The Confederate flag was flying overhead at the Capital Building as my host drove me by on the way to the Word of God Church and Ministries—the host church for the 13th Annual Communities of Shalom Celebration in South Carolina. There really are two
States in South Carolina: one Black and the other White.

Thirty Shalom Site Coordinators and over two hundred members of shalom teams gathered for two days for spiritual support, biblical teaching and practical workshops. Youth groups from several churches came to sing and participate. I was there to bring greetings from the National Shalom Office and meet with all the shalom coordinators for planning purposes. Rev. Rudy Rasmus was there as the featured speaker for the event.

As Pastor Rudy mounted the pulpit to preach about shalom ministry, we all wondered about his weird beard. A slim, agile, energetic, compelling, good looking man in his early 50’s, Pastor Rudy sported long braded stands with beads at the ends that danced when he spoke. It sort of reminded me of a black Jack… in Pirates of the Caribbean without the eye make up. So this is Beyonce’s pastor from St John’s United Methodist Church in Houston.

“I grew the beard as a filter,” he explained. “It filters out peoplejavascript:void(0)
Saved who judge me by my appearance.” Before God touched his heart and transformed his life, Rudy ran a “borderline bordello” in Houston, he admits. Now he pastors a Methodist congregation of over 9,000 members (3,000 of which are or were formerly homeless). An urban prophet in the tradition of Hosea, Pastor Rudy preaches a gospel of unconditional love, acceptance and forgiveness, and touches people deeply in a way that heals and transforms.

“The Power of Touch” was the theme of this weekend’s Celebration. Touch is also the title of Rudy’s new book. I recommend it.

Various workshops included: Touch Ministry, Gang Awareness, Parenting Partnership, Youth Empowerment, Networking that Works, Angel Food Ministry, Grant Writing and Caregiving.

Shalom Leadership in South Carolina is bold and innovative. Below are some photos of our site coordinators in action.