Saturday, August 4, 2007

Good Saturday Morning Reading

This is to some extent an extension of a thread Doug started several weeks ago when he closed with a Tony Campolo quote about churches choosing between stained glass windows and helping kids in Haiti. This morning’s Tallahassee Democrat profiled Rev. B. B. Holmes, who is a candidate for President of the National Baptist Convention, USA, which the paper reports is “the largest black religious organization in the country.” Rev. Holmes’ Bethel Missionary Baptist Church is a fixture in the Tallahassee landscape, but until you see an article like this, it may not hit you exactly how much this church does for the community. What also should hit you is to ask why so few traditionally white congregations of any stripe (mainline Protestant, Catholic, evangelical, emerging/emergent) seem to be able or willing to say, “We can do that.”

Bethel programs, in addition to the traditional list of church ministries, include:

Christian academy
Retirement home
Family life center
Affordable housing units for first time homebuyers
Family counseling center
Mental health clinic
Family restaurant

Just driving around Tallahassee and seeing the name “Bethel” everywhere, I’m sure I’ve missed something. I have no idea, not being a member, if Bethel has ever had to “choose” between something like stained glass windows or a pipe organ and their programs. But it’s hard to argue with the visible fruits of their faith.

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