TOPICS INCLUDE REFUGEE RESETTLEMENT
AND INTERFAITH EFFORTS IN EUROPE
Kearstin Bailey, an Overseas Ministry Intern with the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and the United Church of Christ, will be guest speaker during a series of events to take place at Central Christian Church in Dallas.
The church is at 4711 Westside Drive. The public is invited to all events in the series including dinner - presented in partnership with Refugee Services of Texas - on Friday, November 17, at 6:30 p.m., in the church’s Fellowship Hall, and a Thanksgiving banquet on Sunday, November 19, beginning at 12:15 p.m. Ms. Bailey will also lead a conversation at 9:45 a.m. on Sunday. RSVPs are requested for either meal by 2 p.m. Friday.
Ms. Bailey just completed a two-year ministry in Hungary. Her next mission takes place in Greece. Focus of her ministry is local interfaith cooperation and refugee resettlement in the countries where she is posted. More information about her is at http://www.globalministries.org/kearstin_bailey.
For a complete schedule of events, contact Central Christian Church, 214-526-7291 or firstname.lastname@example.org. The church’s website is CentralChristianDallas.org.
What happened last Sunday, 11/5, at First Baptist Church was a tragedy on so many levels. We grieve for the families and the community torn irreparably. We wonder about what's wrong in our world. We have concern for our own safety at church and elsewhere.
This is a good reminder that all gathering places need a variety of emergency preparedness and response plans. We are actively working to put those in place at Central. Wherever else you go, you might ask what they are doing to prepare for any number of events, such as a fire, tornado, gas explosion, sudden health emergency, or an outbreak of violence. All of these are things for which we can prepare in advance and be more ready to respond thoughtfully and well. Panic almost always leads to poor choices that increase danger. Preparation helps us avoid panic.
More specific to the current situation, here are some thoughts:
What happened was tragic. We must not live in fear. We are no more or less at risk than the day before it happened. Its just been put in our faces again. We cannot fully protect ourselves from such incidents. We can do more than we currently are to prepare. The answer is not armed guards or concealed handguns at church.
What happened in Sutherland Springs was the result of major failures on at least four fronts which have nothing to do with congregation's readiness for tragedy.
One thing we can do immediately is engage with organizations like Genesis Women's shelter and their men's auxiliary HeROs to address the root causes of domestic violence before it begins and support people at every stage of the process. Victims, Perpetrators, and their Communities all need more support than they are receiving. Had these things been in place, perhaps Devin Kelley might have found another way to deal with his mental and emotional problems.
We can and must advocate for more and better systems of accountability that would have prevented a known perpetrator of violence from having been able to carry out this attach. No matter if everyone in the sanctuary had been "open carry" ready, Kelley would have gotten off dozens of shots before people would be able to respond and bring the chaos to an end - in the very best of circumstances.
I'm not taking a position on open or concealed carry. I am certain that arming parishioners would not have prevented this tragedy, though it may possibly have saved a few lives (which would certainly have been a good thing). In a crowded room people who are not expert marksmen would be just as likely to hit other innocents in the chaos and panic. We need to pursue solutions that prevent such things from going this far.
As with the Lord's Prayer, we ask in such times that God's kingdom would come and God's will would be done. We then experience the prayer immediately coming back to us with God's question - "What will you do? How will you pursue my kingdom and my will on earth as in heaven? How will you be partners with Me in the solution?"
What happened was the result of a convergence of immense systemic failures in our society. All of which we can address. As a society, we must address issues of mental health and domestic violence with greater intention, attention, energy, and money. We are not powerless. We need not be victims. We need not live in fear.
"For God has not given us a spirit of fearfulness, but one of power, love, and sound judgment." (2 Timothy 1:7(HCB translation)
As we pray for the victims and their community, let us continue as people of The Light, who shine in darkness, and who are not overcome.
(If you would like to have conversation about this post, or the topics raised in it, I welcome you to contact me at the church.)
We are pleased to welcome Rev. Dr. Bobby Hawley to the pulpit at Central this coming Sunday, September 17th at 11:00 AM preaching from Mark 4:26-34 - "What Kind of Legacy Will You Leave?" He will also lead an introductory Legacy Planning workshop at 9:45 AM focusing on what questions to ask yourself and others as you consider and plan your financial legacy.
Robert “Bobby” W. Hawley is vice president of the Christian Church Foundation’s South Central zone, which includes Arkansas, Mississippi, Louisiana, Oklahoma and Texas. He joined the staff of the Foundation in 1998.
