Dearly Beloved, we are gathered here to witness, celebrate, and take part in something holy.
We are caught in a love story. The Bible describes our relationship with God as a marriage. But what exactly does that mean? Author and pastor Vermon Pierre ushers us into an understanding of that beautiful, life-giving relationship. Drawing deeply from the Song of Solomon, Pierre invites us into the marriage love story and helps us experience:
We are living in a time of greater isolation, disunity, and loneliness. As we learn what it means to be Dearly Beloved, that all changes. Through the metaphor of marriage, we learn how we are loved, how to love God, and how to love one another. This timely resource helps us establish a truer fellowship and deeper unity within the church and a more holistic devotion to Jesus.
"Pastor Vermon, a respected, faithful leader in our community, offers a responsible, insightful meditation on the sharing of 'beloved' between the Father and Jesus, and Jesus, the groom, and the church, His bride. I agree with his diagnosis of church division—a failure of spiritually unifying imagination through love."
—JOHN DELHOUSAYE ¿ Professor of Bible and Theology, Arizona Christian University; Theologian in Residence, Spiritual Formation Society of Arizona
"Like many pastors, I have been in search of a doctrinally rich framework through which to resolve the tensions that have emerged in the church across the divides of cultural identities and ideological convictions. Vermon Pierre has provided that rubric by grounding the Christian identity in our being God's beloved and showing how that love extends out into the church community as our reciprocated love of God encompasses our 'not like us' brothers and sisters. Vermon's work is biblically saturated and shows us the necessity of seeing one another as the beloved bride of our Lord as we bring intentionality and commitment to overcome uncomfortable difficulties and even conflicts between those with diverse backgrounds. Here is a practical aid for pastors and churches to engage their churches in pursuit of healing our many unfortunate divides."
—DARRYL A. WILLIAMSON ¿ Lead Pastor, Living Faith Bible Fellowship
"This timely and rich book by Vermon Pierre reminds us of the true basis for unity in the church: what Jesus has done for us in making us His bride. If we are wed to Christ, we are already bound to one another in love. This glorious truth enables us to live out a unity that goes beyond sentimentality, trendiness, or common interests. Building from this foundation in the gospel, Pierre fleshes out all kinds of helpful specifics about Christian love—e.g., the importance of delighting in one another, how to take initiative in relationship, what is happening when we take communion together. The love that Pierre calls us toward is deep, beautiful, and compelling. This wonderful book will help everyone who wants to see the church renewed in our day."
—GAVIN ORTLUND ¿ Pastor and author of Finding the Right Hills to Die On
"If you've ever had the wonderfully disorienting experience of extending your arm for a handshake and being pulled in for a hug, then you know what it feels like to read this book. We approach this beautiful metaphor with such familiarity, and that familiarity is our problem. We confuse awareness with comprehension and, in so doing, we overlook the things God wants us to see. To gaze. To wonder. As Vermon pulls on the threads of his curiosity surrounding this image, he pulls us closer and closer to feeling the warmth God intended. Each chapter builds off the previous one. I'm excited for what this will do in the world."
—JOHN ONWUCHEKWA ¿ Author, entrepreneur, director of Resources at
"In this book, God's love for the church, symbolized by marriage and unity in marriage, meets Vermon's thoughtful love for others. What results is a biblically rich, pastorally sensitive, culturally astute, and practically helpful call to that Christlike love that is our inheritance in the church. Prepare to be stretched. Prepare to be encouraged. Prepare to immerse yourself into the mystery of God's love, union with Christ, and fellowship with other Christians in the church perhaps in a way you've never thought of or experienced. Here's help for unity, understanding, love, and care in our divided times."
—THABITI M. ANYABWILE ¿ Pastor, Anacostia River Church
"Vermon's book is a lived theology, a call to become the beloved community offered by a pastor who won't minimize the cost of doing the hard work. What strikes me most is Vermon's hope, even amidst the wounds of ministry. This is a hopeful word from a wise and humble pastor."
—CHUCK DEGROAT ¿ Professor of Pastoral Care and Christian Spirituality, Western Theological Seminary; author of When Narcissism Comes to Church
"Vermon Pierre is a church leader I've long admired. I've seen him handle tough issues with wisdom and charity. He continues to teach me in this book, which I hope will help Christians love one another as we've been so wonderfully loved first by God."
—COLLIN HANSEN ¿ Vice president of content and editor in chief of The Gospel Coalition
"In Dearly Beloved, my friend Vermon bequeathed to us a very timely book that delves into how a church can embody its communal life and witness through a living experience of God's love. This book is rooted in many years of faithful witness in difficult contexts and offers a rich guide for pastors in a time of endemic lovelessness in culture and church."
—ALAN HIRSCH ¿ Author of numerous award-winning books on missional theology, spirituality, and leadership; founder of Movement Leaders Collective
"Pastor Vermon Pierre has written a clear, biblically informed pastoral book on the church as the 'beloved.' He draws on the important theme of church as the bride of Christ with an eye toward encouraging believers who are beloved in Christ to love one another as Christ loves us. Readers may not agree with everything in this book, but they will see the heart of a seasoned pastor who loves the people of God and who longs to see God's people love one another as Christ loves us as members of His beloved."
—JARVIS J. WILLIAMS ¿ Professor of New Testament Interpretation, The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary
"By focusing on the postures and practices that foster healthy relationships, Vermon moves the discussion about diversity and division out of the realm of 'contemporary issues' and into the realm of covenant—where it belongs. This is an unusually actionable and grace-filled approach to a difficult topic, and one that reflects Pastor Vermon's thoughtful leadership of a healthy diverse congregation."
—BRANDON J. O'BRIEN ¿ Author of Not From Around Here: What Unites Us, What Divides Us, and How We Can Move Forward