Events – Folder

Building Up Self-Worth

Shirley Lamontagne Office Manager AdministratorShirley Lamontagne, Director of Administration

Is having a positive self-worth important to God?  We are told in Genesis that each and every one of us is made in God’s image.  What this verse says to me is that God wants nothing more than for all of us to love ourselves based on the fact that we are one of God’s creations and therefore we have value.  By loving ourselves we create a positive self-worth that allows us to fulfill God’s greatest commandant as stated in the book of Matthew and that is to love the Lord your God and your neighbor as yourself.

That scripture says it all—before we can love God and our neighbor as we are called we must first love and value ourselves.  Loving ourselves can be a difficult process as we are often distracted by things in life that diminish our self-worth over time.  For example, worrying about things out of our control distracts us from the place of honor that God has created for us.  God tells us in 1 Peter 5:7 that we should give all our worries to the Divine for the Divine cares about what happens to us.

God wants us to lift up our worries and shed the anxiety associated with things out of our control.  We are not given self-worth by what others may think of us but by how God sees us.  We are not given value by how someone may treat us; instead, our value is inherent from God.  I have had my own personal struggles with worry, and all I ever got in return were feelings of guilt, anger, and fear.  However, since reconnecting with the Sacred over the past several years at our church, I have internalized new ways to measure my self-worth and that’s through the safety of God’s grace and love.

Individual self-worth is the cornerstone that mobilizes us as a community.  As a church our positive self-worth is illustrated through the blessings that we are receiving both inside and outside of our church.  Last week Pastor Wes in his bulletin article highlighted all the wonderful things happening with our church.  He discussed things like the increase in our weekly attendance for worship services, new membership growth, and our new website.  All these blessings are possible because of our sacred relationship with God.

God tells us that as humans we are all crowned with glory and honor.  We are a priceless treasure in God’s eyes and that’s what we should be focusing on—not what someone else thinks of us, but what God thinks of us!  We are all worthy because we are all forgiven and fully restored in God’s eyes.  This is my prayer for all of us as we seek out our self-worth given to us through the special relationship that we share with our Creator.

Time to Celebrate!

pastor wesBy Rev. Wes Mullins, Senior Pastor

There are so many great things happening around our church that I wanted to take a moment to celebrate some of them with you!

  • Today, we will be receiving nine new members!  That is an increase of almost 10% to our current total membership…and we already have at least five more people who are interested in becoming members.  What a blessing!
  • Over the past week, we have had so many donations for our annual yard sale (scheduled for June 1st and 2nd this year) that we are out of space to put things until after In Remembrance concludes.  If more items show up, we will have to go ahead and get our storage unit delivered three months early!  I like having these kinds of “problems!”
  • After getting to meet our retreat speaker, Rev. Elder Ken Martin, last week in worship, we now have 58 people signed up to attend retreat.  The absolute capacity of our retreat facility is 72, so we only have 14 spaces left!  When we selected this location a year ago, we never dreamed we would fill it up!  God is great!
  • Our In Remembrance cast is already in rehearsals, and they are the strongest cast we have had yet!  They showed up to the first rehearsal already having learned the music.  We can’t wait to see what they sound like after six more weeks of singing together!
  • Our Podcast is continuing to gain more and more new listeners.  To date, we have had over 1300 downloads of our sermons in the United States.  Outside the U.S.A., other countries with high amounts of listeners currently include China, Belize, and Germany.
  • Our new website has been up and running for just over a week, and it is getting way more traffic than our previous site!  Furthermore, just this week we added a donate feature, allowing people to make donations online using PayPal.  We are grateful for a technological world that allows folks from all over the world to support our ministry!
  • Thanks to our new website and our new email system having all our announcements available for you, we will be reducing the size of the announcements in our printed bulletins which will reduce the amount of paper we use.  This will allow us to better care for our environment by decreasing our use of the large sheets of bulletin paper by well over 3,000 sheets per year!
  • Finally, in case you haven’t noticed, our weekly Sunday attendance is up by about 50% from this time last year.  The Spirit is moving in this place, and I am grateful that all of us are here to share in that together!

With all of this good news, I just want to say how grateful I am to be the Pastor of this growing and vibrant church.  God is truly working in and through us, and I just want to encourage you to join me in celebrating all that God is doing and in anticipating all the things God still has in store for us!

A Primer on My Story

Rev. Elder Ken Martin Retreat SpeakerRev. Elder Ken Martin, 2012 Retreat Speaker

I have always believed that I came into this world knowing why I am here. My parents and grandparents loved telling everyone that at age three I announced I was going to be a preacher, at age four I was preaching to the chickens as I fed them and at age five I was taking the ones I thought were saved to the rain barrel at the corner of the house and baptizing them!

Growing up in a conservative, evangelical Southern Baptist culture in rural Mississippi in the 1950’s, the realization at puberty that I was attracted to other males was devastating. The two most powerful experiential realities of my life—that I was meant to be a minister and that I was homosexual—felt irreconcilable. By the time I went to college to prepare for ministry the tension was already unbearable. I was licensed to preach by the Southern Baptist Convention at age 18 and pastored churches throughout my college years. After my sophomore year I married a wonderful woman, hoping my orientation would change or that I could successfully hide it.

After college and two years in the military, serving in Southeast Asia, my wife, young son and I moved to Louisville, KY, where I entered Southern Baptist Theological Seminary. While there I realized that I could no longer preach the truth and live a lie. I became deeply depressed and suicidal. It was then, through the only single event in my life that I cannot explain except as a literal miracle, I found a copy of The Lord Is My Shepherd And He Knows I’m Gay by Reverend Troy Perry. Shortly thereafter I drove to Chicago and found Good Shepherd Parish MCC. I was 30 years old and for the first time, during that first worship service, I felt at peace. My sexuality and spirituality were reconciled and I knew where and how I would spend the rest of my life.

After returning home and coming out to everyone I knew, and with a divorce in progress, I returned to Chicago in the spring of 1974, broken, lost and feeling totally alone in the world. Good Shepherd Parish gathered me in, helped me heal and loved me back to life. In November of that same year I was elected the church’s pastor. Following my installation service, I was shaking hands and looked again into deep blue eyes that had been distracting me for weeks. I remember going home that night and praying, “God, if this is not your will you need to stop me now because I am making plans for that man’s life!” I have been looking into those same eyes now for 37 years. Tom Cole has been my partner, lover, friend and biggest supporter.

From Chicago our journey led us to Los Angeles, where I served as pastor of MCC in the Valley, North Hollywood, 1982-1989. Then after working as an HIV Educator and Counselor for the HIV Healthcare Center in West Hollywood, CA, we moved to Austin, TX in 1993. I served as pastor of MCC Austin, 1993-2006, and began as an MCC Elder on January 1, 2007.

This year, 2012, I am celebrating 50 years as a Christian minister and pastor.