February 2, 2011

Dear Centenary Friends,

The population of the world on Wednesday, February 2, 2011, at 10:30 a.m. is approximately 6 billion, 897 million, 419 thousand, and 109 (6,897,419,109).  That number is hard for us to grasp.  To give you a bit of a perspective, the population of the United States comprises a mere 4.5% of the global population. 

If you took the entire population of the world and reduced it into a village of 100 people, reflecting all the statistics which define the human population, the global village would look something like this:

  • 52 women and 48 men
  • 57 Asians, 21 Europeans, 14 Americans (North, Central, South), and 8 Africans
  • 30 Caucasians and 70 people of color
  • 89 heterosexuals and 11 homosexuals
  • 30 Christians and 70 persons of other faiths
  • 6 people in the village would own 59% of the village's wealth and 94 of the residents would live on the remaining 41%
  • 80 would live in poverty and 20 above poverty
  • 70 are unable to read and 30 are literate
  • 1 out of the 100 would have a computer


This village of 100 puts our world population of 6.8 billion into perspective, doesn't it?   As I reflect, I am not certain of all the ramifications, but there are several things that strike me:

  • God knows and loves all these people.
  • God cares for those who suffer.
  • God, according to Jesus, calls on the wealthy to give generously.
  • In a world which appears to be chaotic, God is peace.
  • God hates our prejudices against people he has created.
  • Bigotry and prejudice reveal a questioning of God's design.
  • God likes diversity.
  • God paints in a great variety of colors.
  • The world I know is just a very small part of the whole world.
  • I need to be respectful of others who see the world through different eyes.
  • The Kingdom of God encompasses all 6,897,419,109 individuals.


You can add to the list.  What do you think of as you see the make-up of the village?  

Speaking of the world... Since 1984 the African Children's Choir has sung at the White House and the United Nations and to sold out crowds at Madison Square Gardens.  They have appeared on Good Morning America and the ‘Ellen' Degeneres show and shared the stage with Josh Groban, Mariah Cary, Matt Damon and Sir Paul McCartney.

And on Tuesday, February 15th at 7:00 p.m. the African Children's Choir will perform at Centenary in our latest partnership with Mercer University.  What an opportunity!  Mark it on your calendar and spread the word. 


We celebrate with Ben and Becky Tiller the birth of Silas! 


Thank you for your kind and prayerful support of me as I recuperate from some surgery.  The recovery has not gone as quickly as I wanted or anticipated, but I am moving in the right direction.  Ministry at Centenary does not miss a beat when I am laid up and that is the way it should be.  Thanks be to God for gifted and called laity and staff who serve in creative ways.


Lorri Fischer, a part of the Centenary community, sent me the following blessing that should be shared:   "May today there be peace within. May you trust that you are exactly where you are meant to be. May you not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith in yourself and others. May you use the gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you. May you be content with yourself just the way you are.  Let this knowledge settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love. It is there for each and every one of  us."  Thanks, Lorri, for reminding us of who we are.

I am looking forward to seeing you in worship on Sunday!  We will begin the service with "Lift Every Voice and Sing!" 

Grace and peace.


Dear Centenary Family,

Bill Greenhaw was the organist at Centenary for 11 years, but he was also very active member of Vineville Baptist Church.  John Pierce, Editor of Baptists Today (a cooperative Baptist periodical that I never miss reading), wrote a wonderful eulogy that is in today's Letters to the Editor in the Macon Telegraph.  It should be shared with the Centenary community:

A chair was folded and leaned against the table Wednesday evening, Jan. 25, at Vineville Baptist Church in Macon. It was the seat that Bill Greenhaw, who died the night before, had long occupied during the weekly fellowship meal. Although a quiet and unassuming man, his absence is being felt. The spot on a front pew where he sat during the church's early worship service is unfilled, too. The bench where he faithfully played the organ each Sunday at Centenary United Methodist Church is vacant as well.

His pastor, Tripp Martin, during Bill's memorial service Jan. 28 that was appropriately brief, simple and eloquent, described Bill as "the truest of friends." The gathered crowd nodded in agreement.

A dedicated educator, Bill influenced a whole generation as a teacher, counselor and principal. In his retirement, he became a strong advocate for the next generation of educators.

