From the Pastor’s Desk

“What are Baptists all about, anyway?”  I’ve been asked this question a lot (in different forms) throughout the years.  Baptists sure do conjure up lots of different images for people, for better or worse – or sometimes both!

For as long as I can remember back through my faith journey, I’ve believed that Christian unity across denominations is important, that our Lutheran and Catholic, Methodist and Presbyterian, Pentecostal and Orthodox sisters and brothers all have important voices in the Body of Christ.  I’ve long believed that what unites us in Jesus is greater and more important than what divides us, even when the differences are challenging to work through.

Yet at the same time, having worked and worshipped in many different Christian contexts, there’s a reason I am glad to be part of the American Baptist tribe.  In a global church context where denomination is becoming less and less important (and in some ways, that’s a good thing), there are some core values for Baptists that I believe are incredibly relevant to ministry and mission today.  (I should point out that these values are not unique to Baptists – but they do shape how we live out our faith together as Christians.) Continue reading “From the Pastor’s Desk”

Soul Freedom

worship hands(Based on background information in We Are Baptists: Studies for Older Elementary Children by Jeffrey Jones)

To our ears, the words “soul freedom” may sound odd; however, they lie at the very heart of what makes us Baptists.  Our belief in believers’ baptism, religious liberty, and the priesthood of all believers, all of which are fundamental Baptist emphases, rests on the foundation of soul freedom.  To put it into other words, it is the right and responsibility of each person to stand before God and make decisions about his or her relationship with God.  This precedes believers’ baptism.  Living in this freedom, this religious liberty, we become priests to one another.  Continue reading “Soul Freedom”

Missionary Profile: Dan and Sharon Buttry

buttryOne of the goals of American Baptist International Ministries is to help people to pursue peace, justice and reconciliation through ministries of conflict transformation and education, as well as by standing with and serving the victims of conflict.  Dan Buttry, who serves as an International Ministries global consultant for peace and justice, works toward this goal.  In doing so, he works with International Ministries missionaries and national church partners around the world to deal constructively with conflict situations.  Some of these conflicts are social and political conflicts within a country; others are conflicts within the national church bodies that negatively impact Christian witness.

Dan trains church and community leaders in conflict transformation skills, using Bible study and experiential education methods.  He will consult with church leaders about conflicts plaguing them, sometimes participates in mediation teams between conflicted parties.  He also mentors people interested in conflict transformation.

Sharon is a Global Consultant for Community Transformation.  In this capacity, she provides consultation and training of community and conflict transformation at the request of IM global partners, primarily in coordination with and complementing Dan’s work. Continue reading “Missionary Profile: Dan and Sharon Buttry”

Christian Education Update

In the current study of We Are Baptists by Jeffrey Jones and Debra Sutton, which is being used by our preschool and elementary Sunday school classes, the topics for use in March for the preschool class will be: “Me, a Minister?” “We’re Free to Come to Church”; “My Church, Our Church”; “I Can Help”; and “Growing Like Jesus”. The elementary class will work on these topics: “I Can Share Jesus with Others”; “Worship: Going to a Party”; “Speaking God’s Word”; “Being God’s People”; and “Together, Even Though We’re Different”.  The memory verse for the month will be:  “Come, let us bow down and worship him; let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!”  (Psalm 95:6, TEV)

The youth class will continue using Talk Sheets.

The adult class will continue the study of Promises of God, of which Lesson 1, “The Promise Initiated”, was started in February.  Topics for the rest of March include “The Promise Demonstrated: The Abrahamic Covenant” and “The Promise Individualized: The Davidic Covenant”.  The DVD will enhance the use of the Study Guide. Continue reading “Christian Education Update”

Moore Mission – January 2014

Moore Mission

The group left well before the ‘crack of dawn’ on January 11, on the heels of the latest winter storm which left the roads (and parking lots) coated with a sheen of ice.  Packed into two vehicles, eight folks set out on a week long trip to Oklahoma to respond to the ongoing needs in the wake of a devastating series of tornadoes that struck the area in the late spring of 2013.  Christine and Cal Popp, Rick and Kathy Behlke, Matt Duley and Pastor Brian Hastings participated from Memorial Baptist Church, and RoseMary Buelow and Mary Miller-Wenzel from Whiting Community Church.

The team stayed at one of the campuses of the Church of the Harvest in OK city, which has hosted and coordinated large numbers of volunteers from around the country and even internationally.  Much of our work over the week was at Immanuel Baptist Church just south of Shawnee, OK.  This congregation had been praying for direction on how to serve when the first series of tornadoes hit the area, one of them less than a mile from the church building.  The church immediately responded by offering free food and water to residents and relief workers, and before long they had found themselves one of the major focal points for relief efforts in the area.  To this day, they continue to operate a food bank specifically for persons affected by the tornado, as part of an effort to help residents get back on their feet.  Our work was largely to help organize, consolidate and relocate some of the massive amounts of food, hygiene items and cleaning supplies that they are disbursing.

