Pastor Emily’s Blog

December 13, 2018

What exactly makes worship, worship? I pondered that question this week, as is my custom. This time, though, there was a snowstorm-spurred urgency about the query! As our staff wondered together about shifts to our schedule, I shared again the mantra I’d adopted...

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December 6, 2018

Back in the summer of 2008, my immediate family took a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Europe for two months, time granted for dad’s sabbatical and funded by the Lilly Foundation’s Clergy Renewal Program. Before iPhones, or my spouse and children, or my granddad’s ALS...

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November 29, 2018

Between the mall and the mail, and everything in between, the season of Christmas has descended upon us -- and it’s not yet December! For our commercialized landscape, yearning to sell and to draw on the urges the season invites, the holiday is in full swing. And yet,...

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November 21, 2018

This Thanksgiving week, my heart is filled with gratitude for you, dear church, and for the abundant ways you have been the church for each other, for me, and for our community this year. To those of you who have joined our church this year, uniting your lives with...

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November 15, 2018

“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven.” Seasons, as they say, come and go. The time changes, the leaves fall, the flowers bud, each marking what has been and foreshadowing what will be. We have been in an extended season of...

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November 8, 2018

“Gail.” “Jack.” “Anne.” “Deacon.” Recently departed friends, family, loved ones, even a young child’s canine companion whose names pierced the silence in remembrance. “Dick.” “Kitty.” “Lucille.” “Roy.” Our church’s saints that were voiced in community by the faithful...

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November 1, 2018

“The love and light within me honors the love and light within you. You are never alone. Namaste.” Every Thursday morning, these are the words that Nikki says to close our hot yoga class. They’re just the tone we need to conclude a hot and holy hour intended to...

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October 25, 2018

If you’re like me, you have loved the testimonies shared in worship by many of our fellow congregants, sharing their stories of how First Baptist has become their boundless home. Deb Watkins “loved First Baptist because they first loved me.” Carlos Mir shared of how...

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October 18, 2018

I continue to be so thankful for the ways you are teaching me how to live into our church’s vision from God. You remember it by now, I’m sure: We are a community in the heart of the city called by Jesus to practice bold love of God and neighbor and boundless...

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October 11, 2018

Early last week, I traveled to Washington, D. C. for the annual board meeting of the Baptist Joint Committee on Religious Liberty (BJC), where I am grateful to serve as the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship of North Carolina’s representative on that body. Gathering 13...

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October 4, 2018

Over the past two weeks, Leslie Lowdermilk and I have hit the road. We have traveled around to spend mornings, afternoons, and evenings with many of you, receiving the gift of hospitality from many of our generous hosts who made these capital campaign gatherings...

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September 27, 2018

For the past few weeks, I have had the privilege of leading a small group Bible study on Wednesdays at noon on the letter of Paul to the Galatians. Together, our group has walked verse by verse through this extraordinary treatise, unpacking its meaning in light of...

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September 20, 2018

Often recently, I’ve found it hard to believe that after all this time, the season of a capital campaign in our church’s life together is finally upon us. But then I remember you, dear church You’ve listened carefully over the years and prayed intentionally for our...

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September 13, 2018

Perhaps the impending arrival of Hurricane Florence on our eastern seaboard is to blame, speeding toward us like a bullet in slow motion. Or maybe it’s just me. But regardless, I have found this week to be one in which the images seem sharper, the volume louder, and...

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September 6, 2018

This past weekend, my family traveled to Louisville, Kentucky for the wedding of a dear friend of ours. Early on Sunday, I took advantage of the opportunity and had an experience so foreign to my current Sunday morning rhythms: going for a run in Louisville’s Cherokee...

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August 30, 2018

Two days, four pictures, several celebrations, one community of faith! Last Saturday and Sunday were full ones in the life of the church, stretching from age to age and catching lots of life in between. First you see a number of our kids and youth, delighting in a...

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August 23, 2018

Among the myriad of items presented, described, and announced in Sunday’s Fall Preview gathering, one was particularly exciting -- that of our new church logo! For months now, the Outreach Ministry Team and staff has been hard at work with M Creative, a values-driven...