Through Vineville Baptist Church, Bill served as a deacon and as director of the media library from 1989-2006. A plaque at the entrance reveals that the congregation named the room in his honor "The William B. Greenhaw Jr. Media Library." With his usual whispered voice and childlike grin, he told me more than once that the first plaque, which he had at home, was replaced due to a misspelled word.

When I met Bill for lunch many years ago and asked him to join the board of directors at Baptists Today, he suggested that he had nothing to offer. I knew better. He was a man whose counsel came quietly. After serving six years on the board, he told friends how eager he was to return. So after the one year required absence he was back until his death.

Bill was a good reminder that the loudest voices do not always deserve the closest listening. For those wise enough to pay close attention, Bill was a consistent source of insight, encouragement and hope.

As his pastor also said, Bill had a "thoughtful faith." He was unmoved by narrow fundamentalism and quick to spot those who used religious language to mask selfish motives. He provided real support -- money -- to organizations that foster the historic Baptist freedoms that he held dear.

There are empty seats because Bill is gone, but there are full hearts because he came our way.

-- John D. Pierce

Thanks be to God for the life of Bill Greenhaw.


Not to be missed:  On Wednesday, March 2, JJ Hobbs will present an evening of musical performance in our sanctuary.  The program is called, "Songs of Longing".   Mark that day on your calendars. 


Ginny Hathaway, Assistant Pastor at Centenary, as blessed us since her arrival in January.  She will be preaching her first sermon this Sunday.  I hope you will be present with me as worship together.

Grace and peace.

Tim Bagwell

Love God.  Love Others.  Love Yourself.  Serve.


February 24, 2011

Dear Centenary family,

I don't like gimmicks.  Never have.  Never will.  But this Sunday I am preaching while sitting in a rocking chair.  Sounds gimmicky, doesn't it.?  The scripture is Matthew 6:25-34.  Jesus talks about stress, anxiety, worry, and the birds of the air.  So, I am going to relax and share with you my heart about these matters... This is a sermon to me, as well as for you.  I will be sharing my "Sermon from a Rocking Chair."

But there is something else going on this Sunday in the sanctuary...  One of the hallmarks of Centenary is accessibility and radical hospitality.  For our faith community, all means all.  Everyone is welcome.  Yet, while we issue the invitation without reservation, there are some barriers.  Here is what you will find when you come to church this Sunday:  First, we are shifting some pews around to create space for those who are in wheelchairs.  We want EVERYONE to have a place that does not feel cramped.  There will now be 4 places in our sanctuary where a person in a wheelchair can worship without feeling that they are encroaching on walking space.  And we don't want these spaces to be in just one area.  Why should a person in a wheelchair feel that they can only occupy one particular area in a sanctuary?  We want to create good space for ALL.  All means all.

And we want to make a space for children and parents.  It is really constraining, we know, for parents to struggle with children in pews.  We have a great nursery, but sometimes parents want to keep their children with them in worship, if it is possible.  So, you will see an area in the front that has pillows and blankets.  This area will be called "Comfy Corner".  Both parents and children are welcome to sit on the floor.  All means all... "let the children come to me...", is the way Jesus put it.

And to the rocking chair.... What will happen to it when I am finished preaching this Sunday?  It will stay in the sanctuary.  At the very back of one of the sections of the church, we will have a couple of rocking chairs for mothers or fathers with infants.  Sometimes the best thing that can happen for an infant is rocking while the baby is fed.  They quickly go to sleep.  Now... please... don't send me any emails telling me that the adults are asleep too while I am preaching!  Be merciful!  Please help me in making sure that Holley Long knows that this rocking chair is not provided for him to sleep through my sermon. 

Nearly all churches want to be welcoming.  However, very few churches engage in dialogue so as to make the sanctuary as welcoming as possible.  At Centenary ALL MEANS ALL... which means we know we have to always be willing to change in order to offer hospitable space.  These minor changes simply say, "There is sacred space for you.  We are expecting you.  We are ready." 

I am looking forward to seeing you Sunday from the vantage point of my rocking chair.


Centenary's own JJ Hobbs will be in concert at Centenary on Wednesday, March 2, 6:30 pm, in the sanctuary.  The concert is called "Songs of Longing".  This is something you do not want to miss.  Really. 

Grace and peace.

Tim Bagwell

Love God.  Love Others.  Love Yourself.  Serve.