Events Today & Tomorrow in Springfield — And a call for Peacekeeping Volunteers

Dear Brentwood Friends,

As the city of Springfield prepares for President Trump’s visit on Wednesday, there are three urgent items we wish to bring to your attention (details about each are below):
(1) First, we hope you can attend tonight’s “Standing With Our Neighbors: The Call for Moral Leadership” event, doors open at 6:00 p.m. at Drury University, sponsored by Faith Voices of Southwest Missouri and the Springfield NAACP. 
(2) Second, we are part of an effort to recruit peacemakers who are committed to the principles of non-violence. Both pro-Trump and anti-Trump gatherings are planned on Wednesday, and it’s vital that the highest degree of non-violent resistance (the kind embodied by Jesus, Gandhi, and King) be at the forefront of these demonstrations. 
(3)Third, we are trying to help local organizers identify and support “Legal Observers” who are willing to observe and make notes about the demonstrations and actions, including those on both the pro-Trump and anti-Trump sides, as well as police responses in the midst of this. 
Here are the details for each:
(1) Standing with Our Neighbors: The Call for Moral Leadership”

When: Tuesday, August 28, 2017, Doors open at 6:00 p.m.
Where: Reed Auditorium, Trustee Science Center, 729 N Drury Lane, corner of Drury Lane and Chestnut (Parking in Lots 1 and 2)
Before Trump’s visit we want to make our vision for Springfield and America clear–Our America, Our Missouri, Our Springfield is one where we stand with our neighbors. 

At a time when anger, division, intolerance, and fear have dominated the public square, we need to present a message of love, justice, and inclusion. 
Last week the president spoke out about our crumbling infrastructure. While our roads and bridges may be in trouble, our moral infrastructure is in even greater danger. Post-Charlottesville we need to come together and demonstrate that the beloved community still exists in Springfield, Missouri. Please help us send this message to our president and to the wider world.
A diverse group of community leaders will issue the call for taking a stand, for taking action, as so well stated by Rabbi Craig Sheff, “To live with a consciousness of our connection to others that guides our choices and our behavior. This is what God hopes will shape the kind of love we experience and bring into the world, the kind of moral leadership you and I provide for the world of tomorrow.”
(2) A Call for Peacekeepers. 
Do you have the ability to be a Peacekeeper working out of the principles of non-violent resistance? Read the following guidelines to see if this is for you:
1. Be warm, friendly, and helpful. The tone of the demonstration depends on how you respond to your fellow demonstrators, police, the media, and workers. Our attitude should be one of openness, friendliness and respect toward all officials and participants. Peacekeepers are not junior police, and this is no place for authority trips.
2. Be creative. Nonviolence does not mean being aloof or failing to act. You must be creative in your attempt to intervene and resolve a conflict.
3. Be firm, but not rigid. If you have agreed to be a peacekeeper you must have agreed to uphold the nonviolent principles of the demonstration. This occasionally means pushing people to do things they do not want to do. Stick to your commitment to nonviolence and strongly encourage others to do the same.
4. Be forthright. Deal fairly and honestly with people engaged it conflict, no matter what they have done. If you don’t know the answer to something, say so.
5. Be calm. It is a rare person who does not become angry or afraid under stress. Don’t think that you are weak if you have fears. The important thing in being a peacekeeper is learning how to control your feelings by remembering the overall goal of the action. Try to deal with fears and angers before the demonstration rather than during it.
6. Be forgiving. Give up resentment over the wrong you are trying to set right. Gandhi said, “Hate sin, and love the sinner.” This applies to conflicts between demonstrators as well as to conflicts with police, workers, onlookers…
7. Work as a team. You don’t have to do everything yourself. Use and rely on the support you can get from other peacekeepers and from your fellow demonstrators.
8. Do your job. If you feel you cannot perform a specific task due to either physical, emotional, or moral reasons, inform a peacekeeper coordinator so that a person can be found to replace you. It is not a disgrace to say “no, I can’t do it.” If you feel you cannot handle yourself nonviolently in a situation, notify another peacekeeper and step away from the conflict. It is better to step out than to risk an escalation of the conflict.
9. Peacekeepers will avoid other responsibilities during the time they ‘on duty” as peacekeepers, This includes caring for children, carrying signs or banners, working at a concession or table, distributing literature for other organizations, etc. 
Those who think they are well-equipped to be a peacemaker can meet at 11:30 a.m. on Wednesday, Aug. 30th at the Teamsters Hall on Division Street, just east of Glenstone. 
For questions or more details, contact Lisa Irmen (who lived in Logan-Rogersville) on Facebook. (We do not have an email address for her at this time.)
3) A call for legal observers.
Legal observers (LOs) must be willing to observe and make notes about the demonstrations and actions, including those on both the pro-Trump and anti-Trump sides, as well as police responses in the midst of the demonstrations. 
Legal observers cannot chant, wear slogans or buttons, carry signs, etc. The role of the legal observer is to protect the right to protest, and to document any arrests or other police activity with protestors. This may be used in court, so they have to be willing to sign a confidentiality statement after viewing an online training which lasts one hour. 
Johnna Boyce is coordinating these efforts. She will answer questions, serve as an LO herself, hand out LO shirts to those who volunteer, and serve as point person for all LOs. It is an important job if the action is large or if there is any attempt to curtail first amendment rights. 

