Pastor’s Corner – Aug. 20

A message from our Bishop Karen Oliveto, written 8/15/2017:

Much has been written about white supremacy and white nationalism since this weekend’s deadly violence that erupted in Charlottesville, Virginia, and rightly so. We must condemn this evil that is seeking to fray the beautiful tapestry of American society. The hatred and racism that sustain these movements are literally life-threatening and must be confronted and dismantled.

But it is all too easy to point fingers and not do the hard work of personal soul searching, to be honest about the “every day racism” we whites participate in and benefit from. As a white woman, I have to confront my privilege, and the fact that my walk in the world is much easier because of my race than persons of color. Every day, I must confess my racism. Racism is so deeply embedded in our culture and entangles all of us in its web of inequity. I have to consciously reject it every day and the main way I do that is through the power of empathy, listening deeply to how those of color have a much different experience of the world than I do. I must understand that doors that open up automatically for me because of my whiteness open with difficulty—if at all—for persons of color. My race affords me places of safety not granted to those of other races.

I am not frightened of police officers. I don’t worry that by putting on a hoodie, I will be perceived as dangerous. I have never given my nieces and nephews “the talk” about how they should behave if ever stopped by a police officer. I have never been followed in a store by the owner because he or she automatically assumes that I am a suspect for shoplifting simply because of the color of my skin. I have never had to look very far—in books, movies, television, or church meetings—to see people who look like me. In white America, the color of my skin grants me power and privilege.

Racism isn’t an inconvenient social construct.  It is a deadly way to control others.

Racism permeates all corners of American society. Even the church is not immune from its cancerous presence. My own denomination’s history reveals a theology once held that supported the outrageous belief that owning another person and treating them less than human was in line with Christian values. Racism fueled segregation in the church through the creation of an all-black non-geographic jurisdiction in order to preserve (white) “unity”.

If we are to effectively oppose and defuse the movements of white supremacy and nationalism, the starting point must be with our own collusion with racism. Until we do this hard work, we will keep in place the social fuel that will allow these movements to flourish.

My white friends, we can no longer remain silent. We can no longer pretend we live in a post-racial society. We can no longer deny the privilege we possess. We can no longer believe that racism no longer exists.

With eyes wide open, may we dismantle the sin of racism, in our own lives and in the systems and institutions of which we are a part. May Love guide our work, focus our anger and fear, and lead us all into the promise of Beloved Community.

 

Bishop Karen Oliveto, Mountain Sky Area

(Find her blog at karenoliveto.blogspot.com)



Pastor’s Corner – Aug. 13

From Pew to Canoe

The outdoor recreation industry employs and serves millions of people in the summer months. In areas such as ours here in Montana and western North Carolina, Sundays can be one of the busiest days of the week for weekend warriors and seasonal workers. Rev. Wayne “Wayner” Dickert and the Bryson City United Methodist Church decided to take the worship service to the river banks of the Natahala River, using a brewery building as a chapel. They gather, sing, hear scripture, pray for one another, and share in communion. Then, they enjoy nature.

Pastor Wayner shared that being out in the community was the most important part of his ministry. Outdoor guides are finding River Church their welcoming home. These River Church members are unable to drive to a surrounding church to attend a worship service and also guide a trip that same day. That means deciding either to attend church or to make money to live on. Many young river guides express gratitude for church being on the river because they can worship and work on the same day. Others have flocked from all surrounding areas over their love of the water and connection to a former paddler. For the outdoor sports enthusiast, the Weekend Warrior lifestyle and traditional church lifestyle don’t always mesh well. Bryson UMC is reaching beyond its walls to bring these two together.  “It’s just a place where people can come together and be exactly who they are and accepted and loved,” Anne Connelly, a former national team paddler explained.

Offerings from River Church go to clean water projects around the world. They have donated 16 wells in Haiti thus far. After worship, the community hit the water, making connections through going to work or enjoying a day on the river together.

Visit the River Church’s website for more information: www.nantahalariveroflife.org
 
Do you have any ideas for our community for reaching our Weekend Warriors here in the Helena?
 
Pastor Sami 
 


Pastor’s Corner – Aug. 6

Ecclesiastes 3:7b says, “There is a time to speak and a time to keep silent.” I know we all have regrets over times our tongues got away from us and words flew out of our mouths and hurt somebody. I suspect we all have regrets over times we did not speak up, and later wished we had said something. Imagine these scenarios:
 
You walk into a conversation at work or at school where a person is being ridiculed. You hear the deriding comments. Even see the humor in them. Do you speak up or keep silent?
 
Someone walks into a social situation and is very vocal about his/her political views. Would you speak up or keep silent? Does your answer change if you agree or disagree with their opinion?
 
A person is happily living in denial. It may be an issue around facing their age, the prognosis of an illness, or the reality of a mental illness. You can see through the denial to the true reality. Should you speak up?
 
There is a time to speak and a time to keep silent. Words have great power. They dig deep into our souls. Mother Teresa says, “Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.” I would say the same is true for unkind words; they carry an echo as well.
 
How do you make choices about when to speak up and when to listen? How does your faith inform your choices? These are worthy questions to ponder. And we will reflect on what the Tiger Lily has to say to us about this topic of words and their power.
 

Walking on the path of grace,

Pastor Patti


Pastor’s Corner – July 30

Can We Help the Buzz?
 
These hot summer days have us all running inside to stay cool and dry. This abnormal weather can also help remind us of our brothers and sisters who cannot escape this heat or its struggles. Our friends in Brazil, in particularly but not exclusively, continue to fight with malaria and Zika Virus outbreaks. Women and children have been hit hardest with the outbreaks, according to Human Rights Watch. This is simply because of the work done within the home. Families are urged to avoid standing water in their houses because mosquito larvae thrive there, but most families don’t have reliable running water, and hold water in tanks. It is typically the women and girls’ job to stock pile water while the tap is running. Legitimate measurements to keep the water covered and repelled are also taken, but it isn’t enough. Most Brazilians live without adequate sewage and disposal. All of these factors are causing easy transmission of Zika, predominantly in pregnancy, and proper medical care for children born with Zika Syndrome is extensive and expensive.
 
Many things need to be put into place for malaria and Zika to be eradicated, many of which are government investment in infrastructure for sewer and water. But there are ways we can help prevent the spread of the virus. Imagine No Malaria, a United Methodist initiative, is continuing to work to eradicate the spread of diseases via mosquitoes across the world. Insecticide-treated bed nets and education about transmission are part of Imagine’s preventative work. More accurate diagnoses, access to medication, proper drainage systems, and training for community health workers are all part of their treatment work. Because of this continual work, malaria deaths are half what they were. This is God at work in our world.
 
If you would like to help this cause even more, visit www.imaginenomalaria.org for resources and ways to donate. And when you swat a mosquito on your arm this summer, say a little prayer for those whom a mosquito bite means so much more.
 
Peace,
Pastor Sami