October 2006

Yesterday I attended the Legislative Black Caucus Legislative Workshop at the State Capital in Annapolis. This was a great information session about what is going on in the state related to five areas: Health, Education, Business and Economic Development, Law and Justice and Environmental Justice. I attended three of the workshops and here are my take aways.

HIV/AIDS is at epidemic propositions in Baltimore in comparison with other major urban areas
There is a need to increase testing in our prisons and jails
Health disparities along race and social class are predictors of high and low mortality
Automation within medical record keeping is essential
HIV/AIDS testing will be a major initiative for 2007

There were no discussions about the Maryland State Board of Health initiating a wellness effort. Pfizer, who had representatives at the workshop, has an initiative called Be Powerful. It is a wellness initiative focused on African Americans but the wealth of information that they are providing is available to everyone.

Teaching to the test is frustrating for educators
Teaching in schools with disciplinary challenges and violence is difficult
Cultural learning differences are not addressed adequately from the state Board of Education
Lifestyle and living environment affect a student’s ability to learn and there is nothing that educators can do to overcome communities where education is a low value and priority
Maryland is in the top 5 SAT scores and AP class score
Economic status is an indicator of poor academic achievement in Maryland. The Board currently does not have a strategy to address this challenge
Drop out rates is a predictor of future earning potential and incarceration
The exit exam currently tests for basic skills. It is not rigorous enough for the students who are looking to compete with other students in this global marketplace but it is overwhelming for the economically challenged. I believe that a high school diploma should mean something, Attendance is great but achievement of basic academic competencies is more important.

Law and Justice
Charles Dutton said in a film that we watched, “I am confused about why we are at war in Iraqi for their democratic rights when the system here is broken. There are hundreds of felons who have served their time and they still do not have the right to vote.”

My learning points were:
Voting is a right not a privilege
People with voting rights are less likely to re-enter the prison system
Those ex-offenders who have earned back their right to vote are extremely diligent in utilizing their right

As a pastor attending these sessions I was privileged to meet many state delegates, representatives and senators. I was not a big name preacher but each of the workshop leaders made it a point to share their card so that we could discuss possibly collaborations, partnerships and joint ventures. Tutoring programs for non violent first time offenders and long term in school suspensions, programs to assist ex offenders to transition to the real world and health clinics are all possibilities for partnerships.

There are serious achievement gaps, incarceration inequities and health disparities that can clearly be seen across racial lines. Elections are coming up in a week. Those people who earn my vote will be talking about the issues and not each other. They will not be attempting to distract me by discussing who is a friend with George W Bush and who is not. No child Left Behind is not working, the war in Iraqi is floundering, Medicaid and Medicare are broken, the Republican party with all of its power is struggling with corruption and moral failure. Now that we know the problems the Republican, Democrat, Libertarian or Independent who will earn my vote as a commissioner, senator or school board representative will be addressing the issues with some real solutions.

Praying for Solutions
Seeking Answers
Trusting God

William T Chaney Jr

Friday, October 27, 2006
Voice of the Day: Stanley Saunders
Imagine a world where the representatives of the greatest military power on earth are humbled by an unarmed healer from the backwaters of Galilee. If you can imagine this kind of world, you possess…an imagination ready to discern the reign of heaven.

– Stanley Saunders

This can be found at Beliefnet http://www.beliefnet.com/blogs/godspolitics/2006/10/voice-of-day-stanley-saunders.html

Newsboys – He Reigns

I have just returned from an awesome retreat with Rev. Dr. Steven W Manskar. The focus of the retreat was his book “Understanding John Wesley’s : A Plain Account of Christian Perfection. Rev Manskar highlighted the Wesley Covenant groups and examined the Works of Mercy and the Works of Piety. This was shaped around Mark 12: 29-30 to form the Wesley Plan of Discipleship.

