Malcolm Tyree

A collection of thoughts on things that matter

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Spanish-, English-Speaking Churches in Texas Become One

I am thrilled to be a part of the story God is writing here in Dallas. I have a front row view of how God can bring people of different cultures to a place of working together in harmony.

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carlos_lamelas_baptizing_newvida_dallastx_forweb Photo: Pastor Carlos Lamelas baptizing a believer on Feb. 5.

By Carl Stagner

Pastor Malcolm Tyree described it as a “Super Sunday,” but not because of a certain football game between the New England Patriots and the Atlanta Falcons. What happened on Sunday, February 5, at New Vida Church of God in Dallas, Texas, was nothing short of incredible, especially in light of all that had transpired over the past year. Eleven people were baptized, ranging in ages from six to sixty. Wonderful, sure. But not so uncommon. Uncommon was that these individuals represented multiple cultures originating from the United States, Puerto Rico, Mexico, and Cuba. Such celebration came on the heels of a year of transition which saw the finalization of the merger between a Spanish-speaking and an English-speaking congregation. But for New Vida Church of God—once New Life Fellowship and Iglesia de Dios Vida Abundante—this wasn’t the grand…

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I Love a Good Fight!

I thought I’d repost this. Some of the material is dated, but the sentiment is the same.

Malcolm Tyree

I’ll admit it, I love a good fight!

Sometimes my wife doesn’t appreciate my passion for this. Sometimes my kids find this exasperating. I’ve been known to wear out my colleagues in a meeting because of this. What can I say, I’m a passionate guy. 

Sometimes, I get carried away. I remember chaperoning a trip to Six Flags with some teenagers. The boys wanted to ride the “Tea Cups” and see how fast we could go. It’s hard for me to back down. I made sure we went as fast as I could get us. I was on the brink of throwing up, but I wasn’t going to quit. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one who was feeling queazy. On the next ride, one of the boys tossed his cookies because of the fight at the Tea Cups.

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Simon Sinek recently tweeted:

Fight against…

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Remember and Re-Belong

This is the message I shared with New Life Bible Fellowship. Though not all of the words are the same, the message is.

As you may have heard, my family has recently moved to the greater metroplex from the far western edge of Texas. If you don’t know where Odessa, is, take your hand and try to fashion it like Texas. In the corner where your thumb and index finger meet, that’s more or less where you’ll find Odessa. It is an area rich with opportunity and oil. As a matter of fact the Midland-Odessa area is now considered the some of the fastest growing areas of the nation.

If you’ve ever moved, you’ve had the experience of packing up all your stuff. It’s amazing to me how much junk-ahem-stuff we can gather up. We pile our stuff into storage units or rental trucks. We pack the boxes til the nearly explode and hope that we’ve labeled them properly. If we are lucky, when we unload friends are kind enough to help us strategically place the boxes in the right room. Then the work begins. The work of uncovering hidden gems and memories. Photos, toys, books, clothes, appliances, each piece belongs somewhere new, yet they remind us of where we had been. As we unpack, if we have the time we remember.

The other day, I was driving and lost in thought. The word “remember” kept creeping into my mind. I thought of how it begins with my favorite pre-fix. It made me curious as to the meaning and origins of the word. After all, if you break it apart, the prefix “re” and root word “member” don’t seem to go together.

As you recall, “re” means to do again. It’s a do-over word. Repeat, redo, retry, return, rehash, resolve, on and on the list could go. “Member” indicates a belong. Band member, church member, Member of the Army, body member, so forth and so on. As I reflected upon this I thought how remember could mean re-belong.

It’s crazy, I know. But think about it for a moment. When we remember things, we re-belong to that moment. Opening a yearbook takes you back to your days in school. Laughing with friends or family members about the past takes you back to the moment that it happened. Sometimes our memories are jarred by songs, smells, stories, and more. Each time we remember, it is almost as if we re-belong to that time, place, or group. Memories are powerful for helping us find our place.

