Posts Tagged pastor

Eighth Annual Say Something Nice Sunday – June 1

The Eighth Annual Say Something Nice Sunday is June 01, 2014. It is a day to celebrate the people who bring joy to our lives. The goal is to turn down the harsh rhetoric and to replace it with speech that is affirming, uplifting and more Christ-like. The movement started at First Baptist Church of Charleston, the oldest Baptist congregation in the South, and has spread to most denominations including the Catholic Diocese of Charleston. This year the Baptist World Alliance will help promote the celebration.

The steering committee is presenting two civility challenges. These are voluntary and self-monitoring. Civility Challenge One: I pledge that during the next 30 days I will refrain from saying anything ugly, demeaning or derogatory to anyone in my workplace and/or daily activities. If I need to offer correction, I will do it in a respectful manner. I will keep a record for each day that notes whether or not I kept the pledge and any reactions directly related to the exercise. Civility Challenge Two: For the next 30 days I will say something nice, uplifting or encouraging to at least one person every day. I understand that comments that involve physical appearance are off limits for this exercise. I will keep a record for each day that notes whether or not I kept the pledge and of any specific reactions directed related to the exercise. Cardinal Dolan of New York said, “How wonderful it would be if all churches and their members decided to say something positive about other Christians and Christian groups at least one Sunday per year in recognition of our common belief in Christ.”

Pastor Jan Culpepper, pastor of Park Circle Presbyterian Church, North Charleston, SC, added, “Let’s make this more than a celebration for a day. Let’s make it a way of life.” There is nothing to buy or join. Free materials are available at Click on Messages/Resources at the top of the home page and then click Say Something Nice Sunday on the right side of the page. Others are encouraged to develop and share their own materials. In 2014, Say Something Nice Sunday and Say Something Nice Day fall on the same day.

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Government shutdown comes to church – Amy Butler – ABPNews


You may have heard: we’re having a little national crisis right now.

By Amy Butler

Little did I know last year when I planned this month’s sermon series on the cost of prophecy — the story of Jeremiah — that we’d be living at such an intersection of despair and hope.

But such is the case in my town, where a national government shutdown translates to individual, personal panic for many in our city and our country. And we, the church, stand squarely at the crossroads of the two.

So I’ve been pondering anew this week: how do people of faith speak truth to power and simultaneously proclaim hope in the middle of personal pain?

While I’ve been trying to channel the prophet Jeremiah, pundits are making varying statements downplaying the government shutdown. Some say it’s really no big deal at all. I mean, the worst thing that happens is some museums close and you can’t get in to visit a national park, right?

I’m not a politico, so I’ll leave politics and economics to the people who know about those things. But I know about pastor things, and here’s what I see.

There are a lot of people in my town who have to pay their bills, just like you and me. They are gifted, committed and hardworking federal employees who support the incredible infrastructure of our government and help make our society one of most advanced in the world.

They’ve already seen salaries frozen and gone through furlough days over these past few months. On Monday at midnight, their jobs stopped, and so did their paychecks. They don’t know what’s coming next.

At Calvary, I’d guess at least 75 percent of our families are directly affected by the government shutdown. My inbox and voicemail this week are filled with messages from people who are scared about what’s ahead.

I’d send the federal government a bill for out-of-the-ordinary pastoral care services required by this situation, but I’m pretty sure whatever office I’d bill has been shut down.

Beyond federal employees, recipients of government assistance are now being denied food and other critical services.

That means, for example, that over 9 million poor women and their children in this country have stopped receiving nutritional support services and healthy food through the WIC program, among other things.

And this is but one small example of critical services stopped with the grinding halt of the federal government because of the disagreement over the Affordable Health Care Act.

Basically, Congress has decided to deny people food so that they can then deny them health care.

Jesus didn’t say much about federal budgets and debt ceilings, but he had a lot to say about denying food to the hungry. (See Luke 16, most of the rest of the Gospel of Luke, Matthew 25 and, well, basically all the Gospels.)

Some suggest that churches can pick up the slack while the government sorts itself out. I don’t know about your church budget, but our fellowship fund is a bit short of the $7 billion dollars it takes to fund the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children.

As each day of government shutdown passes, the needs of the most vulnerable and precious in our society get more and more urgent, and churches don’t have the infrastructure and cash reserves to meet those needs on a wide scale.

Still, as people of faith, step up we will. We will love, encourage and support each other. We will pool our resources to help as much as we can. We will ask those who have more to help those who have less.

We’ll continue to find ways to be God’s hands and feet in a world where the weak and vulnerable suffer at the hands of the rich and powerful. We’ll keep raising our voices and speaking truth to power.

In short, the church will do its job. Wouldn’t it be nice if Congress did the same?

