Weekly Words - 5/26/17

 

“They said, '[Folk] of Galilee, why do you stand up looking up toward heaven?’” Acts 1:11

Dear FBCD Family & Friends:

As you know, this is Memorial Day weekend. With this holiday, for many, the summer season begins. Over the past week I’ve begun some of my annual pre-summer routines which include cleaning out files and organizing and reorganizing my office. The change of a season often inspires me to reflect upon work and projects previously accomplished as I look ahead to future opportunities for service and ministry.

On Tuesday and Wednesday this week many members and friends of FBCD helped to clean out pipes and parts of a sister congregation’s old pipe organ. These pipes and parts now are stored at FBCD in the recesses of the stage in Miller Hall. I found it ironic that as I was cleaning out my own office space, we were filling up space with an instrument of significant size.

Isn’t this the story of life? When we make space, we usually fill it. Over the next couple of months the day-to-day pace of ministry will slow down at FBCD...but not too much. In this season, my prayer is that we will appreciate the many things our church family has accomplished and that we will look ahead and be open to the opportunities we will have to build up and upon the ministry of our historic congregation.

This coming weekend we will celebrate Ascension Sunday. The story of Jesus ascending is rich with imagery. If we’re not careful, like the people in this story, we can get caught gazing ahead or looking up for too long and miss the opportunities right before us in the present moment to serve and minister in significant ways.

It’s good to look up or ahead...but it’s also important to stay aware always of the mission that quite literally surrounds us.

I hope to see you this Sunday for service. Please consider who you can invite to join you in your pew. They’ll be glad you did!

Peace,

First Baptist Church of Denver is a welcoming and affirming, inclusive Christian community that embraces diversity, engages personal faith, and serves with compassion.

 

Weekly Words - 5/18/17

REGULAR SUNDAY SERVICE CANCELLED

Please note that due to the Colfax Marathon (which literally shuts down Capitol Hill) FBCD will not hold its Sunday morning service this weekend.

Rev. Eric Reagan will be at FBCD Sunday morning to greet anyone that does manage to arrive and will offer an informal prayer service.

I invite you to join me and my children at

KING BAPTIST CHURCH 

3370 Ivy Street, Denver, CO 80207, for the 8am service.

This is a sister-Baptist congregation and the home church of FBCD member, Morris Price.

It will be good to experience worship in a different context and setting.

I hope you can join us. Invite someone to join you. They’ll be glad you did!

First Baptist Church of Denver is a welcoming and affirming, inclusive Christian community that embraces diversity, engages personal faith, and serves with compassion.

Weekly Words - 5/10/17

Rev. Dr. Lee B. Spitzer Called as

ABCUSA General Secretary

VALLEY FORGE, PA (ABNS 5/9/17)—On Monday, May 8, the Board of General Ministries met at Springhill Suites in Chicago to elect Reverend Dr. Lee B. Spitzer to the position of General Secretary of American Baptist Churches USA. Dr. Spitzer’s name was brought forward to the Board of General Ministries by the General Secretary Search Committee. Over the past several months the Search Committee had interviewed numerous candidates. After much prayer, discernment, and deep discussion, the committee identified Dr. Spitzer as the candidate best suited to lead American Baptists forward.

Currently Dr. Spitzer serves as Executive Minister for the American Baptist Churches in New Jersey (ABCNJ). He has served congregations in New Jersey, Nebraska, and Rhode Island. Dr. Spitzer brings a wide range of experience and expertise to his new role as General Secretary. In ABCNJ he guided a strategic planning and renewal process, provided pastoral leadership, launched new ministries and collaborative efforts, created networks and new partnerships, promoted church growth, fostered a united community, and managed financial growth. He continues to speak prophetically into current issues and concerns.

