Dear Resurrection Family,
I know some of you are history buffs, as I am. As we prepare to celebrate Independence Day on Sunday, I thought you might be interested to know that the original Independence Day was today – July 2. That’s when the Second Continental Congress approved a resolution of independence from the British Crown. But the final draft of the Declaration of Independence was not approved until July 4.
At the end of this enote I’ll share what was cut by Congress from Jefferson’s original draft of the Declaration of Independence – a 168 word paragraph that was deemed too controversial to retain. But first, I want to share with you a few exciting things that are happening around the church this weekend and in the weeks ahead.
I hope you’ll plan to join us for worship with your family and friends before you begin your Fourth of July celebrations. We’ll have amazing music, we’ll be praying for our nation, we’ll have an inspiring message at all our locations and we’ll share Holy Communion together. If you are worshiping at home, have bread or crackers and wine or grape juice ready to share in communion.
For those of you worshipping online, on television or at our Leawood location, you will have the opportunity to hear a message from Rev. Dr. Anne Gatobu, our new Executive Pastor overseeing Locations and Congregational Care. In this role she’ll not only give support to our locations, but she’ll play a key role in helping launch five new locations over the next nine years. Up until Wednesday, she served as the District Superintendent of the Kansas City District, overseeing all the United Methodist Churches on the Kansas side of the state line, including ours.
If you worship at one of our other locations, you’ll have the opportunity to hear your location pastor – Anne Williams will give her first sermon as location pastor at Resurrection Downtown, Bill Gepford will be preaching at West, Penny Ellwood at Blue Springs and Tino Herrera, Leawood's new Pastor of Men’s Ministry, will preach at Overland Park. Join us for in-person worship at 9 or 11 am at all of our locations. Click here for our physical locations or for information about joining us online or on television this weekend.
I’m really excited about this year’s Vacation Bible Camp as our children have the chance to learn about one of the most important stories in the Bible – the Exodus of the Israelites from slavery and their journey to the Promised Land. The theme is called “The Great Adventure” and you don’t want your kids or grandkids to miss out.
You can join us in person for VBC, or online. We’ll be doing VBC online with our granddaughter, Stella, as that week we’re out of town as a family. VBC is July 18-23. We’ll have epic adventure surprises at each of our five Kansas City locations. You can check it out here where you’ll find more information and the chance to sign up there. If you’re in the KC area, make sure you register your children or grandchildren today in order to receive all the great stuff we have for your kids. Here’s the link. If you’re outside the KC area, you can still participate with a VBC Kit and videos that we’ll provide you.
Join our serve teams at Della Lamb's Early Education program, and Emmanuel Family and Child Development Center for a 10-day blitz as we prepare rooms for daycare and preschool. Morning, afternoon, and evening shifts are available and open to volunteers ages 12+ as we paint, clean and organize.
If you are not able to physically serve, we also need people to provide hospitality - lunches and dinners for our volunteers working multiple shifts. Here’s the link for more information and to sign up.
Holy Frit, the film that documented the making and installation of the stained glass window at Resurrection Leawood, won the Audience Award for Best Documentary this spring at the Slamdance Film Festival – a HUGE honor! Slamdance is for emerging filmmakers what Sundance is for established filmmakers. Holy Frit also won the Audience Award for Best Documentary at the Annapolis Film Festival and the Florida Film Festival.
The film was four years in the making and was created by documentary film maker Justin Monroe, who followed the progress of the window from conception to installation. The Resurrection Window took 14,000 hours to complete and is believed to be the largest single art glass window in a church, and the second largest stained-glass window in the world. It tells the biblical story from Genesis 1 to Revelation 22. The film documents the challenges that nearly kept the window from being completed.
Next Sunday, July 11, we’ll premier the film in the Leawood sanctuary at 6 pm. You’ll be able to see the film in the room with the window on display above – it will be a remarkable experience. The showing is free to the public. I’ll be there to introduce the film. You can watch the trailer here.
This is a remarkable film, but I want parents to know that there are a scattering of swear words in the film and for that reason you might not want to bring your children. The film was not created as a “Christian film,” but as a film that would appeal to a broad audience including non-religious and nominally religious people. It would be a great date night movie and a wonderful opportunity to invite your friends and neighbors who might be interested in the story behind this window.
