February

February 27, 2014

Dear Centenary family,

There are two bills before the Georgia Assembly that are of concern to people who believe that God loves everyone.  The bill before the House is HB1023 and the one before the Senate is SB377.  The bills purport to protect religious freedom.  I’ve read both bills.  They are, as is the case with most bills, difficult to read and comprehend.  It is clear, however, that the actual intention of both bills is to legislatively give businesses the right to discriminate against the gay and lesbian community.  In this case, the legislators who support these bills are using religion to justify discrimination.  So, here is the issue:  For many decades there were Georgia businesses that discriminated against people because of the color of their skin.  Was that right?  The arc of history (and religion and faith and the Bible and God) says no.  Ultimately our culture embraced the idea that discrimination was wrong on every level.   It is hard to believe that two bills that grant the right for discriminatory practices are before the Georgia Assembly.  Yet, a similar law was passed recently in Arizona (HB2153) but has not yet been signed into law by Governor Brewer.  (Pray that she won’t sign it.)  Will Georgia follow the same path of discrimination?  As Christians, I invite you to act.  The Centenary Community is geographically spread out all over middle Georgia.  Care enough to identify your Georgia Assembly Representative and Senator.  (There are four Senators and quite a few Representatives who represent different geographical areas of middle Georgia.)  After you have identified your Senator and Representative, I encourage you to join me in writing or calling them to express concern about these bills.  Jesus engaged the legislative powers in his time.  We should too.  

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Thank you for your support of “The Sleepout”!  You have raised $2,222.96 for Daybreak, a difference-making ministry to homeless persons in Macon, Georgia.  Stacey Harwell, Eric Mayle, and I (and perhaps some others from Centenary) will be spending  Thursday night in sleeping bags in Central City Park as a part of the fundraiser.  Pray for us.  But more importantly, pray for and be supportive of our homeless community who spend each day wondering where they will spend the night.

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Most of you know that while my passion is Centenary, I have a job as the Executive Director of New and Revitalized Congregational Development for the United Methodist Church in The South Georgia Annual Conference.  That is a ridiculously long title, isn’t it!?  What is means is that I train pastors, revitalize congregations, birth new congregations, oversee Hispanic ministry, and raise money for all of this.  My ministry covers Macon, Columbus, and all points south in South Georgia.  I’ve been doing this job since January of 2002.  In that time, we’ve worked with or birthed 48 congregations.  This Sunday, March 2, I will be present with Bishop King as we constitute (charter) this congregation that I started working on about 5 years ago.  The church is called The Waterfront United Methodist Church in Richmond Hill.  It is an exciting day for that congregation and for us all as a new congregation that has been functioning for the past 2.5 years formally becomes a church.  Pray for The Waterfront UMC and Pastor Adam Ricker. 

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This Sunday, Stacey Harwell will be preaching “Transfigured!  Now Moving Forward” from Matthew 17:1-9.  Plan to be present in worship with the Centenary community.

Manna and Mercy,

Tim Bagwell

Love God.  Love Others.  Love Yourself.  Serve.

www.centenarymacon.org 

February 5, 2014

Dear Centenary family,

He died last week at 94.  Pete Seeger was a songwriter, banjo-playing activist.  He believed that living in the world brought joy… but it also brought with it responsibility.  Pete wrote, played, and sang “campfire songs.”  Many of us grew up singing “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?”,  “If I Had a Hammer”, “Little Boxes on a Hillside” and “Turn, Turn, Turn”,  four of hundreds of songs he wrote or collaborated on.  Seeger’s “We Shall Overcome” continues to be an anthem of hope for racial reconciliation and peace.

His songs became our songs.  He raised his voice against injustice. He championed workers’ rights.  He marched in Civil Rights marches.  He became a celebrity, though he disdained celebrity culture.  His goal was to keep America singing songs of hope.  Many of his songs were steeped in Old Testament prophetic values.  He bore witness to the Kingdom of God.

But here is what I admire most:  Pete Seeger’s life was a long obedience.  Athletes who compete in the Sochi Olympics can get there only through a long obedience.  It is true for every musician, artist, business leader or scholar.  Friedrich Nietzsche may have been wrong in 1882 when he announced that “God is dead,” but he was right when he wrote:   "The essential thing ‘in heaven and earth’ is that there should be a long obedience in the same direction; there thereby results, and has always resulted in the long run, something which has made life worth living."

I would call Pete Seeger’s life “a long obedience in the same direction.” 

Eugene Peterson, gifted Christian writer and thinker, wrote this:  “There is a great market for religious experience in our world;  there is little enthusiasm for the patient acquisition of virtue, little inclination to sign up for a long apprenticeship in what earlier generations of Christians called holiness.”  I believe that the church is not here for instant gratification spirituality.  The church is not a quick fix.  Centenary is here to invite people into a long obedience in the same direction; the kind of obedience which , in the long run, makes life worth living.

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Wonderful Wednesday Chili Cook-off tonight (February 5) at 6 pm!  You are invited!

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Are you interested in changing the landscape of poverty in Macon?  Are you interested in having a hand in creating job opportunities, along with local entrepreneurship?  We’ve been having that conversation for awhile as we talked about starting a bakery and working with microloans at Centenary.  We are widening the conversation to include First Baptist and St. Paul Episcopal Churches.  You are invited to join us on Sunday, February 9, 12:30 for a light lunch and conversation at First Baptist. 

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The Great Sleepout -  Eric, Stacey, and I are sleeping under the stars on February 27 in solidarity with our homeless friends.  We want to raise money for Daybreak, an incredible ministry for homeless people here in Macon.  We want to raise at least $1000.  Already more than $500 has been given.  Here are three things you can do: 

1.       You can be part of The Great Sleepout and join us. 

2.       You can give money toward the goal.  Make your check to Centenary and mark for “The Great Sleepout”

3.       You can pray for those who have to sleep out under the stars every evening, often without the warm jackets and sleep gear that we will be bringing with us.

Questions?  Contact Stacey at stacey@centenarymacon.org  

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Don’t forget Ted Talks in the round room Sunday at 9:30.

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Eric Mayle is preaching this Sunday.  His sermon is “This Little Light”.  His texts are:  Matthew 5:13-20 and Isaiah 58:1-9a.  I am looking forward to worship Sunday

Manna and Mercy,

Tim Bagwell

Love God.  Love Others.  Love Yourself.  Serve.

www.centenarymacon.org