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Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Special Mission Giving

At the Leadersip Council Meeting the Outreach Team presented their recommendations on how to distribute the first 10% of the funds received from the Ted Leslie Estate. The groups and organizations listed below are recipients of these gifts:

International Ministries- To support the Bolick family in Chile and the Bonilla-Giovanetti family in Spain

Cvelich Family- Missionaries serving in North Carolina who have a direct relationship with Crooked Creek Baptist

Crooked Creek Elementary School- to help out with specific needs of children/teachers in financial difficulties

Cetola Family- Missionaries with direct church ties preparing for a ministry in Italy

American Baptist Camps in Indiana- we support two Indiana camps: Indian Creek and Tippecanoe

United Mission- United Mission is the foundation of our denomination and we are presenting 20% of the total distributed.

Edna Martin Christian Center- The EMCC ministers to families in a downtown location and is in the process of relocating to a new site. United Way will match our gift during EMCC's fundraising drive and will be given in honor of retiring Executive Minister, Larry Mason.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Lunch Bunch Reflection

Yesterday afternoon I had the opportunity to spend a couple of hours with many of the children who attend services here at Crooked Creek Baptist. The occasion was a trip to a local pottery place where the kids selected and painted their own piece, which will be fired this week and returned to the children this coming Sunday. The plan is to bring their artwork forward so that the church can see the result of their efforts before allowing the children to bring their creations to their own homes.

But what really hit me as we were deep in the process of selecting first each child's individual piece and then color schemes was the investment that each child was making in their respective masterpiece. They were well behaved, respectful, helpful, calm, mannered, and supportive of one another. As I was watching them work together and comment on what each other was doing I was overwhelmed by just what a great group of children we had present.

And that great group of children did not happen by accident. It is obvious that a strong group of adults has invested a lot of time, care, love, and energy into the development of this group of children. And as I sat here and type this I remain overwhelmed at just how "nice" the day was. These good kids are a reflection of very good parents, who also remind me that we have a lot of great people here at Crooked Creek Baptist.

Now this is not to say that we do not have our share of challenges here at our church, but it does make me proud to be a part of such a great group of adults and children who demonstrate faith in more than just lip service. I am encouraged that the pathway we are discovering is one that seems to balance the desire to model good Christian behaviors while being a part of the world.

I do not say this often enough, but I am proud to be the pastor of Crooked Creek Baptist Church and see many reasons why this church should be proud of what God is doing in them and through them.

Sunday, September 26, 2010

World Mission Offering 2010

Throughout the month of October, Crooked Creek will be receiving the World Mission Offering (WMO). This year’s theme, In Haiti and in the World, celebrates the American Baptist churches’ inspired and heartfelt response to the January 2010 earthquake in Haiti. The WMO is giving special attention to Haiti this year because it mirrors the ministries IM missionaries and partners are also doing elsewhere. This offering is more crucial than ever to sustain those ministries “in Haiti and in the World.” Our contributions will help to support global projects, Christian partners (including churches, schools and hospitals), and missionaries in Haiti as well as in more than 70 other countries around the world. To learn more, go to www.internationalministries.org.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Church Picnic

I would like to express my thanks for all of the people who worked so hard to make our Church Picnic happen this past Sunday. It truly was a blessed event. Here are some of the thoughts I have taken from this event:

1. It was a chance to catch up with some lapsed members: I had an opportunity to talk with one couple who were long time members but had been uninvolved in church life for some time. It was a chance to connect personally and I saw that I was not the only one to take advantage of this opportunity. It is my hope that with these connections we can find ways to continue to serve families and couples like this.

2. It was great outreach to our community: There were several visitors to our picnic that came from the nearby community. I have had heard some conversations about possibly offering a community meal on Saturday mornings or for lunch and the response from the community seems to add fuel to this movement. There is work we can do right in our own back yard.

3. It was a wonderful time for Fellowship: One of the results from the listening conference was a request for more events such as this. It was wonderful to see people eating together, talking and laughing, and visiting to re-affirm some important connections in our church family.

