Sunday, April 22, 2018

Tending creation was the first job God gave us

Baptist Temple's solar array
The Lord God took the man
and put him in the Garden of Eden
to work it and take care of it.
Genesis 2:15

God made the world and it was good. He gave it to humanity to tend. A task for which we get mixed reviews.

On this 48th Earth Day I reflect on the environmental impact of Baptist Temple on our community and our planet. Our campus has 80,000 square feet on almost 3 acres of inner city property. That is a lot of concrete, brick and asphalt.

Certainly we have high energy bills. First we attempted to reduce energy use by turning off lights that weren't in use and shutting off the AC during the week. That turned out to be very difficult. CPS Energy performed an audit and determined that replacing the lights with more energy efficient models would be cost prohibitive. Instead we decided to make better use of our building by sharing our facilities. While this did not reduce our actual energy usage, we became more efficient by hosting multiple entities on our campus. Six churches that might otherwise be using up energy in a building used only a few hours a week, share space instead, on a campus that is busy all week. We all contribute towards expenses.

All this activity created a lot of garbage, so we received a second dumpster for recyclables that is picked up once a week. This is a cost savings for us and keeps a dumpster load of cardboard, plastic and metal out of the landfill.

Our thrift store also helps to keep items out of the landfill. We offer gently used clothes at nominal prices (.10 – 2.00) to everyone. Proceeds help support our food pantry and other community ministries.

While we can't replace all of our lights at once, we upgrade whenever our lights need to be replaced. Our new exterior lighting uses less energy while producing more light. This saves money and makes our parking areas safer

The move that has made the biggest environmental impact on our community is the solar panels on our rooftops. We leased roof space to a company that sells the collected energy to CPS. We are compensated with a modest credit to our energy bill. While not financially lucrative for us, it carried no risk for us and helps make San Antonio less dependent on fossil fuels.

Another recent earth friendly project is our community garden. Sixteen 4x8' raised beds produce vegetables for our food pantry. Additionally we have an orchard with four grapefruit trees, three tangerine trees, three pecan trees and a peach tree. Our primary goal is to teach people of all ages gardening techniques that are sustainable in an urban environment. Growing some of our own vegetables improves our health and reduces the need for industrial farming.

Future plans include changing our suburban style landscaping to a low-water-need xeriscape, a water catchment system and increasing our composting. It our hope that we can model practices that are both earth-friendly and money-saving to neighborhood churches, businesses and families.

To the Lord your God belong the heavens,
even the highest heavens,
the earth and everything in it.
Deuteronomy 10:14

Thursday, April 12, 2018

The Baptist Temple Campus welcomes a new ministry

Baptist Temple is pleased to welcome FuneralCaring® USA to it's family of churches and agencies serving our community. FuneralCaring® USA is the leader in affordable funeral services in San Antonio, helping folks celebrate the life and the memory of loved ones with a dignified funeral at a reasonable cost. They provide support to grieving families with high-quality, value-driven merchandise, superior service, and uplifting facilities.

There will be no cremations nor embalming on the Baptist Temple Campus. Traditional funerals will be conducted as they have been for over 100 years.

Once upon a time funerals were handled by the church and folks were buried in the church graveyard. Things have changed. The church's role in society has diminished some. However, at Baptist Temple, we want to care for the spiritual and physical needs of folks from cradle to grave. The Baptist Temple Campus houses six independent churches: Mision Bautista Betel, Family Deaf Church, Sunny Slope Baptist Church, CBC Highland Park, Free By the Truth and Baptist Temple Church. Other agencies on our campus include Baptist Temple Early Learning Center, Jubilee Highland Park Academy (PK4-8th grade, tuition free charter school), Immanuel Motorcycle Ministry, Highland Park CAN (thrift store, food pantry, community garden), and a Community Health Care Worker.

FuneralCaring® USA is veteran owned and operated, fully licensed and insured, and offer pre-planning services.

Along with funeral services, Baptist Temple offers Christian counseling and a grief support group.

To contact FuneralCaring® USA call: (210) 822 4445

For grief support information call: 210-533-7114

Thursday, April 05, 2018

Can you spot a con artist?

“My baby boy has stomach cancer. He's in a hospital in Chicago,” said a young man to a group of pastors that were meeting at an inner-city church one night.

Heart broken for this young man they prayed for his sick son. After the prayer the young man said he was trying to get train fare to get to Chicago. He just got out of the county jail and needed money.

You could see the disappointment immediately appear in their faces. They'd been had. Questions flashed through their minds.

“Why was he released from jail without documentation?”

“Do they release prisoners at night?”

“Where is his family?”

“What was his plan before he found a church with lights on?

His lies were very thin and easily exposed because he followed a familiar pattern. First, there is the disease. It's better if it's a child, a parent or a pregnant woman. Second, there is a travel motif. Getting to the hospital or back home; sometimes a hotel room for the night. Third, the monetary need is an odd number: $17, $65, etc. Fourth, someone has already provided funds and they just need a little bit more. Fifth, the person requesting help is a stranger. Sixth, the need is urgent.

The lies are in the details. What is the problem? Is it the disease? Are you trying to get home? Do you need a job? The problems seem insurmountable but the immediate solution appears to be monetary. You are overwhelmed with a sense of helplessness that can be quickly resolved by giving up a few bucks. At this point we just want to feel better by getting rid of troubled soul. We will never see them again (the travel motif). We just want them out of our way.

Con artists work on your emotions and read your face to measure your response. That is why the story has so many details. I don't suggest we ignore requests for money. I suggest that we determine what the real need is and how best to address it. That is the most loving and helpful thing to do.

On the other hand, con artists target folks with surplus funds who are looking for the most expedient thing to do. It is difficult to balance compassion with common sense. These decisions cannot be rushed so, my decision is to pray and think. If this is a real problem it did not happen overnight and it cannot be solved in one day. There is no rush. If it's a con, it will go away. If the need is real, it will still be there in the morning.