Robert L. Owens has been serving in ministry in the Covenant for the past forty-four years as a pastor and most recently as the superintendent of the Southeast Conference. He retired in August.
Choose and Choose Again is a mosaic of personal stories collected by author and Covenant pastor J. Kevin Butcher, who founded Hope Community Church in Detroit, Michigan. The stories he shares (as well as his own testimony) display the complexities of people who live their lives as prisoners and prostitutes, as well as those who are lawyers and in business.
It’s no longer dawn in the digital age. We are well into the full heat of the day and the shadows of miscommunication grow long as the hours pass. I think back to the 1998 movie You’ve Got Mail.
Sometimes people call me “the social enterprise guy.” I used to chafe at the label, but now I embrace it as I’ve become convinced that enterprise and economic development are critical to the ministry of mercy and justice—and a helpful corrective for church in the neighborhood.
Sometimes preaching can have unintended consequences. I recently had the privilege of preaching through the David and Goliath story, and it illustrates an important distinction in biblical interpretation. Bible stories like that one can be either descriptive (describing the world and the Lord who created it) or prescriptive (instructive toward the way God’s people should behave). There are strong elements of both in 1 Samuel 17.
This summer a controversy raged over the White House administration’s decision to separate children from parents at border crossings from Mexico into the United States. People were outraged that young children were incarcerated, away from their parents, in circumstances characterized by some as “prisons” and others as “concentration camps.”
The standing name for this column has been “Compass Bearings.” The metaphor may be lost on a GPS generation, but the imagery hearkens to the old seafaring maxim “Whoever has the discipline of the compass has the freedom of the seas.” When we have tools for navigation, we progress on course, even in the face of heavy seas or tricky currents that could otherwise cause perilous drift.
A number of years ago I overheard an interesting conversation at my local Starbucks. From what I could gather, it seemed that a sincere Christian was struggling to field questions from an ardent atheist: How can you take the Bible seriously when there are inconsistencies within it? How can you trust a God that would command genocide? Partly I was tempted to chime in, but truthfully, I didn’t have great answers to the questions myself.
Recently Devyn Chambers Johnson, co-pastor of Community Covenant Church in Springfield, Virginia, hosted a daylong seminar called Talking with Children about Race. She invited fellow Covenanter Rukiya Davis from Windsor Mill, Maryland, to be the presenter. Davis earned a master’s in Christian ministry from North Park Theological Seminary and recently earned her master’s of social work. “From my perspective,” Davis says, “there aren’t a lot of clinically trained people who work with children and families in need inside the church. I want to advocate for people who are caught up in the foster care or assistance systems.”
I was team teaching second-grade Sunday school. Another teacher asked the class, “Does anyone know what Lent is?” A quiet boy who rarely participated raised his hand excitedly. “Lent is the stuff you find in your belly button!”
The book called out to me. That’s all I can say. I’d heard about it in passing, then one day I saw it on my colleague’s desk. Perhaps it was the phrase “I’m perfect” that was scribbled out and re-written “The Imperfect Pastor,” that struck me. But I still didn’t read it. Several years later, it sat languishing on my nightstand until I finally had enough wisdom (or desperation) to pick it up.
Eight years ago John Kareithi was serving as pastor of an independent Swahili-speaking church in Columbus, Ohio, when he heard about the Covenant. The denomination seemed a good fit, and he was excited to bring Revival Church into the ECC in 2010. Revival is a mostly African church with members from DR Congo, Burundi, Uganda, Kenya, and Tanzania. Kareithi immigrated to the US from Kenya in 2001.