I grew up in Midland, Texas where open land with beautiful sunsets fill the western sky. Our church youth group attended summer camp at Paisano Baptist Encampment between Alpine and Marfa in the Davis Mountains. We were still in West Texas with dry open land and not many trees, but at Paisano we had mountains—although they were “naked mountains” as I called them, just scrub vegetation, mainly rocky, but they were mountains.
We always hiked up Paisano Peak or “Ole Baldy” at summer camp. The tabernacle was open air with a beehive-type ceiling, and usually bats would fly out every evening. Memories. These places provided incredible spiritual growth during my teenage years. They seemed to be a Bethel, a place where I heard the voice of God sharing God’s plan for my life.
As you read this, we will be on our way back to Paisano for just a few days, a time of breathing the fresh West Texas air, seeing men as they drive their pickups, raising their pointer finger to communicate to the oncoming driver that the way is clear, of feeling at home as I observe the beautiful sunsets filling the entire western sky and the excitement of seeing just a glimpse of the “naked mountains.” We’ll worship together Sunday evening, sitting in that open-air tabernacle, and observe the bats fly out. We’ll attend morning and evening worship each day and sit and fellowship around the picnic tables in the dining shed with family, friends and our former youth minister. A time of hearing God’s voice sharing a vision for my life is something I’m anxious to experience again in this special “Bethel” for me.
We all have a “Bethel,” and I hope you will have an opportunity to go back to yours to experience God’s voice and remember back to the days of God’s incredible faithfulness and to discover the path has been cleared for you.
We also can experience a “Bethel” here in Dallas and here at Wilshire. We must be ready to listen and quiet our hearts and minds and anticipate God’s presence. I heard God’s voice last Sunday, as our MusiCamp children shared about God’s faithfulness to Esther, Mordecai and the children of Israel. One of the phrases of the songs continues to run through my mind and will be another “Bethel” for me: “Never underestimate what God can do.”
Through a recent Fifth Saturday Mission project, Wilshire volunteers packed more than 10,000 meals that went to El Salvador with a ministry called Convoy of Hope. This ministry takes a holistic approach to alleviating hunger. Here’s a report on how that food is distributed, written by a Convoy of Hope staff member.
Mainor is one of the 7,000 children in the Children’s Feeding Initiative in El Salvador.
When our colleagues in El Salvador told videographer Jeremy Denief and me that it was going to take us 45 minutes to drive just a few miles up the mountain to one of our feeding sites in Ahuachapán, El Salvador, I did a double take.
We’re in El Salvador to capture stories of compassion to report to our feeding partners who sustain our efforts here and in 10 other countries. As we pulled into the town of Atiquizaya at the base of the jungle-laden mountain, we stopped for a moment and an elderly, skinny gentleman stepped out and got into our truck.
“This is Don Miguel,” said Arely Hernandez, one of our feeding site coordinators. “He’ll be our guide up the mountain. He knows everyone here so we will have no problems.”
Arely went on to explain that Don Miguel is 90 years old and well respected in the community. His hands were like leather and he sported a straw hat that rounded out his character perfectly. As the truck left the pavement and began the ascent up the mountain, I noticed Don Miguel’s hands slowly guiding Nancy, our driver, back and forth through the increasingly gigantic ruts in the road.
It was immediately clear why this drive would take 45 minutes. The five of us were tossed about like rag dolls as the truck careened in and out of ditches, potholes and drop-offs. All the while, Don Miguel’s hand remained steady on the dash, guiding our way.
Finally, we reached our destination: Tapacún school, a modest structure made of bamboo and mud resting on the edge of the mountain. The children were waiting on us and greeted us before we had a chance to get out of the truck. Boy, were we glad to be out of the truck, but immediately we were even more content to see the smiles on the faces of the 75 kids we’d come to meet.
As the impoverished students of Tapacún made their way through the lunch line to get rice and beans provided by Convoy of Hope and our partners, a young boy approached Arely with an empty plate.
