Douglass Blvd Christian Church

an open and affirming community of faith

n open and affirming community where faith is questioned and formed, as relationships are made and upheld. 

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DBCC Yard Sale Time Is Here Again!

Yard Sale Mystery.jpg

Well, it's is that time again, folks. Come to Douglass Boulevard Christian Church on Saturday for a rain-or-shine for a multi-family yard sale in the church's gym. Past customers know: this sale is well-organized with reasonably-priced, high-quality schwag.

When: 9–3, Saturday, May 18 (please, no earlybirds)

Where: 2005 Douglass Boulevard Christian Church

ALSO: Come for the schwag, stay for the farmer's market. Douglass Loop Farmer's Market runs in the church's parking lot from 10–2.


13th Annual Matthew Shepard Sermon

I had a chance to preach this past Sunday at Trinity Parish Episcopal Church in Seattle, Washington.  The invitation to preach this sermon came to me after DBCC's April 17 congregational vote to stop signing marriage licenses as show of good faith to our LGBTQ members. The folks at Trinity Parish couldn't have been kinder.

You can read the full text of the sermon below. The audio file is at the very bottom of the post. You can subscribe to our podcast and catch all of the sermons at DBCC and special events like the Matthew Shepard Sermon. 

We gather here today, of course, to offer up our worship to God.  As the sursum cordareminds us, "It is meet and right so to do."   In the process, we also seek to commemorate the life of a gay man who was left to die alone.  Thirteen years ago, 2 men took Matthew Shepard from a bar in an automobile, robbed him, pistol-whipped him, tortured him, and tied him to a fence to die alone in the night.  He didn't die on the fence, because a passerby the next morning saw him.  He died 5 days later in a hospital, on October 12, 1998--a victim of senseless violence against somebody on the margins.

That Matthew Shepard was gay apparently gave those two men all the motive they needed to inflict as much damage as venal little minds could concoct.

In the years since, Matthew Shepard has become a symbol of all that hatred can do when unleashed on the world. 

It makes me wonder how you get to that point?  How do you turn your fear of that which is different into something so potent that when it breaks over the levies, everything in its way gets swallowed up in in death?

Fear of what's different?  That doesn't sound altogether right.  Of course, fear of what's different is a part of it.  But that seems too easy, frankly.  Fear of what's different is the standard answer in cases like these.

But why do we fear what's different?  I think it has something to do with the fear that we're insignificant, with our insecurities about the potential meaninglessness of our lives.  Our confidence in our own agency is so tenuous that whatever stands over against how we view the world is a threat.  We know enough native logic that A cannot simultaneously be non A.  That is to say, we know, for instance, that "World Series Champion" cannot be used as an antecedent qualifier for "Chicago Cubs."  The universe just isn't structured to allow a thing to be itself and its opposite at the same time.  We know this.

For two men in Wyoming thirteen years ago, the prospect of homosexuality coexisting in a world with "natural" sexual affinities was logically impossible.  Matthew Shepard's existence itself threatened a whole way of construing the world.

If your world is threatened, if your equilibrium is disrupted, you've got to figure out what you're going to do to restore stasis.  If violence is all you know, violence is what you bring to the existential party.

Insecurity.  Fear.  Meaninglessness.  They stand as roadblocks to an otherwise satisfying existence.

It happens.

A few years after Matthew Shepard died, on a gray day in November 2000, when the sky looked like lead and the leaves had all vanished, I went to Creech Funeral Home in Middlesboro, Kentucky, down in Appalachia where I lived, to perform a funeral for Bryan Landon.  I didn’t know Bryan; he’d spent most of his adult life up in Louisville—where he’d finally succumbed to the ravages of AIDS.  My friend Bill, the funeral director, had asked me the day before if I’d perform the funeral, since Bryan didn’t have a church home, and his family refused to provide assistance because they disapproved of his “lifestyle.”  I said I’d be happy to do what I could.  Bill said to me, “But I want you to know right off the bat that, because he was estranged from his family and his church, there might not be many folks there.”  “Not a problem,” I said.

