Cherokee Baptist Association - Centre, Alabama
Cherokee Baptist Association
Tuesday, January 18, 2022

From The Director's Heart

            Wendell Dutton - Association Missionary

                              Partnership Principle:  
              "We work best when we work together
                and we do best what we do together."


 December 2021

   Christmas, that wonderful time of the year that we celebrate the birth of our Savior! Across the past several years, I have voiced my displeasure with how Christmas has become so commercialized and consumer driven. This is not just the case with unbelievers, but with many of us who are followers of Jesus as well. This year, my hope and prayer is that as believers, we would constantly be reminded of and demonstrate to the world the true meaning of Christmas.   The purpose of Christmas is clearly defined in Luke 2:11, “For unto you is born this day in the city of David a Saviour, which is Christ the Lord.” 
   Everything about this season points to one thing: man was hopelessly and helplessly lost and God so loved us that He sent His son, Jesus, to come and save us from our sin and place us in His Forever Family. When thinking about the purpose of Christmas, I can’t help but recall the words of that great preacher, Adrian Rogers, who said, “He came as He did, to be what He was, to do what He did, that we might be what we are — sons and daughters of God.   He came to earth that we might go to Heaven. He was born of a virgin, that we might be born again.”    
   From the creation - to the cradle - to the cross, Jesus was and is the Savior and Redeemer sent from the Father. Today, He sits on His throne as our High Priest, our Intercessor, and King. But one day in the future He is coming back and we shall be with Him! Then, we will be a part of the endless celebration of Jesus being our Savior, Lord and King.      
   So, as we celebrate Christmas this year in our churches, in our homes with family and friends, or wherever we might be, we are celebrating the great salvation made possible by Jesus. To that end, may Christ be front and center in our lives, not just during this Christmas season, but every day of our lives!     

   Marcille and I are thankful for you. We are praying that you experience all the joys of this Christmas, and a happy and blessed New Year.               
                               Bro. Wendell  
 Thanks be to God     
               for His unspeakable gift.”   
                                    II Corinthians 9:15


  October 2021

In recent years I have come to love and appreciate the Fall season more and more. I particularly enjoy the crisp mornings and the absolutely beautiful colors of the fall foliage. It reminds me every day of our wonderful creator who provides all of this beauty for our pleasure. With the coming of fall, comes football season, county fairs, and fall festivals.  
   Also, it marks several important dates for our association and churches. On October 18, our churches will come together at New Prospect #2 for our 188th Annual Meeting. Our meeting this year will be different from past years as we will only have an evening session beginning at  6:00 PM, with no meal served. We will take care of the necessary business of the association, hear some encouraging reports from our associational leaders, and conclude with a time of worship.   Bro. Larry Hyche, one of our State Missionaries, will be preaching for us. We look forward to having Bro. Larry with us again, as he has done a couple of Men’s Ministry events for us and was really well received.
      October is also “Minister Appreciation Month.” This is a time for churches to show  appreciation to their pastors. These men and their families sacrifice so much and they deeply care about the people God has given them to shepherd. I trust that each of our churches will take time during this month to honor and say thank you to their pastor.
   I am excited to announce our first large gathering meeting since COVID began last March. On November 7, 5:00 PM, at Centre First (the ROC), we will have “A Night of Encouragement and Evangelism.”   This meeting will be similar to our evangelism rallies we have had in the past. The difference being, we are partnering with our State Board of Missions this year. It will begin with a brief time of evangelism training centered on “Who's Your One.” This will be followed by a mini concert by Mr. Bob Smith, a former music evangelist; and will conclude with an encouraging message from Rev. Daniel Wilson, Director of Evangelism, State Board of Missions.
   I look forward to seeing you at these upcoming fall events. May you and your church have a blessed and bountiful Fall.
   Thank you for allowing me the great privilege to serve as your associational missionary.      
                                           Bro. Wendell
                                           III John 2


