The events of the last week brought to light the reality of evil harbored in the hearts of humankind. I do not personally know anyone that has expressed a strong belief that any race is inherently superior to another, or of any people group to another; yet, I do know that such beliefs are held by many, as displayed this week, and that there is a desire by some to see that ideology accepted and even embraced and promoted. One may argue that the free expression of these beliefs is a right, but in this rhetoric, where are the values of compassion, equality and the worth and dignity of every human being? These are core beliefs that we cite as setting our nation apart. Acts of violence, destruction, oppression and the taking of lives are manifestations of evil that has conditioned one’s mind and heart to believe such an ideology is justifiable. It is counter to what we hold as being the backbone of our country and, for those who are Christians, it makes a mockery of what we hold most dear, our faith in Jesus the Christ. There is nothing in the life and teachings of Jesus that even hint that such views, beliefs or actions can be condoned, much less held and acted on by anyone who professes to follow Christ.
How does the Church and in turn the individual Christian speak to this issue without letting our own outrage prompt an emotional and possibly destructive response? Though difficult, our call is to promote the cause of Christ in all situations; to speak truth and love into situations of evil and hate and to pray that the Spirit of Christ will guide us in what to say and do.
This year, SSBC participated in Birmingham’s Pride Parade on June 10th to show our dedication to being open, inclusive and welcoming to ALL. Approximately 4,000 people lined the street of 7th Avenue South for 10 blocks between Lakeview and UAB. The excitement of the LGBT community and allies being gathered together in one place at one time was palpable in the air and visible on the faces of everyone we passed. Comments of “How cool!” and “Awesome!” were overheard from the parade-watchers as we marched by carrying our amazing new banner (a huge thank you to Michael Hardin!).
It was a beautiful evening made even richer by our fellowship together. We saw many old friends and made some new ones. Being out and about in the city together showing the love we have for each other and for those we don’t know yet is what makes SSBC such a special place. We are our best outreach tool. So watch our calendar for upcoming events, join our Facebook page and mailing list if you haven’t already, and get involved!
The Cooperative Baptist Fellowship annual gathering (General Assembly) was held June 28-30 in Atlanta, Georgia. I, along with my daughter and recently ordained deacon here at Southside Baptist Church, Annah Lauren Kelley, were privileged to attend the gathering this year. The worship services, workshops, and opportunities to reconnect with old friends and find new ones makes these annual gatherings wonderful events, but this one was even more special. This gathering was the 25th Anniversary of CBF which created a heightened sense of excitement and celebration. Plenary sessions for business and worship were held as were break-out sessions that focused on a variety of topics.
The worship services were moving with uplifting music, inspiring stories and testimonies from missionaries around the world, and preaching that challenged our call and commitment to being the presence of Christ in our communities and around the world. Twenty-five years ago, the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship was formed for the same reason that those gathered last week pledged prayer and monetary support for missions. Simply put, “The love of Christ compels us,” which was also the theme for the meeting this year.
The three days at this gathering and away from my daily routine provided an opportunity to step away from my daily tasks, prayerfully ask myself some tough questions about about our mission at SSBC and our engagement in missions in our community and around the world. Some of those questions were: Do we see one another as Christ sees us? Do we see the world around us through the eyes of Christ? Does Christ’s love compel us to be moved with compassion and take action even when it calls for sacrifice? Jesus commissioned his disciples to go and make other disciples, teaching everything that Jesus had taught them. Jesus taught using words and actions, and through his actions he demonstrated the ways of compassion, of grace, forgiveness and love. Through his actions barriers of division and separation were removed and all were invited in. It was and is the way of Jesus the Christ.
I enjoy our journey together,
On a Tuesday evening, May 16th, several of our church members participated in a community event at Vulcan Park. “A Taste of Five Points,” celebrating the 130th anniversary of Five Points South, featured booths by local retail businesses, delicious samples provided by the world-renowned restaurants located in the neighborhood and a display by Southside Baptist Church where we spoke to many of the event guests as gave them informational materials about our inclusive community of grace. Those attending had a great time, and it was a wonderful opportunity to interact with our neighbors and to communicate the desire of our church to be a more active participant in our community.
