Pastoral Letter for Mother’s Day, 2022

The following is a message I shared in our our church newsletter:

Mother’s Day was originally a day to promote women’s equality, peace, and an end to war. It has become commercialized and sentimentalized and often is a painful reminder to those who have had complicated relationships with mothers or motherhood. 

And this year, Mother’s Day ends what has been an exhausting week in terms of news and religion. The revelation that the U.S. Supreme Court will allow states to force birth is the culmination of a decades-long war on civil rights by religious and political extremists

As a pastor without a uterus, I feel my own voice should take a backseat to those who are more directly impacted, and yet I also have a responsibility to deploy mine for the good of my friends and family. You may have seen that some of my words from a Facebook post in 2018 went viral again. I want to set those words in context with my baptismal vow to “resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves” and my ordination vow to uphold the Discipline of the United Methodist Church. 

Below are excerpts from the United Methodist Social Principles, which have this to say about abortion: 

The beginning of life and the ending of life are the God-given boundaries of human existence. While individuals have always had some degree of control over when they would die, they now have the awesome power to determine when and even whether new individuals will be born. Our belief in the sanctity of unborn human life makes us reluctant to approve abortion.

But we are equally bound to respect the sacredness of the life and well-being of the mother and the unborn child.

We recognize tragic conflicts of life with life that may justify abortion, and in such cases we support the legal option of abortion under proper medical procedures by certified medical providers.


While they have their flaws (especially with regard to LGBTQIA persons), the Social Principles of the United Methodist Church generally reflect a well-reasoned majority theological and social position on current issues. The UMC has historically viewed abortion as a “tragic choice,” but emphasized that it is still a choice between a woman and her doctor:

Governmental laws and regulations do not provide all the guidance required by the informed Christian conscience. Therefore, a decision concerning abortion should be made only after thoughtful and prayerful consideration by the parties involved, with medical, family, pastoral, and other appropriate counsel.

The section on abortion also points out some of the best ways to reduce the frequency of abortion: 

We mourn and are committed to promoting the diminishment of high abortion rates. The Church shall encourage ministries to reduce unintended pregnancies such as comprehensive, age-appropriate sexuality education, advocacy in regard to contraception, and support of initiatives that enhance the quality of life for all women and girls around the globe.

It is important to note that while both abortions and unintended pregnancies have been declining for years, many of the United States and Alabama legislators who are restricting abortion access are simultaneously pulling the rug out from under people who get pregnant. In Alabama, for example, we still have abstinence-only education. We have not expanded Medicaid. We are a “right-to-work” state, which means people who get pregnant do not have labor protections, nor do they have parental leave to take care of newborns. 

All of these factors combine to make people’s lives harder, to make unintended pregnancy more likely, and to complicate pregnancy and delivery. These policies are at odds with the United Methodist Social Principles. They are also at odds with God’s vision of justice and shalom in the world. 

I am continuously awed by the process of new life. I spend hours building birdhouses so that mama birds have a safe place to raise their young. I delight in this time of year, watching fluffy fledglings take their first timid hops out of a nest. I believe all life is sacred, and I long for a world where all of God’s family is aided to flourish. I am “pro-family” for the human world and the more-than-human world. 

But I also recognize that evil is a force that warps the most holy things in the world, including parenthood and the Gospel. When our society weaponizes pregnancy against populations of poor people, indigenous people, and people of color, or when religious groups weaponize the language of love and care to oppress others, it is a deep betrayal of the Good News. 

All of which has made the last week — and the last six years — exhausting for many of us who identify as Christians who seek liberation and healing for ALL people. On this Mother’s Day, I hope you will take care of yourself and your own mental health. Rest and self-care are radical acts of resistance in a system that demands exploitive labor, which claims ownership of our bodies, and which tries to appropriate our spiritual and emotional energy for its own agenda of conquest and colonialism. We say that we will “resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever forms they present themselves.” I hope you will join me in sacred rest, sacred lament, and revolutionary, worshipful, self-care. 

A Good Friday Meditation

So, here we are. Good Friday. Honestly, this is a day I’m no fan of Christianity.

