Weekly Newsletter 8-23-19

Click here for the latest E-pistle with this week’s news and updates. [Subscribe to E-pistle]

Featured Story:

New series begins Sept 4th: “Creating Spiritual Practices to Heal & Transform the World: How Engaging the Ancient Gospel of Christ is Essential for Dismantling White Supremacy Today”

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The hold of white supremacy remains strong in the United States today, and it is deeply wedded to versions of Christianity that emerged in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. In this series, we’ll draw on the work of the theologian Thandeka (as well as others) and explore:

  • The history of slaveholder religion and its connections to current manifestations of white supremacy and the Religious Right;
  • How liberal versions of Christianity can still be complicit in white supremacy today;
  • Tools for creating spiritual practices to heal and transform the world focused on (1) the gospel of Christ, (2) the witness of scripture, and (3) living traditions of organization and activism rooted in liberation and justice.

Sessions will run on Wednesday nights at Brentwood Christian Church:

  • Sept. 4th through Oct. 9th
  • 6:30-7:30 p.m. (in Room 10)
  • Facilitated by Rev. Snider

Several of the reflections are derived from the following texts (those interested in engaging more deeply might wish to read them during this study):

This event is free and open to the public. Childcare is provided.

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Image Source: Red Letter Christians

Rock the House!

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Purchase tickets

RSVP on Facebook

Concert begins at 6:30 p.m.

Silent Auction featuring local artists begins at 5:30 p.m.

100% of the proceeds benefit the following organizations:

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Featured artists include:

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Broadway performer Kim Crosby, Ron Butler, David Savage, Robert Reed, The Foggy River Boys, Greg Austin, Greg Burris, Emily Bowen-Marler, Bruce Murrell, Jimmy Frink, and more.

Weekly Newsletter 8-16-19

Click here for the latest E-pistle with this week’s news and updates. [Subscribe to E-pistle]

Featured Story:

Relay of Kindness (in support of immigrants)

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Brentwood (as part of Faith Voices) will be participating in a Relay of Kindness to get much needed supplies to Mission: Border Hope in Eagle Pass, TX to help migrant families who are in need. This will be done in a unique way so that many hearts, many hands, many trucks, and many drivers are involved. The relay will make it to Springfield on September 12, so we are hoping to collect items by Sunday, September 8. On that day, after worship, the youth will assemble the kits.

The items we need you all to donate are:

  • hand towels
  • washcloths
  • bar soaps
  • toothbrushes
  • toothpaste
  • nail clippers
  • band-aids
  • plus gallon size Ziploc bags to hold the items for each kit.

Our goal is to be able to send at least 50 kits so we need your help!

Immigrant Food Pantry
We are also continuing our collection for the immigrant food pantry hosted here at Brentwood. In the cases where the main breadwinner in the family is deported, some families will find themselves in a bind because organizations such as Crosslines and Salvation Army require social security numbers in order for people to receive food.  It is vital for those in such situations to have access to food, so please bring non-perishable food items and place them in the marked bins next to the Crosslines barrel. Here are the items we need the most:

  • Tuna or canned meat (pouches are best)
  • Peanut butter
  • Soups, stews, or beans
  • Boxed meals, pasta, dry beans, and cheese
  • Canned fruits and vegetables

Announcing the Bible Recovery Project

What is the Bible Recovery Project?

The Bible Recovery Project at Brentwood Christian Church is an ongoing, sustained effort that’s designed to help people of all ages encounter the value of scripture without the trappings of rigid fundamentalism.

This takes place in a variety of ways in the life of our congregation. For example, our Sunday morning Sunday Schools for children and youth use Seasons of the Spirit curriculum, which is focused on faithful, responsible, and progressive interpretations of each week’s scripture passages from the lectionary. [What is the lectionary?] The same passages are part of our Sunday morning worship service, so participants of all ages can share in conversation about the meaning and significance of the texts.

Our Wednesday evening programs focus on different characters and themes that emerge from the biblical texts, and participants are able to reflect on how these themes are relevant for following in the way of Jesus today. Children and youth use curriculum from Sparkhouse, a progressive publisher, and Rev. Snider leads various studies for adults that focus on understanding the Bible and Christianity from a progressive perspective.

