Monday, July 7, 2008


The week of June 20th, we took a group of our church youth to Knoxville, TN to participate in a summer urban ministry program. We as a group have participated in other summer programs but this was the first in an urban setting. For a week, we experienced a variety of faith formation, leadership development activities, and hands-on mission work with the homeless and less-fortunate folks in the heart of downtown Knoxville.

We worked in a facility much like our IFC. We assisted in Project Live, doing yard work for the elderly poor. We sorted and bagged food donations at Salvation Army and worked in their warehouse. We spent time at youth center. We helped at a day shelter for the homeless. We worked at their Fresh Air Camp, and we worked at a great community garden project adjacent to a public housing complex. A unique service was to walk up and down the street with a Red Flyer wagon filled with a pot of ice water to help refresh the men women and children on the street. What a week of growth!

Someone asked the obvious question; why couldn’t we do these same things in our community? The camp director provided the answer: it took them a while to structure all of the legal and bureaucratic requirements in order for young people to work at the various sites and projects. Their model works, and I’m sure that with some sound planning and hard work, we could provide our youth with similar experiences right here in our community.

Friday, July 4, 2008

4th of JULY

This is my favorite picture of mine taken in Philadelphia, PA. I like that our two important images are present, for the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall tell a great American story.

Pardon me for being more than a little upset with those who desire to attach significance to the fact that former Senator Jesse Helms died on the 4th just like patriots Thomas Jefferson and John Adams. To now try to convince me that he respected all people and loved everyone is just too hard for me to accept.

He does not compare to those two patriots and I just wonder where we as a nation and state might have been if he had not fought so vigorously against civil rights and the equality of all people. What he and his supporters were willing to do to win an election is well documented and he, unlike others of the great Southern segregationist, never apologized for his words and deeds.

I prefer to look at my picture and remember how we as a nation got started. Even though we didn't get everything right in the beginning, we're at least moving down the right path.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008


On Saturday June 14th, our community had a great happening – we graduated almost 750 young men and women from two of our high schools. There were many, many family celebrations after graduation, but we as a community ought to celebrate too. Some discount the notion that it takes a village, but it truly does. Families and friends provided lots of support to these young people as they developed to the point of graduation. The administrators, staff, and faculty worked hard to provide the education that they received, but it’s the people of the village, if you will, who provided critical resources that were necessary to help make this great education possible.

We want our children to receive a solid education from talented and caring professionals and we know that the costs of doing this are rising rapidly. Our budgets are tight and it’s hard to fund everything, but we as a community remain committed to providing resources to help prepare our children for the future. We also know that not every aspect of education is about money, and many in this community devote a lot of time to guiding, supporting, and nurturing. These things will never appear in a budget.

As our graduates now go out and build on the foundation they received in our schools, whether it is additional education or the workplace, we as a community should celebrate their success and the successes to come. Yes, it takes a village, and this one has every right to be proud of this most important product --- those we have helped to educate!