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Baptism, Effects of the Conversation by Greg Mees

I greatly appreciate Second engaging in a conversation about the necessity of tying church membership to a believer’s baptism.  I appreciate even more the conclusion reached by members that now allows not only me, but also many other participants in the Second faith community, to become members regardless of the method of our baptism. For this I thank you.

One of the interesting outgrowths of this conversation topic at Second is the baptism conversations I had with my parents. I learned I was baptized at two years old by a four-foot-tall, blind priest at Our Lady of Lourdes in Columbia. I have known for as long as I can remember that I was baptized Catholic because that was the faith of my mother, at the time. I just had no idea who the priest had been for the event. I also learned my father traveled for his baptism to a large Presbyterian church in the Chicago area because that is where his mother was baptized. I never would have had these details had it not been for the dialogue at Second. For this I thank you.

The membership policy at Second which covers those who have not experienced a believers’ baptism is twofold. First, one must affirm their commitment to Jesus Christ. Second, one must affirm the present meaningfulness of their baptism. I find the first requirement much easier to acknowledge.  I feel I grow in my faith individually and through others. I feel I try to get others to grow in their faith as well. I feel I try to act in ways which Christ would have if he were presented with the same situations. I feel I use my spiritual gifts for the betterment of society. These things help me acknowledge my commitment to Christ. The second criterion is a little more difficult.  I am thankful that the word “present” is tied to the meaningfulness of my baptism.  I could not at two years old have understood the meaningfulness of my baptism.  However, I reflect on that event now and can say the baptism was an outward symbol by my family that they were going to raise me in the spirit of Christ. Through my spiritual journey from a Catholic baptism to a United Church of Christ confirmation to a United Methodist Church as a young adult and finally to Second, I know the meaningfulness of my baptism was the first outward sign of how Christ would be in my life. Pondering these two details would not have happened had Second not engaged in a baptism conversation. For this I thank you.

It is with a cheerful heart that I am changing my status from associate member to member at Second Baptist Church. For this I thank you.

Submitted by
Greg Mees


at Monday, October 2, 2017 | 0 comments
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World Communion by Connie McNeill

World Communion Sunday is a worldwide tradition begun in this century. The minister at Shadyside Presbyterian Church, Hugh Thomson Kerr, had the idea of World Communion Sunday during his year as moderator of the General Assembly in 1930. The tradition began four years later out of the Division of Stewardship at Shadyside. Why that group?

Their vision was to create a sign of Christian unity by bringing churches together through service. In serving together, they hoped for everyone to have reaffirmed how important the Church is and how each congregation is connected with one another. In 1936, the Presbyterian Church adopted the tradition. Four years later in 1940, the National Council of Churches endorsed it, and the tradition spread worldwide.

The primary focus for this first Sunday in October each year is unity or communion. To celebrate, we share in one Christian practice that is found in every church around the world—the breaking of bread and the sharing of the cup. Together, on one Sunday, we all celebrate our gratefulness for Christ's sacrifice again. Just think what it might be like to celebrate with the various types of bread found around the world—rice cakes, tortillas, gluten-free, soda bread, sourdough, pita…you get the idea.

In addition to unity, World Communion Sunday is an opportunity for us to partake of our Lord’s Supper as an opening of ourselves to different Christian traditions around the world. All brothers and sisters in Christ. As at Pentecost, praising in different languages. Remembering our Christ and each other as we serve this fractured world in unity.

Posted by Connie McNeill at Friday, September 29, 2017 | 0 comments
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Don't Spit Anywhere by Steve Hemphill

The first international mission trip I went on was with Harold Phillips.  Despite that, I've gone on several since.  I even went with him again the next year to the same places in China!  Our Chinese hosts may have thought we were intoxicated because we were laughing most of the time!   It was 1999 and 2000 when we visited Nanning, in the far South, near Vietnam (not to be confused with the much more famous Nanjing).  I had never heard of Nanning even though its population is more than all Missouri.  Everything in China is bigger and/or older than just about everything in the USA.

China is huge! Even though the population of China is over one billion, many parts are still very remote.  One village we visited was barely accessible by automobile.  Upon arrival, a village elder joked with us that the last foreigner they had seen was a retreating Japanese soldier! 

I had traveled extensively globally and often heard myself saying “Oh, that reminds me of “X” back home.”    I never said that in Southern China!  Nothing reminded me of home (except for the sign across the street from our hotel which announced the future arrival of Walmart). 

Speaking of signs, I am reminded of two that really caught my attention.  The first is from an airport which, to the Western eye, really looks odd!  It is an attempt to 'cover all the bases' and leave no stone unturned.”







The second sign is from a hospital and is just plain funny.  It represents the opposite sentiment: “keep it short and simple.”







I think we often fall prey to these same extreme sentiments.  Too often in our attempt to get the message across we list every possible scenario and try to cover every loophole.  Lawyers are particularly bad about this. Just try reading a federal/state statute for example.  If Jesus had tried to list every sin which is a 'no-go area,' it would make for a mighty long list and a boring read.  That's why he spoke in parables and allowed his listeners to 'fill in the blanks' and to apply their own understanding. 

Of course, the Old Testament does give us at least one 'short and simple' list which leaves less wiggle room...The Ten Commandments. 

May we lead our lives somewhere in between these two signs... flexible when trying to be inclusive yet clear and concise when trying to be understood.

Submitted by Steve Hemphill

at Wednesday, September 27, 2017 | 0 comments
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