 

Dr. Spitzer has authored Endless Possibilities: Exploring the Journeys of Your Life(1997), the companion Endless Possibilities Course Book (2001), A Summer’s Journey (2001), three articles for the Encyclopedia of Religious and Spiritual Development(Sage, 2006), and Jesus Christ from Cover to Cover (2006). In his first Judson Press book, Making Friends, Making Disciples(2010), he explores the pivotal role friendship plays in support of the church’s mission to make disciples and evangelize. Dr. Spitzer’s newest Judson Press book, Baptists, Jews, and the Holocaust: The Hand of Sincere Friendship, is scheduled for release in October 2017.

His goal as General Secretary is “to lead ABCUSA into a future of spiritual renewal, creative service, and church growth, in joyful cooperation with all partners of the American Baptist Family.” His efforts as General Secretary will be directed toward strengthening connections with ABC regions, affirming and enhancing our diversity, reaching out to the next generation of leaders, growing trust and collaboration, strengthening our American Baptist identity and providing administrative leadership in areas of stewardship, funding, and fiduciary concerns.

Dr. Spitzer will be preaching on Sunday morning, July 2, at the American Baptist Biennial Mission Summit in Portland, Oregon.

ABCUSA President, Judy Fackenthal, wishes to extend her gratitude to the work and ministry of the General Secretary Search Committee: Wesley Roberts (Committee vice-chair), Robin Crouch, Shirley Fair, Kelly Legg, Charity Matic, Don Ng, Marcia Patton, Charles Revis, Don Robinson, Tom Ross, and John Williams-along with ABC staff member, Marilyn Tyson.

Dr. Spitzer will begin his service as General Secretary on June 1.

American Baptist Churches USA is one of the most diverse Christian denominations today, with approximately 5,000 congregations comprised of 1.3 million members, across the United States and Puerto Rico, all engaged in God’s mission around the world.

A Response to this news by

Rev. Dr. Brian Henderson

 

 

Okay American Baptist Family and Friends across the United States, in Puerto Rico and around the globe...here are my thoughts and reflections in light of the news about the appointment of our new General Secretary, the Rev. Dr. Lee B. Spitzer :

In true American Baptist fashion, reactions to this announcement have run the gamut of feelings and emotions. Per Facebook posts, some folk are excited and energized and others are angry and discouraged while there are I’m sure, given the size of our denominational family, many, many people in between these responding realities.

For personal reasons, I would count myself among the group of folk who are angry and discouraged. However, as I’ve talked with colleagues and friends around the country and as I’ve allowed myself to sit with this news for nearly 48 hours, here are my conclusions and commitments moving forward:

1. While some are drawing comparisons of Dr. Spitzer’s appointment as General Secretary to the national election our country experienced last fall, there is NO comparison here. There is enough angst in our country (no matter one’s party affiliation) and we do not need more angst in our denomination. American Baptist Churches, USA, is not a country. We are a movement of congregations that seek collectively to do more together for mission and ministry than any one of us can do on our own. Whether we welcome this news of a new General Secretary or find ourselves disenchanted by it, it is important for us to remain United in Mission. For the sake of the Good News we have the capacity to proclaim in so many ways and through so many people, we can do this.

2. Lest we forget the rich history and heritage from whence we’ve come...may we remain committed to the tension of being a denominational family that has labored hard to create as many seats as possible around a common table...for as many people as possible. I know it can rightly be argued that some of us have been kept from this table. In this time of history, we can’t afford to let a proverbial "herd of elephants" remain silently present in our ecclesiastical house. As American Baptists, let’s stay steadfastly strident to our principles and liberties. There is room in our faith family for all of us to voice our discontent and describe how we hope better to be a faith family that resembles a Beloved Community wherein the diversities of our humanity are celebrated and honored. For the sake of the Good News we have the capacity to proclaim in so many ways and through so many people, we can do this.

