Roanoke Church of Christ

Month: October 2018


As I look back, I’m not sure how I got here. I started out to become a Church of Christ preacher. I knew what Church of Christ preachers said and how they said it. Even before college I gained a reputation as a preacher, which convinced me even more that I should be one.
Then came collage. It was there, with the influence of men (and women) I began to be more and more interested in What the Bible taught, rather than what I had heard preachers preach.
It had it’s scary moments, especially when I realized there were parts of Bible I never heard taught or preached. Paul’s view of ethics was captivating. All I had heard was that we should never do anything that would cause someone to “stumble.” Which meant when someone complained about some issue with which they disagreed, like eating in the same building where worship took place, you yielded to their demands Where to eat was never an issue in the church I attended in Cincinnati as a child.
I soon learned as a young preacher, that the Bible had regional interpretations. When the folks in Cincinnati decided to go bowling after church, or scheduled a bowling party with any deacons and elders who wanted to go, all bowling alleys in Cincinnati served alcohol. There was usually a cocktail lounge nearby. No big deal. We went. We also played rummy, canasta and other “face card” games. No big deal. However, when I started to preach, I found regional, or should I say, sectional areas where bowling where any alcohol was sold, was off-limits to Christians, as was playing any face-card game. Rook was fine, it didn’t have the Devil’s face on the cards.
Tobacco was not preached against in areas where church members made much of their living from growing it. However, women wearing too much makeup, too much jewelry, and short hair. (Determined by inspiration to mean any hair shorter than the shoulders) was fair game. The hair applied to men as well. By the way, this was not just the CofC preachers who took the Bible to say things like that, lots of others did as well. This would indicate that such an understanding of scripture was not only regional, but cultural as well. What I mean by cultural ( a word not liked by a sizable number of preachers) is that upon examination we discover that the cultural period of history in which we live determines how we interpret scripture. I need not list examples to prove this. The way we used the Bible to support slavery, segregation and women is argument enough.
One verse branded on the brains of Christians, was and is, 1 Thess. 5:22 (KJV) “Abstain from every appearance of evil.”As I remember, most preachers said, “Abstain from the very appearance of evil.”
Again, there is no need for me to explain that verse, except to say it simply says, in modern English, “Stay away from all kinds of evil.” But even that is subject to interpretation. What appears to be evil to one person may not appear evil to another. Please keep in mind that Paul thinks Christians have enough sense to know what he is talking about. We are the ones who have to make the lists. He is not telling Christians to decide what has the appearance of evil and then hold everyone to it. I’ve mentioned before a man who would not drink root beer out of a brown bottle any place where he might be assumed to be drinking real beer. Did he want others to do he same? It was pretty evident that he though they should, for fear of the appearance of evil. Need I even need to mention how many times Jesus failed the “appearance” test.
The above are just some of the issues which have caused me to keep digging to understand the Bible in its own time and place in history. That is not to say that the moral and ethical teachings are limited by time and culture. The fundamental teachings in the Sermon on the Mount in both Matthew and Luke call us to a standard far beyond a general world view.
That being said, I think the Bible should be examined and studied from every angle. We should consider that the Hebrew Bible (the Old Testament) belonged to the Jews, and was interpreted by them, long before Jesus was born. Therefore, in the last few years I have been looking at how the Jewish teachers understood and understand the Hebrew Bible.
In some ways I think Christians have “Christianized” the “Old Testament”. I’m not talking about hunting down all the possible prophesies about Jesus. I’m talking about making the OT fit a more accepted understanding.
An easy example is when Christians talk about “biblical marriage” in defense of a one woman and one man union. If we want to use Adam and Eve, let’s face it, Adam didn’t have a choice. But Adam’s son Cain has a grandson who “takes” two wives. Abraham ‘s wife Sara is childless, so she tells him to take her Egyptian servant as a “wife”. (Gen. 16:3 NIV) We know how that worked out!
Later, Jacob married two sisters, and we know about the kings of Israel and their concubines and wives. There is no condemnation of polygamy. That’s hardly new news. However, there is a law in Deuteronomy 25:5 which instructs the brother of a deceased man who has no heirs, to marry the dead brother’s wife. No exception is provided if the surviving brother happens to already be married. “Christainizing” the text insists that the Levirate marriage be done only if the surviving brother is not married. In fact, little is said about the marital status of the Levirite. There was even a way to avoid doing it. (See the book of Ruth) But Levirate marriage was a very serious issue. Since polygamy was common, and Jacob had married two sisters, it would not be beyond the surviving brother to have two wives. That being said, the law Levirate marriage soon disappears in Judaism, which should mean even scripture is subject to time and culture. Keeping that in mind can help us find the real meaning of the Bible.