Why have a Bible Recovery Project?

The Bible may be the best-selling book of all time, but it’s also the most controversial. Many people — for good reason — often feel a disconnect from it. Some have grown up in churches where the Bible is used as a weapon, often against LGBTQ+ individuals, women, and others who are frequently the targets of discrimination. Others have been taught that science and the Bible are incompatible, and that taking the Bible seriously means having to believe untenable scientific claims — like the earth being a few thousand years old, for example. Mark Twain spoke for many when he said it’s hard to take the Bible seriously if it means having to believe twelve unbelievable things before breakfast!

What’s unfortunately missing in these kinds of scenarios are deeply grounded, progressive approaches to the Bible. Approaches that don’t think science and religion are in conflict… Approaches that affirm that many of the stories in the Bible (like the creation stories) were originally intended to be understood in poetic, symbolic, and figurative ways, not scientific ones… Approaches that recognize that the Bible presents lots of different perspectives on lots of different subjects, and doesn’t always get it right (people are often surprised to learn that popular Bible Belt ideas like the inerrancy and infallibility of scripture are actually modern developments that emerged in the wake of the Enlightenment, when church leaders anxiously feared their authority was being replaced by scientific inquiry)… Approaches that help readers reflect on the most responsible ways to interpret scripture, from both an academic and faith-based perspective (which also do not have to be in conflict, contrary to what we’re often taught here in the Bible Belt).

Here at Brentwood, we take the Bible very seriously, but not always literally. In fact, part of taking the Bible seriously means not taking all of it literally, because the Bible includes lots of different genres, and not all of them were intended to be taken literally in the first place (understanding various genres helps the Bible come alive in ways that are otherwise obscured by literalism). Here at Brentwood, we listen for how the sacred spirit of love is at work when we read the Bible — sometimes even including how it challenges us to critique certain passages in the Bible.

St. Augustine — arguably the most influential Christian theologian in history — once said that, “If love is the only measure, then the only measure of love is love without measure.” Accordingly, we strive to interpret the Bible through the sacred spirit of love, holding fast to another dictum from St. Augustine: “If when reading scripture you do not build up this twin love of God and neighbor, you have not yet understood scripture.”

The incomparable Rachel Held Evans, a beloved saint of the church who passed away much too soon, provides lots of examples of how this approach to interpretation works.

Here at Brentwood, we wish to recover the revolutionary scope and arc of the Bible, which is often lost on modern hearers (especially those who interpret from dominant positions in society). We want children to grow up in a church in which the Bible isn’t used as a weapon, but instead as a resource for helping them cultivate deep spiritual lives by listening to the sacred spirit of love as they read these stories. For they are stories about God’s call to liberate all of those who are oppressed; stories about brave people of faith who save the world from violence and warfare; stories about holding the powerful accountable when they fail to do justice for the poor; stories that remind us that every human being has value and worth in the eyes of God and nothing can change that; stories about radical figures like Jesus, who embodied transformative love by standing up for what was right no matter the cost and inspiring others to do the same; stories about communities that chose to live counter-culturally, in the name of Jesus, shedding off the hierarchies of greed and excess and empire and living into a beloved community rooted in simplicity, dignity, and equality (with women as leaders too!); stories about love and loss and sorrow and regret, and the desire for wholeness and healing (which is shared by all of us, whether we identify as religious or not); stories about grace and forgiveness being extended even (especially!) to those who seem to deserve it the least; stories about redemption and transformation and change open to everyone; stories that provide an entry point for reflecting on who God is and what God is like (the Bible invites us to consider lots of different options in this regard!), what human beings are like (for good and for ill), and how we should live (sometimes by learning what *not* to do).