These both seem possible tomorrow. For Johnda’s contact information, please email us at brentwoodchristianchurch at gmail dot com. 
Finally, as ministers, it is not our role to tell you what to do or how you should be involved in any or all of these activities. We just want to give you information so you can thoughtfully and prayerfully reflect on how (or if) you feel led to be part of these events in Springfield. We are happy to field any questions you might have; lots of these items are coming together rather quickly and we are trying to keep up so we may not know all of the answers to your questions.
All the best to you as all of us prayerfully reflect on how to best witness to Christ’s love, justice and compassion in these times. 
Phil and Emily

Brentwood Christian Church

1900 E. Barataria Street

Springfield, MO 65804

“A Movement for Wholeness in a Fragmented World”

Living the Questions Study Series – Begins Sept. 10th


New Fall Study Series Begins Sunday, Sept. 10 at 9am

Living the Questions 2.0 is a popular exploration of progressive Christianity featuring premier religious voices of our day.

  • We’ll gather in the Fellowship Hall with coffee, refreshments, and a conversational atmosphere similar to the community we shared during the Table worship service
  • Various leaders will facilitate conversation, including Phil
  • This isn’t a new Sunday School class, but is a study series open to everyone
  • Sessions will run every Sunday throughout the fall

Presenters include:
Nancy Ammerman
John Bell
Marcus Borg
Walter Brueggemann
Ron Buford
Diana Butler Bass
Minerva Carcaño
John B. Cobb Jr.
John Dominic Crossan
Yvette Flunder
James A. Forbes Jr.
Matthew Fox
Lloyd Geering
Hans Küng
Amy-Jill Levine
Megan McKenna
Brian McLaren
Robin Meyers
Rita Nakashima Brock
Culver “Bill” Nelson
Rebecca Ann Parker
Stephen Patterson
Helen Prejean
Barbara Rossing
Tex Sample
Elisabeth Schüssler Fiorenza
Bernard Brandon Scott
John Shelby Spong
Emilie Townes
Rick Ufford-Chase
Winnie Varghese
Mel White

Standing with Our Neighbors: Charlottesville

Here’s Rev. Snider’s Call to Action from Monday morning’s “Standing with Our Neighbor: Charlottesville” event sponsored by Faith Voices of Southwest Missouri and hosted by the Council of Churches of the Ozarks.

As people of faith we are called to put our beliefs into action, to practice what we preach. And in the face of the violence perpetrated by white supremacists, white nationalists, white nativists and neo-nazis, we must act.

And our actions must extend beyond mere condemnations. We must work toward building communities that value fairness, dignity, equality and justice.

We are not simply asking for all Americans to come together and listen to one another. No, we are asking Americans — particularly those that adhere to (or benefit from) white supremacy to do the hard work of repentance. There is no right and left on this issue, there is only right and wrong. Until white supremacists — and those who benefit from white supremacy — acknowledge this and confess this will true healing and reconciliation be possible.

Secondly, we are calling on all who believe in the values of fairness, dignity, equality and justice — whether you identify as religious or not — to recognize that in times like this, silence is nothing less than betrayal. We must not allow racism to go unchecked. Demeaning rhetoric — whether at work or at church or wherever — has no good value in our society, especially when it’s casually used to reinforce a problematic status quo that manifests itself not just in words but in death-dealing societal structures. When it comes to the violence of racism, it’s not solely located in white nationalist terrorism. It is far too easy for white Americans, who are not impacted by the daily realities of racism — of what it means to live daily life as a black or brown person in a country not only birthed in slavery but long supported by structures of white supremacy through Jim Crow and beyond — it is far too easy not to recognize the urgency of working toward race equity and justice here and now. But we must stand together and raise our voices so these principles are not just ideas, but lived realities. The violence and hate in Charlottesville was horrific, but so are the daily injustices of discrimination in the structures of society, whether it be through the prison industrial complex that disproportionately affects black and brown persons, or public school systems across the country that may not technically be segregated but are segregated in terms of funding and resourcing. This list goes on, and we must demand that our societal structures reflect the fairness, dignity, equality and justice which we say we value, even if it comes at a cost. Otherwise we will fail to move forward and will be weighed down by the sins of our past, and all of our best rhetoric will mean nothing.