Yet, our present circumstances can cause us to forget our place. The pace at which our society is running we can quickly lose our train of thought, our direction, even our purpose. I’m sure it’s happened to you, you’ve opened your internet browser for a quick purposeful search, 30-45 min later, you’re still looking at the browser, trying to recall what you were looking for in the first place. The original search led to a link that took you down the internet “rabbit hole” and now you’re there lost. 

Society is moving fast. Some could argue things are going too fast. The speed is creating a panic. The panic is dis-settling and it has us grasping for answers. Some of the answers cause us to act in ways that are contrary to who we want to be, but we don’t have the time to slowdown. The news headlines are filled with stories of chaos and it leaves many of us isolated and afraid. Our sense of belonging is slowly being taken away. 

This is not a new scenario. Belonging and identity have been challenged throughout the ages. I’m sure for each generation, this has felt like something new and different, even though it’s not. Just as each generation has felt on the verge of defeat, something new has been birthed.

When we read through the scriptures, we find an interesting narrative that arises. Repeatedly, the scriptures tell stories of people who were defeated who rise again. From the very beginning lessons of Adam and Eve to the final images of the followers of God in Revelation, defeat and new beginnings are a constant refrain. Interestingly, one of those defeat and new beginning feelings is captured in the poem of lament following the destruction of the Temple in Jerusalem in 586 BC.

Let me set the stage. For more than three hundred years, the families that dwelled in the hill country region of the eastern edge of the Mediterranean Basin offered sacrifices to atone for their sins at a Temple constructed on a hill, surrounded by a great wall. This hill and the city that comprised the Temple, a king’s palace, thousands of residents, and a rich memory was known as Jerusalem. This Temple was different than the many other temples that could be found throughout the land bridge between the major superpowers of the southern and northern portions of the ancient near east. The Temple in Jerusalem was filled with memories and belonging that few temple could replicate. For it was this Temple that told the story of a people drawn out of the southern Empire of Egypt, led through a wilderness and a period of cleansing, who were then established a special people. This Temple told the story of the people who recounted the story of the divine encounter at a burning bush, the plagues of Egypt, the parting of the sea and later of the Jordan River. This Temple helped the people remember they belonged to YWHW, the LORD God of Israel.

Over the years, this city had sent forth it’s kings and armies to defend the hill country from invaders and insurrections. These campaigns were waged with a sense of belonging and purpose. The campaigns created memories of victories and defeat. 

Nearly 150 years before, a great Empire from the north, the Assyrians, had campaigned against the neighboring kingdom on Jerusalem’s northern border and been defeated. Jerusalem was spared destruction by what many called a divine act. But now in 586 BC, things were different. The new northern Empire, the Babylonians, were stronger and willing to be patient to over take Jerusalem. Eventually, the broke the walls, ransacked the city, destroyed the Temple, and scattered the residents like chaff in the wind. The memories were threatened and the sense of belonging torn out from underneath them.

This is the setting for the words of lament that echo through our sacred halls today. This is the setting for the words of lament that inspired the song of praise that has been sung around the world for nearly 100 years.

“Great is Thy Faithfulness, thy compassions they fail not, morning by morning new mercies I see.” 

The poet utters words of faith on the heels of disaster and devastation. The poet imagines a time that once was and will be again. The poet does not forget her place. The poet remembers and belongs.

Let’s read the words together: (Lamentations 3:19-24) NLT

“The thought of my suffering and homelessness is bitter beyond words. I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss. Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The faithful love of the Lord never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning. I say to myself, ‘The Lord is my inheritance, therefore, I will hope in him!’”

Did you catch the poet’s state of mind? The poet is stating boldly a hope that springs from a sense of re-belonging.

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If you read the series of poems that compose the short section of scripture known as Lamentations, you will see the poems leave little doubt in the author’s mind as to why the city of Jerusalem was destroyed. The poems help us see the author(s) clearly see they destruction is the result of communal sin.

