Tag Archives: News

15,000 White Flags of COVID-19 Display Georgia’s Devastation

During the week of February 21-28, a dramatic arrangement of 15,000 white flags will be displayed on the lawn of First Christian Church of Decatur in memory of those who have died of COVID-19 in Georgia.

This prayerful, artistic expression is a collaborative effort initiated by the American Friend's Service in collaboration with the Federation of Christian Ministers and First Christian Church of Decatur. Gentle Spirit Christian Church is one of the several area churches participating in this sacred and holy time.

On Saturday, February 20 from 10 AM to 12 Noon, representatives from local churches, organizations and friends shall plant flags on the church lawn. Areas are socially distanced and mask wearing is required.

At 3 PM on Sunday, February 21 there will be an opening ceremony.

At 12 Noon and 5 PM each weekday clergy which includes Pastor James and Pastor Paul are available on site for prayer. You are welcome to walk through the display praying for all of the families of those lost as well as the souls of our faithful departed.

A Statement from Decatur’s White Clergy on Racism and Justice

PRESS RELEASE
Monday, June 8, 2020

CONTACT:
Rev. Dr. David Jordan, Senior Minister, First Baptist Church of Decatur
704-724-2766
davidjordan319@gmail.com

Rev. Dr. James L. Brewer-Calvert, Senior Pastor, First Christian Church of Decatur
404-229-2326
citykid4evr@gmail.com

A Statement from Decatur's White Clergy on Racism and Justice

38 Ministers in Decatur Support Black Lives Matter and Repent of Professional and Congregational Racism

DECATUR, Georgia — 38 white ministers representing 8 Christian denominations and thousands of local congregants issued a public, pastoral letter addressing racism and justice.

On Sunday, June 7, the statement was read aloud in many of their church services and is being posted on church social media.

The clergy signees are ordained in the Baptist, Catholic, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), Episcopal, Lutheran, Methodist, Non-Denominational, and Presbyterian traditions.  Their churches are located in and around downtown Decatur, a diverse and vibrant city of 30,000 citizens adjacent to Atlanta.

The statement reads:

“A Statement from Decatur's White Clergy on Racism and Justice” 

Black Lives Matter. We name that unequivocal truth. Black lives matter to God.

We speak to you as white ordained leaders of Decatur churches that for generations have sought to be faithful to the gospel of Jesus Christ. However, our beloved churches have fallen short of our call and commission to live fully into Christ’s call because we have embraced the self-serving corruption of systemic racism. Too many of our Decatur churches were planted in soil tainted with racism. Too many of our Decatur churches harvested the fruit of that racism. And like too many of our predecessors, we who now serve as your shepherds have been too silent, too complicit in those systems because they benefit us. As the prophet Jeremiah writes, “[We] have treated the wound of [God’s] people carelessly, saying, ‘Peace, peace,’ when there is no peace.”

The recent murders of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, and George Floyd force us to see what our fellow black clergy have long told us: that systemic racism is not only embedded in our city, our state, and our nation, it is also embedded in our churches and in us, your clergy.

As people set apart to be servant leaders, we ask God and God’s people to hear our repentance, and if God and God’s people are willing, to forgive us.

We have been silent. We will no longer be silent. As white clergy, we must engage in the faithful, ongoing work of dismantling racism, anti-blackness, and white supremacy, beginning with ourselves and our churches. Our posture must be one of humility and decentering ourselves. We must listen to and follow the leadership of our black clergy colleagues who have led this work for so long, and support their work with our labor and resources.

We trust that by his judgment, Jesus calls us to account for our sin. We trust that by his incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection, Jesus does not leave us stuck in our shame, guilt, or fear. We have this hope that Christ lifts us into new life, together.

We call on you, Christ’s gathered body throughout Decatur, to join us in this work and to demand this work from us. Being anti-racist and pro-justice is not separate from the work of the church; this is at the core of the church’s work. We covenant with you to restore all people to unity with God and each other in Christ. Imagine our churches truly living into God’s vision for them.

