than

ever in our body, and many are being equipped

to lead in their own communities, alongside

our elders and deacons, and in the broader

church. While we still have room to grow, I’m so

encouraged by the conversations we’re having

together and the path we are on already!

I rejoice in seeing an increased commitment to

carrying each other’s burdens. Every week, it

seems, I hear stories of people from a small group

or a connect community coming alongside a

brother or sister in a difficult situation. Spouses

are fighting to forgive and heal in the midst of

traumatic relational pain; parents are crying

together over challenges with kids; 8-year-olds are

praying for each other after sharing needs. Sharing

struggles with each other, not leaving anyone

alone, and pointing each other to Jesus are signs

of the Spirit’s work that are great cause for praise.

Finally, for me personally, I’m thankful the

Southwood Family is a gracious community

toward her pastors. I thank God for putting me

and my family in a place where I can share (even

from the pulpit!) about a season where I’m more

overwhelmed than usual, and I’m not attacked or

critiqued. In fact, quite the opposite: you pray for

me, you encourage me, you remind me of Jesus

and our shared need for and hope in Him.

So, I do thank my God for “your work produced

by faith, your labor prompted by love, and your

endurance inspired by hope in the Lord Jesus

Christ.” And I thought you should know that. Love

you, Southwood!

Will Spink

Senior Pastor

If you would like to contact Will,

use the following:

Introducing the Southwood App by Daniel Brown

During the 2019 annual congregational meeting, we introduced the Southwood App. It

was a Sunday I had been looking forward to for quite some time. Now, just a few weeks

after its introduction, it’s awesome to see just how many people are using it.

The Southwood app is updated weekly with the latest Sunday Morning Bulletin, Prayer

Guide, and Sermon Q’s. Events are revised daily to keep you informed on current and

upcoming events. You can even effortlessly and securely tithe or give to Southwood.

Downloading it is easy.

If you’ve got an iPhone, simply open the App Store and search for “Southwood.” Then tap


If you’ve got an Android phone, simply open the Google Play Store and search for

“Southwood.” Then tap install.

Session Update

At the annual congregational meeting

in February, we rejoiced together

in God’s gracious provision for

Southwood and in many encouraging

ways God is at work to advance his

kingdom here and around the world.

The congregation elected Andes Hoyt

to the office of ruling elder in the

church, and he was installed during

the worship service on February 17. In

addition, Landa Pennington and Ray

Sheppard were selected to new terms

as trustees for the corporation of


We also at that meeting reported 2018

income around $2.07 million and cash

expended for the year just slightly

higher at $2.117 million. Our treasurer,

Deacon Brax Watkins, presented the

2019 budget, which is set at $2,188,683

(see chart on this page). We consider

every penny of this budget to be for

God’s mission, and we ask you to pray

and give with us so that we might in

particular share funds with kingdom

partners in Huntsville and around the

world as well as support our staff and

ministries advancing God’s kingdom in

our community.

One final part of the meeting was

the communication of the new

“Southwood App” that you can

download onto your smartphone.

We will still communicate in other

ways, but we encourage those

of you who use this technology

to take advantage of the app for

sermon audio and notes, bulletin and

announcement information, calendar

events, and electronic giving. For more

information on how to access all these

things, read the article above.

Finally, thank you for praying for our

recent Officers Retreat. Your elders

and deacons – and their wives for

part of the time! – enjoyed a rich

time of fellowship and discussion of

various items including what Gospel

community looks like when built

around God’s word and how we

can increasingly become a praying

church. A significant portion of our

time was spent praying for each

other and for the congregation. We

found this to be deeply needful for

each of us, and we encourage you to

be sharing and praying with us, with

your small groups, with your Connect

Communities, and in many other

contexts as we seek to nurture gospel

community at Southwood for the glory

of Christ and his kingdom. A

2019 Budget Slide from the February 3 congregational meeting


Gospel Community

What makes it different?