  May 24, 2021
   “I thank my God upon every remembrance of you.”  
Those are the words of Paul in Philippians 1:3, as he gave thanks for the church at Philippi. It is also my sentiment as I think about each of the 38 churches that make up the Cherokee Baptist Association. The past 15 months have been extremely difficult as our churches have had to navigate through the challenges of the Covid-19 Pandemic. I am so thankful for our churches and their response during this trying time. It now appears that we may be seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Our churches are moving toward being fully reopened in the near future. Many have plans in place for summer and even fall ministries and events.
   I am so excited that many of our churches have made plans for VBS and are making the necessary preparations. VBS has always been a great opportunity to reach our communities. Through VBS, we show the love of Christ to children and their families. We teach children the Bible, build relationships, share the Gospel, and see many boys and girls trust Christ as their Savior. Certainly, VBS is going to be done a little differently this summer, but I believe it could be one of our best years ever.    One of the major changes is that several of our churches are using last year’s material and theme. The 2020 LifeWay Theme was “Concrete and Cranes,” Building on the Love of Jesus.  That is certainly appropriate considering what we have went through and are now having to rebuild a number of the ministries in our churches. This year’s LifeWay Theme is “Destination Dig,” Unearthing the Truth About Jesus. This theme is also very relevant as well. We are living in a world that has a lot of questions about what is going on in this world and in particular their own lives. They are asking: What is going on? What is life’s purpose? Is there any hope? Where can I find the answers? Jeremiah 29:13, the theme verse for Destination Dig, states:   “And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart.” This is a great time for the church to declare to a lost and questioning world that all of life’s questions and meaning is found in Jesus. Whether your church is using a LifeWay theme or some other theme, please know that I am praying for your VBS and stand ready to help you have the best VBS possible. 
   May is graduation time for many students and I say congratulations to each graduate. May you follow the Godly wisdom of Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not to thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy paths.”
   As we celebrate Memorial Day, let us remember to pay our respect to those who serve our country, especially those who gave their lives to secure our freedom and liberty. 
                                    Bro. Wendell     
                                    III John 2


March 17, 2021
   We have now passed the one year mark of this journey of dealing with and adjusting our lives to Covid-19. I remember so well our introduction to this virus that became a global pandemic.  Our president, governor, and other national and state leaders called on us to take a time of a two-week shutdown to “slow the spread” of this unfamiliar virus.  There was no way at that point to estimate or understand the radical change it would bring to our lives personally, our churches, and every area of society.      
   This two-week shut down turned into several weeks and even months for many of our churches.  I applaud our pastors and churches for using social media and other means to continue providing worship experiences.  With successful vaccines now in place, herd immunity in the near future, and some very promising treatment drugs not far away, it is time for our churches to begin to plan for fully re-opening.       
   That being said, we must proceed prayerfully, patiently, and cautiously in order to provide safe, successful worship and ministry opportunities for our people. I must confess that I am  deeply concerned about the harm this pandemic may have caused to our churches.  It is estimated by many national church leaders that we may well lose up to one third of our pre-covid church  attendance.  It is also projected that, even here in Alabama, as many as ten percent of our  churches may never re-open and therefore close permanently.  That makes it more important than ever that the highest priority of our churches must be reaching people and making disciples.

   Hopefully, on April 4th, we will be able to gather as churches and celebrate the greatest event in history:  the Resurrection of Jesus!  After the very difficult past 12 months we have endured, Easter Sunday should be even more special to us this year.  As I reflect on the past year of hardships presented by Covid-19 and the challenge of fully re-opening our churches in coming days, I am guided by the words of the great hymn, Because He Lives, written by Bill & Gloria Gaither:
          “God sent His Son, they called Him Jesus, 
          He came to love, heal and forgive.                
          He lived and died to buy my pardon;          
          An empty grave is there to prove my Savior lives.           
          Because He lives I can face tomorrow;       
          Because He lives all fear is gone,                
          Because I know He holds the future,           
          And, life is worth the living just because He lives.”             
   May this Easter hold a deep and special meaning to each of us.   
                                                                  Bro. Wendell       
                                                                   John 14:19