Simply put, we don’t wish to throw the baby out with the bath water. Instead, we engage the texts deeply and listen to the sacred spirit of love as we read them. This doesn’t mean we always agree with the texts (or one another’s interpretations of the texts :)), nor does it mean that the only source for wisdom is the Bible. But it does mean we listen for the conversations the texts provoke, and the sacred encounters that can emerge while reading, studying, and listening to the spirit of love. If you’re interested in understanding scripture from a progressive perspective (we know not everybody wants to and that’s okay!), or returning to the Bible in a way that provides value and meaning to your life, we hope to help you engage the Bible with fresh eyes and a full heart, so that you might experience the beauty and wonder that it harbors.

Frederick Buechner once likened scripture to a window: “If you look at a window, you see flyspecks, dust, the crack where Junior’s Frisbee hit it. But if you look through a window, you can see the world beyond.”

Additional Resources

For those interested in going deeper, here are some wonderful introductions to progressive approaches to the Bible:

Inspired: Slaying Giants, Walking on Water, and Loving the Bible Again, by Rachel Held Evans

“If the Bible isn’t a science book or an instruction manual, then what is it? What do people mean when they say the Bible is inspired? When Rachel Held Evans found herself asking these questions, she began a quest to better understand what the Bible is and how it is meant to be read. What she discovered changed her–and it will change you too. Drawing on the best in recent scholarship and using her well-honed literary expertise, Evans examines some of our favorite Bible stories and possible interpretations, retelling them through memoir, original poetry, short stories, soliloquies, and even a short screenplay. Undaunted by the Bible’s most difficult passages, Evans wrestles through the process of doubting, imagining, and debating Scripture’s mysteries. The Bible, she discovers, is not a static work but is a living, breathing, captivating, and confounding book that is able to equip us to join God’s loving and redemptive work in the world.”

Reading the Bible Again for the First Time: Taking the Bible Seriously, but Not Literally, by Marcus Borg

“One of the vital challenges facing thoughtful people today is how to read the Bible faithfully without abandoning our sense of truth and history. Reading the Bible Again for the First Time provides a much-needed solution to the problem of how to have a fully authentic yet contemporary understanding of the scriptures. Many mistakenly believe there are no choices other than fundamentalism or simply rejecting the Bible as something that can bring meaning to our lives. Answering this modern dilemma, acclaimed author Marcus Borg reveals how it is possible to reconcile the Bible with both a scientific and critical way of thinking and our deepest spiritual needs, leading to a contemporary yet grounded experience of the sacred texts.

This seminal book shows you how to read the Bible as it should be examined—in an approach the author calls ‘historical-metaphorical.’ Borg explores what the Scriptures meant to the ancient communities that produced and lived by them. He then helps us to discover the meaning of these stories, providing the knowledge and perspective to make the wisdom of the Bible an essential part of our modern lives. The author argues that the conventional way of seeing the Bible’s origin, authority, and interpretation has become unpersuasive to millions of people in our time, and that we need a fresh way of encountering the Bible that takes the texts seriously but not literally, even as it takes seriously who we have become.
Borg traces his personal spiritual journey, describing for readers how he moved from an unquestioning childhood belief in the biblical stories to a more powerful and dynamic relationship with the Bible as a sacred text brimming with meaning and guidance. Using his own experience as an example, he reveals how the modern crisis of faith is itself rooted in the misinterpretation of sacred texts as historical record and divine dictation, and opens readers to a truer, more abundant perspective.

This unique book invites everyone—whatever one’s religious background—to engage the Bible, wrestle with its meaning, explore its mysteries, and understand its relevance. Borg shows us how to encounter the Bible in a fresh way that rejects the limits of simple literalism and opens up rich possibilities for our lives.”

Weekly Newsletter 8-9-19

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Featured Story:

You Did It! (Let’s Keep Going)

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Brentwooders love books—thank you! In the past two weeks, you have collectively given $200 so that every child in Amanda Snider’s Wonder Years classroom at Fremont can get a new Scholastic book once a month throughout the school year!

Special thanks to FOUR (!) donors who have contacted me to offer to give more if necessary so that no child will be left out. (I am proud to know you thoughtful people.)

