Category Archives: News

A Time for Troubling: A Sermon for Charlottesville

The sermon from Sunday, August 13, 2017 on 1 Kings 19: 9-18 

The great priest and peace activist Daniel Berrigan writes that 1 Kings (among other books in the Hebrew Bible) offers us “a diagnosis of the pathology of power.”

What then is the role of the prophet mired in the pathology of power, residing in a bloody land that worships idols?

Berrigan lifts up the idea that “Prophecy [is] speaking loud and clear, interpreting, warning and blessing, praising goodness and denouncing evil in high places and low.”   Continue reading A Time for Troubling: A Sermon for Charlottesville

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Independence or Interdependence

The sermon from Sunday, July 2, 2017 on Romans 6:12-23

This passage from the apostle Paul’s letter to the Roman church is layered.  

That’s good because I sat down to write one sermon and ended up writing another. The Holy Spirit will do that to you.

Let’s start with this line from the middle – I am speaking in human terms because of your natural limitations.

Continue reading Independence or Interdependence

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Living our Covenant

We hope you will join us through advocacy, prayer and action this month to support the realm of God on earth.

This is our Covenant: “With the help of God, We will walk together in the ways of Jesus, creating a community and striving for a world where no one is an outcast and no one is a stranger

Speak out for Sanctuary policies in Birmingham

“Where all people are celebrated as precious children of God

Speak out against LGBTQ discrimination in Birmingham

“Where we joyfully share with one another: Hope for the living…”

Write letters to support summer feeding and child nutrition programs

Comfort for the dying.. Dignity for those in struggle…”

Ask our Senators to protect healthcare for low-income, elderly and sick people

“And the freedom to ask, and to seek, and to grow
more fully into the 
persons we were created to be.”

(Above photos show Beloveds at the March for Sanctuary, Pride Parade, Brown Bag Ministry and the healthcare sit-in this month.)

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Happy Anniversary, Beloved!


  

  
Shown above: LeNard Brown, Rev. Jennifer, our celebration meal, and performances from The Murray Family, Christ Will Enter In (CWEN) and D’Marie

Thanks again to our anniversary sponsors:

A.G Callins Home Inspection – First Congregational Church UCC – Hope Central Church –Pilgrim Church UCC – Radical Hope Church – Risk Consulting Expert Services – S&W Electric – Birmingham Friends Meeting – Birmingham Progressive Christian Alliance – The Cooperative New School – Kelsey Weeks Photography – The Abbey Coffee Shop – Beautiful Rainbow Cafe & Catering – JC Services – The Juke Joint – Just Love Weddings – Mentone Vacation Cabin

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The Work of Healing

The sermon from Sunday, June 18, 2017 on Matthew 9:35-10:8

Christians are called to be healers.  Cure the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. 

To be a follower of Jesus is to accept that we are tasked with healing.  It’s one of the foundational aspects of the Gospels. Jesus heals and he tells those who would follow him to do the same.

There is much work to be done. The harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few. 

We as followers of Jesus are called to the work of healing as a primary commitment – the work of healing ourselves, the work of shared healing with those around us, and the work of healing the world.

This world where we glorify guns, but deem it okay for a police officer in Minneapolis to shoot and kill a black man who lawfully has one. We grieve tonight for the death of Philando Castile – and for a world that perceives blackness as threat.

There is a need for healing.

Continue reading The Work of Healing

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The Work of Pentecost

The sermon from Sunday, June 4, 2017 on Acts 2:1-21

I want to tell 4 stories tonight. None of them is long, but they all speak to the Pentecost moment.

The first takes place not so long after the actual event of Pentecost. Nero was emperor of Rome for 14 years – from 54-68 AD. History remembers him as cruel and tyrannical, vain and corrupt.  He executed his own mother. He slaughtered Christians – then still a minor, troublesome sect in the empire –  for sport. He spent far more money than the imperial coffers could sustain. He was obsessed with his own popularity.

In the year 64 AD, there was a massive fire in Rome. It is said to have burned for 5 days. It destroyed 70% of the city and left half of Rome’s population homeless. It was massive. There were rumors that Nero had had the fire started to clear way for a new planned palace – 1st century gentrification and redevelopment – and to deflect those rumors, Nero instead blamed the Christians. Christians then were still widely persecuted, but this imperial finger-pointing ignited a whole new wave of the killing of Christians. Continue reading The Work of Pentecost

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Help feed hungry families! June volunteer opportunities at Beloved

 We’ve committed to a big month of volunteering this June! The week of June 26th-30th, we’re providing meals and helping host homeless families with Family Promise.
family promise

We’re also providing summer meals to 175 students that week through GBM’s Thank Goodness I’m Fed Summer Program. Most of the meal assembly will happen the weekend before and meals will be delivered by 10:30 each morning, MondayFriday.

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Plus, we will continue to do our Brown Bag Ministry on June 21st and 24th!

How you can help:

  • Help with meal prep, packing or delivery – contact Molly Merkle or Jackie Limbaugh to help (several volunteer opportunities available June 21st-28th).
  • Volunteer to stay overnight with Family Promise June 26th, 27th or 28th – You don’t have to bring food to help out. Contact Jackie Limbaugh for info.

 

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Radical Love: A Good Friday Short Sermon

Rev. Jennifer participated in  a Seven Last Words of Jesus Good Friday worship service at Talladega First Congregational Church in Talladega, Alabama.  Her  assigned text for a 5 minute sermon was the 3rd word, John 19:26-27 – 

“Woman behold thy son! Behold thy mother” –

There he goes again.

Jesus.

