July 24, 2013

Dear Centenary family,

It is good to be back.  These few weeks of rest and relaxation have been needed and good for me, but I look forward to falling back into a rhythm with our common life together.  What did I do during the time away?  I read a lot.  I did some hiking and kayaking.  I contemplated and made notes.  I worshiped.  I sat on the porch.  Mainly, however, this was a time of hibernation.  One person said, “I’ve never known you to be off the grid like you have been.”  Well, I wasn’t completely off the grid, I must admit.  I made contacts with some church members about illnesses and surgeries, etc.  But I did try to distance myself from the normal grid traffic.  I’ve been on a mountain listening and resting.

I will be present in worship this Sunday to celebrate with our youth.  They’ve had an incredible summer… camp, Roving Listeners, planning for worship leadership.  So, join me this Sunday as they lead us in worship (including the sermon).  I will be returning to the pulpit August 4.  Here is my August preaching  schedule:

August 4 – A Fire That No Water Can Put Out  - Psalm 49:1-6

August 11 – Wishful Thinking versus Faith – Hebrews 11:1-3,8-16

August 18 – Carpe Diem – Hebrews 11:29-12:2

August 25 – Closing the Gap Between Belief and Behavior – Isaiah 58:9b-14


Also… there are some significant sharing and education opportunities upcoming:

***Stacey Harwell and Helen Willoughby will be teaching a series about Martin Luther King for 6 weeks beginning August 4… I’ve looked at the schedule – Looks fantastic!  9:30 on Sundays.

***I will be teaching a course called Manna and Grace beginning September 15 for 6 weeks at 9:30 on Sundays.  It is an overview of the entire Bible.  Hope you will mark it on your calendar.

***Stacey is leading Death Café at the end of October.  How do we talk about death?  How do we prepare for death?

Lots of good things coming up – Just wanted you to be aware of a few plans unfolding.  You will be hearing more about all of this.


See you Sunday!

Grace and Peace,


Tim Bagwell

Love God.  Love Others.  Love Yourself.  Serve.



July 31, 2013

Dear Friends,

It is a summertime memory from childhood – Traveling to Cherokee, North Carolina.  There we bought the obligatory hatchets, moccasins, and Indian headdress.  We had our pictures made with a Cherokee “chief” standing on a street corner.  At the time, none of us thought of the stereotypes we were perpetuating, nor did we consider the rather de-meaning position we put the “chief” in by his standing on a street corner, receiving tips for pictures.  It was a sham.  It was cheap.  It was wrong.

But later that night in Cherokee we heard the sad story of “The Trail of Tears.”  Presented in a large outdoor amphitheater, “Unto These Hills” is a play that tells “the rest of the story.”   It is not that the production is exceedingly well done or nuanced… nor are the actors professionals.  But as a child I experienced several sleepless nights after watching that outdoor drama which plays to the masses.  The firing of the muskets and cannon scared me.  But I also was bothered by the haunting story of “The Trail of Tears”.

The Creek and Cherokee Indians fought on the wrong side in the Revolutionary War.  The British promised them protection from the settlers who were invading their tribal lands.  The British lost, leaving the Creeks and the Cherokees to fend for themselves.

After the Revolutionary War, starvation and smallpox took their toll on the population of Native Americans, but the greatest event to negatively impact those natives was the discovery of gold outside of Dahlonega, Georgia.  Around 1815, a Cherokee boy playing in the Chestatee River found a yellow pebble.  The boy’s mother sold it to a white man.  The Georgia Gold Rush ensued.  Greed took over and the rest is history.

President Andrew Jackson, an Indian fighter before his political career, forged the New Echota treaty of 1835 which ceded all Cherokee land east of the Mississippi to the United States.  The Cherokee Indians had to go! 

By 1838, armed soldiers rounded up 17,000 Native Americans for the march west.  It was a death march.  2,000 people died on the trip and another 2,000 were put in stockades in Oklahoma.  A Georgia volunteer, later a colonel in the Confederate Army, said, “I fought through the Civil War and have seen men shot to pieces and slaughtered by thousands, but the Cherokee removal was the cruelest work I ever knew.” 

