Thinking About Our Mission

A wonderful day was experienced at Southside last Sunday. The celebration of Pentecost in worship lifted our spirits inspiring thoughts of amazing accomplishments by those empowered by the Holy Spirit. The same Holy Spirit that empowered the Apostles on the day of Pentecost is the same Holy Spirit that empowers each of us to accomplish God’s purpose in and through Christ’s Church. The indwelling of the Holy Spirit moves the church to affirm and set apart those among us for service and leadership as we did in the ordination of Kay Thompson to the diaconate Sunday, and it is the Holy Spirit that deepens the fellowship we enjoyed at  “Dinner off the Grounds” and at Jazz Vespers. It was a very good day at Southside Baptist Church!

Tonight, following fellowship supper and prayer time, we will be begin a two session study, “Thinking About Our Mission.” This time of study and dialogue will focus on how we understand our mission, how we articulate that mission, and how those outside view our efforts to accomplish that mission in our community and beyond.

I hope you will be present to participate in the fellowship around the table as we share the evening meal together, pray together, and think about our efforts to be led and empowered by the Holy Spirit in our mission to this community and to the world.

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Thinking About Our Mission

Pentecost

A number of exciting and significant events will occur at Southside Baptist Church this week. This Sunday is Pentecost, the birthday of the Church. It seems very fitting that Deacon Ordination will be on the day when we celebrate the gift of the Holy Spirit that was poured out upon the disciples empowering the church to carry out its mission. Ordination is always deeply moving as the church affirms and blesses those called out to serve and care for our family of faith. Sunday, new deacon Kay Thompson will be ordained during worship. We will hear some of Kay’s spiritual journey and have the opportunity to bless her and pray for her specifically during the laying on of hands.

Additionally, two events planned for the afternoon will  provide wonderful opportunities for fellowship. Immediately following worship, those interested are encouraged to attend “Dinner Off the Grounds” at Jim and Nick’s in Five-Points. At 6 PM, our spring Jazz Vespers  will take place in Drennen Hall.

I hope you will be able to participate in these outstanding opportunities for growth and fellowship with your church family and friends.

Pentecost

Mother’s Day

This week, plans are being made for how we will honor or remember our mothers and those significant individuals who providing us motherly nurturing. Most of us are able to celebrate Mother’s Day with our spirits being warmed and uplifted when thinking of that special person that sacrificed so much for us whether they are living or whether they have already passed from this life. For others, though, the day will be a painful reminder of a loss for which the grief is still very real. Still others grieve over the desire to be a mother to no avail. I believe we should always honor, remember and celebrate our mothers and motherhood itself while simultaneously remembering those, especially among our church family, who will find this day difficult. This Mother’s Day, as you send your mother a card or remember her in some other way, consider also sending a card, speaking a word of encouragement, or offering a prayer to, or for, someone that you know really needs to hear it. Doing so could make this a Mother’s Day that will always stand apart.

This Wednesday, Dr. Roxburgh continues the series entitled, “Rethinking.” This session will be “Rethinking Communion” focusing on how Baptists and other Christian groups have understood this ordinance, or sacrament, through the years. Join us for Fellowship Supper at 5:30 p.m. followed by Prayer Time and Dr. Roxburgh’s study.

Mother’s Day

Tonight’s Meeting

The fiscal year for Southside Baptist Church ended March 31. A regular church business meeting will take place this evening, at which time an incoming class of deacons, church officers, committee chairs and educational leadership will be elected. These recommendations will be coming from the Deacon Nominating Committee and the Committee on Committees. The regular agenda items of reports from committees will also be presented summarizing the last quarter and year, but focusing most on plans for the coming weeks and months. Make plans to be present for the fellowship supper and to hear the reports from the committees and from the church staff.

Tonight’s Meeting

A Call to Justice & Our Transformation

Ours is a journey of inclusion. I’ve heard the church described as an experiment in unity among a great diversity of people. A calling to be different is at the heart of who we are especially when we consider the common divides – race, economics, sexual orientation, gender, culture, ethnicity – the list goes which threaten the unity in the Spirit. As a church, we are intentionally choosing a harder path. A path of transformation, guided by the Spirit, moving us from diversity into unity.