Making room – in the midst of death – for love.

Teaching us how to live even as he faces death.

Life for a woman alone in first century Judea was perilous at best.

A woman alone was an outcast, removed from the graces of proper society, without status.

Elder women alone faced both stigma and starvation.

Jesus, on the verge of death, makes certain that his mother will be cared for, that she will have a home and food and love, that even in losing a son, she will gain a son.

An act of radical love in the very face of death.

An act – yet another act – of making sure that the vulnerable – the most vulnerable – are cared for.

Two thousand years later do you think we are still in need of the witness of radical love? Are we any better today at ensuring the well-being of vulnerable and marginalized – those people whom Jesus continually cared for?

Yesterday, the midst of Holy Week, on Maundy Thursday, that celebration of love and friendship, we drop what is obscenely being called the Mother of All Bombs on one of the poorest countries in the world.

Yesterday, I sat by the side of the road with a young woman who had just been in a serious car accident.

As I wiped the blood from her face, I heard her tell her story to the police officer. She was leaving her job at one fast food restaurant on her way to pick up her friend, who worked at a different fast food restaurant.

The two of them shared the car – the car that was now a heap of crumpled metal – to get to and from work and their apartment in an area of the county that has no public transportation.

She had no car insurance, could not afford car insurance on her salary even while working full time to support herself. For that, as she sat in the back of an ambulance preparing to ride to the emergency room, she received a ticket.

Yesterday, as I was walking through Avondale Park after a planning meeting for the Easter sunrise service, a woman called out to me to come help her.

I crossed the grass to discover that she was trying to pull a homeless man from the creek.

He lives in that park and has long-term, serious medical issues. I do not know how he had ended up in the creek, but he could not get himself out.

He was soaked and swollen and dead weight. We managed to get him to safety. He refused the offer to call 911, but I worried that this unmoving man might end up – yet again – face down in the creek.

I asked the fire fighters down the street to quietly check on him because I knew of none other that would care for him in that late afternoon moment.

Yesterday, a homeless friend asked me for some clothes. He might have been drunk. He might have been sober. Sometimes it’s hard to tell.

Either way, he had set down the backpack that contained all his earthly possessions on a bench in that same park – and then it was gone. “I just need a change of clothes, preacher,” he said to me.

The Mother of All Bombs cost 300 million dollars to develop. Each individual bomb costs an estimated 16 million dollars.

I sat last night thinking about that bomb – and all the people who get rich from bomb-making and bomb-dropping in this world.

I thought about that bloodied young woman who, though lucky to be alive, now has no way to get to the job that doesn’t even pay her a living wage, but is her sole source of support.

I thought about this man who is quite literally dying in the park and our failure as a nation to ensure that he has a humane and dignified place with clean sheets and warm food and loving hands to tend his final days.

I thought about my homeless friend who deserves a decent place to live, where his clothes don’t get stolen, whether he is sober or not.

And I thought about these words of Jesus, who speaks life and love even into death.

We have no shortage of death in our world.

We have a shortage of love in the world.

In this midst of unimaginable physical suffering, in the middle of dying a horrible death, Jesus still teaches us to care and to love.

In his  reminder we find a constant call on our own lives.

Amen.

The image is “Cross-Eyed” by J.J. Jacobs

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Holy Week at Beloved

Palm Sunday processional Sunday, April 9th, 4:45-5 PM
Religious procession in Avondale with Beloved and The Abbey


Maundy Thursday service at Beloved, April 13th, 6 PM

Joint UCC service with our fellow UCC churches (Covenant Community UCC, First Congregational UCC and Pilgrim Church UCC).


Good Friday – Stations of the Cross – Linn Park, 12 PM

Starting at noon at Linn Park and ending by 1:30 at Kelly Ingram Park, this pilgrimage involves 15 blocks of travel on city sidewalks. Wear comfortable walking shoes. Sponsored by St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, Greater Birmingham Ministries, First Presbyterian Church and Church in the Park.


Good Friday – Seven Last Words of Jesus Service – 12 pm at Talladega First Congregational UCC

202 Martin Luther King Jr Dr N; Talladega, Alabama 35160

7 last words service

A powerful service with 7 UCC pastors reflecting on Jesus’ last words. Contact Jennifer to RSVP.


Sunday, April 16th, 7 AM at Avondale Park (4101 5th Ave S, Birmingham, AL 35222)
Joint Easter sunrise service with our neighbors at Avondale UMC and Saint Junia. In case of rain, will move to Avondale UMC at 500 40th St S, Birmingham, AL 35222.


Resurrection Sunday at Beloved!

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2017 Lenten Study Groups

Liberation Theology Study Group Sundays at 3 pm

Stand Your Ground: Black Bodies and the Justice of God

Liberation Theology Study group is currently discussing Stand Your Ground: Black Bodies and the Justice of God by the womanist theologian Kelly Brown Douglas. Local activist T. Marie King is co-facilitating the book discussion with Rev. Jennifer. All are welcomed to join the discussion!

 


Bible study Wednesday nights at 6 PM
Plenty Good Room: A Lenten Bible Study Based on African American Spirituals

This unique short-term Bible study combines an in-depth look at Scripture, American history, and the music and lyrics of six African American spirituals. The six-session study provides biblical, social, and historical analyses of  ‘Ev’ry Time I Feel the Spirit,” “This Lonesome Valley,” “Bow Down on Your Knees,” “Plenty Good Room,” “Ain’t Dat Good News,” and “Were You There?” Bible Study facilitated by Rev. Sally Harris at Beloved, Wednesday nights at 6 pm.

 

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