“My name is Mainor,” the 10-year-old said in Spanish. “I just wanted to say thank you for the food and (thank you) to the people I don’t know who feed me here.”
He paused a moment, then glancing over at his teacher said: “May I have some more? It’s very delicious.”
She said yes, and Mainor had his plate full of rice again in 30 seconds.
I was so glad she said yes.
Turns out that Mainor often goes hungry at home and when his parents can’t afford to put food on the table he scours the fields for fruit that’s already fallen to the ground. But he now has comfort in the fact that he can come to this rural school every day and get a nutritious meal.
In his book Fresh Air, SMU professor Jack Levison offers a model from the Old Testament prophet Isaiah for being attentive to the work of the Spirit in daily living:
- Meet God every morning. Commit yourself to routine awakening.
- Listen, don’t talk. Practice routine listening
- Train for the goal of sustaining the weary with a word. Devote yourself to routine encouragement.
Jack will be present at Wilshire on Sunday, Aug. 13, to speak in Cord of Three Class and also to engage in dialogue during a luncheon in Community Hall at noon. Copies of Fresh Air will be available for purchase. There’s also a copy available for checkout from the Wilshire Library.
Fresh Air contends the Holy Spirit is not just about speaking in tongues, spiritual gifts or “fruits” but also about our deepest breath and our highest aspirations.
Cost of the luncheon is $7, and advance reservations are requested by contacting Kathi Lyle at (214) 452-3130.
Special options for guests. Everyone who would like to learn more about Wilshire—whether you’re a first-time guest or a longtime “Wilshire Anonymous”—is invited to two special events this summer. Wilshire Tour and Talk will be offered on Sunday, July 23, and Sunday, Aug. 6, at 9:40 a.m. Learn the history of the church as you take a guided tour of the building. Meet at the entrance to McIver Chapel. Coffee and Conversation with Senior Pastor George Mason will be offered July 30 and Aug. 27, at 9:40 a.m. This is an informal hour of conversation with George where you’re encouraged to ask anything you want to know. Meet at George’s study on the second floor, Room 2203.
Ringers at Rangers. Wilshire will send five handbell ringers to be part of a 150-person bell choir playing the National Anthem at the Texas Rangers game on July 29. Sarah Stafford, Laurie Diffee, Susan Kimball, Shana Gaines and Jenn Weaver will join others from the Handbell Musicians of America Area 9. Each player will ring two handbells, and the music must be memorized. If you attend the game, be sure to arrive in time to hear them ring; the game also will be televised.
Mussar group forming. Several Wilshire congregants are joining friends from Temple Emanu-El for the Season of Mussar small-group study this fall, and there are still openings. This is a curriculum based on the attributes of God that helps participants know themselves and live more meaningful lives. Even if you did not attend the information session, you are invited to learn more. Contact Philip Einsohn at firstname.lastname@example.org or (469) 438-3355.
New deacon vice chair. The deacon body last week elected Ann Hill as vice chair of deacons for the remainder of 2017, filling a vacancy created by the resignation of Bill Hollis. She will serve along with Charles Yarbrough, deacon chairman, and Jason Woodbury, deacon chair-elect.
Special session letter writing. Are you wondering how you can engage the special session of the Texas Legislature over the next few weeks? Join the Christian Advocacy Committee on Sunday, July 30, in James Gallery. The committee will have everything you need to write a letter to your elected officials. You are invited to write about any topic of interest, and there also will be information regarding several bills of interest to the church’s advocacy initiative supporting Texas public education. Whether you are a seasoned advocate or a newcomer, stop by James Gallery to write a note between between 9:30 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.
Adventurers to Hello, Dolly!. Wilshire Adventurers will attend a Sunday afternoon matinee of Hello, Dolly! at Garland Civic Theater on July 30 at 2:30. Reserve your place with Pat Tilley at the Adventurers table on Sunday mornings in James Gallery or on Wednesdays in Community Hall. Tickets are $28.
