Giving thanks at Beloved

You’re invited to join us for TWO shared meals at Beloved this Thanksgiving Day…

2nd Annual Turkey Lunches for Thanksgiving Day Workers

Thursday, November 279 am to 11 am

Great turkey lunch-off of 2013

Once again, we’ll be serving our neighbors who work on this holiday of sharing.

Last year, we delivered over 200 lunches and had a wonderful time.

Volunteers can bring turkey and fixings, assemble sandwiches and deliver lunches!

Thanksgiving Potluck Dinner and Matinee Movie at Beloved
Thursday, November 27,  3 pm to 6 pm

Each year we host a shared meal at the church on Thanksgiving.
Contact Neko and Davey Williams for more information.

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All Saints Day celebration Sunday, November 2nd at 6 p.m.

This Sunday at Beloved Community, we celebrate All Saints Day.
Sunday night at 6:00 pm
We invite you to bring something for the altar
that reminds you of someone who has been a “saint” in your life,
someone who has passed away or someone still living,
someone you know personally or someone you may never have met…

Who is “a saint?”
 “Those men and women who relish the event of life as a gift and who realize that the only way to honor such a gift is to give it away.”
-William Stringfellow
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Reading Changes Lives: Join us in the UCC One Read



This fall, we’re reading the book Hotdogs & Hamburgers as part of the UCC One Read. This great book highlights the issue of adult illiteracy and the church’s response to our neighbors who are struggling to read. We’re joining with our fellow UCC congregations to help through tutoring, advocacy, and being more involved in local schools.

Join us Wednesday nights at 7 for our Bible study to discuss the book with us!

Here is what Beloveds have to say about the book so far:

“I LOVE THIS BOOK!!!” – Kate Hogeland

“A darling book. Such a wonderful story.” -Marianne Dreyspring

“The author’s experiences, and those of his students, were a huge inspiration to me, as someone who has tutored adult literacy students for a long time. It is clear that he cares very much for his students, and I hope to use some of his techniques in my tutoring.” -Nancy Sales

Check out the author, Rob Shindler, talking about why he wrote it:

We also invite you to join one of these great volunteer opportunities:

  • The Literacy Council volunteer orientation Thursday Nov. 6th, 11:30 am (RSVP required)
  • The Literacy Council’s tutor training November 13th and 20th5:30-8pm (cost: $25)
  • M-Power Ministries volunteer orientation Tuesday, November 11, noon (RSVP)
  • M-Power Ministries literacy tutor training November 14-15 (registration required)
  • Volunteer with STAIR (Start the Adventure in Reading) afterschool tutoring program: Contact Evelyn Puckett, (205) 933-3684


And check out some photos of our joint UCC One Read cookout launch party last month! We were joined by fellow Birmingham UCC churches Pilgrim UCC, Covenant Community UCC and First Congregational UCC

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Feature on Beloved in Birmingham Magazine

“I believed there was a hunger for a church where people could come together across race and economic and religious backgrounds, a place where they all could be told they were precious in the eyes of God…There are not many churches where you’ll have a doctor sitting next to a homeless person sitting next to a college professor sitting next to a schizophrenic.”

Birmingham Magazine feature 10-2014Birmingham Magazine wrote a feature on Beloved Community Church. Check it out here!

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Human Rights Campaign Faith Forum at Beloved July 22, 2014

Above: Beloveds marched in Birmingham Pride, 2014

Above: Beloveds marched in the Central Alabama Pride Parade, June 2014

By Greg Garrison

Published on July 23, 2014 at

BIRMINGHAM, Alabama – Lauren, 23, stood up in the middle of Beloved Community Church in Avondale on Tuesday night, holding her Bible. “I’m a lesbian,” she said. “I really didn’t want to be gay.”

She hasn’t told her family or anyone at the non-denominational Bible church she attends. “I knew that wouldn’t go over,” she said. “I go to a literalist church.”

Her mother found out by reading her email. “My mom told me she still loves me no matter what,” Lauren said. But when they had a talk about Lauren having a sexual relationship with another woman, her mother said, “Do you know how disgusting that is?”

Lauren said she had been reading the Bible and been bothered by a passage, Leviticus 25:46, that had nothing to do with homosexuality. She read it out loud: “You can bequeath them to your children as inherited property and can make them slaves for life .”