4. It was a time to practice service: We had so many people show up that we had to set up extra tables and chairs. I noticed this and began to set up a table or two. Before I could finish, so many people joined in I soon found myself without any work to do...

5. It was a great time to experience the Holy Spirit: At one point I stopped and just listened to the general hubbub of the room. There were people talking, laughing, visiting, and caring for one another and it made me think of the descent of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost. Sure, we skipped the tongues of fire, but I believe that God's Spirit was present in this event.

I know I missed tome other great moments that took place. Feel free to share those as well. I am proud to serve as the Pastor of Crooked Creek Baptist Church, alongside so many other ministers of Jesus Christ.

Tom

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Exciting Sunday

This Sunday leadership for worship will be provided by the women of Crooked Creek Baptist. This is American Baptist Womens' Sunday and we will use it to celebrate the contributions to ministry from the women inside and outside of our church family.

Following the service is a special event in the life of our church: Our annual church picnic. Grilled food will be provided, there will be games (and a bounce house) for kids of all ages, and entertainment will be by Joshua's Vision! The fun will begin immediately following worship. We will look for you this Sunday!

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Qu'ran burning and the Ground Zero Mosque

I was living in Evansville when the original 9/11 attack took place in New York and Washington. I remember being horrified as I watched the smoke pour out of the Towers and the fear as both buildings fell, killing thousands of people. I was outraged that terrorists would commit such an atrocious act, giving up their own lives to cause so many people harm. Regardless of their religious pretense, these men did not operate out of anything remotely resembling God's love.

Even more disturbing to me was the next day, when local media announced that some Evansville resident tried to to drive his pick up truck into a mosque in the city. He was unsuccessful in his attempt to reach the mosque, but did some damage to the grounds around the building. At our church we reached out to the Muslim community and offered a public forum for the community to help them understand the difference between the Islamic faith and the radical version of those terrorists who carried out these acts. At that meeting, I remember one of those leaders translating the word, "Islam" explaining that it means "peace."

Recently there has been a lot of coverage over a proposed Islamic interfaith center that would be a few blocks from the Ground Zero. It has been billed as the Ground Zero Mosque (which is incorrect, as its not at Ground Zero nor is it a mosque) and Americans have called its proposal insensitive. I do not understand how a proposal for understanding is insensitive.

And then there is the pastor who wants to burn copies of the Qu'ran. I am beginning to wonder if this is not some media ploy, as he seems to received responses from the Roman Catholic Church and the President of the United States. What does this man hope to accomplish by this event? Is this an act of love?

The good news about God's intervention in the world was a message of pure unbounded love. At a point in human history where creation stood condemned by sin, God provided a solution to the issue of sin through Jesus. In his earthly life, Jesus carried out miraculous healing, reached out to the lost and the dispossessed, turned the social order upside down by talking to prostitutes, lepers, and other sinners, and called people to a radical form of love (Love your neighbor as yourself). His death on the cross was a sacrifice that allowed for an ultimate restoration between God and creation.

Regardless of how we feel about the Islamic faith: whether it challenges the Christian faith and Bible, or whether our roots speak of serving the same God, I find it deplorable that Christians on both sides of this issue would evoke such hatred, fear, and suspicion. It runs contrary to the example that Jesus set for us. In our worship services we have been studying the 10 Commandments to discover that these words from God are not so much about rigid obedience as they are gifts from God on how to live as God's Holy Chosen people. These commandments are a gift from God, a pathway and invitation to live righteously. To be a zealous follower of Jesus Christ is to practice radical love.

