Kimball Boyd Coburn

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Knowing God

I sit here with a blank sheet of paper in front of me hoping I can write something that will help people to know God. With all my years of having a relationship with my Lord, it seems it should be easy to communicate this feeling and this knowing about God. The more I think and the more I write, I realize you can’t define God or know God through words. Knowing God can only come by faith, and faith can only come by believing. 

I think the best way to move toward this feeling and believing is experiencing. Experiencing opens your mind and starts you thinking of the possibility of something bigger than self. If you’ve never had a spiritual experience, I can promise you it will be the most wonderful experience you’ve ever had. Life will take on new and meaningful directions. Hope will lift you up and love will be your ever-present guide.

photo by Jackson David

I am a praying man. But how do I suggest to people who don’t believe there is a God, to talk with a spirit that doesn’t exist. Although you don’t feel God exists, God knows you exist. God is watching over you and loving you. This is called prevenient grace. Simply be still and God will talk to you. How will you know it is God’s voice? You’ll know … you’ll know.

Agape, Kimball

Imagining

Pam and I have four children, two boys and two girls. The younger brother, Collie, at the age of eight, told us one Sunday morning that he did not want to go to Church. After some thought, we allowed him to stay home that Sunday.

He didn’t mention it all week, neither did we, but come Sunday morning he was dressed and ready for church. One week was a long time for our young son to realize it didn’t feel right to stay home while his family went to church. He missed his friends, the children’s choir, and Sunday School. It just didn’t seem like a Sunday without going to church.

For the past 15 months, the Christian community has missed going to church. And like Collie, Sundays haven’t been the same. Our children have missed their friends in Sunday School, hearing the stories of Jesus, and singing songs that help build their foundation of faith. The same goes for all ages in our churches. We miss celebrating communion, baptisms, and weddings. We’ve felt stifled in our ability to reach out to the lost, sick, and hurting. We’ve missed the joy of celebrating holy holidays together. This lack of connection has reminded us that the church isn’t merely a building, the Church is the people who gather together with imagination and the strength of God’s Call. Are you looking forward to getting back to church? Have you missed being together physically in worship with your brothers and sisters in the spirit of Christ? As soon as it’s safe, I hope you and your family will be back with the family of God to, once again, enjoy the fellowship that can only be felt when two or more are gathered in His name.

Due to the Covid crisis, technology has begun playing an important role of encouraging us in our faith. Many believe it will continue to do so in the future, not as a replacement of the local church, but as an enhancement to help us reach people where they are. It’s been exciting to see the church take bold steps using video, podcasts, and social media with open hearts and minds. Our Ministry’s Board of Directors has added a new media team to imagine with us new ways to help keep our ministry relevant and in touch with your needs on your spiritual journey. As our churches are imagining how to serve our Lord in today’s world, we as a Ministry of Evangelism in the Prophetic Spirit have begun creating video messages. These brief videos (3-5 minutes) include stories and music that will encourage you and your church to follow God’s Call. We’ve titled this new series OUR CALL. I invite you to share them on social media, download and use them in your church, or in your church’s videos.

May God bless and use our imaginations as we reach out to our world with the hope freely given. This is Our Call.

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Shout Hallelujah, It’s Easter Day!

When I was a pastor, I wrote a song for our youth choir to sing on Easter. The keyline was, “Shout hallelujah, it’s Easter day.” This is what I am thinking about as I put my thoughts together for this Spring Issue of THE CALL.

During this year of sheltering in, Pam and I have experienced more quiet time being still and remembering special times with our family. We missed their birthdays, the birth of our 4th great-grandchild and the 1st great-grandson of my late brother, Tommy, as well as the holidays that usually brought us together in joyous love.

We have come through a difficult year, but Easter is coming, it’s time to shout ‘Hallelujah!’ It’s time to praise God for our feelings of HOPE! Memories take us back to 1972, our first Easter in Claremont, CA. Traditions came with us from Tennessee, along with 4 children and our dog named Christmas. We actually had a rabbit named Easter later that year. That’s another memory, for now, I want to take you back to Easter Week.

Our tradition of stripping the branches from our Christmas tree and saving its pole for Easter began our Easter Week celebration. After the celebration of Palm Sunday with our children parading down the aisle of our church, with their palm branches, it was lunch and an afternoon of transforming the Christmas tree pole into a cross. Kimball Boyd (9 yrs. old) sawed the pole and Collie (7yrs. old) tied it with a strong rope and put it back in the Christmas tree stand. I placed it where the Christmas tree stood only months before. Pam draped it with a soft purple cloth. Kathy (5 yrs. old) and Cari (almost 4) picked flowers to go around it. It was the gathering place for our Holy Week devotions.