We have met our first goal, but why stop there? This is a great opportunity–Scholastic offers a few titles each month for $1 so $10 supports a child’s at-home reading for an entire year—and we know that Amanda will put any extra book money to good use. Please make checks payable to Scholastic Book Club and put it in my mailbox (Butcher/Cline) or mail to the church office by Aug. 15.

Thanks in advance for sharing your love of books!


We’re also still collecting school supplies for students in low-income districts:

Let’s give students in low-income districts an extra boost by making sure they have the supplies to have a great school year. Look for the Ready, Set, Supply! basket in the narthex. Thank you in advance!

The supplies needed are:

  • Glue-4oz bottles
  • Glue sticks
  • Crayons-24 count
  • Markers-8 washable
  • Dry erase markers
  • Construction paper
  • Clear contact paper
  • Washable paint
  • Play dough
  • Tape-scotch, packing, masking
  • Pipe cleaners
  • Zip lock bags- sandwich and gallon
  • White/brown paper lunch sacks
  • Paper plates-plain white
  • Treasure box items such as Happy Meal toys
  • Wooden puzzles (24 pieces or less), especially the magnet ones

Questions?? Contact the church office (brentwoodchristianchurch@gmail.com).

Weekly Newsletter 8-2-19

Click here for the latest E-pistle with this week’s news and updates. [Subscribe to E-pistle]

Featured Story:

New Community Life Small Group Now Forming

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Companions in Christ: The Way of Grace is a 9-week small group experience in spiritual formation. Group members will complete readings and exercises/journaling at home, then come together for a weekly 90-minute group meeting. The group experience will help participants discover classic and traditional spiritual practices that form rather than inform and encourage inner and outward expressions of the faith.

Contact the church office with questions or to register (brentwoodchristianchurch@gmail.com).

New series begins Sept. 4th: “Creating Spiritual Practices to Heal and Transform the World: How Engaging the Ancient Gospel of Christ is Essential for Dismantling White Supremacy Today”

Copy of Copy of The answer to a religious right that has demonized progressives isn't a religious left that returns the favor. It's a prophetic faith that exposes the divide-and-conquer tactics of white supremacy and-2

The hold of white supremacy remains strong in the United States today, and it is deeply wedded to versions of Christianity that emerged in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. In this series, we’ll draw on the work of the theologian Thandeka (as well as others) and explore:

  • The history of slaveholder religion and its connections to current manifestations of white supremacy and the Religious Right;
  • How liberal versions of Christianity can still be complicit in white supremacy today;
  • Tools for creating spiritual practices to heal and transform the world focused on (1) the gospel of Christ, (2) the witness of scripture, and (3) living traditions of organization and activism rooted in liberation and justice.

Sessions will run on Wednesday nights at Brentwood Christian Church:

  • Sept. 4th through Oct. 9th
  • 6:30-7:30 p.m. (in Room 10)
  • Facilitated by Rev. Snider

Several of the reflections are derived from the following texts (those interested in engaging more deeply might wish to read them during this study):

This event is free and open to the public. Childcare is provided.

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Image Source: Red Letter Christians

Newsletter 7-26-19

Click here for the latest E-pistle with this week’s news and updates.

Featured story:

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Our friends at Trinity Presbyterian are delighted to be hosting the Springfield Heartland Day Camp for Summer 2019, and they’ve invited us to participate! This week long experience is specially designed for kids who are completing grades K-6. Each day of camp runs from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM and is filled with a huge range of activities to help campers grow closer to God and closer to each other. From Bible stories and songs to high-energy games and water time, there is something for everyone at Day Camp! Campers will enjoy lunch and a snack each day, included in the registration.

Spaces are limited, so learn more and sign up right now at: https://www.heartlandcamps.org/springfield

Registration is only $60 per camper for the whole week of activities, including lunch and a snack each day. If two or more kids from the same family attend, each camper gets a $10 discount. There are some limited scholarships available; contact us for more information.

Trinity is thrilled to be partnering with the following local congregations for Day Camp: Hillcrest Presbyterian Church, Westminster Presbyterian Church, Woodland Heights Presbyterian Church, Brentwood Christian Church.

