For the past three days I’ve sequestered myself and have been deeply immersed in writing “the paper” that when finished, will finally be the end of my educational journey. I will have “the degree.” If I’m feeling whimsical on some rare occasions I’ll even get to put “Dr.” in front of my name.
The whole theme of my doctoral project is that a church can be created that will engage non-religious people in a relationship with The Divine through Christ. For three days I’ve eaten, slept, and talked “church.”
Therefore I wasn’t surprised when I woke up today trying to figure out what day it was, where I was, and what I needed to accomplish or “think about” for the day.
Then it hit me.
I cancelled church.
Did I really do what I think I did?
Did I email the staff and the two leadership teams of West and ask them for their blessing to cancel the worship hour of West so that we could go and support our sister African American congregations in their sacred space?
I cancelled church.
Then my mind immediately went to, “I wonder how many folks are mad at me about this? Probably pretty many.”
I lay there debating the ramifications of the decision.
Then I remembered why I made it to begin with.
For two years, the faith community of West has worked alongside two sister African American churches, Faith and St. Paul, to try to bring a message of hope to our community.
We are launching a food truck together; we do Christmas and Easter together; and we are getting ready to do some spiritual formation together.
In a time when people feel oppressed and others are scorned because of their self-less profession, the only answers I’ve “got” in my leadership box is to lead with love and show the world that not everyone is motivated by race.
Therefore, on Sunday we are “desegregating” the worship hour of West and we are leaving the comfort of the high school to go be with our neighbors in their neighborhood.
This isn’t a political statement. It is simply an act of camaraderie to demonstrate that we really do practice what we preach . . .
and . . .
Clergy in the Western North Carolina Conference received an email from our new bishop, Bishop Leeland, and this snippet below from him weighed heavy on my soul . . .
“There will be many calls for prayer, which I know are already being lifted, and our prayers should lead to action. It is my prayer we might behave in such a way as to embrace Jesus’ teaching, “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy…Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called children of God.” To be a peacemaker at this moment will require patient and persistent efforts to embrace and work with those who may not share our same life experiences and beliefs. It will require deliberate and measured steps of building trust within each community.
The Church reminds us the way in which we live in community with others is a spiritual issue. The way we treat others is a spiritual issue. The way in which we respond to others is a spiritual issue. Within each of our respective communities, with all our differences, we are called to relate to our neighbors as our brothers and sisters, the family of God. “
I hope the decision to “cancel” the worship hour of West doesn’t tip my “non-popularity” on over the edge … but this is one time that I really feel like we have a chance to be who we say we are. We can truly align ourselves with others in the family of God.