By Andrew Cowart
A beautiful event – a Kingdom event – took place at CCC last Friday evening. Three people – missionaries Chance and Dee Dee Galloway, and CCC staffer Kelli Wommack – took a big step further along the walk God has called them to by becoming ordained in the Free Methodist Church.
The February 24 ordination service was held in conjunction with the FMC's Georgia/Alabama Annual Conference.
FMC ordination is much more than a formality. When a person is ordained, we are affirming their call into ministry for themselves and for everyone who will be following their leadership. This affirmation is a beautiful recognition of God’s call and that person’s obedience.
Kelli, CCC's Pastor of Leadership Development, described being saved at an early age, growing up in the church and sensing a call to ministry during her freshman year of college. She wanted to follow the call, but was conflicted by a belief that it was wrong for women to pursue positions of higher leadership in the church.
“Because of the way I grew up, I didn’t see women do those things, so if I did, it must be wrong," she recalled thinking.
Kelli got involved in the Free Methodist Church in 2008 and has since found freedom to follow God’s call without hesitation. ”Thank you to the Free Methodist Church for giving me the opportunity to serve in a way that I never could before," she said.
Kelli aims to be a role model for young women being called into ministry around her, and she is definitely hitting that mark.
Chance and Dee Dee are missionaries in Kyustendil, Bulgaria, where they work with the Roma people, train pastors, and are involved in anti-human trafficking and agricultural ministries.
Chance, who grew up in Phenix City, met Christ while jailed in solitary confinement. “It was there that I experienced the love of my heavenly father and surrendered to him, saying, 'Not my way anymore,'" he said.
Chance got involved in the Free Methodist Church when he met CCC Lead Pastor Keith Cowart and member Phil Webb at a Calvary Christian School football game in 2003. Of being ordained, he said, “It is a recognition by other elders and Christians that you are called to serve God." Chance certainly has obeyed that call and selflessly poured himself into the people he is serving.
Dee Dee has faced many difficult struggles during her walk with Christ, but continues to surrender to the Father as well. “I was diagnosed with cancer during the pregnancy of my second child," she said. "I was told I had to terminate the pregnancy to live; it was not my way, but His way, and Catherine was born on the International Day of Prayer.”
That attitude of surrender also is evident in her family's work in Bulgaria: “It’s an adventure," she said, "and we love living this life because it’s not our way, it’s His way.”
FMC Bishop David Roller had each ordinand place their hands on the Bible and prayed, “Take authority to minister the word of God, faithfully proclaim his word, declare his forgiveness, and shepherd his people.”
Roller explained that, "Today we are ordaining you to be imitable." Each of these people clearly has followed that call. They have walked a long path to ordination, and it's certainly not the end of the road. They will continue to serve Christ with the trust and support of the Free Methodist Church and the body of Christ.
When asked what ordination meant to them, each shared a similar response: That ordination is an encouraging recognition from the denomination and its elders that they are on the right path. Christ Community is extremely proud of the accomplishments of these ordinands and awaits in eager anticipation of their accomplishments to come.
Asbury Theological Seminary President Timothy C. Tennent spoke at CCC on the topic of “Islam in a Post-911 World.”
Dr. Tennent’s March 19 talk covered the basics of the faith, including its key texts – the Qur’an and the Hadith – and the Five Pillars of Islam.
He also explained three key differences between Christianity and Islam – the nature of God; the nature, person and work of Christ; and the nature of revelation – and gave advice on how a Christian can share his or her faith with a Muslim.
The morning ended with Dr. Tennent fielding questions from the audience. Addressing the issue of Muslims coming to America, he said, “In general, immigration is a good thing for Christianity. Government’s job is to protect our borders, but we must also look at the bigger picture in finding ways to deal with this issue.”
On the topic of radical Islam and the violence carried out by its practitioners, Dr. Tennent said, “God is in control of human history … we know that God will be victorious.”
Read more about Dr. Tennent here.
By Allen Allnoch
Never discuss religion or politics in polite company,” goes the old saying. Whoever came up with that maxim could have added race to the list of taboos. All three topics are fertile ground for harsh words and hurt feelings.
