Dianne Glave: Ministry & Church

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Straight Outta Compton: A Reflection

Straight Outta of Compton,” is a quintessential story of the American dream. It’s an ironic dream because that is isn’t always the narrative of young African American men in America. The film traces the real-life story of a rap group who succeeded in the music industry and life.

My hope and prayer is that many see the film “Straight Outta of Compton,” keeping in mind the harsh language in the film is part of the reality of the young African American men including Easy E, Dr. Dre, and Ice Cube. Their language reflects their circumstances living in an impoverished violent place, and is part a response to a long history of racism here in the US. Rapping is a form of protest literature in the African American community going back to the 18th and 19th centuries including Phyllis WheatleyFrances Ellen Watkins Harper; and Frederick Douglass.

The film tells us much about the on-going violence towards African American men, the historical context, and the contemporary parallels. The story begins in 1988.

The film reflects our reality whether 1788, 1988, 1998, 2008, or 2015. When I was living in Los Angeles during the early 21st century, much hadn’t changed for African Americans living in segregated and impoverished neighborhoods like Watts, Compton, and Inglewood. I arrived in Los Angeles, post-Rodney King and post-Los Angles Riots. Tensions still existed between the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) and local African Americans and Latinos, particularly the boys and young men. I’d witnessed numerous incidences in which police targeted, stopped and harassed young men of color. Though I no longer live in Los Angeles, I would guess little has changed for young Latinos and African American men being racially profiled. I can still visualize hands laced behind heads . . . a line of boys forcibly seated on the curb.

The filmmakers highlighted some historical context. White police officers were videotaped beating Rodney King; the officers were acquitted. African Americans responded with violence, what is known as the Los Angeles Riots, a direct response to the acquittal and a long history of problematic relationships between the LAPD and black communities.

I would argue much has not changed in the last 15 years as we live-out the terrible racial divide manifested in the violence and protest in Ferguson, Baltimore, other cities in the last few years.

As an African American woman who has experienced racism, and worse heard stories from African American men in my life who have experienced racism at work and the streets, “Straight Outta of Compton” spoke to me personally. I hope if you see the film, it will speak to you. I hope open dialogue will be a small way towards healing the racial divide in our churches, workplace, and the nation.

A Conversation with a Korean Pastor in the United Methodist Church

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Rev. Sung Shik Chung is a Pastor at Otterbein United Methodist Church in Greensburg, Pennsylvania. On August, 11, 2015, I spent time with Rev. Chung including touring the beautiful church building. I also had the opportunity to interview Rev. Chung in his office.

How did God call you to ministry?

My dad is a retired pastor so he’s had some influence on me. I am the youngest of three boys and the other two are also pastors.

The first time I accepted Christ, I was 13 years old. In high school, I was thinking about the future and gave a consideration to becoming a pastor. During that time, I saw so much hardship for pastors in Korea so I didn’t want to do it.

In college, when I turned 20, I lost my best friend. Before he died, he said if he got better he wanted to be a pastor. I promised if he did not make it, I would do it. And that’s how I got the call to ministry. Though being a pastor was not on my list, my friend’s death brought me to ministry.

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How did you end up in the United States?

I came here as a student. I went to St. Paul School of Theology in Kansas City, Missouri.

imageWas it hard to leave Korea?

It wasn’t hard for me. It was different. I was a little nervous but excited though.

What was the transition like from Korea to the US?

At first it was chaotic. I had to learn a new language—English. The culture was different. Studying theology and learning a new language at the same time wasn’t as easy as I’d thought. I was single and living in the seminary. There were a few Koreans but many African-Americans. So I had a little experience of diversity in Kansas City.

When did you come to the Western Pennsylvania Conference of the United Methodist Church (WPAUMC)? How did you get here?

I came to the conference in 2001. I was going through the ordination process in Kansas East Conference. They said no because my English was not enough. Later, I came to the WPAUMC through Bishop Hae Jong Kim.

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So you are in the conference and it is your 15th year. Looking back, share a story that has really stuck with you.

It’s a simple story. In my first appointment fourteen years ago, I was an associate pastor in a rural town. When I called some church members they just hung up. It was because I had a different accent. One member thought it was a sales call.

So currently you are Otterbein United Methodist Church. How has your family transitioned into the church? How are they involved in the life of the church?

The transition went well and has been a blessing to us. The congregation has some experience with diversity compared to rural areas. So it has been easier for all of us. They are very active in church ministries. All of them use their gifts in music ministry.

