Pastor Emily’s Blog

April 19, 2018

Some cautiously but all with courage, they trickled into a side room down in Kelly Auditorium as the morning warmed into being. Their questions and hopes for this place filled the room even more than they themselves packed the seats. Friendly greetings from the nearby...

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April 12, 2018

I write to you today early this morning from a hotel room in Nashville, where I’m here alongside a handful of other young pastors within the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship. We have joined with hundreds of others for a conference called Q Ideas -- think TED Talks for...

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April 5, 2018

Happy Easter, beloved community! Sunday’s Easter celebration was for me filled with the spirit of new life in abundance. From the early morning breakfast assembly of goodies and coffee and new outfits, to a Sanctuary teeming with people hungry to hear good news, to...

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March 29, 2018

Just around the corner rose a burst of silver star balloons, flying as a pack in the wind while anchored to a faithful friend. Colleagues trickled in, some alone and others in groups. Shouts of recognition, long hugs of true affection years in the making, eager...

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March 22, 2018

Throughout our Lenten journey together, we have been exploring the landscapes of the path. Together, we have discovered the terrain of the wilderness and the interior, the masses and the marketplace, the world and the hour. And as these forty days draw to a close, the...

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March 15, 2018

My line of work often puts me in conversations about the seismic changes in American religious life all around us. As “volatile, uncertain, complex, and ambiguous” as this landscape is (so much so, the acronym VUCA has been coined and used to describe it!), what is...

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March 8, 2018

I can’t tell you the number of times already this week where I have found myself recalling images, sounds, and moments from our service of worship this past Sunday! I saw the room filled with the beloved community: old friends and new members, saints and sinners...

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March 1, 2018

Like clockwork, I hear the strong and sturdy footsteps above my office, heralding his arrival each morning for another day in the work of Love. Except for Tuesdays, of course, when he has warmed up the church house in the dark, arising early in faithfulness to his...

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February 22, 2018

By the time Thursday rolls around in the weekly life of the church, I sometimes have to pause to remember and make sense of all has happened throughout the week. As I did that exercise this morning, it occurred to me that much of my time this week -- and some of yours...

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February 15, 2018

Settle in, friends -- today’s post is a longer update (with a cameo from Gary Knight too!) on happenings in our church that you need to know about.   First of all, last Wednesday the gathered community at First on Fifth heard a presentation from the Special Committee...

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A Word from John Thornton

"EMILY'S POST" is written this week by John Thornton, Associate Pastor for Youth, Adults & Missions “Take a few minutes and just write down three words that you think describe your life right now.” That was how I opened the first of three group conversations with our...

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February 1, 2018

Over the past few weeks, I have delighted in hearing stories of transformation. Our youth who, after a weekend retreat together through which to deepen in relationship to God and each other, shared vulnerably with each other about their lives on an ordinary Wednesday...

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January 25, 2018

“Mission is the church in motion.” This quote from German theologian Helmut Golwitzer was how we began our time of adult faith formation last night, led beautifully by our Associate Pastor for Youth, Adults, and Missions, John Thornton, and our Missions Committee...

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January 18, 2018

I write to you today from my desk at home, where just outside my window, mounds of snow now dot the bushes. It’s quiet, save for the occasional squeals of our neighborhood kids who have found a nearby hill to be the prime spot for sledding. My day’s agenda has been...

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January 11, 2018

What I learn on any given week from the creative staff at First Baptist is legion, and a pastoral staff workday we had a few months ago was no different! We had spent the morning in prayer and careful discernment about this pivotal moment in our church’s life,...

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January 4, 2018

Happy new year to you, beloved community! I hope this weekly note finds you well, or if not well, in the midst of seeking wholeness and restoration of you and your family in 2018. The days of post-Christmas holidays were so nice for my family, as we gathered with both...

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December 21, 2017

Last week, Liam and I went to Clemmons Moravian Church on a Thursday afternoon to see our Annabelle in her new preschool’s annual Christmas show. When it was time for her class’s part of the show, she and 15 other of her new friends walked onto the stage, all decked...