But facing, rather than ignoring, the difficult issues can result in much good. Such was the case here at CCC, where a small but diverse group of members had the courage to launch an extended discussion about race relations.
Indeed, there were painful moments. But those conversations ultimately produced deeper, richer relationships, as well as the groundwork for an event that promises to impact not just one church body, but also the city and region that surround it.
On May 6-7 CCC will host Converge 2:14, a conference on unity in diversity in the Church. The idea is to “Converge” around the promises of Ephesians 2:14 – “For [Jesus] himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility” – and lay a foundation for a Church that is “Separate No More,” the conference’s tagline.
Converge 2:14 features a lineup of influential voices on the topic, including Dr. John Perkins, Rev. Dr. Soong-Chan Rah, Pastor Bryan Loritts and his father, Dr. Crawford Loritts, Dr. Korie Edwards and Dr. John Fuder. CCC Lead Pastor Keith Cowart also will speak, Executive Pastor Derrick Shields will serve as conference host, and worship leader Dewayne Creswell has assembled several teams from a variety of backgrounds and musical styles.
Throughout its nearly 20-year history, one of CCC’s core values has been “Unity in Diversity.” Cowart and Shields have preached sermon series on racial unity, and Shields, on several occasions, has led a class called “In Loving Color.”
One of those occasions was in fall of 2014, with the class reading and discussing a book edited by the younger Loritts, “Letters to a Birmingham Jail: A Response to the Words and Dreams of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.” About 20 participants had “some great conversations, and some hard conversations,” Shields recalls. “As we continued to work through that book together, we got past the hard conversations and got to be good friends.”
During that process, the group learned of a conference on multi-ethnic churches, Kainos, that would take place in Memphis, Tennessee the following spring. Sixteen people from CCC attended and were encouraged by what they heard – so much that, Shields says, “we just couldn’t get away from the idea of creating something similar in Columbus. So the first call we made was to Bryan Loritts [who had spoken at Kainos], to see if he would even be able to come, and he said yes. We started contacting other speakers and they said yes, and it’s just continued on from there.”
Just as Converge 2:14 was born out of a series of conversations within CCC, Shields hopes it generates further dialogue on a larger scale.
“We want to get people talking to one another,” he says, “to get some practical ideas on how we, His church, can start to remove this dividing wall of hostility and minister to our communities.
“Since the Free Methodist Church is growing and making some headway in the South, I think this conference is timely for our denomination as well,” Shields adds. “The Free Methodist Church was born out of a belief that slavery wasn’t right, so it’s in our heritage as Free Methodists, this whole social issue of racial equality and unity.”
To learn more, visit converge214.org.
By Allen Allnoch
Last week a team of seven from CCC traveled to Jackson, Kentucky to serve at Oakdale Christian Academy. This Free Methodist-affiliated institution was named by TheBestSchools.org as one of the 30 best Christian boarding schools in America. It’s easy to see why.
Oakdale is a Christ-centered community where faculty and staff live on campus and create a nurturing environment that positively impacts students from a variety of backgrounds and locations.
For these educators and administrators, Oakdale is more than a job – it’s a full-time ministry, and they are playing a key role in “training up a child in the way he should go.”
Just as God’s work is evident in these leaders, the campus environment is a testament to his handiwork as well. Nestled along a two-lane highway in eastern Kentucky, Oakdale is bordered by lush hillsides and a burbling creek, forming an idyllic natural setting in which students can enjoy His presence.
The CCC team helped with several campus maintenance and beautification projects, including cleaning and painting the administration building, painting and staining a water-damaged residence, and spreading mulch around the grounds. The team also took turns throughout each day in the “Prayer Chair,” a quiet place to intercede for students, staff and fellow team members.
There was ample opportunity to interact with students during meals. The concept of “community” is apparent at this unique institution of learning. It’s also one of the pillars upon which CCC itself is built, and this mission team thoroughly enjoyed being a part of it in rural Kentucky for a week.
Oakdale Christian Academy is one of more than 40 ministries that CCC supports around the world. If would like to help support Oakdale individually, or simply learn more about its work, visit oakdalechristian.org.
