Minister will base sermon series on letters to the editor

January 02, 2004|JENNIFER BRUMMETT

HUSTONVILLE - Scott E. Wilson had a pretty unusual idea after reading a book about "unleashing the word."

In the book, a minister went to local television station in Kansas City that worked with him on sermon ideas

"(The minister) actually had a news anchor record an address to the congregation, which was played on a multi-media system," says Wilson, minister at Westside Community United Methodist Church on U.S. 127 just north of the city. "Then he addressed the issues."

Wilson decided he could tie in that same idea with The Advocate-Messenger

"I'm going to do a sermon series that is based on the letters to the editor that have been received throughout 2003," he explains. "I'm not going to address any one individual, but rather the major issues of the year.

"It's not a rebuttal, and it's not going to attack any one person. I just want to address the issues."


Wilson says he found among his congregation "a lot of people are interested in the letters that are written."

"I hear them say, 'did you read this letter, did you read that letter,'" he explains. "Everyone has an opinion, including myself. I thought this (sermon series) was a productive way to address the major issues our community as a whole thinks are worth discussing.

"For me, it's a great resource in order to find what people are thinking about (the issues) - what they are interested in - and then look at the issues from a Christian apologetic standpoint.

"Apologetics" is a defense of christianity, Wilson says. "It's looking at the issues from a Christian biblical perspective."

There have been several issues on the editorial pages of The Advocate-Messenger in 2003 that Wilson is thinking about addressing.

"There's same-sex marriage and homosexuality - there was the ordination of the bishop in the Episcopal church, and throughout the year there were letters to the editor that address homosexuality," Wilson explains. "That was something a lot of people talked about.

"There was the issue with Ichthus (the fish symbol on a law enforcement vehicle) -that was something a lot of people talked about, and everybody has opinions. There was the wet-dry vote and the issuing of liquor licensing, which was an issue that was talked about."

There was also a close-to-home issue that Wilson is thinking about addressing. "The whole Hustonville Haunted House," he notes. "War theory" is another possibility.

"Should we be there, should we be supporting our troops," Wilson says. "There are people in our congregation who are overseas."

He plans on getting a collection of letters to the editor for 2003, and picking out and reading one that best represents the topic he is addressing, he says.

"I'll use that as an introduction, and look at it from a point-counterpoint standpoint," Wilson explains.

"Obviously, it will be a topic people feel strongly about, but what scriptural support can we find to help us feel as we do as Christians?

"The big one in the church was the same-sex marriage and homosexuality issue. I'm sure there are going to be serious implications in the future. There is a general conference in 2004 for the Methodist church, and I guarantee this is going to be an issue."

Wilson says he wants to leave people hearing his sermons with a strong scriptural foundation for forming opinions.

"I want to try to leave people with the understanding that human emotion is very strong, and we all form opinions on what we've been taught and what we feel, but this is what the scripture says," he notes.

"Whether I like it or not, this is what the scripture says, and it needs to be something that has authority in my life, whatever the issue we're dealing with.

"It's also interpretation of the scripture. I'm going to present the sermons from a scriptural standpoint, but obviously there is going to be some personal interpretation that I'll inject. But I'm going to try to be as basic scripturally as possible. I will try to address the issues basically."

The emphasis on "basic-ness" is for those those who are new to church.

Wilson says he intends to set up the front of the church like a newsroom. "The whole mood is basically going to be kinda Danville Advocate news oriented," he notes.

He's talked to several people at Westside, and they are excited about the January series of sermons.

"We don't do church like everybody does church," he notes. "We want to bring excitement to church, and this is another way we can do it. If it goes well, we will do it every year.

"I think the letter to the editor page is a powerful tool. It reflects our convictions and our thoughts. For every one who responds, there are probably 100 people who want to. So I think this will be neat - I'm kinda excited about it."

Wilson says he also would like to "attract people who don't necessarily have a church home."

"I'd like them to come see what we have to say, and see we're not weird people, and give church a try," he notes with a smile.

Services are at 11 a.m. Sundays, Wilson says, and the atmosphere is "very relaxed, come-as-you-are."

Babysitting is available.

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