3. To keep some historical and practical perspective, if we look back over the centuries of our history, we have had women and men, from different cultures and theological perspectives that have served in leadership capacities at all levels of our national family. When I served the nearest congregation to the Mission Center in Valley Forge, I only had to walk through the three floors of that circular edifice to be reminded of our social, political, and theological diversities. And you know what, while folk may not have seen eye-to-eye on any number of realities, mission and ministry happened and affected many people in so many life-giving ways. The arc of history would remind us that we will have leaders, even General Secretaries, that will represent the more conservative to the more liberal among us. These individuals are not Jesus...they are not our saviors. Each one has the capacity to offer our faith family something unique. Time and history will ultimately be the judge of their legacies. In the present moment, it seems to me the better angels of our humanity may be calling us to support the one who will now lead us for the next four years. We can support Dr. Spitzer whether we agree or disagree with him and his style of ministry. We can support him and each other by being the BAPTISTS we are. We can support the work of the General Secretary by respectfully reminding him of our diversities. The strength of our American Baptist family is that there can always be a way to communicate prophetically our passions. When we cease to prophetically communicate our passions, we lose some of our Baptist-way. For the sake of the Good News we have the capacity to proclaim in so many ways and through so many people, we can do this.

4. I’ve asked myself, “Am I acquiescing to the status quo?” No. I am not. I am committing myself to being the best American Baptist I can. Some day, I hope my children will see that the struggles and strengths of the American Baptist Churches, USA, is for them a model of how to be and not to be. Of how to be Christian and Baptist...of how to be socially, theologically and culturally informed and aware. When I consider that this work we do can inspire and encourage my children...your children...then my own cynicisms become the inspiration I need to go “high” when others may go “low.” For the sake of the Good News we have the capacity to proclaim in so many ways and through so many people, we can do this.

5. Many of us are tired of fighting. Unlike the Apostle Paul, we feel like we are afflicted, perplexed, persecuted and struck down. Decades of debating and discussing real life matters is tiring and demoralizing. It is tempting to throw in the towel and give up the struggle of this American Baptist enterprise. My hope and prayer for myself and for us all...is that we will not be distracted by matters that will keep us from sharing the hope we have and the rich expressions of ministry that are taking place throughout our larger faith family. The good news of Jesus whose narratives still have the power to heal and transform our love and lives today can be seen in and through our American Baptist witness...by the grace of God, whether we’re at our best or at our worst.

So...let’s channel our passions into the ministries we are all about. Let’s hold each other accountable. Conservatives and Liberals, and everyone in between, let’s encourage each other to be the best and the brightest we can. When our humanity gets in the way, and it will, may we remember to stay United in Mission. This is our call. This is our work. This is our ministry.

For the sake of the Good News we have the capacity to proclaim in so many ways and through so many people, we can do this.

Jesus was a partier and a protester. Sounds kinda like us American Baptists. Whether partying or protesting...let’s do what we do with love and passion. Hope to see you in Portland!

First Baptist Church of Denver is a welcoming and affirming, inclusive Christian community that embraces diversity, engages personal faith, and serves with compassion.

Weekly Words - 5/3/17

Dear FBCD Family & Friends:

"We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed...” 2 Corinthians 4:8

“When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us.”
― Helen Keller

The above words resonate within my soul this week. Sometimes life seems overwhelming. I wonder what life is like for you today?

If you’re overwhelmed. Be encouraged. Remember the ancient words of scripture above. There is always a way forward. And...remember the words spoken by Hellen Keller, “When one door of happiness closes, another opens..."

I’m believing these words to be true for me this week. I invite you to claim them as yours too.

Know you’re in my thoughts and prayers. If you haven’t planned yet, plan to be at FBCD for service this Sunday. It will be good for you and for everyone else present too. Your life makes a difference.

Peace,

First Baptist Church of Denver is a welcoming and affirming, inclusive Christian community that embraces diversity, engages personal faith, and serves with compassion.

Weekly Words - 4/28/17

Dear First Baptist Church of Denver Family & Friends:

Fourteenth century venerated saint for some and mystic and theologian for others, Julian of Norwich said, "If there is anywhere on earth a lover of God who is always kept safe, I know nothing of it, for it was not shown to me. But this was shown: that in falling and rising again we are always kept in that same precious love."

