Tuesday, October 24, 2006

What Life Legacy Would I Want?

FYI: New Post at MD

Amongst several blogs including this one (Mere Discipleship Blog, Tangled Weblog, Jettybetty, Phil's, Amy's), we have had continued discussion about the meaning of real discipleship and challenging ourselves on what that means in our lives. The excerpts from the article below illuminate clearly the attributes of a modern day disciple.

Excerpts from Party puts Cokesbury on mission for charity by Kevin Cowan Oct. 24, 2006, www.knoxnews.com
A lavish party and the work of a deceased church member have inspired Cokesbury United Methodist Church. The West Knoxville church has set a goal to raise $100,000 for the Red Bird Mission in Beverly, Ky. The organization provides spiritual, educational, health and community outreach ministries to the needy in a three-county region in the Appalachians.

Dr. G. Steven Sallee, senior pastor, read the Oct. 2 News Sentinel article "My Super Sweet 15," which chronicled an over-the-top birthday party thrown for a Farragut teen. The bash was inspired by MTV's series "My Super Sweet 16," which goes behind the scenes of six-figure parties for wealthy teens.

"I came home from church and I read that story," Sallee said. "At 2 o'clock that same afternoon, I went back to church to conduct a funeral for a member." The member was Rachel Noble, 81, of Knoxville. She and her husband, Walter Noble, "responded to a need in Red Bird," Sallee said, "and ministered to some of the poorest people in Appalachia for 35 years."

According to government statistics, Beverly's Clay County is the poorest county in Kentucky, with a per-capita income of $9,626. About 40% of the county's residents live below the poverty line. Also, 50% of Clay County residents older than 25 are not high school graduates.

At Red Bird, Rachel Noble was a nurse, Sallee said, and her husband carried "coal to the school and worked at some of the churches." It bothered the pastor that Rachel Noble "spent 35 years helping others and that it was going to be unnoticed," he said, "and that this little 15-year-old girl had gotten all of this notoriety for all of this money spent for a birthday party."

So Sallee came up with the idea to begin a series of sermons, "The Cure for the Common Life." The first cure introduced to the congregation was "finding a cause." As part of the sermon delivered Oct. 8, Sallee retold the story of the birthday party and shared the story of Rachel Noble's life.

"Spontaneously in the sermon, I said I think we should raise $100,000 to take to the Red Bird Mission in Rachel Noble's name," Sallee recalled. "As soon as I announced it, the entire congregation started applauding." As he sang the service's final song, "People started coming down the aisle putting checks in my pockets," Sallee said. "I reached into my pockets and there was about $12,000 or $13,000 in checks."

In the days after the message, money has continued to be donated, even by those who may have needed help themselves. "There was this woman dressed shabbily," Sallee remembered. "She said, 'That sermon has changed the way I look at life. I can't afford it, but I want you have this.' It was a check for $100."

Cokesbury is about at the $46,000 mark, Sallee said Monday. The pastor hopes to reach the goal by Oct.31 and present the check to Red Bird Nov. 5 during a service at the church. If more than $100,000 is raised, Sallee said Cokesbury wants to donate the excess to Second Harvest, a local food bank.

To make a donation, mail checks (payable to Cokesbury for Red Bird Mission) to Cokesbury United Methodist Church, 9908 Kingston Pike, Knoxville, TN 37922. To find out more about Red Bird Mission, go to www.rbmission.org.

Now that is the legacy of a disciple. As I was reading the article, I realized that Mrs. Noble was the mother of one of my bosses. The effort will be getting a check from me.


JMG said...

I'm struck by the idea of parents throwing birthday parties for their kids that run in the tens of thousands of dollars. (I don't even like the idea of a wedding costing that much.) What is the point of this? I've never seen the TV show referenced in the article, but I can imagine the content considering that it's shown on MTV.

What is this teaching young people today? Is this what young people are attaining to now--lives of lavish waste? How sad for our society.

Tony Arnold said...

That is one thing that is actually wonderful about the article, the fact the minister was appalled by the same thing, but decided he would take some action to counter it rather than just lament it.

The world has gone crazy with greed and excess, but there are concrete ways disciples of Christ can counter the effects.

On the disgusting note, can you imagine how sad a life this poor girl is going to have now? If you get $100,000 dollars lavished on you for your 15th birthday, what else can top that? Every other event will be a disappointment.

I pity the man that has to marry this girl--her parents are creating one high maintenance individual.


JMG said...

Ha! That girl is going to go through lots of boyfriends before she finally finds a rich sugar daddy who's 25 years older than her and more than willing to indulge her so that he can have a trophy wife.

JMG said...

I just took a brief look at Red Bird Mission's website. I'm amazed at all that they are doing for the local people. Meeting people's practical needs--that's real discipleship. That's the kind of "witnessing" that Christians should be doing. Surely this isn't the only program of its kind. Why don't we hear about this stuff?

jettybetty said...

I will confess--I am totally out of the loop--I had no idea parents were spending that kind of money on teen birthday parties. Very sad.

I am with you Tony, what a great way to take action by this pastor. I am afraid all too often I just lament--no action ever involved.

I just can't imagine a sane parent doing a party like this for their child--but it looks like it does happen. =-(

crittermer said...

That's very cool and it encourages me because I think there are many churches in the U.S. with the resources to help to the extent this church is helping. Just think what we're going to do when we cut down on those building funds and start channeling the money into charity!

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