We tend to think of their sin being related to the individual actions of the people. Yet, the scriptures seem to point us toward seeing the sin as being a people choosing to belong to alliances with Egypt and other neighboring kingdoms. The sin seems to be the slow drift into worshipping other gods, particularly for the purposes agricultural and fertility success. The city, the community had failed to remember the One who had brought them forth, established them, and directed them how to live. The failed to remember and now no longer behaved as though they belonged to YWHW, the Lord God of Israel.

Yet, the poet still dared to hope! The poet remembered and called others to remember. In this call to remember, there is a call to belong as well. 

It would take some 600 years before the connection to remembering and belonging would reach a new level. During this time, the descendants of the city of Jerusalem were scattered and persecuted. Some returned to rebuild the city, though it never reached the glory of it’s zenith. Nearly 600 years later, under the rule of a new Empire, a questionable teacher called his followers to remember and belong.

The questionable teacher had gathered his followers into an upper room to commemorate a story of belonging. As the Jewish teacher recounted the story of the Passover, he set forth a new sense of belonging. The Passover Meal remembered the way YWHW, the Lord God of Israel, had called the people out of Egypt to be his special people. As the Jewish teacher ate the meal and drank from the cups with his students, he made a startling new announcement. Up to this point, the students had seen themselves as belonging to the Jewish faith. They were raised to know the rules of the Torah. They had participated in the initiation rites of the Jewish community. But in this meal, the controversial teacher whom they had devoted themselves to called them to a new relationship. It wasn’t that his rules were a radical departure from the old ones. It wasn’t that he was telling them their participation in the Jewish community was insignificant. No, this new place of belonging was about living not by the letter of the rules, but by the spirit of them. This new community would not be about family lineage and religious initiations, it was about friendship and acceptance. This Jewish teacher from the city of Nazareth near Galilee, this Jesus, was inviting his students, his disciples, into a new covenant.

As he passed them bread from the table and a cup of wine, he inaugurated something special using something common. By taking everyday items of bread and wine, he invited his followers to belong to the One who had sent him. For Jesus reminded his followers that he had been sent by YWHW, the Lord God of Israel, the one Jesus called “father.”

He would guarantee the new covenant with his own death. This seemed perplexing and unusual to say the least. Yet, the remarkable part of this story of defeat was the new beginning the sprung forth afterwards. Jesus’s death was accepted by the Father. We know this because of the testimony of the Father. The Father’s acceptance was not announced in a usual way, but rather in the resurrection of Jesus who had just died days before. Father, YWHW, the Lord God of Israel, announced the new covenant inaugurated by bread and cup, guaranteed by Jesus’ death, was in place through the resurrection of Jesus.

Now, all who desire to belong to God can, regardless of race, nationality, gender, or any other barrier. The disciples of Jesus went forth telling this Good News to all who would hear. Today, you and I gather in this room, remembering this same story of God’s faithfulness. We remember and belong to this story.

And today, we have common elements of bread and cup to help us remember and rebelong to Jesus and his father.

This is a moment for us to slowdown in the midst of the chaos and noise and remember the good deeds of God. This is our moment to stop and recount the endless mercy of God. This is our time to recall the love that never ceases.

Jesus spoke to his disciples telling them to eat and drink and remember him. 

It is in our remembering Jesus that we realign ourselves with his priorities, purpose, and vision. 

It is in remembering Jesus that we find ourselves belonging to something more than our small family. We see we are a part of a great story that has stretched through time and space.

It is in remembering that we can dare to hope that the chaos, wickedness, and senseless violence will come to an end and it will be on earth as it is in heaven.

Today is your day to remember and re-belong. 

I pray that you will remember the mercy of God. Possibly today all you can remember is the simple song, “Jesus Loves Me, This I know.”

It doesn’t matter how much you can remember, only that you remember. 

God has not forgotten you! You may feel overwhelmed, out of control, forgotten, and left alone, but remember his mercies.

Be blessed as you come to take of the common elements of bread and cup. They are here for you as a memory device. Come, take, eat, and drink. Remember and belong. 

