Minister's Study

Ministering, writing, and wrestling in a land flowing with sweet tea and deep-fried food

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

And they're off!

Today we load the truck, tomorrow we pull out. Naturally, there's still loads of packing and cleaning to do, because we wouldn't be us if we'd gotten it all done in advance.

We'll be offline for an indeterminate amount of time, depending somewhat on whether we find wifi hotspots and how quickly we can get internet at our new location.

If you think about it, pray for us!

Sunday, June 25, 2006

Last Sunday here

Today was my last Sunday as the Assistant Pastor of South Baptist Church. I preached for the morning service. The sermon dealt with "forgetting those things which are behind" -- looking forward to what God can do in a person's life or in a church, rather than being preocupied with the past. Since the church just celebrated its 150th anniversary a few weeks ago, I thought it apropos. Several people came to me afterward and said that the message really spoke to them.

Following the service, we had a little coffee and cake fellowship. It was bittersweet saying goodbye to the people here as we look forward to our next destination. We'll miss the people here, and many of them claim they'll miss us. Fortunately, we're close enough to popular vacation spots that there's a good chance of seeing several of them before too terribly long.

Saturday, June 24, 2006

Next Column Up

My second column at Haruah went up today, running in their sidenotes section.

This column, titled "The Principal Thing" deals with the answer to a major question: What is the most important character trait for me to possess?

We spent some time this afternoon (after helping pass the church bulletin torch to my wife's successor) with our good friends Jason and Barbara Bross. Our daughter had a great time playing with their son and with the neighbor's daughters, while we adults watched baseball and chatted. Quite the diverse housefull we had there; My wife and I are Independent Baptists; Jay is an atheist, his wife is an Italian born atheist, and the neighbor is an Egyptian born Muslim. We talked about Mormonism, just to round things off. We also tried to talk the Bross family into moving down the NC with us. Still working on that one.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Here and Back Again

We're back from our Pennsylvania vacation with my wife's parents. We had a lot of fun, got a little exercise, and saw some neat wildlife. Along the way, we hiked the trails around Bushkill Falls, canoed down a goodly stretch of the Delaware, and visited Valley Forge and some historic sites in Philadelphia. Importantly to me, we caught a few fish (I don't think I'd ever caught carp, small-mouth bass, or pickeral before, so that was neat.) Importantly to my daughter we saw several cool critters. She says that she was most impressed with the beaver she saw (this was also the first time I'd ever seen a beaver in the wild, and they came very close to the canoes). Next for her was the daddy long-legs I convinced her to let walk across her hands. It tickled. She also loved the bullfrog I caught for her by the waterfalls. I personally found the bald eagles much neater -- we saw two, both perched and in flight. One let us canoe practically right up under the tree it was perched in.

This week, we're packing for departure (we leave Wednesday of next week.) My wife's parents were immensely helpful in taking the last couple days of their vacation to help us get a jump on packing and cleaning. I'm also still casting around for jobs in the Wilmington area and a place to rent. Fortunately, we can stay in the church's prophet chamber and store our stuff in one of their buildings while we look, if need be.

Thursday, June 08, 2006

We've been called out.

Out of Staten Island and into Burgaw, North Carolina. Bible Baptist Church had their vote last night. They voted to call me to be the assistant pastor, with a unanimous secret ballot vote. Well, there was one ballot with a question mark on it, but I figure if there's only one confused person in a church at a business meeting, it's really doing very well. I assume this is just a person who didn't get to meet us when we were there. Otherwise, they would have voted "No!" Of course, I jest. We seemed to hit it off really well with the folk there, and vice versa. Oh, and they voted to take us on at double what I had thought possible; I'll still have to work, but it will take some pressure off and really help with housing.

My wife is now very excited. And nervous.

Monday, June 05, 2006

150th Anniversary

No, my wife and I haven't aged 140 years since you last looked at this blog. (Although I'm accounted a year older than the last time you looked.)

Yesterday we celebrated our church's 150th anniversary. As it happens, based on what I saw in some really old books, I think the church is actually a little older than that. But 1856 is the year that they settled on quite some time back as the official beginning of the the church.