The group of clergy leading a panel discussion on religion for the Human Rights Campaign nodded in understanding. “They say they believe everything in the Bible,” said the Rev. J.R. Finney, an openly gay minister who is pastor of Covenant Community Church. “But if you ask them about certain verses, they say, ‘That doesn’t apply to now.’ When did God change his mind? Who decides when he changed his mind?”

He said he once did a reading in church of an erotic passage from the Song of Solomon, then asked, “How did you enjoy your reading from the Bible?” People were stunned it was a Bible passage. “People don’t look at all of it,” Finney said.

The Rev. Kevin Higgs, pastor of Sylvan Springs United Methodist Church, asked Lauren to consider moving to a more accepting church. “You do not need to support an institution that is trying to destroy your spirituality,” Higgs said.

A Catholic school teacher spoke up, saying she chose to stay in her church and teach her children to be open and accepting of all people.

“You are comfortable where you are,” Finney said to the teacher. “If you’re comfortable in an institution and want to change it, praise God.”

As for Lauren, “this is oppression for her,” Finney said. “That’s very different.”

More than 50 people had gathered for the discussion of increasing awareness of gay rights in churches in the South, part of the Human Rights Campaign’s $8.5 million Project One America.

“Telling our stories makes such a difference,” said Sharon Groves, director of the Religion and Faith program for the Human Rights Campaign, who moderated the discussion.

The Human Rights Campaign did a recent survey of 1,200 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people in the South and almost half of them said they are people of faith, including 60 percent of black respondents. More than one in five has experienced harassment at their places of worship, the survey said. Joseph Ward, Project One America Faith and Religion associate director, read some of the personal responses from the survey of religious people in the South who said they were persecuted.

One said that when she was 15, she told her father, a Southern Baptist minister, that she was a lesbian. “He beat me to the point of cracked wrists,” she wrote. The beatings continued to the point her mother divorced him, she added.

Another wrote that when he was 17, his parents were cruel and tormented him when they found out he was gay. He tried to move into a Christian shelter for protection, but was turned away because they didn’t approve of his homosexuality, he said.

Groves shared another story, from Minnesota, of a boy who said he told his father at 15 that he was gay. “You know where the gun is and you know what to do,” Groves said the father replied.

Higgs, who took part in a United Methodist commission that studied homosexuality and presented a report that was rejected by the denomination in 1992, said the study concluded that gays had been treated poorly by the church, and instead should be welcomed and affirmed. “They are our brothers and sisters,” Higgs said. “We should recognize them and love them as our neighbors.”

He said that is the overwhelming message of the New Testament, not the proof-texting that some Christians use to argue based on certain passages out of historical context. “How are we going against the Bible? That’s always the first stone that’s thrown at me,” Higgs said. “We’re really not.”

Even those who agree that the Bible teaches love and welcoming to all sometimes argue that accepting gays will hurt the church, he said. “It makes me angry,” Higgs said. “They say we can’t do this because we’ll lose money and the church will close. We’re following Judas rather than Jesus. We’re following 30 pieces of silver rather than picking up and carrying the cross.”

See also: Gay rights group wants less hate, more welcoming churches: meeting in Birmingham talks about how


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Across the Tracks: a look at gentrification in Avondale

Three of our Beloveds were recently featured in this short documentary by UAB Media Students focusing on gentrification in our Avondale community.

We hope you’ll watch and perhaps learn something new, or will have your own experiences to share. Please let us know what you think in the comments!

Across the Tracks by Rebecca Graber and Harsh Shah from UAB Documentary on Vimeo.

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Holy week reflection

“I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through him who gives me strength.” -Philippians 4:12-13

The Covenant Prayer of John Wesley (1703-1791)

I am no longer my own, but thine.
Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt.
Put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be employed for thee or laid aside for thee,
exalted for thee or brought low for thee.
Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal.
And now, O glorious and blessed God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit,
thou art mine, and I am thine.
So be it.
And the covenant which I have made on earth,
let it be ratified in heaven.