Black lives matter to God and they must matter to every one of God’s people gathered today in our churches.

Signed:

Rev. Jack Amick, Decatur First United Methodist Church
Rev. Susan Amick, Decatur First United Methodist Church
Rev. Dr. James Brewer-Calvert, First Christian Church of Decatur (Disciples of Christ)
Rev. Lauren Colwell, Oakhurst Baptist Church
Rev. Patrick Faulhaber, North Decatur United Methodist Church
Rev. Phil E. Foster, LPC North Decatur Psychotherapy Center
Rev. Dr. Steven Good, All Souls Fellowship
Rev. Tom Hagood, Columbia Presbyterian Church
Rev. Trace Haythore, ACPE, Inc.
Rev. Mark Horak, S.J, St. Thomas More Catholic Church
Rev. Dr. David Jordan, First Baptist Church Decatur
Rev. Kristen Koger, First Baptist Decatur
Rev. Caroline Leach, Presbytery of Greater Atlanta
Rev. David Lewicki, North Decatur Presbyterian Church
Pastor Kelsey Lewis, First Baptist Decatur
Rev. Josh Linman, Common Table Decatur
Rev. Dr. Larry Minnix, Decatur First United Methodist Church
Rev. Ellen Echols Purdum, Holy Trinity Parish Episcopal Church
Rev. Laura Rappold, Decatur First United Methodist Church
Rev. Allison Rhodes, Decatur First United Methodist Church
Rev. Sara Robb-Scott, Scott Boulevard Baptist Church
Rev. Alex Rodgers, Decatur Presbyterian Church
Rev. Dalton Rushing, Decatur First United Methodist Church
Rev. Allysen Schaaf, Decatur Presbyterian Church
Rev. Karen Bryant Shipp, Oakhurst Baptist Church
Rev. Dr. Greg Smith Scott Boulevard Baptist Church
Rev. Elwood H. Spackman, Decatur First United Methodist Church
Rev. Dr. Todd Speed, Decatur Presbyterian Church
Rev. Mary Anona Stoops, North Decatur Presbyterian Church
Rev. Anna M. Strickland, First Christian Church of Decatur (Disciples of Christ)
Rev. Jenna Faith Strizak, Holy Trinity Parish Episcopal Church
Rev. Nibs Stroupe, Presbytery of Greater Atlanta
Rev. Greg Tallant, Holy Trinity Parish Episcopal Church
Rev. Paul Turner, Gentle Spirit Christian Church
Rev. Melanie Vaughn-West, Oakhurst Baptist Church
Rev. Dr. Paul Wallace, First Baptist Church of Decatur
Rev. Elizabeth Waltemath, North Decatur Presbyterian Church
Rev. Shelley Woodruff, First Baptist Decatur

COVID-19 Announcement

Good Afternoon Folks,

Just wanted to touch based with our members, friends and supporters of the Gentle Spirit Christian Church. Despite Gov. Kemp's announcement this afternoon about opening business on Friday , and allowing churches to gather for Worship services under a strict adherence to social distancing rules, we WILL NOT be opening the Church Office or returning to Candler Park for Worship service just yet.

After discussion with our staff and other area pastors it has been decided we will act with extreme caution for our friends, members and supporters by operating as we have for the last several weeks in accordance to CDC guidelines.

I shall remain available via phone, text, video conferencing and email. Worship will be live streamed from Facebook 10:30am Sundays and our mid-week meditation will continue Wednesdays at 7pm. I know there are some who will disagree with our choice. However, I would rather spend a few extra weeks apart so that when we do come together we will be reasonably  sure we are not spreading a dangerous virus among our folks.

God Bless,
Rev. Paul M. Turner (Pastor Paul)
Senior Pastor

Gentle Spirit Christian Church’s 2nd Response to the Coronavirus/COVID-19

Again, for all of you that are being impacted by the Coronavirus either physically or economically, directly or indirectly, mine and the Church’s prayers go out to you. This is a difficult, challenging and frightening time for all of us and support from our friends and family is critical to us coming through this.

