March 9, 2011

Dear Centenary friends,

Dairy farmers have found that if you name, talk to, and pet a cow, that cow will give 454 more pints (or 56.75 gallons) of milk per year than an unnamed and ignored cow.  It does not take a rocket scientist to figure out that animals and humans respond to love.

To teachers who feel discouraged – What you do is incredibly important!  And even if you do not see the fruits of your labor now, just keep calling the names of the kids and let them know that you SEE them.  There will be benefits for that child down the road.

And to people who feel that their family is dysfunctional – don't give up.  Keep calling the names of your family.  Figure out how to appropriately reach out.  Share compliments.  Some day there may be a time when some of the hurt is healed.

And to those who are employers – Call your employees by name and figure out a way to offer a compliment.  The wonderfully simple word "thank you" can be an incredible blessing. 

And to those who are employees – Call the name of someone who works with you who is struggling and feeling pressure.  Look beyond the surface.  Be an encourager.

And to those who feel beaten down by life – God is calling your name.  Even if no one else calls your name, you can be assured that God does.   


Ash Wednesday Service – 6 pm tonight (March 9) in the Centenary sanctuary. 


The first Sunday of Lent begins this Sunday.  Ginny Hathaway will be teaching a course for 6 weeks titled, The Last Week.  The course will begin at 9:45 in the "round" room by the sanctuary.  Come join Ginny and others as they explore the last week of Jesus' life.


A new sermon series begins this Sunday.... FEAR NOT   Some of the series sermon titles are:

Fear of Overwhelming Circumstances

Fear of Not Enough

Fear and Betrayal

Fear of Death – The Silence of the Second Day

Fear and the Confrontation of Power (Palm Sunday)

The Ultimate FEAR NOT! – Easter

Fear and Doubt


Regina Wilkes (of our faith community) and 5 others were burned out of their boarding house on Lamar Street early Sunday morning.  Centenary is seeking to help Regina and the other residents by helping them get relocated and collecting items to replace that which was lost in the fire.  If you want to contribute money, make your check out to Centenary Community Ministries  and mark it clearly for "fire victims of 166 Lamar Street."  If you have household items to contribute, we will collect these for one week and then allow the fire victims to come choose what they can use.  If any items are left over, we will donate them to Good Will or the Salvation Army.  If you have questions, please contact Rogers Willoughby at or Stacey Harwell at   

Grace and peace.

Tim Bagwell

Love God.  Love Others.  Love yourself.  Serve   

March 16, 2011

Dear Centenary friends,

 I know exactly where I was on Tuesday evening, March 27, 1979.  I was in a movie theater watching The China Syndrome starring Jack Lemmon, Michael Douglas, and Jane Fonda.  (You may recall that The China Syndrome is a film about an accident that happens at a nuclear power plant.) The reason I am able to remember this date with such certainty is that the next morning (March 28, 1979) the disaster of Three Mile Island Nuclear Plant (near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania) started unfolding.  The crisis at Three Mile Island began at 4 a.m. in the morning on March 28 and the news of the impending crisis was all over the news networks a few hours later.   The juxtaposition of watching the movie on Tuesday, just before the reality of Three Mile Island started unfolding on Wednesday, was surreal for me. The Japanese people are in crisis… a massive earthquake, followed by a killer tsunami, followed by a potential nuclear disaster.  The nuclear disaster is already worse than Three Mile Island.  Of all the people involved in this disaster, there is a band of 50 who impress me more than all others.  These are the workers who are staying at the four nuclear reactors, trying to cool the fuel and fighting a meltdown.  We have a tendency to throw the word “hero” around too loosely.  A hero is one who knowingly puts oneself in harm’s way for the good of the larger community.  It certainly happened on September 11, 2001 at the World Trade Center… And it is happening right now.  These 50 people know they could very easily lose their lives, yet they are trying to get cooling water to the fuel rods.  If they don’t succeed, radiation will filter into the atmosphere, soil, and ground water.  Millions of persons would be imperiled.  These 50 nameless workers are intentionally putting their lives on the line for the common good.  Their intentional action defines “hero”.  The United Methodist Church is already present at the catastrophe in Japan through the United Methodist Committee on Relief.  Help and support are being offered.  If you want to make a special gift to the crisis unfolding in Japan, make your check out to Centenary Church and mark it for Japan Relief.  We will send it to The United Methodist Committee on Relief, earmarked for this catastrophe.  100% of the money you give will go to the disaster because all administrative costs are handled through other United Methodist channels.  Few charities can make the claim that 100% of the gift goes to the need.  UMCOR can make that claim.  Bring your gift with you to church this Sunday or send it to Centenary Church, 1290 College Street, Macon, GA  31201. ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ Nickel and Dimed by Barbara Ehrenreich was a New York Times bestseller.  The subtitle of the book is “On Not Getting By in America”.  At Centenary we are hosting a staged production of Barbara Ehrenreich’s account of living as a member of “the working poor”.  Teri Hatley, Joyce Meadows, and Melvina Spence (all who are part of the Centenary Community) have roles in this production which takes place at Centenary on Thursday (March 17)-Saturday (March 19) at 7 pm and a Sunday matinee at 1:30 pm.  This play is being done is conjunction with a poverty conference taking place at Mercer University.  The characters in the play are what theologian Tex Sample calls “hard-living people”, so expect some salty language.  Tickets are $5.  (Proceeds will go to the Rainbow Center and the National Coalition to End Homelessness.)   I plan to see the play and hope that you will make it a point to see it too.  Spread the word and bring someone with you!  +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ The Last Week study course led by Ginny Hathaway got off to a GREAT start this past Sunday.  The study will continue this week but will move downstairs in the sanctuary building.  There is a place for you! +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++ We have started a new series of sermons during the Lenten Season – FEAR NOT!  This week I will be preaching on the Fear of Overwhelming Circumstances…  We will be exploring the story of David and Goliath.  I look forward to seeing you as we face some of our giants.

