Some of you who have been reading this column for many years, know that this past February I took a six-month break from writing this column. My proverbial plate was full and getting fuller, and I knew that something had to give.
One of the major issues was my involvement with both the church and the seminary. I am one of those people who believe that seminary professors who are not connected with the church start to talk among themselves and are no longer beneficial to the local and the universal church. I read some of their writings from time to time and am reminded of a conversation between Hegel and a student. The student asked the erudite German professor how many people understood Hegel's writings. Hegel replied that at one time there have been two people who understood it; however, at this time there was only one. With temerity the student asked: May I know who are the two people? Hegel replied: At one time there was God and Hegel, but I think that God gave up!
I am concerned about the ministers who are so busy in the work of the church, that the last book they read was when they were still in the seminary. They are so busy doing all the things which they cannot give up, the things that the church feels that they need to do, that they would fall asleep if they tried to read because they are too tired.
I am exceedingly blessed to serve in a church where I am encouraged to do both. Through an agreement between the church and the seminary I can spend time in a local congregation and I can teach in the seminary. For me it the best of both worlds, but it is one world – the Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
This past Thursday, I was installed as the Associate Professor of Church History at Palmer Theological Seminary (formerly Eastern Baptist Theological Seminary). It was a glorious event. Even though I have been teaching at the seminary for the past six years, the hiring and the promotion at the level of associate professor was very meaningful to me and my family. It showed that all those years that I have worked for a doctoral degree have paid off and that I am doing something that I greatly enjoy doing – teaching national and international students how to become effective and faithful pastors.
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At the same time I love being a pastor. I love God's people here at Central Baptist Church who were entrusted to me by the Great Shepherd, Jesus Christ. They have understood my passion for seminary teaching and preaching, and they have facilitated this opportunity.
The second reason for taking the six months off was the fact that Central Baptist Church went through a major sanctuary renovation. We have repaired the upper ceiling, painted the whole sanctuary, reupholstered the cushions, refurbished the pews, put in a new carpet and installed a new sound system. The price tag for all these renovations was over $100,000.
It is time to celebrate! On Sunday, October 1, 2006, we invite the members of the church (present and past) and our community friends to come and celebrate with us and appreciate our beautiful sanctuary. We will also have a celebration luncheon. We would love to see you at our celebration. If you plan to come and stay for the fellowship luncheon, we would appreciate if you would call us in advance at 732-291-8111 and let us know.
We are doing this on the first Sunday in October, which is also known as the Christian Unity Sunday. Many of the churches in Atlantic Highlands will be opened that Sunday. You are invited to come and visit the churches in this area. There will be people to welcome you and explain the specifics about their churches.
The following churches will be opened from 1:00 to 5:00 PM:
Calvary Chapel, 810 Highway #36, Leonardo
Central Baptist Church, 28 East Highland Ave., Atlantic Highlands
First Presbyterian Church, 3rd & E. Highland Ave., Atlantic Highlands
There will be a Blessing of the Animals' Worship Service with music from 2 – 2:45 PM
adjacent to the church. All are welcome to come and bring your pets!
Quinn Chapel AME Church, 109 Prospect Ave., Atlantic Highlands
St. Paul Baptist Church, West Highland Ave., Atlantic Highlands
United Methodist Church of Atlantic Highlands, 95 Third Ave., Atlantic Highlands
Come and be a part of the celebration of the people of God!