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 possible. We have talked about important matters — our church, its mission in the community and vision for making it possible, our facilities and their critical needs, and how we might bind up our resources and energy to do together what we cannot do alone. But most of all, our conversations have been filled with boundless hope: hope for who we are, hope for what we do, and hope for how we are becoming as a ‘family of faith’ and a ‘community in the heart of the city.’
Again and again, we have been strengthened by the hope of who we are, who you are. These gatherings were eagerly attended by 12 year-olds and a feisty 102 year-old (yes, you read that right!), and all of us in between. Some conversations recalled the first few weeks or months of marriage among our young adult couples, only to be met by words of wisdom from those seated across the circle whose life together has stretched through decades. In one gathering of the Forerunners Sunday School class that you see pictured above, a quick word from each member about when they joined First Baptist added up to the realization that in that room, the wise and wonderful women held a combined total of over 600 years of membership in our beloved church!
We have heard the hope of what we will do. Hard and important questions about our facilities were shared, including the scope of this project, what it will mean for subsequent phases two and three, and how we will continue to gather in fellowship throughout. Ideas emerged for what we might do when energy and time and money don’t pour into buildings, but instead into ministry. Excitement built for our four missional priorities, as I saw in your eyes a hunger to do good and love well.
And together, we saw clearly the hope of how we are becoming. God in Christ through the power of the Spirit is beckoning our church to become a boundless home, one where we build love beyond our beautiful walls. Our collective grip on what has been or what resources we have is loosening, as God prepares us to prayerfully and courageously give our money to this work of love.
Paul once said, “for since we have such a hope, we act with great boldness.” It is clear to me that our hope is alive, and thus joyfully, faithfully, abundantly, boldly, we prepare to act. May it be so!
Together in the work of Love,