I know I said this blog post would be about the limitations of short-term mission projects but I’m going to skip that. Let me know if you’re interested and I’ll get you the article about the topic. Instead, I want to talk to you about what’s been going on for me here in D.C. and maybe end by posing a question for you to consider.
We had a staff meeting this week at work and our General Secretary, Susan Henry-Crowe, made us stop and consider something – the reality that God has given us (as an organization) all the tools we need to do the job we’ve been called to do, and those tools were sitting right there in the very room. Now, this is an important concept for us all to think about. God equips us to do what we are called to do. During the staff meeting it made me pause and look around the room and realize just how fortunate I am to be part of an organization that is made up of incredibly intelligent, spiritual and powerful people. It is an honor to work with this group of people.
As I’ve gotten to know members of the staff, Dover has not been far from my mind and heart. I listen to the work that my co-workers do and wonder how that work might be of use to Dover UMC and you, my incredible church family. With that in mind, I was able to connect Roy Beth to Doug, a grassroots organizer in the office that works in part with the issue of mass incarceration. Some of you might remember me mentioning Healing Communities during my session on Social Justice and Our Community before I left. Doug does the trainings for churches to be Healing Communities. Churches are educated on how to best minister to those impacted by the criminal justice system. Not just the pastor, but the church community – keeping in mind the reality that we are all ministers to one another. The trainings allow for opportunities to embrace and bring healing to those who have been incarcerated and/or managed probation, but also the friends and families of those with loved ones in the system. Keep an ear out for more information from Roy Beth in the future, and visit the website to learn more:: http://umc-gbcs.org/healing-communities.
I was also able to meet with Bill, the Director of Civil and Human Rights. After speaking with him, I’m getting an opportunity to travel with some of the staff to Iowa in November, and then out to the West Coast in January. The November trip will allow me to sit in on a training to equip multiple congregations on how to approach the issue of immigration and minister to immigrants. I’m very excited to learn what goes into this. The January trip is for Latino youth, and will focus on social justice as a spiritual practice. This is extremely interesting to me, and I’m so excited to see how this get’s translated to youth.
A third meeting with John, the Director of Economic and Environmental Justice, was also extremely fascinating to me. There is potential to collaborate with him in the future over the issue of Food Justice, which is certainly a passion of mine after the work Dover UMC has been doing the past few years. He also extended an invitation for me to attend a briefing at one of the Senate offices this coming week. The briefing will be given by the Food Research and Action Center on Childhood Nutrition Programs and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. I am extremely excited to attend and I’ll definitely keep everyone in Dover updated on what I learn! Food security is such an important issue in Arkansas, and Dover especially, most certainly in regards to children.
Something I’ve been thinking about that I would invite you to think about as well is this: If Jesus were alive today, like bodily alive, what would He be like? I ask you this because I think as Christians, we’ve gotten to the point where -as a whole- we construct this image of Christ that most closely resembles who we are as individuals… Whether consciously or not. While I think there can be beauty in that, I think there can also be a lot of danger in it as well. I want to challenge you to challenge your own interpretation of Christ and ask yourself how you “define” Him. I won’t give you examples or perimeters – just take some time and consider it. And once you have that image in your head, as yourself how accurate that might really be. What led you to make those assumptions? How has scripture influenced – or not influenced – that image? And please feel free to let me know what you’re thinking! I think it might be time we redefine who society and culture depict the Son of God…
As always, thank you so much for your prayers and support! I feel the love all the way from D.C. Please be in prayer for my neighborhood in particular. I am safe, please do not worry, but there has been some gun violence close by. I’ve heard at least four, if not more, shootings from my house since moving here. I ask for prayers for peace and safety for all in the area, and D.C. as a whole.
I love and miss you all – Amber