Tabernacle Stories: A Wednesday Evening Series
A number of us have been meeting on Wednesday evenings in the fellowship hall after the weekly fellowship dinner for our “Tabernacle Stories” series. This is a seven-week series centered around the theme of “testimony.” Each week, we invite one or two people from our congregation to share stories about their spiritual journeys and where they have seen God at work in their lives. We ask questions and explore together how God is moving among us at Tabernacle and in the world.
I have to admit—this series has been more meaningful and richer than I ever anticipate. Each week, the stories we’ve heard have made us laugh, cry, and reflect in profound ways on God’s presence in our lives and in the life of our congregation.
The idea for this series started with a quote that my wife Beth shared with me. She had interviewed dozens of people for a history book she wrote about Camp Alkulana, and she was sharing something that a former camp director had told her about the power of stories. She said: “The story is told … as a testimony to what God has done and is doing. If we do not share the story, we believe, its power and truth is diluted, and its impact forgotten.”
I thought—how profound! It seems simple, and even obvious, on the one hand. We read in worship each week about the stories of God at work in the lives of our ancestors of faith: Abraham and Sarah, Ruth and Naomi, Isaiah, Jesus, Paul, Priscilla and Aquilla. But how often do we feel like we have permission to share with others what we think God has been—and is—up to in our own lives?
For me, the question became this:
How else do we know what God is up to in the world and in our lives unless we talk about it and share our stories?
So each week our guests have been sharing stories of their spiritual journeys. The first week, Jay Hartman shared very meaningfully about how he senses God’s presence at work in his life through his carpentry business. He isn’t on staff at a church, but he shared how he has come to see his day-to-day job is indeed a ministry. During our second week, Gail and Bill Welstead shared rich stories about their lives and their involvement in the life of Tabernacle Baptist Church for decades now. Bill, now a retired chemist and prescription drug maker, shared a poignant memory of a particular experience he had when wrestling with the ways in which he was gifted to serve God aside from his vocational calling:
“I was on my way home, and I remember…. I was at Brookland Park Boulevard and Brook Road…. And a voice came to me—not audible. But a voice came to my mind and it simply said, ‘Bill if you could make a drug that could cure the world of every disease, do you think it would be a better place?’ And I had to think about that. I thought about that all the way home, and the next day and the next day. And I was thinking, ‘You know, there would still be greed, and there would still be murder, and there would still be war, and there would still be all of these other things. Yeah, maybe people would feel better doing it. [laughter] But I began to realize that there has never been a drug made—nor will there be—that will change a man’s heart. That will transform a man—or person. … And so then I got the idea that, ‘God, you must be speaking to me.'”
You’ll have to listen to the podcast to see how Bill’s story continues!
Just this past week we got to hear from Kathy and Larry Allen, who recently became members of our church on Easter. They traced their journeys from Virginia all over the country and world. They shared their sense that God had called them back home to Richmond, and to Tabernacle Baptist Church in particular, to serve and use their gifts for ministry among us and in our community.
I share these snippets just to whet your appetite. They are just a glimpse of the amazing stories we’ve heard each week. I can only imagine that the stories we’ll hear in the coming weeks will be just as amazing. Through these stories we sense God at work in profound ways in our lives and in the life of our congregation. I hope you’ll join us.
Here is the remainder of our schedule of speakers:
April 27 – Naomi Reddish
May 4 – Vincent Sallie
May 11 – Bya Wann
May 18 – Samuel Lian
Grace and Peace,
Minister of Spiritual Formation