As for worship on Sunday mornings: After much prayer, discussion, and more prayer is has been decided there will no services in Candler Park until Easter Sunrise at 7:10 AM.  Even this will be subject to how things are going with the containment of the virus.  We are doing this out of our need to be cautious and responsible to the folks who show up to services by not putting them  in a position of risk. Also it has become clear one of the best things people can do to help stop this virus is stay at home.

Remember each week’s message will be posted on our website and on Facebook. Also, please note our expenses do not stop during this time, so please send your tithes and offerings to the church office.

I will be checking in with folks via Facebook or phone during this time.  I can be reached through the church office.  Even though the office is closed for now we are monitoring the phone and calls will be returned ASAP.

I am not as technically savvy as some of my friends and colleagues but with the help of Mike T. and others I will find the tools needed to keep the communications open, consistent and the message of GSCC out there.

We are encouraging these common-sense precautions to help protect our community.

First and foremost, we encourage you to follow the CDC’s recommendations about preventing the spread of the virus:

  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, and then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water; if soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. We will make sure there is plenty of these at each service.
  • Additional information can be found here.

Finally but not least, Billy and I have found great comfort from this particular scripture:

Celebrate God all day, every day. I mean, revel in him! Make it as clear as you can to all you meet that you’re on their side, working with them and not against them. Help them see that the Master is about to arrive. He could show up any minute!

Don’t fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God’s wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It’s wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life.

Summing it all up, friends, I’d say you’ll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious—the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies. (Philippians 4:4-9)

The challenges are great, but our God is greater and we will come through this together stronger than ever.

God Bless,
Rev. Paul M. Turner
Senior Pastor

Gentle Spirit Christian Church’s Response to the Coronavirus/COVID-19

For all of you that are being impacted by the Coronavirus either physically or economically, directly or indirectly, mine and the Church's prayers go out to you. This is a difficult, challenging and frightening time for all of us and support from our friends and family is critical to us coming through this.

As for worship on Sunday mornings: We are different from other churches in the sense we are outside and our numbers are smaller. We are not jammed into an enclosed location or packed into pews. So we will continue offering Worship Services in Candler Park.

In addition, remember each week’s message will be posted on our website and on Facebook. Also, please note our expenses do not stop during this time, so if you are not in attendance on Sunday’s your tithes and offerings can be mailed to the church office.

With that said, here is how we will conduct ourselves at our service in the park.

We are taking some common-sense precautions to help protect our community.

First and foremost, we encourage you to follow the CDC’s recommendations about preventing the spread of the virus:

  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, and then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water; if soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. We will make sure there is plenty of these at each service.
  • Additional information can be found here.

The challenges are great, but our God is greater and we will come through this together stronger than ever.

God Bless,
Rev. Paul M. Turner
Senior Pastor

Rev. Turner Signs Interfaith Dream Act Letter to Congress

Today the Rev. Paul M. Turner of Gentle Spirit Christian Church signed the Interfaith Dream Act Sign On Letter, whose text is as follows:

Dear Members of Congress,

As people of faith, we believe we’re all members of one spiritual family. Dreamers are our beloved siblings. We strive to love our neighbor and uphold everyone’s innate human dignity. Dreamers worship in our pews, study in our schools, and work in our communities. For many, this is where they learned to ride a bike, celebrate our nation’s holidays, and serve their communities. They are mothers, fathers, teachers, nurses, lawyers, scientists, and leaders of a new generation of Americans – and they make our nation stronger. The decision to rescind Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) before legislation was enacted to protect them from deportation was immoral, as it leaves nearly 800,000 individuals facing an unknown future.

We, a diverse community of religious leaders, ask Congress to act today. Dreamers cannot wait, our businesses cannot wait, and our country cannot wait. We urge all Members of Congress to immediately pass a clean Dream Act of 2017 (S. 1615/H.R. 3440), which provides a long overdue pathway to citizenship for immigrant youth.

