Welcome to Spirit of Abilene, an online faith forum to share ideas, stories, reflections, artistic expression, and opinions. Spirit of Abilene is the creation of Loretta Fulton, a veteran journalist with more than 20 years experience in writing about religion and spirituality issues. Submissions to this site, including articles, photos, poetry, opinions, reflections, and artwork, are welcomed. Faith In Action is a collection of photos of Abilenians putting their faith to work. Please spread the word to anyone you think would be interested in reading–or contributing to–Spirit Of Abilene. Click on the “email signup” in the top menu to receive a weekly update on new content. When submitting articles or images, please include a photo of yourself and a brief description of who you are. Send to editor@spiritofabilene.com

Listen up, men. It’s time to ‘Get Real’

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All you men who want to “Get Real”  need to saddle and pony on over to Solid Rock Encampment at Eastland Sept. 22-23.

That is the date of the inaugural Get Real campfire, a two-day event designed and led by Ben Gray, who you may know as the trainer for installing water purification systems at Global Samaritan Resources.

Gray developed his ministry under three topics: Real Men, Real Issues, Real God. Over the summer, Gray has trained leaders who will work with him at the campfire. But long before that, Gray started visiting with various congregations in and near Abilene, explaining the ministry and talking with clergy and church members.

“I stand amazed with the energetic reception for men’s ministry and especially Get Real,” he said in an update sent to advisers, prayer warriors, and friends. “It’s been a long time since I’ve met such a yearning among men to come closer to God.”

The purpose of Get Real, Gray said, is to “help men address relevant life issues in the context of a safe environment. (more…)

You’re invited to join the (Cafe) conversation

The first Cafe Conversation of the 2017/2018 academic year will be held 7-9 p.m. Friday, Sept. 1, at Mezamiz Coffee House, 3909 S. Seventh, in the Cloisters shopping center.
Cafe Conversation is a spinoff of the Abilene Interfaith Council. It is geared toward college-age students but is open to anyone interested in participating in the dialogue.
The event will explore questions concerning the nature and purpose of interfaith dialogue.
Most Cafe Conversations are held the fourth Thursday of the month, with the exception of September, November, and December. For more information, contact Sarah Dannemiller, Cafe Conversations facilitator, at snd14a@acu.edu
Sarah, who also is secretary of the Abilene Interfaith Council, is enrolled in the Graduate School of Theology at Abilene Christian University, working toward a doctor of ministry degree.

Zion Lutheran hosting food box packing and invites others to help

FoodBoxZion Lutheran Church is hosting a Children’s Hunger Fund Food Pak event Sunday, Aug. 27.
The church’s goal is to pack 3,000 food boxes, with the assistance of two additional congregations–New Hope Church and FountainGate Fellowship. Anyone interested in assisting can contact the pastor, Clyde Kieschnick, at 690-0121 or e-mail  pastork@zion-abilene.org
Zion Lutheran is a part of the Children’s Hunger Fund Mercy Network, meaning the members not only pack the food boxes, but also are trained to deliver the boxes to people in the community and to minister to them.
Some of the food boxes are delivered in Abilene and some are shipped, with assistance from Global Samaritan Resources, to other communities.
Zion Lutheran’s Mission Team is responsible for planning and facilitating the food packing event.

Add your voice to those speaking out against hatred and violence


People of faith all over the country are speaking out against the bigotry and hatred that ended in death in Charlottesville, Virginia, over the weekend. If you would like to add your comments, thoughts, reflections, please send to editor@spiritofabilene.com And, please attach a photo of yourself. Below are submissions from Jacob Snowden, president of the Abilene Interfaith Council, and Jen Rogers, a counselor with the International Rescue Committee and a social activist.


Jacob Snowden

President, Abilene Interfaith Council

The events of this past weekend in Charlottesville, Virginia, are deeply disturbing and saddening. The rally to “unite the right,” summoning white supremacist groups around the monuments of civil war figures, is indicative of a desire to celebrate and retain a history of racial violence and division. The Abilene Interfaith Council condemns the bigotry, hatred, and division represented by the events of this past weekend. Furthermore, we will continue to promote understanding and peace for the diverse people of Abilene and the Big Country regardless of religion and race. While we are confronted with the injury of the weekend, we pray for greater unity and compassion for our future.


Jen Rogers

The emboldened racism on the streets of Charlottesville should both appall us and cause us to look within ourselves and our communities. It should lead us into response in our homes, work, and places of worship. It should cause us to bring and be light to shine in the darkness, to call out hate, and to be agents of peace and reconciliation. It should ask to to genuinely reflect on the ways we, even if unintentionally, contribute to racism in our communities. It calls us all to be active participants in fighting hate and racism. We cannot assume that this is a problem outside of ourselves and our community. Instead, we should be committed to address this in all of our circles of life. It may mean that we call out people we love or stop jokes and snide comments. It may mean that we get to know people in our community outside our spheres of influence. There are a million things it could mean. But if we ignore it or remain silent, we allow it to grow and we condone it by our inactivity.


Don Wilson

Pastor, First Christian Church

The hate-filled, sinful actions of white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virgina, have me thinking of a Christian martyr who once said to a persecuting king, “You may deal us many fierce blows O King, but you must remember that the Church of Jesus Christ is an anvil that has outworn many a hammer.” So may the power of love outlast every blow that hatred and bigotry flings against it. Even more, may love shout even louder for justice, dignity and peace.


