The Presence of Christ

Being a visible presence in our community and city is at the heart of our mission of “Building an inclusive community of grace first in this community and then beyond.” This presence is one that shines as a beacon of hope for all people because it is the presence of Christ that radiates outward to the community as you express loving kindness in words and through actions. Individuals all around us are weary and are struggling to find meaning and purpose in life, especially during this pandemic. The opportunity and duty before us is to live out our calling by being the presence of Christ. It is not an impossible task. It is simply living our lives and making ourselves available to the Spirit of Christ, sensing and responding to the nudges and directions we receive to lovingly speak and act toward others with kindness. Through our prayers, words of encouragement, and actions that demonstrate the love of Christ, God touches, redeems and restores lives. What a wonderful opportunity it is to bear the hope of Christ to others.

This week, the Wednesday evening prayer and Bible Study and our worship on Sunday will address this topic through Jesus’ response to the question, “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” This question is in Matthew 22:34-46, one of our texts for this week. I look forward to our times together in the Zoom meeting and through the livestream broadcast. In the meantime, pray for and encourage one another so that we may be a strong presence for Christ in our Community and beyond.

The Presence of Christ

Food Bank Assistance

Efforts to carry on with missions and ministries are still ongoing at Southside during the pandemic. The direct services to individuals and families through the Southside Food Bank have taken on a greater cooperative effort through the joint efforts of Southside Baptist Church, Iron City Church, Bridge Ministries and Family Promise. This cooperative effort has provided greater relief to those needing assistance through access to funding grants that in some cases require matching funds. We are privileged and blessed to have great working relationships with all these organizations and to be a place providing hope for individuals who are distressed. If you would like to help in these efforts, please read the special information below, or you can make a donation designated for the Food Bank. A portion of the gifts received through the regular contributions to SSBC are included in our budget to help fund this and other direct service ministries; however, additional designated gifts are very helpful.

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We Need Your BOXES!

Do you order from Amazon, Walmart, Wayfair, or any of the meal services? The Food Bank is in need of boxes. I know you have all seen the local news and the pictures of the different sponsored food give-a-ways. We could definitely use these kinds of boxes as they makes distribution so much easier than all being in sacks. The Community Food Bank will sell those boxes to us at $1 a box, but we think we could use that $100 each Thursday on food and not boxes.

We have tried different ways to box/sack the distribution items and with refrigerated/frozen items, the boxes are the best bet. All canned goods come in shrink wrap now. Also, do you have a favorite “spirits” store? Ask them what they do with their boxes and what day of the week they restock. Drop by and pick up the boxes and a new bottle of “spirits” to try. Your help will be greatly appreciated. We can come by and get them from you, or you can drop them off at the church.

Food Bank Assistance

God’s Good Gifts

Hooray! The livestream connection worked Sunday, and we were able to worship together virtually and celebrate Holy Communion on World Communion Sunday. Thank you to all who helped troubleshoot the problem and make the necessary repairs and adjustments. I agree with the comments I heard yesterday that the wonderful autumn weather of the last several days has lifted everyone’s spirits despite the pandemic weariness and fatigue. I know that my faith and hope is increased when I step outdoors into the cool air and see the beauty of all creation under a clear blue sky and pause for a moment to allow the wonder of it all to sink in. To experience such joy moves me to give thanks for all of creation and so much more.

The October Sunday School lessons direct our thoughts to God’s Good Gifts, reminding us that all things are God’s. We are blessed by God when we see God in creation, realize that all good gifts come from Him, and that all we are and have, our time, talents and resources, come from God. In the midst of a pandemic, we can grow and deepen our understanding of stewardship by prayerfully considering how we can best use all that we have and all that we are to honor and serve the one who loved us and gave himself for us. I encourage you to join the Sunday School Zoom meeting as we discuss these lessons. The link for the Sunday School Class is sent out on Fridays and is available on the website.

We also have a time of prayer and Bible Study on Wednesday evenings at 6:00 p.m., usually reading and discussing a text that relates to the coming Sunday’s worship theme. Both the Sunday School Class and the Wednesday gathering are ways to stay in touch with each other and to grow in our faith. 

God’s Good Gifts

Focusing on the Good

This week, barring any technical problems as experienced last Sunday, we will worship together via the livestream broadcast. Technology, for which we are grateful, and which provides us the opportunity to gather virtually, does present some anxious moments when a component fails as it did last week. But, it can also provide a time to consider all things and become more positive and optimistic. As I reflect on last Sunday and the livestreaming glitch, I also remember the twenty-seven consecutive Sundays since the middle of March on which we were all able to worship together virtually, and how they were a part of keeping us connected. Focusing on the good and successful times can in fact help us appreciate them even more when something beyond our control stops us in our tracks. 

