My episcopal colleague, Bishop Deborah Kiesey of the Michigan Area, this week shared with me information about the ongoing situation in Flint, Michigan that she described as “difficult and disturbing.”
While many are now focused on how Flint’s drinking water was contaminated with lead, Bishop Kiesey has reminded me what the United Methodist Church is about in the midst of this terrible water crisis.
She reports that churches and districts in her area have come together to provide water, filters and case management. She reports that United Methodist Committee on Relief (UMCOR) is being consulted for grant assistance.
This is encouraging, but, as Bishop Kiesey says, “It’s hard to see where the end might be” for the people of Flint.
“The long-term effects of lead poisoning will be felt for generations,” said Kiesey. “Add to this the underlying, complex issues of racism and poverty that have brought about this crisis in the first place.”
The people of Flint need two things from us, the United Methodists of the Nashville Episcopal Area (Memphis and Tennessee Conferences):
- Our prayers NOW and for many years to come…
- Our financial support, not just to purchase and deliver water, but to help pay for things like water filters and medical care, especially for children who have been affected.
If you or your church or small group would like to make a financial gift to help the people of Flint, here are two ways you may do that through the Detroit Conference of The United Methodist Church:
- Online: http://bit.ly/FlintRelief
- Mail: Detroit Conference Treasurer’s Office, 1309 N. Ballenger Hwy, Suite 1, Flint, MI 48504. On the memo line, write “#0918 Crossroads District Water Response”
Your Servant in Christ,
Bishop Bill McAlilly
Check out these 50 WAYS to take church to your community throughout the year:
These 50 WAYS from our friends at the Lewis Center for Church Leadership include useful tips to:
- Embrace an expansive concept of community
- Get to know the community surrounding your church
- Extend your congregation’s spiritual presence beyond church walls
- Turn your existing ministries outward
- Reach out through community events
- Connect spiritual outreach to community service
- Build authentic relationships
- Prepare spiritually
- Listen and learn
Bishop Schnase calls for prayer as Ferguson, Missouri awaits grand jury ruling in shooting death of Michael BrownPosted: November 18, 2014
Bishop Robert Schnase, resident bishop of the Missouri Conference of The United Methodist Church, today issued “a call for prayer” (below) as Ferguson, Missouri waits for the St. Louis County grand jury to decide whether Officer Darren Wilson should stand trial in the August shooting death of Michael Brown. The grand jurors have until January, but a decision could come at any time between now and then.
A CALL FOR PRAYER
I’ve preached twice in recent weeks in St. Louis and as I visited in our churches, the tension is palpable as people await the news from the grand jury in the Michael Brown case. Fear runs deep that there will be more violence. The tragedy has left the community on edge as it copes with the anger, frustration, and mistrust felt by so many people following the shooting of Michael Brown by police officer Darin Wilson.
The issues involved are far larger than Ferguson, than St. Louis, and than Missouri. The entire country and the whole church need to engage these issues. The focus for law enforcement and the legal processes is on what happened on August 9. But the tragedy forces people of faith to confront a larger question: What happens now? What happens next? What do we learn about ourselves and our communities that will cause us to change so that such events are less likely in the future? What kind of preferred future does God intend for our communities and for our world?
Followers of Jesus, the Prince of Peace, and believers in the God who is the lover of justice must come together for prayer and dialogue to address the deeper and more intransigent issues that have been too long repressed in our communities. These are issues such as racial profiling, mistrust of authority, violence in our communities, underemployment, quality education, fear of one another, white flight, inequalities in our justice system, family breakdown, and under-representation of ethnic officers in law enforcement. There are hard issues and issues that require deep commitments and changes of attitudes, values, and behaviors. These require changes in systems. These require long-term work and a willingness for community and church leaders to stay engaged for the long haul.
In the short-term, the role of the church is to be the purveyor of peace. The sin of racism must be dealt with, but not through violence. Violence rights no wrongs, heals no harms, and leads to no positive change. As the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Returning violence for violence multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.”
What can United Methodist Christians do?
First, pray. Pray for peace. Our faith finds its roots in the hope for a day when “the lion shall sleep with the lamb.” We serve a Lord who said, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you.” For nearly two thousand years, we have offered “grace and peace” to one another when we gather in Christ’s name. Peace is our hope, our prayer, our yearning, our aim, our end, and it is our gift to the community.
A number of our United Methodist churches in St. Louis and across the conference are already planning prayer vigils on the day the grand jury decision is announced. Other of our churches are working with Metropolitan Congregations United to plan “safe places” for the community to gather for dialogue and to offer support to one another. These churches are also planning to offer a variety of worship experiences and other services needed by the surrounding community.
Second, call upon officials to work for ways so that people can express their frustrations and voice their concerns peacefully. People need a way to participate, to speak out, to gather for mutual support, and we need leaders willing to give room and space for it in a way that reduces the possibility of violence rather than ratcheting up tensions.
Third, support the efforts of two of our United Methodist Churches near Ferguson, Wellspring and The Gathering at Clayton, who are developing extensive plans to be open and available to the community as places of peace and respite. These two churches are collecting supplies and gathering individuals with the needed skills sets to be helpful. Manchester United Methodist Church has volunteered to be the drop-off point for supplies. We are collecting a pool of volunteer pastors to be sent to Wellspring and the Gathering in Clayton to offer support as requested and needed by those two churches. The Metropolitan Clergy Coalition, an interfaith group, has also offered suggestions to area congregations on how they can be helpful.
Along with other religious leaders in Missouri, I renew my call to everyone in Ferguson and the greater St. Louis area to be an instrument of peace amid chaos, a calm voice in the turmoil, a sign of grace when the world needs most the message we offer in Christ.
Yours in Christ, Bishop Robert Schnase, The Missouri Conference of the United Methodist Church
The United Methodist Church is in the midst of a reordering – a reordering of the life of the church for greater effectiveness and vitality in mission. This is something we are all striving to understand.
“The paradox of our time: We are at an end and a beginning” is an article written this month by Rev. Tom Hazelwood, Director of Connectional Ministries for the Memphis Conference.
Tom does an excellent job of explaining what he calls “the paradox” — being at an end and a beginning. He writes about the United Methodist Church envisioning a new day, managing transition, coaching for the future and being called to a new creation.
I invite you to click on the link below to read Tom’s words that speak so well to our entire Nashville Episcopal Area that includes the Tennessee and Memphis Conferences.
Bishop Bill McAlilly