Today’s word of hope comes from our own Rev. Emily Hull McGee, pastor of First Baptist Church on Fifth, Winston-Salem.

Does it baffle anyone else that June – June! – is but a few days away?? Just me?

Our seemingly-indeterminate spring is giving way to a balmy summer. School is winding down. Plans for a safe and healthy way to enjoy the season are emerging. The mad dash of crisis management is causing scores of people to again find rhythms that will sustain over the long haul. Gardens are flourishing, and strawberries are abundant. The simple gifts of the season are everywhere.

And still, our world remains in crisis. More than 40 million unemployment claims, more than 100,000 deaths. Staggering tolls of the pandemic on our cities, our food production, our educational systems, our caregiving for those with real, tangible, daily needs. Acts of violence towards black men and women that have set off a tidal wave of outrage. And political division that becomes like the water we drink — blighting everything with its poison and convincing us that we cannot find any common ground.

This summer, we’re returning to the Story and stories of us. Where we came from. What we know about ourselves. What makes us tick and feel and move and resist. What we experience in relationships. What we know and can’t know. What makes us human. This story is inseparable from God; it is a story of us (humanity + God), a story of us (person to person, communities and tribes), and a story of us (the beloved community we know as First Baptist on Fifth). We’ll do this in worship, starting at the very beginning in Genesis and plumbing our origin story for grace and truth. We’ll listen to stories of folks’ journeys of faith in our small groups and read compelling, timely stories in our monthly book club. We’ll tell our own stories, share our wisdom and delight, and converse deeply with each other in webinars and Zoom calls. We’ll remember the gift of play and space to just be with leadership from our children and youth. We’ll practice hearing stories that may cause discomfort or fear, but stories that value vulnerability and honesty.

Through it all, we’ll return again and again to God’s profound and persistent story of Love — of a created world that is so very good, of liberation that frees us all, of building and rebuilding our common life together around values of justice, kindness, and mercy, of a Love so expansive that gave a Son, of good news for poor and plenty, oppressed and oppressor, of truth found in the most ordinary of things: water, bread, cup, seeds, of strength in weakness and life extended through cross and tomb, of a people so filled with the Spirit that a movement was born, of ways of being together that shape our common life around the ethic of Love, and of new life that always, always emerges.

I’m so looking forward to sharing in this summer deep-dive with you! Do plan to join in as you are able. 

One new rhythm we’ll find in the summer is with this — what you’ve had in your inbox for months as the Daily Dose! Starting Monday, June 1, you’ll receive this email once a week instead of each day. Called ‘First Words,’ it will arrive to you while the world awakens early on Monday mornings, filled with inspiration and love from your pastoral staff to carry you through your week.

Perhaps you’ll also notice a new format in your eBlast that will begin next week as well! We hope that this will help to streamline how you receive information from the church amidst all you’re receiving digitally right now during these pandemic days. (And make sure you’ve put First Baptist on your ‘safe sender’ list so as to avoid weeks’ worth of eBlasts in your Junk folders!) Over the summer, your staff will be working on all sorts of technology (like the website and our database system for starters) — increasing effectiveness and ease, getting information you’re asking about right where you need it, and strengthening the tools we use and rely on together.

This summer promises to be one of growth, of deepening our love for God and each other. I’m looking forward to the stories we’ll share together! 

Together in God’s work of Love,
Pastor Emily

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