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The Highlights Newsletter

Our Highlights newsletter is published monthly with articles, announcements, photos, and other information about the ministry and mission of Rainbow City First UMC. We don’t distribute Highlights by mail, but we’ll be happy to add you to our email distribution list. Just click the “Sign Up Now” button! We’d love to keep you in the loop.

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Pastor's Blog

Read our pastor’s blog posts and important updates. You’ll learn something new and be challenged to imagine your faith in a new way!

My Third Year Vision: Going After New People

I was born in late 1959 (yes, that means I hit the big 6-0 this year)! Back when I was growing up things were much different than they are today, even in the church. In the 60s until even the mid-1980s, the church was flourishing. In fact it was the “happening place,” because everything was closed on Sunday and everybody “went to church.” But then things began to change, stores are now open and even yard service people work on Sundays. Also, many people in our community do not even care about coming to church because they do not know why they should. They have never heard anything about God or his Son Jesus. Thus, our nation and community is decreasingly Christian and increasingly worldly. Meanwhile, the church has continued to live with what is known as the “Attractional Model” of ministry. This paradigm says that the church is supposed to do everything it can to convince people to come to meet with them, to like what the church likes, to act the way church people act. This model also heralds the idea, “They know where we are, if they want to come to us, we will be here.” Well guess what? They are not coming to the church like they did years ago! (In fact even in our own church. most of the growth we have enjoyed has come from transfer of membership rather than new professions of faith!) We know that the world desperately needs to hear that there is forgiveness, grace and love in the name of Jesus Christ. We also are reminded of Paul’s words, “For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them.” This is the wonderful message he has given us to tell others.” (2 Corinthians…

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Being a Barnabus

“When the church at Jerusalem heard what had happened, they sent Barnabas to Antioch. When he arrived and saw this proof of God’s favor, he was filled with joy, and he encouraged the believers to stay true to the Lord.” Acts 11:22-23 Once there was a young boy named Jimmy who played on a little league baseball team. He loved being on the team and all of his teammates and coaches loved him. But there was a problem. He was lousy playing the game! He could not hit or catch the ball. And, if by chance he was fortunate to get a hit, he could not run fast enough to get to first base before being called out. His parents came to his games and heard all the ugly comments by the other parents when their son came up to bat. They endured watching their poor little guy striking out or missing an easy catch. It got so bad, that both of them tried to get him to quit his team but he refused. One day, Jimmy’s dad told the coach that he appreciated him letting Jimmy stay on the team given his inability to really play the game. The coach replied. “What do you mean? Jimmy is one of my most valued players.” The dad said.” I don’t understand! I have worked with my son trying to help him improve but it is clear that baseball is just not his cup of tea. How could he be one of your most valued players?” The coach said, “I just want you to sit outside the dugout and listen during the game and you will see why.” So the father did just that. During the game he heard his son tell each player who was about to go to bat “Come on,…

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Why did Jesus have to die on the cross?

“For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.”- The Apostle Paul I Corinthians 1:18 During the Lent-Easter season, we are reminded of the great sacrifice that our  Lord made in order that we might be redeemed, forgiven, and reconciled. Last year, I did a class on various understandings of the cross event. I know that many of you did not get to attend the class, so I thought I might provide a condensed version of the teaching from the class. Below is that teaching: The very idea that the death of one person could save humanity seemed crazy to people in the Apostle Paul’s time and for many it still seems irrational. In fact, many modern theologians have even begun to teach that the death of Christ had nothing to do with the salva- tion of human beings. The very idea that the blood of Christ would have any impact on the God-human relationship is far-fetched to them. In fact, you will notice that many of the newer hymns and praise songs do not even mention the blood of Christ anymore for fear of offend- ing someone. Yet, the Church has held that the death and resurrection was the single most important event to happen in all of human history. For Jesus’ death made a way for our sins to be forgiven and for us to be reconciled to God. And his resurrection proved that Jesus was the Son of God and through faith in him, one can be given eternal life. To understand the situation, we must remember what is written in Genesis 2:15-1 that God told Adam and Eve not to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and…