First, I find that little is more annoying about this season than bougie white boy preachers in thousand-dollar sneakers talking about Jesus and “revolutionary love.” Church is full of folks who are no friends of the revolution. “Revolutionary?” They ain’t even interested in abolishing prisons or reducing militarized police budgets, much less “revolution.” Their message isn’t revolutionary. It’s marketing.  

Second, Rome shows you what it does to revolutionaries: it crucifies them. “Crucifixion wasn’t just a form of execution; it was advertising,” says Amy-Jill Levine. A cross was a billboard. Crucifixions were staged near roads, so passersby could see clearly who was in charge and what happens to “revolutionaries.” As Max Weber put it: the state has a monopoly on the legitimate use of violence. Crucifixion displays the state’s monopoly of violence literally: by splaying human limbs.

According to Josephus, after the Jewish revolt in Jerusalem in 70 CE, soldiers crucified so many people that they ran out of wood. They cut down every tree for miles to line the road with crosses, like flags. Today if you visit the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus prayed to “let this cup pass from me,” when the guide says, “Some of these trees are so old that Jesus could have prayed under one of them,” you know it’s just stuff they tell tourists. The orchard where Jesus prayed was razed so Rome could have wood on which to nail revolutionaries.

Third, white Protestant support for torture, measured in 2008, was upwards of sixty percent. Six in ten are just fine with torturing folks. Waterboarding. Whipping. Stripping people naked and humiliating them. All the stuff that happened to Jesus? They’d give the green light for it to happen to any Middle Eastern guy with long hair and a beard.

While I’m talking statistics and cutting trees, only 40% of white Protestants believe in human-made climate change. I’m not just picking on Evangelicals, among whom that statistic is only 28%. I’m talking about mainstream “liberal” Protestants. When Roman soldiers cut down all the trees to make crosses, most church folks would be cheering them on in the name of law, order, and domination of the natural world.

So today, when Christians cry crocodile tears while singing how they would “cling to the old rugged cross,” it leaves me feeling a bit cynical. They may be having a genuine spiritual experience when they close their eyes, raise their hands, and sway gently to a Christian rock anthem, but it bears no relevance to Golgotha or the places Jesus is being crucified right now. It rubs me the wrong way when religious people pretend to care about the most famous victim of state violence ever, but don’t give give two figs for Patrick Lyoya or Sandra Bland. When they would cling to crosses, but disparage tree-huggers.

On days like today, I resonate much more with those who have rejected religion altogether, especially if it’s because they could not reconcile the prepackaged answers with today’s most salient questions: Why do bad things happen to good people? Why does God allow the state to have this monopoly on violence? How did the spiritual power of Jesus of Nazareth get hijacked so thoroughly by Christendom? Where is the “Good News” in the destruction of this world and the oppressed people who love it?  

“Good” Friday. The adjective leaves a bad taste in my mouth. The revolutionary I love and follow is still being executed by the state, which has yet to repent of its role in manufacturing suffering. The state, in collusion with the church, will resurrect in his place an agent of white settler colonialism, one who blesses Rome and the priesthood, who tells battered spouses to stay with their abusers in the name of long-suffering love, who persecutes queer kids and tells gay Christians to remain celibate, that it’s “their cross to bear,” an agent who sanctions bullying, who clear cuts forests and pumps oil from the ground to build sprawling highways so that Christians can park their cars at suburban churches on Easter morning and sing praises to an authoritarian king.

Honestly, the only thing that keeps me Christian is that my faith says, “it is God on that cross.” The only thing that keeps me Christian is that I keep seeing Jesus as an actual revolutionary who cares about the suffering of people at the hands of state power, a Jesus turning over the money tables on Wall Street. Jesus keeps showing up on the steps of churches telling preachers that they are whitewashed tombs whose words are full of death and decay. Jesus keeps standing up for queer kids and defending people whose wombs are treated like the property of the state or their husbands. Jesus keeps calling for actual prisoners in real prisons to be set free, and for the people with clubs and swords to put them away because they only lead to self-destruction. Jesus keeps telling people to observe that the birds and flowers—and humans—don’t have to earn a place in God’s economy, that their existence and life is enough to bring glory to God. The powers that be keep trying to silence God’s anointed and he, she, they keep showing up with all their pronouns and ethnicities and genders and refusing to be quiet or disappear from public view.

