MainKids Camp Out 2016: Part 2

June 23, 2016

By Dolores Rader, Minister to Children

Camp Out is coming to a close and we are filled with sadness to leave our
friends and this beautiful, beautiful place! It has been such an amazing
camp filled with God’s presence at every turn. Here are a few highlights
from me and then highlights from the boys!

Since worship is our central theme to Camp Out, we have one worship
service each day we are here. On Tuesday, Rachel Moore was our preacher
for our midday service and the girls lead in every aspect of the service
from tolling the hour to singing “Little Lamb” as the offertory anthem to
praying, reading scripture, and ushering. On Wednesday, Suzann Herrmann
and the boys led the evening service at the water. Suzann preached on
looking up and finding God wherever we are. The boys sang Amazing Grace
and ended the service with a joyful “I’ll Fly Away”. As is our tradition,
on the morning we leave, we will have our final Camp Out worship service
outside at the giant cross here at Artesian Lakes. Anna Rader is our
preacher and the camp counselors lead in worship. All of our worship was
based in Psalm 92 this year.

MKCampout2016FWe played at the playground, played capture the flag, hiked, swam, flew
down the slides into the lake, and shopped at the gift shop for candy and
souvenirs. In between all of the fun, we talked about and practiced
different disciplines for personal worship. Amanda Villasenor talked to
us about what the Bible says about personal time with the Lord and how
she practices journaling. We made our own journals and journaled
throughout camp. Emily Westerburg talked to us about the importance of
devotion time and how she and Mr. Trey do this together and separately.
We also talked about ways to ask for prayer from our friends and ways we
can pray when we can’t find the words and when we only want to share our
thoughts with God. We made teeny, tiny prayer boxes, lit candles, and
prayed for each other.

MKCampout2016E

And now highlights from the boys:

I loved everything about this camp. My favorite parts though were playing
with my friends, swimming, free time, and seeing wildlife. –TrevorMcLaughlin

I love camp because we can have fun. My favorite part in camp is the
slides and seeing wildlife. -Ulysses Paredes

I liked naming the wildlife. That is my favorite thing. -Cody Sawyer

I love swimming with my friends and spending time with my friends. For
swimming, I love the slide! -William Fowler

My favorite thing here to do is Circle Time and free time. -Timothy Kutz

Quiet time is my favorite time at camp. -Marco Campos

My favorite part about MainKids Camp Out is hanging out with my church
friends. I love playing tag, swim, and do a bunch of other stuff. -Lee
Fowler

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Peru Mission Trip Summer 2016 Day 3

June 14, 2016

By Isabella Baar-Hill

As a member of the music and dance team on the mission trip to Peru, I teach the kids songs and dances to perform for their parents and friends at the end of the week. Breaking through the language barrier, we learned specific Spanish words that are often used in teaching music and dance. During our second full day in Peru at OSA, we presented the children with the theme of Cultural Exchange; we worked from American & Texan perspectives so the kids got a taste of our culture. During dance, we played many rounds of musical chairs (a game I’ve quickly learned they LOVE). We only played English music because that’s what we know and brought with us. While others led the game, I played and stopped the music, watching the kids from the side lines. I began to notice that the kids were quietly singing and humming along to our English songs, words they couldn’t have known. I realized these kids were subconsciously, and joyfully learning our culture in ways we had not planned.PeruSummerBlogDay3During the music classes, Carey took time to teach and translate words we could use in common enabling us to bond with them in a unique way. I was reminded of how excited the kids were two years ago when I came when they would ask how to say things in English and I’d attempt to teach them. This was a new and eye opening experience because I was accustomed to being their student, struggling to learn Spanish. Their willingness to overcome our foreign language and pronunciations with attitudes of joy is a gift I will carry home with me. Their openness to a new culture despite the struggle is inspiring. Every moment I spend with these kids who show such eagerness to learn despite failure, makes me strive more and more to be like them.

Isabella Baar-Hill completed her Junior Year at Houston Christian High School. She is the daughter of J Hill and Hillevi Baar.


