Thursday, January 12, 2017

My Actual Writing About Summit Adventist Fellowship

Back in December of 2016, I was asked to write a certain number of words describing a church plant my husband and I had been helping with while we were still ministering in the Gulf States Conference of Seventh-day Adventists.  This church plant's name is Summit Adventist Fellowship.

I know that when you write something that is going to be published that it's quite normal for it to get edited or abridged in some way.  I also knew that someone else would be adding a little to the beginning and end of what I wrote to round it out - I was just writing the bulk of it.  I also bumped into someone from the Gulf States communications team who appeared to be covering the Christmas concert taking place during the church service I happened to be attending on a visit to see friends in Mississippi; he greeted me and thanked me for what I'd written and told me that they were "getting it ready" for the magazine.  I knew this confirmed that editing of some kind was taking place and I didn't think anything of it afterward.

When I saw "my article," I was surprised that underneath "By Chloe Murnighan," there was no mention of a co-writer, which would have been the accurate thing to do, because when I read "my article," I saw whole sections that I had not written at all.  What remained of "my writing" was extensively altered.  Very few sentences of my writing were in their original form.

I'm not able to have a major problem with what this article had to say, but I am bothered that it gives a subtly altered picture of Summit than my work did, and my writing was from having attended Summit nearly every Sabbath for 3 months, from its very first service.  In other words, what disturbs me is that the changes made were not primarily stylistic changes, but content changes that subverted the truth - and again, with no mention of a co-writer.  But these "truth subversions" were so small that it would likely be fruitless and deemed petty to try and make an official campaign about them.

All of "the article" was attributed to my name.  But in my own little circle - small as it may be - I prefer that people get a chance to see what I actually said and what my actual writing looks like, since those who will read the article in the magazine will likely think that what they're reading is all my work, which is frankly far from the truth and a conclusion I mostly have no control over.  And so here is what I actually wrote:


About Summit Adventist Fellowship

The first gathering of Summit Adventist Fellowship was on September 10, 2016 in a modest conference room of the Comfort Inn on Chantilly Parkway in Montgomery, Alabama.  On that day, as the set up was finishing and people began to arrive, the atmosphere of the room was filled with eagerness, and hopeful celebration, as is often the case at the beginning of something new and precious that promises to bless others.  And in the services since then, Summit has steadfastly retained this atmosphere of joyful community.
The order of program might be new for some, but it grows on you quickly.  It is touching that Summit puts children first and celebrates them by beginning their worship with a time of song service specifically for the little ones.  Upon being invited up to the front, they toddle and run forward gleefully to participate.  Waiting for them are children’s microphones of different colors with a Summit logo sticker on them.  Beginning the program this way is an inspired idea because not only does it make the children feel like it’s their church too, but it touches the hearts of adults to see the unfiltered innocence of young children singing songs of praise to God.
After the children sing two or three songs led by the adult song leaders, they go to an area behind the main rows of chairs.  There they enjoy coloring and other crafts during the rest of the service – supervised by one or two adults – within perfect earshot to potentially absorb the rest of the service as their age allows. 
Before the adult song service begins, there is a welcome followed by a meet and greet that occurs while music is played.  People leave their seats to embrace and briefly chat with their fellow worshipers who attend in a pleasantly notable mixture of ages and nationalities.  More churches should employ this ritual because it further warms and opens the heart, helping those attending return to their seats feeling a greater sense of connection and community as the program resumes.      
Both the children’s and adults’ song service ingeniously utilize YouTube lyric videos for lack of having live accompaniment – at this point in time – so that those who attend can still experience quality renditions of the contemporary praise songs they love.  Two or three of them are sung by all, and then after a prayer to transition, offering is collected while the praise leaders remain up front, leading everyone in Matt and Josie Minikus’ song, “A Temple Made of Time,” about the Sabbath.  Singing this particular song during every offering is a wonderful new tradition.  It reminds members and introduces visitors to the Scriptural history, logic and genuine beauty of keeping the Sabbath holy through this gently poetic song that serves as a cool down after the higher energy of song service. 
Following the offering, Pastor Samuel Riemersma delivers the sermon.  He preaches various Scriptural messages that are intentionally enlightening, candid, encouraging and focus on the mission of Summit: Know, Grow, Go.  In more detail, Summit’s mission is to help others know God personally, grow spiritually as a result and then go to invite and help others have the same experience so as to hopefully bring about a redemptive ripple effect in the city of Montgomery. 
After the sermon is a closing song and prayer followed by an invitation to stay for continued social fellowship afterward with light refreshments and the gift package of an empty, special-made Summit water bottle containing trail mix and information about Summit’s services for visitors to take home that will hopefully inspire and remind them to come again.   

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