I remember the day so well. It was early morn on Good Friday. Before the children woke up I took away the soft purple cloth and draped a black one over the Cross. The flowers lay dead but I did not move them. Our boys had experienced this, and maybe Kathy remembered it too, but for Cari, to see that change broke her little heart as she ran to her room, threw herself on her bed, and cried. I followed her and sat next to her, stroking her hair and wiping her tears. “But Punkin,” I told her, “I have good news for you. On Easter, Jesus is going up to heaven to live with his heavenly Father and he left something for you.” “He did?” she said, “He did!”, I said. “He left his love and his spirit in you!”

With that Good News, she suddenly burst from her room proclaiming to all that she was going to ‘Hab Church!’ She and her big brothers turned our living room into a church while Kathy went to get the ‘people’ (Mooey, Mooey Cow, Raggedy Ann, and her brother, Andy, Mrs. Beasley, and Baby Tenderlove), plus our dog, Christmas. The candles were lit and the preaching began! Cari, with the cutest little speech impediment at that time, was the preacher.


“Now eberbody, today is a bad day. I don’t know why they call it a good day cause it don’t seem like it is to me. You see ‘dem dead flowers is dead, but on Easter morning they will be all growed new! And you see that old black ‘aterial on the cross, on Easter it’s gonna be white like snow. I know cause my Daddy tolded me so. “You don’t hab to be sad,” he tolded me…he promised me that Jesus libs for-e-ber!”


After her child-like sermon, Cari Beth led her congregation, with Kathy, playing their toy piano, in singing the Cherub Choir’s special for Easter, “He Libs! He Libs, Da Jesus Libs today!” Just as her Daddy assured her, our God assures us that He Lives, He lives, Christ Jesus lives today. He walks with us and talks with us. You ask me how I know He lives. He lives within our hearts.

A simple, yet profound story that concludes with the news that Easter is about hope! Easter is about unconditional LOVE! Easter is about joyous praise of God ~ HALLELUJAH! Come on everybody, sing it with me!


He lives, He lives, Christ Jesus lives today
You ask me how I know He lives
He lives within my heart!

Agape at Easter,
Kimball & Pam

The Noble Family

It was a cold wintry Tennessee afternoon when our family set out in search of pinecones and greenery for our Advent Wreath. Our 9-year-old was startled by what he saw. It was a broken-down house that appeared condemned with three children out in the yard. They were barefoot and had no coats, not even sweaters. They seemed to be looking for something on the snow-covered ground.

Kimball rolled down his window and asked, “What are you looking for, children?” One of the boys looked up and said, “Just kindling, Mister. Just kindling … we ain’t got no coal,” and went back to his task. Our hearts stood still as we felt their pain.

Watch Pam Coburn share this touching story as Kimball & Pam lead this year’s Christmas Sunday Service for Pilgrim Place in Claremont, CA.

Divided

Photo by Element5 Digital on Unsplash

As a servant evangelist, I have never hesitated to stand in the pulpit and encourage people to stand for and vote for what is just and right by the teachings of Jesus.  However, I draw the line when it comes to telling people who to vote for. 

The Sunday after Jimmy Carter’s inauguration my sermon title was, “The Plains Truth.”  Obviously, I was glad about the results of that election.  I am glad about the results of this election.  I pray that Joe Biden will do his best to bring healing and civility back to our country.  But I wonder if this task is achievable with the deep divisions we have created politically, socially, and economically.

I think of the Apostle Paul and the church at Corinth, which was a mess.  There were many problems causing division from fractionalizing behind rival leaders to marriage, remarriage and divorce, to chaos in worship because of speaking in tongues, to collection of a large sum of money to be sent to Jerusalem.  So, Paul wrote in his letter to the church:

“Love is patient, love is kind, It does not envy, it does not boast, is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered. It keeps no secrets of wrong. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails.”   I Corinthians 13: 4-8a NIV)

We, the American people, face a tremendous challenge in the years ahead.  According to the 2020 election, there are 80 million Americans who believe in living life one way and 74 million who believe in another way.  This is a moment that calls us to walk in each other’s shoes — to be sensitive to others with differing views and backgrounds, regardless of educational or economic status.  We’re to be kind and considerate towards one another.  Love doesn’t mean we have to agree on everything. It means we care for one another.  So much so, that we’re willing to listen and try to understand how the other feels.

