On Sunday, May 28, the Christian Church celebrates the Feast of Ascension, one of the ecumenical feasts of the liturgical year. This is a feast that gets less attention because it is sandwiched between Easter and Pentecost. Forty days after Jesus’ resurrection, Jesus ascends to the right hand of God the Father, a tenet of our faith solidified at the Council of Nicea in the early 300s. Jesus’ ascension officially marks the end of his earthly and physical presence among his disciples and also consummates his reunion with God.
Our Scripture passage (Acts 1:1-11) summarizes about all we know of what happened between Jesus’ resurrection and his ascension. The author is vague in the account of details: “He presented himself alive to them by many convincing proofs and spoke about the kingdom of God.”
However, it is between this time of resurrection and ascension that we find the biblical stories of Jesus’ appearance to the two men on the road to Emmaus and Thomas’ need to touch the wound marks in order to believe. These are beloved stories that allow us our own room to vacillate between belief and doubt. Jesus’ resurrection and his return to the disciples allowed them to witness the fulfillment of the Scriptures and, in return, Jesus gained their full confidence, even if they were still confused at how and when God would restore the kingdom of Israel. Jesus gives clear instructions to the disciples to wait in Jerusalem for the promise of the Father. The unleashing of the Spirit is coming, and when the power of the Spirit comes, the disciples will be God’s witnesses throughout all the earth. The form of this witness will take on a fervency and zeal—witnessing done with such urgency because they believed it to be an apocalyptic event in and of itself.
I can’t help but wonder what would have happened if Jesus, at this point in time, never re-appeared to the disciples and didn’t spend those 40 days convincing those closest to him that he did, in fact, defeat death. Would their doubt have overshadowed their witness? This belief and sight motif in Scripture yet again proves to be one of the most valuable to me as I allow myself the grace to continue to vacillate between belief and doubt, because our witness doesn’t depend on our ability to set aside our doubts completely, but it does call forth our full confidence even when we don’t understand the details.
For some reason, I have always wanted a punch bowl and an excuse to use it. Last week I was meandering through a thrift store and came across some old cut-glass punch bowls for $4.99.
I love cut glass. It reminds me of my Mema. I have her old cut-glass pitcher as well as a cut-glass platter that belonged to Britt’s grandma. I thought about putting the punch bowl in my cart but talked myself out of it, as I don’t really need a punch bowl, and I have been trying to get rid of unnecessary stuff. The longer I meandered through the clothes and other items, though, the more compelled I felt to buy the punch bowl anyway.
My 40th birthday was coming up, so I reasoned that it would count as a birthday gift to myself and perhaps I could make punch and invite some friends over just to make the day a little less ordinary. Soon I was imagining an Italian cream cake on Grandma’s platter, ice water or lemonade in Mema’s pitcher, and punch in my lovely punch bowl to share with friends. I went back to the punch bowls and found the one most like Mema’s pitcher. I managed to find plenty of matching cups to go with it for 69 cents each. I stopped myself at 15.
A few hours later, I had a beautiful, sparkling-clean punch bowl set (minus a ladle). My girls were so inquisitive about this new addition. I told them it was a birthday present to myself. They wondered about punch. I told them that punch is fun and we should have punch parties and invite friends over sometimes. And then it occurred to me that maybe the punch bowl’s purpose was in partnership with our new Turquoise Table, part of the Wilshire Neighborhood Tables initiative.
So yesterday was the “birthiversary” (Britt and I got married on my birthday). We went to brunch in the morning because he had deacons’ meeting that evening. I was pretty busy with errands all day and never bothered to make that Italian cream cake. The girls were a bit disappointed after school that I had not used my punch bowl on my birthday as I had originally suggested.
Instead, I told them I was thinking about just inviting a couple of our family friends over for Dr Pepper floats after dinner. I explained that during my years at Baylor, students and staff enjoyed the weekly Dr Pepper Hour, which was Dr Pepper and vanilla ice cream mixed together in a punch bowl. We could use our punch bowl for that. We made a quick run to Kroger and texted the friends. Neither family could make it, so I decided to see what would happen if we put our punch bowl on the Turquoise Table. The point was simply to make the day less ordinary, so that would do fine.