But as I walked into the funeral home on a cold November day, it occurred to me that I’d not absorbed the full implications of Bill’s warning . . . not many people had shown up.  And by “not many” I mean, nobody had shown up.  I waited in the funeral home chapel for five minutes or so after the funeral was supposed to have started—just Bryan Landon and me. Finally, Bill came into the back of the chapel with someone I didn’t know offhand.  She sat in the back row.  Bill made his way up front.  And I said, “Oh good.  Is that a member of his family?”

“No,” he said, “that’s the woman who cleans for us.”

I looked at him, puzzled.  He said, “Well, buddy, in 25 years as a funeral director, I’ve never had a funeral where nobody showed up, and I figured somebody besides you and I ought to bear witness to this man’s passing.”

And so, on a gray November day in 2000, along with a funeral director and a cleaning woman, I buried Bryan Landon.  He died of AIDS.  Nobody who knew him came to witness that he’d ever even walked this earth.  He had a family; he’d had friends along the way; he grew up in the Baptist church, singing Jesus Loves the Little Children—all the children of the world.  But in the end, nobody came to claim him, to speak words over him, to call him a child of God.   So, we three strangers wound up offering him up to God on the wings of weary and bedraggled prayers, clinging to all the hope we could muster in a gray place.

What continues to haunt me about that day, though, is that I still cannot find words to express the sadness, the outrage, the terribleness of it all.  Where was the church for Bryan Landon?

Where's the church on this whole issue of our brothers and sisters created by God gay, lesbian, bi-sexual, transgendered?  Who stands up for them?  And what would it even look like to stand up?  I think that's the question raised by Matthew Shepard's death, by Bryan Landon's death.  What would it take for the church to make a difference in a world where people are killed, bullied, and abandoned for being who God created them to be?  What would it take?

Jesus, in our Gospel for today, has been in a long conversation with the Chief Priest and the elders of the temple.  The occasion that prompted this conversation was the first act that Jesus performed after entering Jerusalem on a donkey, way back at the beginning of chapter 21.  Remember that?  Jesus comes into Jerusalem, now a few days prior to his death, to the enthusiastic support of the people--who are convinced he's the Messiah . . . the long awaited political/military leader who will lead a revolution to oust the Roman occupation.

That little parade makes the hairs on the back of the necks of the political leadership stand up.

His first act after entering to a chorus of "Hosannas" was to go straight to the temple and start turning over the lemonade stands, telling the folks in charge that they've destroyed God's house of prayer, made it a den of robbers.  Remember that?

What happens next, though, is the really telling part of the story.  Jesus, it says in verse 14, after revealing the people entrusted with the caretaking of God's house as frauds, welcomes the blind and the lame to the temple, and he heals them.

Isn't that great?  Jesus calls out the big shots, and right under their noses receives with open arms the people those big shots have assiduously attempted to exclude.

This little jaunt into the temple makes the hairs on the back of the necks of thereligious leadership stand up.

In fact, they're so annoyed with Jesus that they button-hole him the next day, and ask him by what authority he's doing all this stuff.  Just who does he think he is?

So Jesus launches into a series of parables to tell the religious leaders who he thinks he is, and perhaps just as importantly, who he doesn't think they are.

Our parable, the parable of the wedding banquet is the third in this series, all keyed by, I would like to suggest, Jesus making a statement about who should be allowed into God's house--and what God thinks of the leaders who're supposed to be running things.

So, our parable for today, involves a king who's going to give a wedding banquet for his son.  Each time the king sends out the wedding invitations, however, they're rudely declined.  The king asks for the pleasure of his subjects' presence at a wonderful occasion, but they're preoccupied by tending to other things--things they're convinced are more important than whatever the king has in mind.

In an honor/shame based culture like that prevalent in the ancient Near East, this was the granddaddy of all social snubs.  You don't turn down a king, then beat and kill the king's slaves.

