June 1st Weekly Updates
The following letter comes to us from our District Superintendent – Rev. Cynthia Williams. I’m in agreement with Cynthia’s thoughts and feelings. I agree with the pleas for action on our part in the piece that follows, too.
Pr. Scott Jakel
Dear Friends and Colleagues!
I greet you in the name of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ! As you know the Twin Cities and Minnesota has the attention of the nation and not in a good way. Personally, along with heartbreak, righteous indignation and grief, my emotions are jumbled, my breath is shallow and words cannot fully express all that I am experiencing. I’ve heard from many of you and know that I am not alone. Earlier this week, Bishop Ough released a statement on behalf of the Conference. I hope you share that statement with your congregation.
Noted below is also a statement from the Minnesota Council of Churches that includes tangibles ways we as faith communities can respond. I would also offer that as you try to make sense of the particular pain within the African American community, if you have not done so, please read, “White Fragility” by Robin DeAngelo. As an Anglo woman, she addresses many of the issues that sit below the surface for people of color, in a way that is accessible to European Americans. As tragic as the death of George Floyd and its aftermath, I believe this wake-up call is an invitation for our nation and for the Church. Thank you for your continued prayers and ministry as you do your part to build the beloved community!
The following statement – as Cynthia notes – is made by the CEO of the Minnesota Council of Churches
The Scriptures often cry out, “How long, O Lord?”
This cry is emanating once again from Minneapolis and the rest of the nation with the police killing of George Floyd. Another brutal killing of a black person by law enforcement. How long, O God?
He was killed while screaming, “Please, I can’t breathe.” How long, O God?
Three police officers watched, heard the cry, and did not intervene. How long, O God?
How long will the killing of African Americans by police officers continue? The brutal attacks on black bodies is not acceptable. How long, O God?
In this moment, I ask the faith community for these four responses:
Presence Find ways to be present where people are feeling grief and outrage. Many of us were at the protest rally last night in Minneapolis held at the site of the killing. But this presence must continue in the days ahead. Reach out to African American church leaders and members and stand with them in this moment. Stand with the Minneapolis NAACP, Urban League, and other black-led civil rights and community organizations. Stand with the courageous young activists who have relentlessly pressed the issues through the senseless police killings of Jamar Clark and Philando Castile and now George Floyd. Protest – Presence must turn into protest. Speak truth to power. Do not allow this great violation to go unchecked. Call for police accountability. Call for a system-wide transformation of policing in Minnesota. Call this an act of anti-black racism even when some white narratives blame the victim. Prosecution – Protest is not enough. The four police officers involved must be charged and prosecuted. Our moral voice must help ensure this happens. Prayers – As people of faith we must pray for the family and friends of George Floyd. We must pray for the neighbors in the Central Neighborhood of Minneapolis where this great violation occurred. We must pray for African Americans and people of color who are feeling fear, rage, grief, and hopelessness. We must pray for racial justice and equity in our city and nation.
How long, O God, how long?
Minneapolis, MN – Rev. Dr. Curtiss Paul DeYoung, CEO of the Minnesota Council of Churches
This is Bishop’s Ough’s Statement: It is Pentecost Sunday, and the Twin Cities and America burn. It is the birthday of the Church, and the Twin Cities and America smolder with horror, anger, and righteous outrage at the killing of George Floyd at the knee of a Minneapolis police officer. Tomorrow we enter the Season after Pentecost, and African-Americans in the Twin Cities and across America are still gasping for breath. As persons of faith, we are people of breath. God called us into being and created our shared humanity by breathing the breath of life into us. As followers of Jesus, we are people of rauch—the breath of God—that blew like a fierce wind and filled the disciples with the Holy Spirit. As Pentecost people, this same Spirit compels us (and will guide us, if we listen) to protect the breath of every child of God. Dr. Martin Luther King astutely observed that “a riot is the language of the unheard.” Throughout our country’s history, subjugated, displaced, and unrepresented people have resorted to protests and riots to be heard and to compel national governments, state authorities, and community leaders to act. I do not want to be misunderstood. I am not advocating or justifying burning, looting, or anarchy. I am not advocating or justifying destroying the very businesses that provide the livelihood of and serve predominantly black and brown communities. I condemn the outside agitators and anarchists who are exploiting the situation and do not care for or honor the message intended by the protesters. I join the many faith leaders who are urging peaceful protests and honoring curfews designed to curtail senseless violence and destruction. But I do want us, particularly those of us who are the beneficiaries of white privilege, to understand that