Disciples leaders respond to the humanitarian crisis on the southern border

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“For the Lord your God…executes justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the sojourner, giving him food and clothing. Love the sojourner therefore; for you were sojourners in the land of Egypt.” (Deuteronomy 10:17-19)

Jesus said, “Let the little children come to me, and do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the kingdom of heaven belongs.” (Matthew 19:14)

Dear Church,

Our sacred scriptures are filled with stories of uprooted peoples and prophets in movement, with constant presence and direction from God.  We are inspired by the leading of our Lord who liberated the Israelites, comforted the community as they faced exile and later repatriation, and guided Jesus’ family to safety as they fled persecution under Herod.  We therefore are ready to live out our call to demonstrate radical hospitality and welcome today’s immigrants, refugees, and asylum seekers who are likewise searching for protection from persecution.

Our hearts grieve the deaths of children on the U.S.-Mexico border and in detention facilities while in U.S. custody which are at odds with our call to welcome.  We urge the release of immigrant children and adults held captive within our land in detention holding centers reported in recent weeks by the Office of Inspector General to have “issues of dangerous overcrowding” and sub-standard hygiene requiring “corrective action…critical to the immediate health and safety needs of detainees.” We are appalled by the “prolonged detention of children and adults,” despite regulations aimed to ensure children are housed only in sanitary conditions, are released without unnecessary delay, and would be placed in the least restrictive conditions.

We remember how Jesus announced his ministry “to preach good news to the poor… proclaim release to the captives and…set at liberty those who are oppressed” (Luke 4:18).  We reaffirm our previous commitments against family separations and efforts to end child detention, and we again demand these practices that are keeping children detained in dozens of facilities be ended.  Together with the Oklahoma Conference of Churches, we speak out against the housing of immigrant children at Fort Sill Army post where Japanese Americans were interned during World War II, and “cannot stand silent as this history is repeated with innocent children who will, no doubt, incur trauma and life-altering consequences.”   

Because we believe that love can transcend every cultural divide, we join with ecumenical and interfaith partners to urge all persons seeking asylum be granted full due process and opportunities to pursue protections as guaranteed by national and international laws.  We confess US foreign policies have contributed to exploitation of Central American countries and created root conditions that encourage persons to migrate.

As people of faith, we are eager to “not neglect to show hospitality to strangers” (Hebrews 13:2) and to strengthen our efforts to become “Immigrant Welcoming Congregations.”  Therefore, we urge our government leaders to positively and urgently address the crisis at the border; such as establishing regional refugee processing centers, strengthening asylum protections in the US and Mexico, modernizing ports of entry, using existing funding to US Customs and Border Protection to hire child welfare professionals, supporting proven and community-based alternatives to detention, and addressing the root causes of migration.

In this critical moment, aware that our “ancestor Jacob was a wandering Aramean who went to live as a foreigner in Egypt…but…became a large and mighty nation” (Deuteronomy 26:5, NLT), we seek to faithfully assume our responsibilities to care for the sojourner.  For we remember Jesus’ words that “as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me” (Matthew 25:40).

In Christ’s love,
(continue scrolling to see signatories and sign up form)

 

Porque el Señor su Dios… hace justicia al huérfano y a la viuda, y que ama también al extranjero y le da pan y vestido. Así que ustedes deben amar a los extranjeros, porque ustedes fueron extranjeros en Egipto.” (Deuteronomio 10: 17-19)

Entonces Jesús dijo: “Dejen que los niños se acerquen a mí. No se lo impidan, porque el reino de los cielos es de los que son como ellos.” (Mateo 19:14)

Querida Iglesia,

Nuestras sagradas escrituras están llenas de historias de pueblos desarraigados y profetas en movimiento, con constante presencia y dirección de Dios. Nos inspiramos en el liderazgo de nuestro Señor que liberó a los israelitas, consoló a la comunidad mientras se enfrentaban al exilio y luego a la repatriación, y guió a la familia de Jesús a un lugar seguro mientras huían de la persecución bajo Herodes. Por lo tanto, estamos listos para cumplir nuestro llamado a demostrar una hospitalidad radical y dar la bienvenida a los inmigrantes, refugiados y solicitantes de asilo de hoy en día que también están buscando protección contra la persecución.