This, of course, enrages the king--so he turns over every lemonade stand in the country.   Then, what does the king do?  He invites in everybody else who wasn't important enough to get an invitation the first time around--both the good and the bad.  The king throws an enormous shindig for folks on the margins, welcoming all those people who're used to being left out of the important stuff, those who've been abused, pushed aside, excluded, those who've been bullied and abandoned to die alone.

For, you see, the kingdom of God does not exist where some are not welcome … where the lame and the blind, where the tax collectors and prostitutes, where the hungry and the poor stand on the outside looking in.  The kingdom of God does not exist where people are barred entrance because of sexual orientation or identity, because of race or immigration status.

There doesn’t have to be a sign on the door that says, “You’re not welcome here.”  People know.

Well, then, how do we tell people they're welcome?

People will finally know they're welcome–not because we advertise our solidarity (as important as that is)–but because we show them … we keep throwing open the doors and inviting people to come in.  We keep working on behalf of those who’ve been turned away by the very people who are important enough to get invited to the party.  We keep standing side by side with those left to die alone.

Ok.  That's fine.  Nice words.  But what does it mean to do the things you're saying?  What would it take for the church to accept the host's invitation to attend the party right alongside those who've been systematically told they're not welcome?

Peter Velander gives us a glimpse of what it might look like, what it I think it takes.

He writes: “I remember the day I learned to hate racism.  I was five years old."

“The walk home from school was only about five blocks.  I usually walked with some friends.  On this day I walked alone.  Happy, but in a hurry, I decided to take the shortcut through the alley.  Without a care in the world I careened around the corner.  Then I looked up—too late to change course.  I had walked in on a back-alley beating.

“There were three big white kids.  In retrospect they were probably no more than sixth graders, but they looked like giants from my kindergarten perspective.  There was one black kid.  He was standing against a garage, his hands behind his back.  The three white kids were taking turns punching him.  They laughed.  He stood silently except for the involuntary groans that followed each blow.

“And now I was caught.  One of the three grabbed me and stood me in front of their victim.  “You take a turn,” he said.  “Hit the ______!”  (I’m not going to say it; you know what they said.)  Velander said, “I stood paralyzed.”

“Hit him or you’re next!” the giant shouted at me.  So I did.  I feigned a punch.  I can still feel the soft fuzz of that boy’s turquoise sweater as my knuckles gently touched his stomach.  I don’t know how many punches there were.  I don’t know how long he had to stand backed up against that garage.  After my minute participation in the conspiracy they let me go and I ran.  I ran home crying and sick to my stomach.  I have never forgotten.

“Thirty-five years later that event still preaches a sermon to me every time I remember it.  One can despise, decry, denounce, and deplore something without ever being willing to suffer, or even be inconvenienced, to bring about change.  If there is one thing that Jesus taught us it was how to suffer with and for others.

“Jesus walked the way of the cross.  He taught us the meaning of suffering as a servant.  Perhaps my first chance to follow that example came in the ally by a garage thirty-five years ago.

“I don’t know if that black boy from the alley grew up, or where he lives, or what he does today.  I never knew his name.  I wish I did.  I wish I could find him.  I need to ask his forgiveness—not for the blow I delivered, for it was nothing, but for the blows I refused to stand by his side and receive.  I think that’s what it takes.”

That's not easy.  That's not get-up-and-go-to-church-on-Sunday-morning easy.  It's hard.  I know.  Standing up for people this culture doesn't think are worth it is hard, painful work.

But, as Father Daniel Berrigan said, "If you want to follow Jesus, you'd better look good on wood."

You see, the truth of the matter is, as a people who claim to follow a savior who was strapped to his own rough cut piece of lumber and left to die alone, we can't stand idly by and watch the world do that to even one more person.

Matthew Shepard.  Bryan Landon.  Jesus.