Congress must pass the Dream Act immediately as a matter of moral urgency. Despite the purported six-month delay in enforcement, the consequences of terminating DACA are immediate, devastating, and profound. No new applications are being considered, and current recipients will see their protection revoked starting in March. Some recipients may have their protection jeopardized sooner if their status expires before then and they are unable to pay nearly $500 in fees, or ensure that the Department of Homeland Security receives their renewal requests by October 5. Leaving DACA recipients and other Dreamers in limbo violates our nation’s values and sends a message of exclusion to immigrant youth, some of whom do not have family or a support system in their birth country. Many do not remember it, or even speak the language.

Dreamers have worked tirelessly for the country they call home to recognize them as our own. The bi-partisan Dream Act of 2017 is the culmination of that legacy. We stand with these brave individuals who embody our ideals and the future of this great country. Dreamers inspire us to live into our shared faith values of unconditional love for our neighbors and determined belief in the possibility of justice for all people. Their vision is our vision, that we can realize an immigration system that affirms the sanctity of family unity, respects the rights and dignity of all, and makes the American Dream truly achievable.

We have grave concerns about proposals to attach harmful immigration enforcement increases with relief for Dreamers. Pairing relief for Dreamers with policy that puts their parents, siblings, and other immigrants at increased risk of deportation or detention or further infringes upon the rights and safety of border communities is unacceptable. Our outdated immigration system leaves millions unjustly detained, separated from family, and locked out of regularizing their status. Congress must enact a clean Dream Act of 2017 without attaching it to increased immigration enforcement.

We are people of faith, grounded in the teachings of our varied traditions. When there is injustice, we are called to right it. Our faith demands that we be agents of community restoration. We pray for this nation and for all people seeking safe, stable, and fruitful lives. We pray with Dreamers for relief as they face an unknown future. We pray that you – our Members of Congress – will do everything in your power to immediately pass a clean Dream Act of 2017.

Guns in Church Law: Rev. Turner Joins Georgia Interfaith Coalition

Rev. Paul M. Turner of Gentle Spirit Christian Church is a signatory to a theological statement against gun violence that was delivered in 2014 to Gov. Nathan Deal, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and the state Legislature and published in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in response to the "guns in church law" that Gov. Deal signed into law that year.  It reads, in part:

An interfaith clergy coalition, Outcry: Faith Voices Against Gun Violence, has come together to raise our voices as people of faith all across Georgia in hopes of preventing gun violence in our state.

We believe that God calls us to value every human life and commands us to live in peace with one another.

We believe that God also commands us to love our neighbor and therefore it is our responsibility to do all that we can to ensure the safety and security of all people.

We can no longer be silent about gun violence in our state. We will oppose political decisions driven by fear that promote the notion that the answer to gun violence is more guns. As citizens of Georgia and as leaders of faith communities we oppose House Bill 875 and any legislation that would allow more guns in more places in our state.

Through our faith, we have a vision for human community that is built on solidarity and trust, not fear and terror. We hope and work for the day when neighborhoods and communities all across our state will be places where human life is valued and celebrated, not tragically ended by gun violence. In this hope, we are encouraging all people of faith to become informed and active in preventing gun violence in Georgia. We pray for moral clarity and courage as we seek to build peace and good will among the human family. We commit ourselves to praying and working for public policies that promote the flourishing of our communities and our congregations in safety and peace.

Be Bulletproof: New E-Book By Rev. Candace Chellew

Rev. Candace Chellew has published a new e-book, Be Bulletproof: How to Defend Your Faith, Love Your Enemies, and Finally Make Peace with the Bible. Featuring the first article written on the idea of spiritual self-defense that later became her 2008 book Bulletproof Faith: A Spiritual Survival Guide for Gay and Lesbian Christians, this 30-page resource contains everything you need to begin building your bulletproof faith including:

  • What spiritual self-defense is (and isn’t)
  • How to answer those who want to argue (or not)
  • How to love your critics (even if you don’t like them)
  • Answers to what the Bible does (and does not) say about homosexuality