(above: Night lights, Joseph Gruber)
I’ve been trying to find the right words to string together that would give others an idea of my experience on Thursday night. I don’t know if there will ever be the right words to describe such a tragic yet beautiful event. I couldn’t think of a more appropriate topic to make me return to my blog. What follows is my experience alone, and I make no attempt to present any perspective than my own. That is far from my place. Also, the pictures I have included are not my own. As it turns out, being five foot tall is not conducive to documentation at a protest. People have been very generous to share their photos from the evening, and I’ve included their names to give them credit.
A few weeks ago, I went to a book launch at Georgetown University and heard from a panel that spoke on different topics featured in the book. Entitled “Unleashing Opportunity,” the book is all about the injustice of poverty and why escaping it requires intentionality and teamwork. I haven’t had an opportunity to start the book yet, but the topics discussed during the panel convinced me this was perfect for the Dover UMC community.
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 have been asked to share other resources I’ve been exposed to since I started work. Hold on! You’re about to have your world turned upside down!
First, if you have not done so already, I HIGHLY encourage you to watch the Chocolate City documentary I linked you to in the last post. It is an extremely informative video the gives insight into “progress” in the DC area, and how that “progress” displaces economically challenged families that have lived here for generations. Here’s the link again if you missed it last time: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P1NkfATQvj4
Jesus and the Disinherited by Howard Thurman. It isn’t an easy read, I have to say. But if you can power through and stick with it, there are some excellent points made in this book. http://www.amazon.com/Jesus-Disinherited-Howard-Thurman/dp/0807010294
The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander. I’ve only read and excerpt at this point, which we got at training in New York. I used the excerpt to help me prepare for the presentation I gave at church, Social Justice and Our Community. http://newjimcrow.com/
This Limits of Charity by David Hilfiker. I used this one a great deal in preparing for Social Justice and Our Community, also. http://umc-gbcs.org/content/general/Limits_of_Charity.pdf
White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack by Peggy McIntosh. This one will force you to get very honest with yourself in terms of power and privilege as a racial construct. http://amptoons.com/blog/files/mcintosh.html
To Hell with Good Intentions by Ivan Illich. This was a speech given to volunteers in Mexico in 1968. Many of his points are a biting reality that are still relevant, if not more so, today. http://www.swaraj.org/illich_hell.htm
Racial Microagressions in Everyday Life. While written through the lens of application for clinical psychologists, this article asks us to look closer at our actions when interacting with other races and how damaging those interactions can be. http://www.consumerstar.org/resources/pdf/racialmicroaggressions.pdf
Story of Stuff. This video discusses consumerism and it’s interactions with society and the world, including where all our “stuff” comes from, who makes it and where it goes. http://storyofstuff.org/movies/story-of-stuff/
Tony Porter: A Call to Men. This is a TED Talk about men being confined by and needing to step out of the “man box,” or behaviors which have come to define what a man should be. http://www.ted.com/talks/tony_porter_a_call_to_men?language=en
Park Avenue: Money, Power and the American Dream. This documentary from PBS investigates and reports on the disparity in wealth between the richest and poorest Americans, and how politics is involved. http://video.pbs.org/video/2296684923/
My next post will be about the impact of short-term mission trips, and I’ll be sure to link to a supporting article when the time comes. Stay tuned!
Hello Dover UMC!
I am so excited to share with you what has been going on since I arrived! Adjusting to city life has been a much more difficult transition than I expected. We really take for granted the sense of community we have in Arkansas, and Dover especially. Life is very different here, in more ways than I could possibly explain.
My work at the General Board of Church and Society has been slow to start, which I’m actually extremely thankful for! My supervisor is on maternity leave until the end of September, but she left me detailed instructions to help me get comfortable until she gets back. One such instruction was to watch a variety of videos that address different issues. Each one was incredibly interesting and very informative, shedding light on things I was either not aware of at all or things I was only partially educated about.