It's time for the rest of the children of God to stand by the side of those forgotten, abused, bullied, and left to die alone . . . and take some blows.

I think that's what it takes.



Matthew Shepard Sermon

DBCC Engages "Philosophical Questions" (This is Going to Be Awesome...)

Brian Cubbage will teach a class, "Philosophical Questions," this fall at Douglass. The class will meet at the church on Wednesday nights at 6:30-8:00 pm starting on October 19. The class will meet for six weeks. Everyone is welcome to participate. Dinner will not be provided, but you are free to bring dinner with you if you like. We will provide child care for those who need it.

Below is a brief description of the class from Brian:

Have you ever been nagged by a question you couldn't help asking but couldn't answer?

There are many questions in life mature, thinking persons can't help considering, but which elude being settled through experimental testing or straightforward observation. I call these the "hard questions." Philosophy is an intellectual discipline that aims to reflect on these "hard questions" and find ways of discussing possible answers to them that don't involve simply ignoring them or insisting they have easy answers.

In this class, we will examine some philosophical questions in an informal setting. The class will involve little assigned reading, and I will provide any readings or other materials needed. Our aim will be less to learn about philosophy than to try to do it. Of course, we will end up learning about philosophy as well, but that won't be the principal reason we meet. The class format will be geared towards open discussion and away from lectures provided by me. Trust me; you don't want lectures by me.

The questions we discuss will depend largely on participant interest, but some envisioned possible topics include:

  • Can computers think?

  • Do we have free will?

  • Can we prove that God exists?

  • How should we treat animals?

  • What is political authority, and what are its limits?

  • When, with whom, and why should one have sex?

I sincerely hope you will join us!

Brian Cubbage is a member and Elder of Douglass Boulevard Christian Church. Additionally, Brian has a Ph.D. in philosophy from Penn State University, and he has eight years of experience in teaching philosophy at multiple colleges and universities.

"Changes" by Rev. Ryan Kemp-Pappan (Matthew 22:1–14)

Today Ryan Kemp Pappan delivered his final sermon to Douglass Boulevard Christian Church. It is appropriately titled, "Changes." This is his spike of the mike, his Hollywood ending.

Sort of.

This is Ryan's unfeigned love.

During his three years at Douglass, Ryan has changed the church and changed its members profoundly. We will be celebrating Ryan, his wife Meredith, and their ministry at Douglass at a potluck on October 23rd following church. Please join us to honor Ryan and the catalyzing change he has effected at Douglass.

Click the link below for the sermon audio or just subscribe to our podcast in iTunes and you won't miss a single sermon…

"Changes" by Ryan Kemp-Pappan

Community Potluck, October 2 @ Noon

Douglass Boulevard Christian Church and Douglass Loop Farmers Market will gather next Sunday to celebrate a great first season and honor the farmers and volunteers that made it possible.

Please, bring a dish and a healthy appetite!

The feast will begin a little after noon on Sunday and will be in the church's gym. DBCC is located at 2005 Douglass Boulevard in Louisville, KY.


Sermon Podcast: Wanting What You've Got (Matthew 20:1–6)

This sermon begins with Louis C.K. and ends with the promise that "in the reign of God, we’re valuable not based on our production, not based on how much we’re worth.  We’re valuable because, by the grace of God, God says we’re valuable."

Here's the video Rev. Penwell references of Louis C.K.:

Remember, you can subscribe to our weekly podcast in iTunes and download all of the sermons automatically to your computer, as well as to your iPhone, iPad, or other mobile device.


Click the link below for the sermon audio or just subscribe to our podcast in iTunes and you won't miss a single sermon…

"Wanting What You've Got" by Rev. Derek Penwell

Sermon Podcast: "Treat 'em Like Gentiles"

Here's this weeks's sermon podcast, "Treat 'em Like Gentiles" delivered by Rev. Derek Penwell:

Remember, you can subscribe to our weekly podcast in iTunes and download all of the sermons automatically to your computer, as well as to your iPhone, iPad, or other mobile device.

