Good morning Avalon Church family,

During the message yesterday [Sunday, October 15] I appealed to y’all to let me know about concerns that needed to be addressed so I (we) could work on resolving them. I appreciate that some took that to heart and let me know about a problem to be fixed – ironically, the problem yesterday was me. I was not careful with my words.

James 3:2 states, “For we all stumble in many ways. And if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man…” Folks, I am far from being perfect.

During the offering time, I shared a story from my time in New Orleans last week and a family that Debbie and I financially assisted. I began that story by saying, “There was a single, black mother and her children…” Please let me apologize if I offended any of you by that statement. I spent a good portion of yesterday afternoon in turmoil, concerned that I had come across as offensive, demeaning, judgmental, even racist. Additionally, I mourned the possibility that some may have been so distracted by those words that you might have missed the message from God’s Word, at both the offering time and the sermon. I am deeply sorry.

I would also want you to know my heart. For the purposes of the offering time teaching, the ethnicity of the family didn’t have any bearing; I see that very clearly now. However, in light of the sermon I was about to share, the fact that this moment in New Orleans involved a white, middle-class pastor and a woman who was black was important to mention since, to me, that was the essence of the message. Debbie and I were the church to this woman and we needed to be a safe place for her to experience compassion and the love of Christ without regard to her gender or race. The person at the counter could have been a gay man or a displaced family from Puerto Rico or a number of different scenarios – but the response from Debbie and me should have and would have been the same.

Thank you for listening and extending grace to me.

On a different note, Debbie and I were blessed to share with the Spanish Ministry during their worship service yesterday, one that highlighted their five-year anniversary as a ministry. I hardly understood a word spoken but my spirit had no problem worshipping with them!

Thank you, Pastor William and Rosa, for leading these extraordinary people! I really appreciated how you highlighted that, although they all speak Spanish, they are a culturally diverse group, with folks originally from countries throughout the Caribbean, Central and South America. It was a joy celebrating and worshipping with the Spanish Ministry!

In His grace,

Pastor Jim