Another 5-Pts Neighborhood Association “Clean and Clear 5-Pts” clean up day is in the books! This month, we cleared out the walking trails at Valley View Park at the top of 19th St. South. It was a sweltering day but we enjoyed the opportunity to meet new people and get our hands dirty … very dirty.
This go-round, we produced:
26 – Volunteers (5 member tree crew)
91 – Volunteer Hours
792 – Feet of trails cleaned & cleared
1232 – Pounds of trash and debris
There will be another Clean and Clear 5-Pts event in the upcoming month so stay tuned for more details. With more college students back in town and new businesses opening, we’ll want to make an extra effort to get out and meet our neighbors!
For more information on ways to get involved with the 5-Pts Neighborhood Association, you can email Stephen Foster (email@example.com) or contact the church office.
I was taking in the many various details in the community around our church building as I drove through the neighborhood, first up one street then down another. My curiosity was peaked by comments and conversations at several meetings where residents, business owners and church leaders were asked to express their opinions about several contributing factors to their overall level of satisfaction with the 5-Points Neighborhood. The meetings were in conjunction with efforts to produce a Master Plan for 5-Points which included gathering information from stakeholders. These comments prompted my excursion of intentional observation in the neighborhood. I was curious to see how much of what I heard was consistent with careful, deliberate observations on my part.
Admittedly, many of the comments I heard in the meetings affirmed what I already thought and felt about this neighborhood. It is rich in history with buildings of individualized and beautifully-detailed architecture, especially those designed for worship. There is great diversity in the people who live, work, study, worship, dine, and find entertainment in the community and there is an ebb and flow of people in and out of the community on any given day. Most of what I heard in the meetings was positive but there were many legitimate issues raised. Some of the issues, though, appeared to be coming from a perspective that seemed to be short-sighted of even self-serving of the person raising the issue.
Naturally, I was processing the information gleaned from the meetings as it related to our church family while trying to check myself in giving consideration to the bigger picture of the whole neighborhood. This exercise reinforced in my mind something that I mention often: that a church in a community should reflect or show a strong similarity in its membership to the neighborhood in which it ministers. Diversity in race, gender, socio-economic station, sexual orientation and age are all apparent in the 5-Pts Neighborhood and that diversity is evident in our church family as well. Diversity is an important characteristic of who Southside is but it is not the defining one. That which makes us who we are is our belief, commitment and dedication to following the risen Christ, who by and through His love, mercy and grace redeems and makes us one. Yes, we are all different to some degree, but the tie of God’s love binds us together as brothers and sisters concerned and caring for one another. Therein one sees the beauty in diversity.
Thanks be to God.
One amazing aspect of ministry, or perhaps life in general, is that no twos days are just alike. It is a reality especially true in an urban setting of life and ministry such as we experience here in the Southside community. We work and minister in a neighborhood where diversity is the norm; yet, all too often we fail to see the commonalities we share with those we meet on the street, in the restaurants, on the bus, in the coffee shop, classroom, office building or grocery store. What do we make of this, and as Christians, how do we respond to each day and what that day brings? We have some of the greatest opportunities and experiences given to anyone because the world has come to our neighborhood. People from all walks of life, from all over the world live, attend school, work, start families and interact daily in our city with a hope that tomorrow will be better than today. We have the privilege to make the lives of all better by demonstrating the love of God we have received. Everyone we meet has the basic need to know that are significant; that they matter to someone. How difficult is it to speak a kind word, share a smile, or even ask someone how they feel or what they think about some problem or issue? We may not be able to do everything, but we can do something. Pray that God will guide you and me and that together we will allow the love of Christ to shine in us and through us to those in need of that love.
We enjoyed a very good day at Southside on Sunday. It was great to see several of the Scotland travel group in Worship and to hear how much they all enjoyed the trip. We were also privileged to have a number of guests in Worship as well as a few members who have been away for some time. The hospitality Southside members extend to guests and the loving and gracious way all are welcomed is wonderful to see and is indicative of the warm and loving spirit of fellowship we all enjoy. I hope you will be reminded to invite friends, co-workers and neighbors to join you for worship, study, fellowship and service where they too can experience with you the joy of the rich fellowship we share. There are several such events this week:
- Wednesday evening, we’ll have a fellowship and picnic for all church members at the home of Stuart and Leigh Collier on Weiss Lake in Cedar Bluff, AL. Details are listed in the announcement below.
- 5:30 p.m. Thursday — our weekly Contemplative Service resumes. This brief, quiet and reflective service of prayer and meditation lasts 30–40 minutes and concludes with an invitation to receive Holy Communion.
- 8:30 a.m. Saturday — Another Five Points Clean and Clear service day is planned. Those participating in the two previous service days found the events to be very beneficial to our community and an outstanding way to get to know some of the residents, business owners, UAB students and members of the other Five Points churches.
Please consider being a part of these gatherings with church family and friends and celebrate the tie that binds us together.
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!