Dear Centenary Family,
I've been thinking recently how our urban mission here in downtown Richmond is distinct. As some of you who have been here for years are aware, being in ministry in the midst of the city makes us different from churches doing good ministry in other settings.
I've been reading a good book by a long-time practitioner of urban ministry in Vancouver, British Columbia named Barry K. Morris. His book is entitled Hopeful Realism in Urban Ministry. It's a challenging book as he takes three theologians and engages them in a conversation to find guidance and encouragement for ministry in the city. The great theologian Jurgen Moltmann represents the theme of hope; the great American theologian Reinhold Niebuhr represents the theme of justice; the great Catholic writer and Trappist monk, Thomas Merton, represents the theme of prayer. Hope - Justice - Prayer. Morris argues all these are necessary qualities to stay at urban ministry for the long haul.
I've often tried to think of how to describe the kind of ministry we do here at Centenary to others and how it might be different from ministry in other settings. Barry Morris takes time in his book to try to describe for others what a typical day in his ministry might have included. He offers a lengthy and detailed reflection. Here are some of the highlights: "Each day signs the sighs of efforts made but no day exemplifies hopes fulfilled. . . Thus, there is emergency help to persons: from food to transportation, to use of the phone/bathroom, and ad hoc trips to the hospital, to detoxification. . . There is a response to urgent requests: for a visit to the dying and/or space and help for a funeral . . . There is advocacy: for help in saving furniture for future needs when going into detoxification at the hospital . . . There are almost endless meetings [with partners in ministry]. There is the hosting of community events. . .There is . . . Bible Study. . . acceptance of donations of money and food for Thanksgiving, Christmas. . . There is study. . ."
All of these things and so many more go on each day here at Centenary. Our staff spends much of its time responding to these urban realities every day on Centenary's behalf.
We're in the midst of doing some strategic planning for our long-term ministry. . . but I wonder if that is a bit presumptuous sometimes since so much of our ministry involves responding to people in need and trying to adapt to a constantly changing urban community. Some days never turn out the way we had planned they would, and chaos, not from lack of planning, but from the needs of people, is not an uncommon reality.
Those of you who are deeply involved in this downtown urban mission know that it can be exhilarating and exhausting, fulfilling and baffling. But we keep coming back to it, I believe, because we believe this is where God calls us to be. And as Barry Morris points out, we need large doses of hope, a deep concern for justice, and much time for prayer and reflection to stay in touch with the divine resources we need to continue to be faithful.
After worship Sunday, Jim Hill, whose spiritual perception I respect greatly, told me that the Old Testament reading from Isaiah 58 was one of his favorites as he'd thought about Centenary's commitment to downtown Richmond over the years. Speaking to folks who'd endured destruction of their community and exile from home, Isaiah spoke with great hope: "They will rebuild ancient ruins on your account; the foundations of generations past you will restore. You will be called Mender of Broken Walls, Restorer of Livable Streets."
I think that's what we're about here at Centenary. We are possessed with the hope that God will use us in some way to inspire others to rebuild a broken city, and to assist the people we encounter every day to rebuild broken lives. And that's not because we have all the answers, but simply because we have experienced God's grace and mercy ourselves.
Hope, Justice, and Prayer. We need all those things in large doses to be all that God wants us to be here in the midst of the city.
It's a privilege to walk this path with you.
This Weekend at Centenary
Saturday, February 11: Trinity Quartet in Concert
Join us in the sanctuary for a night of wonderful music by the Southern Gospel group Trinity Quartet visiting from North Carolina.The concert is free; a love offering will be taken during the concert.
Sunday, February 12: Worship at 8:40 am (informal) and 11:00 am (traditional)
Senior Pastor Matt Bates will preach
An Inside Job based on the scripture reading from Matthew 5:21-37.
Sunday, February 12 at 10:00 am: New Adult Sunday School Classes Continue
Dean Simpson is leading a study of the book What Do Other Faiths Believe? A Study of World Religions by Paul Stroble. In this study the author interviews leaders in Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism, and other faiths to explore how the beliefs and practices of these religions are similar to and different from basic Christian beliefs.
is leading a study of R
ichard Rohr's The Naked Now: Learning to See As the Mystics See. For Christians seeking a way of thinking outside of strict dualities, this guide explores methods for letting go of division and living in the present. Drawn from the Gospels, Jesus, Paul, and the great Christian contemplatives, this examination reveals how many of the hidden truths of Christianity have been misunderstood or lost and how to read them with the eyes of the mystics rather than interpreting them through rational thought. Filled with sayings, stories, quotations, and appeals to the heart, specific methods for identifying dualistic thinking are presented with simple practices for stripping away ego and the fear of dwelling in the present. Books will be available in the classroom.
Pat Shipley and Dave Jarvis are leading for Young Adults a study that focuses on the foundation of "Love God with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind" (Luke 10:7) titled Dream. Think. Be. Do.
Sunday, February 12 at 4 pm: Bishop Lewis' Chat & Chew Conversation
This conversation with the Bishop will be held at Fredericksburg UMC (308 Hanover Street in Fredericksburg). This conversation is being specifically held for Virginia's Reconciling communities and friends.