Generations of Worship, of Fellowship, of Faith – Why It Matters…

October 17, 2015

15 Generations logo

By David Corban

For newcomers to South Main, our signature structural distinctive would probably be the sanctuary’s sun-pierced stained glass windows. Within the sanctuary, however, we find an even more beautiful edifice, one built entirely of music. “Make a joyful noise unto the Lord,” the psalmist wrote, and so it is that with voice and piano, strings and brass, woodwinds and handbells, our church weaves a textured musical fabric in every Sunday worship, offering to God through our music what we cannot express solely through the spoken word.

For decades now, the tent-pole of this musical tabernacle has been our pipe organ. Without its muscular strength, our sanctuary would be beautiful to the eye and yet not a voice of its own. With the organ, as Daryl Robinson demonstrated so well for the last dozen years, our sanctuary has had a voice capable of the most sensitive phrasings of our deepest longings.

This magnificent instrument has served our congregation well for many years, and yet concerns about its health have surfaced more and more frequently. Twenty-five years ago this month, Mary and I wanted the organ to play a central role in our wedding. But on the eve of the ceremony, our organist, Dr. Rhonda Furr (sitting in for Charles Lively), determined several ranks of pipes no longer worked. Thanks to her skills and the dehumidifying effects of the sanctuary air conditioners running overnight, full function was restored by the hour of our wedding. The organ’s great pipes helped inspire our guests to sing full-throatedly the hymn of St. Francis:

All creatures of our God and King

Lift up your voice and with us sing,

Alleluia! Alleluia!

Thou burning sun with golden beam,

Thou silver moon with softer gleam!

 O praise Him! O praise Him!

Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia!

 

To this good day, I tear up whenever our organist plays the introit for this hymn in worship.

On another occasion in 2008, following Hurricane Ike, our church was without power, and the organ’s great voice was silenced. On the first Sunday after power was restored, we did not know whether the pipes would remain silent or simply belch unpleasantly. Yet Daryl, with his great gifts (and I’ll bet, with silent prayers), pulled out all the stops, and we experienced another glorious moment of worship. Yet again, I teared up in worship.

The time has now come to ensure that our children and our children’s children will know the beauty of worship in South Main’s grand tradition, and to ensure that when they marry, or when they profess their faith in Christ, or when they are baptized, or when they celebrate the life of a family member who has passed into the life to come, they will not worry about whether the organ will work. Rather, they will focus on one thing alone:

Ye who long pain and sorrow bear,

Praise God and on Him cast your care!

 O praise Him! O praise Him!

Alleluia! Alleluia! Alleluia! 

 


To God Alone be the Glory

September 6, 2011

Dear Church Family,

In the spring of 1987, while serving Columbia Baptist Church in Falls Church, Virginia, the Cokers were approached by a dedicated and enthusiastic search committee regarding the position of Minister of Music at South Main Baptist Church. Following some agonizing days of pondering and praying about what God would have us to do; we ultimately felt the call to lead this music ministry. We believed in and committed ourselves to building and maintaining a music ministry at South Main that could help the church inspire people, lead them in worship,develop fellowship, and help people find their ministry.

By early fall of 2012, I will have served actively as a Minister of Music for 50 years. I will also have served South Main for half of those 50 years. I am extremely blessed to have been able to spend a large part of my life doing what I felt God has called me to do.  Now it is time for me to pass on the baton to the next generation. Therefore, I will be retiring from the position of Minister of Music at South Main Baptist Church on June 3, 2012.

In these past 25 years with you, we have tried to honor the traditions of the past while strengthening church music for the future. We inherited a music ministry program that had been carefully and lovingly developed by those who had gone before us. That ministry had been built on the concepts of teaching children, youth, and adults how to sing, play, and lead music–using the musical varieties of “psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs” in worship and ministry. We believed in this ministry and focused our efforts on building and maintaining a music ministry that could help the church continue to inspire people, lead them in worship, develop fellowship, and help people find their ministry.

In more recent days here at South Main we have rightly called these: Worship, Discover, and Share. I am firmly convinced that these three ingredients must be the foundation of the music ministry as well as a part of each individual involved in the ministry.