Mark 12
29″The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

This text formed the center of Discipleship and arrows pushed out from the center. Our first responsibility is to love God. No holds barred but this demands inward work. This is what Wesley calls the Works of Piety.

The Works of Piety are:
• Prayer
• Worship
• The Lord’s Supper
• Scripture
• Christian Conference/Small groups
• Fasting/Abstinence

Our inward search for understanding also demands an outward response which Wesley calls The Works of Mercy. The Works of Mercy are:
• Feed the hungry
• Clothe the naked
• Shelter the homeless
• Welcome the strangers
• Care for the Sick
• Visit the prisoners
• Be peacemaker
• Witness to Christ in the world

Wesley was writing about this back in 18th Century. He is the great reformer of the Anglican church but his radical practical theology of his time is the foundation to which Methodist have to return if the current trends that are contributing to the decline of the UMC church are to change.

Top three take always from this retreat are:
1. Institute covenant groups as the life blood of your congregation
2. Set membership and leadership expectations and enforce them
3. Return to table fellowship and the Lord’s Supper on a weekly basis

Rev. Dr. Steven Manskar is the Director of Accountable Discipleship – smanskar@gbod.org, 877- 899- 2780. If you are a UMC Pastor struggling with revitalization or church renewal begin by studying the foundations of Wesley’s Movement.

Revitalized for the Journey

Rev. William T Chaney Jr
West Baltimore UMC
5130 Greenwich Ave
Baltimore, MD 21702
410 945 8397

Transforming Evangelism: The Wesleyan Way of Sharing Faith

Dr. F. Douglas Powe, Jr.
Dr. Henry H. “Hal” Knight III

Traditional views of evangelism are often intimidating and push the limits of personal comfort, leaving the job of reaching out to new and searching Christians for the professionals – the clergy of the church. Knight and Powe show how this basic misunderstanding is contrary to John Wesley’s view of evangelism, which he understood as a complete circle. Once one has been evangelized to and welcomed into the faith, part of the transformation of their lives includes Christ’s teaching, which is to help others to become welcomed in the faith.
The key to Wesley’s way of sharing the faith is to relate to others in love, compassion and gratitude for God’s divine grace. Knight and Powe’s explanation of evangelism is steeped in the Wesleyan tradition, exposing how God’s love and grace comes to each of us as we once received it, through the gift of proclamation. A true transformative act of evangelism is R.E.L.A.T.I.O.N.A.L.: Renewal; Enter; Listening; Acceptance; Testimony; Inviting; On-Going; New Beings; Assurance; Live-It. As Christians, we are not to keep the gift we receive through evangelism; we are to live out what we learn in community and study, by inviting others into this grace. Knight and Powe express that evangelism should not be viewed as an ugly word or act that most fear to live out, but as a way for one friend in Christ to welcome another friend in Christ to the faith.

Hot New Book

Divine Nobodies
By Jim Palmer

What does a Hip-Hop artist, Waffle House waitress, tire salesman, and disabled girl have to do with discovering spiritual truth? What if embracing authentic Christianity is a journey of unlearning? Welcome to Jim Palmer’s world!

Don Miller meets Anne Lamott meets Brian McLaren in this tale of shedding religion and plunging into uncharted depths of knowing God. Jim Palmer, emergent pastor, shares his compelling off-road spiritual journey and the unsuspecting people who became his guides.

“Perhaps God’s reason for wanting me,” writes Palmer, “is much better than my reason for wanting him. Maybe God’s idea of my salvation trumps the version I am too willing to settle for. Seeing I needed a little help to get this, God sent a variety pack of characters to awaken me.” For all those hoping there’s more to God and Christianity than what they’ve heard or experienced, each chapter of Divine Nobodies gives the reader permission and freedom to discover it for themselves. Sometimes comical, other times tragic, at times shocking, always honest; Jim Palmer’s story offers an inspiring and profound glimpse into life with God beyond institutional church and conventional religion.

