Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Word and Deed

This is an account of my efforts to put into action what I learn while reading the Bible, an account of my journey to become closer to God.

Because of our salvation, we seek to serve the people of our communities that they might see our good works and glorify our Father who is in heaven. Evangelism is accomplished through word and deed as in Jesus' ministry.

I recently came know to Chip Sweney and the Unite! organization after volunteering to do an editorial review of the Unite! website. As I read through the site I became introduced to the Unite! mission: to bring about transformation and the hope of Christ throughout the city of Atlanta through the unified acts of kindness, service, compassion, and love. Unified acts refers to the joint efforts of community churches which have partnered together in the belief that two churches working together can have greater impact in a community than one church working alone.

Cool idea, I thought. I’d never heard of such a partnership and, honestly, thought it something that sounded easy enough to do but was probably difficult to execute, and was eager to see how well it played in reality.

I was blown away when I got my first chance to see Unite! in the flesh rather than on the Internet.

In the past year, several Duluth churches of Unite! interviewed residents and civic, education, media and business leaders in the community to discover the needs and opportunities for the churches to serve Duluth. The findings of this study, called Churches Study Duluth, were presented Thursday evening, February 26th. The presentation was hosted by Street Smarts in downtown Duluth. I had the pleasure of attending.

The findings of the study are available elsewhere; the focus of this post is on Unite! As I moved about the room I witnessed what I quickly realized was a group of friends, a multi-ethnic, multi-denominational gathering of Believers. As the presentation unfolded, I heard a cooperative body of men and women earnestly discussing how the partnership of churches could address the identified problems, not individual churches telling of either their own plans to address or decision not to address a problem.

Soon it was agreed that many of the issues Duluth faces are rooted in matters of cultural integration, and before the church can take the lead in improving cultural integration, the issues of congregational integration needed to be addressed.

That is when, in my opinion, the true character of the Unite! organization came alive. A lively discussion followed about welcomed changes in the complexion of many of the churches in Duluth, and soon individuals were giving testimony about their own positive experiences and observations about race relations.

Wow, I thought. Here is an organization seeking to serve others no matter their origin or station, intending to deliver that service in partnership with other churches no matter their denomination or race, worshiping together to honor God while leaving behind stylistic preferences about worship that once may have hindered that fellowship.

Here, I realized, is an organization that can execute its mission, and do it oh so well.

The evening ended with a black man and white man in embrace during a parting prayer. In that prayer God was asked to bless us with the wisdom and grace to love one another as He loves us.

To be able to love one another as He loves us is a blessing. To actually experience it is a great blessing indeed.

I hope you will learn more about Unite! and how we as the Perimeter Church family can work together with our partner Duluth churches to serve the needs of our surrounding neighbors, each and every one of them.

Well, I guess that’s enough for today. Thanks so much for visiting my blog, and please pray for me and my family. Now go out and hug somebody!

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