March On.

Many people have spoken so courageously about standing up against the hatred shown in Charlottesville, Virginia by the KKK, White Supremacists, White Nationalists, and Alt-Right groups. I’ve been watching, while sharing the words of others on Facebook. My stomach has churned, my emotions roiled, and my heart is sad-yet-determined. As a child who watched the courage of the Civil Rights Movement on our Black and White TV, I have had flashbacks to those days. As a seminary student who studied the Nazi movement in Germany, and specifically the religious leaders part in it, I am experiencing a depth of horror. What I learned in that study is that many religious leaders failed to speak up when the politics of the day stepped on the crux of the gospel: to love our neighbor.

Pastors today are often told not to speak politics from the pulpit. When we do, we make people mad. We, of course, know how many people we anger on a regular basis. Though it is hard, it is a part of our role in society: to speak truth even when people don’t want to hear it, and even when it touches on politics. And so today, because we have come a ways and we must never go back, and because Truth must be told, I speak out with my brothers and sisters:

This evil called racism, hate, and bigotry must be shut down. The Church cannot be silent while the world is crying out. Pastors and church attenders must step out of our comfort zones, and pews, and move into the streets with gestures of protection, love, and with a stronghold of unity. Today is the time to BE the church IN the world. Don’t come to church to be comfortable. Come to be challenged, energized, and changed. And know that the first change might just start in you.

To the United Methodist Church: now is not the time to speak of division. Shame on us for planning schism while the world is fighting hatred. We must not be distracted by our “theologies” when there is blood in the streets. Let not this blood be on our hands, because we chose to fight internally, rather than to join the world in fighting a great evil. Do not be distracted by a Split, but rather come together to follow God into the streets where Jesus is truly crying alongside those who have faced the evil, or lost lives.

To the current President: You are walking on the wrong side of history. And to those who counsel him: Do what you can to shut down the evils of war, hate groups, and racism. You too, will be written up in history. Will you be a s/hero, or an embarrassment?

To the Clergy: March with me. Don your collars, your robes, your stoles with the courageous group shown above, and be ready to march. Get trained in non-violent resistance. Preach peace. Open your eyes and your heart to learn new things. Protect those who are most hurt. Preach like you’ve never preached before. For, we too, will have a place in history.

I’ve been moved in the depth of my soul by this picture. It changed me more than the pictures of violence. We are strong. We are together. We are ready to March On!

SlowTV

dscn1322I love listening to politics…up to a point. I found out that recently I reached my “point” of saturation. I could no longer listen fully to certain views or responses. So, for my sanity, I had to take a politics-break. Even though I feel passionately, and deeply care about this election, I was so done.
So I switched to Netflix and began watching Slow TV. Have you heard of it? Slow TV is the antidote to busyness and stress. On SlowTv you can watch, for example, 7 plus hours of the train ride from Bergen to Oslo, Norway…an unedited ride on the train. Or you can watch someone knitting, or salmon fishing, for hours on hours. It can be the backdrop to your life…a real-paced movement…that is different from the argumentative, high-volumed, volly of words that bring opposition but no understanding. SlowTV is like a reset to life in real time…and it is so amazingly calming. Check it out here: https://www.inverse.com/article/18775-netflix-august-2016-slow-tv
I’ll be somewhere on election day where I can celebrate/mourn with those who basically think like me…but until then, for the next 15 days, I’ll be taking many breaks to breathe.

