Beloved Church-in-the-Garden Family & Friends,
There are times in one’s life when you realize that wherever you are at a particular time and place is the exact place you are supposed to be. Earlier this month, I had such an experience at the celebration of the life, legacy, and impact of the Reverend Dr. James H. Cone at the Riverside Church. To be sure, Dr. Cone was a theological giant! Union Theological Seminary and the field of theology will never be the same. His work and witness, scholarship and theology, will forever live on and continue to be used, critiqued, and furthered in the way that foundational paradigms remain benchmarks for future generation. Black Liberation Theology will forever live on and be instrumental for anyone who works to dismantle oppression! As I looked around before the service, I noticed the august and myriad collection of scholars, theologians, leaders, former students, pastors, professors, and preachers who all have been influenced, taught, colleagues with, or friends of Dr. Cone. I saw many alumni of Union, those whose paths intersected with my own, and the many that did not, and I looked back over my life and traced the many ways that my steps have been ordered by God. To be sure, I have been blessed by God incalculably. Being at that service, jumpstarted my thankfulness to Christ and how I have been kept by the grace of God. My life has been ordained. Many times, I did not know how and why things happened. Now I rejoice in the path that God has led me throughout my life. I am persuaded that whether we know it in the moment or later as time marches on, we are in the place where we need to be for the Almighty to show us where we have been and where we need to be going. Of this I am sure. As we celebrated Dr. Cone, and the Rev. James Cleveland’s, “Lord Do It” played over the speaker system, my soul got happy and I was convicted to keep working in the vineyard knowing that we have many who are also laboring in the field! This was the parting peace of joy and comfort from the service. With so many great and profound scholars, theologians, and preachers (like Nkosi Anderson, Peter Herman, the Reverend Violet L. D. Lee, PhD, Hakim Lucas, PhD, and S. Raschaad Hoggard, to name a few…) whom I count as friends leading the charge towards justice, liberation, restoration, and the Good News of the Gospel, the future is bright, God is still moving, and Dr. Cone’s work for the Lord continues!
This past Sunday, we celebrated Mother’s Day. And what a special day it was for our church family. All the mothers and those who carry the mantle of nurturing, caring, and supporting others were given pink hats that had “Woman of Faith” emblazoned on the cap. Truly, our congregation knows how to honor our mothers and women. Indeed, we celebrated our women with a sermon entitled, “What Women Do” taken from Exodus 2:1-10 and our wonderful choir led by our Minister of Music for Worship Jeff Bolding ushered in and was used by the Spirit of the Lord.
Lastly, our congregation is growing! We are welcoming visitors most Sundays. We engage in empowering and transformative worship, preaching, teaching, and speak truth to power every Sunday. Most importantly, Jesus Christ is being lifted up and people are surrendering their lives to the Lord. This Sunday, two new members will be baptized by full immersion in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, and I am peacock proud and hallelujah happy! I invite you all to witness this grand occasion at the Church-in-the-Garden at 10am. Please join us on this Pentecost Sunday. We expect the anointing of the Holy Spirit to be in the place. All are welcome! All can come! All can worship in the name of our Savior, even Jesus the Christ! The Garden is Open to ALL!
Rev. Earl Y. Thorpe Jr.