Make a Difference Day

Can one person still make a difference? In today’s frantic, fast-paced, combative world many of us feel helpless to act. Make a Difference Day on October 25th. Gives us an l opportunity to prove the cynics wrong.

Last weekend two elementary school children along with their mother came to our door collecting food for the food pantry. They were from the Seventh Day Adventist Church at the front of our neighborhood. The children told me their mission not their mother.

My friend Bernie Otterbein works full time as a cafeteria professional in the public schools. Every wekkend and on several afternoon during the week she picks up trash on her neighborhood streets and along the highway near her home. She often mows the lawns of those who are unable to do it themselves.

The Rev. Bill Stanfield and his wife Evelyn Oliveira, both Princeton Theological Seminary graduates, moved into an inner-city minority neighborhood. They joined the local church. They established Metanoia, the most successful mission project I know. They walk the streets asking neighbors what the needs of the community are. Most importantly they ask them what skills and abilities they are willing to contribute to help solve those problems. They have established a Leadership Academy for high school students and a housing restoration and ownership program. The ministry was originally sponsored by the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship.

Retired history professor Dr. Marvin Cann relishes his role as a Guardian Ad Litem. He spends countless hours looking out for the well-being of children who have no one else.

Each Friday 42 members of First Baptist Church of Charleston tutor third graders from a housing development. Their goal is at the end of the school year each child will be able to read at grade level or above. One of these volunteers is ninety-two year old Ann Fox.

Bobby Boston takes his therapy dog to the Veteran’s Hospital, a retirement center and to an elementary school. Children will read to his dog and will work hard for the opportunity. The residents of the retirement center look forward to those visits because many of them have out lived their families.

Richard Ulmer, M.D. donates his time to the Sea Island Free Health Clinic. He says, “I am now practicing medicine the way I intended to from the beginning.” His wife says that she has never seem him happier.

The Coastal Carolina Fair is the largest volunteer operated fair in the nation. Last year the 300 member Exchange Club of Charleston donated more than 10,000 hours to the project. The fair raised $800,000 which it donated to local charities. Since 1957 the contributions have totaled over $6,000.000.

Pat Gibson founded the Charleston Literacy Association which has taught thousands of adults to read. Lynn Young founded the Charleston Orphanage Society which filled a great need in the area.

Jessica Gibbs, mother of two, is the founder and president of For the Exceptional, a non-profit that provides interactive social outlets for handicapped children and adults.  Jessica says, “I believe in being a source of light and shining for others. She quotes Matthew 5:16. “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your father who is in heaven.”

All of these volunteers blend their gifts with thousands of others across the country to make our world a much better, safer and healthier place to live. To find out more about how you can participate go to or look around you and see what needs to be done

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Why People Seem to Thrive on Resentment by Ron Rolheiser –

Why People Seem to Thrive on Resentment | Ron Rolheiser, Resentment

We are rarely in touch with the real reason why we are so spontaneously bitter, Rolheiser says. (Image courtesy of Ohmega1982/

It’s not only love that makes the world go round. Resentment, too, is prominent in stirring the drink.

In so many ways, our world is drowning in resentment. Everywhere you look, it seems, someone is bitter about something and breathing out resentment.

What is resentment? Why is this feeling so prevalent in our lives? How do we move beyond it?

Søren Kierkegaard once defined resentment in this way. Resentment, he suggested, happens when we move from the happy feeling of admiration to the unhappy feeling of jealousy.

And this, sadly, happens all too frequently in our lives and we are dangerously blind to its occurrence. “Me, resentful? How dare you make that accusation!”

Yet it’s hard to deny that resentment and its concomitant unhappiness color our world.

At every level of life – from what we see playing out in the grievances and wars among nations to what we see playing out in the bickering in our boardrooms, classrooms, living rooms and bedrooms – there is evidence of resentment and bitterness.

Our world is full of resentment. Everyone, it seems, is bitter about something, and, of course, not without cause.

Few are the persons who do not secretly nurse the feeling that they have been ignored, wounded, cheated, treated unfairly and have drawn too many short straws in life.

So many of us feel that we have every right to protest our right to be resentful and unhappy. We’re not happy, but with good reason.