Here at Southwood we toss around the term “gospel community” quite a bit. But do we truly

understand the differences the gospel makes to our community?

by Ron Clegg

In our American culture, we long

for community, though in reality

our lives seldom intersect. We exist

primarily in isolation. We hunger for

connection, but we don’t seem to

know how to get there, and the price

often seems too high. Yet, we are still

drawn towards community.

Community can happen on different

levels. We define groups of families

who live in proximity to others as

a community. They share a general

“space” with others. This is community

on the broadest level. Narrowing

the scope, we also find community

centered around shared interests. I

belong to a cyclist community that

likes to ride bikes together. We might

converse, yet we don’t know each

other deeply. Our primary connection

is cycling.

Moving deeper we find support

groups, gatherings of folks who not

only share common interests but also

might share common struggles or

addictions. They come together for

mutual help and encouragement. They

find community to a certain level with

others who are like them. At an even

deeper level we have family. As close

as we might be with our family, this

level can also be very difficult. We

are known too well and we carry a lot

of relational baggage. Most of these

levels of community are not satisfying.

We long to be known, and we long

to know others, but instead we might

experience a lack of real acceptance

or outright rejection. We want

acceptance. We need support. We feel

the emptiness of life alone.

Gospel community has the potential to

satisfy our longings for real heart-level

connection. One example is Dave (not

his real name), who came to a church

I was serving. He and his wife had a

checkered past and a life that was not

squeaky clean. They had never felt

comfortable around church people. At

this church they found a place where

they could belong because our folks

were just like them. They were not as

clean as what the surface might say,

and they were honest about being

sinners who needed a Savior. So,

as they all came to Jesus, they also

came to each other, to walk with and

support one another in demonstration

of the grace of the gospel.

What makes gospel community

different from other communities?

It is the gospel. We come together

because we are

equally dependent

on the gospel,

and we equally

struggle to

maintain our

focus on the

gospel. In gospel

community, we

encourage each

other in the

truth of the

gospel. We

hold up those

who struggle.

“We hold up

those who

struggle. We


those who

stray. We give

hope to the


and support

the weary...”

We challenge those who stray. We give

hope to the despairing and support

to the weary, all in and through the


This is why we have developed

Connect Communities here at

Southwood. While they are not the

final word on community, they are one

expression of what gospel community

might be. They are gathering places

for believers who need other believers,

that they might enable each other

to prosper in their pursuit of Jesus. I

hope they have provided a good place

to find that essential connection. If

not, I hope you will soon taste what

gospel community can be for you. A



by Robert Blevins

Growing up in a small town and

attending a small country church

where my father was the pastor had

its ups and downs. One positive was

that we had a relationship with every

family that lived within five miles from

our house. On the other hand, there

were so few families that we didn’t

have enough players to organize our

weekly neighborhood football game!

Over the years, I moved to bigger

cities and attended larger churches.

However, the lesson that I learned from

that small country church was that

community makes a significant impact

on your life.

I’ve discovered that my title of

“Director of Community Development”

at Southwood sounds vague, openended,

and even a little intimidating

to some. What is Community

Development? And how in the world

do we do it? A sense of community

means different things to different

people. There are different types of

communities, such as neighborhoods,

social groups, home school networks,

and work environments. The common

thread through all communities is the

potential for life-giving, meaningful


The relationships in the communities

in which God places us give us the

chance to listen and learn from each

other and also to share resources.

Community can help us get through

a rough day or make our celebrations

that much sweeter. And when we

discover brokenness in the people

and systems in our communities,

God invites us play a small role in

restoration. That’s what we mean by

Community Development.

In January we hosted our annual

Express Grace Conference with the

theme “Moving Toward Shalom:

Transforming Lives and Restoring

Communities.” Michael Rhodes and

Brian Fikkert challenged us to think

about Community Development

through a lens of long-term

engagement that goes beyond

volunteerism and support of ministry

partners and stretches into our

personal and professional lives. They

talked about the difference between

a soup kitchen verses a pot luck

approach. With the soup kitchen

approach, we might get into our cars,

drive to another part of town and

volunteer with a program or ministry

in order to help someone we don’t

know. While meeting short-term relief

needs is important, in the absence

of relationships we run the risk of

treating people

as objects of

our benevolent

mercy rather

than fellow

image bearers

with untapped

abilities and skill sets.