You can save the sermon to read later with this .pdf.

Or, just read it beginning here:

Treat ‘em Like Gentiles (Matt. 18:15–20)

We live in a society that’s grown increasingly permissive. That’s not news to you, right? Scandals in politics, in the church. Corruption. Violence. Treachery. You stay out of my business, and I’ll stay out of yours.

We’ve come a long way down some very undesirable roads, both as a nation and as a church. With the media and liberal preachers forever expounding on the virtues of “tolerance and diversity,” we bought into the lie that it doesn’t matter what I do, as long as nobody gets hurt. And the logical conclusion of such an argument is that nobody (and I mean nobody) better tell me how I’m supposed to live. How I choose to live my life is my decision, it’s between God and me. Butt out!

Of course, it hasn’t always been that way. There was a time when the needs of the community superseded the demands of the individual. But to say that today is to be labeled a socialist. There was a time, however, when the church had authority, and that authority meant something. And with all the permissiveness in our culture, it doesn’t seem too outrageous to think that the church might move to regain some of that authority. It has to do something. The church can’t stand idly by while everything deteriorates. There has to be accountability somewhere.

A postmodern Catechumen?

I have been pondering as to what tools we might use to fashion a community of faith that is centered upon mission and spiritual formation as we seek to rediscover our call in this season of discovery.


I believe we need to ask more for ourselves and each other. Prayer, witness and a life that reeks of the love of God and the compassion of Jesus the Christ must be the foundation of our community.

Imagine if we returned to a system of mentoring in faith. The wisdom we hold in the pews on Sunday morning could be passed on to the generations that are being looked to for leadership. In the early church membership was something that was guarded and gained. This may not work entirely in this manner today. I do believe that if we expect better form ourselves and each other we can meet that demand.

Follows is the process that was used in the early church.

It all begins here: Unbaptized “Seeker” attends worship with local assembly.

Period of INQUIRY begins

Length: Indefinite

Focus: Hospitality

Ministry: Readiness to respond to questions

Context: One on one with mentor


Rite of Acceptance [the worshiping community]

Promises of Intent

Promises of Support

Signed with the Cross

Presentation of Bible




Length: Indefinite (min. several months)

Focus: Apprenticeship as a disciple of Jesus Christ

Ministry: Formation through liturgical catechesis based on Sunday lessons

Context: Small group

Rites: Blessings


Rite of Enrollment [the worshiping community]

Promises of Intent

Promises of Support

Names recorded in book



Length: Weeks (Lent or Advent)

Focus: Sacramental Worship

Ministry: Intensified formation

Context: Small group

Rites: Ritual Blessings/ Scrutinies


Rite of Baptism [the worshiping community]

Profession of faith 



Laying on of hands



Length: Life-long

Focus: Reflection an the meaning of the liturgy for life and service

Ministry: Participation in the liturgy and mission

Context: The assembly

Rites: Word and Sacrament


Rite of Vocal Affirmation [the worshiping community] 

Affirmation of Call

Commitment to Mission

Lighting of candles

Where do we find ourselves in this process? I ask that you meditate and pray on where you might practice your faith on this journey? Is there particular gifts or talents you may offer this community? Where might we as a community walk with you in shaping your faith? I know you all are up to the task. The Spirit of God is alive in you and still speaking. Peace Be with You.

Mary Ann Lewis: "What If..."

Both Derek and Ryan are on vacation, so DBCC has a chance to hear from Rev. Mary Ann Lewis, one of the (many) ministers in our pews each Sunday.

Preaching on Matthew 14:22–33, Rev. Lewis reminds us that God doesn’t expect us to walk on water; but, God does expect us to get out of the boat and serve as God’s partner in the continuing unfolding of creation.

Despite our fears (of failure, of loss of agency), the right question isn’t “What happens if we do?” The right question is, “What happens if I don’t?”

We must make room in our hearts for the claim of God on our own lives.