Richard Niebuhr writes, “Nothing we do, however virtuous, can be accomplished alone; therefore we must be saved by love.” It’s Christ-like love that brings healing and hope. This is the love we need to practice as a nation.  God’s love never fails!

A Letter to the Churches

photo by Scott Graham on Unsplash

May I step into your confessional booth?  My Calling is to serve by helping you to hear God’s Call and be a witness to your faith. I am sorry for failing you.  The proof is in the pudding. Our churches are not growing.  We are not doing evangelism effectively.  I have been doing my ministry of Evangelism in the Prophetic Spirit for 41 years but have not been able to help you turn the tide of our churches losing their focus.  I have not been able to convince your people about the importance and urgency of doing evangelism.

The first years of my ministry church growth books and articles were popular and influential to pastors and their churches. I realized that what they were writing about and my vision of evangelism was very different.  Church growth is a goal – evangelism is a ministry.  Church growth is counting heads – evangelism is changing hearts. Church growth is marketing – evangelism is sharing.  Church growth is bringing people in – evangelism is moving people out to be witnesses.

Why am I preaching evangelism while our country is crying out for social justice? Evangelism is foundational to the ministry of the Church.  It must be revived and revised to include the “fullness” of the Gospel, salvation for self, and salvation for society.  God is asking us not to preach evangelism, but to do evangelism, to save our society from injustices and give us hope through love.

In my travels among your churches I meet so many talented and dedicated people, I see no reason why we can’t stop this free fall we are in. I know the pandemic has stopped us from reaching out to people in handshaking and hugging ways, but we still can touch their hearts and show love through prayer and modern technology.  I believe a great awakening in our churches is in our reach.  Let’s talk about it, pray about it, and make a move that will make a difference.

This Is Our Chance

I can’t think of a sadder situation than not being able to be with a loved one who is dying in the hospital with Covid-19. I ask that you, along with me, pray for the sick and dying during this pandemic.

Historically, pandemics have left cultural, political, and social changes that last far beyond the disease itself.  The Spanish Flu of 1918, like Covid-19, was a virus.  It killed approximately 50 million worldwide, including 675,000 Americans.  As a result, this pandemic revolutionized public health, spawning the new fields of epidemiology and virology.  It led several Western European countries to adopt universal health-care systems that are still in operation today.

I understand we will need time to go through a grieving period.  Hopefully, as our bodies, hearts, and minds begin to heal, we will allow God to lead us to become a more unified country and world. Our churches are a most important part of this. We should not only be preaching “we’re all in this together”, but we should also be living examples of it.

This is our chance to do what Jesus told us we could do.

“I tell you for certain that if you have faith in me, you will do the same thing I am doing. You will do even greater things.” John 14:12

Photo by Jon Tyson on Unsplash

These past 41 years as I have traveled to your churches, I’ve seen how you’ve become more creative with music and media.  I am very proud of the many churches that are making their services available online. This is something we are continuing to learn and will find to be an evangelism tool that will allow us to do greater things and growing things in the name of Christ.  I am praying that we will use this time to put aside our disagreements and divisions and be the Church we can be and are called to be.

God is There

My Brothers and Sisters,

Photo by Martin Sanchez

Never could we have imagined our world as it is at this very moment.  We miss the hugs of humanity and feel a sense of hopelessness encroaching our homes. We’ve been made aware that as senior citizens, we’re the most vulnerable to the Corona Virus, therefore we’ve been directed to stay inside our home.

“But Lord”, we pray, “how can we be vessels of your love if we can’t witness hope to your people.

Photo by Cristian Newman

But the Lord tells us to take this time to pray and listen.  He invites us to intercede for those who also feel hopeless and alone during this unprecedented time of social distancing.

Pam and I can’t help but feel the need to get out there and minister to those of you affected by this virus.  But here’s a better option, let God minister to you.  Instead of dwelling on fear and worry, put your mind on the Lord.  When we spend time on our knees, we are reminded that God is with us.

That’s the message of a song I wrote called Still Be Still.  I hope it’ll bring encouragement and comfort to you right now.

Still be still, still be still
Silently, still be still

Bow your head, no words said
Silently, still be still

Take the time and listen
Clear your mind, just listen
You will find if you listen
God is there, God is there, God is there

Deep within lives a friend
Silently, still be still

Evangelism in the Prophetic Spirit

kimballpreachingfirst churchIn the mid-’70s, when I was finishing seminary, my dissertation for my Doctor of Ministry degree was “Prophetic  Preaching From A Pastoral Base.”  I never thought about any kind of ministry other than being a pastor in the local church.  I admired the ministries of the prophets in the Old Testament.  Jesus admired them, too, and certainly ministered in the prophetic spirit. His teachings were confronting and challenging, but they were also filled with love and hope.  He was a prophet and he was pastoral. I saw in their examples how I wanted to relate to my congregations in actions and word.