This week has been a challenging week for many. Globally, we continue attempting to make sense out of the chaos of our world. It seems there’s hardly a safe place to be. Regionally and locally, we are learning about the stories of individuals like Arturo Hernandez, Jeanette Vizguerra, Ingrid Latorre, and others whose lives are threatened with deportation. They do not know how many safe places are left for them in which they can hold out hope for a future with their families.

My own family this week is preparing for a separation of sorts...nothing in comparison to what immigrant families may be facing...but for my family we’re preparing to be separated by hundreds of miles while my children and their mother consider moving back East.

While I’ve weighed the realities, challenges, and opportunities of ministry these past few days, I’ve been overcome in moments by fear and anxiety. I always seek to lead in a way that challenges us as people of faith to grow toward compassion.

I’ve been making it a practice to attend a chapel service each Wednesday. Once I found my seat and got situated this week, the musicians were rehearsing the song, “Don’t Be Afraid.” The lyrics are:

Don't be afraid, my love is stronger,

My love is stronger than your fear.

Don't be afraid, my love is stronger,

And I have promised to be always near.

You can hear this song performed by a group of children at:

don't be afraid, my love is stronger lyrics

I’m trusting that God’s love will hold and help us all. Hope to see you Sunday!

Love,

First Baptist Church of Denver is a welcoming and affirming, inclusive Christian community that embraces diversity, engages personal faith, and serves with compassion.

Weekly Words - 4/20/17

“From noon on, darkness came over the whole land until about three in the afternoon....Then Jesus cried again with a loud voice and breathed his last. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, and the rocks were split. The tombs also were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised.” -Matthew 27:45, 50-52

Dear FBCD Family and Friends,

Today, Thursday, April 20, 2017, felt more like Good Friday than last Friday, the real Good Friday, did. It may seem anti-climatic to be reflecting upon scriptures about Jesus’ crucifixion as we are now in the Easter season and having just celebrated in such grand fashion Jesus’ resurrection this past Sunday. Well...I couldn’t help but think about such a thing today. I stood with a family in a cemetery at the foot of an opened grave while a steady rain poured from the sky, complete with lighting and thunder flashing and crashing over our heads.

My 10 minutes of a cemetery experience this afternoon, took my mind to the words in Matthew’s gospel above. A friend of mine reminded me this week that when we read about the temple curtain being split in two, from top to bottom, we’re to acknowledge that not only did the crucifixion event make way for all people, no matter who they are to enter the temple freely, it also signified that the Divine was freed to leave the temple. It was a moment, we can imagine, of cataclysmic significance.

It was a point in time to remind everyone for all of eternity that we are partners together with each other and the Divine making it possible for the human race to experience peace, justice, and equality.

Now I’m not sure about you, but for me, the verse that stands out the most above states, “The tombs were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised."

It’s hard to imagine that this was intended to be a literal accounting of what happened in the crucifixion story. I wonder if the gospel writer wanted to heighten and challenge and stretch our human imaginations to wake us up even today to the possibilities that exist when we seek to do justice, love kindness, and walk humbly?

Today, April 20, 2017, is the eighteenth anniversary of the Columbine High School massacre. It’s hard to believe how the years have passed. It’s harder to believe, and sadly so, how school shootings around the United States have become a social norm in our society.

In truth, there are many injustices that are taking place in our society that are becoming the norm. It is so easy for us has humans to become complacent and even complicit. I wonder how we might be awakened in this time and season of our congregation? of our city? of our country?

How can we be the hands and feet of Christ to the Metro-Denver community?

To be Christ’s hands and feet will take us from our zones of comfort for sure. To be Christ’s hands and feet always has.

We need only remember the story of Jesus to be reminded that to love costs always. What may it cost us today?

On this Thursday, Good Friday-like day, these are my thoughts.

Peace,

First Baptist Church of Denver is a welcoming and affirming, inclusive Christian community that embraces diversity, engages personal faith, and serves with compassion.

