Spiritual Reflections on Building Love by Bob Cunningham

Highland wants to encourage you during our capital campaign to undergird you and your family’s decisions with a spiritual foundation about stewardship. This four-part weekly guide is for you to use for devotional time.

Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it. – Proverbs 22:6

September the 8th, 1996—a warm Sunday morning. Our daughter, Holly, was attending worship with us for one of the first times. We’d told her she’d be receiving a Bible—because she was getting ready to start kindergarten.

We were proud and delighted parents.

Early in the service, the associate pastor, Anne Smith, announced it was time to hand out Bibles to children entering kindergarten or first grade. I had Holly stand next to us in the pew so she’d be ready to go down front when they called her name. Anne called name after name and each time it became evident that child was not present. When she reached the end of the list and no children had come forward, she playfully said, “well, this a first at Highland.” Suddenly, it dawned on us—Holly’s name was not on the list because we hadn’t joined the church yet. Jim England, interim pastor, noticed Holly standing and whispered to Anne. Anne exclaimed, “oh my goodness—Holly…Holly Cunningham.” Holly headed down front to get her Bible and the congregation broke into applause. I leaned over to Libby and said, “I think it’stimewejoinedthischurch!”Wedidsothatverymorning.

Holly looked through the Bible the rest of the service, especially the pictures. At one point, she touched my arm, pointed at a picture, and said “Daddy—it’s Jesus on the cross.”

The Bible given to Holly that morning was part of a much larger gift. The gift of recognition; feeling valued as a person. The gift of learning of God’s love for her and for this world. The gift of teachers like Kathey Golightly Sanders and ministers like Carol Harston who embodied God’s love to Holly. The gift of friends—a community of believers that became her family. The gift of a foundation in faith that is central to who she has become. Her life has been shaped in large part by the children’s and youth ministries of Highland. Shaped such that as she prepares to graduate from college, she is thinking seriously of seminary and ministry.

We are grateful beyond words for all Highland has given to both our children and for the ways in which the gifts of love, care, and teaching have helped them to be the people they’ve become. In gratitude for those good gifts we will give to the Capital Campaign—with the hope and prayer that countless other children will be blessed by the very gifts our children were given.