Decades ago, a spiritually sensitive architect designed the interior of First Baptist Greenville’s Sanctuary. While many other sanctuaries throughout the world were designed around the shape of the cross, the shape of a boat, or sadly with no theological shaping at all, our architect imagined 847 Cleveland Street as a beautiful tree. Rising from the platform behind the pulpit, the trunk of the tree extends to an astounding height, and its branches reach out over all who’ve gathered for worship. Biblically, it is reminiscent of the tree of life, the tree that bears much fruit, the sycamore tree, and the many other scriptural trees which symbolize our faith.

Five years ago, we renamed our weekly newsletter. Following the structural theme of our Sanctuary, we decided to title our newsletter The Branch. My article was titled Rustlings. I like this title because the vast majority of my compositions are inspired – and often typed – while sitting alone in the Sanctuary. It’s a place where the wind of Spirit and inspiration blow and rustle the leaves of my mind…continuing evidence of God’s presence and work in that space.

This past September, our youth participated in their annual retreat at Rockmont. Their theme for the week was Rooted. Our Youth Ministry staff, led by Mary Carol Anderson, designed a weekend to help youth engage the basics of faith experience and expression. As part of the weekend’s activities, they created a banner for the theme. Again…the Spirit moved and rustled. I asked Mary Carol if we could use the banner and theme for our worship during the early weeks of 2019. I thought it would be beneficial for our congregation to explore some of the basics of the faith. Beginning next Sunday, the Rooted banner will hang in the Sanctuary. Weekly proclamations in January and February will address being rooted in: baptismal faith, human worth, sacred purpose, a risky world, deep mystery, and empowered Spirit-filled lives. I’m looking forward to gathering under the tree with you in 2019!

— Jim

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