2017 Pledge Offering Envelopes
The new 2017 Pledge Offering Envelopes have arrived. Please pick up your numbered box of envelopes in the hallway by the church office.
About Sunday's Music
Alun Hoddinott (1929-2008) is certainly not a name one hears every day! In fact, my only exposure to him has been through the anthem we will be singing this Sunday. He was a very prolific Welsh composer in practically every genre of music: instrumental, operatic and ecclesiastical. One biography describes him as a "modernist romantic" and you will hear the modern and the romantic in this piece.
The modern aspect presents itself in the first half of the anthem: the organ plays virtuosic passages that sound as though one's hands have been placed one note too far to the right or the left. The choir enters very soon after and forcefully sings the text from 1 Corinthians in canon (like last week), one part following the other, while the organ "interjects" more virtuosity. The effect is quite bracing! This dramatic section eventually slows down and comes to a suspenseful close.
My favorite part comes next. At the text "Ye are God's husbandry, ye are God's building", the music is very quiet and mysterious, with mild dissonances passing between the sections of the choir.
Then we get the "romantic" side of Mr. Hoddinott. The last pages are much more consonant and
homophonic (everyone sings the words at the same time) and rise and fall according to the text. It all ends quietly with the choir doing a very difficult
diminuendo (getting gradually softer) that fades to almost nothing.
One very striking aspect of this piece is that none of the words of the text are ever repeated like so many other choral pieces; it is almost one word, one note through the whole piece. Very unusual.
Director of Music/Organist
A Challenge from Bishop Lewis to Read the Bible with Her in 2017
This week's readings:
You can now register if you are joining Bishop Lewis in her challenge to the Virginia Conference to read the Bible in entirety in 2017. The short poll allows you to add your name as well as district (Richmond) and your home church (Centenary).
Sunday, February 19 at 2:30 pm: Theatre Outing to Love, Loss and What I Wore
A group from Centenary will be attending a Huguenot Community Players' production of Love, Loss and What I Wore by Nora and Delia Ephron. Based on a 1995 book by Ilene Beckerman, this play uses clothing to create a time capsule of a woman's life. We hear stories of friendship, marriage and motherhood, struggles with illness and grief, times of love, hope and faith. Huguenot Community Players is located at Huguenot United Methodist Church (10661 Duryea Drive in Richmond). Tickets are $12 each.
Wednesday, March 1: Ash Wednesday Worship Services at 12 noon and 7:30 pm
Sunday, March 5 at 12 noon: Chili Cook-Off
Mark your calendars and start looking for a winning chili recipe! Prizes will be given for the best red chili, the best white chili, and the best vegetarian chili. Those who don't want to bring chili may bring a salad or dessert to share. And everyone who comes will be the judges! Drinks and condiments (sour cream and shredded cheese) will be provided. This will also be a fundraiser for scholarships for children to attend summer camp at Westview on the James.
Thursday, March 9 at 7:30 pm: Theatre Outing to
Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
Wednesdays, March 15, 22, 29, and April 5 at 6:00 pm: Lenten Worship Services and Light Supper
Join a group from Centenary and attend this production presented by the Jewish Family Theatre at
Weinstein JCC (5403 Monument Ave).
The Biblical saga of Joseph and his coat of many colors comes
to vibrant life in this delightful musical parable.
Set to an engaging cornucopia of musical styles, from country-western and calypso to bubble-gum pop and rock 'n' roll,
this Old Testament tale emerges both timely and timeless.
Tickets will be $15 each.
Join us for four Wednesday nights during the season of Lent for Worship at 6:00 pm, which will be followed with a light supper at 6:30 pm. Donations appreciated. (Note that Chancel Choir rehearsals will start at 7:15 on these nights.)
Sunday, March 19 at 5 pm: Concert featuring the Norfolk State University
Saturday, April 1: Bishop's Convocation on Prayer
Bishop Sharma Lewis will host a Bishop's Convocation on Prayer at Trinity United Methodist Church (903 Forest Avenue in Henrico). The Rev. Juanita Rasmus, co-pastor of St. John's United Methodist Church in Houston, Texas, will be the plenary speaker for the convocation.
Workshops on a variety of topics are also being offered.
Thursday, April 27: Golf Tournament
Join us at the Hollows Golf Course for the 40th Annual Golf Classic. Registration will begin at 11:00 a.m. with a putting contest at 11:30 a.m., lunch at 11:45 a.m., and a Golf Tee-Off at 1:00 p.m. The cost is $75.00/ person, $15.00 for lunch only (firm reservations needed for catered lunch). The proceeds benefit Stop Hunger Now/Operation Storehouse. Hole sponsorships are also available at $50.00 per sponsor and $10.00 or more for patrons. Gift certificates can also be donated to be given as prizes. Be sure to mark this date on your calendar and don't forget to practice your swing!
Please Remember in Prayer
Ryland Bailey, Sr.
Joe Ciucci Jr.
Jack & Lois Hinerman
Inez Johnson (friend of Vic and Nancy Grand)
Wendy Tisdale (friend of Agatha and Christina Kidd)
Celebrating Birthdays in February
Photos of the Week
Some of the Centenary volunteers at last Friday's Walk-in Ministry.
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