our African-American sisters and brothers are gasping for breath. For 400 years, through slavery, lynching, apartheid (Jim Crow), the civil rights movement, institutionalized racism, and long-delayed police reform, the African-American community has been crying out, “I can’t breathe.” And yet, the knee of oppression, white supremacy, and inaction remains. If we see only riots and protests, we are not looking close enough. People of color and many others who have been left out and left behind are gasping for the oxygen of freedom. They are gasping for the oxygen of economic opportunity. They are gasping for the oxygen of equal justice. I am convicted by the words of Edwin Hatch’s nineteenth century hymn (#420, The United Methodist Hymnal): “Breathe on me, breathe of God, fill me with life anew, that I may love what thou dost do, and do what those wouldst do.” In this season of Pentecost, I pray that we will be a people filled with new life, loving as God loves and doing what God would have us do to make the kingdom in heaven come on earth. Let us join others of faith in giving breath and voice to the cries for justice. Let us join hands in cleaning our streets and making them safe and secure. Let us work, tirelessly and without delay, to change our culture of institutionalized racism to a culture of the Beloved Community. Let us not lapse into “normalcy,” but insist on reforming the culture of policing from one of waging war to one of being guardians of every person’s rights and dignity. Let us refute the purveyors of division and discrimination and embrace the peacemakers. Let us address the underlying sources of despair and broken trust that stoke the fires of rage and riot. In this season of Pentecost, I urge us to continue to pray for the family of George Floyd and all those whose lives and livelihoods have been damaged by the burning and looting. Pray that the breath of God will fill us and our country with life anew. Pray that we will become the nation we claim to be and protect the breath of every citizen and sojourner. Pray that the breath of God will reign in our hearts, our churches, and our communities.
ON A COMPLETELY DIFFERENT NOTE: The Council of Stewards of the OUMC and the UMC of Dodge Center continue to not set a specific date as to when our two churches will be opening for face to face worship. Both church councils have had careful conversation in regard to the many things that will need to be done before it’s safe to return to worshipping in person. Even when we do worship in person, what we’ll be doing together – no singing, no handshakes/hugs, no coffee/treats, etc… will be different. We’re doing this so we do not spread the virus. It’s frustrating to not know when we’ll resume some semblance of normal. However, as we are committed to an abundance of caution – out of the care of our neighbor, we’ll continue to live in these times of uncertainty with an undeclared time-line. However, we are certain of this – our commitment at both of our congregations is to be the hands and feet of Christ, reaching out in creative and meaningful ways to show God’s love for the neighbor. Please be in prayer in support of this. In Christ, Pr. Scott
Virtual Charge Conference:
Sandy Emry, the SPPRC chairperson is working with an Elder from the UMC MN Conference to schedule a virtual Charge Conference for the purpose of approving Pr. Lisa Vick's appointment and compensation package. It will be done through the UMC technology platform called Blue Jeans network. It will take place at 5:15 pm on Wednesday June 10th. A Charge conference means the Council of Stewards will be the ones voting on this matter, although others may attend the meeting via telephone or being on the Blue Jeans Network (similar to zoom).
More about Pastor Lisa Vick:
Pastor Lisa's Call to Ministry Six years ago I took a break from ministry. My parents had died suddenly and I was going through a divorce. Through prayer and discernment, I felt a need to step away. At the time, I didn’t think I would ever go back. Then a dear friend told me, “Don’t worry, God has your number and will call you back when he wants you.” While I can speak more to this in person, for now I’ll share that just over two years ago I felt God’s voice whispering in my ear to go back! Pastor Lisa's Passion for Ministry During the four years that I was on a break from the ministry, I went to different churches from all denominations and I learned what it felt like to be a stranger. My passion for ministry is to help churches to always be welcoming, no matter if it is a first-time visitor or a member who may feel like an outsider. I take Jesus’ commandment in Matthew 25 very seriously, “I was a stranger and you welcomed me.” Pastor Lisa's Vision of the Church To be viable into the future, we must be authentic in our worship and loving of our neighbors. We must listen to where God is calling us. If we remain authentic to God’s call and practice radical love of neighbor, the Church will grow.
Ø Pastors Joyce, Linda and Scott will be available for a drive-by thank you parking lot event in the parking lot of OUMC from 6-7:30 p.m. on Wed. June 10th.
Ø People will need to stay in their cars and they can honk their horns or shout out the window with greetings of "thank you" and "good bye" to Pastors Joyce, Linda and Scott.
Ø Each pastor will be outside by one of the 3 doors of the church (#1 main doors near the sanctuary, #2 door closest to the office, and #3 door by the fellowship hall entrance of the church) with all the doors being on the parking lot side of the church.