We are also called to hold our officials accountable, and this extends to every level, from Springfield to Washington.

We applaud the city’s condemnation of the violence and racism in Charlottesville and ask that city officials do everything possible to build a fair and just Springfield.

We also applaud the unequivocal condemnation of white supremacy by politicians like Marco Rubio, John McCain and Paul Ryan, who have called it out for the evil that it is, and we further demand that they — along with all of our elected leaders including Sen. McCaskill, Sen. Blunt, and Representative Long — ensure that white supremacy and the alt-right have no place in the administration of a country that aspires for liberty and justice for all.

With this in mind, we demand that extremist presidential advisors like Steve Bannon and Sebastian Gorka be fired immediately because of their ties to an alt-right white neo-Nazi nationalism that is not representative of the wishes and desires of a country known as the land of the free and the home of the brave.

Lastly, we hold the president of the United States accountable for his reckless rhetoric that has only served to embolden and strengthen white supremacists since he first announced his run for office. Obviously it would be absurd to say that the problem of white supremacy and nationalism began with President Trump — of course not, for America’s original sin of racism has been around ever since this nation was built on the backs of slaves. But it is naive to think that a posture of perpetual bullying — in which the president consistently demeans and dehumanizes the dignity of others — serves to reduce, rather than embolden, white nationalists whose violence is predicated on demeaning and dehumanizing the dignity of others.

It was appropriate for the justice department to label Saturday’s murder of Heather Heyer, a counterprotestor killed when the car of a white nationalist was turned into a murderous weapon, an act of domestic terrorism. The administration now needs to condemn the white nationalism in the president’s inner circle and work to build trust with the American people so President Trump is not simply viewed as a puppet of the alt-right. His personal and unequivocal denouncements of white nationalistic terrorism would be a step in the right direction, and we are still waiting for him to personally address this.

As faith voices, we further ask that religious leaders refuse to lend their support to policies and leaders that perpetuate racism, rather than stand against racism. The church has a very checkered past in this regard, and we must do better. We will be judged by our actions, by history, and by God.

Thank you.

Why Christian? A Sermon Series for Those Who Doubt


A lot of times we’re told that we can’t have any doubts as Christians. We are led to believe that doubting is a sign of weakness, or a lack of faith. But the truth of the matter is that all of us, from one time to another, will experience doubt. We will have questions about our faith. It’s part of being human, and there’s nothing wrong with it. Indeed, having questions–and being open and honest about them–is important. It helps us reflect deeply on our faith, and allows us to sort through what matters most. In the long run, it helps us grow as human beings and as Christians. In fact, to hide from our questions, or to try to pretend they don’t exist, actually keeps us from growing (especially when we’re told we should believe things that simply don’t make sense in the modern world). With that in mind, this sermon series will explore some of the biggest questions people have about being Christian. It will help us reflect on the ways that faith is compatible with the biggest questions we ask. It will help us delve more deeply into what it means to be Christian, and to be human.

August 6: Why the Bible?

August 13: Why Jesus?

August 20: Why God?

August 27: Why the Church?

September 3: Why Prayer?

September 10: Why Not Another Religion (or No Religion at All)?

September 17: Why Christian?

Vacation Bible School — July 17-20


July 17-20

6:00 – 8:00 p.m.

Abundance Orchard, where faith grows and hungry people are fed, is our curriculum for this year. The dates are Monday through Thursday, July 17-20 from 6-8PM. Last year we followed the Old Testament; this year we will follow the New Testament. If you would like to learn more, please visit and click on the link for Vacation Bible School.

Questions about the new Missouri Photo ID bill?

Denise Lieberman, attorney for the Missouri Voter Protection Coalition for the Advancement Project who just filed suit over the new Missouri Photo ID bill, will speak at a special joint meeting of the NAACP, League of Women Voters, and Faith Voices, at 5:30 PM, Brentwood Christian Church, Tuesday evening. The church is located at 1900 E. Barataria; meet in the sanctuary, east entrance (red doors).

Denise Lieberman is a St. Louis lawyer and community activist who specializes in civil liberties, civil rights and constitutional law. She currently serves as a staff attorney and Missouri Voter Protection Advocate for Advancement Project, a national civil rights and racial justice organization based in Washington D.C. She also teaches courses on constitutional law and civil rights in the Department of Political Science and School of Law at Washington University in St. Louis, where she helped coordinate the development of the Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse. Previously the Legal Director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Eastern Missouri, Denise is active in numerous causes supporting equality and civil rights, and served as chair of the Individual Rights and Responsibilities Committee of the Bar Association of Metropolitan St. Louis and on several Boards in the community.

