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RESTORATIVE JUSTICE:  Second Chances in an Unforgiving Society

RESTORATIVE JUSTICE: Second Chances in an Unforgiving Society

September 10, 2019 By dwayman

By Rev. David Thompson

Rev. David Thompson is a retired Elder in the North Central Conference of the Free Methodist Church, a retired U.S. Navy Chaplain and mental health counselor, and former Superintendent of the former Minn-I-Kota Conference. One of his sons is one of the 70 million Americans with a record, for a decade-old misdemeanor that has been a barrier for meaningful employment, housing and credit for the past eight years. Only recently was he offered, as a veteran who served seven years on active duty, a second chance in employment with a good job with the VA to help other veterans like himself, get on their feet after suffering wounds of mind, body, and spirit in war- time service.

Supt. Thompson presents an important and profound call on all of us as compassionate Christians who ourselves live by God’s restorative mercy.

Introduction:

Anytime one starts talking about restorative justice in a world where revenge and punishment are often the normal response for offenses against persons and society, it is to venture into controversial waters.

I am deeply sensitive to the pain and grief that is visited upon victims of crime and the challenge to forgive, feel safe, and rebuild trust that has been lost. This is no small task of mind and spirit requiring sometimes years of counsel and support from friends and caring clinicians. It takes a real touch from the Lord to help many move on in life after such a trauma and not remain captured by fear and anger.

AMERICA’S ORIGINAL SIN

AMERICA’S ORIGINAL SIN

June 20, 2019 By dwayman

As congress begins the discussion on reparations the language being used is distinctly Christian – that of our theology of Original Sin.  This language is arguably made the focus of our discussions by Jim Wallis of Sojourners. Theologically the concept of an “original sin” is that it is a part of the human condition and does not mean that we willfully commit it – but are nevertheless influenced and impacted by it such that everything is tainted or destructive because of it.

In his magazine, Sojourners, this article gives a taste of Wallis’ book by the same name: America’s Original Sin.   You can read the article online here.

 

“Addressing multiple reports of a white police officer shooting an African American, such as in the cases of Michael Brown in Ferguson and Lauquan McDonald in Chicago, Jim Wallis—public theologian, political activist, and founding editor of Sojourners magazine, argues that the events are part of a legacy stretching back to slavery. His new book, America’s Original Sin: Racism, White Privilege, and the Bridge to a New America(Brazos, Jan.), not only tries to diagnose the underlying and systemic issues that are causing racial strife, but asks Americans to recognize what he calls their original sins — slavery and racism — before they can move forward together.

‘We have to address our country’s racial injustice and the fundamental difference of opinion and perspective between white and black people about the criminal justice system,

JUSTICE ADVOCACY PASTORAL PRIMER

JUSTICE ADVOCACY PASTORAL PRIMER

May 21, 2019 By dwayman

The work of a pastor is complex and multilayered.  From the care of individual Christians, to the care of a congregation, to the care of a community, pastors are responsible not only to assist people in their own spiritual growth but to assist individuals, congregations and communities to pursue justice.   Speaking on behalf of God the prophet Micah states:  “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” (Micah 6:8).

Knowing how to act justly and to love mercy, Superintendents Michael Traylor and Mark Adams have written a primer for our pastors.  They define their purpose as:

“This primer seeks to provide brief guidelines for pastors and church leaders who seek to proclaim biblical truth, represent the needs of their congregation and community, becoming fully engaged as salt and light on earth while grasping the great truth that our citizenship is in heaven and our allegiance first and foremost to the Lord Jesus Christ.  In this primer you will find a brief framework in which to 1) understand advocacy in a contentious time, 2) view various legitimate but often competing moral advocacy views, 3) remember the Free Methodist story of advocacy and action borne of a passion to be more like Jesus, and 4) specific guidelines for advocacy that will keep you in the fight but above water, undergirded by the victory of Jesus Christ.”

