2

viewpoints

Ten to 15 years ago, the neighborhood directly to the north of the U. S. Capitol building and White House in Washington D.C. was "desolate," to use the words of Amy Butler, who is now senior pastor of a beautiful historic church there. For a woman who cut her pastoral teeth working fresh out of seminary for seven years as the director of a homeless shelter in downtown New Orleans, Louisiana, Amy knew well the ravages of a neighborhood occupied mainly by drug trade and prostitution. "You would never walk there at night," she described from the memories of her church members who were present at the time. "There were few buildings; it was mostly empty parking lots. And right in the middle was this huge old 'revival Gothic' church." Originally founded by abolitionists in 1862 when Abraham Lincoln was president and the Civil War was raging, the congregation's building was built in 1897. Later, President Warren Harding went to church there. It was the seat of the modern Sunday school movement (Good Housekeeping magazine featured the women's Sunday school program there in 1918. An early class had 1500 members!). But the tree lined community fell into urban blight in the latter quarter of the 20th century. The church began the very first homeless shelter in the Washington D.C. area. Now Calvary Baptist Church is smack in the middle of a booming hot spot on the edge of D.C.'s small Chinatown, surrounded by the Washington Convention and Verizon Centers, where the Wizards (basketball), and Capitals (hockey) play, with the popular restaurants that kind of traffic brings. I met and interviewed Amy last spring while attending a conference on "Children, Youth, and a New Kind of Christianity" held at Calvary Baptist. "It's not so much the gritty, dangerous neighborhood it once was. It's the hippest, most happening place to be," says Amy. "Our empty parking lots are now multimillion dollar condominiums." Which makes for different issues for a church trying to minister in what is now a neighborhood of many different economical, racial and political backgrounds. "Almost stunned, the people of this congregation had their heads spinning," cited Amy. "They had hung on for so long trying to survive as a congregation and doing urban ministry with feeding and homeless shelter programs." But now there are a lot of young adults and young families moving into the neighborhood and actually living there, not just commuting to work. "There were three or four other homeless shelters right in our immediate area and the need is not so great right here anymore, so we began to think about how God is calling us to live missionally as good stewards of this massive building in the middle of Washington, D.C.," Amy said. An interesting side note to me, as wife of a "building and grounds" kind of husband who helps to care for our own congregation's pre-Civil war church building in the Shenandoah Valley, was a decision by Calvary congregation before Amy arrived to sell off part of their land at one end of the block and put the substantial proceeds of that sale towards renovating the church building for a new era. "We started thinking creatively what we might be able to do here, and partner with organizations who are doing non-profit type work in the city who are not necessarily religious but who would help us be good stewards of the building as partners," reflected Amy. So some of the activities in the church now try to appeal to and serve the young adults and families in the area, working with at-risk youth through theater, music, and using the church's kitchen to teach cooking skills. "And so now we have young adults in and out of our building all day long and we have these dynamic partnerships with these four organizations and together we're doing ministry in a whole new way here on the corner of H and 8th. It's exciting," smiled Amy. "I stopped doing so many funerals and now I'm doing baby dedications." As a single mother of three kids, all teenagers at the time of the interview, Amy says the church has played an incredible role in nurturing and bringing them along in their faith. "I've watched their faith formation from a very young age as children of a pastor, poor things," she grimaced. "It's very difficult to raise our children to have faith, and it's even more difficult to raise your children to have faith when they're the pastor's children, because they see the underside of the church. And they don't see you as pastor, they see you as the mom. But if I can instill in my children some memory in their psyche or DNA of ... I don't know how else to describe it other than the smell of the fellowship hall. The Winkler Times * Thursday, February 14, 2013 7

The smell of the fellowship hall: modern ministry, kids and faith

Melodie Davis Another Way

Letters

Sad that the liquor industry is coming to Winkler in full force

How well I remember 25 years ago this coming November when my family and I moved to the Winkler area. It has been a good 25 years with our 8 children - three were born here in Canada. As our children have grown, they have stayed in Southern Manitoba except for our oldest son and his family who are missionaries in Thailand. This has been a great place to rear a family. Years ago, Winkler was known as a "dry" community, and one of the reasons for beverage alcohol being kept out of the community was because of the foundation of Christian values espoused. The liberal element began early on to try to bring alcohol in with several referendums. They were defeated and yet each time they gained a little more ground. Many became tired of the hassle and the bad publicity that was generated by those who claimed we were behind the times. As we have moved to this point in our history, we see that the liquor industry is coming in full force. How sad! God has not changed even though we may have. God's Word is still to be our Rule for faith and practice even in times when standing for truth is not politically correct or expedient. It is interesting that the first mention of beverage alcohol in the Bible is where a man gets drunk and sins greatly. Proverbs tells us how to get along with our fellow man and states in Chapter 20:1, "Wine is a mocker, strong drink is raging: and whosoever is de- ceived thereby is not wise." We are further admonished not even to look at the stuff in Proverbs 23:31, 32: "Look not thou upon the wine when it is red, when it giveth his colour in the cup, when it moveth itself aright. "At the last it biteth like a serpent, and stingeth like an adder." Even nominal Christians would have to admit that this is a controversial subject among people as to whether it is right or wrong to drink beverage alcohol. People are offended many times by those who drink whether they are church goers or not. God even has addressed this predicament in Romans 14:21: "It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor anything whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak." Christians, those who know Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and Saviour, are to be under the control of the Holy Spirit not You know that smell? It's kind of like old potluck lingering. If I can associate that in their heads with being loved and cared for and welcomed, then I will have done the best that I can do and we'll see where God takes them from there on. Hopefully they will know in the very depths of who they are that they can find a place of welcome and faith in the church." To learn more of ministry at Calvary Baptist or Amy Butler, follow Amy's blog TalkWithThePreacher.org. How does your church minister in the community? Send comments and ideas to me at Another Way, Box 22, Harrisonburg, Va., 22803 or email melodied@mennomedia.org Another Way is a column from Menno- Media by Melodie Davis. She is the author of nine books, most recently Whatever Happened to Dinner and has written Another Way since 1987. She also keeps a blog at www.FindingHarmonyBlog.com Another Way is sponsored by the Winkler Bergthaler Mennonite Church. the "spirits" found in a bottle. Ephesians 5:18 says, "And be not drunk with wine, wherein is excess; but be filled with the Spirit." Just because everybody is doing it and most communities allow it, does not make it right. If God is not for it, we should not be for it either. May God help us to stand for truth and for the sake of the generations that follow us. My hope would be that if and when the liquor store opens up that they would soon close due to lack of business. It is a sad day when we have to have liquor to supposedly have a good time. So much more can be said scripturally, but I believe strongly that "God is NOT for beverage alcohol." Pastor Michael Sullivant Pembina Valley Baptist Church

Letter policy

We welcome and encourage letters from our readers, but preference will be given to locally written letters commenting on local issues, events and concerns. Letters will be edited for length. Letters considered to be in bad taste or libelous in nature will not be printed. Letters should be sent to: The Editor The Winkler Times 583 Main Street Box 1356 Winkler MB R6W 1A4 or email: winkler.editor@sunmedia.ca

You need to upgrade your Flash Player


You need to upgrade the version of your Flash Player to version 9 minimum.

Click here

Adobe Flash Player Download Center