Perspective on the 2020 election from Todd Hunter

Todd Hunter is a respected and proven voice in the American church. I have met Todd, and we have some mutual friends. Be blessed by his carefully written call to a Christian perspective during our current political crisis.
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Dear Friends,

We voted separately—in little, individual booths. This is one of the great political gifts of a democratic republic. Without fear of reprisal, with no one looking over our shoulder, we get to speak our mind regarding who we wish to lead us.

This was a stress-filled election cycle, and we’re experiencing additional anxiety as we wait for the election results. In the days to come, we must learn to live together. This is true if your candidate appears to be winning or losing. It is true if the election results bring you relief and joy, or anxiety and depression. 
 
This morning, the path to unity is not obvious. Many Americans, fearing our fractures are too deep, no longer believe it is possible for us to jell or mesh together. That same scenario is now, sorrowfully, playing out in the Church. If the terms for unity are set by the leaders and maneuverings of political parties, there is little hope. 
 
But we have another place to look for optimism, for a rationale and practices for the human flourishing implicit in social unity. That place is in the person of Jesus and the kingdom movement he fomented. 

Jesus said of himself: I am gentle and humble in heart (Mt. 11:29).

Paul picks up on Christlikeness as the way of being for his followers: In humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others (Phil. 2:3,4).  

Jesus further said: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you (Luke 6:27,28). 

Paul says of himself: I am not seeking my own good but the good of many…(1 Cor. 10:33).

James encourages us to humble ourselves in the sight of the Lord (James 4:10).

Peter urges us to be clothed with humility (1 Peter 5:5).

These bits of scripture represent the relational vision and social ethic of the New Testament. It is rarely attempted. But we, participants in the Jesus-movement, are called to live into it. There are opportunities to do so every day in our families, churches and communities. 
 
Let’s start today, regardless of continued election uncertainty. Maybe our modest obedience can create a snowball effect that catches up into it all the people and events of our lives. May we live our lives for the sake of others, and especially for the most vulnerable—those whose agency wanes or is challenged, and who therefore need someone to labor, humbly and selflessly, for their good. 

Grace and peace,



Bishop Todd Hunter

Remembering Don George and Lynn Hancock

On Thursday, I went to Dallas for Pastor J. Don George‘s funeral. It was a hard but beautiful day. I saw old friends, many that I did not even have the chance for a conversation. I am blessed to be part of the company of pastors who descend from Pastor George’s ministry.

This picture is a treasure to me. Pastor George and Jaroy Carpenter are anointing me with oil before a mission trip in 1990. Behind us is Calvary’s long-time worship leader Lynn Hancock, extending his hand in prayer towards us. Lynn also passed away just a few weeks ago. He was such a good friend to my family and me in my formative years. I learned how to worship in Lynn’s ministry.

I am sad Pastor George and Lynn Hancock have passed away, but I know I will see them again.

Put your hope in God

There is a lot of opportunity to panic and despair with the renewed public awareness of COVID-19, but I encourage us all to put our hope in God.

Choose to hope in Him.
He will not abandon those who trust in Him.

We put our hope in the Lord.
He is our help and our shield.
In Him our hearts rejoice,
for we trust in his holy name.
Let your unfailing love surround us, Lord,
for our hope is in you alone. – Psalm 33:20-22 (NLT)

CIL In-Person Gatherings Suspended through April 30

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In cooperation with local, state, and federal authorities, CIL Elders have suspended all in-person gatherings through April 30, 2020.

Why? We love you.

Someday soon, we will regather, and it will be a real day of celebration. Until that day, let’s keep loving each other deeply in ways that cooperate with this “safer at home” request.

I will see you online in various ways, including our Sunday morning services. More importantly, both myself and all CIL Leaders are available to you by phone, text, email, or any other way we can connect with you.

You are not alone! We are still a church family.

I love you, and we will be together soon!

Aaron

Yes, we plan to have church

For those of you who attend CIL, I want you to know that we plan to have both services this Sunday at 9 am and 10:45 am.

I spoke with the CIL Elders – Aubrey McGowan, Chip Johnson, and Deborah Jackson – and we are all in agreement. Please don’t feel any pressure to come, but if you are not in a high-risk category, we plan to worship with you.

Let’s keep praying about this unprecedented situation.

God will get us through!

Responding thoughtfully to coronavirus

If you are interested, let me weigh in on coronavirus. There is a good chance that this threat is overblown – and wouldn’t that be great? However, the mysteries behind the virus have leadership on all levels forced to respond. These actions produce two unhealthy reactions – panic or mocking disregard.

I think our leaders are trying to be responsible. The call for measured behavior changes is appropriate. To nurture the vitality of the economy is also a collective concern. Since no one knows what we are facing, let’s provide each other some latitude. Different individuals and entities will respond differently due to their unique needs.

In my sphere of leadership, I know not everyone will agree with decisions or preventative measures. Still, with God’s help, these decisions are made through love.

CIL Tornado Relief

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TORNADO RELIEF

There is a widespread path of devastation and need in the greater Nashville/Mount Juliet/Cookeville areas.  Beth and I have spent the past 2 days in communication with area leaders and pastors, assessing how to best direct our resources.

We have identified a great need in several ministries we currently support, as well as some potentially overlooked or lesser known ministries/communities that may not have the exposure or resources that others do.

GIVE:

CIL will receive donations at CIL.Church or by accessing the Church Center app. Select “Give” and then select “Tornado Relief.”  100% of these funds will be dispersed to those directly impacted by the tornados.

https://cil.churchcenter.com/giving/to/tornado-relief

VOLUNTEER:

Our friends at the Donelson Fellowship (3210 McGavock Pk, Nashville, TN 37214) are helping the community with food, water, and meeting other practical needs in the Donelson area. They will have relief training at 7:30 am at their church building to prepare for a day of help. Volunteers from CIL are welcome. If you have equipment such as chainsaws, etc., these are needed! This schedule will likely continue indefinitely.

DONATION OPPORTUNITIES:

The Bridge Ministry – our friends who serve the homeless under the Jefferson St. Bridge every Tuesday night – are in need of bottled water, pop-top canned food, tents, sleeping bags, and flashlights/lanterns.

The Laundry Stop – a ministry that washes clothes and bedding for the homeless – is in need of tarps, sleeping bags, and tents.

***You can bring your donated items to CIL on Sunday and we will transport them for you!  If you need to drop them off before Sunday, contact Beth at beth@cil.church.  

Father God,
Your love enfolds the helpless,
the needy, and those who mourn.
Give us strength through Jesus Christ
to be instruments of Your compassion
to those who are overwhelmed and hurting.
Amen.

Roe vs. Wade is not the end

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On January 22, we recognize the somber anniversary of the Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court decision to federally legalize abortion in 1973.  Though this is an important and consequential occurrence that should be acknowledged, it is not the linchpin of the pro-life movement like I once believed.

If Roe vs. Wade is overturned, as I hope it will be, abortions will still be legal in many states, and a vast portion of the United States population will yet have the choice to participate in an abortion.  While legal wrangling in our future will continue to go back and forth, one state at a time, it is the hearts of Americans that are in balance.

Abortion must be eliminated one heart at a time.  God, turn our hearts to the children.