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August 16, 2018

The life of the church, much like the lives of individuals, organizations, and cultures, is subject to the shifting of seasons. But unlike many, our church’s shared seasons of life together rise and fall with the yearly calendar, the liturgical calendar, and the...

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August 9, 2018

“Given what we saw in there, you made the right decision to take them out!” I speak today not of church buildings or budgets, but rather of my son’s tonsils and adenoids, removed earlier this week. His doctors had noted their enlargement, the way his tonsils were...

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August 2, 2018

For about 24 hours this week, I gathered at the Avila Retreat Center in Durham with a group of pastors in CBFNC churches to engage in conversation about ‘pastoral leadership in divisive times.’ Convened by our own Chris Gambill and Larry Hovis, this small group of...

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July 26, 2018

We added a new beach activity to our family’s annual rhythms this year, and I think it’s going to become a favored tradition. A night’s stroll on the pier observing all the people and activities it had to offer yielded a very earnest 5 year-old that just HAD to go...

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July 21, 2018

Long before I became a pastor, I attended a retreat led by a pastor I greatly respect, whose conversation topic for those few days centered around healthy leadership and ministerial self-care. This pastor shared of deep conflict that had existed in her church,...

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July 5, 2018

On this day after so many of us remembered and gave thanks for the freedoms our country has long held and celebrated, I share with you a brief word from one of the most courageous defenders of religious freedom I’ve ever known, Rev. Dr. James Dunn. You’ve heard me...

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June 28, 2018

Over the last several months, a number of you have given freely of your time and energies to help with our Deacon subgroup-led ‘asset divestiture and relocation.’ Or, in layman’s terms, the cleanout crew! With your help, we’ve completed hours logged, muscles used, and...

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June 21, 2018

“Speak, o Lord, as we come to you to receive the food of your holy Word…” For the past three weeks in worship, we have sung this collective prayer for illumination as we open the scriptures together, inviting God to speak: speaking through words and Word, speaking for...

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June 14, 2018

I write you today overlooking the towers of downtown Dallas, as I and more than a dozen others from our church have gathered with our larger Baptist family for the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship’s General Assembly. These few days of convening are for us a time of...

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June 7, 2018

This past Sunday, a good crowd of you gathered in Kelly Auditorium for the first Sunday of our churchwide summer Sunday School class. By now, I’m sure you’ve heard that we are reading Rev. Adam Hamilton’s book, Making Sense of the Bible, looking carefully at the big...

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May 31, 2018

Perhaps you remember the context for these four words. A year ago this Sunday, Kelly Auditorium was packed to the gills as the Special Committee on Facilities and Mission offered a presentation to the congregation regarding the future of our church. There, we all...

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May 24, 2018

I suppose it’s only appropriate that the air conditioning broke on Sunday! On the final Sunday in which we were to gather in Buildings B & C, particularly in the chapel, we entered in to find nearly 80 degrees of warmth there to greet us due to a cranky old HVAC unit...

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A Word from Kaylee Godfrey

“Emily’s Post” By Kaylee Godfrey [old intern, new member] Since I have reached the conclusion of my internship at First on Fifth, Emily has graciously allowed me to hijack her weekly post to share with you all some of the wonderful things that have happened to me this...

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May 10, 2018

I have had the pleasure to participate in not one but two recent installation services for new friends and colleagues of mine who have recently begun their pastoral tenures at sister Baptist churches in the Triad. The first was the service of installation several...

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May 3, 2018

I write to you today from ‘preacher camp,’ where with these dear pastor friends of mine, I’ve spent several days in the mountains immersed in the work of the pastorate. Our trust and love for one another, for God, and for the church seem to run as deep and wide as our...

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April 26, 2018

I’ve shared with you before about how I have seen a professional counselor a few times in my life. As I look back on the patterns of when I have sought this kind of help, they seem to have occurred particularly in seasons of transition or change, times when I have...

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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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