Sunday, May 19, 2013

United Methodists And Chicago

Unless you were paying close attention, you probably didn't know that yesterday was "United Methodist Day" in the city of Chicago.  It was official; Mayor Rahm Emanuel made the declaration.  The reason for the declaration was the convening of an Urban Strategy Summit on the South Side, bringing together community leaders and activists and organizers, clergy, church members, and city officials to begin a discussion about ways to combat the horrific violence that has been bleeding parts of the city for over a year.

In the center of this photo is Mayor Emanuel.  To his left (our right) is our bishop, Sally Dyck.  One thing about this photo surprises me; I had no idea Emanuel is so short.  He's not much taller than Bishop Dyck, and she's tiny.  Also, as an aside, I think overhearing a private meeting between the two would be interesting, considering Emanuel's nickname from his days working in the Obama White House was Rahm Fucking Emanuel because of his colorful vocabulary.

This, however, is trivia.  What's far more important is we have church leaders in our denomination who are willing to stand up and speak out on the violence and death that goes on with no purpose and no end.  Our churches in Chicago are trying to do some things in their communities; Bishop Dyck used to summit to highlight examples of work being done as well as call for a more systematic, integrated, and connectional approach.  One of the advantages of being a United Methodist is the connections among congregations; we have the ability to share resources, ideas, programs, and sharing extends beyond clusters of churches to whole areas, large cities, even the denomination.  Bringing the weight of the office of Bishop to this task is welcome.  Bringing it to bear on this matter demonstrates the church still has a beating heart, and is willing to take risks to be the church in those places where people need it.

Now, I don't know how effective a single meeting can be.  I do know, however, that if there is follow-through - something that doesn't always happen or happen very well - and follow-up and most of all structural support, a meeting such as this can accomplish good things.  Maybe even great things.  So, like most folks of good will, I hope and pray for success to flow from a meeting such as this.  If it accomplished nothing else, it demonstrated to Chicago that the answer to Charles Wesley's hymned-question, "And Are We Yet Alive?" is a resounding "Yes!"

Virtual Tin Cup

Amazon Honor System Click Here to Pay Learn More