She sang to me in Spanish…

13707606_1203614609673259_1642299643884555984_n (1)I just went through an amazing process as an episcopal candidate for the Western Jurisdiction of The United Methodist Church. As a steady “2nd” in the voting process, I was able to talk to many people…delegates, those who were connected to caucus groups and those who were not, as well as those who were hanging on the sidelines. I heard more than I’ll be able to process in the coming months. For now, I’m soaking in all that I learned, all that was whispered, and all that was said both as pain and hope.
I went knowing that I could trust God’s Spirit to guide me. So I knew exactly the moment when I needed to step out and give my concession to the will of the Body and the move of the Spirit: to elect Bishop Karen Oliveto as our most qualified candidate. I had a moment to share with the greater Church a piece of my heart, and I am forever grateful for that moment. I am sure it was why I was there.
But after that speech, came something so beautiful: the hugs! People lined up to hug and love on and congratulate for a work well done. I’ll never forget those hugs. They felt like a dump-truck of love being poured out on my soul. I teared up for days just remembering…
In the middle of the Line of Hugs was an elder Latina woman who came up to me and began singing in Spanish. She wanted me to sing with her…she demanded it, really. So together we sang: “He decidido sequir a Christo…no vuelvo atras, no vuelvo atras…” (I have decided to follow Jesus, no turning back, no turning back…). It’s a song from my childhood, and we sang two verses…stopping the line to sing lustily, heartily, and with full voice as Wesley has instructed us. Two Latinas singing…a Latina mother figure bringing along another Latina into the moment of deep connection and deep joy for what God was doing in our midst.
She sang to me! She sang with me! We sang in our mother tongue. My soul is so very full. Gracias, Amiga Mia. Dios con nosotros…it is enough. It is vey well with my soul.

Happy Birthday, Me…I Wish For…

IMG_1539Happy Birthday, Me!  Today I’ve lived 59 years.  While it is a personal day of celebration, it is also a national day of mourning.  Too many deaths.  Too much hatred. Too much pain. But, well, I still have some wishes… Here are a few of them:

  1. I wish for young Black and Brown children to never have to be told how to “act” so they can live when stopped by the police. I wish for violence everywhere to cease.
  2. I wish for Police Officer’s main job to be Peace Officers…seeking avenues for peace, safety, and stability.  I wish for their safety too.
  3. I wish for immigrants near and refugees world-wide to find communities that will surround them in love.
  4. I wish for LGBTQ persons to be equally valued because they live and breathe.
  5. I wish for politician who stir up hatred to step down. And the same for media.
  6. I wish for the Church to flood the world with acts of kindness, generosity, and love that mirrors Christ’s love for us, and that changes us now.
  7. I wish for peace on earth, justice for all, and mercy unending.

Happy Birthday to me! May it be so. Amen.

Love you, #Orlando

011.jpg SocialOrlando suffered deeply this week.  On our holy day, Sunday, early in the morning, 49 dear souls were lost to us at the hands of yet another mass shooting. I keep hearing the strains of people saying that Love will win out every time, and that love conquers hate.  I believe that. I hope that. I dream that. I keep hearing about love…

All the while my heart is crying deep sobs in pain. Orlando has experienced tragedy  and horror, and now families are visiting mortuaries and hospitals…some praying and hoping for their loved one to return to them whole, while others are planning memorials for their young.

The pain is cut deeper by what a wise woman, Rev. Jennifer Yocum, said on her Facebook post. She wrote to her straight friends, reminding them that the tragedy in Orlando was more than a shooting in a bar.  Bars, she said, are places of sanctuary where people who have to hide go to be free in their own skin.  They are “communication centers, communications hubs, our reminder that we are not alone.” And Jennifer takes it deeper. She reminds us that “when churches would not let us cross their thresholds, the bars were where we held our memorial services and our weddings.” (Ouch, Church!).  And they are places where human rights are organized, where hope is born.

And then Jennifer states that in Orlando this week, an atrocity occurred against a group of Latino/Latina LGBTQ persons, who were doubly disavowed in culture.  And #Pulse was a place that served as a “double sanctuary” for them.

Her words cut deep. For I know that we have not been Church or Sanctuary to many, and especially to our LGBTQ brothers and sisters. I attended our #UMC General Conference, and I felt the agony of once again being unable to state out loud that “open hearts, open minds, open doors” applies to All.  Instead, it applies to those who are already “in,”  those who are self-proclaimed as “valuable.”