I wanted to share one of these videos with you to give you a closer look at life in DC. I realized that we have very distinct ideas about what DC might be like, what it is portrayed as. The reality though is far less glamorous and even quite scandalous. Here in our nation’s capital, citizens are seated at the feet of democracy but do not get to experience it for themselves. Residents have no voice, no vote. It is extremely difficult for people to be so close to power and yet have none — especially those who are struggling to get by. Please take some time and watch this video below [click the link]. It gives a more balanced perspective of what life is like for so many here in DC.
Living in DC isn’t all bad. Well, not bad at all really, just a balance of different issues than I’m accustomed to. There is definitely more access to certain opportunities here. Last Thursday I went to a book signing event to hear Nadia Boltz-Weber speak about her new book Accidental Saints. Nadia is an incredible Lutheran pastor at House For All Sinners And Saints in Denver, Colorado. I’m a big fan of her books and really appreciate her perspective on life and faith. It was an honor to listen to and meet her.
Today I was able to attend church at Foundry UMC. I’ve gone to worship
there a couple of
times and had the chance to celebrate their bicentennial this morning. The two guest speakers were none other than Hillary and Chelsea Clinton! They went to the church when President Clinton was in office and the three of them returned “home” for the festivities. It was a true treat to hear these amazing women speak.
I have the opportunity to see the Pope on the 24th, but I’m not sure yet if I’ll be able to attend due to work obligations. I’ll keep you updated!
As always, thank you so much for your prayers and support! I ask that you continue to include me in your thoughts and prayer life as I continue to find my way in this new city. Know that you have helped prepared me well for this – in confidence, intellect, courage, and spirit.
If you are not yet on the list to receive my newsletters, please send me your contact information at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can keep up with me more regularly at http://www.themethodistnun.tumblr.com.
I love and miss you all! Until next time, Amber
John Wesley and The Holy Club’s 22 Questions
In 1729, while John Wesley was a student at Oxford, he started a club with his brother Charles. It was soon mockingly dubbed “The Holy Club” by some of his fellow collegians. The club members rigorously self-examined themselves everyday by asking the following 22 questions:
- Am I consciously or unconsciously creating the impression that I am better than I really am? In other words, am I a hypocrite?
- Am I honest in all my acts and words, or do I exaggerate?
- Do I confidentially pass on to others what has been said to me in confidence?
- Can I be trusted?
- Am I a slave to dress, friends, work or habits?
- Am I self-conscious, self-pitying, or self-justifying?
- Did the Bible live in me today?
- Do I give the Bible time to speak to me every day?
- Am I enjoying prayer?
- When did I last speak to someone else of my faith?
- Do I pray about the money I spend?
- Do I get to bed on time and get up on time?
- Do I disobey God in anything?
- Do I insist upon doing something about which my conscience is uneasy?
- Am I defeated in any part of my life?
- Am I jealous, impure, critical, irritable, touchy or distrustful?
- How do I spend my spare time?
- Am I proud?
- Do I thank God that I am not as other people, especially as the Pharisees who despised the publican?
- Is there anyone whom I fear, dislike, disown, criticize, hold a resentment toward or disregard? If so, what am I doing about it?
- Do I grumble or complain constantly?
- Is Christ real to me?
“Encourage one another daily . . . so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.” Hebrews 3:13
- Read Matthew 7: 24-27 (The Message has an interesting translation)
- Think about your faith foundation and thank those who helped build you up.
- Is there someone who needs your guidance in developing a firm foundation of faith?
- Research Susanna Wesley’s life.
1. Read 2 Corinthians 12: 7-10, Mark 6: 1-13
2. How have you seen God work in surprising ways?
3. How is/has God called you to rely on God’s power, not your own?
4. How can you keep your mission for God simple?
1. Read Mark 4: 35-41
2. Think about your fears. Is God asking you: “Why are you frightened? Don’t you have faith yet?”