Cliff Stewart

Pastor, First Central Presbyterian Church

“I have freed a thousand slaves, but I could have freed a thousand more if they knew they were slaves.”—Underground railroader Harriet Tubman

“If you’re not outraged, you’re not paying attention.” Heather Heyer’s last post on Facebook before being murdered in Charlottesville on Saturday.

As a pastor in our Abilene community, I want to reflect on the disturbing rise of racial violence and tension that has come once again to our awareness in the recent clash of protesters in Charlottesville, Virginia.

A young student in our church emailed me on Saturday evening asking me to include Charlottesville in our pastoral prayers on Sunday morning. Of course, I said yes. When I saw the student who requested this after church I thanked him for his asking. He said he had been on Twitter after the violent confrontation between protesting white nationalists and those who were standing up against these racist protestations. The buzz around Twitter was how important it was that pastors all around the country say something in our Sunday services about our concern.

Many of us (myself included) are woefully ignorant of the evil dynamic of racism that permeates the world around us. If I only had been aware of how badly others have been treated I would have said something sooner. I had not earlier but now I am speaking.

I urge citizens of good conscience to arise and call our nation to assess and address the rising tide of injustice. I pray that God will open our eyes to the unfair mistreatment of human beings who deserve equal rights with those who are “privileged’ in our society. Let us stand together for liberty and justice for all.


Mary Glover

Rector, St. Mark’s Episcopal Church

Good people of St. Mark’s: We must–strongly and courageously–condemn and oppose the views, rhetoric, and actions of those who claim allegiance to the KKK, the fascist and neo-Nazi groups, the white supremacists, the “alt-right,” and, especially those who claim Christianity as an ally in their hateful and violent actions.

“Blessed are the peace makers,” Jesus says. That peace-making cannot be achieved while standing back, remaining silent and afraid. Prayer is a place to begin… prayer changes us. Let us find strength and courage with and from each other in order to stand up for our brothers and sisters who are subjected to hate and inequality and harassment.

Let us rely on one another to know that we do not speak alone when we speak out against the hateful words of others. Do not needlessly put yourself in harm’s way, but let us pledge together to stand up for love, to stand up for inclusion and broadening relationships, and to carry God’s message of welcome, reconciliation, tender mercies, companionship, and solidarity to those who are being taunted, shamed, and, in too many cases, injured. They will know we are Christians by one thing alone… by our love.

Pastor, St. Paul United Methodist Church

MLK Jr. said  “we must learn to except finite disappointment but NEVER lose infinite hope.” Today I was disappointed again. Disappointed that an American would take a car and turn it into a weapon on unarmed Americans killing people and leaving over 30 injured. I am disappointed that in 2017 we still have to mobilize, lock arms, and walk in the streets of Virginia to defend the innocent, to tell others that racism is evil and that everybody matters. Today we not only got a black eye as a country we got knocked to the canvas.

It Is my prayer that everyone who abhors racism and bigotry and believes in the power of God , will bow their knees tonight and cry out for justice and mercy to end this sickening cycle of violence. ”

Lord, help us. Lord , have mercy on us. Lord, hear our prayers and destroy this stronghold of incivility and hate. Our only hope is in you. Amen.”

Additionally, I pray that each of you will make a point to speak to someone, your elected officials, your spiritual leaders, your community movers and shakers, your Congress person, and let them know that this type of violent behavior can not and will not be tolerated in our own local communities. We have come too far to turn back now. Please seek peace!!



Brett Banks

McMurry University student

“Having taken a Civil Rights tour class wherein I traveled all over the South to learn about a movement that helped change America for the better, I feel like what recently happened in Charlottesville didn’t take us back in time like so many people are saying. The racism that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. fought is still very much alive and well. I think as a college student I am called to help make sure, using the privilege I have, that this is not the picture of the future for my kids or my grandkids.”



Jonathan Storment


(Editor’s Note: Jonathan Storment’s blog first appeared on the Patheos website, http://www.patheos.com

Minister, Highland Church of Christ

Nobody thinks they’re a racist.

Have you ever noticed that? In the social media bubbles of our own making, the echo chambers of our design we can safely assume that we are able to love everyone.

Even some of the people who marched under Nazi flags chanting “You will not replace us” this weekend, when their identity was outed online wanted to make sure the world knew “I’m not the angry racist I appear to be in those pictures.”

And while that kind of deceit is easy to see at a distance, I believe we are all engaged in a level of self-deceit…especially when it comes to this.

It’s only when you have to spend time around the people you would just as assume avoid that you discover the more nasty bits of truth about yourself, and it’s only when you discover those truths that you’re able to truly act on and resist them.

Over the weekend, as I watched the images of the angry white men marching with Tiki torches in Charlottsville one thought kept going through my head.

I have way more in common with them them than I’d like to admit.  (more…)

Michael McCown performs ‘Songs I’ve Always Known’ in Aug. 31 Concert

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Michael McCown, a Cooper High School and Hardin-Simmons University graduate will perform hymns from his new CD, “Songs I’ve Always Known,” in a free public concert at 7 p.m. Aug. 31 at First Baptist Church.


Michael McCown Photo by Barbara Aumuller Oper Frankfurt

Michael is visiting his parents, Palmer and Patsy McCown, while on break from his work with the Frankfurt Opera. Michael grew up at First Baptist and his parents are longtime members.

Michael, who earned a master’s degree from the New England Conservatory of Music, sings tenor with the German opera. He is entering his 18th year with the company.