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THE IDLE AMERICAN
Sharing at Thanksgiving…
Wednesday, November 19, 2008 • Posted November 19, 2008

It’s a stretch to expect peace on earth any time soon, and it takes more than a Google search engine to ferret out many instances of good will to men.

Still, we pray for government leaders in Washington and Austin to reach across the aisles, and for citizens—all of us—to replace arrows in our quivers with olive branches.

Ah, but in Blanket, Texas (population about 400), church folks are very much in the reaching business, all around town and to the countryside beyond….

  • * * * *

We read and hear Thanksgiving stats about how many millions of turkeys we consume, how many miles Americans rack up visiting family and how certain antacids are consumed for diners who can’t believe they ate the whole thing.

The story in Blanket, however, is a “three-digit” deal.

On the world stage, the scenario is but a what-not on the top shelf of the curio cabinet, but for the participants in the small community near the heart of Texas, it’s a big deal. And one worthy of replication by others across the land….

  • * * * *

The gold star goes to the United Methodists of the town, all five or six dozen of them, who’ve looked inside themselves, outside for the needs of others, and upward for divine guidance.

Near the turn of the century, they mounted an ambitious project.

After “talking things out,” they decided that a family life center was critically needed….

  • * * * *

This is a big step for a congregation that averages 35 attendees each Sunday morning.

It’s the community’s oldest church building in continuous use, constructed in 1904.

They’ve kept it up maintenance-wise, and a half-century ago removed the belfry and renovated the entry to include a small foyer. Otherwise, the sanctuary looks much the same as it did a century ago….

  • * * * *

The new center spans 4,000 square feet at a cost of almost $400,000.

At the consecration service during morning worship on Sunday, November 23, the Rev. Jim Olney, UMC District Superintendent, will speak.

Oh, it should be mentioned that members have raised more than $250,000 toward the project, and that they’ll be sure to shake hands with a representative of the Methodist Foundation that provided a loan to complete the project….

  • * * * *

Excitement has been such that the women of First Baptist Church across the street threw a “shower” (some called it a “pounding”) a few days back. Invitees brought gifts of appliances and assorted items.

Gathered that day were several dozen folks from both churches, as well as from the Blanket Church of Christ.

They shared dreams of what the new center might mean to the community….

  • * * * *

And why not? Plans are already underway for a monthly luncheon meeting and activities for senior adults.

“Many of them are able to ‘go,’ but don’t have many places to go,” someone said.

They’re also planning a Christian Athletes’ Group, family skills training and perhaps after-school programs….

  • * * * *

But first, they’re going to feast on a Thanksgiving luncheon following the consecration service.

Learning that the entire community is invited, the Baptists are lending the Methodists folding chairs for the special event. And, they decided to cancel their own observance, opting to “chow down” with 150 or so others across the street.

Put another way, this will represent nearly half the population of the town….

  • * * * *

The “buzz of what might be” continues. The Methodists are pledged to continue their apportionment of gifts to denominational causes, with strongest support of mission causes.

They also want to increase the number of Sunday School classes by 50%. Right now, there are but two classes—for children and adults. A third class would be for young adults.

The pastor, Rev. John Seth, is taking notes, smiling as he goes….

  • * * * *

His schedule, by the by, is not for the faint of heart. A resident of Comanche, his weekday profession is that of nurse practitioner in Goldthwaite, over in the next county. He is a seminary student one weekend each month in Dallas, and preaches Sundays at his little Brown County church.

Rev. Seth points to King Solomon’s words cited in Proverbs, 19:18—”Where there is no vision, the people perish.”

“I’m glad to serve the Lord and His visionary people in Blanket,” the granddad said….

  • * * * *

Dr. Newbury is a speaker and writer in the Metroplex. He welcomes inquiries and comments. Email: newbury@speakerdoc.com. Phone: 817-447-3872. Website: www.speakerdoc.com.

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