Here’s an example of a potluck

approach. I used to teach at an innercity

school in Chattanooga. During

my first year, Mrs. Jennings became

my mentor. She was entering her

twenty-fifth year of teaching and had

grown up in the neighborhood. To

say that she was respected and loved

was an understatement. At the end

of my first semester, she gave me

some advice that has stuck with me

all these years. She explained how

the kids wouldn’t care how much I

knew until they knew how much I

cared, and that it would take a long

time for the students to believe that I

truly cared about them. So I began to

show up. As their coach, I spent time

traveling on the road, tutoring them,

stopping by their homes when they

were acting up, and attending family

members’ funerals. Over time, deep

relationships began that continue until

this day. Because of our friendship, I

had a deeper understanding of their

needs and challenges and could point













them to resources. I could also use my

social capital to help them get jobs

and further their education. Not only

did I help them, but our relationships

shaped me, as well.

Again, people don’t care how much

you know until they know how much

you care. And this takes time. One

key to Community Development is

investing time in relationships. This

requires listening, learning, and just

showing up. We can do this in the

context of our ministry partners. But

we can also do this with the people

that God has placed in our everyday

lives, such as neighbors in difficult

marriages, college students struggling

with loneliness, and co-workers

making an idol out of success. We

can listen, learn, and show up with

intentionality, and through these

actions we bring restoration into those

communities. At the same time, God

molds and shapes us and deepens our

walk with Him.

As we think about where God is calling

us to be active, here are some of the

questions that we can ask: How am I

building community right where I am?

Are there people that I know who are

hurting? Am I being sensitive to the

Holy Spirit to show me where I can be

active in my neighborhood? God calls

us to be intentional about cultivating

relationships in our communities.

In March, Southwood has the

privilege of hosting the annual

Mercy Conference, which is an event

sponsored by Mission to North

America (MNA), the domestic missions

agency of the PCA. The name of the

conference this year is R.E.A.C.H.

(Reconciling, Equipping, Affirming,

Connecting, and Helping). Just like

our Express Grace Conference, this

event is part of a long-term strategy

to mobilize Southwood toward

Community Development. Our prayer

is for every member to participate

in bringing restoration in their

community, whether that be through

involvement with ministry partners or

in your professional or personal lives.

Come to continue the conversation of

how to express grace and love your

neighbor in the areas where God calls

you to engage. A


MNA Mercy Conference

March 29 & 30



The Mercy Conference

will begin Friday

evening with dinner and

Pastor Randy Nabors,

founding pastor of New

City Fellowship and

The New City Network,

challenging us to think

about how community

touches every part of

our life.

Saturday is a full day

of workshops, large

group gatherings, and

network opportunities.

Take advantage of this

wonderful opportunity

to listen and learn from

practitioners within our

own denomination.


Going Global

Southwood’s Ministry to the Nations

by Ron Clegg

In March and April, two Southwood pastors and

an elder will travel to distant lands to encourage

fellow believers and churches with the Gospel.

In March, Will Spink returns to Nagpur, India, to

celebrate the graduation of seminary students

he taught on his first trip in 2017. He will have

the privilege of participating with sending these

newly trained church planters and ministry leaders

to their places of service. In addition, he will be

involved in a pastor’s conference to encourage

these leaders to remain faithful to their calling and

to the Good Father that called them. After serving

in Nagpur, he will travel about six hours on a train

to the neighboring state of Chhattisgarh, where

he will teach Bible college students, speak at

graduation, and also preach at Sunday worship.

From April 5 - 15, Ron Clegg and Lance Cooper will

be in Europe serving with two church plants. The

first stop is Cherkasy, Ukraine. Cherkasy has almost

300,000 residents two hours south of Kiev. There

is a struggling church plant there lead by Victor

and Nadya Ovsyanik. Ron will spend time teaching

the congregation, engaging with a group of home

educators, and encouraging regional pastors.

