Dear Smoke Rise Family,
July causes us to look back as a country. We read founding documents that speak of the noble ideals of liberty and justice for all. We remember those who have come before us, expressing gratitude for those who have preserved and protected these freedoms.
Religious liberty has been called America’s “first freedom.”
As Baptists, we need to look back and listen to some of our forefathers like George W. Truett, the Pastor of First Baptist Church of Dallas from 1897-1944. On the Steps of the U.S. Capital in 1920, he spoke these words:
“Indeed, the supreme contribution of the new world to the old is the contribution of religious liberty. This is the chiefest contribution that America has thus far made to civilization. And historic justice compels me to say that it was pre-eminently a Baptist contribution…Baptists have never been a party to oppression of conscience. They have forever been the unwavering champions of liberty, both religious and civil…Our contention is not for mere toleration, but for absolute liberty. There is a wide difference. Toleration implies that somebody falsely claims the right to tolerate. Toleration is a concession, while liberty is a right. Toleration is a matter of expediency, while liberty is a matter of principle. Toleration is a gift from man, while liberty is a gift from God.”
As Baptists, we have a rich history to celebrate and a wonderful legacy to embrace. At Smoke Rise, we are committed to preserving this freedom and protecting this right not only for us and for our children, but for all people.
July also causes us to look back and look forward as a congregation. This month, we will be making some necessary and long-overdue renovations to our sanctuary. We will be upgrading our sound system to improve the worship experience. We will make repairs to our ceiling. We will enhance this sacred space for the future. And, this provides us a unique chance to step back into the past. In July, our worship services will take place in our Chapel. We are aware the size is small, but we hope it will create a service that feels intimate for all who participate. As your Pastor, I especially want to ask our long-time members to consider coming to the 9:00am service in July, so we can make sure we have space for everyone at the 11:00am services. I am excited about worshipping in this place where the first saints of our congregation met in 1972. As we prepare to move forward, it will be wonderful to look back and give thanks for those who laid the firm foundation of faith for our congregation.
Grateful for the past. Excited about the future.
I am honored to be…