The following Saturday, we participated in “Clean and Clear Five Points.” This quarterly service opportunity, organized by the Five Points Alliance, brings together local businesses, student organizations from UAB, residents and local churches and synagogues to make our community cleaner and safer.
In the coming weeks, there will be more opportunities for you to be involved in community service and outreach efforts. We look forward to sharing in this time of service and fellowship together. Get involved!
We experienced a wonderful time of worship last Sunday as we celebrated World Communion Sunday. Every aspect of worship was uplifting and reinforced the truth that as believers, whether here or halfway around the world, we are bound together with an unbreakable tie. It is a familial relationship that transcends any and all others that we experience, producing a sense of belonging for all. World Communion Sunday reminds us of the unity we experience in Christ amid all the diversity that, when left to humanity, usually divides. I see and am amazed at the diversity among worshipers at Southside Baptist Church each time we celebrate Holy Communion, and I am awed that God, through love, mercy and grace, has brought us all together. It gives us hope since the Good News that unites us, also has the power to break down barriers in the world that separate and divide us. I hope and pray that we will remember the words in Galatians 3:28, “There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.”
May we live as one.
The hot summer days are upon us, but we are not slowing down in our efforts to be the presence of Christ in our community. While attending the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship Meeting in Greensboro, North Carolina, last week, I was reminded of the privilege we all have to be a part of God’s Kingdom work. Listening to missionaries tell of God’s activity evidenced in their work with people groups around the globe that are, in many instances, among the forgotten peoples of the world, gave me greater understanding of their needs and a renewed sense of commitment to missions both in our community and beyond. In the coming months, you will hear more about the needs and opportunities that are set before us. I look forward to discovering what God is doing among us, in our community and around the world.
Tonight is the last Wednesday Fellowship Supper, Prayer Time and Bible Study until we resume in August. Please make an extra effort to be present for the good food, great fellowship and an outstanding study led by Dr. Roxburgh. This session will be the third in a series on the Missional Church- Studies in Acts.
The calendar for July will have some varied offerings for worship, Bible study, and fellowship. A special study, A More Caring Congregation; Practicing Personal and Cooperate Radical Hospitality, will be offered each Sunday in July from 9:30 – 10:30 am. All Sunday School classes are encouraged to participate in this Study if possible. This study promises to be very beneficial and enriching to us individually and to our church family.
The news reports of the horrific incident in Orlando, Florida, early Sunday morning that left 49 young adults from the LBGT community dead evoked a broad range of responses from people across the country and around the world. Many of us with friends and family that are part of this community felt an immediate visceral response as we grasped for answers to questions of: Who would do this? Why? How? The hours following the first reports provided only partial answers at best which, when coupled with the steady stream of stories of good information mixed with misinformation, added layers of frustration to the heaviness and sorrow we were already experiencing. We want answers to those questions that are continuously cycling through our minds, hoping answers will come; however, there are some things we already know. We know there are families and friends grieving the loss of loved ones, others sitting bedside in hospital rooms with family members clinging to life as they hope and pray that the physical and emotional wounds will heal. Intensified fears in the minds of many people have increased levels of anxiety in families and communities. How do we, as people of faith, respond to acts of terror and the aftermath left in its wake? Hopefully, our first response has been to pray for the families of those who lost loved ones and for healing of those injured. As followers of Jesus, we are taught to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us even though this is a difficult, sometimes impossible, task. We should pray for ourselves and for those who do not yet know the experience of God the Creator of all life and the source of peace that passes all human understanding. May it be so.
This evening Dr. Roxburgh begins a study of the “Missional Church” especially as it is depicted in the Book of Acts. You will want to be present and participate in this study and discussion. Our Fellowship Supper starts at 5:30 p.m. followed by Prayer Time at 6:00 p.m. The time of study begins at 6:15 p.m.