Photos on Facebook. Photos of Wilshire camps and events are regularly posted on the church’s Facebook page. Be sure to visit facebook.com/wilshirebc to see what’s going on. You do not have to be a subscriber to Facebook to see the photos.
This Wednesday at Wilshire. This week’s speaker for the summer “This Is My Story” series will be Marv Knox, outgoing editor of the Baptist Standard and new coordinator of Fellowship Southwest. Come enjoy lunch from 11 a.m. to noon, then stay for the program at noon. Upcoming speakers are: Pat Cullum, Aug. 2; Jim Morrison, Aug. 9; Gary Cook, Aug. 16.
Youth camp report. Wilshire’s annual youth camp focused on Intersections, drawing upon the inspiration of Frederick Buechner, who taught: “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” Minister to Students Darren DeMent and Camp Pastor Timothy Peoples challenged students through personal discovery and reflection to discover what God is calling them to and who it is God is calling them to be. Darren added: “Thank you to Wilshire for being the kind of church that allows youth to think seriously about such an important question and to encourage each youth to find his or her intersection with God.”
Koinonia Café July 26: Mediterranean chicken breast with olives and feta, lemon-herb shrimp, saffron rice pilaf, grilled eggplant and squash, balsamic-basil tomatoes, fried green beans.
Adventurers ice cream social. All senior adults are invited to the Wilshire Adventurers ice cream social on Tuesday, Aug. 15, in Community Hall at 6:30 p.m. A program will be presented by the Dallas Police Choir, which consists of 30 sworn police officers of all ranks and from all divisions. There’s a suggested contribution of $3 per person for the ice cream, and the program is free. No reservation is required
Join Companions in Christ. Companions in Christ groups are forming for this fall, offering opportunities for small-group interaction and spiritual formation. Through Companions in Christ, groups of six to 12 people (men and women of all ages) meet weekly to pray together, reflect on daily readings, support each other in spiritual growth, learn new styles of prayer, journal the walk with Christ, open themselves to being formed by Scripture, and discover spiritual friends who will listen to and pray for each other. New groups will begin in early September and will run through May, with breaks for Thanksgiving, Christmas, spring break and Easter. To learn more about Companions in Christ or to sign up for a group, contact Mark Wingfield at (214) 452-3128.
Book study of Jayber Crow. Mary Kay Jackman will lead a three-week study on the Wendell Berry book Jayber Crow on Thursdays, beginning Aug. 3 and ending Aug. 17, from 10 to 11:15 a.m. Sign up online at wilshirebc.org/registration. Bring your copy of the book.
JoBeth Jones book signing. Wilshire has a new author in its midst. Actually, two authors writing under one assumed name: JoBeth Jones. We know these novelists as Mary Kay Jackman and Julie Owen. Their first novel, Justice in Jeterville, has just been released, and more are on the way, including some children’s picture books. All are invited to a book signing in the South Atrium on Sunday morning, Aug. 6, from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Copies of the book will be available for purchase.
Timothy Peoples named McIver Fellow. The Personnel Committee has named Pastoral Resident Timothy Peoples to the role of McIver Fellow beginning August 1, meaning he will continue to serve at Wilshire for a few more months while finalizing his search for a pastoral role.
By Bill O'Brien.
Blessed with overcast skies and gentle breezes, our neighborhood met together at our Turquoise Table last Sunday evening. Invitations were posted on the doors of all the houses on our block a few days before the event. Charmaine and Laura, our next-door neighbor, provided snacks. Each family brought the drink of their choice.
We planned a come-and-go time from 6 to 8 p.m., but it turned out to be a come-and-stay event as everyone lingered. More than 30 of our neighbors engaged in lively talk, laughter and learning more about each other. One woman has been in her house since the beginning of the University Terrace development—more than 50 years. A young couple bought a house across from us three months ago. Three of the families have new babies.
