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01
Apr
2013

Start With What You Have

Written by Tina Carter
Start With What You Have

From our friend, Rev. Dr. Tina Carter, Parker Lane UMC in Austin Texas:

I minister in a situation where many people are living at or below the poverty line, where
our children think that every adult goes to jail because so many of their relatives do,
where violence is common, and tragic stories are a dime a dozen.

I also do “missionary” work with suburban congregations -- sharing stories, helping folks
see the beauty of diversity and understand that some of the cultural understandings
of generational poverty are closer to being “Jesus-y” than some of the cultural
understandings of the middle class.

I live in community with folks of different colors and backgrounds. We run into hard
stories. (For examples check www.parkerlane.org for a new story every week.) I often
find myself saying words like, “no wonder folks who live in suburbia want to live in
protected neighborhoods -- hearing these stories every day is draining and difficult.”

I also thank God every single day that I get to live my faith life out here. It means that I
get to talk about things that matter. It means that when someone calls from an abused
women’s shelter I don’t have to say, “sorry we don’t do direct services.” Instead I get
to say, “I’m so glad the shelter gave you our number to call, first, let me know how we
can pray for you...” And then I get to hear the story of broken bones and hopes, and I
get to start by praying and then letting her know what we do have to share. Often what
we have available to share does not exactly match what the caller says they need.
We aren’t a “pay as you go” middle class church. We are made up of poor folks (and
some middle class folks too). And we remain convinced that in this neighborhood we
are called to offer hope and light. To start with the abundance of God rather than the
perceived (and mostly false) sense of scarcity from which many churches start. When
you are hearing hard stories all the time it makes so much sense to start with what you
do have rather than starting with what you don’t have.

We all have a God that makes a difference, a God that continues to write stories of
redemption and hope, a God that meets us where we are, in all our messiness, and
leads us to redemption.

Tina Carter

Tina Carter

Pastor | Parker Lane UMC | Austin, TX

Rev. Dr. Tina Carter has a bachelor’s degree in Engineering Chemistry and a Ph.D. in Applied Chemistry both from Colorado School of Mines. When she left her field of Environmental Remediation to pursue her Master of Divinity Degree at Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary in 1998 she was considered a world expert in mercury chemistry.She has been serving churches as a pastor since 2002 and has been in ministry in several different settings.

While her educational background is interesting, her family background has given her most of her expertise in developing relationship with the “other.” Tina’s home of origin was a foster care home and she lived with children of all different abilities. In addition her family took in young women who were pregnant and without resources. Although she only completed Seminary in 2002, she has been a life-long learner and was taught by the Jesuits when she was a little girl.

She is married to Bill. Together she and Bill live with Bill’s adult son, Eric, who has autism and their roommate, another pastor in the area. She has two grown daughters that she is pleased to call “friend.” And a grandson that brings great joy.

Contact Tina.
Visit Parker Lane online.
Read Parker Lane's blog

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