This new relationship is for you. This renewed relationship is for you and me.

Blessed are those who remember.

Stop waiting for your “call” into ministry

It’s exciting to see when others share the same philosophy. Christy and I have stepped out of the desert and moved to the DFW Metroplex. I don’t have a job, but I have a mission. I hope you’ll live your mission too!

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I have resigned as a pastor and I am looking forward to what God has in store for me next. Here is one of the issues that I have begun working through mentally, spiritually, and emotionally. I have always allowed the church where I serve to give me my sense of “call”. When I say “call” I mean a sense of purpose, belonging, rootedness, misssional intensity, etc…

Alas, I am thinking that the word “call” is loaded with all kinds of unbiblical baggage. For example:

  • We mistakenly believe that some people are called to ministry, others are not.
  • Unfortunately, those who don’t feel called fail to center their life, their family, around the imperative of “seeking first the kingdom of God.”
  • We tend to regard those who are called as the Navy Seals of the Christian world. One look at the disciples in the New Testament should dispel this myth.

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Asking Too Much From Christian Believers (part 2)

I can’t say I knew a lot of people who were open about their Christian faith while growing up. I’m sure some of it was because I didn’t know a lot about church or Christianity, but I may have just been oblivious too.

When I surrendered my life to Jesus some 21 years ago, I felt it was my job to make sure everyone knew about my decision. I wanted others to make that same decision. I slapped the bumper stickers on my truck and every Tshirts I owned made a statement about Jesus. At some level it was incredibly bold, yet at another I guessing it was a bit annoying. I eventually went of to Bible College to get a degree in telling others about Jesus.

At some level my actions inspired others, but are they for every believer?

Certainly, if you are a believer in Jesus there should be some identifiable actions that others witness that indicates your faith. Yet, are we (was I) asking too much when I expect everyone to become a walking billboard?

As I have grown older, I’ve mellowed in my bumper stickers and Tshirts. Instead I’ve focused on a different set of actions. Today, I try to drive nicer, greet others, offer help, and embrace others. I look to speak up on behalf of those who can’t speak up for themselves, improve situations I’m a part of, laugh, and smile. I do these things and more in attempt to look and act like I think Jesus would in today’s world.

Sometimes we struggle to express our faith, but I don’t think asking believers to express our faith is too much. In fact, I think it’s easier than we tend to think.

No, O people, the LORD has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God. (Micah 6:8 NLT)

What say you?

12 years in 12 days (bonus)

This series is intended to be a brief sketch of my time in Odessa, Texas. 

I’ve done my best this series to capture what I saw and could remember from my time in Odessa. Now it’s your turn!

What do you remember about my time in Odessa?

What at stands out to you in this series?

I would love to read what you recall. Please, take just a moment and share your thoughts.

12 years in 12 Days (part 12)

This series is intended to be a brief sketch of my time in Odessa.

Entering the summer of 2013 felt like someone slammed the brakes hard on so many things that I was a part of in Odessa.

For more than two years, I had been working with a local business training their team members. This was a great opportunity that had expanded my circle of influence in ways I could not have imagined. The management decided to move in a different direction with its training practices and I was released.

For the past year, I had been working diligently with the school district to raise the level of parent-school partnerships through PTA and working with principals and administration. In a move that caused a great deal of discussion among the whole town, there was a change in the superintendent for the district and for the principal of my school.

Over the course of six weeks, key community relationships were changed.

In the midst of these changes, we found out that Christy was pregnant! BabyTy3 would be coming in February 2014. We found out the gender this time and named her in honor of her grandparents by using their middle names. Breanna Kaylee would prove to be a bright spot in the midst of many changes.

Relationships within Grace Point also changed. For nearly three years, I had been working hard to lead the church into a sustainable future but it wasn’t happening. Three years prior to this, I had taken a dramatic pay cut. Though there had been some increase in the level of support for GP among the members, we were at a crossroads financially.