“I am tempted to say that Jim Palmer could well be the next Donald Miller, but what they have in common, along with an honest spirituality and extraordinary skill as storytellers, is a unique voice . . . Divine Nobodies is a delight to read, and it was good for my soul to read it.”
Author of The Secret Message of Jesus

“You hold in your hands an amazing story of a broken man finding freedom in all the right places-in God’s work in the lives of some extraordinarily ordinary people around him. You will thrill to this delightful blend of gut-wrenching honesty and laugh-out-loud hilarity, and in the end you’ll find God much closer, the body of Christ far bigger and your own journey far clearer than you ever dreamed.”
Author of Authentic Relationships

On the bridge of the Starship Enterprise Captain Picard and Number One can discuss strategy and maneuvers, course headings and evasive maneuvers but nothing happens until the order is given – ENGAGE! The planning is good, strategizing is important, research is necessary but too many people have brilliant ideas but they never engage the process of making it happen. Great ideas with out action are fantasies with no power. Ideas are only powerful when they are partnered with action.

I find that there are a lot of people in the church who have dreams of doing various ministries from serving the homeless to tutoring at risk children and providing shoes for children in Jamaica. I encourage them to write out their vision, pray for guidance, partner with their pastors and build a team to see the dream fulfilled. I will see these same people two to three years later and ask them about their ministry dream. After they get over the shock that I actually remembered, their response usually is,”Pastor I really never began to move on the dream.” What holds people back from engaging their ideas and fulfilling their dreams?

Fear – Fear of success and fear of failure. The unknown cripples and maims people to the point of inertia. Faith overcomes fear. Faith in your unique abilities and special insight. Faith in God who gave you the vision to provide the provisions for success and faith in the power of the idea that you have. (2 Timothy 1:7For God did not give us a spirit of timidity, but a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.)

Fatigue – When people are tired from constantly living life at full speed they can rarely slow down long to change direction and engage their life changing ideas. In fact when they do slow down the first thing they do is sleep. When they wake up it is time to get back on the tread mill of life. (22 What does a man get for all the toil and anxious striving with which he labors under the sun? 23 All his days his work is pain and grief; even at night his mind does not rest. This too is meaningless. 24 A man can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in his work. This too, I see, is from the hand of God, 25 for without him, who can eat or find enjoyment? Ecclesiastes 2:22-25)

No Fervor – Without passion for moving forward, changing direction, improved circumstances or being sick and tired of being sick and tired people do not engage. They have already told themselves why something will not work or why convinced themselves of who they can not meet. The lack of fervor has killed many a dream and robbed many people of their greatness

So how do you ENGAGE?

Energize yourself – Exercise, Visualize and Mobilize. No one will be more excited about your idea than you will be

Negotiate your schedule. Make time to work on your God given ministry dream. Just like an appointment with the doctor take time each week to systematically pursue the dream. You will never have spare time so schedule the time

Gather research and best practices surrounding the idea. Contact people in similar industries. Go online, go to the library. You may have to dig but there is enough knowledge that is available and free that your ministry can be effective and you will not have to design it without a template

Anticipate – What are the possibilities, who will benefit from my idea, who would like to share the journey with me? Anticipate everything from your possibilities to your potential obstacles

Gather your team – All great events in history were achieved by team work. Sometime the team was behind the scene but there was always a team. Tell your story to friends, referred associates, Centers of influence and strategic partners. Everyone will not listen but all you need is for your team members to catch the vision

Empower your plan by giving them to the Lord. Plan your ministry and get started. Move forward as soon as possible. Get an accountability partner to help keep you on track. A body at rest tends to stay at rest but a body in motion tends to stay in motion – ( Proverbs 16:3 & 9 3 Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established. 9 The human mind plans the way, but the Lord directs the steps.)

Rev. William T Chaney Jr

West Baltimore UMC

5130 Greenwich Ave

Baltimore, MD 21229

410 945 8397

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