Partners in Sharing the Gospel

CBFVA-Assembly-2013-BallewsLast Friday Anne Keith, Lu Overbeck, Jackie Lockwood and I attended the CBF of Virginia meeting at Poplar Baptist Church.  Once again we were reminded of how we can accomplish more together for God’s Kingdom than we can accomplish alone.

At the meeting, Larry and Sarah Ballew, self-funded CBF field personnel, gave a presentation about their ministry among the hospitality workers in Macau, China.  The Ballews have been in the States visiting churches on both the west and east coasts to raise financial support.  The Ballews will be here on October 6 to share with us during the Bible Study hour and in worship.

This Wednesday night, Julie Perry, Chaplain of the Fluvanna Correctional Center for Women, will give a presentation about her ministry among the inmates at the center.  Due to drastic budgetary cuts at the Chaplain Services of Virginia, all state prison chaplains have suffered pay cuts and reduction in work hours.  More than ever, Julie needs churches like ours working together to ensure that this important work continues.

As we welcome Julie Perry and the Ballews, I hope we can be an encouragement and a support to these partners in sharing the Gospel to people in the next county and around the world.

~ Blessings, Michael

 

 

Crucial Conversations, Part 2

Last Wednesday evening, we began our “crucial conversations” series, in which we talked about the importance of all conversation partners contributing to “the pool of meaning” so that everyone is more aware of what we wanted out of the conversation.

During the course of the session, participants articulated several themes.  First is the acknowledgement that we are a diverse congregation with a diverse range of opinions and convictions regarding many issues.  Second is that we want to gain a greater understanding of the issue of human sexuality and homosexuality.  Third is that we do not want this conversation to become divisive.

After the session, several of you came to me and offered helpful feedback.  As a result of your feedback, this Wednesday night, we will briefly revisit last week’s session, and then I will articulate what I hope to accomplish as a result of this conversation on sexuality and homosexuality.  Finally, I will lay out a more concrete road map of how this conversation will take shape in the coming weeks.  Three professors from BTSR will be coming to share their expertise on this topic. It promises to be an educational and enlightening series.  I look forward to seeing you this Wednesday night and being a part of the journey.

 ~Blessings, Michael

 PS – You can see our complete Wednesday Night schedule for the fall on this page.

Crucial Conversations

In the past several months, I’ve heard from several of you expressing your desire to have a dialogue on the issue of sexuality and homosexuality.

In preparation for such a dialogue, I will be leading a short series on “Crucial Conversations” during the next several Wednesday nights.

What is a crucial conversation?  By definition, crucial conversations are about tough issues in which opinions vary, the stakes are high, and emotions run strong.

In these sessions, I hope we will gain greater insight into the nature of such conversations and to learn skills to engage in such conversations in helpful ways.

I look forward to this series and hope that you’ll be able to join us.

 

Youth Mission Trip Report

On June 16 nine members of our youth group along with Larry Johnson and Laura Morris traveled to Raleigh, N.C. with YouthWorks for five days to be the hands and feet of Christ.  On Wednesday, September 4, the participants in this mission trip will share pictures and stories about what they accomplished for Christ and highlight the work and fellowship that took place on this trip.

As you hear humorous tales and possibly some of Mr. Johnson’s slight exaggerations, I want you to know that it was your generosity that made this trip possible for our youth.  Through the donations you made at the Children’s Musical and the funds that you placed in the baskets after a Sunday service, you made it possible for our youth to participate in a life-changing event.  That’s a big deal.  The cost of participation and travel is a large part of the youth budget and it took a substantial showing of altruism to ensure that this vital ministry opportunity be available to anyone who desires to serve.

Please know that your continuing support of UBC’s Youth Ministry has been inspiring and that your kind words, prayers, and financial support have been an ENORMOUS blessing to both the youth and myself.

Gratefully, Phil

 

“Back to School” at UBC

It’s hard to believe that the summer is over and the school year has begun.  Signs of the new school year are evident throughout Charlottesville — yellow school buses, UVA students walking on grounds and at the Corner, more traffic, and long lines in restaurants and grocery stores!  My children started classes last week, and they are back into the routine of doing homework every school night and taking tests at the end of the week.  It’s good to see them back in school and learning new things.  Education is so very important to the welfare of our children and their future.

Likewise, religious education is so very important for the growth and maturity of followers of Jesus Christ.  After all, the word “disciple” means being a learner and a pupil.

Therefore, I invite you to get involved in our Sunday morning Bible study classes.  A full list of our classes can be found here.

On Sunday, September 8, we will recognize all our Sunday morning Bible study teachers in worship.  We will also give out Bibles to our new First Graders.

In addition to Sunday morning classes, our graded children’s choirs and our Wednesday night programming will resume next week.

I hope you’ll take advantage of the educational and fellowship opportunities offered by the church starting in September.  I’ll see you in class!

~Michael

Invite Someone to Lunch!

The next several weeks are an exciting time here at UBC as we welcome newcomers to our community and to our church.  Starting this Sunday, I want to encourage our members to take a guest or two (or another church member that you don’t know very well) out to lunch after worship.  Sharing a meal together is a wonderful way get to know another person, and our church is blessed to be surrounded by so many good restaurants.

In order to encourage you to take someone out to lunch in the coming weeks, you’ll find in your worship bulletin a 10% off coupon for lunch at Basil, Boylan Heights and El JaripeoLemon Grass is offering a free (non-alcoholic) drink to each patron.  This coupon is only good for Sunday lunch, August 25 through September 29, 2013.  Take time in the coming Sundays to share a meal with someone you don’t know, especially our UVA students and guests, and have fun doing so!

Let us also remember to repay our neighboring restaurants’ kindness and generosity by treating the servers with equal kindness and generosity.  See you around “The Corner”!