A former congregational pastor, Bobby received his Bachelor of Science in Social Work from Texas Christian University, his Master of Divinity from Brite Divinity School, and his Doctor of Ministry from Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary. He received his Certified Specialist in Planned Giving designation from California State University.
Bobby and his wife Diane are active members of University Christian Church in Fort Worth, where his office is located. They are the parents of three adult children.
Bobby can be reached at email@example.com or at (817) 923-0422. You can learn more about the Christian Church Foundation at www.christianchurchfoundation.org.
Download resources for individual and organizational legacy planning here.
As the Senior Pastor of Central Christian Church in Dallas, I’m pleased to welcome The Gathering and provide space here for you to hear directly from the founders. If you want to know more of my thoughts, those can be found here in another post.
Rev. Yvette Blair-Lavallais
Rev. Kamilah Hall-Sharp
Rev. Dr. Irie L. Session
Guiding Scriptural Foundation: Luke 4: 18-19
“The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
The Gathering has the following Social Justice Priorities:
Our desire in this ministry partnership is to uplift, to seek justice, and to form beloved community where all are welcome. Innovation in ministry enables us to expand the reach of God's embrace and bless those who have not yet found a place of belonging. We believe that we move closer to God's vision of Shalom by highlighting underrepresented voices and holding space for new communities of worship to form.
You may have heard that Central Christian Church is being given the opportunity to host a new worshipping community beginning this fall. It is an exciting time for all of us together. We will certainly have opportunities to learn and grow along the way, and might not get it right every time. While this is very exciting, there are aspects of it that have raised some concerns for a few folks – mostly around the idea of separating or segregating out this community and their voices from the rest of Central, and whether other people who don’t look like the leadership of The Gathering will be welcome. Fair questions. I’ll let those leaders speak for themselves (as is only fair), and… Here’s what I understand.
One way I am thinking and talking about The Gathering is this...
I am a straight, white, middle-aged, middle class male with masters and doctoral degrees, but our worship service is open to all people regardless of how closely they do or don’t match my demographic profile, as is our whole church programming (at least that’s our hope).
That said, not everyone connects with my preaching or leadership style or approach to scripture and theology, so Central benefits by having multiple perspectives elevated from within our campus. Not that those perspectives are in contradiction or competition, but that they are varying facets of the same beautiful gem stone. Likewise, our regular worship style at 11am on Sundays in the sanctuary does not speak to every spiritual longing. Only as we see and hear the many facets do we become aware and appreciative of the breadth and depth of the beauty of God's creation and kingdom, as they emerge both in the church and the wider world.
Perhaps more importantly, Central Christian Church is being given an opportunity to open space in which under represented voices of life and faith may be seen and heard. These are voices which have been explicitly silenced and excluded from theological conversation and spiritual leadership in the DFW area. Our partnership with The Gathering provides an alternate witness that all voices of light, hope, love and faith are valued and deserving of a place in our community.
Most importantly, Irie, Kamilah and Yvette are three leaders whom God has called and is empowering with a vision for a new ministry, a new worship gathering that will proclaim an inclusive, life-affirming Gospel with voices poised to reach those who have not yet heard and understood that the Good News is for them.
And just as Central seeks to be, while the conveners and initiating leaders of this community are African American Women, they seek that the Holy Spirit would create and a wonderfully diverse worshipping community that reaches people who have yet to experience the full embrace of God's redeeming love.
I believe we will continue to stretch for the more helpful ways to think and talk about what God is seeking to do among us in this new day.
I'll let these women describe their vision for The Gathering in their own words which you can
XPLOR, sponsored by NBA - the National Benevolent Assn., is an opportunity for young adults to live together in community, grow in their faith, and explore a wide range of ministry, mission, and community service experiences. The Board of Central enthusiastically approved hosting a resident as a “congregation away from home” and also providing a ministry worksite opportunity as our Community Engagement Intern. Our XPLOR resident will be Amethyst Kelly. Here are some excerpts from her application where she introduces herself.
I am excited to embark on this journey! I decided to join the XPLOR program because I wanted to work at something different than school assignments. I would like to work with my hands, feet, and mind to better our world. I want to experience growth and discovery before returning to graduate school.
I am a Biosystems engineering graduate from Oklahoma State University with the option of environmental and natural resources. In my last year I tutored multiple math and Biosystems courses. My past work experiences include an internship at Georgia Pacific, volunteer positions at summer and mission camps, and an internship at Weddings of Tulsa.
