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Monday, February 2, 2015

Pastorgraphs: “Burning Bushes and Holy Ground”

E-Vangel Newsletter
February 2, 2015

Christ United Methodist Ministry Center

“Christ in the Heart of San Diego”
3295 Meade Avenue - San Diego, CA 92116 - (619) 284-9205
Pastorgraphs: “Burning Bushes and Holy Ground”

Someone told me last week there has not been a new United Methodist Church (UMC) opened in San Diego, the nation’s eighth largest city, in over 30 years. If that is true, the three decade drought will end in two weeks.

Bishop Minerva Carcaño of the Los Angeles Episcopal Area (UMC) announced last Monday she will personally be on hand at 3295 Meade Avenue to charter Exodus United Methodist Church on Sunday, February 15 at 5:00 p.m.

If you think this has been in the works for a long time, you are correct. For well over two years we have been praying, planning and preparing for this day. Patience and perseverance paid off, and a vibrant, innovative multi-ethnic congregation with an average weekly attendance of 200 will emerge in the heart of San Diego.
What may be most remarkable is that Exodus will be born without “church planting” programs and without funding help. Nothing wrong with strategic planning and seed money to start new churches! But Exodus was not the result of planning, and begins from day one financially self-sufficient. Quite the opposite, Exodus is already escrowing her “apportionments” (Methodist for mission giving) so that she will be able to give 100% of her “fair share” the first year of existence. That will help Methodists start new churches, support our colleges and missions around the world. This is God’s doing.

Exodus UMC will be composed of four ministries (African-American, Haitian, Hispanic and Anglo-English) in one church. Members of the former Exodus Church along with the Haitian Ministry will make the new Exodus UMC the second predominantly African-American UMC congregation (along with St. Paul’s UMC), in the South District which covers all of San Diego and large portions of Imperial, Riverside and Orange Counties. 

This new “Exodus Parish” is composed of Christ Ministry Center (CMC) and Exodus UMC. I will be appointed as Pastor-in-Charge over both, and will work with our team of ministers, including Dr. Donald Owens (Exodus), Jonathan Reyes (Hispanic Ministry) Jean Elise Durandisse (Haitian Ministry) and David Stump (Christ Chapel) who will handle most of the pulpit and pastoral duties in their respective ministries. As a retired elder, I will serve Holy Communion every first Sunday. And I will continue serving as Director of Christ Ministry Center, which includes 12 charities and another 8 non-Methodist congregations.
Combined, CMC and Exodus UMC touch over 1,000 people every week – meeting both spiritual and physical needs.

When Bishop Carcaño visited here last year to see first-hand the reports she heard of God’s unique works among us, she stated a concern that placing the denominational bureaucracy upon Exodus and CMC might “snuff out the flame”. That was both prophetic and symbolic. Like the burning bush in Exodus 3:2 that burned but was not consumed, we must never “burn out”. As Moses drew near the burning bush, God told him to take off his shoes, for indeed he was standing on holy ground! We too are standing on Holy Ground!

The flame that glows from “The Miracle on 33rd Street” is not man-made. None of us is wise enough to get a dozen churches and another dozen charities to co-operate under one roof.
Much like the United Methodist logo (cross and flame), our Exodus logo represents the cross (the extended “X”), and the dual tongues of flame represent the two-fold roles of Exodus Church and CMC. These two entities, both soon official agencies of The United Methodist Church, will work side-by-side at 33rd and Meade.

Thank you, David Stump, for creating our new logo. And a special word of thanks and appreciation goes to my dearest friend and colleague, the Rev. Dr. Donald Owens. It was almost exactly a decade ago he and I met, and immediately became as close a brothers. He founded the former Exodus Missionary Baptist Church (Southern Baptist) in his living room. Exodus has gone through its own transformation. We honor their journey and claim their name as our own.

The flame was a vital part of the Exodus story in the Bible. As noted already, it was from the burning bush God called Moses to lead the Children of Israel. God is still speaking in our city, calling us to meet the spiritual and physical needs of our neighbors. It was the “pillar of fire” that led the Children of Israel through the dark wilderness on their way to the Promised Land. The fact that a new, vibrant church is opening in a city that has seen far too many church closures, is evidence that the pillar of fire is still providing directional guidance to any who will follow.

And in the New Testament at Pentecost (Acts 2), the Holy Spirit gave birth to the Church through “tongues of fire” that descended upon the disciples in Jerusalem, transcending ethnic and language barriers, and empowering them to proclaim God’s love and forgiveness. Every service at Exodus has a bit of Pentecost in it.

Watching a United Methodist Church get born is a rare event. You are cordially invited to join us for this unique occasion. And by the way, February 15 is Transfiguration Sunday. How appropriate an old urban church gets transfigured into a brand new, vibrant church on that special day.

For Christ’s sake,
Bill Jenkins

From The Quote Garden:
“And the angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed.”
~ Exodus 3:2

Photo credits: Christ UMC logo, David Stump

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