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Pastors set goals for coming year
In the pulpit
church steeple

A new year means planning, new expectations and setting goals.  
Pastors throughout the community establish objectives and implements new programs to make better disciples of their congregants and to become more involved in the community.
“Three goals for us this year are to provide more enrichment and learning opportunities for our youth as it relates to their spiritual growth. We also intend to reach out more in the community and to grow closer together and to God for the year,” said Rev. Glenda Layton, pastor of St. James African Methodist Episcopal Church in Freedman Grove.
Pastor Mike Buckley of the Westside Baptist Church in Hinesville said he wants to see the church family grow closer to God in 2015.  
“We will continue with our weekly soup kitchen each Saturday evening from 5-7 p.m. Some of our members prepare a regular meal for the hungry during this time,” Buckley said. “We will also continue to serve the needs of the community through our food pantry.  We stock it with non-perishables for those in need.”
Pastor Frederick McIver of First Zion Missionary Baptist Church in Riceboro plans to help his church family get out and engage the community.  
“We plan to evangelize in the Riceboro and surrounding area,” McIver said. “We are also looking to build the family. A family and friends day program is scheduled for March. Additionally, we will encourage people to know that things are better and are going to be even better. We just want to encourage the people.”
Pastor Tom Gardner of New Beginnings Church in Ludowici said his congregation is in the planning stages of offering two services on Sunday mornings.  
“We are growing and have finished paving our parking lot,” he said. “On Feb. 27-28, we will have another marriage conference. Last year, we had about 200 people, and it was a huge success.  This year, the conference will commence at 7 p.m. Friday, Feb. 27. On Saturday morning, Feb. 28, it will start at 9 a.m. and culminate at 1 p.m.  Pastor Johnny Moore and Dianne Moore of the Family Worship Center in Cairo, Georgia, are the facilitators.
“We are also expanding our backpack program to help children who go home from school on Friday and don’t have anything to eat until the next Monday,” Gardner continued. “This initiative provides food for their backpack so they will not be hungry during the weekend.”  
The pastor and his congregants even have plans in the works for spring.
“The church is also looking forward to passion weekend April 3-5. The third week in June is our ‘love week.’ That week, we will be going out into the community to assist in fixing up houses, porches, painting and cutting grass. We are going to love the community for a whole week,” Gardner said. “Our theme for 2015 is  ‘Reaching for More.’”

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