I have a professional interest in engineering and problem solving. I am also interested in environmental protection and the stewardship of our planet. I really just have an interest in making the world a better place. I would enjoy working in many different justice areas. I would enjoy helping to provide clean water to those who do not have access to the necessary resource. I could work in renewable resources or teaching others about caring for resources properly. I would like to help people find expression in the arts, to help them have access to such a healing outlet. I could help teach about the responsible care of animals. I would like working in animal therapy to introduce the comfort of animals to those who could benefit from the experience. I would like to help feed people who go hungry due to lack of nutritional food or the inability to prepare it. Above all, I just want to love isolated people that need to be loved and feel special.
Among the growth opportunities in XPLOR, two stand out. The work of Spiritual Discernment will be new to me as far as vocational discernment. I am serious about how my current skills can be used to make the world better including the planet as I am very eco-conscious. I wonder where my life is going when I get to the end of this tunnel; it could all be new. I expect this time will allow me to see some doors opening and some closing. Leadership Development excites me so much! I love being in leadership positions. My sorority has taught me a lot about leadership as sometimes there are all chiefs and no Indians. I have learned when to step up and take leadership and when to support others in their stepping up to lead.
My passions help make me who I am. I have a heart for all types of animals, especially cats. I like to volunteer at animal shelters. I have a passion for dance. Dance can be used to let loose and relax or to meditate and heal. I like to read. I am always up for a good mystery novel. I enjoy traveling and trying new things. I love to cook and I love to eat. That makes a good combination. I enjoy working in a team with other personality types. I can be a leader or a follower. I enjoy spending time with friends, family, and others who help me to see the good in life.
I look forward to this new experience!
1 Timothy 5:18; Deuteronomy 24:14-15
One of the ways we seek the kingdom of God and “love mercy and justice” is to promote a fair wage and fair treatment for the workers who help create the society in which we live. Regulations that promote safe working conditions, and a basic living wage, are for us first matters of faith. Politics is simply one means by which we help ensure these things.
Sometimes we want to tell ourselves that economics and business belong “out there” and that “in here” is for matters of the head and heart. Loving Jesus and Loving Neighbor. Believing that Jesus shows and brings us God’s redeeming love, and that in him we can have “life abundant.” (John 10:10) Belief, worship, study, be kind to each other. And give to charity now and then, “helping those less fortunate.”
That’s not what Christianity or the other two Abrahamic religions, Judaism and Islam, are about at all. The consistent witness of all three traditions is that we are called to create a society in which generational poverty is eliminated, and in which people can work to support their families and provide their basic necessities. Beyond that, Christianity proclaims a theology of abundance with stories like the feeding of the 5000 (Mark 6:30-44). Jesus teaches us that when we give generously we will get back exponentially more (Luke 6:38). So if we live in a world of abundance, why do so many life in scarcity?
It is not, as some would suggest, that the poor are lazy or lack initiative. The majority of adults living in poverty are working. The problem is not that they won’t try, but that the opportunities to make a living wage are insufficient. The graph below shows how in the 1970 wages began to fall behind as the economic productivity and prosperity of the nation as a whole continued to grow. That wealth had to go somewhere. And the cost of living continued to rise with inflation over this time even while wages stagnated for many. The result is that more people are living in poverty.
We are called to both charity (Matthew 25) and Justice (Micah 6:8). Charity is about responding to the immediate needs during a crisis. 1 John 3:17; James 2:13-26. These texts certainly call us to respond to people’s immediate need if we have the ability. And notice there is no mention of whether they are worthy of such help based on the situation or how they came to be in need. They are in need and you can help, therefore you should help. End of story. So it seems.
Yet if we press ourselves into this question longer, we can begin to realize that giving charity may not be the best or only solution. Perhaps God wants and needs more from us. Perhaps our neighbors do too. When Jesus says, “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:28-34) quoting from Leviticus 19, and then goes on to say, “Love your enemies,” (Luke 6:27-36) he is calling us to more than charity or mercy. Jesus is recalling us to God’s command for a just society, one in which each person is given the opportunity to provide for themselves and their loved ones in a reasonable and equitable way. Then those who are unable to do so are given special care and attention through the nation’s tithes every three years (Deut 14:27-29). This is not a liberal or conservative issue. This is a faith issue.
We are called as followers of Jesus to ensure that everyone has an opportunity to work, and that everyone who works can earn enough to support themselves and their family. We have a lot of work to do in our own community, our nation, and around the world in pursuit of economic justice. Where would you start? What are you already doing in support of fair labor practices and fair wages? How can we as a congregation, and as individuals, live out our faith in obedience to God’s requirements for economic justice for all people? What will you do differently in the coming months?
Hurricane Harvey Response