This is all happened before. This will all happen again….


So I do feel really bad that the Deacons’ board at New Hope Baptist Church has decided not to allow us to meet within their loving arms anymore. I want you all to know that they still are loving arms at New Hope, despite this new round of inhospitality. The leadership of the community is reacting to our presence out of fear, but the great majority of PEOPLE, which is what a Christian community (and any faith community) essentially is, are in Love with us, and cherish our presence. They will not be happy with their Deacons’ decisions, as are many of those Deacons already. But I want to assure you all, sadly, that this kind of thing has happened before, and, sadly, it will happen again.

It always happens to communities like ours, that challenge conventional thinking, and traditional ways of being Christian,

and human.
I do feel really bad that you all have to put up with this frustration again, of losing a good home for our community. But I want to assure you that we will find such homes again, and again. More to come on where and when we’ll meet again- which should be the evening of October 6. I think keeping to the rhythm of first and third Saturdays works for us, we’ll just have to figure out time and location from here.

In the meantime, I’d like you to help me with something. Being people of Peace, which is what the Prince of Peace really wants from us. Please write out a few words of thanks for me, to the people of New Hope Baptist Church, and include your name(s) with the note, unless you’d like to remain anonymous. As usual, what it comes down to it, what Open Hearts Gathering really is, is PEOPLE, loving this (g)Go(0)d(s) we see present in our lives, loving others no matter our differences. I’d like you, as the people, to speak to New Hope, so they know who we are- not a website, not an ideology, but a community. You can email or text those notes to me (contact info. on our “About” page), I’ll gather them together, and send them to the church. To the Deacons’ Board. So they know who it is they’re now providing quite a bit of inhospitality to.
And as always, thank you for your help. It is your participation in the New Thing that God is doing that makes all the work with OHG so worthwhile. I Love you all, and look forward to seeing you all again soon!

Pax,

-Pastor -D

10 Comments

  1. To the New Hope Baptist Church, for several months now, my son and I have driven forty-five minutes each way, twice a month, to pray, sing, share, laugh, cry, pass the peace, take communion, listen to Dennis, learn about other area faith communities, and mostly, to deepen our love of Jesus and God. I’m just an ordinary mid-life soccer Mom, who wanted a place where we could fellowship with other people struggling to follow Jesus in this broken world. I have found that in Dennis’ ‘sermons’, the things we have shared and all that we have learned and experienced, which we never would have if not for the open hearts of these good people. My son is 16 and he and his friends love to come to chat and get different ideas on how to live and bring some healing to our little corner of the world. That’s what OH does. We are teachers, social workers ,writers, students , husbands, wives, widows, nannys, students, black, white, gay, straight, Baptists, Catholics, Lutherans, Methodist for age 3 to 60 something–just folks who love Jesus. Thanks to Pastor Ned and those who welcomed us!

    Reply
  2. Thnaks to Pastor Ned and everyone who welcomed us at your church. We have prayed, read the Bible, shared commuhion, laughter and tears, passed the peace, and learned about the Bible as well as other faiths in the community. I am a mid-life soccer Mom who drives 45 minutes each way to be with the good people of Open Hearts–students, teachers, nannys,writers, clerks, ages 3 to 60 plus who gather to become closer to Jesus and God and try to do what we can to heal our little corner of this broken world with God’s help. Harriet makes great sweet potato pie, Cindy brings delcious peaches from Fort Mill. We all loved Andie’s vegan baking, and cheered when Elliot lost his first tooth.. My son and his pals, 15 and 16, love to come to talk and learn more about Jesus.Dave hasn’t been able to come as he is in Chili on a church mission. I’ve been busy getting ready for a PTA fundraiser. We are Baptists, Catholics, Methodists and unclassified folks just trying to walk this road together in a space where there is a new seed of hope–that’s Open Hearts.