Derek and Ryan should leave town more often! This is a great sermon.

Click the link below for the sermon audio or just subscribe to our podcast in iTunes and you won't miss a single sermon…

"What If..." by Rev. Mary Ann Lewis

"You Give Them Something to Eat"

Returning from the church's mission trip to Casa Hogar children's home in San Luis Potosi, Rev. Derek Penwell delivers "You Give Them Something to Eat," a sermon based on Matthew 14:13-21.

Loaves, fishes, transactional equity, and Al Sharpton. Hang on tight!

(To get future podcasts, you can subscribe to our RSS feed or just subscribe in iTunes.)

"You Give Them Something to Eat" by Rev. Derek Penwell

Summer Shalom Supper Series

Please join us Weekly: June 16—July 14

Thursday Evenings from 6:00-8:00-PM

  • Free Admission

  • Light Supper Served

  • Donations Welcome

 A community conversation: Discerning a faith perspective on drug use and its criminalization in our community


June 16:What does the research tell us?

Dr Linda Bledsoe, Kent School of Social Work

June 23: Law enforcement and incarceration

Kevin Pangburn, Department of Corrections

June 30: Treatment: a provider and a constituent’s perspective

Jennifer Hancock, LCSW

July 7: Perspectives from a District Court Judge and a Kentucky Legislator

Judge Anne Haynie; Rep. Jim Wayne

July 14:  What is the Christian response?

Dr. Derek Penwell

Here's What's at the Yard Sale!

The Yard Sale will be here in a few days!

Saturday, May 21 from 10:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m.

Here are just a few pics of what we've got.

Kitchen items:


We've got a set of four of these:


A little nostalgia


For the scholar in your life:


And to bring you a bit of Holiday cheer:


Louisville, Kentucky- On Sunday, April 17, the congregation of Douglass Boulevard Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) unanimously voted to end the practice of signing marriage licenses because they give legal benefits to heterosexual couples that are not available to homosexual couples. Until the church's ministers may confer identical legal benefits on homosexual and heterosexual couples, they will perform only religious wedding ceremonies.

"As an Open and Affirming Community of Faith (a designation signifying DBCC's commitment to full acceptance of all people, regardless of race, gender, age, or sexual orientation), our membership is committed to treating homosexuals and heterosexuals equally. Our congregation believes it is unfair to provide different services and benefits to heterosexual couples than we can provide to gay and lesbian couples," said associate minister Rev. Ryan Kemp-Pappan.

Senior minister Rev. Derek Penwell added, "Heterosexual couples enjoy a number of benefits that result from having state-sanctioned union. They may inherit property, adopt children together, visit one another in the hospital, and save thousands each year in taxes by filing as a couple. Ministers, as agents of the state, have the power to confer these benefits-and the imprimatur of normalcy-on heterosexual couples, but we do not have the honor to bestow these benefits on gay and lesbian couples."

"In our attempt to live out God's call to pursue justice for all, the Elders of the congregation joined the Pastors in witnessing to the right for gay and lesbian persons to God's blessing on their union and witnessing to the Commonwealth toward ending the refusal to recognize these unions," said Rev. Chuck Lewis, Chair of Elders with the church.

Douglass Boulevard Christian Church, founded in 1846, has historically been committed to the pursuit of justice for all people, offering leadership in trying to live out the message of love and hospitality embodied by Jesus. In 2008, Douglass Boulevard Christian Church voted to become an Open and Affirming Community of Faith.
Douglass Boulevard Christian Church is located at 2005 Douglass Boulevard in the Highlands near Douglass Loop.

Paul Valentine on Mexico

When Derek asked us to relate how and where we saw God in Mexico, I was immediately challenged. One of the things I wrestle with in my life is identifying God... so you might see the quandary I encounter in relating how I "saw God?"

I choose to be a part of the Douglas Blvd. community because I do 'see' something, I am simply unable to give a definitive name to what I see, well, feel really. I find at Douglas an environment where I am free to look, which is no small thing to me.

