For the Living of These Days—A Word from Jim Hawkins

Were, Are, and Will Be

Now that we have a church profile and a pastor profile to share, we also have a picture of who we have become as Highland Baptist Church Christ followers. Maybe it is good to recall some of how we made this journey of becoming.

When I joined Highland in October 1963, there was a small group of senior adults trying to hold the church together. The number of young families was also small. We were very traditional in faith and practice, and uninteresting.

Very soon my wife, Rose, and several other Highland mothers with small children decided to provide a Highland Baptist Church Mothers’ Day Out (MDO). The MDO caught on quickly and grew rapidly as non-members learned about the care and fun children were receiving. While this provided a welcome service to Highland mothers, it also became an outreach to the community.

Some parents were so impressed they decided to see what kind of “church” would care so much about its children. Young families began to join Highland. Children’s ministry grew as a focus of our identity. Does that sound familiar?

In those days a new pastor came on board, Don Burke. His ministry and legacy to us was, and is, our meaningful, thoughtful, engaging, musically grounded worship. Our sanctuary’s beauty and its many worship features are also a part of that legacy.

Don’s leadership included teaching us how and why our forms and acts in worship lead us to a deeper experience of the Creator, Christ, Spirit. Frequently, our worship included invited rabbis, Catholic priests, and Episcopal ministers. We learned to appreciate their faith traditions and the connections to ours. Today, our members include many who grew up in those traditions and now find a degree of comfort in our worship times.

Along this journey as other pastors led us, such as Paul Duke, Phil Christopher, and especially Joe Phelps, we discovered some ways we could be a healing place. Persons thwarted from their perceived call from God needed a place and a fellowship to grieve and begin anew. Others searching for sanctuary from abuse in its many masks found a home and love—some for the first time.

Thus evolved the defining phrase “a thinking, feeling, healing community of faith.”

There are now many of us “long-in-the-tooth” who made this journey and can now rejoice in who we have become. We know how to wait for what comes next. The psalmist tells us to fret not for the Creator, Christ, Spirit is creating a good future in us.