    Reply
  3. To quote someone who has left a post before……

    “Remember- Loving people will not save you from the wrath of God; only faith in Christ. Love all you can but until you cling to Christ for an alien righteousness you will simply be a “good lover” who goes to Hell.” Christ is love, but He is also wrath. We must accept that He is both, not one or the other. Through salvation He has imputed us with His righteousness. It IS LOVE to share the gospel with someone, there is no condemnation there….that is the greatest love.

    You need to KNOW that the loving people at New Hope Baptist are holding true to the standard of LOVE that Christ holds them to. They are showing you the upmost measure of love by telling you that your theology is wrong and sharing the gospel message with you. Christ died for us while we were still sinners, not that we could continue in our sin, but that we could be freed from the bondage of sin to follow Him forever giving all glory to God.

    You have said yourself that you “do not believe the Bible and that to believe the Bible is not very Christian”. Yet if do not believe the full measure of the Bible, then it is all fiction to you. Why use pieces of it and not all of it. I know, I know….I’ve asked you these questions before and you’ve never responded to them. Yet why are you shocked that a church that doesn’t have the same beliefs that you do, would shun you? Why wouldn’t they stand firm in their beliefs and loving admonish your beliefs?

    I am not a member of New Hope Baptist, yet I am happy to see them standing firm against the tide of postmodernism. I hope and pray that you will find a place to worship in truth and spirit and that God would align your beliefs with His word through regeneration.

    Reply
    • I am a deacon at New Hope Baptist and vouched for Dennis and the meeting of OHG. Sorry to hear that the new deacon board has asked OHG to leave. It’s unfortunate that some of our members think God can be put in their little box and that they can define the great ‘I am’. The Bible is not the only revelation God can give of himself. You can’t limit God. Are you crazy? The scribes and pharisees knew the scriptures better than anyone but they missed God. Sadly, the same thing happens today, especially with “Christians” who think they know it all and have to police everyone else. If God doesn’t fit their view, well, that just can’t be God to them. We will all have some surprises in the end, I’m sure of it. I just trust in God and His Love. And yes, I looked through the telescope and realized the world is not flat.
      AGAPE’

      Reply
      • Bill, If truth is that vague then how do you define right and wrong? What standard do you stand by? Please clarify these according to the Bible?

        1. What is sin?
        2. What is the purpose of the Law in the OT?
        3. What was the purpose of the atonement?
        4. Who was Christ?
        5. What is the main idea of the book of Romans?
        6. What is justification by faith? – Ephesians 2:8-9
        7. Why did Christ come?
        8. What did the eyewitnesses of Christ teach between 30 AD and
        100 AD?
        9. What do you know about the doctrine of election?
        10. What is the main point of Romans chapter 1 and 2?

        – I know this is quite a bit but I am trying to understand how non-
        orthodox views are understood in the light of biblical truth.

        Thanks!

        Reply
  4. I want to say further….I do not want to sound like I “have it all together” like you said. I am a sinner, my point is not to point out others sin, but to point them to the Gospel. Yet before we can realize our need for the Gospel, we must realize how sinful we are against a Holy God. I DO NOT have it all together. I am merely a beggar telling another beggar where to find the Bread of life! I have had several conversations with the ministers of New Hope, and some of the deacons. I have earnestly prayed for the church with a sincere heart, and will continue to do so. I am not putting God in a box, but taking Him at His word …..the whole counsel of His word.

    Reply
  5. I am a member at New Hope, and Open Hearts was not asked to leave because we think they are not Christian. Tabitha’s comments do not reflect the Spirit of New Hope.

    In fact, the deacons met with Pastor Dennis and Steve Knight for four hours and affirmed them as brothers in Christ who are ministering to people in our community just like we do – just with very different methods and with a different theological stance on some issues. The decision to ask Open Hearts to leave was based solely on the amount of conflict that misinformation and assumptions had created.

