Posts Tagged Texas

In Shooting Aftermath, How Can Faith Infuse Our Daily Lives?

In Shooting Aftermath, How Can Faith Infuse Our Daily Lives? | Mitch Carnell, Mass Shootings, Gun Control

As a community of faith, our challenge is to change hearts. That means we must be more relevant to today’s world, Carnell says.

I heard the devastating news of the shooting at First Baptist Church of Sutherland Springs, Texas, when I returned home from church.

The horror of that incident is almost too much to comprehend. How can a single individual harbor that much hate? I have no idea.

I am the product of a small town and a small village church where everyone knew everyone. I am also the product of a Baptist church where fellowship is next to godliness.

Although my current church, First Baptist of Charleston, South Carolina, is much larger, worship and fellowship walk hand in hand.

We know that it could happen here. In fact, it did happen here only a few blocks away at Mother Emanuel AME Church. That horror is still with us and remains an open raw wound.

We know why Dylann Roof carried out his massacre. We don’t yet know what the Texas shooter’s motives were. Whatever his motive, we know that he was in a mental health facility in 2012.

When I was in graduate school, I had an apartment which was behind an unrented unit. There was an unsecured connecting door.

After a night that included fending off would be intruders, I resolved to purchase a gun. At some point, I realized that the only person that I would injure with a gun would be myself.

I knew that I could be deadly at close range with a wooden baseball bat; therefore, I bought a baseball bat instead. I knew that another gun was a recipe for disaster. There are too many guns now.

I know the arguments for gun rights. I also know that we cannot just do nothing. We can engage in a reasonable dialogue at the very least.

How does our religious faith impact our day-to-day lives? What action steps can we take as a community of faith to bring about greater safety at home and away?

Of course, we must remain vigilant to any threat. When we see something, we must say something. But we can do more.

Where does our faith fit in this struggle? What do we really believe?

I grew up in a culture of guns, but not in a household of guns. My dad had a 12-gauge shotgun that stayed in the corner for as long as I can remember. I don’t know what happened to it. It disappeared at some point.

Two of my teenage friends were playing with an “unloaded” pistol in their home. The pistol fired, and one brother was paralyzed from the waist down and spent the rest of his life in a wheelchair.

Our church employs an off-duty police officer on Sunday mornings. He is usually in the parking lot but parks his patrol car in front of the church.

Our leaders are trying to protect us, and, sadly, it seems to be a necessity these days. But my heart sinks every time I see it. For me, it sends a chilling message.

I am not naïve. We are a downtown church. We must take reasonable steps to protect those who worship with us.

I and three others are greeters. We are not armed nor would I ever want to be. Although we know most of those who enter, we are a historic church with visitors from all over the world.

One of us tries to talk with every visitor, but we know that we miss some. There is a second set of doors that leads to the sanctuary.

These add a little more security, but not much. Our minister is very good about referring troubled members for counseling.

No guns could have prevented the tragedy at Emanuel AME Church. After all, the shooter sat and worshipped with his victims for an hour before launching his attack.

As a community of faith, our challenge is to change hearts. That means we must be more relevant to today’s world.

We must defeat hatred and disrespect for others. We must make it a priority to make friends. We must find a way to let our faith infuse our daily lives. We must ask ourselves, “What does it really mean to be people of faith?”

Our local newspaper ran a feature article based on the question, “How Can Your Faith Contribute to Better Race Relations?”

Perhaps it is time to ponder a different question: How can our faith create a more harmonious environment and reduce the violence in our culture?

If every congregation would open a dialogue on that topic, we might begin to make some progress. There are no easy answers, but we must diligently search for those that are consistent with our faith.

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A Tribute to H. Leon McBeth by Charles Deweese – ABP -05-03-13

Dr. McBeth was the first speaker for the John A. Hamrick Lectureship at First Baptist Church of Charleston, South Carolina.

Longtime church historian Leon McBeth is remembered as “one of the true freedom-loving Baptists of recent times.”

By Charles Deweese

Dr. H. Leon McBeth died this week in Fort Worth, Texas. Prior to his retirement, he taught at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary from 1962 to 2003.

