A Word from Teresa- June 20, 2018

Grace and peace to you! It was a joy to see so many of you at Annual Conference. For those of you who weren’t able to attend, you can visit the conference website to view the worship services and plenary sessions with speaker Sue Nilson Kibbey.

Over the last several days, a growing number of persons throughout our churches and communities are speaking out about the practice of separating children from their parents at the border. We know there are a wide variety of opinions regarding the controversial subject of immigration. I will be clear, however, this practice of separating families from one another is unjust and inhumane. Many of these parents are escaping horrors in their home communities to find hope and new life for themselves and their children. Now they find themselves in another nightmare. 

At Annual Conference, delegates overwhelming affirmed a resolution to end family separation. Clergy and lay delegates from the Capital District were among the leaders moving this resolution forward. You can read more about this here

As voices join together in speaking up and speaking out, the desire to act becomes stronger. “What can we do?”, is the question I ask myself and receive from others daily. While I will confess I at times fall into despair in the midst of such overwhelming and heart breaking news, I refuse to believe there is nothing to be done. In an article by Rev. Dottie Escobedo-Frank in Ministry Matters, she names some practical ways to take action, including writing to representatives. She also talks about partnering with organizations, such as JFON in this area. (You can read her full article here

Still, we ask “What more can we do?” I wish I had easy answers that would make for a quick fix. But of course we know there is nothing simple or quick when it comes to such a tragedy. I consider the “question under the question.” In other words, when I hear the question “What can I do?”, I hear a person wondering, “How can I make a difference?”

Remembering that we are not alone in this work is important. The courage to write a letter may not seem like much, until you imagine how many letters accumulate when ten people in all of our churches write letters. The willingness to get to know your own neighbors and learn about immigrants in your own community is no small thing. After all, problems that seem overwhelming can often be addressed in real, practical ways when we zoom in to an individual situation. We will keep you updated on any organized, conference events or action steps. I am grateful for your passion and faithful witness. Because of your connection to the conference, in a very real way, when you witness the Rio Texas Conference is witnessing. And in the meantime, know that whatever it is you are doing contributes to God’s ongoing work of justice in the world. 
In times like this, I turn to the Psalms of Lament. They give voice to the processing of intense emotions. They become for me prayers.
Below are a few from Nan Merrill’s translation in Psalms for Praying: An Invitation to Wholeness.

Without your saving grace, we come in conflict with our neighbors, we fear all who seem different from us. We seek to better ourselves at the expense of other nations, we become arrogant and greedy. Our spirit weakens as we attack others. To the cries of those oppressed, are the sight of those wronged. As all this comes upon us, we finally remember You, O Infinite Love, we pray for your strength in all of our hopes and challenges. Our hearts recall your promises of old: to be with us always. Yet, deep darkness overshadows the land. Rise up, pray for a change of heart! (Psalm 44, selected verses)

Eternal Listener, give heed to your people, You who are our Guide and our Light! Enliven your people with compassion that peace and justice might flourish. Gentle Teacher, help us to turn to You in prayer, fasting from our negative thoughts. In your steadfast Love, You weep with our tears, tears that arise from fear, doubt, and illusion. Restore us, O Holy One; let your face shine upon us, teach us to love! 
(Psalm 80, selected verses)

O Compassionate Teacher, You are our merciful Counselor; in the Silence You make yourself known to all who take time to listen. Would that those in power would heed your Voice: “How long will you misuse power that oppresses the poor? When will you learn that to act justly and with integrity will bring mutual blessing to all? Do you not know that to give succor to the poor and to free people to succeed will bring you more joy than all your bank accounts?” Arise! Awaken to the new dawn! For the foundations of the cosmos are shaking with injustice. Arise! Join in the new creation! Let harmony reign among all the nations! (Psalm 82, selected verses)

 

One additional administrative word – In consultation with the District Superintendency Committee and with approval from Bishop Schnase, I will take a two month renewal leave the months of July and August.

 

In these days leading up to July 1, I am at work with colleagues and District staff members, Jill Barre, Director of Operations and Marvin Morgenroth, District Treasurer, to ensure process is in place should you have need. As you know, Jill and Marvin are highly competent and committed lay staff with years of experience. As well, one of the great joys of serving on the cabinet is having terrific colleagues who work as a team. In short, should you have need, Jill is always your first and best contact. Jill is available at jill@umcad.org or at 512-444-1983, Monday – Friday.

 

I appreciate Bishop Schnase’s authorization of my time away. This will be the first time I have taken such an opportunity for renewal leave. I will be spending time with family and will also spend time on a personal silent retreat. I’ll catch up on some reading and rest and hopefully take the opportunity to “just be.” I recall the words from scripture, “Jesus would withdraw to deserted places for prayer”(Luke 5:16). Having served in active ministry for 20 years, I covet your prayers as I reflect upon God’s call on my life. And while I am away, my prayers for you and your ministries will continue.

 

Many thanks for your attention to this. May you have a wonderful summer.

Be encouraged!

teresa