I hope you all participated in opportunities to celebrate Independence Day yesterday and to reflect and give thanks for the liberty we enjoy. I mentioned Sunday that in addition to other freedoms we enjoy, Baptists in Colonial America played a significant role ensuring that religious liberty would be a stated right in the newly formed United States. John Leland, an American Baptist minister residing in Virginia at the time the Declaration of Independence was signed, was at the forefront in the struggle for religious liberty. He held tenaciously to the passionate belief that every individual would alone give an account before God, therefore, in no way could a magistrate or government speak for them. Leland made his beliefs, concerns and hopes known to two individuals that he came to know while in Virginia: James Madison and Thomas Jefferson. Leland’s persistence and passionate call for religious liberty made way for James Madison to be seated in the first congress and subsequently make the submission of the First Amendment to the Constitution: Religious liberty. Would we have religious liberty as we know it had Leland and others not supported the cause and pushed so ardently for it? No one can say for sure, but his stand, along with many others, has endured through time. I wonder if we sometimes lose sight of the time, energy and conviction of individuals that bequeathed the freedom we enjoy and I hope and pray that we never lose sight of those who gave their lives for all the freedoms we enjoy. May we exercise them by being good citizens and, above all, good followers of Jesus the Christ.
Please remember that we have no Wednesday evening activities in the month of July. But we will be here Sunday morning with our regularly scheduled events. I hope to see you then.