CONCERNS: Jo Wagner’s sister, Judy Powell is home but still not well. Martha Flora, Wayne’s mother is also having health problems. Teryn Gaynor’s mother (cancer) Former members, Ray and Debbie Reiss’ son-in-law, David is still being treated for brain cancer. Deanna McRoy. Linda Alsup, Debbie McRoy’s cousin and her husband,Prentice have health issues. Keep the parents of Joni and Alan Beach in prayer, as well as Carrie Bolin, Del’s mother. Also a friend of Leena Bolin who has stress issues. Sheila Jansen and daughter, Amber. Ray and Darnell Barnes, Gil Richardson, Jim and Mary Smith and Tim Elder. Remember those who are recovering from the storms .
On this third Sunday we are pleased to have Del Bolin’s brother, Doug, bring the sermon for today.

This is Super Sunday. If you stay for the fellowship meal you will be able to see some of the change we have made in the lighting. The old lights were getting dangerous due to some issue which kept them overheating and burning out. Since they were at the very top of the ceiling they required a longer ladder than we had.
More lighting will be installed, probably on the fans down the middle and along the sides to give more light for reading. Plan to stay and enjoy the room and the meal.

THANKSThanks to those who came out last Saturday to spruce up the place. Also to those who cooked at the Ronald McDonald House last Sunday evening.

We will be sending money to the Churches of Christ Disaster Relief Effort in Nashville, TN to aid in relief for those suffering from the two recent hurricanes which damaged Florida as well as Georgia and the Carolina’s.

This being the third Sunday, we will have two contributions. One for Health Talents ABC and the regular one for the work here.

We had visitors from Ohio with us last Sunday, which was good because several of our group was away.


My sister, Betty and her husband Kenneth, along with their three year old son, Timothy, left Cincinnati in 1957 for a new start in Mobile, Alabama. Why Alabama? They had become good friends with the minister of our church, Glenn Martin, and his wife, Dee. When Glenn took a church in Mobile, they decided that would be a place to relocate where they already knew someone.
They bought a little house on Ralston Rd, a street where it seemed each house outdid the others with beautiful crape myrtles in their yards.
In the early seventies they moved across the Mobile Bay to Fairhope, a beautiful little town on the bay, which over the years had served as a summer respite for those from Mobile and the surrounding area.
My parents moved to Mobile in 1965, and when we visited them after Betty moved to Fairhope, the Fairhope Pier became a favorite place to fish. Betty’s cottage was about three blocks from the bay park and pier. It was also an easy drive to Gulf Shores.
They became active with the Fairhope Church of Christ until discord took them to Spanish Fort, about 17 miles away. Betty would work at several jobs, among the as a LPN, though she had to stop when they found she was a carrier of TB, even though she had never had it. She and Tim went to work at Engels Shipyards in Pascagoula, Mississippi, a 75 mile one way trip each day. She was trained and worked as a pipe fitter. Her husband took several jobs, among them an insurance salesman.
After the shipyard became too difficult, and nearing retirement, she and Kenneth went to Newton, NC and worked in the textile industry as well as security guards. Upon reaching retirement age they returned to Fairhope. Kenneth would die a few years later from a heart attack.
In the mid eighties she took our mother to live with her after our father died. My parents had moved to where our brother lived in Greenville, SC. The storms and hurricanes began to bother them. Afer our mother died, Betty busied herself caring for an aged neighbor, as well as picking up older women who needed a ride to church. Her years with the Spanish Fort church were among her happiest.
As she aged and her health began to fail, she ended up in a nursing home a block or so from her house where our mother had died. It was not a good place for her, and at Christmas 2014 she came to live with us in Roanoke.
It was a hard adjustment, but she soon fit in and sent everyone a colored picture on their birthday, as well as any other special day she saw in the church directory. She colored to improve the shaking of her hands.
In late July, at 90, she started to fail and lingered until September 8.
As our daughter, Hope (who did the driving) and I arrived in Fairhope I was reminded again why she loved it so much. If you ever get a chance, visit it. The live oaks reach across the streets as if to be touching hands, with Spanish moss as the gift to be received. Crape myrtles, azaleas and other flowers compete for your attention. Quaint shops line the streets and the lights of Mobile can be seen at night from the pier.
As we left the cemetery, both Hope and I commented that we felt good that we could bring Miss Betty home. Keith