Yes, there’s always good reason to be resentful, but, and this is the point of this column, according to a number of insightful analysts, both old and new, we are rarely in touch with the real reason why we are so spontaneously bitter.

For persons such as Thomas Aquinas, Søren Kierkegaard, Robert Moore, Gil Bailie, Robert Bly and Richard Rohr, among others, the deep root of our resentment and unhappiness lies in our inability to admire, our inability to praise others and our inability to give others and the world a simple gaze of admiration.

We’re a society that, for the most part, can’t admire. Admiration is, for us, a lost virtue.

Indeed, in the many circles today, both in the world and in the churches, admiration is seen as something juvenile and immature – the frenzied, mindless shrieking of teenage girls chasing a rock star.

Maturity and sophistication are identified today with the kind of intelligence, wit and reticence, which don’t easily admire and don’t easily compliment.

Learning and maturity, we believe, need to be picking things apart, suspicious of others’ virtues, distrustful of their motives, on hyper-alert for hypocrisy and articulating every reason not to admire. Such is the view today.

But what we don’t admit in this view of maturity and learning is how we feel threatened by those whose graces or virtues exceed our own.

What we don’t admit is our own jealousy. What we don’t admit is our own resentment.

What we don’t admit, and never will admit, is how our need to cut down someone else is an infallible sign of our own jealousy and bad self-image.

And what helps us in our denial is this: Cynicism and cold judgment make for a perfect camouflage.

We don’t need to admire because we’re bright enough to see that there’s nothing really to admire. That, too often, is our sophisticated, unhappy state.

We can no longer truly admire anybody. We can no longer truly praise anybody. We can no longer look at the world with any praise or admiration.

Rather, our gaze is perennially soured by resentment, cynicism, judgment and jealousy.

We can test ourselves on this. Robert Moore often challenges his audiences to ask themselves this question: When was the last time you walked across a room and told a person, especially a younger person or a person whose talents dwarf yours, that you admire her, that you admire what she’s doing, that her gifts enrich your life, and that you are happy that her path has crossed yours?

When was the last time you gave someone a heartfelt compliment? Or, to reverse the question: When was the last time that someone, especially someone who is threatened by your talents, gave you a sincere compliment?

We don’t compliment each other easily or often, and this betrays a secret jealousy. It also reveals a genuine moral flaw in our lives.

Thomas Aquinas once submitted that to withhold a compliment from someone who deserves it is a sin because we are withholding from him or her some of the food that he or she needs to live.

To not admire, to not praise, to not compliment, is not a sign of sophistication but a sign of moral immaturity and personal insecurity.

It is also one of the deeper reasons why we so often fill with bitter feelings of resentment and unhappiness.

Why do we so often feel bitter and resentful? We fill with resentment for many reasons, though, not least, because we have lost the virtues of admiration and praise.

Ron Rolheiser is a Missionary Oblate priest who is serving as president of the Oblate School of Theology in San Antonio, Texas. A version of this article first appeared on his website and is used with his permission. He can be contacted through his website,, and you can find him on Facebook.

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Fifty Years of Blessings

Charleston Speech and Hearing Center Board member Mrs. A. Baron Holmes (Dewar ) was the first to tell me about First Baptist Church when I came for an interview, but Lester Hamilton was the first to invite me to visit.  He said, “When my wife comes to invite you to the church, tell her that her husband already beat you to it.” Nell was a paid visitor for the church.

On our first visit we encountered an amazing, inviting and engaging group of young professionals. We left a similar group behind at Goodwood Baptist Church in Baton Rouge. When we heard Dr. John Hamrick preach the deal was sealed. Liz said, “It is formal enough for me and Baptist enough for you.”

When we joined, Dr Hamrick said to Liz, “I will ask you this, but I will only ask you once. Do you have any interest in becoming a Southern Baptist?” “No, Dr. John I don’t” “Welcome to the church,” he said. “The only thing you can’t do is to vote to give it to the Presbyterians.” Dr. Hamrick understood that she could not abandon the faith of her Presbyterian missionary parents. When David Redd became the Minister of Music and Worship, our cup was filled to overflowing. I came to First Baptist knowing how to praise God, how to thank him and how to petition him, but together Dr. John and David taught me how to worship. What a combination of talents. Of course the beautiful historic sanctuary inspires worship.

