Amidst the intensity of national and world events, I don’t always know how to respond, or even what is going on. The reactions to the murder of George Floyd and the on-going violence against Black lives have intensified … In the midst of a pandemic and economic crisis. Our world today is a sad, scary, intense place to live.
Yet, I have sensed a shift, a long-awaited change, in White people’s reactions and responses. People who seem not to have noticed before suddenly recognize the long tenure of racism. Or, maybe, they have finally decided to act, or at least to learn. The streets have filled–even 2000 protesters here in Manhattan. Confederate and corporate symbols that seemed untouchable disappear. Citizens are demanding police accountability in a wide variety of ways. Conversations about race are sprouting up everywhere. Check out local conversations being posted at Community Conversations on Race and Reconciliation (www.facebook.com/manhattanksConversations/) and Community Conversations for Change (www.facebook.com/SEGMediaCollective/videos/699544987547874/?eid=ARAC5kltyfVK5ivi3Ypb74FJF4N5xLbAgYFr4-7aunNOtg-GV48ldh7PMrqXZbjrMDVvxVH5DADLg2xh). The New York Times best-seller list is full of books about race and racism. We have a solid group of members and non-members reading and discussing How to Be an Antiracist. Change feels inevitable.
And change brings uncertainty and anxiety. We don’t know how policing or race relations are going to evolve, exactly as we do not know how the pandemic or the economic disruption will change us. We live in times of rapidly shifting winds. We can only search for our grounding and respond to what comes.
At the same time, the fellowship is evolving. Restricted to virtual services for awhile longer, we’re also figuring out what that means for how we relate with one another. We’re exploring what we can safely do in person and what has to be on-line. Also, after five years as your full-time developmental minister, I will be moving to 3/4 time. That means I will not be as present with you as I have been. As I ease towards retirement, you will be learning how 3/4 time is different from full-time ministry. My plan is to be off one week a month. That will keep me from over-functioning (which is my tendency) and allow clear parameters so that everyone understands when I am available. Beginning this month, I will have a week off toward the end of the month. Though it’s a more complicated this month because I will also have two weeks earned vacation.
Change isn’t easy in the best of times. Sometimes, though, there is no other way. And that is the time we are in now.
May you find comfort despite the challenges, and nourishment in the learning that inevitably comes as circumstance swirls around us.In faith and freedom, Jonalu