We all have many new and different experiences, some good and some not so good, upon which to reflect as we persistently make our way through the pandemic dealing with a variety of challenges along the way. There are those facing tremendously large challenges and others whose difficulties pale in comparison. As I reflect on it this week, I think of the many life-changing, even life-threatening, issues many of you are facing. Family and friends who are grieving over the loss of loved ones during the pandemic, or perhaps those who have loved ones who are losing their independence due to physical or mental health issues come to mind. Still others are dealing with chronic illnesses and pain; invasive surgery to replace joints, to repair an organ, or remove a malignancy. All of these are a part of living, a part of being human, whether we are the individual affected or just close to the person.

This is a time for us to appreciate the relationships we have with each other. A time for those of us able to walk alongside and encourage those who are facing great challenges in life, to pray for them, to give them support and to help us all maintain hope. It is a time for us to realize that God has blessed us with one another to live and experience life in community with one another and with God.

Please take a few moments today and think of your church family, giving thanks for them and praying that they will be encouraged by the prayers offered.


Wednesday evening, we will meet virtually for our weekly time of prayer and study. I hope you will join your church family for all, or part, of this time together.  We begin at 6:00 p.m. and look forward to seeing all able to attend. 

Focusing on the Good

A Season of Change

The first day of autumn is here, and I am grateful. It is a favorite time of the year for many and for good reasons like milder temperatures and the change in the landscape as colors emerge with brilliant clarity. Each year I look forward to seeing what wonders will be observed in God’s magnificent creation, and each year I realize that my mind cannot adequately hold and recall the true splendor of all I see and have seen. I think that the seasonal change this fall, maybe more than any other, will do wonders in restoring the vitality to life that so many need. The pandemic has drained our energy and optimism and lulled us into mental and emotional malaise. We need the cooler weather to awaken and refresh us, quickening our pulse while reminding us that we are alive and able to experience this wonderful creation. Just the thought gives me renewed hope and beckons me to consider the great privileges and blessings I enjoy. I hope you will join me and focus on the opportunities we have to appreciate the precious blessings we experience and enjoy, all coming from the love, mercy and grace of God.

A Season of Change

Prayers for Relief

We are all closely watching weather reports this week as Hurricane Sally makes landfall on the Gulf Coast and moves across the southeastern U.S. The reports bring to mind those directly in the path of this storm and prompt us to pray that the damage from the wind, storm surge and flooding will not be too destructive and that precautions taken will prevent the loss of lives. All weather related events for most of 2020, severe storms, hurricanes, tornadoes and wildfires, are shrouded in the reality and threat of COVID-19. With this ever-present heaviness brought on by the pandemic, any additional hardship only further threatens and complicates lives of the victims. It can be the tipping point for those severely affected making them feel even more isolated and some losing all hope. Many of you are already praying for those who have experienced great loss from these disasters. I encourage you and others to join in a concerted effort to pray specifically for these victims and, as news comes forth on ways to help, to consider how you can give to relieve some of the pain and fear. Your prayers and your participation in relief efforts, along with others, may be that which restores the faith and hope to those most severely affected.

Wednesday evening in the Zoom meeting for prayer and study, we will pray for these and others on our prayer list.
I hope you will log in to this online gathering to encourage one another and to consider ways to offer encouragement and help to our neighbors next door and those across the country.

Prayers for Relief

Life goes on!

Life goes on while we live in a strangely different time. Minimized and streamlined daily routines to reduce the risks related to COVID-19 do not eliminate other life events, expected and unexpected, that come our way. A newly married young adult diagnosed with cancer, a fellow church member’s elderly mother passing away after a fall, the progression of a disease that diminishes one’s independence, the depression that creeps in and engulfs one like a dark, heavy cloud with no easy way to catch a glimmer of light. And then there are those wonderful events such as a the first day of school, graduation, a wedding, the birth of a child and while still celebrated, it seems as though not fully celebrated. Life goes on! We miss the rich fellowship and support that our church family interacting face-to-face provides.  We glean as much as possible from the online meetings, for which we are grateful, but we look forward to the day we can worship together in the same space. In the meantime, we are tasked with maintaining the spirit and fellowship of our church family by reaching out to one another and praying for  each other. A question that I was asked recently and that we might each ask ourselves is this: How important is your church to you in this pandemic? Please think about this question, and when we gather Wednesday for Prayer and Bible Study, we will discuss some of the responses. 

