This last weekend Kris and I were in Abilene Texas at the kind invitation of Jonathan Storment, a preacher-pastor of Highland Church of Christ in Abilene. It was a splendid weekend of teaching and fellowship as we got to participate in yet another one of God’s good gatherings in this world and country of ours.
The first thing I want to say is that Highland Abilene exemplifies two major themes for many of us today: first, it’s a genuinely missional church and, second, it is genuinely a fellowship of differents. I’m not saying Highland is perfect and that we need to have a conference at Highland so it’s theories and practices can be imitated elsewhere. What I’m saying is that Highland Abilene is deeply rooted in the local community — they had a week-long series of events called Restoration — and Highland Abilene reflects that community, especially in the socio-economic make-up of the congregation. I’ve been in only a couple churches that have their diversity alive and well in the fellowship. When I think of what is in mind today in my new book, A Fellowship of Differents, I will think about Highland Abilene.
I was asked to have a conversation with the leaders about that book (Fellowship of Differents) Saturday evening and it was a wonderful conversation — good questions that sprouted from the soil of living experience of working with others. Sunday mornings they are preaching through the Book of James and I was asked to talk about James 2:8-10 and the Jesus Creed, so it was exciting to press upon Highland Abilene the practice of reciting the Jesus Creed daily for one month. I hope many take up the challenge and what it will bring into life in opportunities to respond to others.
Of course, it would be unfair not to mention some wonderful folks — not least Jonathan Storment and Leslie and their four young children. Richard and Jana Beck, Jeff and Linda Childers, Mike and Diane Cope, and my friend Randy Harris. Debora McCoy managed the book table with such care that I was able to sign books and chat with folks with ease.
Need I say that we dined Saturday night at Parini’s Ranch? West Texas steak house. Nothing like it … just outside Buffalo Gap.