In order to celebrate our musical past, present and future together, the ministerial staff, Music Council and I are working on a plan for the music ministry for this year. We anticipate the music year as follows:

October 30, 2011, 6:00 p.m.

The Sanctuary Choir will combine with the Houston Children’s Chorus to present John Rutter’s Mass of the Children.

December 11, 2011

Unwrapping Christmas is our theme for Advent. Unwrapping Christmas/Unwrapping Glorias: A Christmas Concert, will feature the Gloria of John Rutter (with brass, percussion and organ) and the Jazz Gloria of Houston composer Rob Landes as well as other glorious Christmas music.

Ash Wednesday Evening – February 22, 2012

A possible presentation of the Ralph Vaughan Williams Mass in G Minor (an a cappella double choir work of great beauty and historic text; it will beautifully set up the Lenten Season).

Glorious Easter –  April 8, 2012

 

June 2-3, 2012

A Joyous Musical Festival celebrating the vibrant music which is one of the hallmarks of South Main’s ongoing ministry.

Youth and children’s choirs will have significant plans for this year, with a terrific mini-tour and a full musical scheduled for youth and Bach to Broadway Jr. for children.  Let me invite you all to join with us in the music ministry to celebrate Christ through the gift of music at South Main. I hope to see many of you active in choirs, handbells, orchestra and congregational singing.

I firmly believe the years ahead are to be years of growth and vibrancy. It is my prayer that South Main continues to teach and reflect the work of Christ through the psalms, hymns and spiritual songs learned by children and adults at South Main and that the beauty and majesty of our Creator will shine through these our gifts in the indigenous worship style of South Main.

I am grateful to have had the opportunity to serve our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, here with you at South Main Baptist Church in Houston, and I look forward to this special year as your Minister of Music.

Soli Deo Gloria (to God alone be glory),

Thomas Coker, South Main Minister of Music

 


Accepting the Call

May 26, 2011

The Conaway Family: (left to right) Sam, Carmen, Erin and Alex

To My Dear South Main Family,

Guided as we believe by the Holy Spirit through a process of listening and discernment, Carmen and Alex and Sam and I have accepted the call for me to be the next Pastor of Seventh and James Baptist Church in Waco, TX. There are so many things churning within us about this decision: humble enthusiasm about this next step, plenty of trepidation about the new role and responsibilities, deep pain about being three hours away from you and about leaving this church family and my privileged position of walking with you through so many sacred spaces; but beneath the roller coaster of emotions there is an overwhelming sense of peace that this is exactly what God is calling us to do. We have been completely embraced by the people at Seventh and have felt and continue to feel their joy and excitement about our days to come.

The timing seems to be way off, I’m telling you this on the first Sunday after our pastor is gone on a much deserved and now I think very timely sabbatical. Steve has been a part of this journey the entire way through. He and I have talked this to death, prayed about it a lot, and he has been a wonderful encourager and given me his blessing at every step along the way. We have worked so closely together these past eight years and have provided real balance to one another-it’s hard for me to imagine doing ministry without him and I know I will stagger around some while I get my bearings as we both learn to do this in different places. All along we have talked with you about our Sabbatical plan, and that will not change-we still have a strong pastoral team in place to serve with you through Steve’s time away, and that will include me for most of that journey. Our last Sunday here will be July 17th, so we have plenty of time to walk this season of transition in our journey in ministry together.

And I want you to hear me say, in no way could I go there if I had not been here.

This is the place where I learned so much of what I know about being a minister;

This is the place where nine years ago, you took a chance and called a dirt salesman to help out in the college ministry and our love affair began;

This is the place where we learned what it means to serve a church family with all that we are and to be loved in return in ways we could not have imagined;

This is the place where we began the wonderful and terrifying journey of parenthood and you walked this path with us every step of the way;

This is the place where I learned what it is to be a part of a team in ministry and to see the wonder of God using our different gifts and talents to do far more with us together than we could ever do apart;

This is the place where my missional heart has exploded trying to keep up with how fast and how far God’s love is flowing out to our neighbors here and around the world;

This is the place where my heart has heard your stories and held them close-in agony and celebration you have allowed me to sit with you and pray with you and hear you and I will forever be blessed because of that great privilege;

This is the place I will always cherish and you will be a part of us wherever we go. Thank you, thank you, thank you from our hearts that are overflowing with your blessing and your love.

