Compassion Party and More

Our summer has been explosive!

Literally.

Last Sunday night several CCC teenagers and a few adults enjoyed fireworks after worship music, snacks, and spontaneous games at the Great American Family Picnic and Fireworks hosted by Bellevue Baptist Church.

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That wasn’t our first picnic of the summer. A couple of weeks earlier, CCC joined Northeast Side Church of Christ for a few hours of cooking and eating and praying and playing. About a week and a half later, the two churches had a joint worship time. These first steps of living the unity of Christ together have been God-glorifying and soul-enriching experiences.

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Yesterday a few of us helped with a summer camp hosted by Raleigh Community Church of Christ. We enjoyed interacting with children. The afternoon fun played into the overall work of the camp that positively influences children in the name of Jesus.

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We also were blessed to partner with Jacob’s Well recently in their homeless outreach called Compassion Party on the Road. We prepared sacks of food and delivered them to homeless Memphians. In addition to several CCC adults and teenagers, a couple of younger children participated. When we delivered meals, we didn’t just give and run. We engaged in conversation with the food recipients. We listened to their stories and offered to pray with them. I was pleasantly surprised when eight-year-old Lucas asked a homeless person, “May we pray for you?” Then we circled up, and Lucas said a beautiful prayer. I so enjoy witnessing young people reaching beyond their typical comfort zones to bless and to be blessed.

Next week some of us will partner with Sycamore View Church of Christ for a week of summer camp.

To learn how to support this work, click here.

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Racism and Christianity

“It breaks down racial barriers and lets teenagers put their faith into action.” Last week’s post quoted those words by Kristen Shoulders about Memphis Workcamp.

In my life the topic of racial barriers motivates me to serve in two ministry contexts. In one context, I get to join a congregation in living the Jesus Way in Memphis, a city plagued by a history of racial strife and inequality. In the other context, I get to study and speak about race and religion for academic audiences. The two contexts blend naturally, for practice and scholarship feed each other.

On June 8 I presented my paper, “Antiracist Rhetoric in Sermons by John Allen Chalk, 1968,” at the Christian Scholars’ Conference in Nashville.

In the aftermath of the assassination of Martin Luther King, Jr., Chalk used a series of four radio sermons to speak against racism. In response he received many letters, a few positive and many negative. Instead of speaking only about “safer” topics, he boldly addressed a most crucial social issue.

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Chalk prophetically proclaimed, “Tenets of racism . . . conflict with the teachings of the God of the Bible.”

He continued, “As surely as racism openly flaunts God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, so this idolatry also affects and corrupts our relationship with each other. Instead of ‘loving our neighbors,’ racism invariably promotes human pride, arrogance, and the disruption of any meaningful communication and association with those who differ with us.”

Bringing the Great Commission to his listeners’ minds, he said, “Racism would modify Christ’s words to mean, ‘Go ye therefore and teach your own kind,’ or even worse, ‘Go ye therefore and teach all nations, making sure to keep them in their place.'”

I won’t include the entire paper here, but these highlights can give you a taste of what I was blessed to study and speak about.

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In today’s context of “Black Lives Matter” and “All Lives Matter” and racial inequalities embedded in social structures, Christians need to hear words like those of John Allen Chalk. We need to face the prejudices in ourselves, and we need to prayerfully and intentionally counter our culture’s injustices by living as followers of Jesus.

I’m glad that I had the chance to study and speak about this in an academic context, but this is more than “ivory tower” scholarship. It’s practical in a deeply needed way.

To learn how to support this work financially, click here.

Thanks to Tanya Brice for organizing the conference session in which I presented.Thanks to Lipscomb University for hosting the conference. Thanks to Bobby Valentine for the photograph of the session presenters. Thanks to the library staff at Harding School of Theology for the picture of Chalk and for access to letters he received in response to his “Race Revolution” sermons. Thanks to the library staff at Abilene Christian University for access to audio recordings and original manuscripts of the sermons.
Thanks to John Allen Chalk for speaking boldly for Christ, providing feedback to a rough draft of my paper, and answering questions in my ongoing research.

Transforming Houses and Hearts

 Workcamp was the first full week of June. About 20 teenagers and adults from CCC joined hundreds more in this five-day event that brought together youth ministries from various cities to bless Memphians in the name of Jesus.

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According to Workcamp co-director Kristen Shoulders, “Workcamp is a chance for our churches to show the city we care. It helps our teenagers understand Jesus’ call to serve. It breaks down racial barriers and lets teenagers put their faith into action. It’s a great hands-on learning experience!”

Scraping and scraping and sawing and scraping and drilling and scraping and painting were more than physical activities to keep teenagers busy. These tasks were ways to open ourselves to God’s transforming Spirit in our lives and in the lives of the homeowners who let us paint their houses.

Click here for a video Logan Pulley made featuring the CCC group, and click here for local news coverage about Workcamp.

To learn about financially partnering in this work, please click here.

Thanks to Stacey Scott for the photos in the slideshow. Thanks to Oscar Tyler, Felicia and Matt Carter, Ken Pulley, Danny and Georgia Sisco, and Mid-South Christian College for hosting workers and helping at the worksites. Thanks to Barry Fowler who could do Workcamp with his eyes closed, and thanks to the God whose eyes never close.