Category: 4 Amarillo (page 1 of 9)

This Week Only

Denver Seminary’s podcast this week features a 40-minute conversation with the pastors of the “4Amarillo” partnership of churches in downtown Amarillo, Texas. We were all so honored and blessed by Don Payne, who came to Amarillo¬† between Thanksgiving and Christmas to record the podcast. And we had a blast doing it.

I would encourage you to check it out. It’s only going to be on the Denver Seminary podcast page for the rest of this week. Even if you don’t have the 40-minutes to listen to it right now, at least download it, save it, and listen to it later.

On this podcast we talk about how our four friendships began (cheese enchiladas!) and then quickly evolved into our four churches committing to worship and serve together on an-going basis. We discuss the origin of the 4Amarillo logo and our first prayer meeting together. We tackle the issues that typically divide Christians and denominations and talk about how our churches and church leaders navigate those things. We’ve very specific about the things we do together: how we plan service projects and worship assemblies, why we swap pulpits and share resources. We talk about how good it is to serve together in the community, how important that is to our Christian witness, but how actually worshiping together in each other’s buildings is like a million times more effective. We also acknowledge the things we learn from each other’s churches and we emphasize, as always, that all we do is intended to point to our Lord Jesus who, as the Prince of Peace, is so much bigger than anything that might possibly divide us.

We’re also asked at the end to suggest a favorite Amarillo restaurant for anyone who might be visiting our city in the future. I am embarrassed by Howie’s suggestion. I am deeply appalled by Mark’s.

As for me being described on the Denver Seminary website and introduced on the podcast as “Reverend,” let me explain. When you hang out with three guys who have “Doctor” at the front of their names and then you’re publicly introduced by another guy who feels like he has to put something in front of your name, you wind up with “Reverend.” They feel sorry for me, I think.

I hope the podcast encourages you and inspires you to imagine and pray for the ecumenical possibilities in your own context. And then to boldly act upon them “so the world may know.” I would also love to hear your comments and any feedback on the interview.



Prayer in the Commons

Our brothers and sisters on the board at Polk Street United Methodist Church came over to Central yesterday to take a tour of our newly expanded spaces and to pray over our elders and ministers and our church.

Take just a second to re-read that sentence. Let it sink in just how gracious is our God and how amazing is the work he is doing in and through our downtown Amarillo churches.

After a quick look around our new entry way and Commons, Guest Central, the fireplace and the coffee bar, our new play space and ministry / meeting room, we held hands in a circle while pastor Mark Welshimire led these Methodist ministers and elders in prayers of thanksgiving and blessing for us. They asked the Lord to bless everybody who walks through the new doors at Central. They asked God to bless all the kids who play on the new equipment, in a safe place to learn about Jesus. God was praised for the long-time faithful witness of the Central church and he was blessed for our partnership together in the Gospel.


I am so grateful to belong to a church that emphasizes the unity of the saints for which our Lord prayed and that works so hard to tear down the walls that divide God’s people. What a thrill! What a unique privilege that not many people get to enjoy!

Thank you to our brothers and sisters at Polk Street for the generous gift of your time, your presence with us, and your prayers. May our partnership continue to grow richer and deeper to the eternal praise and glory of God.



4 Amarillo Goes National

Central Church of Christ, First Baptist, First Presbyterian, and Polk Street United Methodist are all coming together this Sunday night at First Baptist to worship our Lord together. And it’s old hat!

The “4Amarillo” churches in downtown Amarillo have been worshiping and serving together for so long now, and so regularly, that it’s become kinda ordinary. Uneventful. Almost hum-drum.

I think that’s remarkable in and of itself. Over the past seven years, by the grace of God, we’ve made churches crossing denominational barriers to sing and pray together, share the Lord’s Meal, and serve our city as one group a commonplace occurrence in Amarillo. It doesn’t feel historic anymore when the Methodist guy preaches in the Church of Christ worship center. It doesn’t feel extraordinary when we pray for each other’s churches during our own worship assemblies. It feels very normal. Very natural. And I praise God for that.

But just when we begin to think the “4Amarillo” movement is not that big a deal, we’re reminded that it truly is.

Christianity Today, the national magazine for church leaders that reaches five-million readers a month, is highlighting “4Amarillo” in its current issue. I don’t know how they found out about it, I don’t know who tipped them off. Murray Gossett, the associate pastor at First Pres, is the one quoted in the story, and I haven’t spoken to him yet about how it all came about.

The article is about what CT calls the “inspirational, interdenominational, multi-congregational ministry movement.” There are other organizations in other cities featured along with “4Amarillo,” but we’ve got top billing. You can read the full story by clicking here.

This Sunday night is our seventh annual 4Amarillo Thanksgiving Service. There will be over a thousand of us from our four churches in attendance. The combined chorus will be more than a hundred men and women strong, made up of our individual praise teams and choirs. I’m in charge of the welcome and the call to worship. Our worship minister at Central, Kevin Schaffer, is singing a solo. Mark Welshimire, the lead pastor at Polk Street, is preaching the sermon. Our mayor, Ginger Nelson, is giving the benediction. We are gathering together in the presence of God, in the name of our Lord Jesus, and by the power of the Holy Spirit to continue tearing down the walls that divide God’s people and testify in word and deed to the healing, saving, reconciling, and uniting work of the risen and coming Prince of Peace.

