Dear South East District Friends,
What a painful time to be writing to you. It is a time that requires being together in song, sharing, prayer, and the collective experience of grief and pain that comes when we realize one part of our body is broken. The events of the last week that continue to unfold are ones that hit our South Florida community very hard. Our community is full of color, my friends. As I said once years ago at First Church in downtown Miami when someone asked me to fill out paperwork on the ethnicities of our young people, “All of our children are brown, including my own.” South Florida is a community of color and with that comes the pain of years of injustice, neglect, and fear. We cannot be physically together at this time due to the continued concerns over the pandemic. Yet, we are together through the Holy Spirit and I do trust in this powerful way to learn, love, and share in this struggle.
I am hesitant to write this article. I am white and I do not know the pain and fear of my sisters and brothers of color. I seek to hear you and understand better. I grew up in Mississippi with parents who sought to model a different kind of life with our black neighbors. I later lived in South America where I learned of the struggles of our global hermanos/as who often make their way to this country and live in great hardship. As much as I wanted to live like my colleagues and new friends there, I knew that my blue eyes and U.S. passport created an escape hatch for me that others did not have.
We learn from scripture that when one part of the body is broken or hurting, the rest of the body hurts. We know this to be true as humans and as Christians. Susanna Wesley had 19 children, only ten of which lived past infancy. She was once asked which child was her favorite. She replied, “The one who is sick.”
Friends, we are well aware that a part of our body is hurting and, in many cases, another part of that same body is exacerbating the illness. We are interconnected and woven together. This means that we must listen to our body, hear its cries, and make adjustments in order for it to flourish, grow, and thrive. Indeed, one part of our body needs to drastically change the way in which it lives in this world in order to allow the other parts of the body to flourish. In order to change, we must listen with humility and we must “change ourselves before demanding change from others” (as my fourteen year old proclaimed this weekend). I am coming to terms with this myself and praying over ways God is calling me to change.
I want us to be a church that allows God’s children to thrive. How can we do this better? How can I do better in my leadership and how can we do better as a connectional system of churches that seeks to follow Jesus and share the gospel with all people? Please share with me your thoughts, your struggles, your anger, and the ways you believe we can work together to heal the broken places in our body.
In Christ’s never-ending love,
Cynthia D. Weems