From Adam Hamilton, Seeing Gray in a World of Black and White (Nashville: Abingdon, 2008), page 232. In his footnote to this prayer Hamilton directs readers to The United Methodist Hymnal (Nashville: The United Methodist Publishing House, 1989), p. 607

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Holy Week Reflection from Palmer Maxwell

“And they all left Him and fled.”
Mark 14:50

With All Our Confusion Around Us

This is where we begin when we begin to know
The content of your love contains our gratitude as well as our groan.
With all our confusion around us you love us
Turning our pattern of chaos into a dance
Turning our indigence and disobedience
Into something we are not ashamed to own.

All we have been shown about you
Shows us you honor all we are and ever were
Because this too was dearly won through pain and loss
When my infamous “no” became your infinite “Yes!”
Now I too have become a brother to one thought lost
Now I too share in the poverty of your cross.

From the vantage point of having no advantage
You have shown us another way
A way that cannot not include you and me.
A way that cannot not include the confusion all around us.


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Holy Week reflection from Cedric Rudolph

"Skeleton Woman" Image Source:  Imagine Us Free Theatre -

“Skeleton Woman” via Imagine Us Free Theatre –

I’ve been thinking a lot about Skeleton Woman.

Clarissa Pinkola Estés retells the Native American myth of skeleton woman very well.  Basically, a lonely fisherman pulls in the twisted ghoul of a woman’s body on his line rather than a fish.  She follows him all the way into his ice-house where he dives, shaking, into a corner. After a while, however, he takes pity on the woman and begins to sing her bones back to life.  Nana-uh-nana-uh-nana-uh-nana, he sings.  When a tear falls down his face, Skeleton Woman drinks it up.

Her bones rearrange themselves, muscle takes hold, and so does skin.  Suddenly, she’s a full-fledged woman in front of him.

Estés uses the story to describe how, in order to have longevity in any relationship, you must love your partner when things are bare, as well as when the relationship is fun and romantic.  Your partner may need time to themselves.  Two people may not talk as much as in the past.  Estés says that every relationship-and life itself, for that matter-has a life-death cycle.  Sometimes things are fertile, and sometimes things are barren.

I’ve been turning this story over and over again in my head.  At Pilgrim, right now, we’re working on finding a permanent pastor.  Things are different and sometimes don’t feel as comfortable as they did when we had our interim, Sally Harris.  In my personal life, my grandmother has Alzheimer’s, and my mother and I are in a sort of a holding pattern until we can get more help.

Why is it so hard for me to see right now that things will get better in my life?  I may be in the death part of a cycle, but the rebirth is on its way.  I give myself credit for hanging pretty tight with old Skeleton Woman. I use humor to add some levity to bad days.  I meditate if I’m frustrated, or confused.  But sometimes, it’s hard to see that Skeleton Woman’s skin will come back to her.

There was a six-month period when I was out of a job.  I was really down.  Some days I would just burst into tears.  One morning, I was lying in bed, and I remembered something Marianne Williamson had said about applying the three days Jesus was in the tomb to the problems in our lives.  You may be in the “three days,” but help is on the way.  When I remembered the phrase “three days,” I sat straight up in bed and stopped crying. I started smiling.

-Cedric Rudolph

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Lenten reflection from Carmen Maria Austin

“The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
He makes me lie down in green pastures;
he leads me beside still waters;
he restores my soul.
He leads  me in right paths for his name’s sake.

Even though I walk through the darkest valley,
I fear no evil;
for you are with me;
your rod and your staff–they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies;
you anoint my head with oil;
my cup overflows.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me
all the days of my life,
and I shall dwell inn the house of the Lord my whole life long.”
Psalm 23 

“Neither do I condemn you.”  – John 8:11

How sweetly, simply these words fall from the lips of Jesus.  Often we’re braced to hear the opposite from God.  Perhaps that’s what keeps us from approaching Him at times.  At other times, like the would-be stoners of the adulterous woman in the Gospel, we might be expecting him to judge others-those we’ve already judged and found unworthy-and then taken aback when he doesn’t.

The 23rd Psalm promises quiet waters, comfort and guidance, a table laden and a cup overflowing unconditionally.  Not because we never fail, but because His love never fails.

When He extends mercy, can we receive it? As it flows freely to us all? Can we walk together by those waters?

Merciful one, open me to the goodness and loving kindness that infuse my life, and let me become a bearer of your peace.

(Mary Marrocco, Living Faith volume 30 Number 1)

-Carmen Maria Austin

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