Our children, Suzanne and Michael, were baptized at First Baptist and Suzanne was married here.  In late August, 1989, Liz was rushed to St. Francis Hospital. During the terrible thirteen days that she was in intensive care and I remained in the hospital to be close, Dr. Scott Walker and G. W. Bowling never missed a day in visiting us. The people of First Baptist and Westminster Presbyterian Church, where she taught kindergarten, kept me well supplied with food and company. At Liz’s funeral Scott said, “When that aneurism hit Liz, God was the first to cry.” Two weeks after her funeral Hurricane Hugo devastated the sanctuary and the entire Charleston area.

When Carol and I were married at First Baptist nine years later by Dr. Hamrick, Dr. Tom Guerry and Dr. Monty Knight, the church welcomed her with open arms. She relished singing in the choir until she had to give it up late this summer. Carol asked Mary Peeples to represent her mother who was in a nursing home. Ann Fox coordinated the event.

We started the John A. Hamrick Lectureship in 1996. Dr. John’s life illuminated his faith. “If God tells you to do something, he will find a way for you to do it.” When Marshall Blalock arrived as our pastor, he fully supported the lectureship. He also supported Forty Days at First Baptist and Say Something Nice Sunday. None of these could have thrived without his support. Lori Lethco, Marshall’s administrative assistant, deserves a lion’s share of the credit for the success of these programs. There is nothing like the lectureship in the state. It is supported by contributions. The committee and especially Marshall are routinely criticized for our choice of speakers overwhelmingly by people not connected to the church.  Marshall simply states, “The people of First Baptist Church are sophisticated enough to make up their own minds.” The Hamrick Lectureship will celebrate its 20th. Anniversary in January, 2015.

When the editor of the Florida Baptist Witness wrote a front page editorial denouncing Say Something Nice Sunday as, “Gospel Free Sunday,“ Don Kirkland, editor of the Baptist Courier, asked Marshall if he wanted to respond. Marshall replied, “No. His words speak for themselves.”

The celebration of the church’s 325th. Anniversary in 2007 was a glorious affair. The Rev. Dr. Thomas McKibbens, now interim pastor of the First Baptist Church of Providence, Rhode Island – the first Baptist church in America, delivered an electrifying sermon, “The Theology of Friendship.” The service was followed by a congregational lunch at the John Hamrick Activity Center.

I have always loved church. I made my profession of faith public in Northside Baptist Church in Woodruff, South Carolina when I was eleven years old. The invitation hymn was, “Just as I Am.” I am grateful for the wonderful people in that small church that gave me a firm foundation that has allowed me to explore and expand my faith with assurance. “I know in Whom I Have Believed.”

October 6, 2014, is my 50th anniversary as a member of First Baptist Church of Charleston.  For about twenty seven of those I taught an adult Sunday school class after stepping in as a substitute. Although these fifty years have not been without heartbreak and pain, my family and I found a home. This is a loving, supportive church family. I have nothing but gratitude for the people at First Baptist and thanksgiving for the spiritual nourishment I have found here.

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Katy Couric. The Best Advice I Ever Got

Katy Couric. The Best Advice I Ever Got. New York. Random House Trade Paperbacks. ©2011

There is a reason Katie Couric’s book is a New York Times Best Sellers. It is a terrific offering. Katie asked many of the people that she has interviewed over the years to answer the question. What is the best advice you have ever received? Most of these are well known; however, many others are relatively unknown. All of the replies are well worth reading.

Jay Leno answered, “Marry your conscience.”  Michael J. Fox explains, “Be Grateful.” “Giving is living,” is the contribution from Mitch Albom. .Rosario Dawson adds, “Feast on your life.” Eric Schmidt says,   ”Say yes.” And Colin Powell contributes, “It doesn’t matter where you start.”

These are just a small sample of all the wonderful examples Katie includes. Katie contributes several entries herself. The only thing that mars the book is that the print and lack of white space makes it difficult to read. Perhaps I should have bought the hardback or the ebook. All the royalties from sales go to Scholarship America. It is a great gift for college graduates and those facing challenges.

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