It is my hope that as a people of God, those who worship at Crooked Creek (and those who might read this) would use these events as a focus to re-affirm our commitment to Christ Jesus and the love expressed through his life, death, and resurrection. We have been given a new, transformed life inundated with the power of God's love through the Holy Spirit. May we live this new life that we have been given!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Women's Sunday- September 19

AMERICAN BAPTIST WOMEN’S SUNDAY
September 19, 2010
We are planning a very special program for you on September 19 involving a number of women from the church. Our special guest this Sunday will be Debbie Kelsey, a missionary from Padua, Italy who works in the field of Human Trafficking along with her husband, Jim. Debbie will share her experiences with us via DVD, as she cannot be with us in person due to other commitments in Ohio that Sunday. Debbie came into the field rather reluctantly, after meeting with Lauran Bethell, a pioneer in the field of Human Trafficking. When God continued to open doors for Debbie to talk to women in red light districts, Debbie realized God was calling her and preparing her for a new ministry focus to provide training and encouragement to prostituted women in Italy. Debbie and Jim minister to women, many of who are Africans whom have been trafficked or prostituted.
The International Labour Organization reports that at least 12.3 million adults and children worldwide are in forced labor, bounded labor, and commercial sexual servitude at any given time and that 56% of all forced labor victims are women and girls.
After drug trafficking, human trafficking is tied with illegal arms trade as the second largest criminal industry in the world, and the U.S. Department of State estimates that in this year it will become the number one crime worldwide.





If you are a woman attending Crooked Creek, you are an American Baptist Woman, part of a proud heritage of women around the state, the country, and Puerto Rico. Besides programs for women, there are programs for AB-GIRLS and Young Adults.
The national American Baptist Women's Ministries mission is to provide vision, training, and resources to women and girls in American Baptist churches.
Every American Baptist church shall have a vital women's ministry program that empowers women and girls to become and develop as God's person, build God's faith community, and serve God's world.
As servant leaders, we serve American Baptist churches by encouraging existing vital ministries with women and girls and empowering churches to build such ministries.
Our ministry is based on certain non-negotiable values that form a foundation and criteria for all that we do.
• We provide Christ-centered ministries.
• We strive for excellence in all we do.
• We practice faithful stewardship.
• We are relevant for women today.
• We assure that our diversity (clergy/lay, age, geographic, and racial/ethnic representation) as a denomination is represented in our ministries.
• We affirm and encourage the use of spiritual gifts.
• We recognize the worth of all women and girls.
• We value our American Baptist family relationships.

AB GIRLS Covenant
Remembering the words of Christ, who said,
"I am the light of the world," and also
"You are the light of the world"
I promise
to grow in Christ
to share my gifts of time and money, talents and prayer, and
to serve with others in God's world,
So that the Light of Life may shine through me.

Organizational History
American Baptist Women's Ministries became a national organization 1951, with the formation of the National Council of American Baptist women. But women's ministries in our denomination began long before 1951. For well over a century, women have been strong partners in the American Baptist family-raising money for missions at home and abroad, sending missionaries, and ministering in local churches and communities.

Through the years, women have shaped their ministries to meet emerging needs. The Woman's Baptist Society, organized in 1871 (the forerunner of the Woman's American Baptist Foreign Mission Society), focused on women in other lands. The Women's American Baptist Home Mission Society, formed in 1909, centered on evangelism in the United States. The World Wide Guild was established in 1915 to train, inspire, and empower girls for Christian ministry and leadership; it became a program of Educational Ministries. In 1992, AB Women's Ministries affirmed and accepted all responsibility for the girls' ministry and organized it as AB GIRLS.
The Meaning Behind Our Logo
The logo symbol for American Baptist Women’s Ministries is biblical. The woman depicted in the logo embodies the New Testament women who were among the first to know and believe that Jesus Christ is God’s son. They encountered the cross; their commitment deepened. Commitment leads to the waters of baptism. The woman steps from her baptismal waters confident in her belief in Christ and in her God-given talents and abilities. She carries the lighted lamp, serving the Christ of the empty cross, the light of the world.
The symbol portrays unity. The cross resembles the cross in the American Baptist Churches logo. AB Women’s Ministries is part of the larger church body. The water, symbolizing baptism, unites Christians. The water also symbolizes the oceans and rivers of the earth that connect us with sisters and brothers around the world and reminds us of our global interdependence.
The symbol is filled with life. In the cross there is new life in Jesus Christ. Water sustains physical life. The living water in the person of Jesus Christ is life. The woman, a life-giver herself, carries the light and lift of Jesus into the world.