In Christ’s family there can be no division into Jew and non-Jew, slave and free, male and female. Among us you are all equal. That is, we are all in a common relationship with Jesus Christ. (Galatians 3:28, The Message)
Hey, I am the first to say I don’t view church life through rose-colored glasses. I’m a pretty practical feet-planted-on-solid-ground person. So it makes sense I am guarded but hopeful about all of the modern issues concerning race, racism, & ethnicity in the US.
This month’s conversation, perhaps this year’s conversation concerning race relations took place on the street outside the church. I walked out of the church to be greeted by the street’s handy-man. He did odd jobs at the parsonage over the last several months. He texted me every holiday.
Well, today, he was landscaping a neighbor’s yard. He pulled himself up from his knees and crossed the street to talk to me.
He said, “I hear you are leaving. Is it because you wanted to get away from us white folks.”
I responded, “No, I’m actually headed to serve at another church so I have some new white folks.”
I went on to explain some of the internal financial issues at the current church that led to my new appointment.
As I walked away, I said to myself, “My how SOME things have changed.” Just 10, maybe even 5 years ago, an African American woman appointed to a United Methodist Church would have to assume that the congregation did not want her and there would be attempts to drive her from the church, instead of people wanting her to stay on. Even today, that is still the case.
Everyone once in a while people surprise you. And I can say I was happily surprised by my first appointment as a United Methodist pastor in the Western Pennsylvania Conference of the United Methodist Church. Good people . . . good church.
We still have much to do, but thankfully there are silver linings.