When I ask, “Why do bad things happen to good people?” she—God in human flesh—looks me squarely in the eye, shows me the wounds in her hands and side and answers, as she always does, with a question: “Are you asking me?” Then she gestures at the world as if to invite me to take up a cross and follow.

Where else can I go? She has the words of life.

How We Got Here

Veil Nebula, by Ken Crawford. From Wikimedia Commons

Sometimes when I start to feel hopeless about the world, about climate change, weaponized ignorance, and interlocking systems of injustice and petty cruelty that create white supremacy, male supremacy, and toxic religion, I have a vision of what happened before I was born.

And I’m not saying I believe this is actually the way God or consciousness works, but I have this image of God giving me—giving all of us—a choice about whether or not to be born in this age, out of all the ages of history. I imagine the sales pitch: “Going into this world will be, in many ways, like running into a house on fire.”

“I’m not asking you to be a hero,” God says. “But to be a human. You will be part of a team. And the whole thing may collapse on you. And you’ll probably fail. Will you love this world? To pour out your life because you love it so? Because that’s what we do, you know. That’s what love does.”

I feel this vision when I get to be in communion with prison abolitionists and local farmers and deconstructing clergy and scientists and therapists and freedom fighters and activists and scholar-reformers. On good days, I feel like maybe we chose this, to be here, doing this work in this house on fire, because it was the time that needed us.

I’m not saying we chose this mess or chose to suffer — I think. But I think for humanity to reach maturity, some of us understand that we have to take responsibility for shit, even if it isn’t our shit.

And on good days when I catch this vision, I also realize that there is so much to love in this house on fire: my amazing family and friends, of course, but also animals and plants and music and beauty. And on good days I feel like the luckiest son of bitch in the world, and I’m glad you chose this time to live, too.

“Except Through Me”

“No one comes to the Father except through me” is one of the most abused verses in the Bible. A dialogue intended to comfort grieving disciples gets weaponized for exclusion and missionary colonialism.We need to read it in context: In John 14,

Jesus has just told his disciples that he’s about to leave them, and they are heartbroken and confused. Thomas blurts out, “What do you mean we know the way to where you are going? We don’t even know where you are going!” (14:5)

Jesus answers, “You know me, bro, and I AM the way.” He’s telling them this isn’t some gnostic secret. You don’t have to solve a mystery. You don’t have to make this harder than it is. You know me, so you know the way, and, most importantly, **we’ll be together again** (hence, “no one comes to the Father except through me.” Don’t worry about losing me; I’m your path, your way.)

Two Paths Diverged… by Ché Lydia Xyang. From Wikimedia Commons.

It’s important to linger here over the FIRST thing Jesus says in response to Thomas’s question. Thomas doesn’t know that he *already* knows the way. He thinks there’s something special he needs to do, some secret map. Jesus says “You already have the map: it’s me.”

Which opens the door for us to wonder: how many people know without knowing that they know? (Throughout John’s gospel, this is a theme—people respond to JC based on the orientation of their hearts.) Jesus sounds very Buddhist here: You already have what you need.

Listen: the disciples are afraid they will lose Jesus. He is telling them that they will be together. They won’t be *missing* Jesus when they get to the place they are going, because they will be traveling through The Way the whole time.

(Also: John’s community is heartbroken over losing him. These words are for them, too. John’s community thought he would live until Christ’s return (see 21:23). When he dies, they feel abandoned. You can hear their grief in Mary and Martha’s words to Jesus: “If you had been here, our brother would not have died!” (11:32))

Jesus then adds the infamous, “nobody comes to the Father without me,” which, again, is intended to be reassuring to the disciples: “I’ll be with you the whole way.” But it’s also in a context: “If you’ve *really* known me, you’ve already known the Father.” (Which also implies it is also possible to know Jesus without *really* knowing him—a fact especially applicable to religious leaders, which I will say more about below.)

He also says, “From now on, you do know the Father and have seen him.” Phillip is incredulous: “Okay, fine, show us the Father and we’ll be satisfied.” Again, he’s expecting that there’s something more he needs to know or do.