They further explain:

“Free Methodists operate in a connection of congregations that is ethnically,

DIGNITY AND WORTH OF PERSONS

DIGNITY AND WORTH OF PERSONS

May 12, 2019 By dwayman

At the Spring meeting of the Board of Administration of the FMCUSA, the Book of Discipline article ¶3221 was modified due to the work of three scholars of the FMC:  Dr. Ed Song, Dr. Helen Rhee and Pastor Kate Wallace-Nunneley.  Writing three separate resolutions to expand the article on the Worth of Persons, the SCOD took their work and combined them with the present article and changed the name to the DIGNITY and Worth of Persons.

This is our new article for the 2019 Book of Discipline:

¶3221           Dignity and Worth of Persons

We are committed to the dignity and worth of all humans regardless of gender, race, color, or any other distinctions (Acts 10:34-35) and will respect them as persons made in the image of God (Genesis1:26-27) and redeemed by Christ’s death and resurrection.

The  Old  Testament  law  commands  such  respect  (Deuteronomy 5:11-21). Jesus summarized this law as love for God and neighbor (Matthew 22:36-40). He ministered to all without distinction and His death on the cross was for all (John 3:16; Romans 5:8).

We are therefore pledged to active concern whenever human beings are demeaned, abused, depersonalized, enslaved or subjected to demonic forces in the world, whether by individuals or institutions (Galatians 3:28; Mark 2:27; 1 Timothy 1:8-10). We are committed to give meaning and significance to every person by God’s help. Remembering our tendency to be prejudicial,

RACE AND IDENTITY

RACE AND IDENTITY

November 6, 2018 By

Fuller Theological Seminary presents this video symposium to help us understand the deeper and larger issues of race as experienced within the fusion of Christianity and Whiteness.  Whiteness is not about the color of a person’s skin, but the defining of salvation in ways that both distort and import other values thank those of Jesus Christ.  These are two lectures that help us begin this dialogue within the church..  The first is by Dr. Willie Jennings and expands both our minds and our hearts to understand how most of the world experiences the truth of the Gospel of Jesus Christ in this post colonial world.  The second is the response by Dr. Mark Labberton, the president of Fuller.  Together this will take about an hour and is extremely valuable to the Free Methodist Church as we continue to be transformed into followers of Jesus Christ.

FULLER dialogues: Race and Identity

Response | Mark Labberton

JUSTICE PILGRIMAGE

JUSTICE PILGRIMAGE

September 7, 2018 By

The Wesleyan theological method is to evaluate truth from four sources: Scripture as our primary source, and Reason, Tradition and Experience as resources.  Thus our theological education involves the study of Scripture, the study of the sciences and philosophy, the study of history and the exposure to experiences.  It is molding all four into a single educational experience that is difficult. Greenville University has accomplished this rare feat in their Justice Ministry pilgrimage program.

Here Helen Kaufman, one of the leaders in the FMC for decades in Civil Rights shares her experience in this “embodied learning.”  The article begins with:

“Helen Kaufmann ’56 had studied Civil Rights issues for decades. She was no stranger to good research habits, and years of teaching at Parkland College (Champaign, Illinois) honed her ability to engage deeply with material.

Yet a different kind of “learning” emerged when Kaufmann laid her hand across the stone slabs that bore the names of 4,400 lynching victims at the Legacy Museum in Montgomery, Alabama. The horrors of lynching hit home afresh as she viewed “row upon row” of jars holding soil from lynching sites, a stark symbol of the prevalence of that practice mere decades ago.

She slept in a motel built on the onetime site of a slave warehouse, where slaves spent their own fitful nights many years ago. She saw the former Lorraine Motel in Memphis where Martin Luther King,

THE DANGER OF CIVILITY

THE DANGER OF CIVILITY

August 28, 2018 By

Rev. Dr. Laura J. Hunt:

One of the most sobering experiences I have had recently was when I attended an African-American Conference and after a sharing session, when people had been invited to tell their stories of being marginalized, two different people felt the need to come to my husband and I (who are both white and newcomers to the group) to make sure that we understood that they were not angry black people. This seemed worse than any of stories we heard that day. It was direct evidence of how often white people have failed to listen, failed to have compassion, and have chosen to blame the survivors instead.