The year before, we had hoped to secure a building that would have been funded through grants and a business operating in the facility. That did not come to pass, but our desire to establish a ministry headquarters was still there. For many, the need for a facility was becoming critical. As hard as the leadership team and I considered the options, we could not find a viable option.

Real estate prices in Odessa were increasing to all time highs. Available property was being snatched up at top dollar offerings. We simply did not have the financial base to compete in this market place.

As I was sitting down with my Tuesday lunch groups of pastors, I was talking through the situation seeking their advice. As I was talking, it came to me, GP could afford to rent a 24/7 facility or pay me. There wasn’t enough contribution to do both.

The reality was very discouraging.

After meeting with key leaders for GP, we agreed the financial situation had to change at GP in order to move ahead in 2014. Unfortunately, this was met with resistance by some and unfulfilled commitments by others. In mid-December the finances hit a new low.

As much as we’d like it to be otherwise, the finances influence the viability of the organization. GP’s viability was at stake.

Christy and I sought counsel from multiple sources as to what to do next. Overwhelmingly, the counsel we received is that we should consider stepping away from GP and pursue a healthier scenario for our family’s own sustainability. This was not the insight I was looking for; I didn’t like it, but I knew it was right. For over seven years, I had poured myself into building GP. Our home had been built with a long term vision. Now it was coming to a close.

In just a short time, Breanna would arrive. We had to be in position to care for her as well as Caitlyn and Andrew.

I held an open meeting for all interested in the future of GP to attend. We proposed merging with another congregation on the northside. This congregation had a facility and could benefit from our community focus. Yet, the merger didn’t happen.

With the merger off the table, we held a series of conversations with those willing to help shape GP’s future. At those meetings, one of the more startling revelations was that no one saw themselves living in Odessa long term. Most believed they would be moving within three to five years.

These conversations, combined with the clear sense that we were feeling a sense of release from our ministry in Odessa, we made the hard choice to close Grace Point on March 23, 2014, 390 Sundays after opening.

The final worship gathering was well attended and I was honored to remind them to live the life Jesus calls each of us to, the life of service. As a final image of what we tried to live before them, I closed the gathering by washing the feet of most of the attendees.

For 2014, we would celebrate Easter with another congregation in Odessa. Our season of ministry had come to a close.

We decided we would move at the end of the school year. Terry and Cheryl, Christy’s parents, had decided to move from Odessa as well. They moved in May to Midlothian, Texas, south of Dallas.

Before we could move though, there were obligations to fulfill within the school district. I was still the president for my local PTA and the city wide council. To that end, I worked hard to facilitate a Fun Run fundraiser for new playground equipment at Jordan Elementary. I also helped forge a partnership between Odessa College, the local community college, and the leadership of PTA for the city. Each of these initiatives have the potential to impact others for years to come.

In our final weeks in Odessa, the kids finished the school year strong. We worshipped with our friends Tim and Melinda Halstead and the New Life Church. Worshipping with New Life was like closing out a circle of our time in Odessa. New Life was the first congregation we attended after my dismissal from Odessa First Church of God. We said our goodbyes to First Church in December 2012, as the congregation closed its doors for the final time, disbanding and selling off its property. The New Life crew was incredibly gracious to us and embraced many former GPers into its worship gatherings.

On June 3, 2014, four months after Breanna was born, we spent our last night in our home in Odessa. A new adventure awaits and its path is still early and filled with many unknowns! We didn’t get everything packed and put away on June 4, but our new adventure was awaiting. We hit the road, headed east. We will return briefly to Odessa to close out the house near the end of June.

Thank you for sharing in our journey! The 12 years in Odessa have shaped me and my family. Hopefully, the lessons I’ve learned and the growth my family has experienced will benefit you and others.

I apologize that there aren’t pictures in this post. I’m writing this while on the first part of our new journey.

12 years in 12 days (part 7)

This series is intended to be a brief sketch of my time in Odessa, Texas.