As familiar as it is to us now, it’s not old hat. No, it’s the eternal will of our Father and the earnest prayer of our King. And it still seems like a pretty big deal.



4Amarillo Week 2019

What a joy to come together with our Christian brothers and sisters from the other three downtown congregations for four days of outreach programs and service projects. This is our fifth annual “4Amarillo Week” in Amarillo, a collaboration between First Baptist, First Presbyterian, Polk Street United Methodist, and Central Church of Christ. This week we’re running a morning Vacation Bible School at Margaret Wills Elementary and an evening VBS at San Jacinto Elementary. We’re feeding all the kids from those two communities lunch and dinner to go with the Bible stories, the games, the arts and crafts projects, and worship times. We’re also working in the San Jacinto Neighborhood Garden.




All four churches are gathering at San Jacinto tonight for the annual 4Amarillo Ice-Cream Social. For the past five years we’ve hosted this at Central and judged all the homemade ice-cream and gave out trophies in a bunch of fun categories. But this year, we’re taking it to the community. We’re going to make hundreds of ice-cream sundaes for all the kids who are attending these neighborhood VBSes, their families, all the volunteers, and everybody from the four churches.

Praise God for the blessed privilege of joining him in breaking down the walls between his people and his churches and taking the Good News of salvation in his Son Jesus to our neighbors in Amarillo.


Our Central missionaries in Bogota, Columbia — Byron and Sandra Cana and their two sons, Diego and Derek — arrived in Amarillo late this morning and will be here with us for almost two weeks. I was honored to join them and Steve & Debbie Cearley and Tom & Janice Grant, four members of Central’s foreign missions committee, for a good ol’ Texas lunch at Cracker Barrel. It was great hearing Byron and Sandra’s improved English, it was encouraging to hear about the Lord’s work in Bogota, and it was entertaining listening to Tom try to explain to the Canas what exactly is a Sod Poodle.



Maundy Thursday Prayer

The “4 Amarillo” churches are meeting at First Presbyterian in downtown Amarillo this evening for our annual Maundy Thursday service. I am honored to read from Psalm 41 during the service and to lead the congregation in prayer. This is the prayer I will lift up to God tonight with my brothers and sisters in Christ.

Holy Father, we are reminded tonight by your Word we hear and the meal we share that your servant, our Lord Jesus, came to this earth not to be served, but to serve, and to give his life for the whole world.

Father, we pray together tonight for your people at First Baptist, at Polk Street Methodist, at First Presbyterian, and at Central Church of Christ. Would you bless our four churches with a continued spirit of unity and fellowship that honors you and points others to our Lord Jesus.

We pray together tonight for this city of Amarillo. Would you bless our city with increased cooperation and good will that brings healing and hope and joy to our neighbors.

We pray together tonight for this country. Would you bless this nation, God, with your mercy and justice to bring comfort and equality instead of oppression and inequity to our fellow man.

And we pray together tonight for every man, woman, and child created by you, in your image, and placed by you on this earth. We pray, holy God, for the whole world. Would you bless us with your peace and harmony, with your eternal life and matchless love. May every knee bow and every tongue confess, sooner rather than later, that your Son is Lord to your eternal glory and praise.


United by the Cross

We were blessed last night to host the 6th annual 4 Amarillo Thanksgiving Service at Central. Our brothers and sisters at First Baptist, First Presbyterian, and Polk Street United Methodist Churches joined us for an inspiring evening of combined choirs, ecumenical worship, sweet fellowship, and a powerful message on unity from my neighbor and partner in the Gospel, Howard Griffin from First Pres.

Our 4 Amarillo partnership  in worship and service is intended to remind one another that we are all united by the common blessings we share together in our Lord Jesus Christ. We also gather to proclaim to the city of Amarillo and to the world that our Lord Jesus really is the Prince of Peace and we gratefully join him in tearing down the walls that separate the children of God and divide his eternal Church.





Howie Batson, the “Amarillo Pope” from First Baptist, opened us up with a call to worship reminding us that we all live by the same Christian confession: Jesus is Lord. I was privileged to lead us in a robust recitation of the ancient Apostles’ Creed, the tried-and-true litany of the non-negotiable elements of our common faith. Howard brought a stirring word from the opening lines of 1 Corinthians, pointing to the message of the cross as the truth that unites us. And before we closed with a congregational rendition of “The Lord Bless You and Keep You,” Polk Street’s Terry Tamplen blessed the assembly with Paul’s prayer from Ephesians 3, encouraging us to live in and through the power of our Lord Jesus Christ.






I am deeply thankful to belong to a church that is so committed to breaking down the denominational walls that divide Christians. I praise God that my family gets to experience this regular glimpse of heaven. And I continue to pray that 4 Amarillo proclaims the truth and faithfully lives into the holy will of our eternal Father for the sake of our city and the whole world.




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