After dinner, I put out some Dr Pepper float in the punch bowl and had my girls knock on a few doors to invite neighbors to come over. We found some neighbors out walking or playing in their yards and invited them to join us. The kids pulled out the bocce set, bikes, chalk and scooters. Over the next couple of hours, we met a longtime neighbor whom we’ve never seen outside, introduced several neighbors to each other, conversed about neighbors who lived in our homes before we did, explained that the cheerful lady next door who people assume to be a widow is in fact not a widow and that their wisteria bush has been here longer than some of our houses, learned who has lactose intolerance and who is diabetic, reminisced about the grandmothers and family events that my punch bowl reminds people of, and commiserated about the mosquitoes. I caught up with the boy down the street who frequently used to come over to play and watch Dinosaur Train years ago until it got weird for boys and girls to play together. He had several cups of float and played bocce with the girls a few times before heading home. His dad played a round of bocce with Ruby, who had not won a game yet. Kids chalked hopscotch and happy messages on the sidewalks. Together, we dreamed up front yard games and picnics for the future. My next-door neighbor told me not to be surprised if I see a second table pop up in her yard.
Our spontaneous little “punch party” was beautiful, well-received and inspiring. This morning I sent an email to all who had been invited to our block’s cookie exchange last December, explaining the purpose of the neighborhood table. Within minutes, a busy working mom responded that she had been wanting to figure out how to make something like this happen in our neighborhood.
Looks like I should buy a ladle. And a lot more cups.
If you’d like to know more about how to participate in the Wilshire Neighborhood Table movement, contact Tiffany Wright, minister for care ministries, at (214) 452-3107 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Wilshire currently has 24 Turquoise Tables in the front yards of member homes (and one on the back lawn of the church), and a second painting party and delivery day is being planned for a second wave of participants.
By Rob Banta
Perhaps you’ve heard about Stephen Ministers at Wilshire but haven’t understood what Stephen Ministers are and are not, what they do and don’t do. Here is an easy overview.
A Stephen Minister is a layperson trained to provide Christian care—being Christ to another—to a person experiencing a life challenge or loss in whatever form that might take. Through the caring relationship, the Stephen Minister provides a safe place for the care receiver to explore and express feelings in a confidential, non-judgmental, one-on-one setting. The Stephen Minster does not fix or solve problems; rather, he or she helps the care receivers work through their problems to reach their own resolution.
Typical circumstances in which a Stephen Minister might be assigned to provide care, to name just a few, include death of a loved one; terminal or chronic illness or caring for a terminally or chronically ill loved one; separation or divorce; vocational stress, such as job loss, chronic unemployment, job relocation or reorganization or involuntary retirement. Before being assigned to a Stephen Minister, an assessment is made of potential care receivers to determine that they are emotionally and mentally stable individuals with their coping skills and ability to make rational, sound decisions intact.
Stephen Minsters are not pastors (or “lay pastors”), nor are they counselors or therapists. They do not serve as caregivers for minors, couples or family groups, those suffering from severe depression or mental or emotional disturbances, those dealing with abuse issues, substance abusers or chemically dependent persons.
It is not unusual for Stephen Ministry leaders in evaluating a potential care receiver, or for a Stephen Minister already in a caring relationship, to discover needs for which a Stephen Minister is not qualified, or for which it would not be appropriate for a Stephen Minister to provide care. In those cases, referrals may be made to qualified professionals or services that can provide the kind of care and assistance needed.
Wilshire’s pastoral staff—and especially Tiffany Wright, minister for care ministries, and Heather Mustain, minister of missions—maintains current information detailing community resources, both governmental and private, available in the Metroplex to persons in need of professional care and other services. This information is available, of course, not just to Stephen Ministers but to the entire congregation.
One source of such information is the Source Book 2015-16 published by the Community Council of Greater Dallas, with descriptions of and contact information for a multitude of services in the greater Dallas area. A copy of the Source Book is available for anyone to use in the church library and in the church office on the main floor.
Wilshire also has a partnership with the Pastoral Counseling Center, which for more than 50 years has provided counseling and psychological services in the Dallas area on a sliding fee scale. The center now maintains an office at Wilshire, just outside McIver Chapel. Visit the Center’s website at www.pccdallas.org to learn more about the specialties of the individuals who office at Wilshire. The Center’s therapists and psychologists provide individual, couple and family counseling.
For more information about Stephen Ministry, contact Tiffany Wright at email@example.com or (214) 452-3107.
Join a small group from Wilshire June 19-23 as they participate in an annual Church Builders event in Weed, N.M.