As a woman in ministry, I recognize that our frustrations, too, are often dismissed if they are not packaged in ways leadership (particularly but not exclusively male leadership) finds appropriate. I do believe that each of us is responsible for handling our anger in a godly way. But it is also important to listen to people delivering news we don’t want to hear, even if they are, or we perceive them to be, angry. In this video, Christena Cleveland does an admirable job of pointing out this phenomenon, relevant for both race and gender discussions, although she frames it primarily in the context of race.

Christena Cleveland, PhD, is a social psychologist, public theologian, author and professor. She is an Associate Professor of the Practice of Organizational Studies at Duke University’s Divinity School and the author of Disunity in Christ: Uncovering the Hidden Forces that Keep Us Apart.

WHAT TO THE SLAVE IS THE 4th OF JULY?  1852

WHAT TO THE SLAVE IS THE 4th OF JULY? 1852

July 5, 2018 By

In 1852 in Rochester, NY where the Free Methodist Church would organize eight years later stating that a primary purpose of this new “FREE” Methodist church is the the abolition of slavery, the  former slave and abolitionist Frederick Douglas gave a speech on the 4th of July that is still sadly relevant today.  It is helpful to hear the first-person testimony of those who have and are suffering the prejudice that betrays our nation’s claims of independence for all who are endowed by their Creator with equal, unalienable rights.  This seven minute video is an important reminder of the ongoing work of the FMC in these United States of America.

CLICK HERE TO WATCH VIDEO

THE BIBLICAL STORY IS A MIGRATION STORY

THE BIBLICAL STORY IS A MIGRATION STORY

June 28, 2018 By

Scripture is inspired for all people in all places in all times calling us to a higher response than this world even knows.  Here Rev. Julia Matallana-Freedman, who in 2018 received her Master of Divinity from Duke Divinity and was ordained Elder in the Free Methodist Church in Southern California, provides a thoughtful guidance to which each of us are called by God to respond as the church – the called-out-ones.

Rev. Matallana-Freedman

June 2018

So much about our faith as North American Christians is discursive. Ultimately the words we use and the interpretive choices we make matter because our actions unfurl alongside our discursive choices. The Christian ethicist, Stanley Hauerwas, frames it this way:

“The most creative social strategy we have to offer is the church. Here we show the world a manner of life the world can never achieve through social coercion or governmental action. We Serve the world by showing it something that it is not, namely, a place where God is forming a family out of strangers.” (Resident Aliens, 39).

We know there are many FM leaders across the nation already actively involved in refugee ministries and initiatives. This post embodies our striving for the centering of this ongoing work and to lift up the stories of FM Churches on the borderlands and in the trenches of this ongoing moral corruption. This reflection is searching for the increase of unlikely voices coupled with divine creativity to do God’s work faithfully.

DIVERSITY IS NOT A FRINGE ISSUE

DIVERSITY IS NOT A FRINGE ISSUE

April 4, 2018 By

The description of the church in the books of Acts and Revelation both make it clear that the present and future church is diverse in culture, tribe and language.  However, this diversity requires the intentional leadership of pastors and denominational leaders.  In this discussion with Bryan Loritts we enter into a profound discussion that can assist all of us in this work. The article describes him: “Bryan Loritts, whose work as a pastor, nonprofit leader, author and consultant focuses on encouraging multiethnic and multicultural church organization and worship. Loritts serves as senior pastor of Abundant Life Christian Fellowship, a multiethnic congregation in Silicon Valley. Before his move to California, he served as pastor for preaching and mission at Trinity Grace Church in New York City, and as the lead pastor for Fellowship Memphis church in Memphis, Tennessee. Loritts is also president of the Kainos Movement, an organization dedicated to making multiethnic church the new normal.”

In part the conversation says:

For the average pastor, a cultural dynamic like that feels intractable. How do you begin to shape a more equitable culture in line with the values of multiethnicity?

It really starts with awareness.

I wrote an article for the Global Leadership Summit some months ago, titled “’White Is Not a Four-Letter Word.” I take issue with the demonization of “white” for sport. But I believe, after spending decades in this line of work, that our white brothers and sisters do not consciously think in terms of whiteness.