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Government Shuts Down On Day Church Doors Open Wider

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Ever heard of a development event for a Baptist organization that featured the testimonies of a Catholic bishop and a president of a Methodist foundation?
Not likely.

Yet one actually took place on Oct. 1 in Little Rock, Ark.

The very day that the United States government shutdown, the doors of the Christian church opened wider.

Almost a year ago, Baptist layman Jim Maloch birthed the idea of a fundraising event for the Baptist Center for Ethics that would appeal to the support from ordinary folk – folk who would give in the $50 to $100 range.

He put together a host committee that included five Baptists, two Methodists and a Presbyterian.

In addition to Maloch, the committee included Charlie Cole Chaffin, Mica Strother, Tony Woodell, Ray Higgins, Jim Argue, Steve Copley and Ruth Shepherd.

The luncheon took place at the Second Baptist Church of Little Rock. It was an affirmation of what the Baptist Center for Ethics – better known as EthicsDaily.com – has accomplished and prioritizes.

The church’s new pastor, Preston Clegg, said that EthicsDaily.com was more faith driven than politically driven.

He said one of the things he liked about EthicsDaily.com was that we were proud of our Baptist heritage but also deeply committed to ecumenical engagement

Jim Argue, president of the United Methodist Foundation of Arkansas (UMFA), said he and his foundation were pleased with their partnership with EthicsDaily.com.

UMFA underwrote the lion’s share of the documentary on faith and immigration – “Gospel Without Borders” – a film first proposed by Steve Copley, a United Methodist minister.

Argue said that he and his board wanted a first-class product that was ecumenical. He said that was what we had delivered.

Anthony Taylor, bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Little Rock, also testified to his support for EthicsDaily.com.

Taylor observed that 2013 is the 50th anniversary of Second Vatican Council and that he was re-reading the documents related to that event.

The Second Vatican Council is credited with advancing greater ecumenical engagement within Christianity, clearly a high value for Catholics and goodwill Baptists.

Gospel Without Borders” upgraded substantively and practically the positive involvement of two houses of faith with a troubled history.

Not only did the documentary feature prominently Bishop Taylor, but also in a historic first, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops distributed a copy of the documentary to every Catholic bishop in the country.

Moreover, a number of Catholic dioceses ordered multiple copies of the DVD to distribute to their churches.

Taylor told luncheon participants that he had ordered and distributed the documentary in bulk to his churches, instructing them to use the resource during Lent.

Pointing out that the Second Vatican Council said that the media was a gift from God, he teasingly said that Catholics were very good at producing long documents that nobody reads.

Then, he noted that the “genius of EthicsDaily” is that it delivers the good news of Jesus that connects with people, a reference both to the documentary and the website.

I am grateful beyond words for the partnerships that we have with Catholics and Methodists. Ecumenical collaboration is pivotal to advancing the common good in a broken world, as is interfaith dialogue and action.

One need look no further than Washington to see the world’s brokenness, one sign of which is the partisan need to exact a “pound of flesh” from the other side at every opportunity.

Obama and his left-wing troopers blame Boehner and his right-wing partiers at every turn – and vice versa. Blame sits atop the hierarchy of values in the nation’s capital.

Unexpectedly, the U.S. government shutdown even played out at Second Baptist.

Clegg, Stephen Cook, pastor of Second Baptist Church of Memphis, and Rusty Edwards, pastor of University Baptist Church of Hattiesburg, Miss., had planned to tour the Clinton Presidential Library before the luncheon. When they arrived at the library, a security guard told them it was closed due to the shutdown.

Government shutdown, political gridlock, partisan bickering and ideological warfare afford goodwill people of faith an opportunity to show that we can work together for the least of these.

Our baptismal practices, orders of worship, definition of church, Bible readings, ordination qualifications and a host of doctrinal matters differ.

But we do share a common concern about social justice and a commitment to mercy ministries. And these matters help us to open wider the doors of the church.

EthicsDaily.com contributes to the positive witness and work of goodwill people of faith. The testimonies of a Catholic bishop and a Methodist leader validate this truth.

I hope you agree. I hope you will consider supporting what we do. If you would like to make a tax-exempt gift online, click here. You will also find on this page information about writing and mailing a check.

Without your support, we would not have been able to create a platform and to produce moral resources that have engaged the larger church. With your support, we’ll be able to continue and to expand what we’re doing.

Will you give today?

Robert Parham is executive editor of EthicsDaily.com and executive director of its parent organization, the Baptist Center for Ethics. Follow him on Twitter at RobertParham1 and friend him on Facebook.

Editor’s Note: Visit our Facebook page to see the photo album from the luncheon. These photographs were taken by Baptist layman J.V. McKinney.