Grace & Truth,

Erin, Carmen, Alex & Sam Conaway


Y’All Come Hear Kate Campbell, OK?

May 9, 2011

Kate Campbell in Concert at South Main

By David and Mary Corban – David serves as the chair of deacons and Mary has prepared thousands of meals for our youth and church family. They are parents to Andrew and Ethan and members of the Graceland Sunday School Community.

You need to come hear Kate Campbell when she performs at South Main’s Youth Center on Saturday evening, May 14. Previous notices of this event have touted Kate’s gifts as a musician and songwriter, and folks in the music business obviously regard Kate as a thoughtful (sometimes even side-slapping) lyricist – else she would not have had guest artists on her most recent CD such as John Prine, Nanci Griffith, and Spooner Oldham. Her music is rooted in traditional Southern hymns, the blues, soul, R&B, country, and folk music, and she tours extensively across America and overseas in support of her CDs, including an upcoming tour to Ireland.

We would add that Kate conveys a real sense of time and place in her music. If you were a child in the South during the 1960’s, her songs will speak to you. When she sings the humorous “Funeral Food” or “Jesus and Tomatoes Coming Soon,” she captures the scene so well because you’ve been there — you’ve eaten the food, shared the laughter, and stopped at the roadside produce stands with hand-lettered signs. Other songs tell stories that touch the heart in a more serious vein, like “Visions of Plenty,” which vividly portrays a family’s desire to overcome poverty in the rural South.

But more importantly, we need to point out that Kate is the grand-daughter of Kathryn Henry (Kathryn and David’s mother were life-long best friends, and yes, that’s Kathryn on the cover of Kate’s CD, Moon Pie Dreams); the daughter of a Baptist minister, Jimmy Henry, who grew up with David’s brother, Bruce; and the wife of another fine fellow, Stan Campbell, who formerly pastored the Corban family’s church in Orlinda, Tennessee. Now if you can follow all those relational connections, then you must be a Southerner, either by birth or inclination; well acquainted with fried chicken and garden-grown tomatoes; and generally gifted with a sense of humor and an appreciation of music, history, literature, and the storytelling arts.

In other words, you are a Kate Campbell fan just waiting to blossom.

So come join the Corbans and the rest of the South Main family when Kate Campbell performs in the Youth Center on Saturday, May 14 at 7 pm. Tickets are available here. (Alternatively, David says to just give him some money and he’ll see what we can do.) Oh, and bring your friends, too!

South Main Baptist Church – The Inner Loop Church


Thinking about worship

May 1, 2011

By Melissa Scott, South Main Member

Melissa Scott is currently living abroad in Doha, Qatar with her family. This was reprinted by her permission from her family blog post on March 31, 2011.

Lately I’ve been thinking a lot about worship.

Actually, I’ve having a little bit of an internal struggle about it. We are attending a church here in Doha and to be honest, the worship style is a little bit hard for me. It’s very contemporary – different in every way from what we are used to in Houston at South Main Baptist Church, and even before that. The worship is led by rotating teams, a different leader each week. I think I understand contemporary worship – that it’s meant to be very organic and emotional. I appreciate the poetic song texts and the rock/pop style and I also appreciate that lots of different kinds of musicians can be a part of it and the whole congregation can participate.

That’s all good stuff. But – in the end it just doesn’t move me. It’s hard for me to connect – too much noise, it sounds too forced and unintentional, and I just don’t ever feel I’m a part of it. I find myself tuning out, watching the time, and kind of retreating into my own thoughts – blocking it out and waiting for it to be over. Trying to fix my face into a relaxed expression rather than a pinched wince. Why is that? I’m not sure, but here’s a little excerpt from a devotional I read recently:

These Are My Gifts

I am opening the treasure of my heart to look for gifts to give you, my King. My offerings reflect the ways I worship you in the everyday. Love for my family. Kindness to others. Help in the face of need. Faith in the future. Trust through doubt. Lord, please accept these responses as they reflect my deep affection for You.

