May 24th: Yet Life Continues
Updated: Aug 15
Even in times of coronavirus quarantine, life continues. I want to bring two pieces of news that are not covid-related, one happy and the other sad. The happy news is that, in collaboration with the Outdoor Ministry Committee, I have apointed the Rev Keith Cerk to serve as our Outdoor Ministry Coordinator, beginning June 1. Rev Cerk has long held a passion for experiencing God in nature. God reaches out to us in myriad ways when we immerse ourselves in the world God has made, and Rev Cerk’s work will be help organize the region to venture out and meet God there. This position is funded from the Outdoor Ministry Endowment, whose assets will also support the programing that will follow. Unfortunately, our ABCMC Summer Camp plans were canceled due to the unpredictability of the epidemic this summer. However, the committee is at work thinking about the kind of activities we can sponsor this summer, despite the restrictions, to help children, youth, adults, and families get out into God’s world. I look forward to Rev Cerk’s leadership and partnership with the committee in bringing those plans to fruition.
The sad news relates to the passing of the Rev Dr Joe Kutter. Those who have been around the American Baptist world a while remember this name. Dr Kutter served a series of pastorates in the denomination, in Michigan and Kansas. He also served as the Executive Director of the national Ministers Council, which is where many of us got to know him. Joe passed away last week of cancer after a long and painful illness.
Our previous executive minister, Rev Dr Larry Greenfield, was close friends with Joe Kutter, and shares with us his last sermon, attached. As Larry says, “The Rev Dr Joe Kutter is a friend who is dying as I write this. He's also a friend of this ABCMC region. Although he never pastored a church here, we used him as a resource on many occasions and he told me many times how much this region meant to him. Joe specifically asked me to share this ‘last sermon’ with you in that spirit.”
This sermon is a deep and touching reflection on true faith, beyond all pretense of magical thinking, given as a final reflection at the end of a life of service. I recommend it to you, especially in the midst of these days, when we are all living a little closer to the thin place between this world and the next.
Finally — and this is COVID related — I also commend to you a brief, one-minute video produced by our denomination, called “ABCUSA Together”. Check it out below or at: https://www.abc-usa.org/2020/05/abcusa-together-we-are-american-baptists/ It’s a simple word of encouragement and unity from our denominational leaders to the whole American Baptist Family. Please give it a watch. And please consider including it in your next online worship service — it only takes one minute, and may help the quarantine-isolated church feel more connected.
Rev David Gregg