Every year, Baptist Church Builders chooses a smaller membership congregation and provides volunteer labor and guidance to extend the love and care of Christ.
You do not need specific skills to participate. Only a few “skilled” carpenters lead the group; the rest are school teachers, coaches, retired oil company workers, EMTs, nurses, lawyers, preachers, small-business owners, bankers, welders, mechanics, truck drivers, etc. You also may work with the Kitchen Crew providing meals for the week.
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 and join the group in discovering the richness of Berry’s writing on love, loss, heaven, hell, joy and despair.
Rangers outing. Join a Wilshire group to see the Texas Rangers take on the Houston Astros on Sunday, June 4. Game time is 2:05, and free roundtrip transportation on a chartered bus will be provided from the church, departing at 12:15 p.m. Cost of the ticket is $20 per person. Seats are in Upper Box behind home plate. Purchase your spot at the reception desk in the church office. This is the PowerAde Zero Adrian Beltre Kids Glove Giveaway Day and Kid's Blue Bell Ice Cream Sunday.
Something Rotten tickets. A Wilshire group will go to see the touring Broadway musical Something Rotten at the Winspear Opera House on Thursday, June 15. Discounted tickets are $45 apiece and are available by contacting Mark Wingfield at 214-452-3128. With 10 Tony nominations, including for best musical, Something Rotten is set in the 1590s and tells the story of two brothers who are desperate to write their own hit play while the “rock star” Shakespeare keeps getting all the hits. When a local soothsayer foretells that the future of theatre involves singing, dancing and acting at the same time, the brothers set out to write the world’s very first musical.
VBS is coming. Vacation Bible School is coming to Wilshire June 12-16. This year’s theme is “Have U Seen? Looking for God’s Fingerprints.” VBS is for preschoolers who have turned 3 years old by Sept. 1, 2016, through sixth graders. Sessions run Monday through Friday, June 12-16, from 9 a.m. to noon daily. It’s free, but advance registration is requested at wilshirebc.org/registration.
Senior adult art workshop. Find your inner artist at Wilshire’s Senior Art Workshop on Thursday, July 13, from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Julie Owen will lead this one-day workshop of art and fellowship. Cost is $25, and space is limited. Reserve your place online at wilshirebc.org/registration. A list of supplies for participants to bring is published online and available in Jessica Capps’ office. Lunch will be provided.
Room in the Inn. On June 9, July 21 and Aug. 18, Wilshire will welcome friends from Austin Street Shelter for overnight stays in Community Hall during the hottest months of the year. Volunteers are needed to provide dinner, breakfast and sack lunches, help set up and clean up, provide fellowship on Friday evening or provide transportation. Contact Heather Mustain at 214-452-3110 to help.
Fifth Saturday Service Day. Fifteen volunteers (age 16 and above) are needed to help with the Wilkinson Center’s annual shoe drive July 29. Sign up at wilshirebc.org/registration.
This Wednesday at Wilshire. The popular summer testimony series, “This Is My Story” is now offered every Wednesday at noon in Community Hall. Come enjoy lunch in Koinonia Café from 11 a.m. to noon, then stay for the inspirational program from noon to 1 p.m. This week’s speaker is our own senior pastor, George Mason, who will talk about his faith upbringing. Come find out what you didn’t know about George.
Church Builders mission trip. Join a small group from Wilshire June 19-23 as they participate in an annual Church Builders event in Weed, N.M. Every year, Baptist Church Builders choses a smaller membership congregation and provides volunteer labor and guidance to extend the love and care of Christ. You do not need specific skills to participate. Only a few “skilled” carpenters lead the group; the rest are school teachers, coaches, retired oil company workers, EMTs, nurses, lawyers, preachers, small-business owners, bankers, welders, mechanics, truck drivers. You also may work with the Kitchen Crew providing meals for the week. To register visit wilshirebc.org/registration or contact Heather Mustain for more information.
Kingdom Power Wash at Wilshire. Prison Entrepreneurship Program joined the ranks this year as one of Wilshire’s trusted mission partners. Bryan Kelley, executive relations manager for PEP and a graduate of the program, started Kingdom Power Wash, a social enterprise that provides legitimate, meaningful work for stigmatized people who want to get back on their feet upon release from prison. They do this by hosting car washing events at businesses and churches. On Sunday June 11, Wilshire’s Missions Committee will host Kingdom Power Wash in the north parking lot from 9 a.m. to noon. Car owners must pre-register for the 40 available spots. Payment methods include check, credit or cash. The suggested donation is $20. Leave your car with Wilshire volunteers between 9 and 9:15 a.m., then pick it up after worship. Sign up at wilshirebc.org/registration.
