Paula Zanello Antunes (she/her)
Community Engagement Lead
Along with calling clergy, FBCH has a history of acknowledging the unique gifts of members within our local church who have pursued theological and practical ministry training, typically through a lay (non-clergy) study program. Traditionally, the congregation of FBCH has acknowledged the calling of these individuals by licensing them to minister within our congregation and local community setting.
David first came to FBCH in 1987 to sing in the Senior Choir and became a member of the church in 1989. Over the years he has served on the Refugee Committee (assisting in the settlement of four refugee families), the Community Outreach Committee, the Visitation Committee, the Music Committee, and the Board of Management. He also served on the Board of Deacons for eight years and is a long-standing member of the Senior Choir.David completed his Diploma in Theological Studies at the Atlantic School of Theology in the spring of 2021 and was granted a License to Minister at FBCH in the fall of 2021. Since that time, he has been active in Pastoral Ministry to the seniors of our congregation who are shut ins at home or in group home settings.
Pastor John’s face is the first one you will see when you arrive at our church each Sunday morning as he greets both newcomers and regulars with a warm welcome to FBCH. He also assists with worship leadership, including leading communion services and occasionally preaching.John completed the two year Certificate Program in Theological Studies at the Atlantic School of Theology in 2004, followed by the three year Lay Pastor Training Program at the Convention of Atlantic Baptist Churches.
Leadership from within the congregation is central to the life of FBCH. As a congregational church (meaning a church where the collective community makes decisions), the various Boards and Committees lead the church as we aspire to embody the Way of Jesus.
Central to this leadership is our Diaconate which is tasked with nurturing the ministry of the congregation. Our Deacons regularly assist with worship leadership, including serving communion on the first Sunday of each month.
My first experience with FBCH was during the Summer services where I felt a warm connection with the members. As a new Deacon of FBCH, I have noted a true sense of acceptance and openness within a family of diverse peoples. I feel inspired by the music program, as well as, have felt a true calling in greeting and helping people.
FBCH is central to my sense of community and helps shape my view of the world. At FBCH, we learn, laugh, reflect and question together - all essential ingredients for spiritual growth.
The people here inspire me to consider how faith and spirituality bring deeper meaning to my everyday life. This is a supportive community where doubts and questions find a soft place to land.
I am so fortunate to have found a church home in FBCH and to be able to live out my religious commitment through my involvement with the Diaconate and with others within the congregation. I am inspired by the congregation’s commitment to openness and diversity, to action on social justice issues, to friendliness and laughter, and to serious discussion, reflection and dialogue.
I’m a Deacon at FBCH because I like interacting with people who are interested in matters of the spirit. I’m happy to be part of this particular congregation because of the openness and welcome to all people at all stages of their life and spiritual journeys.
There is an openness here - we respect tradition but we are not tradition-bound. I serve because it strengthens my connection to others that are part of a caring community and we contribute to something larger than ourselves… something meaningful, something timeless.
As someone who is in a constant state of flux over what I believe (and some days even if I believe), I find FBCH to be a comfortable place. The people and clergy embrace the questioning mind while offering insightful and reflective guidance on how to approach life in this challenging world. I appreciate that, as a community, we preach and try to model radical inclusivity.
Since childhood my spiritual base has been FBCH. The foundation for the values I hold in life were formed here. Being encouraged to question and challenge lead to stronger beliefs. The opportunity to share in building our community, the camaraderie in friendships formed here, the joy in service to others, and the love, respect and comfort one feels in this place we call home can all be found here
FBCH is home to me—home to me because of its openness to be inclusive, accepting and welcoming. FBCH holds dear to its traditions and history, while fostering an environment allowing me to dream about its future. God provides us all with spiritual gifts which can be exercised freely within the church. This gives me purpose, fulfillment and a sense of belonging. Following Jesus’ example of serving others in providing spiritual leadership, allows for a deepening of my faith formation.