Derek and I had a conversation while in Mexico about naming (i.e., identifying) God. As the story goes in the Tanakh, when God first revealed to Moses, Moses asked God's name. God replied "I am." That's the best I can do when it comes to identifying God. It seems to me that God is.

Also in the Tanakh, there is a story of Elijah as he neared the end of his life. He too was seeking a clarifying audience with God. Elijah was presented with lightening, strong winds and earthquakes... all grand shows, but God was in none of them. Instead, God presented in a still small voice. I think the message is: God isn't where we might expect God.

Buddhism speaks of the mind as the seat of a sixth sense where we encounter 'God," and teaches that if you look to hard, you will miss the divine, that you 'see God' in your peripheral vision. I see a similar theme in the Tanakh and what the Buddhists teach, that we encounter God in other ways than our five senses, though those may be affected.

Sorry for the lengthy prologue. But, in that context....

There are two things I want to share about my own experiences in Mexico.

The first regards the group of people I traveled with, those from Douglas. We live in a culture that openly declares: "image is everything." Indeed, substance seems to matter very little, if at all, as long as you appear to have or be something. But, remove the smoke and mirrors, and the magician is simply another person. There was little to no smoke and mirrors in Mexico to hide behind, so what we encountered from each other was often real.

While it is possible to maintain an image in a difficult environment, it's a lot harder, and often what's really there is exposed.

What happened in Mexico could be compared to putting 14 people in a small, under equipped kitchen and tasking them with creating a feast for 40 people. Some were experienced chefs, others had never used a spoon. This is the stuff of murders and mayhem, yet, there was none of that. Instead, we left Mexico having prepared a very nutritious and palatable meal. Where there was potential and ample opportunity for strife, I instead witnessed grace and humility. So, if you will, I often encountered God in my fellow travelers.

The second regards the people who hosted us. To sum up, one of the things that most impressed me about our hosts is that they live simply and therefore simply live. There were 33 little children living in close proximity... some might even call it squalor by our standards, yet I felt surrounded by whole and happy people. I witnessed 8 year olds looking out for smaller children, children actually serving each other as a normal course of living. They served without fanfare or motive for reward. If we define immaturity as self absorption, by that definition, most of these children had a maturity about them to be emulated.

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Hola from Casa Hogar!

After a good flight through Houston, we arrived in San Luis Potosi, Mexico, at 10:30 p.m. last night.  We were met at the airport by Juan, his son, several of the boys and "our own" Gary.  Like last year, we went to Los Volcanos for late night tacos, and then arrived at the home about 1:30 in the morning.  By the time we settled in to our respective rooms, and turned in, it was almost 3:00 a.m.  Even then, many of us had trouble going to sleep.  We have already felt a lot of camaraderie among our DBCC group.

This morning came early, and there were many hola's and hugs as we saw so many familiar faces as well as new introductions.  Casa Hogar has 32 children now, several more than last year, and it great that we can be a part of their life this week, sharing in work and play, and building meaningful memories for everyone. 

After our morning planning meeting, our group went to Home Depot and Walmart to buy any additional needed items.  Gary had arrived 2 days early to get most of the materials for the electrical rewiring project which will give us a good head start on Monday.  The rest of our day has been spent interacting with the children and settling in.

We appreciate the opportunity and support from our church family, and in the days ahead we hope to share with you our experiences here in Mexico at Casa Hogar in words as well as pictures.  This is a very special place!!

Hasta luego,

Harriet (now Hari')

Mexico Mission Trip 2010

In just a few hours a group of fourteen people (one--i.e., Gary King is already down there) will head out to San Luis Potosí, México--which is up in the mountains of central México.  The group includes Basil and Harriet Hall, Erin McKenzie, Paul Valentine, Charlie Pennington, Karen O'Hara, Geoff Wallace, Sue Raymond, Joe Brown, Bart Mattingly, Hannah Cooper, Ryan Kemp-Pappan, and me.  We are going to work at the Casa Hogar de San Juan, a children's home established by my grandparents in 1964.  Currently, they have thirty-two children ranging in age from four to sixteen.  We will be re-wiring the the children's home, replacing the original wiring from 1967.