We've spent weeks, nay, months preparing for this event. We had the state rep from the Empire State Fellowship in (quite a guy -- he reminds me of a college and seminary professor I had named Dr. Johnson.) We also had the national rep from the GARBC. Our church was a charter member of the ESF, and one of the earliest in the GARB. The pastor at the time stood staunchly against the influences of liberalism, and took the church out of the Northern Baptist Convention, fighting in the courts to keep the church building. Today, our connection with those groups is a lot more tenuous, but South Baptist has maintained its membership. The son of the old pastor also came in; he's now an international lecturer, having taught at several prominent seminaries.

As you may have guessed from that list of special visitors coming in, that made for a really long day. Each of them (along with a couple of other, less prominent visitors) had to speak their piece, either during the service, or at the dinner afterward. We started the service around 10:45 in the morning, and finished the dinner at the reception hall around 5 in the evening. Long, long day, especially for the children.

That said, it went very well. We had just about a perfect sized crowd -- the church was pretty much packed, but we didn't have to get too creative with seating people in the vestibule or anything. There were the usual technical difficulties, but on the whole everything ran smoothly. Guests from all over the country (and I think a few from England, tag-alongs with Dr. Grier, the international speaker) came and seemed to enjoy themselves.

During the service, we had a really neat tribute to Ed Johnsen and his wife Dorris. He joined the church back in 1944. At the time, he was actually stationed in Italy for World War II. But he got saved, and insisted on being baptized by a Baptist pastor (I'm guessing those were tough to come by, considering the time and place.) He was baptized in the Mediterranian, and applied for membership by a letter to South Baptist (it was the Baptist church in the town where he grew up, and would presumably live if he made it back from the war.) He did come back, and married Dorris shortly thereafter. They've been incredibly faithful members ever since. Their impact on the church and the community could hardly be overstated. His simple, gentle, clear wisdom and understanding is still phenominal -- for years, when any issue of difficulty presented itself, no one wanted to do anything until they talked to Ed. He was a man of courage, faith, and wisdom, and I still count him among the most Godly men I know. The tribute to him and Dorris was my favorite part of the service, and in my opinion, the most significant. The building is nothing -- it is people like Ed and Dorris Johnsen who made and kept this church what it is.

Friday, June 02, 2006

Nicole Kidman out front?

The other day, a lady stopped by the church while I was doing some cleanup work for the 150th anniversary celebration. She wanted to use the church for a place to hold extras for a movie scene being filmed on the street in front of the church. Although the movie is yet unnamed, it's a major Paramount production, starring Nicole Kidman, Jack Black, and some other famous girl whose name I can't remember offhand. Apparently, they had selected our street as the best in the area for having Nicole Kidman looking down through a window on a demonstration of some sort.

Because of the anniversary, the pastor said they couldn't use the church (even when they came back asking to use the side lot, and again asking about the driveway.) I felt bad for the location scout who kept coming by, so I tried to lend her a hand. They had been shooting, apparently for days, in front of a church member's house, and he says that all the guys he talked to were really nice. They wound up having to use a laundromat for a staging area, and a catering hall several blocks down the street for the crew's meal. Of course, it would have helped them a great deal if the director hadn't settled on using the site just two days before filming there.

We went out to watch the filming for a while. Naturally, thunderstorms rolled in just about the time they wanted to start shooting. And of course an oversized semi that hadn't gotten the word about the street closing had to deliver monstrous construction equipment to the middle of the block while they were trying to get started. I came away from the thing with a whole new appreciation for what goes into a major production.

For probably twenty seconds of movie time, they had the street closed, had people on site for most of two days, had seventy-five extras for a demonstration, people to herd the extras, had trucks, at least three lifts of various sorts (they built the window the actress was looking out of on a lift, rather than using an actual building), painters, assistant painters, camera people, and probably as much electronics gear as was used in the invasion of Baghdad.

It turns out that Kidman wasn't there at all; they used a body double for the shot, since they were shooting over her shoulder. Oh, well; there's been far too much of Kidman on display in several movies, if you catch my drift.

My daughter ended up being something of a star -- she got more attention standing out there than any of the actors did. One of the production people even wanted a picture of our family out there in the rain, with daughter in mom's jacket -- it turned out both adorably and very artistic (she shot in black and white.) Well, we'll likely never watch the movie. But it certainly was quite a show watching this part of it made.

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