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Honoring our Senior Saints

Text not available
Historical Sketch of the Second Baptist Church of Baltimore, Maryland By Joshua Edwin Wills

There is a large portion of my generation of Pastors who are having to mature in the area of honoring the generations who have gone before.

We seem to have a reactionary approach to our predecessors which does not allow us to show the proper respect and honor for their lives in service to God. We find fault with the 'how' and often ignore the 'why'. The why is usually the same. When they were younger they wanted to change the world. They wanted to be a part of a move of God. They wanted to see Jesus' name made famous. Now they didn't say it in the same terms we use today but that's what their lives point toward.

Today it seems that many in my peer group are having difficulty handling pride. We are so confident that we know everything that we are having a hard time living in a humble confidence.

It is my belief that this schism is one major reason why in our nation we have so many congregations with church facilities under utilized and right down the road or around the corner sits a vinyl sign advertising a church run by a young leader. Each week these two groups largely ignore one another and write off the problem to a distaste of each others 'style'. In reality I think the problem rests more on respect and honor.

Recently I was given a written history of my former church- "2nd & 4th Baptist Church" of Baltimore, MD. The author was my first and only Pastor - from salvation at 13 to departure for college at 18- Pastor Calvin Hudson. Pastor Hudson wrote this history in 1996 to celebrate our churches 200 year anniversary ministering in the city of Baltimore.

In reading through the events of the years from my youth I noticed this section about myself:

Tally Wilgis Commissioning Service

On May 21, Youth Night was held at the church with our splendid young people conducting the entire service. Young people taking part included: Heather Zebeck, Danny Busch, Patrick Pugh, Laura Glenn, Stephanie Keesler, Helen Kopeck, Timmy Horky, Monica Wilgis and Tally Wilgis.

The message was given by Tally, who later served as a Sojourner Summer Missionary to Houston, Texas under the sponsorship of the Home Mission Board. Following the sermon, Pastor Hudson led in a Commissioning Service in which those present were invited to lay hands on Tally and whisper to him their prayer of support for his summer mission in Houston. The hymn of commitment for the commissioning was "Make Me a Blessing."

I had no idea that my former Pastor thought enough of that night to document it in this way.

As I read this account from the Pastor of my youth I couldn't help but to think how appreciative I am of he and the other leaders of this church who allowed me the opportunity to preach for the very first time. They suffered through it and lied to me by telling me I did a great job. I'm also beyond grateful that this congregation paid my airfare to get to my summer mission experience at 17 years old. I spent three months serving in the inner city of Houston and God broke me that summer. It was that summer that God got a hold of my heart and began to change me. The ripple effect of that summer continues to this moment. I've documented on numerous occasions on this blog and elsewhere how significant that summer was to me. It was made possible by the love and generosity of these Senior Saints.

I would have never known that the moment recorded in these pages would ultimately mean so much in my life but I have always valued those of a previous generation who gave me the opportunity to stand on their shoulders and serve Jesus using my unique voice.

The history of my home church in Baltimore was summarized by my former Pastor Calvin Hudson with these words:

"Our history began with the names of a handful of courageous Baptists from Leicester [England] who dared to do the difficult for Christ in a new world. Our history shall continue by the grace of God because of another handful of courageous Baptists and their friends in Christ who dare to do the difficult in a new age."

Did you catch that?
Our history shall continue by the grace of God because of another handful of courageous Baptists and their friends in Christ who dare to do the difficult in a new age."

It is difficult. It is a new age in our history.

The reality is that everyone knows that methods have to change. No one likes change but we know that methods change. The mission and message however do not. Between the mission, message and methods we agree with our predecessors on at least 2 of 3. I say lets start there. Let's show honor by focusing on where we have common convictions. I believe if young leaders would do that they would find plenty of wisdom and support from the previous generation.

People want to leave a legacy. I think part of the problem right now is that it's hard to pass a baton to a person who's making a fist with their hand.

Young generation- my generation- I urge you to relax and take the loving road. Show honor and respect. You don't have to serve Jesus the way 'its always been done before' but you do need to love Christians of a different generation.

My prayer is that some young leaders would take on the burden to humbly and lovingly honor the previous generation and beg God for the creativity necessary to move forward in a difficult new age. It can be done. It should be done. After all it won't be long before we are a part of that previous generation.

posted by Tally Wilgis @ Friday, October 31, 2008

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