Each day this week, as we head through our adventures, someone will be posting to the blog to keep you up to date on what we're doing, so that you can share in the mission of your congregation in another country.  We'll have reflections from members of the group, as well as photos (and maybe even some video) of our travels.  So, check back everyday to see what we're up to!

Please keep us in your prayers, as we keep you in ours.

Hasta verlos, Dios los bendigo!

By Derek Penwell

My Favorite Part of Worship

The following is a guest post by Cheryl Cubbage. In case you don't know Cheryl, she is a member and Elder of Douglass Boulevard Christian Church.

Probably because I grew up in the Disciples of Christ church, communion has been the focal point of my Christian worship experience. It was part of my wedding ceremony, and if I’m going to feel like I have adequately worshiped, communion must be part of the worship service. When I go to a non-DOC church, I miss communion not being offered or being offered, but I’m not allowed to participate because I’m not a member. This has always been my favorite part of the service because I feel so engaged with Christ, the community of other believers, and really reflective on my Christian calling and discipleship. This is almost always the point in the service when I am most moved emotionally and thoughtfully. It is such a simple ritual, and yet I am always moved. Communion makes me feel authentically Christian and like I belong to Christ, just as those present at the table with me belong to Christ. I get to hear such varieties of the same experience of Christ from those presiding at the table. I come away filled with hope, love and gratitude and wanting to pass it on.

Which parts of the order of worship do you appreciate, and why? Comment below and join the conversation!

Welcoming the Stranger

“For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who is not partial and takes no bribe, who executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and who loves the strangers, providing them with food and clothing. You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt” (Deuteronomy 10:17-19).

We are about to welcome a new family to our country. Because of our concern for their privacy, we won’t be publicizing details about the family in open forum. I can say, however, that they are Karen people from Burma. Tomorrow night (as I write this), a group of people from DBCC will go to the airport to tell this refugee family how happy we are to have the opportunity to know them. In a little over one week, we’ve collected enough items to furnish an apartment, moved those items across town, and then set them up in the apartment. I am in awe of the love and dedication shown by the people of DBCC. Special thanks go to Cheryl Flora and Susie Buchanan, as well as to Gary King for all the hard work they’ve done to pull this together in such short time. It’s difficult to tell you just how proud I am to work with such amazingly committed people—all the way around. Thank you.

“What,” you might wonder, “does helping a family of political refugees start a new life in our country have to do with the church? With our faith?” That’s a good question. Why should we be the ones to care? Aren’t there government agencies for this sort of thing? More good questions. My only response is to point out what it says in the book. I’d love to have a more creative answer, but there you go—as simplistic and old-fashioned as it sounds, that’s what the bible says we are to do. We welcome these strangers into our midst for no better reason than because that’s who God tells us we are—namely, we’re people who welcome strangers, because we’ve been strangers before, and God welcomed us.

Two years ago, our congregation voted unanimously to become an Open and Affirming Community of Faith. A big part of what that meant had to do with our public commitment to receive people, regardless of sexual orientation, into our fellowship to participate fully in our community. Open and Affirming, however, is a designation that encompasses so much more than our stance toward those of differing sexual orientation. At its heart, Open and Affirming is a way of situating ourselves inside the narrative of God’s expansive love to all people—especially those on the margins, those who are always in jeopardy of being forgotten by everyone else. Our work to welcome this refugee family is an expression of our continued commitment to extend the embrace of community to strangers. If the church reoriented its common life to do this on a regular basis, the designation “stranger” would be a rarity. And that, I believe, would make our God—who is not partial, who executes justice for the widow and orphan, and who loves strangers—happy indeed.