Fast forward to 1967-1968.  Eighth grade Georgia History.  Mr. Culbreth was my teacher in Metter, Georgia.  I learned about General Oglethorpe and the settling of Savannah.  But Mr. Culbreth did not tell me about “The Trail of Tears” atrocity.  The omission was not intentional on his part.  It was not in the history book.  I find that odd.   Sanitized Georgia history?  

Where was God when this mini-Holocaust happened in Georgia?   What are we to do with stories like this?  What does God require of us?  The prophet Micah answers those questions in part:  “He has told you, men and women, what is good!  What does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with God.”

I want to stand with those who are forgotten, mistreated, abused, stepped on, downtrodden, depressed, and overlooked.  Every day of our lives there are mini-Holocausts going on all around us.  Open your eyes and ears.  Is the voiceless one an individual you know?  Is it a group of people who don’t have a voice?  ACT by DOING justice, loving kindness, and walking humbly with God.

Manna and Grace,

Tim Bagwell


There is much going on at Centenary!

  • Thank you to the youth!  What an incredible service of worship last Sunday!
  • Lots of changes on our block.  Mercer is building a new dorm.  Our transitional house was razed, as you know.  However, we have a good and gifted group of church leaders who are working on securing another piece of property for this vital ministry.  You will be hearing more.
  • Helen Willoughby and Stacey Harwell are teaching a 6 week course about Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. beginning this Sunday, August 4, 9:45 in a classroom below the sanctuary.  This is a wonderful opportunity to connect and learn.  Plan to be present!
  • Wednesday, August 7, 6 pm – Dinner and a movie.  “The Man Who Ate New Orleans”.  The director, Michael Dunaway will be with us.  He will introduce the movie and take questions and answers after the movie.  This is a do not miss!
  • Youth ministry fundraiser spaghetti lunch right after worship on August 18 in the fellowship hall.  Make your plans to be present and supportive. 
    Many of us were moved to tears when we heard in worship the story about the arrest and deportation of Frances Savano's (a member of our sister church Nueva Vida) son on a false drug charge . Since then, we've watched Jasmine's Story DVD and held a prayer vigil with our brothers and sisters from Nueva Vida to pray for immigrant families.  On August 7th (at dinner) and August 11th (before and after worship) you will have the opportunity to take the next step and sign a letter telling our representatives that we care about immigrant families in Georgia. The letter will ask our representatives to create legislation that reunifies families, creates a pathway to citizenship for all who wish to contribute to our country with minimal obstacles, protect the basic civil and human rights of all immigrants, and stop deportations until just and human immigration reform is passed.  There is no pressure for you to sign this letter. This is simply available to those of you who want to take the next step.  The letter will be on a table near the sign-in table at dinner on August 7th and at the Square giving kiosk before and after worship on August 11th.
  • Centenary Church is very fortunate to host a special Harriette Tubman Museum exhibit during August.  The exhibit, called Mate Masie – “What I hear I keep”.  Much of the art work comes from Ghana…   Once again, this is a must see in what we call “the round room” next to the sanctuary.  Be sure to see this exhibit!


Yes… that is a lot to read, I know.  But can you believe the opportunities?  Centenary – what a community of faith!  I will be preaching this Sunday a sermon I titled “A Fire No Water Can Put Out”.  (The title is a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.)  The sermon is from Psalm 19:1-6, but it will trace some of the history of Macon – Black and White.  I will pose some questions for us:  What does it mean to be a follower of Jesus in a city with a checkered history on racism?  Can we learn anything from Jesus?  Rev. Joel Chambliss, on staff at Ebenezer Baptist Church, will be helping me with part of the sermon.  He is a great vocalist.  Be present and bring your friends for a very special worship experience.  I can’t wait!

Love God.  Love Others.  Love yourself.  Serve.