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All Are Precious in His Sight

“For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. And all who have been united with Christ have put on the character of Christ, putting on new clothes. There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus.”- The Apostle Paul Galatians 3:28 (NLT) When I was in the first grade, my mother made some cupcakes for me to share with my classmates. However, she miscounted and we were one short. As I was handing them out I became aware that there was only one left. Yet, there was another student left to receive one. Rather than letting the other child have the last one I chose to keep one for me. And the child who did not get the cupcake was the only African-American student on our class. He was different than me; I had seen him get in fights with other little boys. So, I rationalized in my young mind, that it was okay for me to not give him a cupcake. To this day, that event still “haunts me.” Therefore, I have become very adamant in my ministry of communicating that everyone matters to God. Because of this formative event in my life, the recent events in Charlottesville Virginia make my heart ache. We have become a nation divided by so many issues.  But the issue of prejudice has come to the forefront. Prejudice implies that I am better than you and therefore God care for me and not you. It forgets that God made us all and desires that we all live together in peace, harmony and mutual caring. Yes, God does care about everyone. He seeks to share His great love with every single human being on this planet. He does…

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Christianity 101: Statement of Beliefs: The Christian Faith Through a United Methodist Lens

By Pastor Dee Dowdy… In 1 Peter 3:15, Peter writes, “If you are asked about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it.” (NLT) Therefore, I have written a study on the basic tenants of the Christian faith as understood through the Wesleyan theological “lens.” In this study we will consider man topics including creation, fall of humanity, and God’s plan of redemption, the Holy Trinity and the function of the Church. I encourage everyone to come and be part of this study, but I especially urge anyone who is considering joining this church to attend. This study will be held on Sunday nights at 5:00 pm and will be repeated on Wednesday mornings at 11:oo am, beginning September 10th and 13th.  If you are interested in attending, please let me know by calling the church office or by texting me at 205-234-9682, or emailing me at deedowdy12@gmail.com, as I will have to run off enough copies of the study.

A New Gathering of “Rainbow Retirees”

By Pastor Dee Dowdy… On Tuesday, September 5th at 11:00 am, I would like to invite all our more “experienced at life” members to join in a time of fun, food, and fellowship. Everyone who falls into this age group is encouraged to bring a covered dish and some sort of game to play. We will meet, play games, then share a meal together, and I will bring the devotion. At this initial meeting, we will decide how often we want to gather and will talk about other possibilities for fellowship for this group.

A New “Shepherding Program”

By Pastor Dee Dowdy… In Hebrews 12:15, we read “Look after each other so that none of you will miss out on the special favor of God.” (NLT) So, I am asking for people to prayerfully consider answering this call to become care givers (Shepherds) in this church. A Shepherd is one who will check on and care for a set number of individuals in our church. The entire congregation will be divided up into groups and will be assigned to a shepherd who will periodically check up on them to make sure they are okay. This program is vitally important in the life of a healthy growing church. It is not difficult and will be a blessing for the “sheep” as well as the “shepherd.” A Shepherd would be asked to note if their “sheep” miss church and check on them. (Gina can provide this information.) Other suggested (but not mandatory) ways of caring for a person’s “sheep” is making calls, sending cards, etc. I REALLY HOPE THAT MANY OF YOU WILL CONSIDER BECOMING A SHEPHERD. Once we have enough volunteers, we will hold a training class and work on dividing the congregation into the sub groups. If you are willing to become a shepherd, please call the church office and let Gina know or contact me. Requirements for Being a Shepherd Be someone: Who is active in the life of this church and attends regularly at one of the services. Who enjoys caring for others.