Next Tuesday night I’ll be sharing Vespers from the Lake of the Ozarks with our Executive Staff – they are joining me for a 24-hour retreat where we’ll be working together on upcoming plans for the church. You’ll have a chance to meet them and hear a bit of what’s on the horizon for this fall at the church.
Then I’ll share from the final chapter of my upcoming book on the Lord’s Prayer. That concluding chapter looks at the meaning of the prayer's doxology: For Thine is the Kingdom, the Power and the Glory Forever, Amen.
Vespers is every Tuesday night on Facebook Live at 7:30 pm Central Time. If you follow my Facebook page you’ll be notified when I go live. Click here to go to my Facebook page and click "follow."
For those of you at Downtown, West, Blue Springs and Overland Park who have been receiving both this enote from me every Friday as well as a second email from your campus pastor, we’re excited to share that your campus pastor’s email is becoming a special location newsletter that you will receive on Tuesdays.
This newsletter, called “Next” will feature a personal message from your location pastor (Wendy, Anne, Bill, Penny or Joshua) and opportunities for you to engage and connect at your location as together we pursue the five essential practices of our faith - worship, study, serve, give and share.
My Friday enote will continue to be a Resurrection-wide email for all of our locations, sharing the latest churchwide news and a few things that are on my heart each week as your senior pastor.
Because Monday is a holiday for our staff, this Tuesday will be an introductory email from your location pastor, then you will get the full version of “Next” on July 13.
Thomas Jefferson was 33 when he drafted the Declaration of Independence in June of 1776. John Adams and Ben Franklin were among the handful of people to review it before it was presented to the Second Continental Congress on July 1 for their debate and final revisions. The Congress, made up of representatives from all 13 colonies, debated for three days. There were a number of minor changes, and one major one.
Jefferson had included in the draft of the Declaration submitted to Congress a 168-word paragraph denouncing slavery for the way it violated the most sacred rights of life and liberty and noting that King George was “Determined to keep open a market where Men should be bought & sold, he has prostituted his negative for suppressing every legislative attempt to prohibit or restrain this execrable commerce.”
This paragraph sparked the most intense debate. Tragically, Congress determined that it needed to be cut from the Declaration. Two thirds of the representatives at the Continental Congress owned slaves including Jefferson himself. And they argued that the American economy was dependent on the nation’s 700,000 slaves. The lofty ideals articulated by the Declaration’s best-known words, “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness,” would not apply to the nearly 20% of the population in this newly formed nation who were enslaved.
The words didn’t fully apply to women either. Women were not allowed to own property in their own name. And a year after the Declaration was signed, every state passed laws making clear that women were not allowed to vote.
It would take 89 years and a Civil War to end slavery in America. It would take another 55 years for women to have the right to vote. It would be 100 years after the Civil War was concluded that Civil Rights Acts of 1964 and 1965 aimed at protecting equal rights for all people. President Johnson, at the signing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, noted that this was finally ensuring what had been promised in our Declaration of Independence. It was seeking to “end the last vestiges of injustice in our country.” But even these acts of Congress could not change human hearts or put an end to injustice. It was progress, though.
We celebrate the lofty ideals of the Declaration of Independence this weekend, and we recognize that throughout our history we’ve not always lived up to these ideals as a nation. Americans have at times been blind to injustice, or rationalized it, as the Second Continental Congress did. We’ve come a long way toward living up to these ideals since 1776 and celebrate that progress. But, as we’ve seen in the rise of anti-Semitism and other hate crimes and in the continuing struggle with racism, we’re often still blind to injustice, or we manage to rationalize it.
As we celebrate our nation’s birth this weekend, I want to encourage us as followers of Christ to continue to speak up for the deeply biblical principle that all people are of equal value and worth, that all of us are endowed by our Creator with the unalienable rights including life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
I am grateful for our nation and pray that we might live up to our lofty ideas.
In Christ’s Love,
13720 Roe Ave.
Leawood, KS 66224
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Olathe, KS 66061
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Kansas City, MO 64108
601 NE Jefferson St.
Blue Springs, MO 64014
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Overland Park, KS 66212
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