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December 14, 2017

I’m keeping my post brief this week, simply because the words I’d love for you to read aren’t my own. You likely know that for the past few months, we’ve been working with Yonat Shimron, an accomplished journalist who writes for Faith & Leadership, an online magazine...

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December 7, 2017

This time last week, I had the great privilege of gathering in our conference room for a meeting. These such gatherings are routine in the work of ministry as it takes the coming together of people and vision to make ministry come to life. This was the last of several...

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November 30, 2017

I walked through the office yesterday and caught a glimpse of our Ministry Assistant, Amy Cook, surrounded by pages and pages of an Advent booklet for our kids that she was putting together. Of course I needed to snap a photo and share it with the world on Facebook to...

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November 23, 2017

“You mustn’t wish for another life. You mustn’t want to be somebody else. What you must do is this: “Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks.” I am not all the way capable of so much, but those are the right instructions.” ― Wendell Berry,...

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November 16, 2017

“With your stack of paper, write down one asset (physical, social, emotional, partnership, etc.) that First Baptist has -- one per sheet. Do as many as you can until I say stop!” These were our instructions in Sunday’s “Imagining the Future” gathering. Piles of paper...

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November 9, 2017

“When it rains, it pours.” That old adage could point to goodness: a trickle of lucky breaks that have become a windfall, joy and hopefulness in abundance. Or it often indicates an unexpected deluge of work, of tasks to complete, of anxiety and fear, of sadness and...

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November 2, 2017

Some of my earliest and most significant memories of church life are filled with the sounds and strains of hymns:“Blessed Assurance” at the conclusion of an emotional, week-long revival. “When the Roll is Called Up Yonder” and “Victory in Jesus” sung in the heat of an...

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October 26, 2017

It was pretty much the best thing ever to walk into the church’s Fall Festival last night to see our own Sally Mir decked out in costume as Martin Luther! She had it all -- the robe, the beret, and a copy of the 95 Theses with a hammer in hand. Part of what made this...

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October 19, 2017

A year has passed today, but the memories are seared into my very soul. That Finance Committee meeting and the contractions that started in the conference room. The hopeful prayers for me and the baby boy stirring within me, lifted up from those faithful stewards of...

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October 12, 2017

I learned from my pastor buddies this week about a study just released in Canada called The Halo Project. Begun with the certain knowledge that religious communities (churches, synagogues, mosques, temples) hold social, spiritual, and communal value for the cities in...

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October 5, 2017

I have traveled some for work this past week, noticing that just about anywhere I go these days in ‘church-related circles,’ people have heard about our recent decisions related to our church’s physical footprint! It quickly comes up in conversation, and I’m asked...

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September 28, 2017

A liturgical tradition that I’ve come to love and deeply appreciate is that of World Communion Sunday, where Christians from all around the world share in the bread and cup together as an act of unity and mutual love. Begun in 1933 at Shadyside Presbyterian Church in...

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September 21, 2017

It has been so fun this past week to hear so many of you talking about your ‘type’! Since we began our Wednesday night class on the Enneagram last week, I’ve heard you say everything from “I’m such a 4!,” to “So THAT’S why I do that!,” to “There are 9 types, but I...

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September 14, 2017

Many of you know that I have been part of a program this past year through Leadership Education at Duke Divinity School called “A Convocation of Christian Leaders,” a year-long seminar for about 30 young pastors, denominational leaders, and seminary professors. For...

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September 7, 2017

Have you have noticed a new look on our website? If you visited http://firstonfifth.org since September 1, it has looked different than you remembered! We are so fortunate to have worked on our new site with FaithLab, a media company that helps churches and nonprofits...

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August 24, 2017

I’m certain it’s due to my life stage, but I have been seeing a lot of chalkboard signs on my Facebook feed over the past few weeks. All these pictures show kids of varying ages and sizes -- some with toothless grins, others crying because Mommy is making them take...

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