Our annual “4 Amarillo” week got off to a fantastic start last night as all four downtown congregations came together at Polk Street United Methodist Church to worship God and to bless a couple of our area ministry partners.
I think it’s a blessing every time our four churches get together to worship, to work, to eat ice cream, to do anything. It’s a privilege, an honor. To lift up songs of praise together, to pray words of thanksgiving together, to listen to God’s Word together, to acknowledge that we are all brothers and sisters in Christ together — it’s beyond beautiful. And while I appreciate the value this partnership is to our churches, I still believe the greatest worth of our cooperation is in the powerful witness to our community. “4 Amarillo” proclaims to the whole city and anybody else who is paying attention that we serve a God who is bigger than our individual churches; we serve a risen and reigning King who overcomes all our institutional differences; we have much more in common together in Christ than any problems that could ever divide us. It’s an undeniable witness that we all truly believe Jesus came to this earth, died, and was raised again in order to break down all the barriers between men and women and God, and between all men and women. We believe it, and we practice it. Together. Whew! It’s so strong!
For the whole month of June our four churches have been collecting diapers for CareNet’s new headquarters just down the street at 15th and Taylor. CareNet is a local organization that upholds the dignity of all human life, working tirelessly to protect all children of God, born and unborn. But they don’t do it with protests or petitions or public demonstrations or political campaigns. They do it with love and relationship and mercy and grace. It’s Gospel. And now they have purchased the old Planned Parenthood building here in downtown Amarillo and have remodeled it and moved in. So we collected several thousand diapers among our four churches — they distribute about two thousand per month — and walked across 15th street together last night to welcome CareNet to the neighborhood.
For the rest of this week we’ve taken on the task of repairing and painting several of the apartments at Jackson and 12th that are being refurbished for use as transitional housing for the Downtown Women’s Center. Greg is coordinating volunteers from all four churches — cleaning, repairing floors and walls and ceilings, painting, replacing light fixtures and toilets. And at the same time, as every year, we’re running a couple of outdoor Vacation Bible Schools — we call them Bible Block Parties — at Margaret Wills and San Jacinto Elementary Schools.
I praise God for the Christ-like culture in our four churches that allows us to run after our Lord’s vision for the unity of his people for the sake of the world. I have to continually remind our folks that the vast majority of our brothers and sisters in the Churches of Christ do not have the same opportunities. Fellowshipping and worshiping and serving with other Christians in other denominations isn’t even an option for most CofCers. I praise God that his Spirit has moved us in Amarillo to embrace one another in Christ. And I pray that his holy will be done in and through our churches for the sake of Amarillo and to his eternal glory.