The Sunday morning after I had arrived home from Alabama on Saturday, the call came that Bill(y) Branch had died. Bill had entered the hospital only a few weeks before to be treated for a mass in his shoulder. At 90, like Betty, he was getting tired. Soon it became evident that he was slipping away and after a few days in Friendship Manor South, he went home and passed away, surrounded by his family, on September 16th.
The name Bill Branch and the Roanoke Church of Christ are bound together like the strands of a rope. Bill was a foundational part of this congregation before this building was built. It was his place, his spiritual home, even though his spirituality was far and beyond the walls of this building. There is hardly a benevolent work in Roanoke that does not have something of him in it, as his obituary stated.
As far as his personality, I never saw him as anything but enjoyable to be with and his wonderful chuckle. No Super Sunday will be the same without seeing him leave as soon as possible and return with almost enough chicken to feed all of us.
He loved being with people, and the celebration of his life held at the annex was exactly what he planned. Food, music, good friends and good memories shared by the people Billy touched.

(It is with great sadness that the following developed this past weekend)
While Judy and TJ were visiting with their son Perry and family in NC, Judy choked on some food and went into cardiac arrest. She was revived and taken to a hospital, but was not able to recover. With her family with her, as TJ said, “She is at Home with her Father.”
She was cremated and will be placed beside their stillborn child in Louisville, KY at Christmas, which was her favorite holiday.
A celebration of Judy’s life was held in the church annex on September 6.
On Sunday, Sept. 29, Judy was remembered by the congregation during the worship period as we shared memories of her.

All of this has hit us hard. Three deaths in about three weeks. However, as we have done in the past, we will lean on our faith in God, the resurrection and each other as those who have passed would want us to do. As Paul wrote, “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”
CONCERNS: Jo Wagner’s sister, Judy Powell is very seriously ill after surgery. Martha Flora, Wayne’s mother is having health issues. Teryn Gaynor’s mother, (cancer issues) Former members, Ray and Debbie Reiss’ son-in-law, David, is being treated for brain cancer. Deanna McRoy, Debbie McRoy’s cousin, Linda Alsup, is having health issues, and her husband, Prentice is recovering from cancer surgery. Keep both Joni and Alan Beach’s parents in prayer, as well as Del Bolin’s mother, Carrie. Also a friend of Leena’s who is having stress related issues. Remember Sheila Jansen and daughter, Amber Weaver, Marjorie Wilson, Melanie Gentry and family, Ray and Darnell Barnes, Gil Richardson, Jim and Mary Smith and Til Elder.

1-Mary Smith 4-Laura Schreiner 3-James and Megan Downing
4-Garrett Williams 14-Connie Crites 8-Mike and Karen Branch
15-Mary Willa Foy 20-Lyn Jordan 9-Scott and Bonnie Blessing
24-Teryn Gaynor 24-Susan Phlegar 19-Jeff and Sherry Bland
27-TJ Hall

For those of you receiving hard copies of the bulletin, you will notice a little “crowding” in this issue.
There was no “mid-month” issue printed due to the death of my sister, and my travels to Alabama to bury her, which took place during that week.
As you will read inside, as a congregation we have had recent moments of sorrow, from Betty’s death and then the following week, the death of Bill Branch, and then the sudden death of Judy Hall the week following.
It was good to see Ben Robertson with us last Sunday. He is still in Manassas, but would like to be back in this area. Say a prayer about that.
The annex lighting and air circulation is coming along well. The fans will be installed later, due to a size issue with the originals.
Several weeks before Betty Billings became ill, she asked if there was something she could do for the church. The new chandeliers in the annex was her gift.
Jonathan Edward Elder and Cara Lee Hoopes were married on October 4, in a ceremony at Fincastle. We wish them many years of happiness.
We will resume our Wednesday evening service on October 10. WE will continue with the study of John’s Gospel.
The tree that fell during Florence has been cut up and the wood given away. However, there are some limbs etc. which need to be cleaned up.