Kevin Austin, Director of the Free Methodist Church’s Set Free Movement, will bring the message at CCC on “Freedom Sunday,” February 22. Here he shares about the evil of human trafficking and the FMC’s response to it.
There are more slaves in the world today than at any other time in history. Real slaves; unable to walk away; doing things they don’t want to do. They pick cotton for our clothes and chocolate for our desserts; they are forced to fight in wars, make bricks for homes, and mine minerals for our gadgets. They are used and abused in horrible ways. Slavery fills our closets, cupboards, and is infecting all of our neighborhoods and cities. People created in God’s image are being treated as things.
Free Methodists are confronting this evil. In ever increasing numbers we are serving with compassion and challenging oppressors. Launching safe houses, mobilizing every branch of society, teaching in schools, rescuing the oppressed, planting churches, and bringing hope and healing to the broken, we are following Jesus in fulfilling his mission. God has set us free. We now help others to be free.
One key way in which the Free Methodist church is engaging powerfully is through the annual observance of Freedom Sunday. Over the past four years participants in this important event have prayed, sung, proclaimed, and given in the direction of freedom.
We have helped empower leaders in India to give vulnerable people the educational tools needed to avoid traffickers. We have helped establish safe houses in the Philippines and Thailand as well as expanding the work of protecting the vulnerable in Colombia. We have funded work in Taiwan to protect the alien, the immigrant worker. We have empowered Kali Long in Athens, Greece, to create new futures for women set free from sex trafficking.
Not just internationally, but the annual observance – the prayers, singing, remembering, proclaiming, giving, and focusing on how God wants to set us all free – has catalyzed teams engaging around the U.S.
The awareness and mobilization is working. Slaves are being set free. The broken are being healed. The Holy Spirit is empowering us to be more and do more on mission with God.
On February 22, 2015 the fifth observance of Freedom Sunday will be the most powerful one yet. I encourage you to pray, proclaim, and worship in the direction of freedom. Live fully as true Free Methodists, embracing the freedom Jesus has brought and working for the freedom of others. Consider giving so that our leaders and projects can confront the evil. Be an agent of hope and healing.
Learn more at setfreemovement.org, fmcusa.org and www.freedomsummit15.org.
One of CCC’s Core Values is Intentional Outreach: “Because God loves lost people, we love lost people.”
The Bible records that when Jesus “saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd” (Matthew 9:36).
Matthew goes on to write, “Then He said to His disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into His harvest field’” (vv. 37-38).
Our GO Mission Conference yesterday explored, in many ways, what it looks like to join Jesus in that harvest field – “in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth” (Acts 1:8).
Our building lobby became a tangible expression of God’s people on mission, with exhibits by more than two dozen ministries and missionaries, ranging from Columbus to China.
Pastor Derrick Shields’ morning message focused on Jesus’ love and compassion for the lost, and how we can reach out.
The evening program continued that challenge, with three guest speakers asking us to consider how God is calling each of us to a missional lifestyle.
CCC member Nick Cash, who is serving as a chaplain aboard the hospital ship m/v Africa Mercy, cited a Dallas Willard quote: “What’s the next right thing you’re supposed to do?”
Teen Challenge’s Andrew Chalmers started a local movement, Take the City, and shared a story of how investing in outreach to a Phenix City neighborhood led to the rescue of a woman from an abusive relationship and into the saving arms of Christ.
Chalmers asked, “What if we had not gone into that neighborhood?”, and challenged us with another question: "Are we truly the hands, are we truly the feet of Christ?”
Linda Adams of the Free Methodist Church’s International Child Care Ministries concluded the evening with a verse-by-verse examination of 2 Corinthians 9:8-16, which includes our 2014 theme verse: “And God is able to bless you abundantly, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.”
Linda ended her talk by saying “Don’t do this” – here she held her arms inward – “But do this,” opening her hands to represent an expression of giving and going.
Outward focus to a lost world - that’s God’s call to us. Let’s GO!
The CCC Blog is a collection of writings and images from staff members and guest contributors, all pointing to the extraordinary life made possible by a relationship with Jesus.