As an ethnic pastor in a conference and churches that are not very diverse, what advice would you have for other ethnic clergy?

Learn and be adaptive to the culture of the appointment or church. Be authentic and not afraid to share one’s culture. There’s good stuff in Korean culture, and I want to share it with them.

 

Role in Diversity in the United Methodist Church

The Western Pennsylvania Conference of the United Methodist Church has rolled out two new positions, including my own, which focuses on diversity. Read more . . .

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I will “work with the Rev. William B. Meekins, Jr., the Bishop’s assistant, on issue related to racial diversity, multicultural and ethnic local church concerns. The work will include identifying and cultivating congregations with a potential for cross-racial appointments, developing support groups and working with churches and clergy in cross-racial or ethnic appointments.”

My positon will be part of a broader initiative of goal setting and implementation that includes diversity.

African Americans and the UMC in Western PA

On Saturday, September 13, 2014, African American clergy and church members of the Western Pennsylvania Conference of the United Methodist Church met together at the Healthy Village Learning Center in McKeesport, PA. It was a time of food, education, and fellowship. The center is in early stages of development, and is a place for the McKeesport community to gather and learn together.

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 Photos by Dianne Glave

DISCIPLINARY QUESTIONS FOR PROVISIONAL MEMBERSHIP AND COMMISSIONING

 Western Pennsylvania Conference, United Methodist Church

Questions may vary from conference to conference

See 2012 Book of Discipline for Questions

(1)            Describe your personal experience of God and the understanding of God you derive from biblical, theological and historical sources.

(2)            What is your understanding of evil as it exists in the world?

(3)             What is your understanding of humanity, and the human need for divine grace?

SECTION II

(4)             How do you interpret the statement “Jesus Christ is Lord”?

(5)           What is your conception of the activity of the Holy Spirit in personal faith, in the community of believers and in responsible living in the world?

(6)            What is your understanding of the kingdom of God; the Resurrection; eternal life?

SECTION III

(7)            How do you intend to affirm, teach and apply Part II of the Discipline (Doctrinal Standards and Our Theological Task) in your work in the ministry to which you have been called?

(8)           Discuss your understanding of the primary characteristics of United Methodist polity.

(9)            How do you perceive yourself, your gifts, your motives, your role and your commitment as a provisional member and commissioned minister in the United Methodist Church?

SECTION IV

(10)        Describe your understanding of diakonia, the servant ministry of the church, and the servant ministry of the provisional member and commissioned minister.

(11)         What is the meaning of ordination in the context of the general ministry of the church?

(12)         Describe your understanding of an inclusive church and ministry.

(13)         You have agreed as a candidate for the sake of the mission of Jesus Christ in the world and the most effective witness of the gospel, and in consideration of their influence as ministers, to make a complete dedication of yourself to the highest ideals of the Christian life and to this end agree to exercise responsible self-control by personal habits conducive to bodily health, mental and emotional maturity, integrity in all personal relationships, fidelity in marriage and celibacy in singleness, social responsibility and growth in grace and the knowledge and love of God.  What is your understanding of this agreement?

SECTION V

(14)        The United Methodist Church holds that the living core of the Christian faith was revealed in Scripture, illumined by tradition, vivified in personal experience and confirmed by reason.  What is your understanding of this theological position of the Church?

(15)         Explain the role and significance of the sacraments in the ministry to which you have been called.

(16)         Describe the nature and mission of the Church.  What are its primary tasks today?

The Womb of God in the Pews

Is God a man, woman or both? I do care about this question because if a young child has been molested by her father, then it’s hard to see God as male as positive. And the opposite is true for those who have had positive experiences and images of men, including father and father figures. In giving pastoral care to others, I strive to be sensitive to feelings around gender. With that said, I experience God as male, female, and genderless, without getting one of the theological debates of the ages.

So looking at one aspect of God’s gender or “genderlessness,” I often crawl into God’s womb. Metaphorically being in the womb is a form of worship for me and an encounter with God as female. As a pastor, I have the luxury of being in the sanctuary alone during most days and times of the week. When I feel the need for nurturing, I stretch out on those smooth pews feeling cocooned in the cool semi-gloom of the sanctuary. And I worship God.

Gender matters. I also know that crawling in God’s womb has no boundaries, experiencing a personal spiritual moment so close to God. Ultimately, God defies humankind’s limited definitions and labels. This includes God’s relationship with us. And that can be in God’s womb.

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