I was standing in the entryway of the chapel of Mission Dolores two weeks ago. The chapel is a small, 120-seat structure, attached to the Basilica of Mission Dolores. Established in June 1776, Mission Dolores is the oldest original intact mission in California and is the oldest building in San Francisco. Chanticleer, one of San Francisco’s premier musical ensembles, presented their first concert in this building. On this particular night, 120 guests gained access to tickets to the 40th Anniversary of their first concert. I was standing in the entryway with my ticket. From behind, a gentleman touched me on the shoulder. I turned, and he asked, “Are you Jim Dant, the Senior Minister at First Baptist Church in Greenville, South Carolina?” I said that I was, and he continued, “I was at a concert last Friday night, here in San Francisco, and between songs the story of First Baptist Greenville’s work toward racial and gender inclusion was told. I saw you standing here and just wanted to meet you and say thank you.”
Days earlier, I watched the youth of First Baptist Greenville step off a charter bus onto 8th Street in Washington, D.C. I knew in the days to come, they would be working with immigrants, the economically disadvantaged, and some of the social justice providers of our nation’s capital. Our youth were filled with energy and filled with God’s love.
Today, I scanned the bulletin board outside my office. Traveling members of our congregation have sent postcards from: New Mexico; Colorado; Hawaii; Virginia; Tybee Island; California; Missouri; Washington; Washington, D.C.; the Kennedy Space Center and….Legoland! Many of the notes speak of enjoying the beauty of God’s world. Some even speak of the sharing of God’s love.
Next Monday, twenty-plus members of First Baptist Greenville are flying to the Holy Land. We will be visiting holy sites, enjoying dialogue with Muslim, Christian and Jewish residents, visiting Palestinian refugee camps and generally engaging the ironically inherent chaos and calm of this region.
This is just a glimpse – a three-week glimpse – of First Baptist Greenville’s reach in God’s world. Let’s keep going…