Re-Naming Baton Rouge
Posted on: August 30, 2016
by: Gerrit Dawson, Senior Pastor
by: Gerrit Dawson, Senior Pastor
In the summer of 2016, dramatic events threatened to define us. Looking at the pictures, people wanted to call us names. The grainy video showed a struggling Alton Sterling suddenly shot after someone called out, “Gun.” Many wanted to name our city Racist. The image of a face-off between armed protesters and armor-suited police on Airline Highway on a hot July night made some want to name us Fascists. The brutal gunning down of police officers on a quiet Sunday morning made others want to call us City of Anarchy! The videos of flooded streets and water devoured homes evoked a name like Disaster Zone. If you just look at the pictures, you could simply conclude that Baton Rouge is a first rate Mess.
Those names, of course, miss the reality. Those assessments fail to see what is rising in our city even as flood waters are subsiding. There is a fierce determination to help one another. A resiliency that rests on hope that we will not let each other go. The clasping of hands that are black, white, brown and every shade in between as we lift each other up. We express open gratitude to God and an unashamed calling upon him to help us. We are not a community of atheists or isolationists or racists. The deep Christian roots of our city still send forth sheltering branches full of green leaves: these are people who give their lives to help other people even as they know the joy of acknowledging a Creator who made them and a God to whom they are going.
But even more, the citizens who actively know they belong to Jesus have found a near boundless energy to give their lives in service to people in need. The Church loves the city where God has placed us. Do you not feel it? As you drive through our streets, you realize you love this town more, not less, in its distress. You feel more pride to be here than ever before. You want to restore streets and recreate dwellings. You want to get along. You have zero tolerance for looters, outside agitators and poachers. But you feel the arms of your heart stretch wide to all the rest of the crazy, quirky, zesty, good-humored people you find here. You want everyone to share in what an old word describes as the commonwealth.
So, yes, I think the summer of 2016 is a time for re-naming Baton Rouge. We will never be the same. But the first name I’d like to propose to define comes from a promise of God to his people in Isaiah 62: You shall be called A City Not Forsaken. The thousands of people pouring into our city to help us confirm what we citizens have discovered in the summer of 2016: we are not forsaken. The Lord is with us. Great things are ahead.
With such pride in your dedication to the work of Christ in the city, more than ever, I love to be your pastor.
Gardere School Banquet
The Gardere Community Christian School is one of our highest priority city ministries. So we are pleased to let you know of their fundraising banquet Tuesday, September 27 at 6.30 pm at the Renaissance Baton Rouge Hotel. This will be an inspiring evening of testimony and vision. Gerrit is hosting a table for FPC members. You can join him or host your own table of guests. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
Posted in: From the Pastors' Desk