In our faith journey we are brothers and sisters – regardless of how the world defines us. We are a family of God called toward a journey of transformation, real change, through a relationship with a loving, living God.

The journey of faith is profound, life changing, and quite frankly unknown. No one journey is the same, as no one person is the same. It also is not a journey to achieve perfection, as is often defined in common culture. A life with no wrong. A sanitized life where we ignore the everyday realities of living in this world and the harsh inequities that exist. Realities that seek to divide us along the lines of race, economics, gender, sexual orientation – and I could go on. The danger comes when we solely blame the individual, as if individual choice is the only deciding factor in a sea of systemic social, political, and economic inequalities.

This month as we explore a Christian response to the social inequities coloring our lives, I pray your journey is transformative. I believe transformation starts with an openness to listen and to learn. A willingness to open ourselves to another’s personal story, even when the story is different or threatening to our own. The openness of the heart allows the Spirit to teach us new things, to challenge our beliefs, our understandings, and be made anew in the image of God.

Most importantly, may these stories lead us to action. Central to lives of faith is seeking true justice – actions that demonstrate Christ within us and seek to transform the world around us. Great leaders of faith have seen and continue to see social inequities as places for active transformation. Let’s learn from them. As a community of faith, let’s seek to be the active presence of Christ in this place and beyond. Asking ourselves, did we feed the hungry, did we house the homeless, did we protect the children, did we right an injustice, did I speak to correct a wrong?… to address it all we must be transformed not only individually, but corporately as well.

This month through Wednesday night study, worship, and homilies, we will seek to confront the social inequalities of our world. We will journey together, seeking to answer the call to be the catalyst of transformation. Creating a space where all are welcome, where diversity is embraced, and our actions lead others to be transformed by a loving, unifying God.

Rusty Bennett
Chair of Deacons

A Call to Justice & Our Transformation

Encourage.

Do you ever need a little nudge to move toward something you have considered? I think we all do, especially if it means venturing beyond our comfort zone. An idea of going somewhere or trying something new comes into our minds and we give considerable time in thinking about it, but we are unable to move in that direction until a friend, family member, or neighbor offers a word of invitation or affirmation. We might even say that the word we hear from them is “heaven sent.”

I offer this as a reminder that all around you there are people who need a nudge to connect with a family of faith. It only takes a word of invitation for someone to join you in Bible study, worship and fellowship with your church family. Each of us has the opportunity to be a conduit of God’s love and concern for others by sharing what we experience every day. Take a moment and think about the people you value in your family, neighborhood and workplace who might need a word of encouragement or even a nudge to help them experience the life God desires for them. Their life and your life will be enriched in the process.v

Encourage.

Our social justice responsibility

If you read the April issue of the Southside Columns, or observe the posters in numerous locations around the building, our focus for study and involvement during Eastertide, social issues and social justice, is very apparent. Looking to scripture and the life of Jesus to inform, motivate and guide us in our response to our neighbors and the world in which we live by addressing systems of injustice and oppression is at the forefront of Jesus’ call to follow him.

The Sunday School lessons for this month fit well and support the efforts of understanding our responsibility in addressing cultural norms that perpetuate these problems. The unit of study looks at the life of an easy-to-like leader in the early Church named Barnabas, which means “son of encouragement. Barnabas was one who worked to spread the gospel in both his preaching/teaching and in his kindness and compassion towards others. Barnabas gave his resources to meet the needs of others, he interceded and advocated for the acceptance of others, such as Paul and John Mark, when their intent or devotion was called into question, and he was  a partner in ministry with the Apostle Paul when God led them to realize that the gospel was for everyone including Gentiles.

I hope you’ll participate in these opportunities to study scripture and pray that God would open our eyes to areas of involvement to which we are called.

Our social justice responsibility