One of the ‘secrets’ of these kind of mission trips is that while participants paid to take their own time to travel halfway across the country, the real blessing is how God uses the experience to change and bless us.  We heard so many stories of faith and examples of God’s provision that we were reminded of God’s mercy and miracles even in the midst of very difficult times.  While we were glad to be able to serve and share our time and energy, we also received abundantly more in the process.

We were even featured in the local paper!  Check out the article, a video with Christine, our team leader, and other pictures here

You can find more pictures on our church Facebook Page here as well

From the Pastor’s Desk: Continuing St. Valentine’s Work

We know little with certainty about the man Valentinius, other than that he was martyred under the rule of Claudius II on February 14, 270 AD, during a time when Christians were experiencing persecution.  There are many versions of St. Valentine’s story, but one of the common threads is that he was caught by the authorities while marrying Christian couples and was condemned for this and for helping other Christians who were being persecuted.

Over time of course, his name and the day commemorating his martyrdom became associated with the celebration of romantic love, which is fine and wonderful – as far as it goes.

Christians use the word “love” a lot – or at least we should – yet the reality of love is always more difficult and challenging than the ideal.  Love encompasses the heart and the mind and the hand; it is emotion and intellect and action together.

We can see that in Paul’s words in his letter to the church in Corinth about love – love is patient, love is kind, love is not envious or boastful or rude – and we grasp that love is more than just how we feel about someone, it is also about how we treat each other.  That’s easy at first, but it doesn’t take long to get challenged in the everyday realities of life. Continue reading “From the Pastor’s Desk: Continuing St. Valentine’s Work”

Christian Education Update

The preschool and elementary classes will continue use We Are Baptists by Jeffrey Jones and Debra Sutton, designed to help children learn more about Baptist identity and beliefs.  In February we will explore topics such as “Free to be Baptists!”, “My Church!”, “Our Church!”, “I’ve Got a Gift to Share!” and “Growing Like Jesus”.

The memory verse for February will be, “We must obey God rather than any human authority” (Acts 5:29).

The youth class will continue Talk Sheets.

The adult class will continue the study of Acts with the book Deepening Life Together.  The final topic is “To Rome and Beyond: The Gospel to the Ends of the Earth”.  Upon completion of that in mid-February, the group will begin the studying Promises of God, with a DVD and study guide.  Continue reading “Christian Education Update”

From the Pastor’s Desk

As I write this, we still have a few weeks yet in 2013 – but speeding quickly on is the new year, and with it a sense of opportunity and excitement for new possibilities in mission and ministry together as part of the body of Christ gathered here as Memorial Baptist Church.  On January 31st, we will begin a congregation-wide process of seeking God’s vision for Memorial by offering a visioning retreat at Camp Tamarack.  It will be a time of reflecting on where God has brought us and what God has done among us over the years.  We will spend time getting centered in what Jesus was talking about when He preached and taught about the coming Kingdom of God, and to see how that speaks to the mission of the church.  And we will begin dreaming forward, seeking to listen and look for where God is calling us into deeper ministry in our community.

But one question I’d like us to ponder ahead of time is: why?  Why do we want to serve?  Why do we want to grow as a church?  It might seem like a silly thing to ask, but in fact the motive matters.   Continue reading “From the Pastor’s Desk”

Missionary Profile: Taku and Katie Longkumer

Taku Katie Longkumer

They are living in one of the most unique regions of the world!  Sadly, some of the wonderful attributes contributing to that uniqueness are also sources of ongoing conflict in the region.  Again this summer, Assam experienced eruptions of violent protests with loss of life and property.

On a happier note, this summer they launched the project “Kids For Missions,” feeling it would be a great opportunity for VBS and Sunday School groups to realize that each one of us, even kids, can make a difference in peoples’ lives with even just a one-time gift of $50.  That amount is enough to purchase a “kid,” a young goat that will provide milk for a family.  As it matures and reproduces, the first new “kid” will be passed on to another family to bring the nutritional and economic benefits of its milk and sale of future offspring to others in the community.  They have been surprised with the promising results of that venture.  Anyone wishing to contribute to this project is encouraged to do so.

Please pray that peace will prevail and for the church leaders of these peoples to be a voice of peace and healing in the midst of the conflict; that all parties would seek resolution through non-violent dialogue rather than through destructive demonstrations.  Please also pray for the “Kids for Missions” project.  Thanks!