New Series: “Reading the Bible Again for the First Time — Taking the Bible Seriously but Not Literally”

In this six-week sermon series inspired by Marcus Borg’s book by the same name, we’ll explore what it means to take the Bible seriously, if not always literally. For those interested in digging deeper, an accompanying Wednesday evening study will be offered by Phil as well.*


“Many Christians mistakenly believe that their only choice is either to reconcile themselves to a fundamentalist reading of scripture (a “literal-factual” approach) or to simply reject the Bible as something that could bring meaning and value into their lives. In Reading the Bible Again for the First Time, Marcus Borg shows how instead we can freshly appreciate all the essential elements of the Old and New Testaments—from Genesis to Revelation—in a way that can open up a new world of intelligent faith.

In Reading the Bible Again for the First Time, Borg reveals how it is possible to reconcile a scientific and critical way of thinking with our deepest spiritual needs, leading to an insightful experience of ancient text. This unique book invites every reader—whatever his or her religious background—to engage the Bible, to wrestle with its meaning, to explore its mysteries, and to understand its relevance. Reading the Bible Again for the First Time shows us how to encounter the Bible in a fresh, new way that rejects the limits of simple literalism and opens up the rich possibility of living a life of authentic faith.”

April 23What is the difference between a “Literal-Factual” way of reading the Bible and a “Historical-Metaphorical” way of reading it, and why does this matter?

April 30Reading the Creation Stories Again

May 7Reading the Hebrew Bible Again

May 14Reading the Gospels Again

May 21Reading Paul Again

May 28Reading Revelation Again

From the preface:

“Conflict about the Bible is the single most divisive issue among Christians in North America today. And because of the importance of Christianity in the culture of the United States, conflict about the Bible is also central to what have been called ‘the culture wars.’

The conflict is between two very different ways of reading the Bible. In language [used throughout] this book, it is a conflict between a ‘literal-factual’ way of reading the Bible and a ‘historical-metaphorical’ way of reading it. The former is central to Christian fundamentalists and many conservative Christians. The latter has been taught in seminaries of mainline denominations for the better part of a century. Most clergy have known about it for a long time…

[A central purpose of this series] is to address the present conflict about the Bible within the church and to provide Christians with a persuasive way of seeing and reading their sacred scriptures, a way that takes the Bible seriously without taking it literally.”

What others are saying:

“Borg’s analysis is profound, challenging and engrossing; it will enable readers to use scripture creatively once again and truly make it a bridge for the divine.” (Karen Armstrong, author of A History of God)

“This welcome book removes many of the barriers that separate thoughtful people from the wisdom of the Bible.” (Rabbi Harold Kushner, author of When Bad Things Happen to Good People)

“[A]n accessible book, almost entirely devoid of scholarly jargon but filled with scholarly insight.” (Christian Century)

*Accompanying Wednesday evening sessions will be held from 6:30-7:30pm on April 19 and 26 and May 3, 10, and 17. The sermons preached are part of the 10:00am Sunday worship service at Brentwood.

Introducing our New Children’s Minister

After working closely with the joint search team from Brentwood Christian Church and Trinity Presbyterian Church, we are thrilled to introduce the Rev. Sarah Stephenson as the new Children’s Minister for Brentwood and Trinity. We will officially welcome her to our church’s ministry team on Sunday, April 23rd. There will be several opportunities for you and your family to get to know Sarah, so be on the lookout for more information.


The Rev. Sarah Stephenson

About Sarah…
Sarah is currently a seventh grade English and Reading teacher at Pleasant View Middle School. Her Bachelor’s degree is in Elementary Education from MSU and her Master of Divinity degree is from Brite Divinity School, TCU. She is an ordained minister in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ).

She enjoyed serving in a variety of ministry positions for over 20 years before entering teaching. She has worked extensively with children in as many years and loves the creativity and passion working with kids affords. She is eager for kids to meet Fire Dog, her large Dalmatian arm puppet with a tender heart.

She is married to Rick, who is an LCSW outpatient clinician at Burrell Behavioral Health. Sarah is a doting aunt to two nieces and four nephews and a loving dog mother to FiFi, a 50 pound spoiled standard poodle.

Sarah loves to make homemade cards and enjoys paper crafts, reading, writing, and a whole list of other activities too long to name.

She says she can’t wait to begin serving the children of Brentwood and Trinity. We are so pleased to welcome Sarah to the ministry teams of Brentwood Christian and Trinity Presbyterian, and we look forward to the wonderful future ahead for the children and families of our churches.