And JC slaps his forehead and says “Seriously? I’ve been with you all this time and you don’t see God?” This is the closest he comes to the exasperated Jesus we see in Mark, who says, “How much longer do I have to deal with you imbeciles?” (my paraphrase) So, far from being an exclusivist claim, “No one comes to the Father except through me” is supposed to be a reassuring claim that the disciples are on the right path, that they already know what they need to know, and that JC’s unity with the Father can & will be theirs.

And if you look at JC’s encounters with various folks in John, you see that the people who *really* know Jesus respond to God authentically and immediately: the man born blind, the woman at the well, etc. The man born blind says, “I don’t know much else, but I can see now” (Jn 9:25).

Meanwhile, religious leaders, who are obsessed with being right, are too hindered (“blinded,” in the language of the story) by their own religious exclusivism to admit room for an unmediated encounter with the divine. They can’t see God’s activity in front of their noses, much like today’s exclusivist Christians.

Jesus’s words do not slam the door on other faiths; they blast it wide open: People can know the way without knowing they know the way. “I have sheep who don’t belong to this fold” (10:16). Also, religious people can think they know and be wrong. As he says to the religious leaders: “Your father is the devil.” (8:44)

As a pastor, I recognize the strongest warnings of the gospel are to me: Do not presume to restrict God’s saving and healing activity. As Jesus says, “My sheep know my voice” (10:14). In John, the people working against healing and saving are religious leaders; don’t be like that.

(Caveat: you can use “hidden Christ” language to be a theological imperialist, claiming people of other faiths are simply “secret Christians.” I take JC’s language to be more expansive than that: The Way isn’t subject to human gatekeepers. The Word is loose in the world.)

So if words of Jesus meant for comfort have been weaponized to cause anxiety and exclusion, be suspicious of the religious leaders who wield them that way. Read the whole dialogue. John is dealing with grief & heartbreak. He is not slamming the door on presumed “outsiders.”

A Christmas Prayer for a Changing Climate

The late leaves hanging on the plum tree, from Wikimedia Commons

Lord, you said that if I had faith the size of a mustard seed
I could tell this mountain, “get lost,”
And it would throw itself into the sea.
I don’t know if I have that much faith.
But I ask that you would
Stop
Those who move mountains to reach the coal underneath.
That you would
Stop
Those who dump their waste into the sea.
That, in the words of the psalmist,
You would break the teeth of the liars,
Those false prophets who played in the snow just a few years ago,
Asking, “What climate change?”
That you would make their lying tongues cleave to the roof of their mouths.
That those who sell the needy for a pair of slippers
That those who buy expensive things while they made unjust laws
That those who have sold our children’s futures
Would sink to the bottom of the sea with their yachts,
Heavy as hundreds of millstones,
That they would become food for the fish whose oceans they’ve choked with plastic.
I ask that you would knock down prisons
Built with covid money.
I ask, as John did, that you would destroy those who destroy the earth,
Because though I do not have faith the size of a mustard seed,
I have rage the size of a mountain.
Let the mountains fall on them, Lord.
Let those who legislate poverty,
Let those who tread down the good pasture with their feet
And muddy the rivers with their excess
Be washed away by the rising tides.
And if any of my own wealth has been unjustly gained,
Return it fourfold
To those from whom it was stolen
To the people,
The plants
The rivers,
And the land.
And when all I have is gone,
Leave me with faith
The size of a mustard seed. Amen.


Scripture references:
Matthew 17:20
Psalm 58:6
Job 29:10
Amos 2:6
Isaiah 10:1
Matthew 18:6
Luke 4:18
Revelation 11:18
Luke 23:30
Ezekiel 34:18
Luke 19:8

Advent Week 3: Waiting


Saint Joseph, 1475, Tuscany. Personal photo.

After those days his wife Elizabeth conceived, and for five months she remained in seclusion…
And Mary remained with her about three months and then returned to her home. (Luke 1:24, 56, NRS V)

I have often heard preachers romanticize the tedium of waiting. They say, “Advent is about waiting.” We talk about waiting with hope, about active waiting versus passive waiting. We recall the way kids count down the days until they can open Christmas presents. We talk about the waiting of pregnancy, and about the appropriateness of the metaphor “she’s expecting.”

