Culpeper’s Top Ten Spiritual Stories Of 2008

31 Dec

“The Culpeper community faced a tragedy (Kelsey Orndorff’s death) in August it won’t soon forget.” – Culpeper Star Exponent

“And you shall remember that the LORD your God led you all the way these forty years in the wilderness, to humble you and test you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.” (Deuteronomy 8:2)

What were the top 10 highlights and low points for you personally in 2008?

In keeping with the annual tradition begun last year, I’m going to share the top ten spiritual stories of 2008 from my perspective. These stories relate primarily to Culpeper, but also Virginia because both are my home.

On December 26, 2008, the Culpeper Star Exponent published a lengthy article titled “Culpeper’s top 10 stories of 2008.” According to that, these were the top ten stories in order of significance:
1) We felt the full effects of the 2008 recession
2) Culpeper opens new high school
3) Center of the political universe
4) It started with Cox’s dismissal
5) Town thrice left in the dark
6) Controversy for Branch, Compton
7) Teen’s death hits entire community
8) Town’s future a matter of politics
9) No shortage of candidates here
10) Terremark – new facility brings jobs

In Culpeper (and Virginia), the top 10 spiritual stories of 2008 were (in chronologic order)
1) Selection of Dr. Rev. Charlene Phillips as President of the  Culpeper Ministerial Association (Feb 2008)
2) Virginia-Liberia Alliance established (Apr 2008)
3) Launch of City on a Hill Church by GW Dameron (June 2008)
4) Launch of Transformation Virginia initiative (Aug 2008) – Culpeper’s fire spread because of Jack Stagman
5) Death of Kelsey Orndorff (08-29-08)
6) Eastern View High School opened (school name is very significant biblically)
7) Launch of community-wide Experiencing God initiative (09-07-08) – spearheaded by Rev. Mark Jenkins
8) Churches launch homeless initiative in Culpeper (Nov 2008)
9) Culpeper Community Thanksgiving service (11-25-08) – UNITY
10) Marching Through Culpeper convergences

Of course, these 10 stories represent only a very small fraction of the many great things that God did in Culpeper in 2008. Thank you to all of you (locally, regionally, nationally, and even internationally) who are sowing your prayers, time, treasure, and talent to make Culpeper and Virginia a bright light for the world.

At the statewide level for Virginia, one of the most significant positive spiritual initiatives I am aware of for 2008 was the decision by Bowie Curry to launch a 24/7 house of prayer in the Greater Fredericksburg area starting January 2009.

On the national front, “The epic election that made Barack Obama the first African-American president was the top news story of 2008 – followed closely by the economic meltdown that will test his leadership, according to U.S. editors and news directors voting in The Associated Press’ annual poll.

Internationally, I feel the Beijing Olympics, which began 08-08-08, brought a significant and temporary peace and calm to the world overall for a few weeks during an otherwise very stormy year.

Prayer Power
Heavenly Father, thank You for the favor you showed to Culpeper and Virginia this past year. Thank You that the pastors and churches in our community are coming together more and more in UNITY to address common problems we face. May 2009 be the best year ever spiritually in the history of Culpeper and Virginia. Do an amazing work to make our communities a bright light for the world! In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen and hallelujah!

Link of the Day
Details for the top 10 spiritual stories of 2008 for Culpeper [see below]

Blessings to make the time to reflect back on 2008 and to set godly goals for 2009!


Details for top 10 spiritual stories of 2008 for Culpeper (in chronologic order)

1) Selection of Dr. Rev. Charlene Phillips as President of the  Culpeper Ministerial Association
On Feb 19, 2008, Rev. Randy Orndorff passed the baton to Rev. Charlene Phillips to serve as President of the Culpeper Ministerial Association for two years. This marked the very first time that a female and a black person were elected to the recognized top position of spiritual authority for the Culpeper community. Charlene did a wonderful job leading in the Spirit to bring more UNITY amongst the pastors and marketplace ministers. Thank you Charlene. And thank You Pastor Randy for the wonderful job you did leading our community spiritually for the two years before Charlene took over.

2) Virginia-Liberia Alliance established (Apr 2008)
In my devotional on May 28, 2008 titled “A Day I’ll Never Forget“, I mentioned that “December 18, 2007 was a turning point, not only in my life and Sam Reeves’ life, but also for Culpeper, Virginia, and the nation of Liberia.” As a result of my offering to help Sam Reeves and Rim of Grace Ministries, I had the privilege to
a) Visit meet Ron Davidson and visit the Gleaning For The World headquarters in January 2008
b) Participate in Operation Rescue Liberia Day on Feb 23, 2008
c) Participate in Virginia-Liberia Alliance Day on Saturday April 19 at the Reformation Lutheran Church.
d) Visit the Liberian Embassy in Wash D.C. with a large contingency from Culpeper, including Rev’s Jacob and Charlene Phillips
e) Build a strong friendship with David Bean, who I would nominate as Culpeper’s citizen of the year.