We learned things about each other we never would have known in this digital, disconnected age: A mechanical engineer dealing in robotics, the manager of an antique store, the superintendent/project manager of a huge new apartment building under construction, two commercial real estate agents, the owner of a wholesale men’s shoe business, an architect, two medically related persons, and a banker. The loss of front porches, along with television, cell phones, and air conditioning, have all quietly robbed us of this kind of neighboring.
To a person, our neighbors said they are already looking forward to the next time we get together. There is magic in the air in the form of a Turquoise Table.
To learn more about Wilshire’s Turquoise Table movement and how you can be involved, contact Tiffany Wright, minister for care ministries, at email@example.com or (214) 452-3107.
Summer is half over. Mark your August and September calendars with these important dates:
20 Committee Sunday —Something new this year: Most committee meetings will move to a common Sunday each month to increase efficiency and allow child care to be offered
20 Youth Promotion Sunday (7th-12th grades only)
23 Watershed kickoff
27 Promotion Sunday for preschoolers and children
27 Affinity Luncheons — Something new this year: Sign up to stay for lunch and join an informal conversation among people who share common interests
27 Youth Choir/Shekinah/Paradiso resume
30 Adult Wednesday evening activities resume
30 Wednesday dinner resumes
30 Sanctuary Choir resumes
30 Preschool/Children’s choir teachers work night
2-10 Kenya mission trip
5 ECLC fall semester begins
6 Wednesday Music and Missions begins
7 Women’s Ministry Brown Bag Book Club
7-14 Adventurers trip to Virginia
8 Preschool ice cream on the playground
8 Marriage Connections/Single Parents Night Out
8 Adoption and foster care group
10 Turquoise Table sharing luncheon
10 Carillon Ringers resumes
13 New Song resumes
17 Committee Sunday
17 Flu shots
20 Children’s handbells resumes
24 Wilshire Talks
30 Fifth Saturday Service Day
Stepping out in faith not knowing the destination is part of the story of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, popular author and theologian Brian McLaren told nearly 1,500 attendees at the 2017 General Assembly.
He emphasized that the Fellowship has blazed a trail since its founding in 1991, walking and creating an unknown road together.
There’s still more to be done, he added. “You aren’t at the top of the slippery slope,” said McLaren, referencing those who criticized CBF in its founding era. “You are making progress on a long, upward journey. To have a woman (executive coordinator) is a pretty remarkable thing. To be a place where you are allowed to talk about the need for racial reconciliation, it is an important start. We have a way to go; you have a long adventure ahead.”
He called on the assembly to “seize this moment by centering on the grand essentials of our faith”: the good news of Jesus, the Great Commandment of Jesus, and the Great Commission of Jesus.
Living in these essentials requires courage, challenging the status quo, loving neighbor, loving self, loving creation and forming disciples to be agents of transformation, he said.
“This is hard work,” he explained. “Instead of judging people, it is welcoming them to the table and washing their feet. Instead of conforming to the status quo, it’s about being an agent of transformation for the poor, oppressed and imprisoned. The Great Commission is saying, ‘I am involved in the healing of the world.’ It’s about making disciples. It’s about forming lifelong disciples, people who follow a rabbi teacher, who imitate his example and teach others the art of living in his way.”
Wilshire had a visible presence at the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship’s General Assembly in Atlanta June 28-30—not just in the 20 members who attended but also in the extended Wilshire family that provided leadership throughout the event.
The week began with a celebration of the successful completion of a $12 million endowment campaign marking CBF’s 25th anniversary. Wilshire was among the top church contributors to the campaign because of funding the new Bill and Charlotte Bruster Endowed Leadership Scholar position.
Nearly 80 percent of the $12,103,062 given to the campaign will increase CBF’s endowments, which will help sustain CBF ministry for the next 25 years. Additional funds will support block grants to the Fellowship’s 18 state and regional organizations for ministry in their areas.