So now there are three emotions rolling around my soul:  Deep sadness/pain; revulsion…the feeling of throwing up; and hope for something different.  The pain and sadness are about the loss of life and the persistence of evil.  The revulsion is about my own United Methodist Church, that can’t decide to broaden the circle, and that forgot our central theological theme: Grace. It makes me sick to my stomach.  The hope is that somehow, someway this will change.  I don’t want change tomorrow.  I want change to happen Now. Today. Immediately. #ItsTime for Love to win out over evil.  There is no other way for us go forward.

Tears are flowing. God is crying with us. Today we mourn.  And today we work to Love everyone, an action that crushes evil, an action born out of the understanding that God is Love. May.It.Be.So. Love You, #Orlando! Every single one of you.

 

The last day of General Conference #gcumc #gc2016

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It’s the last day of General Conference  (of The United Methodist Church) and there is a mood of celebration, and well…relief. It has been a time where we have gone deep with our emotions; where we have spent long days and nights together; where we have wailed in pain and found hope in love across boundaries; where we have connected with God and God’s people.  We have been surprised by the fact that there is something better than “winning” and “losing.”  There is the surprise of God’s Spirit creating a new way that encompasses All:  All means those we agree with and those we disagree with; those who look like us and those who don’t; those who experience the world similar to us and those who have vastly different ways of being in the world; those who we love easily and those who we hate easily. All means all.

What I know for sure is that it is not easy to be a global church.  To be global means we choose to stay in connection even though our worlds are vastly different.  It means we live with the tension of discomfort and unknowns.  It means we bring honor and kindness before critique and judgment.  It means we listen more than we speak.  It means we choose love and connection over hate and schism.  It is the hardest choice of all.  But it is the one that will make the most difference.  Imagine if we could show how to love each other by doing good without harm, and staying in love with God. Imagine if that was our witness to the world!

We are trying to be a global church, yet we don’t know how.  We don’t know how to navigate the complexities.  But we do know, innately and intuitively, how to love. We know this because we have been loved deeply by our God.  And that’s the core of what we need to know. It is a good starting place.  To love. To love.  To love.

It looks easy.  It is really hard. Yet, it is just the beginning of the path of Christ. May we love well today, and after we leave here…

Faith, hope, & love,

Dottie

Packing for General Conference

UnknownSo, I’ve been sort of packing for General Conference in Portland. I don’t enjoy the packing experience, so the “sort of” is about thinking and procrastinating, yet knowing the time is coming soon when whatever I have in the suitcase will have to do. As I pack, I dream about being a minimalist, so that I could wear the same thing over and over and be okay with that. Also, it would make the packing experience simpler. Minimalists create open space we that we aren’t overcome with our stuff and have room for our experiences…
But I’m not a minimalist…yet. So, I am wondering what I will need for the Portland weather, and the Conference Center weather, and of course, there’s always the decision about shoes… It’s a little maddening. And confusing. And, it’s something I don’t really want to think about.
But I am going to General Conference as a Volunteer, and I will be helping to host many delegates and UMCers from all over the world. They didn’t know what to pack either. But it’s my job (along with many others) to provide an environment of hospitality and care. Having experienced extreme hospitality recently in India, I am aware of how beloved one can feel when we attend to the little things, and when we make room for new relationships.
Last General Conference (2012) I swore I’d never go to another General Conference again. I experienced some cool things, but I also experienced some hatefulness and encountered people who were hurting by the decisions and discussions that occurred. But here I am going again, even going with excitement. I guess hope never really dies, and I still dream that something will be different, and that love can win out. Even when we disagree. Even when we don’t understand. Even when our mind is made up.
I’m going to do my best to pack light this time…so that there is some space in my soul for the surprises that God can bring. I’ll bring my bandaids, just in case, but I’m confident that God created this Body of Christ to heal; and that God created this Body of Christ for love. I’ll be looking for the new Body called “United Methodists.” And the world will be looking too… May they see us simply as a people who know how to love. Simply as ones who can engage in justice and holiness with courage and kindness. Simply as ones who focus on Christ who loved us all well.

It is my prayer. It is my dream. It is my fervent hope.
Faith, hope, & love,
Dottie