October

Dear Centenary Family,

The tone of the conversation in our nation is bothersome to many, regardless of your political leanings.  Finger-pointing, labeling, charges, counter-charges, yelling, name-calling ? all seem to have taken the place of the deeply valued American ideal of civility.  In Macon, in the state of Georgia, and in our nation we have put civility on life support.

For my entire adult life, reading the newspaper each morning has always been a joy.  I want to be an informed Christian.   I concur with theologian Karl Barth in his statement that Christians are called to carry a Bible in one hand and a newspaper in the other.  I confess to you, however, that my newspaper reading no longer engenders the same joyful emotion for me these days.  Sadness has crept in.  The angry rhetoric one finds in some television commentators as well as in local and national politicians is tragic.  I fear what this lack of civility and respect is teaching our children.

So, what is the role of the Christian?  First, we must resist a paralyzing cynicism.  The world needs reasonable people of faith who simply live out the spirit of Jesus.  Don?t let the lack of civility cause you to lose all faith.  God has a way of redeeming seemingly unredeemable situations, which means we have absolutely no right to throw up our hands and give up.  Surrender to this spirit of incivility is not an option for Christians.

Second, as people of faith, I believe that we are called to not participate in this uncivil public discourse.  Christians don?t yell, point their fingers, demonize, or label others.  How tragic it is that some have used their faith as a podium to join in the fray.  Not participating in the ridiculous and tragic rhetoric that tears at the fabric of our nation?s ideals, does not mean that we are not invested.  We must stand for the right, but how we do that is critical.  Everyone is a child of God? even those who tear at our nation with the negative tone of their rhetoric.  Therefore we love them ? anyway.  But we must not be seduced into joining the tirades.  Try to lovingly help people see that there is another way to discuss these matters.  

You and I are the salt of the earth.  You and I are the leaven in the bread.  God grant us the ability to be bridge builders.  Jesus was a bridge builder and I want to be like him.

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Matt Martin is teaching a course on Faith, Spirituality, and Flannery O?Conner.  I attended last Sunday and was deeply blessed by the conversation.  What a fascinating give and take!  The class begins at 9:45 downstairs below the sanctuary.  You are welcome!

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October 25 is the 125th anniversary of Centenary Church.  Please do your best to plan your calendar so that you are present that day.  It will be a day of celebration!  We are serving lunch after worship and need to have a relatively accurate count so that we know how much barbecue to order.  You may make reservations by emailing office@centenarychurch.org  or you may call 478-742-8926, option 2.  I hope you will be present!

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Beth Dunwody writes:  On Saturday I have the privilege of attending an historic event, so much so that it has captured the attention of CNN.  For the first time in history members of the 1959 graduating classes of Miller, Lanier, and Ballard Hudson High Schools will be gathering together for an informal 'reunion'.  They will come together to simply break bread together, to laugh, to share, and perhaps shed a tear.  Why is this historic?  In 1959 white girls attended Miller, white boys attended Lanier and all African American students attended Ballard Hudson.  After all these years they have decided it is time to come together in the hope that it will spark a new sense of unity in our community.  P.S. Just to set the record straight, I graduated in 1970 not 1959 but was honored to work on a media project with this group. 

What is happening at Centenary is indeed part of a larger movement, which gives me great hope. The life and ministry of Jesus was counter-cultural.  We are called to follow in his footsteps. Join me this Sunday as we explore what that means for us today as we look at the story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman at the well.  

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Grace and Peace.

Tim Bagwell

Love God.  Love Others.  Love Yourself.  Serve.

www.centenarymacon.org   

 

 

Dear Centenary Friends,

The question has come up frequently as to where the name ?Centenary? originated.  ?Centenary? is not a commonly used word, so I have heard our church called Centennial, Century, and Centenarian.  I have yet to hear centipede, centigrade, centimeter, or centrifugal (which, upon second thought, would not be a bad name for a church). 

So, here is the story:  Methodism in America started in 1784 in Baltimore, Maryland.  There was already a strong Methodist presence in the colonies, so much so that the Methodist Church was the first denomination to send representatives to meet with President Washington after the War for Independence.  However, prior to 1784 the Methodist movement in America was tied back to its English roots.  In 1784, a conference was held at Lovely Lane Methodist Chapel in Baltimore where the decision was made to be a separate entity from the Methodist Church in England.  The Methodist Church in America was born out of that conference.

Fast forward 100 years ? 1884 was the centennial (100th anniversary) of the founding of the Methodist Church in America.  At that time the Methodist Church was the largest of all Protestant denominations.  The Methodist movement was growing VERY rapidly, starting an average of one new church per day in various places across the nation.  In many ways, it was the best of times in terms of the denomination.  On the occasion of the 100th anniversary of the founding of The Methodist Church, there were many churches across the nation that were founded in 1884 and named ?Centenary? (which literally means ?relating to a century?), to commemorate and celebrate the 1784 Baltimore Conference.  You will find Centenary United Methodist Churches scattered in nearly every state of the union, all founded in 1884.

