Commentary

Doing the next right thing

Posted on Jun 30, 2018

I wear a little pin on my employee identification badge that says "Chaplain," but I don't get much chance to make a typical chaplain visit these days.  

This is not because I don't still love those one-on-ones. In fact the sacredness of those visits is what led me into Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) supervisory training 20 years ago.

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These are my friends

Posted on Jun 30, 2018

Tea and Jilda pictured above are my friends -- my Muslim friends. These are the kinds of people now barred from entering the United States. Tuesday's ruling of the Supreme Court does not speak for me or for the Alliance of Baptists. We reject any ruling that discriminates on the basis of religion, race, culture or country of origin.  

Why this photo? It puts a human face on the ruling of the Supreme Court upholding the travel ban that focuses on predominately Muslim nations.

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The Second Amendment has limits

Posted on Jun 30, 2018

When the Parkland mass shooting occurred in February I came to believe, and still do, that our cynical national conversation regarding gun control would change. It was the sudden prophetic and articulate burst of political activism by young people that captured our collective imagination. Emma Gonzales and other students spoke truth to power.

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When you are ready to do more than talk, let's talk

Posted on Jun 30, 2018

Near the end of a conversation I was having with an African American pastor, he said, "When you're ready to do more than talk, let's talk." As a white pastor of a predominantly white congregation, I had earned those words.  

In some ways I was more hopeful about the Church becoming a place of racial reconciliation when I graduated from seminary 30 years ago than I am today. Though maybe naiveté was just masquerading as hope.

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Split-screen world

Posted on Jun 30, 2018

Editor's note: This reflection by Steve Hyde, co-pastor of Ravensworth Baptist Church in Annandale, Va., first appeared in the church's newsletter on May 15, the day after the opening of the United States Embassy in Jerusalem. 

I would love to write a happy column for this edition of the newsletter. Our life together at RBC gives us plenty to be happy about, and is a living source of deep joy for many of us. Yet, I cannot bring myself to write a split-screen column, one in which I'm exulting in the dynamic life of our congregation, while at the same time feeling enraged and distressed by yesterday's killings in Gaza. 

Yesterday's split-screen events on television were surreal and infuriating, in one corner a happy gathering of smiling faces at the new United States embassy in Jerusalem; in the other corner smoke and fire in Gaza, Israeli soldiers, and Palestinian bodies lying on the ground. The list of 43 fatalities I've seen is incomplete (the current number is 60) but includes one 14 year-old boy, one 15, and three 16. Thirteen were in their 30's, and 23 in their 20's.

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Everyone has value

Posted on Jun 30, 2018

Sometimes I have a hospice patient who has lived a long time and is frail and wonders why she or he is still alive. They may say something like, "Why is God keeping me alive? I can't do anything for anybody else." Many of them have lived lives of helping or supporting others. I thought of these patients when I came across the following ancient fable.

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Renewed by the kinship built between Baptists and Muslims

Posted on Jun 30, 2018

"When we encounter diversity it is an opportunity for us to acknowledge our limits." In these words from Dr. Raimundo Barreto, assistant professor of world Christianity at Princeton Theological Seminary, I heard God's invitation to listen deeply and intentionally at this Third National Baptist-Muslim Dialogue April 16-19. 

As Dr. Barreto spoke, I looked around the room at the Anglo, African American, Latino, Asian, and Arab brothers and sisters who had traveled across North America to Green Lake, Wis. 

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'That's How I Got to Memphis'

Posted on Jun 30, 2018

There's a Tom T. Hall song that expresses the effort required by love. Love will lead a lover to a faraway city to help a friend who is in trouble. If necessary, it will, "follow the trail of her tears." The song tells the haunting tale: That's How I Got to Memphis

Come to think of it, that is my story, too. I finally got to Memphis

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How congregations can care for creation

Posted on Jun 27, 2018

The recent Alliance Annual Gathering, which took place under the theme "Earth: Beloved Community," was so full of information I could not write on my legal pad fast enough to capture it all. From Ched Meyers' studies, diverse panel discussions and sermons by Mariama White-Hammond and Deborah DeMars Conrad, to Ben Brabson's scientific explanations - the ideas kept rolling like waters cascading down a mountainside. 

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'A watershed giving me life'

Posted on Jun 27, 2018

I thought I was tending the garden, but the garden was tending me. Although I am a long-time member of a long-time Alliance of Baptists congregational partner, this was my first time attending an Alliance Annual Gathering; and what a garden it was.

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