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Loritts challenges students to minister across social and racial lines

Bryan Loritts, lead pastor of Fellowship Bible Church of Memphis, speaks Oct. 20 during Faith in Practice week at Union. (Photo by Ebbie Davis)
Bryan Loritts, lead pastor of Fellowship Bible Church of Memphis, speaks Oct. 20 during Faith in Practice week at Union. (Photo by Ebbie Davis)

JACKSON, Tenn.Oct. 21, 2010 – If Jesus can marvel at Christians’ faith, he can also be bored by their comfort, Bryan Loritts told Union University students Oct. 20.

Loritts, lead pastor of Fellowship Bible Church of Memphis, is the featured speaker for this week’s Faith in Practice series at Union. In the first of his three addresses in G.M. Savage Memorial Chapel, he addressed the topic of ministry to both the social insider and the social outsider.

“I’m amazed at the breadth of Jesus’ ministry -- his unique ability to attract lepers and centurions,” Loritts said. “I’m amazed that Jesus could walk with prostitutes and Pharisees, with women and men, with governors like Pilate and the version of al-Qaida in his day — zealots.”

He encouraged Christians to adopt the same attitude as that of Jesus.

“Make sure you preach a gospel that is big enough for lepers and centurions, donkeys and elephants, blacks and whites,” Loritts told students.

Loritts’ message was based on the accounts in Matthew 8 of Jesus healing both a leper and the servant of a centurion.

Richard Wells, vice president for church relations, scheduled Loritts to speak while he was in his former position as dean of the chapel. Loritts was an excellent choice for the Faith in Practice series, Wells said, because he is a very dynamic and engaging speaker, he is strikingly biblical, and he is a model for living according to the Bible.

Leading a church that describes itself as “multi-cultural” is one way Loritts sets an example of living out his faith, Wells said.

Loritts said he and others founded Fellowship Bible Church seven years ago in Memphis, Tenn., where many ethnicities are represented.

“The great tragedy of the church of Jesus Christ is, I can tell you, ‘That’s the church just for black people, that’s the church for white people, that’s the church just for Republicans, and that’s the church just for Democrats,’” Loritts said in his chapel address.

He challenged students to minister to people of all walks of life and ethnicities. Such ministry requires a correct understanding of the gospel and a faith based on an “absolute, resolute conviction” that trusts God and takes risks, he explained to students.

The centurion in Matthew 8 is an excellent example of a man with a strong faith, Loritts said, because Jesus “marveled” at the centurion’s faith in trusting him to heal the servant.

“Here’s Jesus, the omniscient one, being blown away,” Loritts said. “What blows him away? The centurion’s faith. I want this for my life. ... I hope you want it, too.”

Loritts will speak Oct. 21-22 at 10 a.m. each day. Audio from his first address is available at www.uu.edu/audio/detail.cfm?ID=510.

By Samantha Adams (’13)

Media contact: Tim Ellsworth, news@uu.edu, 731-661-5215

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