On May 9, 2011 Dee's ministry at Berea First Baptist Church came to an end and our family began the "Unexpected Adventure" of building a bridge to a new future. Through this blog, we invite you to share this journey with us.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

And Thanksgiving Broke Out

Wednesday Prayer Service was underway.  The prayer time had just concluded.  I took a deep breath and prepared to speak the first words of my Bible study when someone spoke up first.  The retired pastor of the church, seated in the congregation, asked for a moment to speak.  He talked about the four weeks that the church and I have been working together.  He talked about the attendance, the new faces, and the new sense of hope he feels.  He said, "I am very proud to invite people to my church."  I was very touched by what he said, but I drew another deep breath to begin the Bible study.  Before I could start, a lady in the crowd spoke up.  She, too, wanted to thank me for helping her church.  When she finished, another began, then another, then another.  For the next ten minutes, people spoke up to say "thank you."  The last man who shared said, "In other words, we love you."  I fought back tears.  I glanced at my watch and saw that choir rehearsal would begin in five minutes, a sacred hour in a Baptist church.  I folded up my notes and tried to tell those good people what having a place to serve, even part-time, means to me.  With that, the service ended. 

As I drove home, I replayed that unusual service in my head and asked myself why it had touched me so deeply.  Then it dawned on me.  This little church had just done more to say "thank you" for one month of ministry than the church I had left did to give thanks for twelve years of ministry.  The contrast and the lesson it taught were crystal clear.  I had seen how much a simple gift of gratitude adds to life and how much its absence steals away.  I will never forget that Wednesday night that I came to prayer meeting and thanksgiving broke out.  I want to be one of those who steps up, speaks out, and gives thanks.  . 

Monday, June 20, 2011

Some Good News

Linda has been hired by Greenville Technical College to teach a course in Developmental English this fall.  This class, in many ways, will be similar to Linda's GED work that she led at Berea First for eight years.  She will be working with Greenville Tech students who need some coaching and practice in putting their thoughts into writing.  I'm very proud of her and she is very excited about this opportunity. 

Saturday, June 18, 2011

A Father's Day Gift

My Father's Day gifts came early this year.  My children, Elizabeth, Josh, and Andrew have made me very proud through the character they've demonstrated and the support they've given me during this time of transition.  I felt guilty having to tell my children that the church I had served for twelve years, the church where they spent some very formative years, had turned its back on me.  I worried that my children might hate the church instead of loving the church.  I feared that they might see their dad as a failure. 

They've made me proud.  Each of them, in his or her own way, has given me a very precious kind of support and encouragement.  Andrew even had a verbal showdown with a not-so-friendly Facebook friend (don't start a war of words with Andrew!).  My children didn't ask for or deserve this test, but all three of them have passed with flying colors.  Elizabeth....Josh....Andrew, I know that being my children has not been easy lately.  But I want you to know that there's never been a time when I've been more proud to be your dad. 

Friday, June 10, 2011

A Great Truth From a Great Christian

"When we honestly ask ourselves which person in our lives means the most to us, we often find that it is those who, instead of giving much advice, solutions, or cures, have chosen rather to share our pain and touch our wounds with a gentle and tender hand. The friend who can be silent with us in a moment of despair or confusion, who can stay with us in an hour of grief and bereavement, who can tolerate not knowing, not curing, not healing and face with us the reality of our powerlessness, that is a friend who cares."
                                                                              -- Henri Nouwen

Saturday, June 4, 2011

New Beginnings

Sunday will be a day of new beginnings for our family.  My son-in-law, Joshua Davison, on the same day that he celebrates his one-year wedding anniversary, will begin his first pastorate as he begins his service at Bethel Baptist Church in Monetta, SC.  I had the joy of moderating Josh's ordination council and his ordination service on May 15.  (I had to resist the temptation to ask Josh, during his ordination council, "How often do you promise to bring my grandson to see me?") He and Elizabeth have been very busy moving to Monetta and getting their home in Greenwood ready to put on the market.  I know that they would welcome your prayers as they begin this new chapter of their lives and then, in about eight weeks, become parents for the first time. 
My little girl is now a pastor's wife.  If she will remember her mom's example, she'll do just fine. 

June 5 is also the day I begin preaching at Parisview Baptist Church.  These folks have been so welcoming and affirming that I am truly excited about the opportunity to worship and work with them for a while.  If you need a church family to love you or even a safe harbor during a spiritual storm in your life, I know that you would be more than welcomed at Parisview.  My first message to them?  "You Can Begin Again."  That seems to be the theme of the day. 

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Something New

To say that life is filled with surprises would be the biggest understatement of the past several weeks.  I've been knocked down by some tragic surprises, but, thank God, have also been blessed by some very affirming ones.  Official today, I have agreed to undertake a new writing job for Lifeway Christian Resources (the people who publish Sunday School literature and other resources for Southern Baptist and other churches).  A week ago, I received a telephone call from the editor of You, a new curriculum that I have never before used.  She enlisted me to write "sermon starters" to go with each lesson in the Spring 2012 quarterly, a brief suggestion of a message a pastor might preach to support the theme of that week's lesson.  That was a nice surprise.  What was an even greater surprise was that You is designed for urban and African-American congregations.  This very white guy who lives in TR will have the chance to support the ministries of fellow pastors I have never met who come from a very different background.  My childhood was spent in a very segregated South.  I am grateful for this opportunity to experience and express the unity that Jesus gives to His people.