So, that is how Centenary got its name 125 years ago.  We are coming up on a day of celebration ? October 25.  We will be honoring our past, celebrating our present, and anticipating the future.  I hope you will let nothing keep you away from this day of celebration.  Invite others to join you!   We are serving lunch after worship on October 25 and need to have a relatively accurate count so that we know how much barbecue to order.  You may make reservations by emailing office@centenarychurch.org  or you may call 478-742-8926, option 2.  I hope you will be present!

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This Sunday, I will be preaching a sermon I have titled, ?Stumbling Toward Prayer?.  There are many different types and sorts of prayer life.  I hope you will be present in worship as we talk and sing about it together.

Grace and peace,

Tim Bagwell

Love God.  Love Others.  Love Yourself.  Serve.

www.centenarymacon.org    

 

October 22, 2009

Dear Centenary friends,

From near and far they are coming? The 125th anniversary of Centenary will be celebrated this Sunday, October 25.  Between 9:45 ? 10:45 there will be a historical display in the round room by the sanctuary.  Display cabinets and panels will tell the story of Centenary.  Come early so that you can browse before worship.

The mosaic cross is in place in the sanctuary.  Beyond being beautiful, this cross is incredibly meaningful  because it is created partially out of items brought by persons who are part of the Centenary movement and community.   The cross holds our hopes, dreams, brokenness, depression, despair, joy, laughter.  Every emotion you can imagine is represented on Centenary?s mosaic cross.  This focal point of worship will grace the sanctuary for generations to come.

Following worship we will share lunch together? Fincher?s Barbecue.  We have ordered plenty of food for EVERYONE.  We want EVERYONE to stay for lunch.  Years from now people will ask, ?Were you at the 125th anniversary of Centenary??  It will be a day to be enjoyed and remembered.   You are invited!  I hope you will be present as we celebrate the past, present and future.

Grace and peace.

Tim Bagwell

Love God.  Love Others.  Love yourself.  Serve.

www.centenarymacon.org      

 

October 29, 2009

Dear Centenary friends,

Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow!  What a day!  Between the three services at Centenary (8 a.m., 11 a.m., and Nueva Vida at 4 p.m.) we had more than 475 people in worship, more than 345 of those were at the 11am service.  From near and far people came who had been blessed in the past by the ministry at Centenary.  What I am deeply grateful for is that we simply gave them the gift of being who we are in worship and hospitality.

Some people have written me.  Many were caught by surprise to sense the movement of the Spirit.  Others had never entertained the idea of how the concept of radical hospitality walks hand-in-hand with the Kingdom of God.  One out of town person said to me, ?I wish I could be here every Sunday.?  I said, ?? but you are a part of our extended family and movement and we are grateful for you.?

The memories of the day are there for me:  giving out dimes to the breakfast community? a man showing me how he had placed his dime where he could see it in his wallet? the incredible history room? milling around with people?  seeing smiling faces greeting former pastors? our children handing out dimes with magnets on the back of the dime? great music? watching those who speak Spanish listen to the service being translated in real time? sensing the movement of God?s Spirit in worship?  hearing a couple say, ?We were married here?? hearing another couple say, ?Our children were baptized here??  hearing another couple say, ?I wish our church could just see this diverse congregation??  watching the whole congregation hold hands and sing ?Alleluia? to the tune of Pachebel?s Canon in D at the end of the service? great barbecue? conversations around the tables.

And then there are all the helpers? dreaming for months of what might be?phone calls? invitations?planning? setting up? cleaning up? Every helper I saw served with a smile.   Thank you.

No doubt about it? Our 125th was a Jubilee Sunday.  But what happens now?  God calls us to continue to be who we are.  The crowds this Sunday will not be nearly as large? and that is ok.  We are who we are.  But the movement of God?s Spirit will be strong.  Once a year we call the names of those who are connected with the community who died in the past year.  The Sunday, called All Saints Sunday, is an ancient Christian tradition.  All Saints Day is connected with Halloween.  The word ?Halloween? means literally ?All Hallows Eve?.  All Hallows Eve is the Eve of All Saints Day.  There are all sorts of fascinating intersections with the two days.  Most people do not even know that Halloween has religious roots.

So, does this all sound a bit morbid to you?  I assure you that it is precisely the opposite.  All Saints Sunday will be a day of remembering and celebrating.  We will come to worship with joy!  I hope you will be present!

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Don?t forget that Mary Anne Richardson will start a 4 week Adult Study called ?A Faith Journey Through the Religions of the World?.  It will begin this Sunday at 9:45 downstairs below the sanctuary.  Plan to come be a part of this special study for the next four weeks. 

Grace and peace.

Tim Bagwell

Love God.  Love Others.  Love Yourself.  Serve.

www.centenarymacon.org