JUST LONG ENOUGH TO FORGET
During my morning workout there was a woman who obviously suffers from some mental challenges who approached our boot camp class and several others who were walking to work. She yelled various obscenities at us and at them and even charged a few individuals who ran past her. As she passed, I watched her and wondered where things had gotten off track for her. As I drove home from that workout, there was a story on NPR about Orange County approving an ordinance to that would allow the courts to force mentally ill persons to undergo treatment and/or receive medication when they cannot take care of themselves or pose a threat to others.
There were several other stories about Iran and nuclear weapons, the Tea Party Primary victory in Nebraska, Immigration Reform rhetoric by President Obama and Speaker Boehner, and a curious piece about the newly elected mayor of Newark, Mr. Ras Baraka and how his election was really a “referendum” on Corey Booker. I pondered each story as it passed until my eye caught a mural with a familiar, yet distant image that was once prominent in minds, hearts and speeches, but now is relegated to the side wall of Cousin’s Bar-B-Q and Barbershop. It was an image of a young Trayvon Martin donning hoodie that once symbolized an outrage and an outcry of a sub-nation and sub-conscience that had been awakened by the senseless and seemingly sanctioned violence against young, black males. That statement should raise a brow to the fact that in my 20 minute drive home there was no mention about the genocidal atrocities taking place in Sub-Saharian Africa, nor any mention of the plight of the young girls taken and being held captive by Nigerian rebels...
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GENERAL MEETING REFLECTIONS
It has been a few weeks since we adjourned the 47th Meeting of Black Methodists for Church Renewal but the responses and reports from the meeting continue to flow with great enthusiasm and vigor. Those in attendance experienced an outpouring of the Holy Spirit that can only come when those gathered do so as Jesus commands and do so in unity of heart and purpose. The local arrangements and hotel accommodations were just what we needed – welcoming and responsive. The program content (Bible Study, Service of Communion and Remembrance, workshops, etc.) were well-executed and all came together as God covered each segment with just the right sinew for the moment. Yet, the meeting was but one step along this lengthy journey to become an advocacy-focused, fiscally solvent and socially relevant organization.
We have heard from the Prophet Isaiah that this is a “new day” and that in the new day God is doing a new thing. That means if we are to be touch with God’s agenda and in sync with the movement of the Spirit, we cannot expect things to remain the same. We cannot look to the old to become the new. We must look ahead with the knowledge of the past and foundations upon which we stand so we remain steady as we move. But, we must be open to the directions and conversations that may not be the same conversations of the past or the same strategies employed by our ancestors.
Black Methodists for Church Renewal has a place within the United Methodist Church, the black community and in every conversation where equity and access is not a reality – whether institution or cause bears a cross, sickle or no emblem. The whole of humanity can be brought closer to a realization of a beloved community if and when Black Methodists for Church Renewal equips and avails itself for the work that is needed in the hoods, barrios, subdivisions, State Houses, and back alleys where decisions are made that impact the world in which we live. To that end, we will continue the work we began in St Louis by working with the Jurisdictions to form Advocacy Councils who will learn, teach and utilize the skills needed to address the ills of your specific communities. This work will need to be done thoughtfully and deliberately so that we have greatest impact across the world. We will join with other coalitions and agencies who do this work well to lead us and to be partners with us. We may not agree on every issue of those who come alongside us, but we will be working toward developing the same skillset so we can advance our mission. We will need the support of every member and non-member who cares about justice and equity to be in prayer about how you will engage and support this great work. In fact, if you want to be engaged in upcoming training in your Jurisdiction, please contact your Jurisdiction Chair (West: Ruth Conley; South Central: Pamela McCullough; North Central: Carolyn Johnson; Southeast: Mollie Steward; Northeast: Dred Scott) or contact the Nashville Office so we can ensure you are connected.
A new day and a new opportunity is upon us and we must capture this moment and all the hope and promise within it. We experienced a great outpouring of the Holy Spirit in St Louis – a true manifestation of God’s grace and sign of God’s approval that we are going in the right direction. At least we were those few days, but where will we go from here? What new day experiences are you really open to experience in your local caucus and congregation? Think on these things.
Thank you for your support.
Rev. Cedrick D. Bridgeforth, EdD.
"Ending the Cradle to Prison Pipeline" by Marian Wright Edelman
"To Be Equal: Unfinished Business—50 Years After the Civil Rights Acts of 1964" by Marc H. Morial
"2014 and The Meaning of July Fourth for the African American" by Dr. Wilmer J. Leon, III
To read these articles, please click Advocacy in the panel on the left.