Nuestros corazones lloran la muerte de niños en la frontera de Estados Unidos con México y en centros de detención mientras se encuentran bajo la custodia de los Estados Unidos, lo que está en desacuerdo con nuestro llamado a recibir. Instamos a la liberación de niños y adultos inmigrantes que se encuentran cautivos dentro de nuestra tierra en centros de detención, mismos que de acuerdo al informe en las últimas semanas por la Oficina del Inspector General cuentan con “problemas de sobrepoblación peligroso” y una higiene deficiente que requiere “medidas correctivas … críticas para las necesidades inmediatas de salud y seguridad de los detenidos”. Nos sentimos horrorizados por la “detención prolongada de niños y adultos”, a pesar de las regulaciones destinadas a garantizar que los niños se alojen solo en condiciones sanitarias, sean liberados sin demoras innecesarias y se coloquen en las condiciones menos restrictivas.

Recordamos cómo Jesús anunció su ministerio “de predicar buenas nuevas a los pobres … proclamar la liberación a los cautivos y … poner en libertad a los oprimidos” (Lucas 4:18). Reafirmamos nuestros compromisos previos contra las separaciones familiares y los esfuerzos para poner fin a la detención de niños, y una vez más, exigimos que se ponga fin a estas prácticas que mantienen a los niños detenidos en docenas de instalaciones. Junto con la Conferencia de Iglesias de Oklahoma, nos manifestamos en contra de el alojamiento de los niños inmigrantes en el puesto del Ejército de Fort Sill donde los estadounidenses de origen japonés fueron internados durante la Segunda Guerra Mundial, y “no podemos permanecer en silencio mientras que esta historia se repite con niños inocentes que, sin duda, incurrirán trauma y consecuencias que alteran la vida”.   

Debido a que creemos que el amor puede trascender todas las divisiones culturales, nos unimos a compañeros ecuménicos e interreligiosos para instar que a toda persona que solicite asilo sea otorgada el debido proceso completo y las oportunidades para buscar protecciones como lo garantizan las leyes nacionales e internacionales.Confesamos que las políticas exteriores de los Estados Unidos han contribuido a la explotación de los países centroamericanos y han creado condiciones de raíz que alientan a las personas a migrar.

Como personas de fe, estamos ansiosos por “no dejan de practicar la hospitalidad a los extraños” (Hebreos 13: 2) y fortalecer nuestros esfuerzos para convertirnos en “Congregaciones de acogida de inmigrantes”. Por lo tanto, instamos a nuestros líderes gubernamentales a abordar de manera positiva y urgente la crisis en la frontera; como el establecimiento de centros regionales de procesamiento de refugiados, el fortalecimiento de las protecciones de asilo en los EE. UU. y México, la modernización de los puertos de entrada, el uso de fondos existentes para Aduanas y Protección de Fronteras de los EE. UU. para contratar profesionales de bienestar infantil, apoyando alternativas a la detención comprobadas y basadas en la comunidad, y abordando las causas fundamentales de la migración.

En este momento crítico, conscientes de que nuestro “antepasado Jacob era un arameo errante que fue a vivir como extranjero en Egipto … pero … se convirtió en una nación grande y poderosa” (Deuteronomio 26: 5, NTV), buscamos asumir fielmente nuestras responsabilidades de cuidar al viajero. Porque recordamos las palabras de Jesús que “les digo que todo lo que hicieron por uno de mis hermanos más pequeños, por mí lo hicieron” (Mateo 25:40).

En el amor de Cristo,

Add your own name via the form at the bottom of this page. Names will not appear automatically but will be added on a regular basis. Learn more about immigration issues.

Rev. Teresa “Terri” Hord Owens, General Minister and President
Rev. Dr. Timothy James, Associate General Minister and Administrative Secretary of the National Convocation
Rev. Dr. Sharon Stanley-Rea, Director, Disciples Home Missions Refugee & Immigration Ministries
Brad Lyons, Publisher, Christian Board of Publication/Chalice Press