OPINIONViews expressed in ABPnews columns and commentaries are solely those of the authors.

Tagged under: Leadership Politics Obamacare

Amy Butler


Amy Butler is senior pastor of Calvary Baptist Church in Washington. She blogs at Talk With the Preacher. Her “Talk With The Preacher” column appears biweekly at

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Thankful Thursday – The Rev. Phillip Bryant

            On this Thankful Thursday, I am thankful for the gifts The Rev. Phil Bryant brings to my life. I first met Phil years ago through Tita and Charlie Heins. They thought that he hung the moon and I felt the same way about them. Phil is the senior pastor of the French Protestant Huguenot Church in Charleston. He is a graduate of Charleston Southern University when it was still the Baptist College. He is a native of Lyman, South Carolina and is an ordained Baptist minister. He gives much of the credit for his success to the encouragement he received from the late Dr. John A. Hamrick. Phil is a member of the Hamrick Lectureship Committee and one of the Lunch Bunch that meets on Mondays. He knows practically everyone and is a fantastic story teller. He has a creative mind that absorbs the meaning of every encounter. He is a genius at putting the right people together. He and Margaret were married several years after the death of his first wife from cancer. Before accepting his current position, he was a member of the staff at CSU. Phil is an ardent reader and a fantastic conversationalist. He is a great encourager. Phil Bryant brings so many gifts to my life and on this Thankful Thursday I want him to know how grateful I am.

            Thankful Thursday is a day set aside to recognize the importance of someone to our lives and to let her or him know of our gratitude. Develop an attitude of gratitude. Say Something Nice; Be a Lifter. You will be glad that you did.

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Listen Up: Why Your Pastor’s Sermons Don’t Help

Mitch Carnell
Posted: Thursday, August 4, 2011 6:37 am

Listen Up: Why Your Pastor's Sermons Don't Help | Mitch Carnell, Listening, Expectation

If I went to my own church with the same attitude of expectation, that something wonderful would happen there, with notepad open and pen poised, would I experience the same joy, Carnell asks.

I was surprised and perplexed as I examined my curious, contradictory behavior.

My wife and I go each summer for a week to the Chautauqua Institution in western New York state, where we hear outstanding ministers from a variety of pulpits.

I always take a notepad to the worship services and sit with pen ready to take notes.

Why do I not take a notepad to the worship service when I am in my home church?

At Chautauqua, it’s obvious that I expect to hear something remarkable. I want to be prepared to discuss the sermon with others later.

I go with heightened expectation because the visiting minister is renowned. I go ready to hear and be inspired.

Why do I not go with heightened expectations at home?

At Chautauqua, am I not engaging in a type of hero worship? Do I feel that someone who preaches in a tall-steeple church has more to say than someone who toils day after day in an unknown place?

If I went to my own church with the same attitude of expectation, that something wonderful would happen there, with notepad open and pen poised, would I experience the same joy?

Jesus said, “Those who have ears to hear, let them hear” (Mark 4:9). It is my job to hear.

The preacher, no matter how brilliant or inept, cannot do the hearing for me. I am the one charged with the hard work of hearing.

Even at the Chautauqua worship services, with a renowned speaker pouring out wisdom, I see attendees reading newspapers, texting, moving around and talking to a neighbor. Some seeds are falling on hard ground.

In my graduate classes, I talk to students about being prepared to learn. “Come to class with expectations,” I say.

One of my professors would routinely recite an old adage: “A student who comes to class without a pencil is like a soldier going to war without a weapon.” In other words, be prepared to learn.

Most people do not realize that listening is hard work. Many people feel they can read or text and still listen. They are dead wrong. They can hear the words; however, hearing the words is not listening.

I like that feeling of expectation, of being prepared to learn or be inspired. I like the excitement that propels me to find a seat where I can both see and hear the speaker.

I must admit that I never grow tired of those Scriptural nuances that make the stories come alive and help me remember, but I must remember to stay focused.

Jesus nailed it. Some seeds do fall among the weeds, some do fall on hard ground, but a few fall on good ground.

As any farmer or gardener knows, good ground is prepared ground. One doesn’t just go out and toss seeds anywhere. The ground must be turned, enriched and often moistened.

If I am to be excited by the prospects of worship in any venue, I must prepare the ground – my heart, mind and soul – to receive the seeds that will be sown. Jesus certainly shifted the burden of responsibility.

So I’ve changed my behavior. When Sunday morning comes, I will be in my home congregation with notepad and pen in hand. I will be there filled with expectation.

Mitch Carnell is a consultant in organizational and interpersonal communication. He is the editor of “Christian Civility in an Uncivil World” and an active lay member of First Baptist Church of Charleston, S.C. He blogs at 

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