I was blessed to have served 12 years in the local church before I began feeling my ‘Call within a Call’ from being a pastor to a servant evangelist. I knew wherever the call to evangelism took me, I would never let it separate me from the local church. If I commit the rest of my life to this new specialized ministry, it would have to be in a way that helps and supports the local church.  And it had to be a ministry that mirrors the prophetic and pastoral ministry of Jesus … a ministry of love, confrontation, challenge, and hope.

It was a time when TV evangelists filled the airwaves with messages that were foreign to my belief with their lifestyles and the ways they preached the Good News. They put a disingenuous name on one of the great building blocks of the Church.  As much as TV evangelists upset me with their cheap grace and preaching less than the fullness of the Gospel, I am disappointed in us who have let their ways push us away from evangelism.  Do we do the same thing, in reverse, that they did?  The Gospel is a double edge sword.  It is personal and it is social.  It is saving souls and it is saving society.  Did we choose social justice and abandon evangelism?

This is why I named my ministry, “Evangelism in the Prophetic Spirit.”  Evangelism is being a messenger for God, and God’s message is love, and that love moves us to love others through acts of peace and justice.  We cannot compartmentalize evangelism into saving of self.  It has nothing to do with numbers and building mega-churches.  It is not counting heads, it is changing hearts.  For me, it is partnering with local pastors to challenge, revive and grow their churches.

Let’s stop pushing and pulling evangelism around to fit our narrow-minded agendas. Evangelism is the fullness of the Gospel in all its Kingdom building ways. Let’s reclaim the true meaning and action of evangelism ~ Evangelism in the Prophetic Spirit.
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‘Twas A Blessed Midsummer’s Night AWAKENING!

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Highlights from our summer event celebrating 40 years of ministry

Excitement began with the church parking lot filling up with cars and folks gathering to celebrate with us. It continued flowing as they were greeted by members of our Board of Directors and others. The refreshment table was beautifully set and the room was filled with photo presentations and honors of 40 years in the making! One guest said he was enjoying the photo journey so much that he forgot to eat!   The oohs, aahs, laughter, tears and endearing hugs touched hearts with sheer joy!

40The blessings were just beginning as music from The Calling Band called us to the sanctuary. With the room crowded to capacity, the night kicked off with a video that highlighted many of ways God has used this ministry these past 40 years. (watch video below)  Kimball then introduced a new song he wrote especially for this night called “Created By God”. Board members, Lew Fry, Don Leiffer, Warren Stirling, Alma Roberts, and Dick Stager thanked Kimball for rekindling the spirit of their churches, reminding them to never let the fire go out. Eighty-nine-year-old Walt Davis, a friend from Pilgrim Place, surprised Kimball with a poem he had written.  As he read it to Kimball from his wheelchair, tears flowed. 40th CelebrationIt was most moving. Kimball and Pam shared their thanks and stories of the many who have encouraged, supported, loved and kept Kimball awake to God’s Call.

The congregational singing was rousing, tender and heartfelt.  As God’s servant messenger, Kimball gave the words of the prophet Ezekiel to the Church today, “Awaken O Church—a new heart I will give you, and a new spirit, I will put in you“ (Ezekiel 36:26), along with the words of Jesus in Matthew 5:16, “Let your light shine so that others will praise God.”  Kimball challenged us by asking, “Who will be the first one to stand?” (A line from “Created By God”). We all stood together and sang with full hearts, “Created By God” and “Agape.” The Calling Band led us into the benediction  and into the world with “This Little Light of Mine.”

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Special thanks to Terry Givens for sketching the event as it happened


“I think of all the clergy and laity that you inspired, especially the churches and institutions you have impacted.  I think of individual lives that have been transformed through your preaching, teaching and active ministry.  Most of all, I think of the people who have observed your faith and actions and have come to Jesus Christ because of the integrity of your ministry.
Thank you … Thank you … Thank you!”

Blessings, Grant Hagiya
(Excerpt from Bishop Hagiya’s letter congratulating Kimball on 40 years of serving God as a Servant Evangelist. Bishop Hagiya is Resident Bishop of the California-Pacific Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church