Election Advice from John Wesley

Today on CBS This Morning, veteran political analyst Bob Schieffer summarized what many of us are feeling about the electoral process: “This is scary.” Indeed, in this presidential election cycle there are many new and surprising entities. Very little in this process seems to be going the way conventional wisdom says it should go, and that can be scary. If we are worried, we might remember that nothing is new under the sun. Elections have long been a time of fear and uncertainty. I stumbled upon an entry in John Wesley’s journal before the British General Election of 1774. This election came in the wake of the Boston Tea Party and the growing revolt in the American colonies. The former prime minister, Lord North, had dissolved parliament prematurely in the summer of 1774. It was already set to end in a spring general election in 1775, but North and the king believed that Britain was moving into a new phase in the confrontation with the colonies and the election needed to come sooner rather than later so that the government wouldn’t be distracted by general election issues. A surprise election naturally threw politicians into confusion. Charles Watson-Wentworth, the 2nd Marquess of Rockingham and leader of the opposition party in the election, wrote to a friend, “I confess indeed that I think that all politics are now in so low a state and so little likely to revive, that I should feel a hesitation in giving encouragement to an expectation that we can continue long to drudge on in such unsatisfactory and so unthanked a laborious occupation.” The contention in parliament was mirrored in the public, which retreated into camps around increasingly radical and fear-mongering candidates for parliament. It was in this environment that, two days before the election, Wesley wrote…

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What the prophet Malachi might say about praying in the wake of another mass shooting

Along with everyone in the country, I was heartbroken this week by yet another mass shooting. And, like many Christians I first considered the New York Daily News’ headline the next day to be somewhat offensive: “GOD IS NOT FIXING THIS,” it said. As a person of Advent faith, I simply couldn’t agree with that statement. This is precisely the sort of mess that God aims to fix in and through Jesus and his church. And, when I turned to the lectionary reading from the prophet Malachi for the Second Sunday of Advent, chapter 3, verses 1-4, I heard God promising to come and fix it. Of course, the Daily News headline was not a denial of God; it was rather a jab at politicians who were “sending thoughts and prayers,” calling for moments of silence, and calling for justice, rather than owning (and doing something about!) their own complicity in the problem. Imagine my surprise when I looked at chapter 2, verse 17, which really sets the context for the lectionary pericope. The prophet looked squarely at pious pray-ers of his own day and said, “The Lord is weary of your words.” This shaped my sermon for this Sunday. I don’t typically post the manuscript of my sermons, but I do so today to contribute to the discernment of our congregation about what it means to be Advent people waiting for the salvation of the Lord. A Sign That You’re Ready Sermon 2 of 5 in the Series “#TheRealChristmasCup” Dr. R. Brandon Harris Preached on the Second Sunday of Advent 2015 Malachi 2:17-3:5 Introduction “You have wearied the Lord with your words” (Mal 2:17). When I was preparing this week it was the morning after the tragic shooting in California, and I read that arresting headline from cover of the New York…

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Creating a home for hope amidst hurt

Save me, O God, for the floodwaters are up to my neck. Deeper and deeper I sink into the mire; I can’t find a foothold. I am in deep water, and the floods overwhelm me. I am exhausted from crying for help; my throat is parched. My eyes are swollen with weeping, waiting for my God to help me. —Psalm 69:1-4 Wednesday evening I walked into the house after a very grueling and traumatic day. I went to the front door to check for the mail. In the stack of junk and bills was the latest copy of Leadership Journal. Each issue of this journal is always dedicated to a particular theme. The theme of the issue was boldly printed across the journal’s cover: TRAUMA. How did they know? Oxford Dictionary offers the following technical definition of Trauma: “Emotional shock following a stressful event or a physical injury, which may lead to long-term neurosis.” The key thing that differentiates trauma from just ordinary struggle or crisis is that trauma transcends our normal coping mechanisms. Your boss wants that report today rather than next week: that’s a struggle. You don’t have enough money in your checking account to float a bill: that’s a crisis. But, those are typically things that you can manage with the skills you already have. A natural disaster that takes your home, incidents or patterns of domestic abuse that cripple your marriage and dignity, the sudden loss of a loved one by violence: these violate our basic ideas about the world and call into question our assumptions about our lives and safety. These are traumas, and they leave us raw and vulnerable. In the midst of them we may not know how to escape—or even if there is an escape. David Kinnaman, president of the Barna Group,…

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