But it’s all just waiting. Between Mary’s Magnificat, Elizabeth’s prophecy, and the events of Christmas, there’s a lot of waiting. It is notable that the author says nothing about those mundane days. Eight months elapse in two sentences.

We know that the time was not necessarily boring, but it was full of everyday tasks: working, cooking, doing laundry, fixing broken things, weariness, sleeping, travel. The gospel authors, like any good storyteller, skips over these nondescript days in order to advance the story.

That’s one of the reasons I love the carving of Joseph in the photo above. You can see the weariness on his face. This is presumably after the long journey, after Jesus’s birth, perhaps after several sleepless nights of feeding and diaper changing.

It’s also a face full of love, because that’s what makes the waiting and the everyday experiences important. That’s what makes the waiting and the uncertainty and our mortality bearable.


Prayer: Maker of Time and Giver of Life, help us to bear the waiting and the uncertainty with love.

—Rev. Dr. David Barnhart, Jr. 

Advent Week 3: Mary’s Town


Church of the Annunciation, Nazareth, 2019. Personal photo.

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” (Luke 1:26-38)

In 2019, I had the opportunity to visit the Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth. This was my second trip there, but one of the things that I took away was the picture of Mary’s family growing up in a cave. The setting is a contrast from most of the European art featuring Mary inside of a medieval-looking castle.

In Nazareth, most “starter homes” were caves. The family would have lived in the cave with any animals they owned. As they gained wealth, they would build on to the cave. At this site, you can see the remains of an addition built of stone adjoining the cave (not in the photo). This additional room was called a “kataluma.” A family who had upgraded their house in this way would continue to use the cave as a stable. Their beds were not permanent furniture, but rather mats they would roll out on the floor at night, and roll up out of the way during the day.

When Mary and Joseph go to Bethlehem, they can find no room in the “kataluma.” Floor space at night was at a premium even when people were not hosting travelers.

At this archeological site you can see the kind of village environment Mary would have grown up in. You would constantly have heard the neighbors’ business, as the next cave was only a few yards away. There are several caves stretched along the ridge here. The church is built beside and above these caves. The traditional site where the angel visited her is, like many places in Israel and Palestine, now a worshiping space for pilgrims from around the world.

You can read more about the Church of the Annunciation here.


Prayer: God of the sacred and mundane, you sanctify human life by taking our daily experiences of home and work on yourself. Help us find holiness in everyday places.

—Rev. Dr. David Barnhart, Jr. 

Advent Week 3: What is the “Immaculate Conception?”


Martino Altamonte, The Immaculate Conception, 1719, From Wikimedia Commons

Around this time of year, I will often hear a Protestant Christian (or a non-Christian) refer to Jesus’s conception as the “immaculate conception.” This is incorrect. Many folks think that the phrase “immaculate” refers to the miraculous conception of Jesus, but it’s actually a Roman Catholic doctrine about the conception of his mother, Mary. And it didn’t become official doctrine for the Roman Catholic church until 1854.

The idea of immaculate conception was a way to answer a medieval theological problem: in order for Jesus to be sinless, he would need to be free of original sin. And since original sin was passed down through the generations by sexual reproduction (“fleshly union”), from Adam and Eve until the present day, the only way Jesus could be free of original sin was if his mother was also free from sin. It wasn’t enough that he didn’t have an earthly Father; his mother had to be made sinless, too. So, Mary’s original sin was taken away miraculously at the point of her conception, so that she could become the pure vessel for the incarnate God.

Of course, if God could take away original sin simply by willing it, it raises a bigger question about the atonement: why did Jesus have to die to take away sin?

As a Protestant, neither the doctrines of Mary’s immaculate conception nor her “perpetual virginity” form any part of my theology. I think they have led to some very unhelpful Christian ideas about both sin and sex. I also reject the theology that says Christianity is primarily about “sin management.”

But I do think these ideas about Mary filled a need for Christians to recognize the feminine side of the divine. In Roman Catholic theology, Jesus is not alone either in his sinlessness or his close relationship with the Father. He is less of a rugged individualist, because his mother paved the way for him, and was the model for his humble obedience. It even makes his grandma (Anne) relevant to the story. It reminds us that Jesus did not fall out of the sky, but had a family who nurtured him in both his physical life and his vocation, and that God was active in their lives, too, before he ever arrived on the scene.

