Dear South East District Friends,
In July I finally had the opportunity to visit the beautiful country of Jamaica. Many of you in the SE District will tell me I finally made it to God’s country! After fifteen years of living in Broward and Dade counties and being influenced and shaped by faithful Jamaican-American sisters and brothers in our congregations, I finally saw (and tasted!) it for myself. It was truly a gift to experience the beauty and blessing of such a beloved country to so many of my dear friends and colleagues in ministry.
Mariana and I joined a mission team of teenagers and parents from Kendall UMC that traveled to Port Antonio, Jamaica to lead a Vacation Bible School with the Methodist church there, something KUMC has been doing for over a decade. She helped with crafts and I was a group leader for the 6-7 year-olds. Yes, you read that right! I learned again on this trip how important it is to spend time doing something outside of your comfort zone at least once a year!
Mission experiences are so important and this experience, in this season of my ministry, led me to reflect on a few things that I wanted to share with you about how our life and the life of our sister churches in the Caribbean share some similarities.
- Everyone is struggling with what “church” will be like with a post-pandemic mindsight. A small community in Jamaica and our urban neighborhoods are all seeking to learn what is next and what will keep our churches relevant to the people who need us most.
- The end of our week was spent doing several hours of community clean-up near the beach and on the roads. They, like we, seek to find ways to care for the environment around us in order to ensure a safe and healthy future for our communities.
- The children who attended the VBS were hungry. We fed them and they remained hungry. Children in our communities are hungry too. What are our churches doing to alleviate food insecurity and hunger in our city? If you want to brainstorm ideas, here are just a few of the churches doing significant ministry with food: Miramar, Nourishing Lives based at New Horizon, Cornerstone, Burton Memorial.
- There is natural beauty around every turn in Port Antonio. My goodness the beauty! Being “away” for a week allowed me to enjoy it, pray over it, swim in its waters and even jump off of its waterfalls. There is also natural beauty here where we live. I often do not take the time to embrace it and enjoy it and am determined to do better about that in days to come.
I want to thank our Caribbean brothers and sisters who have made such a significant contribution to the United Methodist witness in South Florida. Without you our churches would be far less vital than they are today. You have greatly impacted my life and ministry and I am forever grateful.
Blessings to each of you in these last days of summer,
Cynthia D. Weems