Weekly Words - 4/13/17

Hello First Baptist Church of Denver Family & Friends:

I trust this Holy Week is unfolding in good ways for you. While our building’s weekly schedule has been a bit less busy, there has remained significant activity nonetheless. On Wednesday this week, we were honored to host The Colorado Council of Churches, The Interfaith Alliance, Denver Seminary, Iliff School of Theology, and Regis University as leaders from these institutions met to plan for ongoing interfaith dialogue opportunities for folk throughout Metro-Denver.

Also, on Wednesday evening a group of FBCD representatives met with First Unitarian Society of Denver, American Friends Services Committee, and the Metro-Denver Sanctuary Coalition to determine next steps making FBCD a sanctuary congregation for an individual who is currently at risk of being deported. More information about this opportunity will be available soon.

As we turn from the events of this week to remember the central events of our Christian tradition...I trust that your Holy-day weekend will be good. If you’re traveling, know that a candle will be lit for you. If you’re in town, know that it will be wonderful to see you Easter morning, 10:30. Consider who you can encourage to attend service at FBCD this week. They’ll be glad you did!

With hope for today and tomorrow,

P.S. Know that there will be Easter lilies available this Sunday ($10 donation). If you’d like to take one home or to a family member or friend, please write on your check memo line “Lily” or use a pew envelope to note your donation.

First Baptist Church of Denver is a welcoming and affirming, inclusive Christian community that embraces diversity, engages personal faith, and serves with compassion.

Weekly Words - 4/7/17

Hello Everyone!

The Easter holiday is soon to be upon us. As is an annual tradition, Easter Lilies will decorate the chancel on Easter Sunday.

Lilies will be available for $10. If you would like to have one placed in memory or in honor of someone, please call or email the church office by Wednesday, April 12, 3pm, and a list of names will be printed in the April 16 bulletin.

Hope to see you for Palm and Passion Sunday this week. Service will begin at 10:30. Will you invite a family member, friend, or neighbor to join us? They’ll be glad you did!

Best,

First Baptist Church of Denver is a welcoming and affirming, inclusive Christian community that embraces diversity, engages personal faith, and serves with compassion.

Weekly Words - 3/30/17

Happy Thursday FBCD Family & Friends!

Please plan to join Sine Nomine in concert at FBCD this weekend!


Also...hope to see you on Sunday morning. Join us for Communion and let’s see who joins FBCD this week! Word is spreading. More and more people are coming. Thanks be to God!

Best,

First Baptist Church of Denver is a welcoming and affirming, inclusive Christian community that embraces diversity, engages personal faith, and serves with compassion.

Weekly Words - 3/23/17

 

Dear First Baptist Church of Denver Family & Friends:

Early one morning last week I was out in the church yard cleaning some flower beds and spreading new mulch. It was about 6:30. The Café wasn’t open yet and only a few folk were out and about at that hour. While I worked, a young man came down the side walk jogging toward me. I greeted him and as he ran by, he stopped and gave me the card to the left of this paragraph. He simply said, “Thank you for what you’re doing. Have a great day.” And off he jogged.I was impressed. I appreciated his thoughtfulness. This complete stranger prompted me to be more alert during that day wondering to whom I could pass along such kindness myself. This experience reminded me too of the words often attributed to Plato: “Be kind. Everyone you meet is fighting a battle.” Now, I’m not sure that “battle” fits all of our situations but the point is we never know what’s happening in others’ lives. Therefore, it’s all the more thoughtful and caring for us to be mindfully mindful that there is often a reason why folk are how they are.

 

I wonder how you may consider offering a random act of kindness to someone whose path crosses yours? My guess is they’ll be glad you did!

Hope to see you on Sunday! FBCD has had record Sunday morning attendances the past two weeks and I think we may have another one again this weekend. Please plan to be with us for service!

Best,

First Baptist Church of Denver is a welcoming and affirming, inclusive Christian community that embraces diversity, engages personal faith, and serves with compassion.


Caring Deeply.    Loving Everyone.    Serving Together.