A Word from DS Teresa Welborn – 1/8/21

I wrote the newsletter article below days before the events of January 6th, the assault on the US Capitol by extremists. As we watch the news and continue to experience emotions ranging from anger to sorrow, it is of great importance that those of us who are white to listen to the voices of people of color. Listen to the minority voices in your churches and communities. I have work to do myself in this area as I am quick to speak and have much to learn. We must listen. And we must act – to do our part to become anti-racist, to build a more just society and church for all God’s children. 

Below are a few voices from African-American clergy in The United Methodist Church:
The Gospel message “is a message of love, but a love that speaks truth and stands against immorality. As a church, as Christians, we must condemn all the forces that led to the unprecedented insurrection today — forces of hate, of white supremacy, of distorted self-interest and abuse of power.”  – Bishop LaTrelle Easterling of the Baltimore-Washington Conference UMC in UMNews article (read full article here.)

Rev. Williams said that a Black Lives Matter protest aimed at invading the Capitol would have been met with a “swift clamping down” well before entry. “But radical white extremists, who had planned in public and were incited by the president, can waltz into the Capitol on one of the most sacred days of our government.”  – Rev. Dr. Jay Williams, pastor of Union (United Methodist) Church in Boston in the same UMNews article 

“After further contemplation this is what happens when White Privilege collides with white rage fueled by non truths and double standards …on this day of Epiphany I believe we have seen the need for revelation of God incarnate as Jesus Christ… Lest we remember the words of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr…”Darkness cannot drive out darkness: only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate: only love can do that.” Friends Jesus is that light….Jesus is that Love.”  – Rev. Matt Edison on Facebook, Jacobs Chapel UMC San Antonio

“What’s happening at the Capitol right now is a direct reflection of a society of three generations of people raised to believe that they always deserve the trophy and their way is the only way. Privilege and entitlement on display. Pray for our country and pray for our souls. God is not pleased. White privilege is a sin.”  – Rev. Jasmine Smothers on twitter, Atlanta First United Methodist Church

“Pastor D’s Daily Encouragement — Thursday, January 7, 2021: Let us be soaked in prayer early in the morning, every day. Such that when people find us and impart their agenda upon us, we will be able to stay focused on the divine agenda God has already spoken to us in prayer for that day. Your encouragement today: stay ready! (Mark 1:35)”  – Rev. Dr. Joe Daniels on Facebook, Emory Fellowship UMC in Washington, D.C.

I consider the Prayer for a Time of National Crisis in the United Methodist Hymnal. I share it here with a minor yet significant edit:

May leaders be led by your wisdom;
May they search your will and see it clearly
If   When  we have turned from your way,
Reverse our ways and help us to repent.
Give us your light and your truth, let them guide us;
Through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of this world, and our Savior. Amen.
(UMH 517)

In Christ’s Peace,teresa
Blessing for January 6 @teresagaylew
It is Epiphany.Herod feels threatened.
Jesus, our Bright Morning Star
lead us in the way of peace
lead us in the way of love
love that casts out all fear
Blessing for January 7 @teresagaylew
Wisdom for parents figuring out 
how to talk to their children
Comfort for those trying to make ends meet
Rest for those who worked through the night
Courage to bring about justice
Humility to confess complicity
Strength for the journey 

Happy New Year! 

Christmas has come and gone once again and here we are at the start of a new year. I know I join many who long for a year different than 2020. What continues to stay with me, however, is the truth that this new year will be shaped in large part by who we choose to be. 

Who will we choose to be? What choices will we make in terms of priority and focus? How will we relate to one another? How will we serve? 

Around this time of year, the Christian calendar reminds us of Jesus’ baptism. At His baptism, Jesus heard God speak the words, “You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.” As we remember the baptism of Jesus, I pray you know God’s great love for you. When we remember our own baptism, we remember that we have been chosen – set aside for the work of God.       

In light of being chosen by God, who will we choose to be? 

As we consider our response to this question, let us consider two things:

1) Becoming a Presence of Peace and 2) Becoming a Presence of Possibility. 

Mother Teresa was known for saying, “If we have no peace, it is because we have forgotten that we belong to one another.” In painful yet clear ways, 2020 was a time when many of us learned how profoundly our lives are interconnected. In humility, we have delayed travel plans, avoid large gatherings, and cancel other plans in an effort to do all we can to prevent the spread of Covid. Those of us who are white continue our work in becoming anti-racist. In many ways, you are already a presence of peace. In this new year, how will we continue to be a presence of peace? How will we increase our efforts in being a presence of peace in our homes, in our places of work and worship, in our neighborhoods and wider communities? 

Likewise, I have seen you do what was seemingly impossible. In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus tells the disciples, “It’s impossible for human beings. But all things are possible for God.” The challenges of work in the church are indeed difficult and at times seem to only grow – especially in this season of Covid. And yet, you have been adaptive and creative, courageous and faithful. God continues to be at work in and through the many ministries of our churches and you are a presence of possibility. In times that seem scarce and scary, you practice your belief in a God of abundance. One example of this is your commitment to feeding ministries as I hear witnesses throughout the district of churches increasing their commitment.Thank you!

 Remember your baptism and be thankful! And may you be encouraged as you continue to be a presence of peace and possibility in the world.