You can read about the history of the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception here.


Prayer: Creator God, though you are the same yesterday, today, and forever, your mercies are new every day. Help us to see both the wisdom and folly of our theologies, which can only point to you, but never define.

—Rev. Dr. David Barnhart, Jr. 

Advent Week 3: Clowns, John, and the Native Covenant


Hopi Katcinas drawn by native artists (1904) From Wikimedia Commons

Steven Charleston, an Episcopal bishop, writes:

…the funny thing is, even by his own admission, John is the one prophet in the Bible whom we should ignore. Without his message of doom and destruction, we see him in a different light. John becomes a character of pathos. He stands flailing his arms by the banks of the Jordon, wearing his outrageous outfit, making much ado about nothing. In short, John comes off looking a little odd, a little strange, even a little funny. And that is exactly the point. We should remember John, not because he was a very good prophet, which he was not, but because he was a very good clown.

[Charleston, Steven. (2015). The Four Vision Quests of Jesus (p. 56). Church Publishing Inc.. Kindle Edition.]

After this past Sunday’s story of John the Baptist railing about Jesus burning the unrepentant with “unquenchable fire” (Luke 3:17), I’ve been sitting with Steven Charleston’s interpretation of John as a clown in Native American tradition. John was wrong. Spectacularly so. Yet at the same time, he was preparing people for Jesus’ arrival — if only by setting them up for a contrasting idea of divine fire.

Charleston goes on to talk about how Pueblo koshares and Plains heyokas served to draw attention to the absurdities and contradictions of life. Hebrew prophets were also performance artists—just think of Ezekiel cooking food over a dung fire, or Jeremiah wearing a soiled loincloth.

Advent and Christmas continue to embody these contradictions: we are in a season of frenzied consumption, yet the message is one about simplicity and poverty. The holiday blues and loneliness sit side-by-side with messages of hope and togetherness. At the darkest time of year, we celebrate the light coming into the world. It’s a time when the holy, mundane, and the profane get mixed together. Advent and Christmas are full of contradictions. No wonder our symbol for Christmas waiting is a pregnant virgin.

I think Bishop Charleston is onto something. John prepares the way by embodying these contradictions. He’s the herald for an already-but-not-yet kingdom.


Prayer: Paradoxical God, you defy our descriptions and confound our reasoning. Help us pay attention to the clowns who reveal our world’s absurdities and contradictions.

—Rev. Dr. David Barnhart, Jr. 

Advent Week 2: Restoration


James Tissot. The Flight of the Prisoners, c. 1896-1902, Jewish Museum, New York, NY. From Wikimedia Commons

I will deal with all your oppressors at that time.
And I will save the lame and gather the outcast,
and I will change their shame into praise and renown in all the earth.
At that time I will bring you home, at the time when I gather you;
for I will make you renowned and praised among all the peoples of the earth,
when I restore your fortunes before your eyes, says the Lord.

(Zephaniah 3:19-20)

Both John the Baptist and Jesus announced that the “Kingdom of God” was “at hand.” In the minds of their listeners, that meant God would soon kick the Romans out and create a new government, and a reign of justice and peace would begin. For people of Jesus’s day, the Kingdom was not an airy-fairy afterlife. It was about a revolution. The material conditions of people’s lives would change.

Their belief in this promise was based on history. They had seen it happen! Their ancestors had been exiles in Babylon for fifty years, but by a miracle of international politics, they were freed and allowed to return home and rebuild their city and their temple.

But the miracle wasn’t complete. They were still waiting for God to finish. After all, the prophet Zephaniah had said, “I will deal with your oppressors at that time, and I will save the lame and gather the outcast.” They remembered the scripture above (which is one of the Revised Common Lectionary readings for this Sunday).

So when John showed up talking about the coming kingdom, people were ready for a change. They weren’t looking to go to heaven; they were looking for heaven to come to earth.


Prayer: Sovereign God, we are still waiting for your coming kingdom. Hurry to heal us. Amen.

—Rev. Dr. David Barnhart, Jr.