Coming into the summer of 2008, I really believed we were ready to soar!

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Things at Grace Point were coming along great. We were developing a great band. We had a good influx of visitors. We had found a rhythm for scheduling team members. We were beginning a ministry for teens. Everything seemed like it was coming together.

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Added to all the great things happening, I finally got an iPhone! Could things get any better?

Earlier in the year, one of our neighbors had roped Christy back into the classroom. For the final few months of the school year, Christy served as a tutor for Jr. High Students in the AVID program. We realized that if she was going to work, we should maximize her income potential. So in the fall of 08, Christy returned to the classroom full time as a 6th Grade Teacher.

Before Christy head off to work, we made a quick trip to the Smoky Mountains for a Robinson Family Reunion. This would be a special trip for all as it was the first time nearly the whole clan had been together in years, and the last time too as Aunt Linda’s health was declining quickly.

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As Christy entered back into teacher, Caitlyn started Kindergarten. So each morning, the girls would leave the house to just the boys!

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To give me a break, we enrolled Andrew in a local Mothers’ Day Out program. Caitlyn had attended the year before and had a fabulous experience. Andrew began going on Mondays and Wednesdays and soon he had won the hearts of his teachers, Ms. Lori and Ms. Kim, who would become a part of our family over the next few years.

Christy was hard at work helping 6th graders achieve more everyday. She was paired up with Janet Miller. The two rotated their students and shared life. Janet was Christy’s mentor in returning to the classroom.

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As we moved into 2009, we were getting ready to see Christy’s parents move to Odessa from Missouri. We also began exploring building a new home for us too. Meanwhile, Christy was working hard and Grace Point was doing good.

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As was my training. we ramped up for Easter! Through the help of a grant from Church of God Ministries, we rented the city’s outdoor stage and hosted a huge Easter Egg Hunt and Resurrection Celebration. This year, the weather was fabulous! The only thing that went wrong that day was me! I was running a fever and sick to my stomach Easter morning.easter 181

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By our best estimate there were nearly 200 people in attendance for the event. It was a big win for the team!

The school year was coming to a close and big changes were on the way. The beginning of our eighth year would be one  filled with sorrows and joys.

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Scarcity is Valuable

It seems to me in a culture of abundance and consumption, we are forgetting that value is not found in more, but in less.

Apple stock dropped in value because iPhone sales are low.  Do we really need more iPhones?  It seems they are become so common they are losing their distinction.  (Remember when it was cool to have one?)

The NFL is saturating the market place.  Now we have games and coverage all the time.  There is talk of extending the length of the season.  Doesn’t that make it too easy to miss?

Downtown Abby and Sherlock on PBS are seeing a great uptick in awareness and interest.  These two shows are scarce, but in high demand.

Scarcity adds value.

Gleanings from #Exponential Day 2.3 @MilesMcPherson , @JeffVanderstelt, & @EfremSmith

Miles McPherson

When the disciple goes from the controlled environment of the classroom to the chaos of God’s testing it’s the forming fire of discipleship.

Don’t miss that the disciples are God’s not yours.

Don’t miss the possibility of what God can do around you, through you, in the midst of you.

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When starting something new, going somewhere new, etc, include a grieving period into the change.

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Jeff Vanderstelt
If we forget that the goal is not to fill a building with the glory of god, but the whole earth. The glory of glory is found in his children living out his teachings and love. Will we limit it to an environment we foster or will we release it to God’s full environment.

Life on life discipleship is powerful because it is there we model/witness the truth of belief in action.
Life in community is required because it is in the larger group that we fully challenge and grow with each other.
Life on mission is where life on life and life in community becomes full alive and creates change and momentum.

Has the fact that Jesus gave himself away for you lead you to the place that you give your life away for others?

Do the people in your church expect you to kick them out? Are the ready? If they never expect to be kicked out, they’ll never be ready.

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Efrem Smith
God brings new life out of dry bones. God’s new life is about community which calls for reconciliation between the divided. This new community life has God in the center.

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