The second stop will be Budapest, Hungary,

where our global partners Rob and Tunde Futo

are planting a church. Ron will meet with the

leaders of the church, preach, and also meet

with a network of church planters in Budapest

Nagpur & Chhattisgarh, India

Cherkasy, Ukraine

Budapest, Hungary

to strategize towards partnership for

furthering church planting in Hungary.

Lance will be telling the story of both

church plants through video. In addition,

he will have the opportunity to encourage

the church leaders in gospel-centered


Why is it so important that our pastors

and leaders go to other lands? Why do we

spend the resources to send them when

they do not know the language or the

culture? What can they really accomplish?

The biggest reason we send them is not so

much what they do in those foreign cities.

It is what this exposure of God’s work

around the globe does for Southwood.

We can easily fall into a myopic approach

to ministry. Our view of the church and

God’s Kingdom advancement is too often

limited to and defined by our local context,

or viewed only from the perspective of

American culture. Kingdom living in India

is far different from what it is in Huntsville.

The surrounding culture, the persistent

persecution by other religious groups, the

levels of material poverty, and the sheer

number of people that live in a small area

make ministry different. But also, the way

God is moving within that context can be

just as foreign. Life and ministry in a postcommunist

world are nothing like India

or the US. Atheistic communism has left

indelible scars on the soul of Ukrainians

and Hungarians and shapes how the

gospel must be applied. The church in

Huntsville needs this kind of exposure to

see that God is not merely American. He

is also working in wonderful ways outside

our American experience. God’s Kingdom

and His church are global in scope. We go

to other lands because such a vision can

empower us to proclaim the Kingdom with

greater boldness and expectation. A


10 Things Overheard

at the Most Recent Parent Café

1. As parents, we are called to be shepherds

and in the grand scheme of things our kids

don’t belong to us, they belong to God!

2. We should make every effort to move

towards our kids, media is an opportunity to

move towards them.

3. Hollywood is made up of people just like us

and a majority of them are just really scared

and trying to make a living, pray for them.

9. Faith based films have

caught the attention

of Hollywood to the

point where they are

now investing in making

them more than ever


10. Burb Legend is going

to be the next great

television series!

4. As parents, we are navigating some of the

hardest technological challenges that the

world has ever known, “Do not fear!”

5. Don’t be afraid to talk with your kids,

focus on connecting with them more than

correcting them when it comes to media.

6. One of the best “faith” based films

ever made is Chariots of Fire, it’s the gold

standard of how to make a film about faith.

7. This food is really good.

8. “We’re both part of the same hypocrisy”-

Godfather 2. When pointing the finger at the

film/television industry, we must realize that

we’re no better than the people making the

movies and they’re no better than us, they’re

not our enemies but they’re people who need

Jesus too.

Easter Egg Hunt

Saturday, April 20 at 9:00AM


Sr. High-Life

Winter Retreat

by Ty Commons

“He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the Lord require

of you but to do justice, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with

your God?” - Micah 6:8


few weeks ago Sr. High went

on our annual trip to Camp

ToKnowHim for Winter Retreat

’19. Our theme: Be Humble. Most of us

have probably heard God’s message

in Micah a hundred times or even a

thousand but we were reminded, in

a fresh way, what we are called to

actually live like. Seeking to do justice

can be uncomfortable, loving mercy

can make even the most generous of

us squirm, and walking humbly with

God, PLEASE! I know exactly what I’m

supposed to do. Here’s the thing, we

all know what we’re supposed to do,

but Mark Bryant, our guest speaker

from St. Louis, told us in a fresh and

tangible way what that’s like. We had

a blast playing games, hanging out,

singing and just enjoying each other’s

company; but ultimately we heard how

a good God wants us to do exactly

what he does, do justice, love mercy,

and walk humbly with Him. A


Ask a Pastor with Peter Render

Do infants need to be rebaptized once they reach the age of accountability?