Grace and peace.
Tim Bagwell

Love God.  Love Others.  Love Yourself.  Serve.   

March 31, 2011

Dear Centenary family,

I recently was complaining about all of the weeds growing up in my flower beds.  The person with whom I was talking said to me, "There are no weeds."  I disagreed and replied,  "Of course there are weeds!  They are in my flower beds!" 

The person went on to explain that weeds are simply plants created by God that are growing in the wrong place.  This conversation set me to thinking about how quickly we can draw conclusions about the worth of living things.

A new friend recently told me, "I am grateful for the breakfast ministry of Centenary on Sunday mornings because you are poetically serving my father."  He explained me that his father was an alcoholic who left the family and lived on the street.  There was much pain in him as he recounted the story.  With tears in his eyes he continued, "On Sunday morning I feel like Centenary is serving my father.  Thank you."  There are no weeds.

There are many who discount those who make their way to the breakfast.  Some of our breakfast friends live hard lives, no doubt.  They are what theologian Tex Sample calls "hard-living people".   But let us be reminded that there is Good News for and from "hard-living people".  Not only do we have something to offer them... they have something to offer us and each other! There are no weeds.

She felt totally rejected by the church.  She was shaken to the core and the foundation of her faith was deeply damaged.  Broken, injured, and rejected by the church she cried out to God seeking answers.  She wanted to worship in a place where she could be herself – unhidden. She wrote me an email more than a year ago with fear and trepidation, asking if what she heard about Centenary was true.  She had been taught that her sexual orientation made it impossible for her to be a Christian.  I invited her to come and give church another try.  This person emailed me recently: "That first Sunday morning I arrived at the church still in fear that God was going to strike me dead.  But I felt totally accepted.  I cried through the entire service... And week after week I was drawn to this place.  It was a safe place where no one judged me and I truly felt the love of God.  The wounds of the past started healing and I was challenged to look at my life and others in a totally different way."  This woman is a member of Centenary, a servant, and a leader.  There are no weeds.

Several weeks ago I preached from Isaiah 58:6-12.  Verse 12 reads:  "You'll use the old rubble of past lives to build anew. You'll rebuild the foundations from out of your past. You'll be known as those who can fix anything, restore old ruins, rebuild and renovate, and make the community livable." 

I now live at the edges.  I'm more comfortable at the edges than in the mainstream.  God seems to dwell at the edges.  At the edges, God is teaching me that there are no weeds. 


"The Last Week" study series taught by Ginny Hathaway continues this Sunday at 9:45 a.m. downstairs below the sanctuary.  Join the community for the discussion!


Our sermon series is called "Fear Not!"  This Sunday I will be preaching on Fear and Losing Control.  What does it mean when life is spinning out of control?  Why do bad things happen to good people?  We will be looking together at the story of Job as we explore the issue of our fear when life spins out of control.  We will be asking lots of questions...  Invite someone to join you for worship this Sunday.

Grace and Peace.

Tim Bagwell

Love God.  Love Others.  Love Yourself.  Serve.