In our worship this past Sunday and Global Women’s meeting that followed, we lifted up survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault and asked how we as church can be a place of support and healing. But we did this mindful that church is often not these things.Read More
Our extended look at “practices of community” concluded Sunday with a practice that is woven throughout all the others: hospitality.
In the broader sense, hospitality might be defined as the “friendly and generous reception of and entertainment of friends, guests, or strangers.” Commercially, there’s an entire hospitality “industry” of hotels, restaurants and other establishments whose business is to receive and entertain. In our homes we each have our own practices and rituals of hospitality: changing the linens, pulling out the fine china, or, as in our house, the relocation of clutter to the back bedroom.
But in the church, hospitality refers to something more expansive.Read More
Just over three years ago our congregation entered into a covenant partnership with the First Baptist Church on New St. to “be a witness to the body of Christ through our developing relationship and through recognizing our shared history.” This covenant has led us into a rhythm of joint gatherings at Easter and Thanksgiving, as well as a deep-dive into conversations of race, racial violence, and the church just two falls ago. It’s led to friendships across our two congregations and has expanded our awareness and engagement with current issues of racial injustice in our community and larger culture.
It’s also changed our conversation internally at the church. Over these last three years we’ve grown more accustomed to talking about race, racism, and racial injustice as a church in ways we perhaps had not before. When significant events happen culturally regarding race or racial violence, we expect to lift them up, recognizing they have something to do with us. Our relationship with New St., fostered by our partnership with the New Baptist Covenant, has expanded our understanding of what it means to be a church of Jesus Christ.
This fall brings two opportunities for us to deepen our relationship with our brothers and sisters at New St., engage our partners at the New Baptist Covenant, and continue in this work of racial justice.Read More
What Jon Meacham said about the nation in The Soul of America is what I say about our church. Our finest hours have been when we have opened our arms rather than clenched our fists, looked outward rather than turned inward, accepted rather than rejected, included rather than excluded.Read More
There’s a tension in baptist life lurking within this study of community that we’ve not yet named. It’s the tension between two competing commitments: one to living in Christian community and the other to respecting freedom of conscience and the responsibility of each believer before God.
Or at least, throughout baptist history these two commitments have been seen as competing, with many baptists erring on the side of freedom of conscience, to the point that it looks more like a kind of “rugged individualism” that’s rooted more in our identity as Americans than it is the body of Christ.Read More
As I have spent these last few weeks reflecting on my time as a minister at First Baptist, I have been flooded by so many memories of people and experiences that have enriched my life. I’d like to name, specifically, some of the great gifts that this church has offered me and my family.
As a college student trying to figure out what I was going to do with my life, you welcomed me and knew me and found places for me to serve. I learned how to do children’s ministry by working alongside those who were doing it well, and I was able to test out my own gifts and interests in an encouraging place.
You continued a pattern of calling young ministers and serving as a teaching congregation for so many of us, giving us a place to grow and learn while surrounded by grace-filled, wise mentors and friends.
You were flexible with me as my sense of pastoral identity broadened, and you gave me opportunities to grow and step into new roles and responsibilities.
You have been so very generous to our family, walking with us through so many of our significant life moments. Your tangible gifts, your words of encouragement and affirmation, the ways you have shown up for us, and the ways that you have loved our children have been so meaningful.
It has been a great joy to have been here long enough to watch “my” children (our church’s children) grow into youth and young adults, and to see the ways that they have and are becoming thoughtful, caring, and world-changing human beings.
If I leave behind any legacy, I hope that it is this: an awareness that the youngest among us are created in God’s image, and that they are not just the future of the church, but they are our present. They are capable and gifted, and they should be listened to and included and empowered in the life of the church. Let them lead you, as Jesus said they would. Nurture and love them with intention.
Thank you for all of the ways you have blessed me and affirmed me and celebrated me, particularly in these last few weeks. My hope is that I begin my work with Baptist Women in Ministry, I will be able to equip and empower other women ministers in the ways that you have done for me.
- Julie Long
I have imagined myself in a lot of different professions over the course of my life. The following is a chronological list of aspirations: actor, mother, singer, advice columnist, writer, lawyer, librarian, professor, editor. But in all my years of attending church and studying religion, even through seminary and beyond, I never imagined myself as a pastor. That dream developed recently, largely as a result of my relationship with this church and its people. With you.Read More
Six years ago during the search process that ultimately brought me to this church, I remember talking with the committee about the current pastoral staff. They were eager to tell me about the long-tenured, talented people serving at the church, among them the minister to children whose ministry extended far beyond the walls of the children’s building. “Julie is special,” they told me.
Of course, they were right.Read More