The Psalm reading for this Sunday begins with words which speak to us at all times. 
Praise the Lord, O my soul,
All that is within, praise his holy name.
Praise the Lord, O my soul,
And forget not all his benefits. (Ps.103:1-2)

I look forward to seeing those all to participate in the Zoom meeting Wednesday at 6:00 p.m.
The link for the meeting is included below.
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87637579395?pwd=aURVcTdpRWVIVk9BeWZ5Vnd1TjZpUT09

Meeting ID: 876 3757 9395
Passcode: 253637
One tap mobile

+13126266799,,87637579395#,,,,,,0#,,253637# US (Chicago)

Life goes on!

The Importance of Community

We start a new month and still we find ourselves in an in-between state. We are alive, and for the most part well, but our focus is very different than it was a year ago as the familiar feelings, sights and sounds of summer vacation coming to an end, a new school year and a college football season beginning are so radically different. In the days of March through August, we learned a great deal about ourselves, some good things and some not so good. Although we are not through the pandemic, we have learned how to function with less and with limited or no access to things we thought we couldn’t live without. The human spirit is amazingly resilient, and I am confident we will see evidence of this as we push ahead toward a day when a vaccine is available that will finally help us move beyond this pandemic.

One fact that was obvious before but is even more apparent now, is that we really do need each other. People around us, family, friends, and co-workers, need the awareness and assurance of others to whom they are very significant. Community, whether large or small, is important and vital for each of us. Take a moment today to think about those that are important to you and offer a prayer of thanksgiving for them. Almost daily, I receive word from someone expressing concern about a member or a neighbor’s well-being. If you are aware of someone having a need that we can help meet, please share that with the church office so that together we can give expression to the love of God with us, by encouraging and assisting those within our family of faith and in our community.

This Wednesday evening in our mid-week Zoom meeting, we will discuss the importance of community and how it has taken on a new significance for many. I hope you will join us to be a part of this discussion and in our time of prayer. The login information is included below.

https://us02web.zoom.us/j/87637579395?pwd=aURVcTdpRWVIVk9BeWZ5Vnd1TjZpUT09

Meeting ID: 876 3757 9395
Passcode: 253637
One tap mobile

+13126266799,,87637579395#,,,,,,0#,,253637# US (Chicago)

The Importance of Community

Ongoing Ministries

Each week a few volunteers and our church staff work diligently to make sure the worship service available via livestream is spiritually uplifting and provides a connection for you to your church family. I understand that a livestream service is not the same as being present; however, I hope the visual of the sanctuary, the music, the scripture, prayers and homily help you as you worship from your home until the time when we are able to safely worship together in one place.

Other ministries of the church are ongoing as well such as Bible study on Wednesday evening and Sunday morning and our Men’s Bible Study on Thursday at noon, although these are also virtual events. The Food Bank is open every other Thursday from 3:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. and is the only ministry taking place onsite, with the exception of those by the non-profits housed at SSBC. 

Every person that offers prayers for these efforts, or makes a financial gift, is a part of these ministries. We all want to be ready individually and as a church family to address the needs we see before us now, and when we are able to assemble together again. Please pray for the many needs around us, and give to support these ministry efforts as you feel led.

Ongoing Ministries

Our Current “Normal”

It is the last week in the fifth month of the pandemic, and still we wonder when positive news will lighten the heaviness under which we live each day. We hope and pray for the success of vaccine trials which we know are the only sure way to get beyond the effects this virus has on the health of people around the world and the dramatic changes we are all making for the sake of ourselves and others.

The new normal, which has become our routine for the last several months and likely will be for several months ahead, is not at all what we want, but it is what we have. Therefore, we push on in our individual lives, taking care of the critical aspects of life and discovering new ways to enrich our lives and relationships. As a church family, we address the ministries that are a part of our mission to the degree possible and discover new ideas and ways to be the presence of Christ in our community and beyond.

Each Sunday, I remind you of some of the ministry efforts that are on going, and on Wednesday evenings we gather for a time of prayer and Bible study in a Zoom Meeting. Prayers for members of our church family are offered and other concerns related to the ministries of the church are discussed during the study time. If you have concerns or questions, join us for this time of prayer together. It would benefit your church family to hear from you. If your schedule prevents you from joining our virtual gathering, you can email me or the church office.

Our Current “Normal”