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.

PREACHING ON DIVORCE

PREACHING ON DIVORCE

August 24, 2018 By

It is difficult to preach on topics like Divorce.  Pastor Colleen Hurley-Bates does so eloquently as she teaches the clear affirmation of Jesus’ view of marriage while emphasizing also the grace and forgiveness of his love and ours. This is an example of excellence in preaching and pastoral guidance in sexuality.  If you would like to listen instead of read, click here.

Rev. Colleen Hurley-Bates, August 19, 2018

Today we study a teaching of Jesus about divorce, which is a painful topic because most of us have lived with it’s effects in various ways. When we stop and think about those in our lives, maybe we ourselves who have been part of the breakdown of a marriage, it brings up strong feelings and difficult memories. To have people start out being so full of love that they want to commit their whole lives to another person, only to find themselves later in a place they never thought was possible, is a surreal experience. Most people never imagine something so beautiful could end that badly or think they themselves would be sunk in the mire of despair, anger, and regret made all the worse by legal maneuvering, custody battles, family drama and changing friendships.

Most people do not go into marriage intending to ever separate. There are circumstances which make it nearly impossible to stay together, especially what is called the 4 A’s: abuse,

INSIDE THE MIND OF A PEDOPHILE

INSIDE THE MIND OF A PEDOPHILE

August 18, 2018 By

A Grand Jury in Pennsylvania fears that as many as a thousand children were sexually abused by priests. This horrifying accusation requires all Christians to understand the persistent nature of pedophilia. Because Jesus Christ is the great physician, it is often assumed that confession, prayer and forgiveness will change a pastor or priest so that he or she no longer has this desire for sexual relations with children. Since we know that Jesus can forgive all sin and may choose to miraculously heal a person from anything, the fact is that the risk of allowing a person with pedophilia access to children is too great. We, as a safe and healthy church, must take action whenever this is found. Like most sexual desires, pedophilia is persistent over the life of the person and no current treatment is effective in changing the person, however helpful such treatment might be in encouraging them to not act on their urges.  In this professional article by Neuroanthropology we have a good presentation of the facts on which to have conversations.

In part the authors say:

Role of the Brain

There is significant evidence that indicate structural abnormalities in the brains of pedophiles (Schiffer, 2008). Abnormalities occur when the brain is developing and can be on-set through certain experiences, such as sexual abuse as a child. Abnormalities in the brains of pedophiles may result in compulsion, poor judgment, and repetitive thoughts.

These abnormalities in the brains of pedophiles are caused by early neurodevelopmental perturbations (Schiffer,

FEMALE CEO’s ONLY 5% and DECLINING

FEMALE CEO’s ONLY 5% and DECLINING

August 7, 2018 By

Women continue to be kept from top leadership even in the Fortune 500 Companies where a woman broke through the glass ceiling and became CEO.  Here is an article on this.

It says in part:

By Jeff Green

Of the at least 24 female chief executive officers of S&P 500 companies who’ve stepped down since 2009, all but three have been replaced by a man, according to an analysis of data on executive departures compiled quarterly by recruiter Spencer Stuart. That includes PepsiCo Inc. CEO Indra Nooyi, who announced Monday that she’ll leave the post in October, and at least four other women this year.

The largest companies have struggled to elevate women, who hold only about 5 percent of CEO positions. Progress has stalled even amid the revelations of harassment or other misconduct brought to light by the #MeToo movement and pressure from investors such as State Street Corp. and BlackRock Inc. to get boards to add diversity.