Of the $12 million, half will support CBF Global Missions. Specifically, that portion of the campaign will help sustain the long-term presence of field personnel ministering in 30 countries, reinstate a two-year mission apprenticeship program and impact the poorest counties in the United States through the Fellowship’s rural poverty initiative, Together for Hope. Jason Coker, Wilshire’s former minister of missions, leads this initiative and spoke to the assembly about the vast needs.
On the opening night of General Assembly, CBF named the mission apprenticeship program, called the CBF Global Service Corps, after the late Dick and Jesmarie Hurst of Tyler, Texas, for their commitment to volunteer medical missions alongside CBF field personnel.
The campaign will also serve to equip and nurture young Baptists for their Christian journey by adding $2 million in endowment support for theological education, scholarships, retreat experiences and church internships.
Missions took center stage throughout the assembly, including the final night’s service of commissioning and blessing for new field personnel, chaplains, pastoral counselors and church starters.
Four individuals were commissioned to serve as CBF field personnel in locations in the United States and China. One of those, Lesley-Ann Hix Tommey, has a Wilshire connection, as she is married to Blake Tommey, who grew up at Wilshire. They will move to Manhattan, where she will join Rauschenbusch Metro Ministries in the Hell’s Kitchen neighborhood.
The Assembly also commissioned 39 chaplains and pastoral counselors who received endorsement through CBF over the past year, including Wilshire’s own Gina Biddle, who serves at UT Southwestern Medical Center.
Six new church starters also were commissioned for service in five churches in five states.
Wilshire’s presence was seen in auxiliary events as well. Pastoral Residency Alumnus Jake Hall headlined the annual banquet sponsored by Baptist News Global, offering a live recording of his weekly radio show, “Gospel Gothic,” based in Macon, Ga. Another residency alumnus, David King, was the keynote presenter at a half-day seminar on teaching generosity.
Both Katie Murray, Wilshire’s Christian advocacy specialist, and Heather Mustain, minister of missions, presented workshops during the assembly.
Derek Davis - By Profession of Faith
Others in need of prayer:
David, Addie, Andrew, Sue, Robin, Carole
*Names in bold indicate Wilshire members.
Anytime I hear a story about twins, I can relate almost immediately. You see, I am a twin. Surprise! Jon and I were born early one Halloween morning to the astonishment of Mom, Dad and older brother Justin, who didn’t know twins were coming.
I remember Jon and I used to play a game when we were little: “Mommy, which one of us do you love more?” And Mom would say, “I love you boys all the same.” We never could get her to crack and admit that one of us boys was her favorite. However, one way I would feel like I was Mom’s quasi-pseudo favorite was to ask her which of us twins was the first to be born. I knew I was born before Jon by 16 whole minutes, but it was nice to hear that acknowledgement from Mom. Then, I would give that mean little grin to Jon that I had won Mom’s favor, at least in my mind.
In addition to vying for Mom’s favor, there were times Jon and I didn’t get along. We would get on each other’s nerves, then squabble and fight. As soon as the match was over, we were best buddies, playing together, riding our bikes and simply being Jeff and Jon again.
In our Scripture story for today, we read that Esau and Jacob fought, too. They were even concerned about which one should be the favored one based on birth order—a custom that was culturally understood then, and even today. However, when a birthright is concerned, twins are supposed to be equal, right? They are born on the same day, after all.
In this timeless biblical epic, the battle between Esau and Jacob starts a squabble that has lasted ever since. Their descendants have been fighting for birthright and God’s favor for millennia. I wonder, will this fighting ever stop? Will they ever love each other again? Will there be peace in the family again?
I like to remember that as Jon and I got on each other’s nerves many times, we were still able to reconcile and be buddies again. And even though Jon and I competed for Mom’s favor, we both know now that Mom “loves us both the same.” What would it be like for Jacob and Esau not to fight anymore and to realize that God loves them—and us—both the same?