From One – Minute Devotions for Women by Hope Lyda

Though the devotion is about gifts and what we can offer up to God in our daily lives – I still feel there’s a message for me written in the text about worship. I have to sit with the idea that worship isn’t about a style or even a specific 15-minute window during each week. Worship is about responding and honoring God every minute. To say I don’t connect with a certain style of worship is to say I’m not really seeking to connect with God. That is very convicting for me. And, if I have any gifts to offer – aren’t they gifts of music? What am I doing exactly – sitting in chairs and waiting for the 15 minutes to pass each Friday during the service? How does that fit into any sort of obedience to God’s call on my life? What does it say about my deep devotion for Christ?

So it was already on my mind and then I got an email from my church specifically about worship. A few years ago I participated in a committee. We were asked to take a critical look at worship at the church we attend in Houston. I visited several other congregations – listened to their worship services and we spent long hours talking within the committee about what was good, maybe not so good, and how it all fits with the vision and church culture at South Main. It was a task force of sorts – focused on examining and thinking about what worship means to that congregation and how we could make it meaningful each week.

As I reread the report, I was quickly reminded that the act of worship is not about me. It’s not about getting something. It’s about what we each give to God in every moment.

What does it matter how I think a worship service should look, feel, and sound? It’s more about what we offer up to the God who makes all things new. Intentional worship is about taking time weekly to attend to your relationship with God. To refocus and remind ourselves that we are called to be different, that we have decided to follow Jesus, and that the stuff of life that takes such a front and center place in our thinking may not be what God wants us to focus on. So, I’m trying to step over my opinions and preferences and my need to have things feel like home, and into a place of obedience and renewal. God has brought us here to Doha for a reason (or several reasons), and I believe that every part of the experience has the ability to teach and grow us.

This verse helps crystalize that idea for me:

Be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind. –Romans 12:2

I’m also trying to remember that in working to honor God in the way I care for the girls and my students, in offering friendship and encouragement to an expat friend, and in continuing to build a strong relationship with Steve – I am in a way worshiping. I’m offering my best to God and showing my deep devotion to Him. Through love, kindness, help, faith, and trust I am honoring God. Or trying to, at least. These are some of the thoughts that are holding my attention these days. I can’t promise that when next Friday morning rolls around I won’t be struggling, but I will be hoping for renewal and for a fresh perspective. Maybe one of these Sundays there will be an opportunity for me to lead worship and I’ll be able to embrace it and follow God’s call through it.

I’m trying to keep moving in that direction.

#innerloopchurch


Give Grace…by Claire Hein

October 17, 2010

By Claire Hein, South Main Member and student at Baylor’s Truett Seminary

“The beauty of grace is that it makes life unfair,” this lyric from Relient K tags along with every e-mail I send.  We like unfairness when it is directed to us, and we often disdain it when we end up on the losing side of it. But grace calls us to be unfair- unfair to ourselves that is.

Seminary is a hard place to find grace sometimes. The stress of the big questions (and Hebrew!) makes us forget the communal act of grace at times. Oddly enough, this is also the place I see grace the most.

This past summer we lost our parking lot at Truett Seminary. Most students now have to park a mile away and grab a “Truett” shuttle that runs every 10 minutes. This inherently means waking up earlier and arriving at the parking lot precisely in time to catch the shuttle. But no one is perfect. Everyday someone pulls into the parking lot just as the bus is beginning to leave. We’ve each been there, and no one ever objects to waiting an extra 30 seconds to depart. Our schedules are malleable and even though every person on that shuttle planned their life around that schedule, we whole-heartedly make our life less fair and make someone else’s life more fair, if only for 30 seconds.

I’ve been on both ends and been happy to hold the bus and thrilled when the bus is held for me. Grace really is that simple. God made life wholly fairer for us than we deserve. Should we not extend that gift and remember that grace makes life less fair, not begrudgingly but joyously?