“Despite the advances that females have made over the last 10 years, and the big push that’s going on to get them into executive positions, if you look at the talent pool of available individuals, it’s going to be mostly men,” said Tom Flannery, who leads the global chief executive board services practice at Boyden, an executive recruiter. “Just from a pure odds standpoint, most of the time, when a CEO is replaced,

PORNOGRAPHY AND ACEDIA

PORNOGRAPHY AND ACEDIA

July 9, 2018 By

The attempt to empty human life from its spiritual foundation has created a secular culture that is vulnerable to addiction.  This is true whether the addiction is physical, financial, relational or spiritual.  In this excellent article on the spiritual foundation for the use of pornography, Duke Divinity Professor Reinhard Hütter provides a profound explanation of both how we got to where we are and how to find our way out.  Unsurprisingly it has to do with the Spiritual Disciplines that connect us with God.

Professor Hütter begins his article by saying:

“A uniquely toxic combination of the lust of the eyes and the lust of the flesh has become an almost normal component of everyday life: the perturbingly pervasive use of pornography in general and internet pornography in particular, with its dangerous addictiveness and its lethal effect on the Christian spiritual life. To comprehend the spiritual roots of this crisis, we need to recall an all-too-forgotten vice, acedia, usually called “sloth” but better rendered as “spiritual apathy.” It is the very forgoing of friendship with God—which is the fulfillment of the transcendent dignity and calling of the human person—and the embrace of the self-indulgent deception that there never was and never will be friendship with God, that there never was and never will be a transcendent calling and dignity of the human person. Nothing matters much, because the one thing that really matters, God’s love and friendship,

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

REAL MEN SHIELD THE DEFENSELESS AND PROTECT FAMILIES

REAL MEN SHIELD THE DEFENSELESS AND PROTECT FAMILIES

June 29, 2018 By

We often hear our culture remind men to protect their own family.  Here Mark Adams, Superintendent of the Sierra Pacific Conference of the Free Methodist Church, reminds us that Christians protect and care for all families, not only his own.  Written for Father’s Day it speaks to men, however the message is for all Christians, men and women.

Supt. Mark Adams

June, 2018

Today is Father’s Day.  I am so proud of all four of my sons.  They are Lars, Jake, Alex and Felix.  Each are young men with sharp minds, quick wits, compassionate hearts and willing to sacrifice much to benefit others.  Three are fathers themselves, and really great dads at that!  I could not be a happier dad.  So, sons, remember – real men shield the defenseless and protect families.

Consequently, I must say something about the current American implementation of a policy to tear apart families as an immigration deterrent.  I am disheartened as a Christian father that the policy is being defended by national spokespersons (Jeff Sessions and Sarah Sanders) through biblical texts.  On a personal identity level (I have identified as an “evangelical Christian”) I am dismayed that over the past few years it seems that evangelical Christianity as a whole is becoming enmeshed with a political agenda that places nationalistic views ahead global Christian concerns, even promoting initiatives that seem to dehumanize others.

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.

ROMANS 13 and ATTORNEY GENERAL SESSIONS

ROMANS 13 and ATTORNEY GENERAL SESSIONS

June 23, 2018 By

SUBMITTING TO AUTHORITY

By Bishop David Kendall – June 2018

Over the weekend, the United States Attorney General, Jeff Sessions, cited the Apostle Paul as a form of support for our government’s draconian “no tolerance” policy that separates children from their parents should the parents illegally enter the U.S.  Aside from the unjust practice of punishing innocent children for alleged crimes of their parents, Romans 13 has been woefully misappropriated to justify what is arguably the opposite of Paul’s intent in this celebrated chapter.  That is my focus in what follows.

[Since this will be longer than a more typical post here are the conclusions which I draw.  First, Romans 13 cannot be used legitimately to support any particular governmental policy or program, at any time.  Second, nor should it be read as a command for Jesus-followers to support the government regardless of its policies.  Third, it is a reminder that government, as such, is good but not absolute; and that leaders are accountable and will answer to God, if to no one else.  And, fourth, followers of Jesus have a mission to accomplish with or without the assistance of government, and they are the people called and equipped to demonstrate the good that all governments seek as they give themselves to love.  Read on to see why I make such conclusions.]

Before observing what the Apostle Paul says in this highly celebrated text on the Christian’s duty to governing authorities,