This question assumes the beauty and necessity of

baptism as a “holy seal and sign of the covenant of

grace, immediately instituted by God, to represent

Christ, and his benefits; and to confirm our interest

in him: as also, to put a visible difference between

those that belong to the church, and the rest of the

world; and solemnly to engage them to the service of

God in Christ, according to his Word” (WLC, XXVII-I).

The Westminster divines do well to show, while

saving faith is personal and intimate, Scripture always

depicts that independent moment as being a part of a

corporate reality.

Gospel community is full of sinners who cannot live

apart from each other. Our personal and intimate

salvation drives us together as we see the Holy Spirit

working in us as individuals and amongst us as a

group of believers (1 Cor. 2 esp. vv. 10-16). Whether it

be a ‘believer’s’ baptism or an infant baptism, there

is a responsibility taken by the body of believers for

this person who is coming into communion with them,

and a responsibility of that person to the body.

Salvation by articulation is an unfortunate

anthropocentric assumption that has become a postenlightenment,

cross-denominational, and uniquely

Western thought. Jesus gives us two commands as

we fulfill the great commission of Matthew 28; make

disciples and baptize them in the name of the Father,

the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Paul helps us a bit more

in Ephesians when, while discussing unity in the

body of believers, he says that, “there is one body

and one Spirit—just as you were called to the hone

hope that belongs to your call—one Lord, one faith,

one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over

all and through all and in all” (Eph. 4:4-6). Baptism is

primarily about God, not man. The Holy Spirit creates

disciples, Christians exist as the mature ones striving

to bring the immature to maturity in Christ (Col. 1:28-

29). Baptism is performed in the name of God, in the

three personal ways by which he has revealed himself

to man. It is a God thing, not an us thing.

The New Testament shows the link between

baptism and circumcision (Gen. 17; Rom. 4). Without

considering the nature of a desert baptism (Acts

8) or a middle of the night baptism (Acts 16:33), it

seems clear to me from the household baptisms of

Acts 16 and 1 Corinthians 1, that infants were included.

Baptism in and of itself is not salvific. The application

of baptism to an infant does not save them, and there

is no clear way to demonstrate from Scripture that it


The divines put it this way, “The efficacy of Baptism

is not tied to that moment of time wherein it is

administered; yet, notwithstanding, by the right use of

this ordinance, the grace promised in not only offered,

but really exhibited, and conferred, by the Holy Spirit,

to those (whether of age or infants) to whom that

grace belongs, according to the counsel of God’s own

will, in his appointed time” (WLC, XXVIII-VI). Because

baptism is a God thing, when it is administered in the

way prescribed and ordained by Jesus—in the name

of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—that baptism

becomes the “one baptism” for the believer. Should

that child become an ideal vision of what a believer

looks like, all glory to our Heavenly Father. Should

that child seemingly turn his back on the faith, lose

his witness, and find himself dragged by the Holy

Spirit back into the Kingdom kicking and screaming,

all glory to our Heavenly Father. Should that child

actually turn his back on the faith, how tragic and

sad that he would harden himself to the benefits of

his baptism. In each of these cases, the actions of the

person are only responses to God’s pursuit of him.

The harder truth is that God is glorified in each case.

Since baptism is a God thing and since infant baptism

should not be performed outside of the Gospel

community, it follows that the miracle of an infant

growing into a saving faith is the display of God’s

miraculous outpouring of grace. That any of us

would yield to God and not to our own sin is, indeed,

extraordinary. That God would show this mercy to

infants is miraculous. A

Peter Render is the Assistant Pastor of

Youth & Families. He loves theology, hard

questions, and his family - including his

fifth child, a daughter (his first) baptized

in February!

BRANCHES 11 3 MAR. & APR. 2019




Maunday Thursday 6:00pm

Good Friday 6:00pm

Easter Sunrise Service 6:30am

Easter Sunday Worship 9:30am

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