Note from Pastor Rick (5/25/2016)

love quiltThanks to Geoff Browning, UCCM campus minister, for leading our Adult Spiritual Formation last Sunday.  It was good to brought up to date on UCCM program and activities, including their trip to Nicaragua last March. Both Pastor Gregory and Charlotte Jackson are currently serving on the UCCM board.

I had a good time as respondent to the annual Drexler Lecture at the American Baptist Seminary of the West last week. I got to provide transportation for the speaker, J. Brent Walker, the retiring Executive Director of the Baptist Joint Committee on Religious Liberty. It was great to get hear Brent’s update from the BJC and the state of religious liberty in the USA, and to get better acquainted with this fine champion of Baptist principles. Then, on Saturday I attended the ABSW commencement ceremony at the historic First Baptist Church of Oakland. The speaker was my old friend, Margaret Cowden, former treasurer of the American Baptist Home Mission Society. I enjoyed seeing her and also watching my students from last spring receive their diplomas and awards.

Worship this week will focus on “Peace Now”. The texts from Micah, Luke and Romans are all familiar passages pertaining to peace. Micah urges us to study war no more. In Luke’s “Sermon on the Plain,” Jesus tells us we must love our enemies. Paul, writing to the church at Rome, says, “If it is possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” Each text treats the challenges and rewards of committing ourselves to making peace now. We’ll close the service by singing, “Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.”

In Adult Spiritual Formation we will consider a new book by Dan Shapiro, founder and director of the Harvard International Negotiation Program. I heard Dan interviewed on public radio and was impressed with his understanding and vision. The book, Negotiating the Nonnegotiable: How to Resolve Your Most Emotionally Charged Conflicts, is a thoughtful and practical guide to helping us find harmony and reconciliation, whether at home, church or on the global stage.

Join us for these opportunities Sunday, starting at 10:00 AM. Invite your family and friends, neighbors and colleagues, acquaintances and strangers to join us as we explore the things that make for peace.

Together, let us strive…to know God’s love!

Pastor Rick



Baptist Joint Committee for Religious LibertyApril 2015 Report from the Capital, Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty
By Executive Director J. Brent Walker

The 2016 election season began in March when Senator Ted Cruz, R-Texas, announced his candidacy for president of the United States at Liberty University’s convocation in Lynchburg, Virginia.

The rollout was carefully orchestrated to appeal to conservative Christians: Liberty is the largest Christian university in the world, it’s in a critical purple state —Virginia, and it guaranteed a large audience — convocations are mandatory at Liberty.

Much of the relatively short speech was biographical and testimonial. Religious themes were pervasive. Sen. Cruz mentioned God five times and Jesus Christ twice. This was not improper; candidates for office do not check their faith at the door when they run for or serve in public office. When properly done, candidates’ talk about their faith can help us know who they are, learn what makes them tick and examine their moral core…

Although religion is at home in the American public square and is certainly relevant to the political conversation, it’s wrong to impose a rigorous religious litmus test in how we conduct our politics and the way we decide whom to trust to lead our nation.

Several years ago my friend — and now Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom —Rabbi David Saperstein put forth “Ten Commandments for a Proper Relationship between Religion & Politics.” We would do well to heed this decalogue (slightly modified by me) over the upcoming 18 months:

Read more at the Baptist Joint Committee for Religious Liberty.