December 2020

   This year has been unique to say the least. It has been filled with disappointments,  discouragement, and sometimes even despair. We are still living in the midst of a global pandemic - COVID-19, and we have just finished the most contentious election in our nation’s history. Our president-elect has stated that because of the rising number of infections of the Corona Virus, we are headed into a long dark winter. So, here we are just days before Christmas and many are saying or thinking how do we celebrate it with all this going on around us? I know that even as followers of Jesus, we often get caught up in the depression and despair of what is going on around us and affecting our lives in an adverse way.         
   The key to how we celebrate Christmas and how we are to live our lives is found in one word, Hope.  As believers in Jesus Christ, we are a people of hope and our celebration of Christmas is to be a celebration filled with hope. This means that even partisan politics and a pandemic cannot dismiss or overcome the hope that is found in Jesus. His birth on that starlit night long ago in Bethlehem provided hope to a dark and dreary world. Everything about the Lord Jesus points to hope. In I Peter 1:3, we are told that our new birth or salvation is a “living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” Paul states in I Thessalonians 4:13, that when it comes to death we are not to “sorrow as others who have no hope.” The writer of Hebrews states that as believers we have a hope that is an anchor of the soul which is both sure and steadfast (6:19) and Jesus is a better hope (7:14). In Titus 2:13, Paul tells us that we should be “Looking for that blessed hope and glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ.”               
   So, as we celebrate Christmas, let us ever remember we are a people of hope and may we be faithful to share this message of hope with a world that is in desperate need for hope.           
   May you have a Merry Christmas and a safe and Happy New Year.                                     
                                          Bro. Wendell
                                          Micah 5:2                     


August 2020

   To say that we are ministering in an unusual and challenging time is an understatement. Our pastors and churches are trying to figure how to begin adding back needed ministries and other worship services in the midst of this pandemic while working to comply with health and safety guidelines. In spite of these challenges, there is a tremendous open door before us to share the gospel, minister to people, and experience true revival.                   
   The church in every age has faced great difficulties and often times persecution. This is so apparent with the first century church which had few resources, a meager amount of money, and little to no influence. The one thing they did have, which is sorely missing in our modern churches, is power. Acts 1:8 states for that first church and for churches in every age to   follow, “But ye shall receive power after the Holy Ghost is come upon you.” To quote one of my favorite authors, Dr. O. S. Hawkins, “The modern church has confused influence for power.” While those early Christians did not have the influence to get Peter out of jail     (Acts 12:6-17), they had enough power with God to get him set free. They did not have the resources and influence to get the Gospel beyond Jerusalem, but they had enough power with God that the Gospel made it to every known continent of their day.  
   It seems as if the churches of our day may be more concerned with having influence in social, business, civic, and especially political circles. This kind of mistaken thinking will never get churches past barriers and obstacles that hamper their ability to be on mission with God. The only way we can ever survive and thrive, rebuild our churches and their ministries, or, even experience authentic revival, will be as we experience the power of God on our churches. While influence may be good in many areas of life, we must never confuse or substitute it for what is really needed—a real manifestation of the power of God. So, as we move ahead in this extremely uncertain time, may we seek the Lord and receive the needed power for the present and future challenges.
   Please know that I am praying for you and stand ready to assist you in any possible way.                                         
                                              Bro. Wendell
                                               Nahum 1:7