 

~Michael

“Adopt-a-Student” Ministry

Now that we are in August, in a couple of weeks, university students will be back in town.  Since we are University Baptist Church, I am eager for us to find ways to connect with and minister alongside students, both at UVA and PVCC.  With that in mind, I’m working with the staff to restart an “Adopt-a-Student” ministry which seeks to provide a “home away from home” for students — especially first-years and freshmen.

In my experience, college students are hungry for community — with their peers but also with others.  This year, I hope we can welcome the students who attend UBC by quickly finding them a family who will love them, who can periodically invite them over to their homes for meals and/or to play with their children, who will take them out to lunch after church, offer a quiet place to hang out away from noisy roommates, and provide assistance in case of an emergency or advice in a variety of topics, including finding a good car mechanic or overcoming heart-break.

Therefore, I’m looking to recruit families and couples who like being around college-age students, and who will let those students direct how much interaction they would like to have with their adoptive families.  The benefit you receive is that you will positively influence these young lives and create friendships that will last far beyond the college years.  You will most likely earn the undying appreciation from these students’ parents!

If you are interested in serving as adoptive parents, please let me know.  In the coming Sundays we will promote this ministry among our students, and we will schedule a “Student Sunday Luncheon” in September where we will match students with their “parents.”  Let’s do what we can to welcome students this fall!

 

                                             ~ Michael

 

To Love Our Neighbors as Ourselves

Now that George Zimmerman has been acquitted of second degree murder and manslaughter in the killing of Trayvon Martin, the media is bombarding us with the reactions of people to the case.  TV news shows and talk radio are filled with pundits prosecuting and defending, not George Zimmerman, but the case itself — how it was tried, the verdict of the jury and the jury members.  In some parts of America, there is a feeling that justice was served and our right to self-defense vindicated.  In other parts of America, there is a deepening despair regarding our justice system and what it means to be a young, black male in America.

The death of Trayvon Martin was a tragedy.  It highlights our societal anxieties about security and safety, the lingering tensions about race, ongoing questions about the availability and use of firearms, our penchant to typecast groups of people, and our tendency to take a complicated situation and reduce it to a single issue:  race, gun control, or self-defense.

Even though the defense may claim victory, there are no winners in the case.  Trayvon Martin is dead.  George Zimmerman is a marked man and vilified by many.  This case is just the latest example of the deep distrust and philosophical divides that still separate our country.

How do we respond as Christians?  First, let us remember that we live in a broken world.  Second, let us pray that the peace of Christ will lower our anxieties about our safety and wellbeing so that our everyday interactions embody a calm intentionality instead of a knee-jerk reactivity.  Third, let us have eyes to see everyone first as potential neighbors instead of potential enemies.  In God’s eyes, both Trayvon Martin and George Zimmerman are our neighbors.  Pray for the family of Trayvon Martin, and for George Zimmerman and his family in the coming weeks and months.  Pray also for ourselves as Christians that we may more fully obey our Lord’s command to love our neighbors as ourselves.

~Grace and Peace, Michael

 

The Importance of Sabbath

At the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship General Assembly I attended a couple of weeks ago, I heard Dr. Guy Sayles, Pastor of First Baptist Church of Asheville, NC, speak on the importance of rest and Sabbath.  While I was familiar with most of the arguments and benefits of Sabbath-keeping, Dr. Sayles cited one quote from Wayne Muller’s book, Sabbath:  Finding Rest, Renewal, and Delight in Our Busy Lives, that caught my attention:  “If we do not allow for a rhythm of rest in our overly busy lives, illness becomes our Sabbath.” (p. 20)

I know first-hand the truth of that statement.  In a culture where our worth is mostly based on our productivity, I need to be reminded of another quote from Muller:  “Sabbath is not dependent upon our readiness to stop … Sabbath requires surrender.  If we only stop when we are finished with all our work, we will never stop – because our work is never completely done” (pp. 82-83).

I pray that we all will engage in the holy practice of Sabbath in these coming weeks of summer!

                                                                               ~Michael

 

Summer Choir Program

The UBC Summer Choir presents
A Program of Psalms, Hymns and Spiritual Songs

Sunday, July 7, 11:00 a.m.

The Book of Psalms, also referred to the Psalter, is a collection of 150 poems and prayers. Many were written by David, but there are other authors of the Psalms. There are occasionally directions given that seem to indicate a particular tune that would be familiar to the ancient Hebrew community, but no tunes exist in written form today.

Gospel HymnsA hymn is a type of song, usually religious, specifically written for the purpose of praise, adoration or prayer, and typically addressed to a deity or deities, or to a prominent figure or personification. The word hymn derives from Greek ὕμνος (hymnos), which means “a song of praise.” The roots of Christian hymnody has the Psalms as it basis for texts. Since the Reformation, authors like Martin Luther wrote hymns prolifically that were both hymns of testimony and hymns that teach particular tenets of the Christian faith.

The Spirituals are a purely American form of music – they are the earnest prayers and pleas of the slaves who, taken from their homeland and forced into servitude at the hands of cruel task masters, found a faith in kinship with Christ – forsaken by his own, misunderstood and mistreated. The stories of the Old and New Testaments were wells of inspiration and hope for a people who found little of either in their daily lives. But their songs live on, and inspire us to overcome our spiritual social and political turmoil, and to get on board the gospel train bound for heaven!

As we share in a service of Psalms, Hymn and Spiritual Songs, we will experience the power and testimony of each as we worship the Lord who inspires us to live in His Grace! Come join us Sunday, July 7, at 11:00 am, for a musical journey into the heart of God through the Psalms, the testimony of the post-reformation Christian church through the hymns, and the deep emotion and sheer joy of African American spirituals!

~Alba Beasley

 

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