Give Grace.


Give Grace…by Thomas Coker

October 15, 2010

By Thomas Coker, Minister of Music

This is a story of how grace is given and received in unexpected ways when one is following the Spirit through inspiration – in this case, the inspiration of text and music written by John Rutter and being rehearsed by the South Main Sanctuary Choir.

At the end of July this year, I completed a two year stint as Church Vice President of the Texas Choral Directors Association, a wonderful organization which brings together choral directors from all over the state and beyond to encourage choral singing in our state.

One of the duties of the Church Vice President is to plan and execute a worship service for the convention.  We were remarkably fortunate this past year to have Mr. John Rutter of London, England reprise his visit of 30 years ago to TCDA.  We built that worship service around the three anthems, For the Beauty of the Earth, Open Thou My Eyes, & Lord, Make Me an Instrument Mr. Rutter had written for TCDA in 1980.  I asked Mr. Rutter if he would be so good as to write a new anthem for us in 2010 to complete the service we were planning.  Mr. Rutter agreed to this even though he no longer accepts commissions and keeps an incredibly busy schedule as composer/producer/arranger.  The anthem he wrote for us, With heart and hands is being prepared in October and November for the South Main worship service November 21 just before Thanksgiving.  Our choir loves it, and you will too.

A little background for those who do not know Bruce and Kristy Wade and the twins, John and Christian:  Kristy lost her husband, Bruce, to brain cancer – the same kind of brain cancer that took Senator Ted Kennedy.  Bruce was in his early 40’s and in spite of his relatively young age, had accomplished much.  He was a geo-physicist who was a very important part of the discovery teams for Exxon (10 years) and Shell (13 years).  He was instrumental in uncovering oil reserves in the Gulf of Mexico, in Oman, and natural gas reserves in Malaysia.  These discoveries have helped make energy reserves available to many more people in different parts of the globe.

In 2008, Bruce’s cancer was discovered and the Wades relocated to Houston – Shell’s US headquarters and the location of the Texas Medical Center’s MD Anderson hospital, one of the world’s finest cancer treatment hospitals.  Just before the cancer was diagnosed, Bruce & Kristy had decided to begin their family.  Bruce’s very first question to his neuro-oncologist after arriving in Houston concerned the effects of the chemo and radiation on fathering a child.  In the midst of beginning treatment, the plan to start a family paralleled the treatment.  Following several disappointments, Kristy and Bruce wound up with “a miracle or two.”  Kristy conceived twins!  She was “great with child” – children actually – as Bruce was rapidly declining.  The twin boys (Christian and John) were born shortly before Bruce died.   We (South Main) and numerous friends from across the globe walked with them through this terrible and blessed time.  I remember Bruce’s coming to the Christmas Eve Choir rehearsal with Kristy last year and sitting on the side near the tenor section.  It was to be the last time he would do that.  During Bruce’s illness, Kristy chronicled his progress and her thoughts on the Caringbridge web site during treatment.  She continues to post her thoughts there following Bruce’s death.

Fast forward to this month and the choir’s rehearsing With heart and hands. I had noticed three weeks ago that Kristy left rehearsal when we began rehearsing the anthem.  The next week she remained in the room and wept and sang when she could.  That night, she talked with me following rehearsal and told me part of what she would post later that evening.  Below is an excerpt of Kristy Wade’s post in Caringbridge September 29, 2010.

So…after all that, tonight at choir rehearsal we practiced a piece composed by John Rutter, With heart and hands, for the Texas Choral Directors Association Convention in July of this year.  Last week I only tried to sing the first two lines before exiting the room for the duration.  This week I stayed and listened — and occasionally tried to sing a line here or there.  Hopefully I’m not infringing on any copyrights or anything, but Rutter’s text is as follows:

“For all the blessings you have granted us, Lord, give us thankful hearts, we pray:  For life and health and happiness, And for the gift of each new day;  For all our families and loved ones, The friends we meet along our way, We thank you, Lord, they are your gifts: Lord, we praise you, In your service let us all your love repay.

