St. John’s Baptist Church

Worship | Sundays @ 10:30am

Beyond Six-Feet Apart: Message on Sunday, September 19, 2021

Beyond Six-Feet Apart

A Pastoral Message based on 2 Corinthians 5:16-20 & Matthew 28:18-20

offered to St. John’s Baptist Church of Charlotte, NC, by The Rev. Dennis Foust, PhD, on September 19, 2021

Listen to the message here.




Living God, thank you for including us in your reconciling love.  Guide and empower us to take your reconciling love into relationships, moments, situations, visions, and decisions.  Amen.



Almost 3,000 years ago, Israel was carried into exile by the Assyrians resulting in ten lost tribes.

Virgil told an ancient story of the fall of Troy and how refugees fled westward into what is now

Venice finding a city of mud and leaving behind a city made of stone before they moved on.

Two different stories offer similar messages about the origin of Rome.

One tells how a refugee from the Trojan war endured storm and shipwreck in the Mediterranean

before landing in Italy and founding the city of Rome.

The other story tells how Romulus sought citizens for a new settlement he was building on the

banks of the Tiber River. So he declared Rome to be a safe city for all criminals and refugees.

The story of our nation is similar; England sent thousands of ‘their undesirables’ to this land.

The history of humanity is often presented as a series of conquests, wars, political unrests,

religious persecutions, and famines causing people to relocate as immigrants and refugees.


Century by century, humanity MOVES ON searching for a vision of peace and a better world

believing them to be just beyond the next border, ocean, or mountain range.

Historians seldom tell stories of how people stay in one place to build unity from diversity.

Peace Building requires commitment, vision, trust, a willingness to collaborate with flexibility –

and a tremendous amount of patience. AND, BELOVED, THIS IS WHAT YOU ARE DOING.


You gather in this sacred space as peace builders focused on needs that may be nearby or beyond six feet apart.  Then, you scatter to invest your energies in God’s ministry of reconciliation while living in this isolated & isolating world that is increasingly individualistic, individualized & depersonalizing. We are about to enter our second century of building peace and unity through diversity without moving on. 300 Hawthorne Lane has been our place for 100 years.

Let’s be honest, most of our peace-building efforts, most of our energies invested in building a

better world will happen here in metro Charlotte and the areas where we work and live.

We will continue to address systemic racism, national and global economic injustice, hunger, homelessness, and collaborate to improve lives through efforts in support of education, children and families and healthcare. Yet, we also touch remote places around the world and help people we will never meet.


Humanity often responds with care amidst tragedies offering expressions of good will.

Yet, even the best expressions of good will often fail to build peace or create a better world

because of how people are viewed.


The scripture read earlier, from 2 Corinthians, reminds us how we should view all persons.

We should view other people as creations of God; seeing them the way God sees them.

Because humans are created in God’s image, we should see other persons as an image of God.

However,  you may not know what this means – ‘to be created in the image of God.’

Consider this idea: The Spiritual Transcendent Power we choose to name God has chosen to be

love and has created you with the capacity to both receive and express love.

Therefore, each person is like a particle of God’s image.

We do not merely see a person by their external appearance or how they are described by others.

We see each person as a creation of The Living God; although a person may deny or refuse or

abuse this aspect of their personhood. We pursue reconciliation with people by being servants of Jesus, Lord of our faith. We do not pursue reconciliation in ways that are merely transactional and manipulative. We look for what a person really needs and serve them as they are Jesus by remembering Jesus’ words, “What you do unto one of these who are in need, you do it unto me.”


One of the ways this approach to reconciliation is expressed by us is through our relationship with the 42 Lost Boys of South Sudan.  Twenty years ago, in 2001, households in this church welcomed these young men into their lives and the Lost Boys became the Found Boys.

I’ve asked Nina and Carl Phillips to have a brief conversation about this reconciliation work.


  1. What motivated you to welcome and embrace these Lost Boys from South Sudan?
  2. Why did you find meaning in getting to know them and helping them build a better world?
  3. How are your lives different because you caught this vision of ‘Building a Better World?’


These individuals came from way beyond six feet apart. Each life is changed for generations.

And each of these people is a particle of God’s Self. Each is created in God’s image.


Beloved, our Global Mission Offering is entitled, ‘BUILDING A BETTER WORLD.’

Imagine the lives you are changing over the next few weeks – for generations ahead.

Can you see the teachers in the Community School of Nyarweng, South Sudan?

Can you see the hundreds of children they are teaching?

You are building a better world in those lives.

Imagine a small grass covered hut in the mountains of Togo, or an impoverished village in Haiti as Cooperative Baptist Fellowship personnel arrive with enough doses of the Pfizer vaccine to administer to the entire village.

Imagine families arriving in Charlotte from Afghanistan and finding monies available to

purchase what they need to set up housekeeping.

As you support our Global Mission Offering, you are Building a Better World even while living

Beyond Six Feet Apart.


The story of humanity involves millions of people moving on beyond the next boundary.

As for us, we are beginning our second century of blessing the world from this corner.

We seldom hear stories of peace about people staying in one place to build unity from diversity.

Peace Building requires commitment, vision, trust, a willingness to collaborate with flexibility –

and a tremendous amount of patience. AND, BELOVED, THIS IS WHAT YOU ARE DOING.


Although we are living in a world where people are having to practice social distancing;

We do not need to practice ministry distancing. A lot of ministry happens beyond six feet apart.

We are touching lives close by and around the world. We are not moving on!


William Blake spoke of giving when he said,

You never know what is enough until you know what is more than enough.”

Let’s Build a Better World through giving until we surpass our Global Mission Offering goal of $25,000.

Amen and AMEN!