June 4, 2008
Dear Centenary Friends,
The population of the world is approximately 6,815,584,189. That number (billions) is hard for us to grasp. But 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 of the 100 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.
You can add to the list. What do you think of as you see how the world village looks? (By the way, thank you to Pam Snipes for sending me the demographic information about the global village!)
Most of you know already about the bell tower at Centenary. The 100 year old terracotta shingles and some of the framing underneath must be replaced. June 15 has been designated as the Sunday to receive an offering to cover the approximately $60,000 it will cost to replace the bell tower roof. We sure could use your help. Many of you will be receiving a letter about the project early next week. Make your plans to bring your gift (or mail your gift) so that we can place it on the altar on June 15.
Beth is preaching this Sunday. Her sermon is ?A Fish Tale With a Twist?. Worship at Centenary is a blessing. Be in your place this Sunday!
Grace and peace!
Love God. Love Others. Love Yourself. Serve.
June 12, 2008
Dear Centenary Friends,
June 18, 2008
Dear Centenary family,
Normally I use this email to raise theological conversation or to share with you a devotional thought. Today, however, I want to own the fact that the purpose of this email is to simply express my gratitude for what is happening in the Centenary Community. God is at work among and through us.
The latest amazing news is your response to the bell tower roof offering. On Sunday we received $54,555 that was designated for the bell tower. Since Sunday, more than $4,000 has arrived to add to that total figure. Amazing. It is evident that many persons gave sacrificially. They had to think through their gift.
Now? let?s take another step which is even more remarkable than the bell tower. In the letters and communications you received from me about the bell tower I challenged you to not let this ?second mile? gift compromise our regular operating budget for mission and ministry. Normally what happens is that when special offerings are made, the regular budget decreases. Now here is a miracle that matches the bell tower roof offering ? On Sunday, the 107 people who gathered for worship at 11 a.m. gave over $7,000 for mission and ministry in addition to the bell tower offering. It was as if we were saying, ?Yes, the bell tower is important and we don?t want it to fall in, BUT what we do here week in and week out at Centenary is the core of our ministry. We certainly want to preserve the building, but we are preserving the building for a purpose ? to serve.? This strong statement of affirmation for the ministry and mission of Centenary is phenomenal.
Poor people, rich people, homeless people, middle class people, black people, Asian people, Anglo people ? God was with us as we joined hands and something significant happened. What can you say to that other than ?Thanks be to God!?
Think about the ministry of Centenary ? This small congregation now has a transitional house where four men live. We receive people out of jail and people off the street who exhibit a high degree of desire to step in a different direction with their lives. Just think about that! We feed 15,000 breakfasts each year. We serve countless individuals who need to hear a word of hope. We offer a place for some who have become disenchanted with the faith and theological conversations which have been dominant in our culture. We give people a safe place to stand. We offer true sanctuary. We welcome people who have been disenfranchised and cast aside. Worship for us is the hub of the wheel and we all worship while God is our audience. (In our worship we do not watch worship. We worship.) Radical hospitality is our hallmark.
There are those among us who are just beginning their faith conversation. Others have been involved in a faith conversation for decades. Questions are welcomed and encouraged at Centenary.
God is not finished with us. We are on a journey with God and we are far from perfect. Perfection is not our goal. Faithfulness is our goal.
So? this is an email which reflects a spirit of Jubilee. I am, this day, thankful for you. Some of you are scattered far afield, but I consider you to be extensions of the ministry we seek to embody at Centenary. Centenary, in some ways, is more of a state of mind than it is a geographic location. It is possible to link arms across the miles and be in solidarity because of common beliefs and commitments. We are grateful to have Centenary people who live in Iowa, Oklahoma, California, Florida, North Carolina, Massachusetts, Alabama, New Jersey, Tennessee, and many other states. Those of us who live in middle Georgia and attend Centenary are blessed to know that in many towns and cities in Georgia there are those who consider themselves a part of the extended family at Centenary. Some of you It is good to be in ministry with all of you? whether you are local or global!
Grace and peace,
Love God. Love Others. Love Yourself. Serve
June 27, 2008
Dear Centenary Family,