 May 20, 2020

“Our world changed overnight, and with it, so did our daily lives.” This was a recent news headline I saw referring to the effects of the coronavirus in our world and our way of life. Who would have believed less than three months ago our nation would be shut down, our economy crippled, unemployment would skyrocket, supply chains for food and basic items severely disrupted, gatherings of more than 10 people prohibited, and church services temporarily suspended. Yes, our lives and the way we live our lives has dramatically changed. This has all happened because of a germ that is 1.25 nanometers in size. This germ can only be seen through the lenses of a laboratory microscope. It demonstrates that God can use even the smallest of things to get our attention, bring the activity of the world to a standstill, and shake up His church.
     Some are saying this is a judgement of God on our nation and world. The Bible clearly teaches that God is a God of judgement and that at some point every person will stand before Him in judgement. Believers will be judged at the “Judgement Seat of Christ,” II Corinthians 5:10, while unbelievers will face God at the “Great White Throne of Judgement,” Revelation 20:11. I am refraining from this debate, choosing rather to believe that God is seeking to get our attention and refocus His church in order to bring revival and a spiritual awakening.
     Jesus started the church and commissioned the church; but, along the way, the church has lost its sense of purpose thus suffering its loss of power. For the most part, the modern church in our western civilization has given way to self-desire, self-pleasure, and the need to be entertained.
     This shutdown has taught us that our lives can go on without restaurants to dine in, malls to shop at, and movie theaters to frequent. Also, it teaches us that we can live without sporting events and they should not dominate our lives. It has reminded us that what is really important is our faith in Christ, our family and friends, to be generous, and share with others.
     Our churches are now faced with preparing to gather again for in-person worship and how to do so in a safe, inviting, and accommodating way. The larger issue that is before us is if we are going to seize this time of change in a positive way to have a tremendous impact in our world for Christ. If we do so, then revival will come and a spiritual awakening will follow where possibly millions of people will be saved. Remember, whatever happens, the church of our Lord Jesus Christ can never be defeated.
     I am humbled by the opportunity and privilege of serving with you in this challenging time.                                         
                                              Bro. Wendell
                                               Nahum 1:7


    May 4, 2020
Visit the page on this website,
"COVID Preparing to Meet in Our Churches Again,"
for planning and having your church ready to open.

A Message from Bro. Wendell
March 24, 2020

Over the past few days, I have heard pastors, church leaders, believers, and unbelievers alike say, "We've never seen or faced anything like this."  The rise of the Covid19/Coronavirus has touched basically every area of our lives.  In order to help our churches figure out how we can be at our best and be as effective as possible during this difficult and unusual time. I met last Thursday night with a majority of our pastors. 


This meeting focused on four things:

1.  To update everyone on the latest information and guidelines that were put in place by our government officials nationally, at the state level,
and locally.
2.  To encourage each other.
3.  Discuss and share ideas how we adapt to this fluid situation if needed for an extended period of time.
4.  To pray.   

Since most of you are probably up to date on the information and guidelines that are in place, I want to provide you with a brief recap of
the other three topics we covered.

This is a time when our people are looking to hear a word from the Lord from their pastor. Our people are wanting to hear a word of hope, encouragement, assurance, and to reinforce their faith. Our pastors have the voice of authority to do exactly that!

*How do we handle this situation currently and going forward?

Have a plan in place to effectively minister to our church members and needs that will continue to arise.

2.  To have a strategy in place to keep our people from scattering (especially those who may only have a marginal commitment to
the church) if this becomes an extended crisis.

3.  To seek out ways we can provide a worship experience for our people.  We must be creative and innovative.  Many of our 
churches are using Facebook streaming, YouTube, their church's website, and some are seeking to use technology for a drive-in type service.  A few of our churches decided to meet this past Sunday and will evaluate what to do next.

4.  We talked about the financial impact this will have on our churches.  Please remain financially committed to your church during this time.

5.  Faith vs. Fear   While there is fear and panic all around us, as followers of Jesus, we also must be concerned and vigilant to do all we can to stop the spread of this virus; however, we cannot succumb to fear.

6.  Our Witness to the World   We must be salt and light in a world that is filled with chaos, fear, and panic.  Though this appears to be an obstacle, God has provided opportunities for us to serve, minister, and share the Gospel.


We spent time praying in the following ways and I encourage you to do so as well.

