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.
Each day I’m thankful for the faithful folks at Southside, especially all those that help to ensure all the missions and ministries are successful. In planning, the Congregational Council along with staff thought it was appropriate this month to focus on the important connection of our faith and family.
As we think about our faith family, I’m reminded of the diversity, yet bound by unity, that describes our church family. A family that actively longs and seeks to create safe spaces where everyone in loved and welcomed to explore and journey along the path of faith. Throughout this month, we hope to highlight the joy that is represented in our families – however they are defined.
This month, take a moment and reach out to someone. Remind them of your love for them. Invite someone to join our family of faith. Let’s ensure together that all are welcomed into our family.
– Rusty Bennett, Chair of Deacons
A new group has begun and we’re really excited about it! There’s so much going on in the world today and everyone needs a safe place to voice their concerns, ideas and opinions openly. And that’s what we’re offering.
Join us on Wednesday nights at 6:00pm in Room 138 after picking up a delicious meal over in Drennen Hall. The meal is FREE for college students and just $5 for everyone else. Or join us on Sunday morning during the Sunday School hour after the Gathering (more free food). We look forward to seeing you there!
Sunday was a wonderful day at Southside Baptist Church! The baptism of Shawny Tucker gave opportunity for us to celebrate with the newest member of the Southside Baptist family of faith. It also allowed us time to recall and reflect upon our own decisions to follow Christ and enter the baptismal waters. The music from the prelude through the postlude, the heartfelt words both spoken and sung and the visible steps taken in discipleship lifted our spirits and were reminders of the wonder of God’s love, mercy and grace.
This Sunday, August 27, another wonderful opportunity of worship is planned as former Pastor, Rev. Steve Jones, and Rabbi Jonathan Miller, recently retired from Temple Emanu-El after 27 years of leadership, speak during worship. Rev. Jones and Rabbi Miller, along with their congregations, forged a very special relationship during their tenures of service and leadership. Southside Baptist opening its doors to Temple Emanu-El while their building was under renovation was a gesture that also opened doors to interfaith dialogue and spiritual growth for both congregations. Rev. Jones and Rabbi Miller will share some personal thoughts and experiences of this wonderful interfaith relationship that blossomed and continues to be cherished by Southside Baptist Church and Temple Emanu-El.
Following worship, a covered-dish luncheon will be held in the Fellowship Hall to which everyone is invited. The church is providing the meat, bread and beverages, so members are asked to provide a salad, vegetable or dessert.
Make plans to be present and celebrate this time of fellowship around the table with friends old and new.
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,