Tag Archives: Mead’s Corner

Won’t YOU be my Neighbor?

We began a new sermon series today, complete with Mister Roger’s song, “Won’t You Be My Neighbor?” Over the next six weeks we will focus on what being a neighbor means using SoCe Life‘s curriculum “The Good Neighbor Experiment.” Sunday School classes will be delving in more deeply into that experiment, in worship we are focusing on the three key ingredients: Abundance, Relationship and Joy.

We are also kicking off a film series next Friday with our downtown partners: Tallgrass Film Association, Harvester Arts, The Forum Theatre Company, and the above mentioned SoCe Life. These are free events in our Wilke Family Life Center where we can laugh a little, meet new neighbors and have a conversation around what it means to be community and neighbors.

Jesus pointed out on numerous occasions that our faith challenges us to love God first and foremost and our neighbor as ourselves. That has never been easy and in worship we pondered Jesus having to open up his ministry to the outsider and it was a game changer. You can view the worship service in it’s entirety here.

Today was also a celebration for Mead’s Corner which is closing it’s door after 10 years in business and in ministry. Doug Hye, “Mr. Mead’s Corner” created this video remembrance.  It was a bittersweet afternoon. Saying goodbye to a place is always hard and finding the grace to be open to the new possibilities and ministries is tricky at best. I believe that out of the past comes the future, as in the word’s of Paul, “Christ is our peace.” Christ breaks down the walls and barriers that we erect and makes a new people. My hope and prayer is that out of all the hours, the prayers and the opportunities that Mead’s Corner provided, a new day is coming and new ministry will arise. I am grateful for the transformation of the corner of Emporia and Douglas, grateful for it’s ministry in that neighborhood.

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Not Stopping Me! Part II

On Wednesday evening, I wrote Not Stopping me! out of fatigue and sadness and grief. I wondered the next day whether or not I should have written or shared what I did. I felt vulnerable and not only weary, but a bit angry as well.

I need to be clear that I do not feel like the United Methodist Church has as a whole treated me badly. I have been amazingly upheld in my ministry and my gifts. Some folk, men and women talk of “bad appointments.” I have never had one. I have had some churches and communities where I have learned some hard lessons, dealt with difficult decisions personally and with the churches I have served. Bad appointments? Not at all, I have loved every church and community I served since 1982. The Kansas  West and now Great Plains conference has been extremely good to me. I have broken a couple of glass ceilings by being the first woman senior pastor.

There have always been people in each place that were “against” or “opposed” to women preachers. I was once called a “petticoat preacher” which made me smile. I have joked over the years I never went anywhere they actually “wanted me” as a woman. And that is true. I supposed I should have been offended, but perhaps I am too arrogant or certain enough of my calling and ability to not be hurt or stopped by comments or defensive positions that do not mean anything to me. I always figured it was about the people who said such things or held such positions, not me.

It is also true what I wrote a few days ago. I have always been aware that what I do or don’t do matters. Men can fail and no one ever says don’t send another man. If a woman makes a mistake or crashes and burns, it is often said “please don’t send us another woman.” I am sure that is not said as often as it was when I started ministry, but, there is still that sense that what I do matters for all the women who will follow me. And I say that from a position of privilege as an anglo woman, I can not imagine how difficult it must be for women of color.

In an interesting twist on the two constitutional amendments that failed to gather the necessary 2/3’s majority to be ratified, it appears that amendment one was sent out with incorrect wording. You can read the story here.  So now, all the Annual Conferences will have to revote on Amendment 1, and those who have already met will vote next time they meet.

Honestly, you can’t make this stuff up! It doesn’t take away the pain of that first vote. Several people have asked in one way or the other, why stay? Why should I stay if my beloved United Methodist Church can’t uphold the equality of women as human beings?

I suppose I am too stubborn to stop. I don’t want to go away. Methodist theology speaks of grace in such a deep way for me. I have used humor for a long time to deal with the push back against equality and inclusivity. More so, I have believed that grace will ultimately lead everyone home, even those who would restrict access to that grace.

Yesterday on twitter Leonard Sweet posted (and I reposted) “Every person you meet is hurting deep inside from something. Go gentle into this good day.” How I needed that word. The church I serve had made a very difficult decision to close our coffee shop at the end of July. Mead’s started ten years ago at time when Downtown Wichita was just in the beginning of revitalization. Mead’s was part of that, and with that meant the lease increase became unsustainable. Some want to blame the owners, but I don’t. The truth is Mead’s was part of what made downtown much more valuable and lucrative and desirable. There is nothing wrong with that. I suppose we could “blame” ourselves. I don’t blame anybody, but it was one more thing to make the week difficult emotionally and spiritually for me.

