September 22, 2023
“Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and God will say: Here am I.
If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.”
As this hits your inboxes, I am flying back from nearly a week in Memphis at the United Church of Christ’s Next Generation Leadership Initiative, or NGLI. I have been blessed to learn alongside a cohort of 13 other ministers in their 20s and 30s this week. We’ve spent time talking about ministry that accesses our whole brains (dreaming, planning, data-driven, and relationship-centered); we’ve shared wisdom from across the country and across different ministry settings; and we made a pilgrimage to the National Civil Rights Museum at the Lorraine Motel, where Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated.
We began our sacred conversations on race and racism with this scripture, and it grounded us into an experience of truth-telling, accountability, and trust-building. In reflecting on the museum as a whole and individual lives of leaders and activists whose experiences inspired us, facilitators led us through a journey of lament, confession, and hope for the future. We recognized the need for individual, communal, and spiritual transformation.
We were all incredibly moved by the experience, and I’m certain I’ll be bringing more reflections to you in the weeks to come. What’s more, I will spend two weeks a year with this cohort engaging in professional development for the next four years. I am grateful for the congregation’s and staff’s support for this vital learning time, and am excited to continue to learn, grow, and share with you all as I do so.
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