“Look all around you:  You’ll see a miracle or two; Ev’ry valley, hill and mountain is calling to you.  For all the wonders of creation, a world whose marvels we behold:  Where winter turns to spring again; The changing scenes of life unfold, But there is One who never changes:  Through all eternity the same:  Be with us, Lord, for evermore, alleluia, Lord, we praise your Holy Name.”

That first section is like going back in time and hearing again nearly every prayer I and others heard Bruce say from the time of his diagnosis until his death.  And the second part is like hearing his voice right now.

Yours,
Kristy

I have written Mr. Rutter to let him know of the grace given and received through his text and music.  My prayers are that grace will continue to abound through the life of Kristy, Christian and John and the music and life of Mr. Rutter.

Give Grace.

 

 

 


Sharing Our Stories…Andrea Hoxie

May 2, 2010

This is a fitting day to write about my family of God called South Main Baptist Church. It was seven years ago, Sunday, April 4, that I walked down the south aisle of that wonderful room in which we worship, I met for the first time “that new guy,” a man whom I came to love and respect as my pastor, and my friend.

For five years prior I had visited South Main. The 8:30 worship hour was perfect for me. As a minister of music, it was important for me to have personal worship time in which I could focus solely on communing with God, not having to fret over singers or musicians running late or just not showing up despite their commitment to be in place on time. That meant worshiping with a congregation that I did not serve. I was first invited to South Main by my good friend, Errol Brooks. That was odd, as he was not a member at that time either. Generally, I found the worship hour meaningful and substantial, with scriptures, prayers and songs relevant to the sermon. And, as important, I found the folks to be friendly and outgoing. They made me feel welcome. And if I missed a Sunday or two, a familiar face would greet me with “I was wondering what happened to you — I haven’t see you in a while — is everything okay . . .” .

I always left South Main thinking about when I might next return. On one special occasion, I attended a concert featuring Esther Hinds. I came in and took my usual place near the back. As other folks came in several stopped to speak and give me a word of welcome. Before the concert began, one woman left her seat near the front, came back to me and said “There’s an empty seat in the front. Why don’t you come up and sit with me?” Perhaps she has forgotten, but I hope to always remember Barbara McNeir.

Fast-forward to April 4, 2003. I awoke that morning, feeling the emptiness of not having a church home and being connected to a family of God. It was Sunday, after all, and I belong in worship with like-believing and like-minded folks. Recent weeks had been spent wandering from one house of worship to the next, leaving me feeling like an orphan. I just hadn’t found a place where I felt “at home.” “I know! I’m going to South Main!” The thought was so loud I imagined I heard myself speak the words. Then I called my daughter, “Sweet Pea! I’m going to South Main today.” “Good for you, Mom.” So, I mustered. As I drove around the west side of downtown Houston, an imp whispered in my right ear, “You know, that new guy is there. You don’t know anything about that new guy.” I replied, “That’s okay. Let’s give the new guy a chance.” (Note: you really have to watch the imps. They’ll keep you from doing anything you ought to do.)

I had not visited South Main in several weeks. It was before I had decided I need a church home more than I need to do music ministry. I was emotionally and spritually bruised, bleeding and broken. Even in that state, or perhaps because of it, the hymns bounced of their respective pages, closeting me in their warmth, comfort and blessed assurance. And the “new guy” had something to say. As the invitational hymn began, I found myself halfway down that aisle before I realized it. After the benediction I was overwhelmed by a stream of folks who greeted me with smiles and hugs and handshakes, renewed the acquaintance of the one who became my first and favorite Sunday School teacher, and met many who unknowingly tended my wounds and helped me to heal, just by being who God called them to be and doing what He called them to do –love one another. Their love and caring are unmistakenly genuine and unchanging.

In retrospect I have been the recipient of so much in so many ways in this my first 7 years as a South Mainer. My prayer and plan are that I will give more in the next.

Blest be the tie that binds our hearts in Christian love.

We are never more like Jesus than when we SHARE…. As we learn to share our stories, we learn to share our faith…

Share Campaign 2010