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

 

Youth Fun Day

Tuesday, July 23 (10 am -5 pm)

This was a fantastic day at the church that was full of fun, fellowship, and ministry. Today our youth took part in ministry activities that focused  on the inward, outward, and upward. For our inward ministry we wrote letters to every sunday school class and prayed over pretty much every room in the church – specifically, for the many church events and meetings that take place in them. Our upward ministry time was spent in quiet reflection in the sanctuary talking with God (a solid 20 minute session). Our outward ministry was to offer up some ice cold lemonade and prayers for those who passed by our church. It was interesting to speak with the people who passed by because most of them didn’t want anything to drink but when we asked if we could pray for something in their lives – they would often slow down and stop to pray with us. It was really awesome to see our youth listening to and praying for complete strangers. We also played games with pudding, mustaches, and water balloons. It was an awesome day!

water balloon prayer sign sign making mustachesLetter

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comfort Food Ministry

The mission of this ministry is to provide food and paper products to UBC families who are focused on other issues in their lives.  We provide food in several ways:  home cooked, purchased, or gift certificates.  The members of this team will deliver the food or gift certificates to the individual or family.  Our goal is to help take some of the stress off of them in their time of need.

We welcome new members to our team and hope that UBC members will call on us when the need arises.  To join the team, contact Carolyn Lowry or Lynda Tweel, or call the church office.

If you or someone you know has a need, please call the church office (293-5106) or send an email to circleofcaring@universitybaptist.org.

 

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

 

Celebrations Ministry

We think of our University Baptist fellowship as a family of faith, and as in any family we rejoice in the milestones and successes of our family members. The Celebrations Ministry seeks to acknowledge the many causes for celebration that arise in the lives of our church members. We recognize such causes for celebration and thanksgiving as birthdays, wedding anniversaries, births, baptisms, graduations, and other joyous events by sending cards, making phone calls or through other appropriate actions. We would welcome the participation of anyone who is willing share in the writing of notes or other means of acknowledging occasions for celebration that occur within our church family. This is a ministry of rejoicing! Please contact Lynne Gardner, 296-8086, or Martha Ballenger, 296-3480.

~Jackie Lockwood

 

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

 

A Brief Report on the CBF General Assembly

Last Thursday and Friday, Bob and Patti Badgett, Anne Keith, Lu Overbeck, Tom Leland and I attended the CBF General Assembly in Greensboro, NC. Over 2,300 registered attendees unanimously approved the new organizational and governance structure, and we formally welcomed Suzii Paynter as the new CBF Executive Director. It was very encouraging to be at a place where old and new friends were so glad to see each other, where diverse people assumed leadership roles and where a spirit of love and joy filled the air. I’m glad that UBC is a part of the CBF. Exciting days are ahead!

~Michael

PS – Recaps and videos of the General Assembly can be found at the CBF Website.

UBC Hosts IMPACT Celebration

Last night, University Baptist hosted an IMPACT Justice Ministry Celebration. Around two hundred people from twenty-four different congregations gathered in our sanctuary to receive a report on the progress being made in youth unemployment and homelessness.

Of particular interest to me is the report from Rev. Al Horton of First United Methodist Church, who serves on the Homelessness Research Strategy Committee. One of the committee’s findings is that while there are many agencies that work on the challenge of homelessness, there is very little cooperation among these agencies to move over 200 homeless adults and 500 homeless children into permanent housing.

At the Nehemiah Action gathering last April, the City Manager and County Executive committed to gather leaders from these agencies to form a round-table to reduce homelessness. That roundtable convened a couple of weeks ago, and the group decided to make centralized intake and service referrals a top priority, so that agencies can share information to get their clients the services they need. Also, representatives from the City and County will be added to the board of Thomas Jefferson Area Coalition for the Homeless (TJACH) to offer additional oversight and accountability. Lastly, both the City and County committed to providing funds that will support centralized intake and collaboration, which is something that IMPACT did not ask for.

IMPACT has become a catalyst for our government officials and our agencies to work together in coming up with a systemic solution to a systemic problem. It has the potential of making a long-term, positive contribution to the men we serve during PACEM.

I’m grateful for the work of IMPACT in this area, and for the involvement of our church members who give their time and money to this cause as an expression of their faith. If you have any questions about what IMPACT is doing in addressing homelessness, please feel free to contact me!

~ Michael

 

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