Ninth Annual Say Something Nice Sunday - June 7, 2015
The Eighth Annual Say Something Nice Sunday is June 07, 2015. It is a day to celebrate the people who bring joy to our lives. The goal is to turn down the harsh rhetoric and to replace it with speech that is affirming, uplifting and more Christ-like. The movement started at First Baptist Church of Charleston, the oldest Baptist congregation in the South, and has spread to most denominations including the Catholic Diocese of Charleston. In 2014 the Baptist World Alliance agreed to help promote the celebration.
The steering committee is presenting two civility challenges. These are voluntary and self-monitoring. Civility Challenge One: I pledge that during the next 30 days I will refrain from saying anything ugly, demeaning or derogatory to anyone in my church, workplace and/or daily activities. If I need to offer correction, I will do it in a respectful manner. I will keep a record for each day that notes whether or not I kept the pledge and any reactions directly related to the exercise.
Civility Challenge Two: For the next 30 days I will say something nice, uplifting or encouraging to at least one person every day. I understand that comments that involve physical appearance are off limits for this exercise. I will keep a record for each day that notes whether or not I kept the pledge and of any specific reactions directed related to the exercise.
Cardinal Dolan of New York said, "How wonderful it would be if all churches and their members decided to say something positive about other Christians and Christian groups at least one Sunday per year in recognition of our common belief in Christ."
Pastor Jan Culpepper, pastor of Park Circle Presbyterian Church, North Charleston, SC, added, "Let's make this more than a celebration for a day. Let's make it a way of life."
There is nothing to buy or join. Free materials are available at www.fbcharleston.org. Click on Messages/Resources at the top of the home page and then click Say Something Nice Sunday on the right side of the page. Others are encouraged to develop and share their own materials.
The Beginning of Say Something Nice Sunday
By Mitch Carnell
Where did the idea of Say Something Nice Sunday come from? Shouldn't Christians always say something nice?
Carol, my wife, was teaching in an inner-city middle school in 2005 and I volunteered to help some of the students with their writing skills. I was overwhelmed by the pervasive nature of negativity both from the students and faculty. I felt that someone had to do something. One day the principal told the students, "If you want to do well this year, just be nice." An idea struck me. I wrote a little booklet, Say Something Nice; Be a Lifter. My goal was to get the booklet used in both public and private schools, but that didn't happen. The City of North Charleston was interested. The city bought copies for all of its employees. The city of Charleston bought copies for all of its neighborhood presidents. Mayor Keith Summey of North Charleston declared the first Say Something Nice Day on June 01, 2006.
In the meantime the rhetoric in the Christian community was going from bad to worse. All the major denominations are on the brink of splintering. Some groups have taken out full page newspaper ads denouncing each other. Dr. Frank Page was elected president of the Southern Baptist Convention over the opposition of the established leadership. He promised to be more conciliatory to differing viewpoints, but no less conservative in his theology. The people at First Baptist Charleston wanted to help calm the atmosphere because the dialogue was hindering the mission of all Christians. I talked to our pastor, the Rev. Marshall Blalock, about the idea of having a Say Something Nice Sunday for churches. He became an enthusiastic supporter. The congregation passed a resolution calling for the first Sunday in June of each year to be observed as Say Something Nice Sunday. The Rev. Edgar Boles, Executive Director of the Charleston Baptist Association became a supporter as did Dr. Page and Dr. Caryle Driggers, retiring Executive Director-Treasurer of the South Carolina Baptist Convention. Donna Lea Fanning, FBC's messenger, presented the idea to the Association and it was unanimously adopted with enthusiasm. Rev. Boles submitted the resolution to the South Carolina Baptist Convention and it was adopted in 2007 in a resolution titled, "Unity in the Body." The convention did not include a specific date, but we plan to ask that it be amended. We also hope to get the resolution adopted by the Southern Baptist Convention and make this a national movement. The first Sunday in June was chosen because June is already Better Communication Month.
The Charleston Atlantic Presbytery joined us for the first Say Something Nice Sunday as did several other churches across the state. Lori Lethco, assistant to the pastor at First Baptist, used her amazing computer skills to add supporting materials to the First Baptist Church web site. She also created artwork and posters. Myra Whittemore secured a great deal of publicity. I gave several radio interviews and one on SCETV. From all reports the first Say Something Nice Sunday was a great success; however, we did not escape without criticism especially from some religious bloggers. We were told that we were watering down the Gospel. "Christians aren't supposed to be nice. We need to tell people that they are going to hell."
As we prepare for the Second Annual Say Something Nice Sunday, we are encouraged by the response. Sue Mathews from the Charleston Atlantic Presbytery has joined the committee as has Betty Thomas from the Cathedral of Praise and Angela Williams from Holy Trinity Episcopal Church on Daniel Island. The committee plans to sponsor a poster contest for middle and high school students in the fall. The winner's poster will be used in promotion of the third annual event. We are urging all churches and all Christians to join in. There are no fees and nothing to buy. The materials can be found at www.fbcharleston.org. Enter the web site and then click on calendar. Click on Seasonal events. You will find art work, bulletin inserts and Scripture passages. Churches and/or individuals are encouraged to submit additional materials. The committee would like to hear from churches that participate. Send your report to mitchcarnell @ bellsouth.net.
The following appears in the Covenant of First Baptist Church of Charleston adopted by the congregation on August 21, 1791. "We will be careful to conduct ourselves with uprightness and integrity, and in a peaceful and friendly manner, toward mankind in general, and toward Christians of all descriptions, in particular." That is a remarkable statement. If Christians in 1791 recognized the necessity of a God-like attitude toward all Christians can we do any less today? Please join in. If we can honor God with our speech on one day, perhaps we can do it for two, three, or even more.
Why Have a Say Something Nice Sunday?
The simple answer is that words are powerful. Words have the power to build or destroy. Words have the power to heal or wound. With our words we have the power to build up a Christian community or to destroy it.
Nowhere are words more powerful than within the church. "The Word became flesh and dwelt among us." Words take on a life unto themselves. Once they are given life they are on their way for good or evil.
This special day is an opportunity to build the community of faith, strengthen relationships and heal old wounds. Our national discourse has become so strident and even in religious circles the rhetoric is often far from Christ-like. In Philippians 1:27 we read, "Let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ."
This is a day to say thank you to those who make our lives better just by being a part of them. This is a day to recognize those who contribute to our lives in specific ways. This is a day to apologize for words spoken in frustration, anger or disappointment.
One day is one day, but perhaps we can stretch it to two days and then just maybe if we encourage one another and ask for God's help, we might change the world!