Today’s Thought Jun 1, 2020
When I was working on my Doctor of Ministry degree at United Theological Seminary in Dayton, Ohio, I was serving a small church in a very poor section of Cincinnati (Mt. Auburn). Like the Centre Park area in Reading, PA where I now serve, Mt. Auburn had been the wealthiest part of the city, set up on a hill with mansions, right in the middle of all the hospitals and near the University of Cincinnati. As suburbs were formed and land made available, both areas began to change, and the cultural/racial makeup transitioned. The creation of our highway system in the 1950’s allowed people to go around the cities, and jobs moved away. By the 1970’s, both communities were obviously changing, and as with much of America, “white flight” was moving at warp speed. My family growing up was part of that flight from New York City in the 1960’s.
My project for my D.Min. was about teaching the ethics of Jesus to children, and I was working with a group of 10-11 year old boys, all African American. Part of my research revolved around the differences between cultures, and how we all, because of the generations and situations that preceded us, behave in different ways. Although I had always, at this point, been a United Methodist, that was only because it was a church we could walk to – I was more culturally Jewish than anything else, which is, I admit, pretty odd. I had to go deep into learning about African American culture in American history, and, although I had some of this in school, most of it was new to me.
Primarily, what I learned in the early 1990’s was that America was founded as a white, Christian nation for men to control. And while many people did come here for religious freedom, many did not. The enslavement of Africans was done for economic reasons, and these enslaved people were considered to be property, like animals. Rape was standard behavior. Beating an enslaved person for looking you in the eyes was considered necessary. Silence and total obedience was taught from the time a child was old enough to walk. And each slave had economic value only.
The Civil War was fought, in part, about slavery, and it never ended. Our entire history has been about White Supremacy, and it is still being fought today. We have kept people of African descent in bondage – controlling voting rights, limiting health care and education, keeping our living spaces separate. We have systematically destroyed the lives of African Americans, and they have been fighting against it from before this was a nation. The enslavement of African people is our original sin, and we will pay the price for it when we meet our maker.
I think we have a lot of work to do, but I think it begins with this: every white person needs to listen and acknowledge our privilege, then we need to learn how to not be racist, then we need to learn how to be allies, then we need to stop talking and – again – listen to the voices of those who been oppressed for 400+ years. If I, and the generations before me, had been crying out “I can’t breathe” for 4 centuries while nobody listened, how do you think I would react? How would you react? Finally, we need to call out White Supremacy when we see it – it has infested the military, our police forces, and our government – and it is a cancer that eats away at us every day. It isn’t the majority, but it is large enough to destroy us. And if you want to point to the violence at these rallies, it is being committed mostly by White Supremacist groups. If we don’t stop and listen and repent and change, this hell we are seeing will only get worse. This is the worst that America can be – we should strive for our best instead.
Prayer – Holy God, right now we are praying for peace, but we also have to pray for the soul of our nation. Help us to call out evil when we see it, so that those who have been oppressed by this evil can be freed from it. O Lord, have mercy on us. Amen.
Today’s Art was sent to me by the Shearer’s. It is a piece of folk art created by Ronald A. Haefer around 1977 and given to Marian as a gift from the pastor of Jim’s home church on the occasion of her ordination. Very cool.
A WORD (OR TWO) FROM PASTOR STEVE
When I came to Calvary in 1999, I told the congregation that someday we would stop using paper for newsletters and deliver it by email and by posting it on our website. This is finally going to happen – now. If you don’t have email, we will send it in the mail, or if email doesn’t work for you, let us know, and we will mail it to you by snail mail. It is my hope that this accomplish a number of things:
1 – Save us money and the hassle of dealing with postal problems.
2 – Allow us to get the news to you faster and more often.
3 – Save some trees and help the environment.
Let us know what you think – we want you to be informed so that you can be more active in the life of the church. I look forward to your comments.
We will continue to record Sunday Worship. YouTube link will be provided via email, on our weekly newsletter, and here on our website. Click and enjoy!
Someone will be in the office every morning, and food will be distributed from 11-1 M-F. Thank you for your understanding
Bible Study – For those who would like to attend on-line bible study every week, a Zoom link will be provided for you to join on this website, by email and could be found on our weekly newsletter. https://us02web.zoom.us/j/5859764743
You can donate food in the morning M-F, please call the office to make sure someone is in.
As always, your help is greatly appreciated!