For Your Spiritual Journey
Black History Month
From the United Methodist General Commission on Religion and Race:
29 Ways You Can Participate in Black History Month
Black History Month Activity for Kids
BLACK HISTORY MONTH RESOURCES
Video: STONE CATCHERS
Bryan Stevenson invites the Church, one with a history of silence during times of slavery and terrorism in our country, to speak out in this time of racism and mass incarceration - To bear burdens and to be stone catchers. Click below to watch this 4-5 min. video - (contains one picture which may be disturbing)
A PERSONAL STORY
Our Bishop Lanette Plambeck shares shares a personal story about an important conversation with a few individuals God recently placed in her path...
February is Black History Month. As faith communities and as individuals, throughout the month we can prioritize our time to explore and celebrate the rich cultural heritage and influence of African Americans. Whether you engage music, art, theology, or food, or seek to learn more about the triumphs, trials, and tribulations that led up to the Civil Rights movement and beyond, or delight in the inventions and innovations of great minds, there are innumerable ways to honor and amplify the stories of people of African descent that are an indelible part of our country’s history. I encourage all United Methodists from across the Dakotas-Minnesota Episcopal Area to create intentional space in worship, small groups, civic service, and your day-to-day way of living out your faith to commemorate, celebrate, and elevate what you discover.
Each year around this time, we tend to return to the prophetic stories of Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks, the Little Rock Nine, and countless other Black Americans before and after them who worked tirelessly and sacrificed so much in the quest for equality. There are four additional stories that you might explore throughout the month of February: those of Ida Bell Wells-Barnett, Mary McLeod Bethune, the Rev. Sallie A Crenshaw, and Bishop Leontine Turpeau Current Kelly.
There is one additional story I wish to share. Many of you are aware that I am in in the process of relocating from Iowa to our episcopal area. On Monday, my movers and I took a break from our work and enjoyed conversation while chowing on some burgers and fries I bought at Hy-Vee. Amid our discussion and the belly-deep laughter that revealed how close these co-workers are and as we were approaching the end of our meal, I asked how they were doing in the wake of the news from Memphis. I assured them they didn’t need to respond—but that I truly wondered how they were doing as young Black men in America.
To be honest, they were a bit caught off guard. One man shared his surprise that a white woman would ask the question and was curious what prompted it. My response was simple: Because I’m a Christ-follower. I explained that not only do I have a responsibility as a person of faith to name the violence perpetuated against marginalized communities, but I want to take every opportunity for self-education; this includes listening deeply to those most impacted by the systemic injustices in our communities, nation, and world.
They shared how they were feeling—and honestly, the fresh wounds of another life lost were still very raw. To honor and hold that in a sacred way, I am not retelling their specific experiences. Let me simply say that there is a vulnerability and current of fear that accompanies them at all times. And when they asked me about my background, I talked a bit about what it means to be bishop (you know, spiritual and temporal shepherding) and a lot about what it means to work for peace, justice, and social reform as part of our Wesleyan witness in the world.
I don’t know if I will see these three men ever again, but my hope and prayer is that they have been seen, heard, appreciated, and welcomed. I am deeply grateful to have been able to participate in an important conversation that named both the pain in our society and the promise of healing.
My hope for you this month (and truly as a regular spiritual practice) is for you to begin or continue conversations with those God places in your path—invite a story, share in sacred space, and be emboldened to do so, knowing that best of all, God is with us in these holy moments.
Bishop Lanette Plambeck is resident bishop for the Dakotas-Minnesota Episcopal Area of The United Methodist Church.
A PRAYER FOR JUSTICE
Heavenly Father, how many more names must be added to the list? How many more hashtags must we post? How many more vigils must be held? How many more mothers must bury their children? How many marches and how many events must we hold until our nation sees that there is an epidemic of death by police?
Father, we tell our children to keep their hands visible, always comply, don’t wear a hoodie, don’t walk too fast, don’t walk too slow, walk in pairs to the store, be respectful, and do whatever it takes to make it home. Why do they fear us, O God? We aren’t animals. We are not a threat. We are your children, just like they are. Still, we lose our lives because they fear the greatness inside us. Night after night, we see our own gunned down because they were the wrong color, at the wrong place, at the wrong time.
Lord we are tired, we are afraid, we are angry, and we are confused. In the midst of our pain, God, we still trust you. You said in your word, “If my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and I will forgive their sin and will heal their land” (2 Chronicles 7:14, NIV)1. Lord, we are seeking your face today. We admit we are not perfect, and we have not done all we can.
We are pleading for the pain to stop. We are praying to stop the tears from falling down our cheeks. We pray that our justice system no longer sees us as a target and that they soon will see us as human beings. We need your wisdom. We need your strength. We need your peace to spread far and wide, so that our sons and daughters make it back home.
Father, in this troublesome time, help us not return violence for violence. Help us to stand on your Word and your promises. We know that change will not be easy and that we will have to endure many tests. Lord, don’t move the mountain. We ask that you give us the strength to climb. We pray that there will be a day when all our children can live without fear. We pray that the hashtags of names will be replaced with #Faith, #Hope, and #Love.
We pray that your love will conquer all the fear and hatred in this country.
We pray that our justice system will be equal and just – for all of us.
May we soon see a day where we all are truly free.
It is in your name we pray, Amen.
Stephon Carlisle Void, Africana Liturgical Resources for Black History Month, Safiya Fosua, ed.