1.  Pray for God's mercy to stop this pandemic and save lives in our local community to all around the world.

2.  Pray for our President, the Coronavirus Task Force, our national leaders, our state leaders, and our local community leaders.

3.  Pray for God to strengthen and comfort those who have contracted this virus and ask for God's healing touch on their lives.

4.  Pray for those in the medical profession who are on the front lines of this battle.

5.  Pray for each other and our churches.  Pray that there will be no long term consequences.  Ask God to help us be a stronger and more effective witness in our world, and ultimately bring revival.

6.  Pray about the financial impact it will have on people.


Summary:  Pray fervently.  Remember, Jesus calls us to love, be generous, keep a check on each other, practice family devotion time reading, and study our Bibles.

The Church is not a building, 
it is us and our representation of Christ in the world.


"We can trust an unknown future to a known God," 
                                                            --Corrie tenBoom

   Bro. Wendell

   February/March 2020
   2020 is here and it has been a very busy start. While it is the beginning of a new year, it also marks the arrival of a new decade. As I look ahead to how many days or years the Lord may give us, I can’t help but wonder what changes, challenges, obstacles, and opportunities we may be confronted with. It also causes me to look back and deeply reflect on the past decade. 

   In the past ten years, we have seen and experienced swift and major changes to practically every area of life. As a nation, we are painfully divided into partisan politics with little or no concern for governing rightly. We are a nation that seems to have lost its way. Our culture is broken and bankrupt as we have given way to the days of the prophet Jeremiah when the people were calling, “That which was good, evil; and that which is evil, good.” Just think, the courts have redefined marriage; Christian values are being cast aside, mocked, and even assaulted; while families are under constant attack. Spiritually, our churches have experienced dramatic decline that still continues. It would appear that we are: “At ease in Zion,” contented, complacent, complicit, and apathetic to the need of the day. The great need of our day is to have strong, healthy, and vibrant churches. This can only be accomplished through repentance and    returning to our “First Love’ which will in turn lead us to personal and congregational revival. 

   In spite of the conditions of our country and our culture, I hold on to great hope for the church. Why? Because God has a history of doing a great work among His people in some of the darkest of times. We must remember, the church is His instrument of working in our world. Most   importantly, Jesus has not given up on His church, so neither should we. For that simple reason, we must give Him our best, our most, and our all for the rest of our days.                                       
                                      Bro. Wendell
                                      I Peter 3:15


   One of my favorite things about Christmas is the music of the season. These wonderful songs give us different aspects of the birth of Jesus. However, many of these songs also tell of His life mission, His death, resurrection and even His coming again. They are filled with tremendous theology. Sometimes I ask myself why do we confine using them only for a few weeks before Christmas? My personal preference would be to use them occasionally year round.
   My love and appreciation for Christmas music was probably handed down to me from my mother. Her favorite Christmas song was “Oh Beautiful Star of Bethlehem,” which we would always sing together at our family Christmas gatherings. This song was so special to her that we used it as a part of her funeral service in November of 2017. As we look at a portion of the lyrics of this great song, I believer we can see why it was treasured by my mother as well as countless numbers of other people.

“Oh Beautiful Star of Bethlehem shining afar through shadows dim, giving a light to those who long have gone, and guiding the Wise Men on their way,    unto the place where Jesus lay, Beautiful Star of Bethlehem, shine on.
Oh Beautiful Star the hope of rest for the redeemed, the good and blessed, yonder in glory when the crown is won. Jesus is now that star divine, brighter and brighter He will shine. Beautiful Star of Bethlehem, shine on.” 

   The great Bible truth we see here is that the Star which guided the Wise Men was revealed in human flesh as the Light of the World (John 8:12). In II Peter 1:19, we see further confirmation of this truth, “We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the Day Star arise in your heart.”
   This Christmas season may our hope be renewed in this “Beautiful Star of Bethlehem,” and this precious Day Star arise in the hearts of those who are lost and walking in darkness. From our family to your family, Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!                                     
                                                               Bro. Wendell
                                                               Luke 2:10-11