3) Launch of City on a Hill Church by GW Dameron (June 2008)
 On April 17, 2008, Pastor GW Dameron contacted me out-of-the-blue to say he was moving with his family from San Diego CA to Culpeper VA in June 2008 to finish a work that had been started to make Culpeper a city set on a hill (for Jesus). In the short while GW has been in Culpeper, he has been responsible for a big upswing in the spiritual climate of our community To learn more, visit my blog titled “City on a Hill Church” (July 21, 2008) –

4) Launch of Transformation Virginia initiative (Aug 2008) – Culpeper’s fire spread because of Jack Stagman
Rick Heeren had told me on numerous occasions for more than a year that he wanted to come back to Culpeper to fan the flames he had started a few years earlier. I kept advising Rick to contact Jack Stagman and go to Northern Virginia first. Finally that happened.

On July 29, we held our first ever Transformation Virginia webinar. The blog (website) for Transformation Virginia was birthed. And Rick came to Northern Virginia, Fredericksburg, and Culpeper on August 17-19,2008. After spending 3 days shuttling Rick around, Jack caught the city transformation bug. In my opinion, Jack is currently playing the most significant role in the spiritual transformation of Virginia. He has already been responsible for lighting fires for prayer evangelism in more than 7 new communities in Virginia.

5) Death of Kelsey Orndorff (08-29-08)
Saturday August 30, 2008 was definitely the saddest day of the year for me when I learned that Pastor Randy Orndorff’s only daughter (Kelsey) died in a serious car accident the evening before on her way to a Chris Sligh concert in Fredericksburg. As President of the Culpeper Ministerial Association for 2 years, Pastor Randy had been offered tremendous support to our Pray Culpeper team. As I was driving to the first memorial service held for Kelsey on the night of Aug 30, the scripture that came to my mind was Psalm 116:15, “Precious in the sight of the LORD Is the death of His saints.”

During the memorial service, I learned from the testimonies of numerous people that Kelsey had manifested an UNCOMMON love for Jesus and for the destitute in this world, especially the homeless. Given that and Pastor Randy’s reputation as one of the most beloved pastors of our community, I knew that somehow, some way God was going to bring something great out of something so tragic. He always does. People at the Culpeper United Methodist Church, pastors in our community, and the community-at-large rallied behind Randy and LeAnne Orndorff. On November, Chris Sligh came to Culpeper High School to lead a concert in memory of Kelsey. About 800 people, mostly teens, showed up. I believe the new homeless ministry that the churches in Culpeper recently embraced is a direct result of Kelsey’s death.

6) Eastern View High School opened
Two years in the making, the much anticipated Eastern View High School finally opened. School spirit ran high from the get-go, as an estimated 5,000 people attended the Cyclones’ inaugural home football game, a friendly scrimmage against CCHS. Behind the electrifying legs of star tailback Stevie Strother, EVHS went on to finish 7-3, playing to large crowds most every Friday night. More importantly, the opening of EVHS provided a big boost in morale to our community. I believe the name of this school is very significant spiritually because Moses’ Tabernacle, Solomon’s temple, and Jewish synagogues all face to the East (i.e. have an eastern view). Mountain View Community Church, a large local church having a tremendous impact on the spiritual climate of Culpeper, is moving its Sunday worship services to EVHS starting January 2009.

7) Launch of community-wide Experiencing God initiative (09-07-08) – spearheaded by Rev. Mark Jenkins
This summer Mark Jenkins caught the Holy Spirit fire of revival and he wasted no time in spreading that to others in our community. Supported by more than 100 LIFE groups, numerous churches and businesses embraced the 7 week “Experiencing God” series prepared by Henry Blackaby. Thank You to Mark for lighting a fire that will not be quenched.

8) Churches launch homeless initiative in Culpeper (Nov 2008)
Jesus said that when we take care of the destitute (i.e. the poor, the hungry, widows, orphans, the sick, those in prison, etc), we are caring for Him. Thanks to the Culpeper Food Closet, the needs for many of the hungry were already being met. Thanks to the leading of Pastors Chad Whaley and Michael Gray, the Culpeper Ministerial Association embrace coming together to care for the urgent need of homeless people in Culpeper just in time as freezing temperatures came in late November. We are trusting God to engage many more churches and volunteers as needed to continue this vital ministry.

9) Culpeper Community Thanksgiving service (11-25-08) – UNITY
In the entire time I have lived in Culpeper, I have never witnessed such UNITY among such a diverse audience as at this year’s Culpeper Community Thanksgiving service. We thank Dr. John W. Kinney for his passionate message about rejoicing always. And we owe a special thanks to Rev. Charlene Phillips for the prayers and relationship building she did to make this possible.

10) Marching Through Culpeper convergences
Virginia Morton never ceases to amaze me with her persistence, ever-growing faith, and positive attitude. The weekly MTC prayer calls on Tuesday afternoons have been my favorite times of corporate prayer. In my June 4 devotional, I stated that “the Marching Through Culpeper movie project is by far the biggest God story I have ever been involved with from a marketing perspective on the web.”

On July 24, Virginia launched her very first email MTC marketing campaign and posted her first blog entry herself. As a result of that, Georgia Willis got reconnected to Virginia and then to me. Because of her love for Jesus and her involvement in key positions of leadership on a variety of higher education boards, I have dubbed Georgia “Virginia’s Princess of Education.” On December 18, Virginia emailed me an amazing list of 2008 convergences for MTC.

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