Koinonia Café May 31: Smoked sausage with peppers, chicken creole, red beans and rice, cauliflower gratin, green beans, sautéed tomatoes with bacon, dessert selection.
Prison Entrepreneurship Program (PEP) joined the ranks this year as one of Wilshire’s trusted mission partners. Bryan Kelley, executive relations manager for PEP and a graduate of the program, started Kingdom Power Wash, a social enterprise that provides legitimate, meaningful work for stigmatized people who want to get back on their feet upon release from prison. They do this by hosting car washing events at businesses and churches.
On Sunday June 11, Wilshire’s Missions Committee will host Kingdom Power Wash in the north parking lot from 9 a.m. to noon. Car owners must pre-register for the 40 available spots. Payment methods include check, credit or cash. The suggested donation is $20. Leave your car with Wilshire volunteers between 9 and 9:15 a.m., then pick it up after worship. Sign up at wilshirebc.org/registration.
Have you wanted to join the choir but were afraid of making a commitment? Does your schedule during the fall and spring prevent you from attending Wednesday night rehearsals? Have you been waiting for an easy entry point to give choir a try? Then summer choir is just for you. Watch Video Promo
All interested adults are invited to join Sanctuary Choir for summertime, when the singing is easy. Summer rehearsals begin Wednesday, May 24, and will run for eight weeks, through Wednesday, July 12. Summer rehearsals will be shorter, beginning at 7 p.m. and ending at 8:15 p.m. During the summer, Sanctuary Choir will sing only at the 11:00 service. The summer repertoire will be a lighter fare, including some Wilshire Youth Choir favorites such as God is Our Refuge and Praise His Holy Name.
“Help us fill the loft and lead in worship to keep worship strong through the summer,” said Doug Haney, minister of music. To learn more, contact Doug at firstname.lastname@example.org or (214) 452-3123.
During the month of May, all Wilshire congregants are invited to take one of three steps in stewardship: Start up, catch up or double up.
Start up: If you’re not currently giving or not currently tithing, use May as a trial period to start giving or to start tithing. If you’re currently giving nothing, start giving something in May. If you’re not currently tithing, try giving 10 percent of your income during the month of May.
Catch up: If you’ve fallen behind in what you had hoped to give, use May as the time to catch up. Or if you made a commitment at the launch of the Unified Budget three years ago to give at the same level as you previously gave to both budget and capital campaigns, use May as a time to give an extra gift toward that goal.
Double up: If you have the capacity to give an extra offering to undergird Wilshire’s global ministries, use the month of May as a time to share the bounty the Lord has blessed you with. Some may have the ability to double their giving for one month. Some may have the ability in the month of May to double their previous year’s giving.
The goal is to enter the summer months in a strong financial position and to help everyone at Wilshire strengthen the spiritual discipline of stewardship. Watch this.
“The Finance Committee has reaffirmed that we have a reasonable budget for 2017,” noted Mark Wingfield, associate pastor. “Church leadership believes Wilshire has the capacity to fully fund or exceed the goal for this year’s $4.2 million budget. This year’s budget was adjusted to be more realistic and attainable. Now is our opportunity to demonstrate that we will grow in generosity to make possible all the missions and ministries we’ve said we want to do together.”
Wilshire has more than 700 households that contribute to the Unified Budget. According to the recent Gallup survey, 47 percent of respondents reported annual household incomes of $100,000 or more. If 47 percent of 700 households tithed on annual incomes of $100,000, that alone would put $3.29 million into the Unified Budget.
In addition to funding the far-reaching ministries of Wilshire, giving to the Lord’s work should be a spiritual practice, Mark added. “Jesus said more about how we handle our money than he said about any of the other topics we discuss endlessly. The biblical teaching is that generosity is a window on the soul, a thermometer of spiritual health. As we strive to foster a healthy faith, creating a culture of generosity must be a first step.”
Wendy Moore - By Previous Baptism; (member of Perennial Class)
Others in need of prayer:
Mark, Wayne, Alice, Barbara, Carole
*Names in bold indicate Wilshire members.
Wilshire at the Lake church picnic was a success! The weather was great, the food delicious, the music inspiring and the conversation delightful.