Going the Second Mile in Love

Rev. Dr. Helen Bessent Byrd, BAA Treasurer

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus imparts interpretations of Scripture to clarify misunderstandings of the teachings of the Old Testament emphasizing the value of withholding anger.  In Matthew 5:41, Jesus teaches: “And if anyone forces (requires or compels) you to go one mile, go also the second mile.”  In other words, rather than retaliating, we are told to respond by giving even more than is being required of us.  With a liberal heart, give freely to bless others.

Discussing love in this sermon, Jesus said to his followers: “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’  But I say to you, ‘Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven’” (Matt. 5:43-44).  As Jesus advised the church in Philippi, “Let each of you look not to your own interests, but to the interests of others” (Phil. 2:4).   Jesus is promoting behavior that evinces love, fosters unity and is more exemplary of the mind of Christ.

Jesus is teaching that Christian kindness should supplant straightforward tit-for-tat retribution and selfishness.  It is okay to give way and give away to others.  We should not practice greed (hoarding and refusing to share), the deadly sin which seems to be a contagion in our society today.  Remember the greatest commandment is to love God and the second is to love your neighbor (other humankind) as you love yourself (Mark 12:30-31).  So, in addition to our tithes and offerings, we also offer gifts to other non-profit organizations including UPSem.  (See the website for giving opportunities.  When you give, write BAA on the memo line of your check!)  We are to love wholeheartedly and generously.  In love, we go and give the second mile!

Dean Angela Sims Publishes Her Fourth Book

Dr. Sims, who is a researcher, professor, administrator and author serves as Academic Dean, Robert B. and Kathleen Rogers Chair in Church and Society and Associate Professor of Ethics and Black Church Studies at St Paul School of Theology in Overland Park, Kansas.   Her fourth book published last month is entitled, Lynched – The Power of Memory in a Culture of Terror (2016, ISBN: 9781602582668).  Dr. Sims’ areas of expertise include the history and aftermath of lynching as well as womanist theology.  Recipient of a Ford Foundation Fellowship from Baylor University, Dr. Sims gathered data by interviewing African American elders across the nation.  This book records their memories of lynching cases and the terror and fear promulgated by these acts, provides an examination of the meaning of those memories and records how such experiences shape the religious self-understanding of individuals and communities.

An ordained Baptist minister of the Gospel, Sims has been a consultant, conference speaker and preacher.  She holds membership in several professional and faith based organizations.  Dr. Sims served as assistant project director of a three-year project, Squaring the Womanist Circle” directed by Dr. Katie Cannon with whom she also served as co-organizer of a national conference.

Black Lives Matter, Part #2

Rev. William Freeman, BAA Parliamentarian

In my first article on this subject, I talked about how it was back in 1965 – some fifty-one (51) years ago.  In the last paragraph of that article I stated that, “I pray it will not take another Selma or Bloody Sunday to galvanize this country into living up to its creed that ALL men and women are created equal.”

Well, sad to say, recent events in Tulsa, Oklahoma; Charlotte, North Carolina and El Cajon, California are vivid reminders that racism is still alive and well in America.  Recently, it is being reported that more whites than blacks are shot by cops, and that may be true, as there are more whites than blacks in this country.  However, the uproar in the streets is because most of the black men who are shot are unarmed.  And, the question is, how long will this go on?

It seems that a major problem is that many of the police officers, male and female, are scared of Black men and even Black children.  How old was Tamir Rice?  Who was the cop in the helicopter who said Mr. Cruther, “looked like a bad dude!”  I ask, “What does a ‘bad dude’ look like from a helicopter high up in the air?”

Lastly, a few police officers have come right out and said, “I was afraid” or “I feared for my life.”  They know those are code words that will get them off or cleared of indictment.  Fear does not justify poor police tactics.

Gems for Your Journey:  Sound the Alarm, Blow the Trumpet, Heal the Land

Rev. Veronica Martin Thomas, Chaplain

We are living in turbulent times BUT don’t be discouraged.  God has placed the solution to our country’s woes in the laps of those who acknowledge Him.  God’s strategy for change is declared:  If my people, which area called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land (II Chronicle 7:14 KJV).

The Call from the God of “All Grace” for His people to obey is:

  • Humble ourselves (Humility)
  • Pray, seek God’s face (Prayer of Repentance)
  • Turn from our wicked ways (which proclaims the manner of True Repentance)

The God of “All Grace” will answer earnest prayers and obedience:

  • God will let us hear from heaven (when His call is answered)
  • God will forgive our sins (our unrighteousness)
  • God will hear our land (our Nation)

This is God’s prescription for spiritual sickness.  Let us respond to the Word of God.  Amen.

Jason Callahan, Former BAA Moderator Rises Up

Congratulations to Jason Callahan on his permanent assignment to the position of Instructor/Palliative Care Chaplain in the School of Allied Health Professions at Virginia Commonwealth University. He has also attained certification by the Board of the Association of Professional Chaplains.

BAA board members join in celebrating Jason’s achievements. A valiant servant in BAA, Jason was the student assistant who gave the leadership in BAA’s formation.  He became a charter member and was elected as its second moderator.

Empowering Women to Rise

By Rev. Dr. Patricia Turner-Olds

Selected women of Faith Community Church are rising!  More than a dozen years ago, Rev. Patricia Gould-Champ, pastor of the church, founded Women R.I.S.E. (Respect, Integrity, Success, Empowerment).  The goal and mission of R.I.S.E. are effectuated through the content of modules of each of the four components led by volunteer facilitators and workshop presenters.  Sacred space is created for women to engage in honest and intimate dialogue:  sharing of life challenges, faith formation and spiritual development and practical skills for building self-esteem, financial management confronting life struggles, conflicts and trials.  These experiences serve to enhance self-respect, foster integrity, support personal success and empower them with resilience.

It has been my delight to be one among the educators, ministers of the gospel and other helping professionals who shared their skills and talents with these women.  Each year I have attended the Women R.I.S.E. graduation exercise.  Listening to the two-minute speeches of the nine graduates this fall impacted me more this year than in years past.  I listened and watched nine beautiful women share, with confidence, well-articulated reflections about their R.I.S.E. experiences and journeys.  Not only did we celebrate every one of their presentations, but I was particularly and joyfully overwhelmed and tearful to hear each of them express how much the two workshops that I facilitated – masking and self-esteem – had impacted their being, enhanced their personhood and made a difference in their lives mentally and spiritually.  I am happy to have had a role in empowering these women to rise to another plateau as leading women today.  My prayer is always, “may the work that I do speak for me,” as I seek to do as Dr. Katie Cannon advises, “tell the Great Story, live the Great Story for Thine is the kingdom, power and glory!”