Grace is gentle, loving and tender with so many who are hurting deep inside. Those who were deeply wounded by the non-ratification of two constitutional amendments in the United Methodist Church. Grace is gentle, loving and tender to those who are haunted by past sexual abuse and violence, by those who continue to feel the door shut to the church because of their sexual orientation. Grace is gentle, loving and tender to the outcast, the lost, the lonely and those who live in fear.

Why don’t I leave? I believe in grace. I believe in Love. I believe in God who was made real in the ministry, love, teaching, life, death and resurrection of Jesus. No vote can take that away from me or anyone. So my quote for today comes from Linda Clark: “What keeps the Christian going, cheek to jowl with the stuff of everyday existence, is the knowledge of God written on his or her heart.”

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Prayers, Presence, Walks and Marches

I woke up early this morning. I was going to walk or “wog” in the “Battle of the Bean.” This 5K race supports the ministry of Mead’s Corner the coffee shop that is an outreach of the church I serve First United Methodist in downtown Wichita, Kansas. Before I got out of bed, I said my prayers. First I prayed for our new president Donald Trump. Then I prayed for our nation and prayed for many people I care about.

Not that it matters, but I did a personal best on the 5K at 44:30.8. My husband and I enjoyed the race and the energy and helping out a good cause.

20170121_075643Following the race I went home, changed clothes and got in the car with my twin sister and friend and husband and headed over to the Women’s March.

20170121_093953I will be honest, I thought long and hard about whether or not I would go. When the march was announced in Washington, D.C. I was asked if I was going and I said no. It was a long way away, it would be expensive and I wasn’t sure what my presence would add.

Then a march was announced for Topeka, again, I had not planned on going because I had the 5K in the morning and I knew I couldn’t get there in time. Then they announced a march in Wichita. This gave me pause. What reason could I give for going or not going?

The truth is, that I have it pretty good. I am in a place in my life that frankly I never imagined I would be. I am a senior pastor in a historic downtown church. There have not traditionally been many senior pastors that are women, although they are becoming more prevalent. My life is secure. I have health insurance, although like many it went up dramatically for 2017 (60%). I can afford to pay for it. In some ways I could be the poster child for women’s equality.

That is not my whole story, however. I could be a poster child for other things: being raised for five years by a single mom and grandparents and being a recipient of what was then called Aid to Dependent Children and a medical card. I could be a poster child for being sexually harassed by my superiors and not reporting it for fear I would lose my job and not be able to be a pastor, something I was called to do and be. I could be a poster child for women who have been raped in college or anywhere and not reporting for fear of not being believed (actually both the sexual harassment and rape were shared but I was told that it would be his word against mine and there wasn’t any point in reporting it.)

So I marched today for those who could not or those who have not yet seen that equality and justice is possible. I marched today, because I don’t want to go back to where there is an open season on women to be groped and to be raped and to be abused and told to just get over it. I don’t want to go back to when I knew what it was like to be voiceless and powerless and afraid.

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The truth be told, I didn’t agree with every sign I saw, or every part of every speech that was shared. I didn’t need to. I needed to stand up and be counted. I also don’t believe in violence. I was particularly grateful there was none in Wichita, not that I expected it. Parents with children, young people, old people with gray hair and wrinkles, women and men gathered and the mood was amazing.

One of the gifts of being part of this country is our right to assemble, our freedom of religion and our freedom of speech. Disagreement is not only necessary, it helps us move in new directions. I know this will sound somewhat shocking, but I don’t need everyone to believe the way I believe. Christians do NOT agree on many things…not the least of which is who to vote for in any given election. Christians don’t agree on baptism, on women in ministry or other doctrinal issues. Jewish people also don’t agree on every doctrinal issues, nor do Muslims or any other religion. In this country, we are free to worship or not in the way we see fit. We are free to assemble and protest and march in order to change the things we feel need changing. We are free to write, to speak and to post what we believe even if others do not.

I prayed for President Trump this morning, because that is what Christians do, he is the president of the United States. I prayed for our government because that is what Christians do. I stood up for those less fortunate, the ones who are afraid and the weak, because that is also what Christians do. I believe deeply that I am part of a long line of those who have worked for justice, for equality and for the hope and promise that all people deserve the unalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. There have been many who have gone before me, my attendance today honors their sacrifice and commitment to building a better world. I attended today for those who come after me, that the time will come sooner, rather than later, when the reign of God, which promises hope, love, joy and justice will be made real.

So today, I prayed and walked. I marched and was present and accounted for. I know that not everyone will think that was important, some will disagree. I honor that disagreement. I also honor those who work tirelessly for peace, for justice for all people. I want to be part of a loving movement which provides safety for the most vulnerable, justice for the oppressed, equality for all people. I want my words and actions to match what I say I believe. As a Christian, I long to live as Jesus did, not only proclaiming good news, but working in ways to change the world….into a world of peace, of grace and of justice.

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