Monday, September 17, 2012
Pastorgraphs: “Exodus Returning”
September 17, 2012
Pastorgraphs: “Exodus Returning”
I received a most wonderful call last evening from Pastor Donald Owens (left in the photo), my dear friend and colleague, who let me know Exodus Baptist Church will be returning to Christ Ministry Center effective October 1. Pastor Owens said the congregation stood in applause yesterday once the decision became official. Nothing could have made me happier than to know that our church families will be reunited.
I have recounted many times it was soon after Exodus came to 33rd and Meade in 2005 that Hurricane Katrina struck the Gulf Coast. Pastor Owens is from Louisiana, and I am from Mississippi, having served six years as pastor in Hancock County, the epicenter of that awful disaster. We quickly organized "Operation Baby Buggy", the first 18-wheeler that brought desperately needed baby supplies to the most vulnerable victims of Katrina. What I remember most was how Pastor Owens and the folks at Exodus worked so hard to help load the 18-wheeler. It was then I realized these dear folks don't just talk about Christianity, they DO Christianity.
That trilogy of love, faith and actions was exemplified over and over during the following five wonderful years. When Exodus came to Christ Church, they had long established ministries, such as a street ministry providing blankets and personal care items to the homeless, visiting the nursing home regularly. Exodus supported everything we did, including the Thanksgiving Dinner and Easter Children’s Festival. The Voices of Exodus sounded like a foretaste of the Heavenly Choir. I can still hear Rev. Ray Lemons and the choir singing, “Jesus is Mine!” What a fellowship, what a joy divine!
Exodus cared for the church building as if it were their own. They arrived early on Sunday to pick up any trash that might have been left overnight, and always let the building cleaner and nicer than when they arrived. They disproved the old adage, “No one changes the oil in a rented car.” They treated the property as the Church of God, not just a rented place to conduct worship!
For those five years, we were two congregations sharing one building. By the time 2010 arrived, it was as if we were ONE congregation, for we worshiped together many times a year, and shared in each other’s joys and sorrows.
When Exodus Church had the opportunity to move into their own building in 2010, I felt like a parent whose only child was leaving home. It was a mixture of happiness for them and sadness for us. Over the past two years, we have maintained close contact with our loved ones at Exodus. Pastor Owens and I have continued to meet regularly for lunch and coffee. In June, Pastor Owens asked me to preach at Exodus Baptist for their Ninth Anniversary (when this photo was taken by Rev. Ray Lemons.).
It was at a recent lunch with Pastor Owens where we discussed several options Exodus was considering that I mentioned, almost as an afterthought, “Well, you know Exodus is always welcome to come back to Christ Ministry Center.” You could see the wheels start to turn in both our heads.
One thing led to another, and after follow up discussions, it just seemed the right timing for both of us to reunite. Exodus Baptist will conduct their Sunday worship at 10:30 AM in the Sanctuary, and midweek service on Thursday nights.
I could not be happier. Praise God from whom all blessings flow!
Welcome home, our dear brothers and sisters in Christ! You make us better by your wonderful, caring example of Christian love.
From the Quote Garden:
“Sticks in a bundle are unbreakable.”
~ Kenyan Proverb
Christ United Methodist Ministry Center
“Christ in the Heart of San Diego”
3295 Meade Avenue - San Diego, CA 92116 - (619) 284-9205