This professor of Baptist history made an indelible mark on tens of thousands of students and readers. He guided many students through doctoral programs in church history. He wrote voluminously. He lectured widely. And he served as chair of the SBC Historical Commission and president of the Southern Baptist Historical Society. His roles in the history of Texas Baptists are legendary.

As a teacher and lecturer, Leon had an uncanny ability to drive straight to the heart of his topics, to present his material in scholarly, yet popular, fashion, and to inject wit and humor into much of what he said. He possessed a caring personality, refusing to put down students or others who might disagree with any of his points.

Leon produced many of the most important books in Baptist history in the past 35 years. Examples include: Women in Baptist Life (1979) — my personal and cherished copy includes Leon’s handwritten note: “To Charles Deweese, dear friend and colleague in ministry, Leon McBeth, Ridgecrest, 1980;” The Baptist Heritage: Four Centuries of Baptist Witness (1987); A Sourcebook for Baptist Heritage (1990); and Texas Baptists: A Sesquicentennial History (1998).

In 2008, co-editors Michael E. Williams Sr., and Walter B. Shurden released Turning Points in Baptist History: A Festschrift in Honor of Harry Leon McBeth.

In the early 1990s, the Baptist Sunday School Board refused to publish Leon’s official centennial history of that board. That experience opened both his eyes and the eyes of millions of Baptists to the fact that religious fundamentalism was alive and well in the SBC, even to the point of marginalizing the deliberately balanced writings of an excellent Baptist historian.

I gained the wonderful opportunity to get to know Leon personally while I served on the staff of the SBC Historical Commission between 1973 and 1994. During that time, Leon served on the commission’s board of directors from 1976 until 1983, including service as chair.

He also served as president of the Southern Baptist Historical Society in 1978-79. In both capacities, he radiated affirming support for the two organizations and for their staff members. In 1989, the commission presented him its Distinguished Service Award.

Leon’s legacy continues on through students and readers nationwide and worldwide. He epitomized the best that Baptist history could offer because of his wide participation in every facet of this theological discipline. He made friends far and wide.

He understood the issues at stake in denominational discussions. While he at times walked what appeared to be a very careful line, those of us who knew him well know full well that he was one of the true freedom-loving Baptists of recent times; and that he had gained that awareness by studying pivotal documents of our common Baptist heritage.

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Thankful Thursday – Debra Bankston

On this Thankful Thursday, I am grateful for the gifts that Debra Bankston brings to my life. I first met her at the national convention of the American Speech/Language and Hearing Association. She was finishing her Master’s degree from Memphis State and I was seeking a speech language pathologist to come to Charleston. I had been conducting interviews all day. When Debra showed up, I knew my search was over. I could not have found a better person for the position. She completed her undergraduate degree at Louisiana Tech University. She turned out to be a fantastic staff member, a wonderful friend, and a great community worker. She worked part-time as the Christian Education Director at John Wesley Methodist Church. When she decided to leave Charleston for Texas, she invited me to come out to Marshall to help her set-up her private practice. She married Tom and then taught many years at Stephen F. Austin State University where she also served as the director of the Speech and Hearing Center. Emily came to grace their lives and life took on even more meaning. Debra was my son Michael’s first crush. He was in middle school and absolutely smitten with her. May is Better Speech and Hearing Month and Debra Wimberley Bankston is a remarkable representative of this profession. On this Thankful Thursday, I am blessed by the many joys that Debra Bankston brings to my life.

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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Thankful Thursday – Kay (Kathyrn) Richards

On this Thankful Thursday, I am grateful for the gifts that Kay Richards brings to my life. Kay was a standout speech/language pathologist at the Charleston Speech and Hearing Center and later in Rochester, New York. She eventually migrated to Texas after retirement and the death of her husband. We kept in touch at our national conventions and then by letter. Kay and I pioneered the first courses at the Citadel in speech/language pathology when the South Carolina Department of Education needed a crash program. In Texas, Kay became an expert in technology for those who could not speak without such assistance. She teaches workshops all over the country. May is Better Hearing and Speech Month and Kay is a great poster person for the celebration. She is active in her church and community, especially the Assistance League, singing, and playing bridge. She is a grandmother that is actively involved in the lives of her grandchildren. She travels the world. On this Thankful Thursday, I am blessed by the gifts that Kay Richards brings to my life.

Thankful Thursday is a day set apart 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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