    Thane Kendall from the Baptist association printed off material from Open Hearts website and Facebook page and gave it to one of our members. I also heard that other members of Parkwood could not mind their own business, and they felt the need to call and stir up a mess with members of our church too. It is sad that Christians have resorted to this. New Hope is not near as conservative as Parkwood and many other Baptist churches in the area – thank God, or I would not be a member.

    When I heard we had a “cult” meeting in our church I was also concerned. However, I found out many things were taken out of context, and I have read the Disciples of Christ statement of faith that Pastor Dennis gave my deacon. Open Hearts believes in the Lordship of Christ and seeks to be followers of Jesus. I was also told that Open Hearts uses nothing but the Bible for their worship. Unfortunately, there was such a mess stirred up by others, and New Hope has so many other things going on, the deacons felt like Open Hearts should be asked to find another home until things settled.

    New Hope’s members are diverse. Many would agree with Bill, and some would not. I agree with Bill on some things and some things i do not. We are not a cookie-cutter Church who all believe the same.

    New Hope’s decision was not to hurt or offend Open Hearts gathering. In fact, I was told a deacon made it clear that we were not rejecting them as a Christian church. New Hope doesn’t reject anyone from coming into our worship service. However, there was so much controversy stirred up among certain members and friends of mine that the deacons felt like things needed to settle. We would do the same thing with any other organization (like Zumba) if conflict began occurring within our church membership as the result of someone else meeting in our facility. New Hope has never turned away anyone from our worship services whether they are gay, straight, black, white, Hispanic, or purple.

    I am sorry that Open Hearts will have to find another home, and I am thankful for comments like Pam’s on this site.

    With God’s love in Christ,
    Mike

    Reply
  6. Mike,

    Thanks so much for your clarification. It speaks volumes.

    I will refrain from commenting much further than to say that our churches, as well as several other area churches, differ greatly in their beliefs. Yet, the Bible is direct and clear about what it teachers.

    We could argue and fight over interpretations and how that has shaped our belief system (although, I’ve learned that doesn’t get us very far at times).

    Obviously we disagree greatly. We will have to let it rest there and we MUST dig into the Bible for ourselves to find our answers (and to examine the whole counsel of Scripture).

    One last word. I know Dennis, have for many years. I hear you say that Open Hearts Gathering uses nothing but the Bible for their teaching. Perhaps they do. But why…when Dennis himself has told others, and myself, clearly that “No, I do not believe in the Bible”. (as seen on a post from the “About” tab at the top of the website). Am I misinformed?

    Reply
  7. Tabitha,

    Thank you. And you are right, we must all wrestle with our interpretations. And I hope that makes us a bit more humble with how we interpret scripture. From what I was told, our deacons questioned Dennis about that comment. He explained that he was making a statement that his faith is in God and Jesus and not limited to the Bible. In other words, God and Jesus reveal themselves to us in the Bible and beyond it. Therefore one’s faith should be placed in the one who scripture points to, not scripture itself. Too many people worship the Bible and not Jesus of the Bible. I think the word here is revelation. Does God reveal himself beyond the Bible? Or are we limited to only knowing Jesus and God through the Bible? All authority was given to Jesus, not the Bible. The Bible is authoritative, but it is not our authority. And Dennis can correct me if I am wrong, but I think this is what he was talking about, but I am not 100% for sure. It was explained this way to me.

    I personally like to keep it simple and focus on what Jesus said was most important. And what he said EVERYTHING hung on: love God, love neighbor, and love self. I find when I am doing these things I really don’t have too much time for anything else. Too many people desperately need God’s love. And I am crazy enough to believe Jesus and really faith in him that everything else hangs on these two commandments.

    This is my last comment here because I am being convicted by Jesus right now to love my own family and to share Jesus with those around me. And I feel that I have already spent too much time being sidetracked from those who are literally dying around me. Too much of God’s love is already missing in our world. Let’s go share it!

    God bless!

    Reply
  8. Thank you for your response, Mike.

    Reply

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