In so many ways, this was a momentous week, with important Supreme Court rulings on health care and marriage equality, with the elegant eulogy and song offered by the President in memory of those slain at Emmanuel AME church in Charleston and with horror of a number of African American churches torched in South Carolina. As things have unfolded and unraveled we have turned to one another in wonder, fear, love and compassion, affirming that evil will not rule the day. Now can we make it so?
The meetings I attended surrounding the American Baptists’ biennial Mission Summit offered many words of courage and hope. Not only were concerns about racism and white supremacy raised, we heard the calls for the full inclusion of lgbtq people in the life of our denomination in 3 of the 4 major addresses. It was the most encouraging “Biennial” I have been to in a while. There was an excellent Emerging Theologians Conference before the Mission Summit and I attended two brief retreats after – one for the Association of Welcoming and Affirming Baptists and one for the Minister’s Council (led by our friend, Heather Entrekin, who sent her greetings.)
As always, it was great to see old friends and make new ones. The Roger Williams Fellowship dinner featured Marvin McMickle, President of Colgate Rochester-Crozer seminary in a brilliant analysis of racism in the USA; the AWAB dinner featured noted evangelical ethicist, David Gushee, outlining how his mind has changed to full inclusion lgbtq people in the life of the church; the Peace Fellowship breakfast was addressed passionately by J. Alfred Smith, Jr. from Allen Temple Baptist Church in Oakland on issues of peace and racial justice (Jim is the pastor of Congresswoman Barbara Lee, who received the Edwin T. Dahlberg Peace and Justice Award, the denomination’s highest); and the Ministers’ luncheon sponsored by the Ministers and Missionaries Benefit Board heard Molly Marshall, President of Central Baptist Seminary on the “well-lived life.”
I have heard good reports on worship here, which was ably led by Stina Miller, Dan Cudworth and Carolyn Shepard. Thanks to everyone who helped out while I was gone and thank you for the opportunity to represent FBCPA in our denominational life. This Sunday we will consider unity and diversity in the church. We will consider these phenomena in the context of what is going on in our world, especially in terms of racism and white supremacy. It is very difficult to talk about unity without also talking about justice. The text is Ephesians 4:1-16 and the sermon title is “With Liberty and Justice for All.”
After worship, we will hold our annual church picnic on the Patio. Join us at 10:00 AM for worship and food, fellowship and fun. It will be a great day for you to invite others to share with us.
May we continue to grow together as God’s people.