As there are some of you who were not in church on Sunday, and did not see my post on my personal profile on Facebook, I feel compelled to also share in this forum that I have been called to active duty by the National Guard, and will be mobilized May 20, leaving for Ft. Hood, Texas, where I will train up for about a month prior to shipping overseas. I will than spend about a year in Kuwait, and be demobilized June 24 of next year. This obviously raises some questions, which I will attempt to address here; if you have any other questions, please come to me directly, with the exception of certain operational details, I am an open book.
First and foremost, I am not leaving the ministry. I will remain the Senior Minister of Unity of Birmingham; I will simply be on military leave. Our very own Rev. Terry Price Ware will be coming on board as Associate Minister and Interim Spiritual Leader while I am on active duty. She will handle speaking about half of the Sundays, work with the board and staff on administrative issues as necessary, and be our primary spiritual counselor. We are blessed to have a Licensed Unity Teacher, Brenda Durham, whose specialty is Pastoral Counseling, and she will also be continuing to lead our Adult Education and our Prayer Chaplains. We are also going to be blessed by the presence of our former Associate Minister, now the Senior Minister of Unity of Chattanooga, Rev. Christine Grace, who will be speaking one Sunday a month, and who will also be offering the Q Effect workshop for us. And we will continue to have quality guest speakers once a month, like Edwene Gaines, John Stringer, Felicia Searcy, and Jon Scott.
As evidenced by our well-run and efficient meeting last night, we now have a very strong Board of Trustees. I am completely confident in their ability to steward our church through this next year. Our staff is strong, and will be expanding, as we bring aboard our own Jolie Jones, who will begin in May as Church Administrator, allowing Christin Knight to focus on Youth and Family Ministry, and Rita Thornberry to concentrate on being our Pastoral Care Coordinator.
And, the last piece of the puzzle that forms a picture of a thriving ministry is you. Since Christine and I first arrived in Birmingham, it has been my goal to shift the culture of this ministry from being pastor-centric to being mission/community-centric. It is now up to you (and I’m not speaking to a large, faceless, plural “you”, I’m talking to you, individually; you, the person reading this!) to not only help our church to survive, but to kick it up a notch to a church that thrives. I am challenging you to re-dedicate yourself to the principle of the 4-Ts - tithing of your time (finding time to nourish yourself spiritually), talent (volunteering at the church or some other non-profit) and treasure (you know the drill: drop a zero, and put it in the magic offering box). Give generously, love generously, serve generously, and watch as the Universe flows more than you imagined back to you!
Strange as it may sound to some, I look forward to putting on my uniform and serving our nation. And, I am also looking forward to coming home, putting on my stole, and serving our church again. Please keep me and all our deployed service members in your prayers, and know that you and our church are ever in mine.
With much love and many blessings,