September 17, 2014


Dear Centenary family,
What can we count on?  What is solid and unshakeable?  In the midst of the uncertainties created by this political season… and add to that the pressures brought on by the meltdown of the financial market, what can we count on?  Much of the time we live our lives in some relative state of chaos.  Is the existence of chaos a sign of the absence of God?

Poet/writer Patrice Vecchione reflects:  “…To be alive is not primarily a linear experience.  It’s a mix of dreaming and running to the store for a quart of milk.  Our lives have depth, in part, because we can’t make sense of everything.  Life doesn’t make sense; it’s more complicated than our linear way of knowing.  Mystery and spirit run through our days like rivers and sustain us.  Life is a blend of possibility and impossibility… From chaos comes clarity.  It was there all along.  You just couldn’t see it.  To come to clarity, you have to enter the chaos.  Dive in or enter inch by inch.  Confusion is not a bad thing.”

Out of chaos, earth was created.  God was in the chaos.  Therefore, chaos is not a sign of the absence of God!  In our confusion and in our stumbling, God is present.  I find great comfort in that.  I seek order – yet at the core of everything that finds order is an “underlay of chaos from which the order emerged.”  And then, have you noticed that even when we believe that we have “order”, even that order spins into chaos.  Just give it time.

As I look back at my life, there are points of chaos.  And beyond and in the larger picture of chaos, there are little whirlwinds of chaos or confusion which occur each day.  Sometimes I believe I am incapable of recognizing the chaos.  What I perceive is this:  It is unrealistic to expect all chaos to cease.  Chaos is a given part of rhythm.  God is in the chaos and God helps to bring order, but even the experience and perception of order spins back into chaos, thus allowing God to act again and again and again, for God is in the chaos.

So, here is a toast to the chaos of life and the chaos of dreaming.  Here is a toast to a beauty which is beyond my “order-seeking” brain.
This Sunday at 11 a.m., worship in Tattnall Square Park (across the street from Centenary) with the Centenary family! Fall begins on Monday, September 22 at 10:29 p.m., so we are saying goodbye to summer and hello to fall by having a service in the park.  Great music…Singing… Worship… Community… It will be a great day!  We will have extra chairs, but invite you to bring lawn chairs if you have some.  Relax.   After outdoor worship we will have a sack lunch for you.  Bring your posse of friends and family. 

Manna and mercy,
Tim Bagwell

Love God.  Love others.  Love yourself.  Serve.


September 10, 2014

Dear Centenary family,

Centenary United Methodist Church has been in the transitional house ministry for a very long time… since 1896.  Yes… you read that right – 1896.  The Door of Hope House was founded by the women of Centenary UMC, Mulberry Street UMC, and Vineville UMC “for lost and helpless girls” and “to house fallen and unfortunate women.”  The home, located at 658 Arch Street (about 10 blocks from Centenary’s present address), was given by Mr. W. G. Solomon and was run by Anna Phillipbar from 1898-1901 and by Mrs. Susan Brown Knowles, Matron, from 1901-1923.
There is an article in the Macon Daily Telegraph on Wednesday morning, February 12, 1919 about the Door of Hope.  The article reported:  “The Door of Hope, what a refuge of rest it proved for many a girl.  Mrs. Knowles also wishes to thank publicly, Mr. Burgland, who has extended so many kindnesses to the home.”

Around 1923, the home moved from Arch Street to a home on Ridge Avenue.  The citizens in the Ridge Avenue area were upset and charged that “on account of the character of the women given sustenance in the institution, property in the community would deteriorate in value.”   The neighbors alleged that “the inmates of the Door of Hope do not conduct themselves properly and that they slip out at night time, receive visitors and become intoxicated.”  The old neighbors on Arch Street denied these allegations and came to the defense of the residents of Door of Hope House.  Protracted litigation ensued and may have been why the house was closed in 1924 and the property was sold in 1927.

So… you can see that patriarchs and matriarchs of Centenary were involved in vital urban ministry long before the present day.  We simply continue to exercise the values of those who have gone before. 

The story of the present Centenary Transitional House is remarkable.  We ran this ministry out of a rather dilapidated house that backed up to our property for a number of years.  Dozens of lives were positively impacted by the ministry.  When the new dorm for Mercer was built, that house was razed and the question was raised in the church about whether we should continue the ministry.  Almost with one voice, Centenary said “YES – We are called by God to do this in Macon.”  So we put the word out.  $140,000 was raised last fall and winter and a house was purchased.  The generosity of many to make this happen was a miracle of God.  The house is located about 3 blocks from Centenary and had tenants when we purchased it.  So, we honored their leases, have finished rehabbing the house, and have a new direction which includes counseling, group therapy, house brothers, etc.  It will take time for the house to find its rhythm. 

We are grateful for the leadership of the Centenary Community Ministries Board, Eric Mayle, Stacey Harwell, and several laity from Centenary who have poured themselves into the promise of this ministry.  Is it worth it?  You bet.  Our focus is on the homeless who are addicted.  We seek to give them hope and to help our city as we give them an opportunity to get off the streets.  Those who come to be residents will bless our lives.  Will there be “success” in every case?  Of course not.  But we will plant seeds.  And we will call people to accountability.  And ultimately lives will be changed…   not just the lives of the residents, but the lives of all involved in this ministry. 

This Sunday, September 14, you are invited to walk to the transitional house from Centenary after worship for a brief service of dedication.  You will have an opportunity to go inside the house for a tour.  Join us for this special celebration.
This Sunday I am preaching a sermon titled “Who’s Your Daddy?”  My scripture:  Romans 8:14-17  Hope you will be present!

Manna and mercy,
Tim Bagwell

Love God.  Love Others.  Love Yourself.  Serve.